October 3, 2014

Fransson

Fransson

He was one of the titans of modern extreme skiing, with a traditional, mountaineering tilt that connected him directly to the most storied names of the past. On September 29, Andreas Fransson and ski partner J.P. Auclair were killed by an avalanche while ascending Mount San Lorenzo on the Chilean-Argentinian border (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 0 Comments

September 11, 2014

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Of course we all hate scree gaiters, but the darned things tend to be useful—particularly (as is often the case) when we’ve decided not to bring them. Leave the scree gaiters at home, and you can bet that easy trail hike you’re expecting is going to turn into a steep field of calf-deep sand and gravel, where a nannyish voice will continuously snark in your ears if only you’d remembered (more…)

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September 4, 2014

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

The only thing wrong with La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor is that it’s not a mid. For ultra-class hikers and runners, this is an outstanding all-day shoe. The Ultra Raptor is reasonably light (I’m measuring my US 10.0 pair at one pound, ten ounces, post-use), eminently stable, and confidence-inspiring in that most critical of metrics—extended use comfort. La Sportiva specs this as a medium/wide fit (more…)

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September 1, 2014

Sawtooth Peak

Sawtooth Peak

Trevor and I paid a visit to Mineral King yesterday, and as we hiked past mile after mile of richly colored rock, I have to say I kept feeling potent impulses to grab a pick axe and start digging. This was my first-ever trip up the famous Mineral King road. It absolutely exceeded its reputation—I shudder at the thought of having to drive it with any regularity (more…)

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August 27, 2014

Black Diamond Speed 22

Black Diamond Speed 22

The Speed is back—sort of. In its original, 2005 edition, Black Diamond’s Speed backpack was a masterpiece of light-is-right design. The original, 30-liter Speed backpack gave us a floating lid, side compression straps, a stiff single-stay frame, and not much else. For fast travel with heavy loads, the pack was and is just about perfect. Big ski mountaineering day trips? Check. Desert hikes that demand (more…)

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August 22, 2014

Sierra Class 3

Sierra Class 3

Insofar as I can tell, the Yosemite Decimal System, which is by far the most widely-used climbing route grading system in the United States, works extremely well provided you stay within the bounds of the Class 5 designation (more…)

Posted in Climbing | 5 Comments

August 19, 2014

University Peak

University Peak

Okay, I thought this one was supposed to be easy. When it comes to accurately sizing up a route’s difficulties, I’m beginning to fear either I’m a hopeless optimist or else I’ve gone soft because lately everything seems like a thumping (more…)

Posted in Hiking, video | 2 Comments

August 15, 2014

Sony A7S

Sony A7S

Here is what I remember most about film: not the waiting, to get your slides back, but the anticipation. Film added something to every shot, a twist of scene or color or light, a dash of magic that took the mundane and made it art. Digital is not like that. We’ve gained in many ways incomparable advantages by switching to ones and zeros, but in those quantized bits surely anticipation has long since given way (more…)

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August 10, 2014

Waucoba Summit Panorama

Waucoba Summit Panorama

I returned this weekend to Death Valley National Park to take care of some unfinished business, and let me say now, if you like to be alone, have I got a mountain for you! Sheesh what a cruel bastard of a climb this was: no trail, thorns, cactus, brush, and no view aside from great looks at the next pine branch just before you get a stick in the face (more…)

Posted in video | 1 Comment

August 5, 2014

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon is well known for cutting-edge trail runners, but can they make a Mid? Yes—and it’s a good one. The X Ultra Mid GTX is rugged, stable, and very light. I admit I absolutely obsess over hiking shoes—and in particular, the mid category. Many of us prefer hiking in the lightest shoe possible, but still need the support of a heavier shoe for bearing overnight loads, scrambling over talus, or crunching vertical (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

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