September 3, 2012 Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 Gear

Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2

Mountain Hardwear’s new Direkt 2 is a single-wall tent built in the style of Black Diamond’s Firstlight, but updated in a way that makes it both more and less useful. The twin headlines here are a crazy-low measured weight of two pounds, nine point five ounces (tent and poles), plus a completely 100% seam-sealed single-wall (more...)...

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August 22, 2012 AKU SL Trek GTX Gear

AKU SL Trek GTX

Aku’s SL Trek GTX is not the boot I was expecting. At two pounds, 15.5 ounces per pair (US 9.5), the SL Trek is light but certainly not ultralight. In fact, if you’re looking for a light GTX hiker in the class of something like the Vasque Breeze, the SL Trek will likely perplex you. (more...)...

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August 9, 2012 Sony RX100 Gear

Sony RX100

Yes, Sony’s RX100 is a revolutionary digital camera—but is it really the best compact in the world, as many reviewers are now proclaiming? If you’re only interested in bright-light image quality, I think the answer has to be a resounding Yes. The RX100 puts a next-generation 1.0 inch, 20 megapixel CMOS sensor and a branded (more...)...

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August 6, 2012 Nothing Endures But Change (Bodie Edition) Musings

Nothing Endures But Change (Bodie Edition)

From the glass towers of Chicago to the ghost town of Bodie, California, we go. Bodie, now a state historic park, is thirteen miles off Highway 395, just southeast of Bridgeport. Gold was discovered here in 1859, and within twenty years there was a booming town with a population around 10,000. The principle mine closed (more...)...

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July 26, 2012 Chicago Musings

Chicago

Sometime in the 1970’s my family packed all their belongings into a used station wagon and drove from Chicago to Flagstaff. One of my earliest and most iconic memories is the sight of the Sears Tower receding in the distance though our rear windshield, vanishing along with good friends and family as we left the (more...)...

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July 11, 2012 North Face Verto S4K Gear

North Face Verto S4K

The North Face was tired of seeing their elite athletes in other makers’ boots, so they decided to make a boot of their own. The result of that effort is the Verto S4K GTX. The Verto is a technical/mountaineering boot very much in the class of La Sportiva’s popular Trango S Evo. In-hand the Verto (more...)...

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July 6, 2012 The Contour+ Gear

The Contour+

The Contour Plus (or Contour+) is Contour’s flagship helmet camcorder, offering a wider 170° angle of view, wireless streaming capability, and a sharper lens. Think of the Plus as a horizontal rather than vertical evolution—particularly where picture quality is concerned. Compared to Contour’s earlier top-of-the-line 1080p camera, image quality is only modestly better and in (more...)...

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July 5, 2012 Marina del Rey Fireworks Return Video

Marina del Rey Fireworks Return

Budget woes forced the cancellation of Marina Del Rey’s annual 4th of July fireworks celebration last year, robbing us of one of Southern California’s best free pyrotechnics shows. Happily, the fireworks returned last night. Though the show seemed lighter overall than in years past, it was still a fine return, concluding with a spirited Grand (more...)...

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July 3, 2012 Mammoth Lakes Declares Bankruptcy News

Mammoth Lakes Declares Bankruptcy

Only days after Mammoth Mountain gave the axe to June Mountain, plunging the town of June Lake into crisis, Mammoth’s hometown of Mammoth Lakes has now declared bankruptcy, following a botched development agreement and a failed court appeal that leaves the tiny community unable to pay a massive $43 million dollar breach-of-contract judgment (more...)...

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July 1, 2012 West Coaster: Hero2 vs. Contour+ Video

West Coaster: Hero2 vs. Contour+

Contour lent me their flagship Contour+ helmet cam this past month, so I’ve been trying to think of good off-season ways to compare it to my GoPro Hero2. Here’s something interesting: a side-by-side comparison shot taken from Pacific Park’s West Coaster roller coaster at Santa Monica Pier. What makes this a good test shot? Heavy (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.