December 9, 2013

Reading the SoCal Backcountry

Reading the SoCal Backcountry

I know what you’re thinking: it’s snowing! How much has it snowed? Has it snowed enough? It is worth it to try hitting the SoCal backcountry? How do you know if it’s deep enough out there? Well, as it turns out, there’s a great and easy way to find out what’s happening in the local mountains that involves neither freeway driving nor hours of possibly futile hiking (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 4 Comments

December 4, 2013

Lange XT 120

Lange XT 120

Lange’s XT 120 is a slightly-softer version of the XT 130. Both boots feature a walk mode switch which allows you to release the cuff for enhanced walking mobility. Like the 130, the XT 120 is best thought of as an Alpine boot with a walk mode, rather than a true Alpine Touring model, though thanks to its (again, slightly) softer liner, the 120 at least approaches touring-capable comfort and range of motion (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

December 1, 2013

Mammoth Thanksgiving

Mammoth Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought a little skiing might be nice this holiday weekend. Very thin coverage and only four lifts running wasn’t enough to halt a full-on SoCal invasion at Mammoth Mountain. We had to park at the “F” sign on Friday. “F” I tell you. And the mountain itself was rocky-rocky. Next time, I really think more of you should just stay home (more…)

Posted in Current Conditions | 2 Comments

November 24, 2013

November Snow

November Snow

3-5″ of fresh snow is the official word from Mt. Baldy, in the San Gabriel Mountains, but peering through the haze today from Kenneth Hahn State Park, I’d say coverage on Baldy’s west face might be a little deeper. Maybe. Then again, I am trying to go with optimism as our winter season draws near. Third time’s a charm, right? (more…)

Posted in Current Conditions | 6 Comments

November 24, 2013

Scott Cosmos

Scott Cosmos

There’s a bit of a leap of faith involved in buying a pair of Scott Cosmos ski boots. Just a year ago, the Cosmos was made by legendary but now-defunct Garmont USA. Garmont’s parting gift was at least one and possibly two critical design/manufacturing flaws embedded in the otherwise-stunning Cosmos. Early adopters (including me) thus found themselves not once but twice burned (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

November 15, 2013

Thoughts on Approach

Thoughts on Approach

Waiting for snow to arrive has me contemplating a similar frustration: not being able to get to the snow even when it is here. Yes, I’m talking about those maddeningly-tough Eastern Sierra approaches. I admit I believe getting yourself and your skis to the snowline in the area between, say, Olancha Peak and the Palisades ranks among the more grueling touring challenges in the lower 48 (more…)

Posted in technique | 4 Comments

November 3, 2013

Blind to the Bishop

Blind to the Bishop

Over the years I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the discrepancy between Reality and my perception of it. If you’ve never contemplated this divide, discovering it is like finding a bottomless rabbit hole—unsettling, to say the least. If you’re dead certain that the heater is gray, for example, or if you like to leave yourself notes, watch out (more…)

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment

October 11, 2013

SoCal Rains; Mountain Snows

SoCal Rains; Mountain Snows

Well that was an unexpectedly potent mid-October surprise—a bonafide winter storm. Rain and cold temperatures punched into the Southland like a frozen fist, sending temperatures plunging some 15 degrees below normal. When it’s cold and rainy in the basin, you can expect snow in the mountains, and that’s exactly what we got: a healthy few inches accumulated in the San Jacintos, from the look of the Long Vally Cam (more…)

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments

October 6, 2013

Sea-Level Acclimatization Strategies

Sea-Level Acclimatization Strategies

Californians overwhelmingly live at sea level, placing us at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to climbing mountains. The best and safest and most obvious way to acclimatize for high-altitude adventures—for example, climbing mount whitney—is to gradually adjust by spending several weeks living and training at progressively higher elevations (more…)

Posted in technique | 7 Comments

October 5, 2013

I Am Not In The Grand Canyon

I Am Not In The Grand Canyon

Checking the clock this morning I see right about now I was supposed to be passing Ooh-Aah Point in the Grand Canyon on a planned rim-to-rim-to-rim hike with my brother. Instead…well, you know. Every time I read about the shutdown, I find myself thinking it’s junior high all over again, only with trillion-dollar budgets and nuclear missiles. Kudos to Republicans for threatening to blow up the world if they don’t get what they want. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

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