May 31, 2011

Split Mountain

Split Mountain

Huge, huge day on Split yesterday—we skied the north face right off the top of the north summit, then down into the Red Lake basin right beneath the east face and the central couloir. Yes, the video is long, but so was the adventure. The diversity, beauty, and abundance of skiable terrain in the Split vicinity really defies description (more…)

Posted in video | 11 Comments

May 28, 2011

Skiing Whitney’s North Face

Skiing Whitney's North Face

Whitney has eluded me. When I first tried to ski this mountain the defeat was so humbling and so absolute it was years before I dared return to the Sierra backcountry. But, every winter, the thought remained on my mind. The allure of climbing Whitney is obvious. The allure of skiing Mount Whitney, perhaps not so obvious. Like many of the Sierra’s big peaks, Whitney (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 5 Comments

May 24, 2011

Eureka Casper

Eureka Casper

Think of Eureka’s Casper as an economy-class sleeping bag with higher aspirations. At roughly 1/4 the price of a high-end down bag, the Rteq™ synthetic 15°-rated Casper is designed to be light enough to carry and warm enough to be worth carrying. Backpacking-oriented features include a standard-size, fully-closable mummy shape, a soft, slightly-textured polyester lining (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

May 23, 2011

Whitney!

Whitney!

I’m so excited—Whitney has eluded me since 2006, when I passed on skiing the Mountaineer’s Route, figuring I’d get to it next season. Every year since then, I’ve waited for the north chute (above the notch) to fill in…and waited, and waited, and waited (more…)

Posted in video | 12 Comments

May 19, 2011

Panasonic TM700

Panasonic TM700

Panasonic’s TM700 hi-def camcorder offers us the technology equivalent of a Faustian bargain: you get something extraordinary, but it comes with an unexpected cost. The good can be summed up in a word: sharpness. The TM700 shoots 1080-60p video, the first consumer camera to do so with any competence, matched with not one but three 1/4″ CMOS sensors, one each for (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

May 18, 2011

Steep Turns & ‘Edge of Never’

Steep Turns & 'Edge of Never'

One of the things I love about ski mountaineering is that there’s always something new to learn. Over the course of this season I’ve been trying to improve my steep skiing technique, sparked in part by studying last season’s C2N footage. The video revealed I was using a bit of a stem to initiate my steep turns. I wanted to see if I could eliminate the stem to produce a more reliable turn (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments

May 17, 2011

Sony HDR-CX160

Sony HDR-CX160

Sony has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to resisting the inexorable shift toward progressive-capture in consumer camcorders. It is therefore no small surprise to find Sony offering 60p capture in its new camcorders (at last!), including the ultracompact HDR-CX160. In the interlaced versus progressive ‘debate’, there is very little that you need to know. Interlacing is a 1950’s-era technology (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

May 12, 2011

Muir’s East Buttress

Muir's East Buttress

In a way, I wished I’d never seen it. I was having a nice, easy backcountry skiing season, perfectly fine, and I didn’t need any trouble. I didn’t need to do anything special. I didn’t need to be special. I didn’t need to be obsessing about hanging snowfields and massive, dead-drop cliffs. And I especially didn’t need to start a war between who I thought I was and who I wanted to be (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 14 Comments

May 3, 2011

Portal Road, Snow, Permits

Portal Road, Snow, Permits

Despite the ease of access, the Whitney Portal region has a less than glowing reputation when it comes to backcountry skiing. Perhaps it’s not so much that there’s something wrong with the area, as that there is almost always better skiing to be found elsewhere. Still, I can report that Whitney Portal Road is now officially open all the way to the portal, and that there is quite a lot of snow up there (more…)

Posted in Current Conditions | 3 Comments

May 2, 2011

The Paradigm of the Extreme

The Paradigm of the Extreme

There in some understandable confusion over how, if the hazard level was rated low throughout the Eastern Sierra, two people could have been killed by an avalanche this past week on Split Mountain. Over at ESAC, Sue Burak elaborates a bit on the subject in her May 1st advisory, writing:

“Avalanche advisories do not apply in extreme terrain for obvious reasons.” (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 3 Comments





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