December 25, 2005

Gear Review: Grivel Air Tech Light Crampons

Gear Review: Grivel Air Tech Light Crampons

Sometimes when it’s Christmas you’ve got to take matters into your own hands. Toward that end, I’ve picked up a set of Grivel’s Air Tech Light aluminum crampons. The Air Techs sneak below the already skinny Stubai Ultralight Universal by nearly five ounces, though they’re definitely the pricier of the two. Obviously we’ll have to bash these up a bit in the field, but here are a few first impressions (more…)

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December 15, 2005

ESAC: The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that avalanche information is conspicuously absent on’s pages. This is certainly not because I don’t take avalanches seriously. Avalanches worry me more than any other objective hazard in winter mountaineering. I’ve therefore been thinking very carefully about what I’d like to say about avalanches (more…)

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December 7, 2005

A Look Ahead

The Sierra Ski Season is off to a less-than-outstanding start, with generally minimal snowfall thus far, and some nasty instability setting up due to shallow coverage. While we’re all waiting for the snow, I’m trying to get the rest of my gear reviews up for the season. The newest entry is Voile’s XLM Shovel, a compact model that may be the lightest aluminum shovel available today.

Up north (for me), the always-reliable Mammoth Mountain is open and running 16 lifts. I foresee a Mammoth run in my near future, as soon as I shake the over achieving cold I caught over Thanksgiving.

Locally, I’m hoping for a big season in the San Gabriel Mountains, so that I can ski the infamous “Girly Man” chute, and see for myself if it really rates a formidable D14 on Lou Dawson and Andrew McLean’s proposed D System Scale.

For purposes of comparison, that would rank the Girly Man Chute more difficult than the Messner Couloir on Denali, and one step below the Mendel Couloir in the Sierra (!). I’m a bit skeptical, though Southern California skiing can be challenging—witness the dreaded “405/Sepulveda Pass” route, which is particularly nasty at rush hour.

That’s all for now. Think Snow!

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