July 24, 2014

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Let’s call Mountain Hardwear’s Optic 3.5 a car-camping tent with backpacking aspirations. The Optic isn’t light, but it is abundantly livable. You get 45 square feet of floor space and a 48-inch interior height. Combined with the Optic’s innovative marquee feature—a 180° view—all that space makes for a very comfortable interior, downright roomy for two adults, and easily big enough for three (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

July 19, 2014

Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo

Rising a decidedly non-devilish 3,849 feet above sea level, Mount Diablo is not quite the highest summit in the Bay Area, but it is Contra Costa County’s highpoint, and, thanks to its remarkable prominence, Diablo offers not just fine views from San Francisco to the Sierra, but in fact one of the largest viewsheds in the western United States (more…)

Posted in Hiking | 3 Comments

July 11, 2014

Where’s Your Sierra?

Where's Your Sierra?

I have a distinct mental image of “The Sierra”—and this isn’t it. My Sierra is heavy on Owens Valley and fourteeners, with lots of dry, dusty, austere granite brooding high above sun-baked desert. I’m generally aware of other, wetter parts, such as Yosemite, but like the beach some two miles from my house I tend to forget it exists unless it’s right in front of me (more…)

Posted in Hiking | 2 Comments

July 1, 2014

Kearsarge Peak Panorama

Kearsarge Peak Panorama

Great views but beware the mining trail! Kearsarge is described in Jay Anderson’s Climbing California’s Mountains as “possibly the quickest-to-reach significant summit on the entire eastern side of the Sierra.” With that kind of billing, who could resist? In keeping with my loop-or-bust tradition, I decided to ascend from the west, via Lilly Pass, with a planned return via that wiggly line (more…)

Posted in video | 4 Comments

June 24, 2014

Sony RX100-III

Sony RX100-III

Is it possible the closer we get to perfection, the farther away it seems? The updates to Sony’s third-edition RX100 digital compact are practically a wish list of the impossible. How about a wider, brighter 24-70mm Zeiss lens, for starters? How about a bright, high-resolution pop-up electronic viewfinder? And how about Sony’s Bionz-X image processor engine, which confers the holy grail of HD video (more…)

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June 20, 2014

Fixing Your Feet

Fixing Your Feet

If your chosen sport has anything in any way to do with your feet, I say John Vonhof’s Fixing Your Feet is a must-have. This massive 350-page book details the prevention, coping, and recovery strategies of those penultimate foot-bashers, ultramarathon runners. No, there is not a simple fix to be found here, nor, as Vonhof himself writes, is there such a thing as a universal fix (more…)

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June 16, 2014

Cirque Peak Panorama

Cirque Peak Panorama

I wanted an easy peak, but easy in the right way—and hard in the right way, too. In that regard, Cirque Peak, in the John Muir Wilderness just south of Mount Langely and New Army Pass, worked out to be just about perfect. Cirque was easy in the sense there was no dangerous climbing, and no routefinding worries, either (more…)

Posted in video | 5 Comments

June 2, 2014

Revelation Bowl

Revelation Bowl

Well I’m still thinking about skiing… Here’s something from 2012: Revelation Bowl, in Telluride, Colorado. What’s interesting is it looks like the video was shot in black and white, and selectively colorized. But this is just a trick of the light and landscape. I also love the way the frame is dominated by the terrain’s bold diagonals, and that glint of sunlight on the ridge below (more…)

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May 30, 2014

The Vertigo Machine

The Vertigo Machine

It is unlike any other chairlift I know of, and it scares the hell out of me every time I ride it. I’m talking of course about Mammoth Mountain’s wonderful Chair 23, that aging triple that gains elevation as quickly as any modern quad thanks to its brain-defying steepness. As the season progresses my own brain seems to adapt, a bit, to the optics of Chair 23 (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments

May 28, 2014

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

For me, the 2013-2014 winter began and now ends with Mammoth: a Thanksgiving opening and a Memorial Day close. Yes, in terms of snowfall, this year ranks easily among the most dismal in memory, and yes, too, not a single peak in my projects folder saw daylight, but in the absence of backcountry snow, it was a family-focused ski year for me, and a great one at that (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments

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