December 30, 2008 Big Agnes Two Track Gear

Big Agnes Two Track

In its two-inch version, the Big Agnes Two Track self-inflating sleeping pad offers a very warm advertised r-value of 6.5. To put that number in perspective, Thermarest’s equivalent winter pad, the ProLite Plus, is rated considerably lower, with an insulation value of 3.8. Exactly how objective those numbers are (and thus how valid the comparison) (more...)...

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December 27, 2008 Baden-Powell Skiing

Baden-Powell

Bill and I drove up Highway 2 from Wrightwood to Vincent Gap for a little Baden-Powell action today. BP is one of those curious Southland Peaks that occasionally allows drive-up-to-snow backcountry skiing access, provided the road is open past Mountain High—and provided you arrive early enough to beat the traffic up to the ski area, (more...)...

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December 24, 2008 A Christmas Storm Current Conditions

A Christmas Storm

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you! Looks like we’ll be enjoying a white Christmas in the mountains this year. Heavy snows (18-36″) are forecast in the High Sierra, plus a very nice 2-3′ on the way in the San Gabriels. That’s going to be more than enough snow to open up much of our (more...)...

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November 16, 2008 Smoke at Sunrise Current Conditions

Smoke at Sunrise

Here’s a look at the sunrise from near our home this morning: that’s a lot of smoke. The Yorba Linda/Anaheim area fires are about sixty miles east of us, which gives a sense of just how smoky the Los Angeles Basin is this morning. And, when I turn and look to the west, the sky (more...)...

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November 8, 2008 TNF Apex Bionic Gear

TNF Apex Bionic

North Face’s Apex Bionic Jacket combines the best qualities of Windstopperâ„¢ fleece and a stretchy soft shell in one trim package. The Apex Bionic practically jumps out of the box when it comes to applications like downhill skiing, snowboarding, or cold-weather backcountry skiing, hiking, and climbing. This is a performance blockbuster and a Windstopper-killer. North (more...)...

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November 4, 2008 Marmot PreCip Jacket Gear

Marmot PreCip Jacket

Marmot calls the PreCip Jacket ‘full-function value-added rainwear.’ Given the PreCip’s bargain price, the value is easy to see. As to the question of function, the PreCip is a seam-taped waterproof/breathable shell that sits (like TNF’s excellent Venture Jacket) somewhat ambiguously between plain nylon rain gear and technical outerwear. Compared to the Venture Jacket, the (more...)...

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October 31, 2008 Marmot PreCip Pant Gear

Marmot PreCip Pant

Officially, Marmot’s PreCip Pants are listed as rainwear, but that hasn’t stopped them for becoming one of my favorite hard shell pants for all-around use. I wanted a lightweight waterproof/breathable shell pant suitable for fair-weather summit assaults and spring skiing. The full-zip PreCip pant seemed ideal, though I was concerned about its durability. Still, at (more...)...

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October 16, 2008 Falling Headfirst Down an Ice Cliff Climbing

Falling Headfirst Down an Ice Cliff

Blame it on Chamonix—exposure to the big mountains of the French Alps made a big impression on me. I bought a Charlet-Moser axe and crampons, intending to incorporate the tools in my backcountry skiing when I got home. That axe and crampons stayed in the closet until our local ski area, the Arizona Snow Bowl, (more...)...

Posted in Climbing | 4 Comments
October 10, 2008 North Face NSE Tent Bootie??? Gear

North Face NSE Tent Bootie???

Really the big disadvantage with these is all the taunting you’ll have to endure from your friends. If you can take it, however, the North Face’s 700-fill down NSE Tent Bootie offers several tempting advantages. For a long time, I’ve struggled with the issue of what to wear around camp while ski mountaineering. Basically, you’ve (more...)...

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October 3, 2008 Down Bags: GoreTex vs. Microfiber Gear

Down Bags: GoreTex vs. Microfiber

I got an email the other day from a Sierra mountaineer who was wondering what the pros and cons were of getting a down sleeping bag with a GoreTex Shell versus microfiber. GoreTex, of course, is the famous waterproof-breathable membrane that dominates the outdoor clothing industry. Microfiber, or its relatives, refers to the standard nylon (more...)...

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.