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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June 28, 2012 Sony Crashes GoPro/Contour Party News

Sony Crashes GoPro/Contour Party

Well, we knew it was coming; the only question was when. Sony has announced a helmet cam to be available fall 2012. The design appears to hybridize both GoPro and Contour concepts: the camera chassis is upright, ala Contour, and comes with a (presumably) waterproof housing. Note that it has a Zeiss lens, and image (more...)...

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June 22, 2012 News

No June?

It’s just kind of hard to believe: Mammoth Mountain has abruptly announced they’re closing June Mountain indefinitely for feasibility studies. Reading between the lines, this basically looks like a kiss of death. As a ski area, June has much to offer, including powder glades, rolling intermediate terrain, stunning scenery, and incredible sidecountry access. But it’s (more...)...

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June 7, 2012 Thermarest XLite Gear

Thermarest XLite

Thermarest’s Neoair XLite replaces the original Neoair pad, offering upgraded warmth (from a spec value of R2.4 to R3.2) at a slightly lower weight—one ounce less overall. The weight differential isn’t really big news, but the added warmth is: an R-value of 3.2 is pushing into the 4-season category, and even for 3-season use, you (more...)...

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June 5, 2012 Venus Alert Science

Venus Alert

Yes: Venus! A thoughtful neighbor stopped by with black glasses from Griffith Park Observatory and told us that Venus is currently visible crossing the sun. My son and I jumped outside with glasses plus the Nikon and the big lens and every filter in the house. It took us several tries, but here it is, (more...)...

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June 1, 2012 Ortovox 3+ Gear

Ortovox 3+

I say Ortovox’s 3+ is one of the best choices in today’s crop of avalanche transceivers. The class of 2012 offers us a lot of innovation, but it also offers a lot of complexity. Leave the complexity to others (if you don’t explicitly need it) and go with the Ortovox’s effective fusion of simplicity and (more...)...

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May 26, 2012 Black Diamond Mission Gear

Black Diamond Mission

The big news with the climbing-oriented Mission 50 pack is that it employs Black Diamond’s patent-pending ‘reACTIV’ suspension system. ReACTIV suspensions, and the more aggressive ‘ErgoACTIV’, are designed to allow the pack to move naturally while you’re walking by adding a mechanical pivot to the frame-hip belt interface. In other words, the load is allowed (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.

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