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Archive for December, 2009

Mt. Rose Backcountry – Dawn Patrol Report 12/29/09

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Headed up to the Mt. Rose Area this morning for an early dawn patrol run on Incline Lake Peak. Got about 3 inches at 6,000 feet last night and probably 6-10 in. at 8,000 feet. It was super dry, awesome powder that made for some great before work turns. Kevin and I had out Black Diamond Megawatts out and it was his first time on them, and all he could do was smile wide. We are both using the Black Diamond 01 Tele binding on them and they simply rule. Everybody had something from Tahoe Mountain Sports on and we appreciate that business very much. Mike is using his Deuter Freeride Pro 30 everyday now and Jeff had his new Black Diamond Guide Gloves on along with his BD Traverse Poles. Here are a couple images and some video from this awesome morning in the backcountry.

And some video for your viewing pleasure as well. This video was NOT taken with the Vholdr ContourHD 1080P.

Deuter 09/10 Winter Packs Review – Freerider Pro 30 & Freerider Pro 28 SL

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Here at TMS, we’ve been a big fan of Deuter Backpacks for a long time, but their new winter ski and snowboard pack line has  really stepped things up for this winter. The new Freerider Pro 30 and Freerider Pro 28 SL are his and hers top of the line backcountry skiing and snowboarding packs. They combine the high quality and durability that characterize all Deuter packs with a set of features that are sure please even the most picky backountry old timer.

The Avalanche Safety Gear Pocket on the Deuter Freerider Pro 30

The Avalanche Safety Gear Pocket on the Deuter Freerider Pro 30

The packs feature 28 and 30 liter capacities, just the right size for all the essentials for a day in the backcountry. With ample options for attaching gear to the outside of the packs, these also work great for a light overnight or hut trip.  Inside the pack, there is a front pocket that keeps your shovel, probe, and other backcountry safety gear organized and easy to access. Next is the main pocket which features a sleeve for your Streamer Hydration Reservoir and full back access through a zipper that runs 180 degrees around the outside of the back panel. This allows you easy access to your gear even with skis or a snowboard attached to the front of the pack, and keeps the back panel and shoulder harness out of the snow while you’re looking for your gear. The Freerider Pro also features a fleece lined pocket for goggles or other small essentials and stuff pockets on the sides for a few energy bars or a small water bottle.

The Back Panel Access on the Deuter Freerider

The Back Panel Access on the Deuter Freerider

The great features carry over to the outside of the pack as well. It can carry skis both diagonally and a-frame style as well as carry a snowboard vertically. It also features attachment points for trekking poles, ice tools, or a mountaineering axe. Another great feature is the great removable helmet holding system. Another bonus is that the front of the pack is made almost entirely of extremely durable hypalon, so none of this gear attached to the outside is going to scuff or damage the pack.  All of these features are tied together with Deuter’s tried and true Alpine Back System and Vari-flex waist belt that moves with your body for a more comfortable fit.  The hip belt has a great pocket on one side that can fit a small camera or a few energy bars and a gear loop on the other for essential climbing gear.

Helmet Holding System on the Deuter Freerider Pro 30

Helmet Holding System on the Deuter Freerider Pro 30

All of these features add up to an overall package that is one of the most appealing backcountry daypacks on the market. The Freerider Pro 28SL has all of the great features of the Pro 30, with a slightly smaller capacity and SL fit tailored for a woman. While these two are the standouts of the Deuter Winter Line, they are not alone.  There is the Freerider 26 for someone looking for similar features to the Freerider Pro 30 in a smaller and less expensive package and the Guide Series for someone looking for a pack more suited to winter climbing and mountaineering. Finally the classic Cruise 30 and Cruise 28SL are perfect for the skier looking for a timeless top loading style  backcountry daypack.

The Deuter Freerider Pro 30 in in action near Carson Pass, CA

The Deuter Freerider Pro 30 in in action near Carson Pass, CA

Check out our video below for a quick walk through of the Freerider Pro 30 in action in the Tahoe Backcountry.

Jakes Peak Pow 12.15.09

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

This past Tuesday I finally got out for a great day at Jakes Peak in the Tahoe Backcountry. The snow had stabilized and consolidated a bit leaving nice creamy powder everywhere. The snow was great, especially considering its only mid December.  It was also a day of testing out some new gear. I took out a pair of the new Black Diamond Zealots with Fritchi Freeride Plus bindings. This may be my favorite backcountry setup yet. Certainly not the lightest setup out there but it will be ready for anything and be extremely fun on the way down. The 110mm waist is wide enough to float well and the rockered tip just busts through crud and variable snow. Hero snow like this makes any ski fun, but I can’t get over how much fun these Zealots are in any conditions. Phil is also rocking his new Deuter Guide 45+ pack, a great choice for both backcountry skiing and mountaineering.

