Are worth the weight.
We use lightweight gear to move easily and efficiently in the mountains. It is easy to fall into a heuristic trap and believe that “anything extra will make me slow”, losing sight of “easy and efficient”.
After half a season of touring with radios, I am certain that they make us faster and safer. Remember that time you lost your partner in the woods and you each spent twenty minutes looking for each other? What about the time that you lost sight of your partner around a dogleg on an uncertain route; is it safe to follow, or is she coming back up? What about that time you skied first, you had something important to say, and the rest of the party couldn’t hear you?
Doug Krause calls radios “an effective means of communication” (n.b. the linked podcast discusses what radios can’t do). He’s right.
What can you do with a radio that you can’t do without? You can ski longer pitches at once. You can stop in safer locations, out of earshot and sight. You can tell your partners when you just ate it in deep snow and it will take you five minutes to find your gear. You can communicate with a partner who got too far ahead of you on the ascent. At a ski area, anywhere in the world (check local laws), you can stay connected to your party.
BCA’s BC-Link radio is the current Cadillac of backcountry radios, but simple FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies will get you started for less than the cost of a lift ticket. Try ’em with your partner this winter, and see if it changes how you ski.
Looking for used Dynafit bindings? Looking for used tech bindings? Backcountry skiing on a budget?
Here are some of the things I look for when evaluating used Dynafit/tech bindings. It is far from a comprehensive list, but might point out something you hadn’t yet considered.
We skied this Thanksgiving, as we did last year, in Canada. It snows there, you see, and it does so earlier there than it does here in the states.
Holy moly, did it ever snow this year. It snowed enough to open Whistler early, and then it snowed a lot more.
We got up there Friday morning, and found ourselves waiting in impressive lift lines. More than an hour after entering our first line, we got to ski. It was clear that the snow was drier and deeper than we’d thought; two lifts later, it was much deeper than we thought, and the hunt was on.
Ever wonder exactly when an NWAC weather forecast will come out? Us too, especially this week when we’re trying to plan a group weekend trip in the face of a tricky, if not poor, weather situation.
Right now, in this low-snow year, NWAC aims to get forecasts out by 8 am. Here’s how they’ve done so far!
The ‘Avalanche Pocket Guide’ is perhaps most appropriate as an in-field reference to introductory avalanche texts for skiers in their first 50-100 days or 1-3 years (whichever comes last) travelling in avalanche terrain. Long-time backcountry travelers may like it for completeness, or when teaching, but won’t consult it at every decision point during the day. Check one out in person (or in the photos), to decide it’s useful for you.
For all the attention that global warming gets as an environmental hazard, there lurks one far greater. War.
Humans are getting good at playing the long game. We’re managing fisheries, curating wilderness, creating fantastic supply chains that extract fantastic yields from good cropland and deliver it to people. A substantial war would change all of that. If the short-term becomes more important than the long term, careful conservation and eco-friendly practices will be discarded by necessity. Without access to modern clean technologies, people will be forced to turn to dirtier and unsustainable ways of getting by. What would you do if no food arrived at the grocery store, and you had no access to electric power?
A nuclear exchange would be worse, and is far from improbable.
The human invention of technology has graced us with many gifts; we must use our powers well, for our own sake.
Well, I bought a Garmin Fenix watch, to be reviewed soon; but I was just as excited about the little wireless temperature sensor Garmin introduced at the same time.
It’s an ANT+ temperature sensor built into the tiny Garmin footpod form factor. I’m looking forward to using this in winter, when temperature can be of avalanche interest in the field and back at home.
Read on for mass and temperature measurements…
We were placing practice beacons for a backcountry ski/avalanche course last Saturday, when I heard a quiet ‘pop’. Susan looked up and said, “My shovel broke.” “What?” “Look, it broke!”
An essay I’ve long needed to write, but didn’t know how, until last week.
“It”: thoughts for a new mountaineer
Thank you, Franklin.
We picked this book up at Powell’s in the autumn. I think my exclamation upon seeing it on the shelf was “No way! Allen and Mike have made an avalanche book!”
For those not familiar with Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland’s telemark and backcountry ski books, they’re informative and well-informed hand-illustrated guides to techniques and skills of use to everyone. All heartily recommended. This new book is up to date and down to earth. Snow science is described in functional detail, and the realities of avalanche terrain are shown in practical and visual detail. As with William Nealy’s “Kayak”, didactic cartoon diagrams can triumph over prose and photos.
For years, my singular recommendation for an introductory avalanche text has been Bruce Tremper’s “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain”. The quality of that text is timeless; it has a new companion. For new skiers without a scientific bent, or for younger backcountry travelers, “Avalanche Book” may be the more-effective book. A backcountry travel course with which I’m affiliated has chosen to try Allen and Mike’s book this year as the course avy text.
Another holiday gift recommendation from MeasuredMass. A look inside follows…