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...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments
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 7, 2008 Skiing

Backcountry Mag vs. Davenport

Well…not exactly, but if you did happen to catch the cover on the November ’08 Backcountry Magazine, you’ll see the provocative headline, “New Heights or New Hype: Freeski Mountaineer Chris Davenport.” The feature article inside doesn’t exactly stake out a bold position on the subject, but it does ask the intriguing question, is Chris Davenport (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments
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 23, 2008 News

Annual SMS Potluck this Sat

The Ski Mountaineer’s Section of the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter is holding its annual potluck get together this Saturday, October 25th at 5 p.m. If you’ve never heard of the SMS, it was founded way back in 1934(!) — compelling evidence that Los Angeles and the Southern California mountains have a rich tradition of backcountry (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 5, 2008 Current Conditions

First Snow

Mammoth Mountain reports a few inches of snow over the weekend. Gloomy skies dominated the Southland yesterday as the front passed through, bringing snow to the Sierra and possibly a dusting on the local mountains as well. Winter’s coming—and I’m ready for it. 🙂 (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 2 Comments
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...)...

Posted in Gear | 5 Comments

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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.