I also got to take the VholdR ContourHD 1080p out skiing for the first time. The light was a little flat but I think the footage came out great. The video below was shot by myself using the Vented Helmet mount, and by Phil using the Goggle Mount. The Vented Helmet mount is probably the sturdiest and most versatile mount for the VholdR that I have tried yet. I highly recommend it. Next time I’m going to try to point the camera down a bit more to get the tips of my skis in the shot a little more, I think it helps give the video some perspective. You can tell that the footage at the beginning of the video shot using the Vented Helmet mount is a little more steady than the footage in the second half that was taken using the Goggle Mount, but both look great.  The video features the POV skiing of myslef and Phil, with special guest appearances by Roger, Shane, Adrienne, and Bruno the Vizsla.

Tahoe Night Skiing and Headlamp Review

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

A couple of us, including our Black Diamond rep went out for a night ski near Mt. Rose a couple of nights ago. It was a beautiful night for skiing although a bit dark, but the snow was powdery and light on the north facing slopes. I was hiking up with my Black Diamond Verdicts along with the 01 Bindings and BD Ascension skins while wearing a single layer of Icebreaker Bodyfit 150 Atlas Zip and some Icebreaker long underwear. I can’t get enough of my Icebreaker clothing and I can’t recommend it enough as it always is the best layering system no matter what the conditions.

Now, being that we were night skiing, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out the new Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp and put it up against the Mammut X Zoom Headlamp.

I will start with the Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp:

The first thing I liked about this headlamp was that it is rechargeable and in this day and age, there should be more of a selection of rechargeable headlamps. One thing I hate is to throw away batteries. So, with all that said, this headlamp already had a headstart at getting a great review.

The next item is really the brightness of this headlamp. It is amazingly bright for its number of leds and it is compact, fits on your head easily, is not bulky and in general is a pretty sleek design. While skiing down, the  Sprinter illuminated out a great distance as well as brightness. Like the other Black Diamond lanterns, this headlamp can go from dim to bright simply by holding down the button and it has a flashing red light on the back which made it easy to find everybody in the dark and would be very useful to a biker as well.
All in all, an extremely impressive headlamp at an even better price. As compared to the Mammut X-Zoom, this headlamp is $20 less and equally if not more bright. Highly recommended.

Now for the review of the Mammut X Zoom:

I am very impressed with this headlamp as well. It is by far the brightest headlamp with the farthest reaching beam that I have seen. Some of the positives that I really like about the X-Zoom: 3 brightness levels, adjustability on the beam (wideness vs. spot), ease of use and very lightweight. The simple idea that you can adjust the beam from a wide-angle halo type of light to a super focused, intense beam, is amazing and as far as I know, completely unique to any LED headlamp on the market.

The only negative I have so far is that outside the beam it gets really dark really quick. What I mean by this is that there is no residual light outside the beam because it is so focused. This really is not a big deal and is hardly a negative, but thought I should mention it. Overall, this headlamp is awesome and worth every penny.

There you have it. Take your pick when you are choosing your next headlamp and let us know if you have any questions. Here are a couple of night shots that actually came out pretty well.

Backcountry Skiing in Ward Canyon 12/9/09

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Phil makes a pow turn below Grouse Rock

Phil makes a pow turn below Grouse Rock

After reading the advisories from the Sierra Avalanche Center from the last storm, we decided to give the snow a few days to settle and bond. We headed out on wednesday 12/9 for some fairly low angle powder skiing in Ward Canyon. A lot of the snow had been blown into thick windslabs, but we managed to find some protected areas with deep and light powder. I used the new Black Diamond Glidelite Mohair Mix skins for the first time and I really noticed the extra glide and appreciated the light weight compared to nylon skins. I was, as usual, wearing my Mammut Ultimate Hoody and it really excels in the typical conditions we run into in the Tahoe backcountry. Its the most breathable outer layer I have ever had, I can wear it skinning when everyone else has stripped down to base layers. Then I just zip up the vents at the top and I’m protected from wind and water by a full Gore Windstopper softshell.  Its also really lightweight (17 ounces) and packable for spring days where you just need a windproof layer for the summit.  Its a piece of gear I highly reccomend. With more storms expected in the next few days, things are just getting started.  Another great day with good friends!

Shane below Grouse Rock

Shane below Grouse Rock

Game On! December Snow in Tahoe

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Well this storm certainly didn’t disappoint. I woke up to at least two feet of light fluffy powder on my deck this morning and it keeps coming. If there were any base below all of this fluff it would be an all time amazing day for skiing. In reality there is almost no base below all of this new snow so even though a lot of lines look very inviting, lots of rocks and logs are lurking just below the surface waiting to ruin your season. Today’s advisory from the Sierra Avalanche Center indicates high avalanche danger, but once the snowpack has some time to settle and bond, we should have a nice base to start the season. Game On!

Fresh Snow in Alpine Meadows 12/7/09

Fresh Snow in Alpine Meadows 12/7/09

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