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Archive for October, 2010

Clinic CliffNotes: K2 Skis, Poles and Skins 2010-11

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

It’s “clinic” time again here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, the early season when sales reps come in to train us on their new lines. Today we met with Rob from K2, who talked us through some company history and gave us the inside scoop on the skis, poles and skins we carry. Lucky for you, our new Flip video camera just came in so I took a few clips of Rob in action.

But first, some background on K2 Ski Company… Talking units and dollars, K2 is the number one ski supplier in the U.S. No doubt you’ve heard the brand name, if not owned or rented some of their skis. Hey, I’m a snowboarder and I even own the Phat Luv women’s skis (well, I kind-of ski, too). So besides sheer size, K2 is awesome because they’re not afraid to try new things, like signing on Shane McConkey and using his Spatula ski design to launch off a whole new line of rockered designs. Now, some 5 years later, K2 has rocker in virtually every ski it makes, even narrow carving skis.

Rocker, if you haven’t had it explained to you by the gazillions of brands using the technology now, is essentially reverse camber, giving a lift to certain sections of your ski. This helps the ski float in deep powder, and pushes the ski’s contact point closer to your center of mass, helping you to turn quicker and easier. With K2 skis, that lift presses out when you get into your turn, so no need to worry about losing your edge or flapping tips.

This is our first year carrying K2, and true to our style, we went with skis from K2′s Adventure Series: the K2 COOMBAck, the K2 SideStash and the K2 GotBack, all which have all-terrain rockered tips. Stop by the shop or click through the links to our website to learn more, but in short, the COOMBAck and women’s specific GotBack are backcountry machines, built lightweight yet burly for big mountain, self-propelled charging. Cool features include snowphobic top coats that shed snow so these lightweight sticks don’t get weighed down when you’re skinning, and women’s specific designs that don’t just have forward mounts but also adjusted sidecuts and lighter-weight tips and tails. As if those weren’t enough features to hook you, K2′s got a heli-ski trip drawing going for anyone who purchases their backcountry skis.

You know a ski is great when the sales rep skis it. That’s the case with the K2 SideStash, also the choice of our hard goods manager, Kevin, this season. For the more descent-oriented skier who charges hard inbounds, but wants the option to take a few runs in the backcountry, the Sidestash is gonna be a big seller for us. We’ve got K2′s pre-cut skins for each of these models to boot, so you can be backcountry-ready virtually right out of the box. Check out this video for a more detailed look at the special skin attachment design K2 integrates right into the ski.

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Camping in Tahoe, Without a Trace

Monday, October 25th, 2010

This summer I answered the call of the wild. I spent four and a half months residing within the Tahoe National Forest, living simply and reconnecting with nature. Low-impact, portable outdoor living was the name of the game, and I made sure not to leave a single bit of evidence that I was ever out there.

For me, Leave No Trace is far more than just picking up your litter (and litter found along the way), it is using the outdoors in a minimal and responsible way. LNT is digging a proper cat hole, appropriately disposing of wash water and even making sure to spit out your toothpaste in a way that is virtually invisible to passers by and harmless to woodland creatures.

These wilderness areas were set aside to be left wild. There are so few places left in the world that are devoid of human influence that it becomes our responsibility to protect these places where nature is able to run its course. When I am out in the forest I make it a point to tread lightly and have as little impact as possible on the forest.

As soon as I began noticing faint trails forming around my campsite, I’d pick up and move to a new location. Same thing if I noticed that my presence has started leaving a mark in any way. I wanted to leave the forest exactly as I found it. If somebody hiked through one of my previous campsites they would never know I was there.

Besides practicing Leave No Trace for ethical reasons, I also had a very practical reason to not be seen. I was not fully sure what the legal status was for high-country homelessness on public land at first, so treading lightly protected my own hide as well as those belonging to the furry critters that I called my neighbors.

Todd Shimkus is a web developer at Tahoe Mountain Sports, and penned this Leave No Trace post to cap off our big $1 per fan Facebook promotion with the organization. Just a few days left to like us on Facebook for the great, Leave No Trace cause. Don’t delay!

5 Under $50: Leaving No Trace

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

In honor of our new partnership with Leave No Trace, I will be talking about quality this week and have listed 5 quality items under $50 that will help you to leave no trace!

Quality of the goods and equipment that people purchase is often overlooked, especially with the number of cheap products out there and the bargain-bin retailers selling them. I always stress the importance of purchasing the right equipment. It often means a more expensive item, but if you purchase a good product you won’t need to replace it later. Each piece of clothing you buy will eventually wear out, and it then becomes waste. The responsible route is to lessen that waste by purchasing quality products. If you have ever bought a pair of jeans from Wal-Mart for $20 in addition to a pair of jeans made by Patagonia, you will know what I am talking about. The Wal-Mart denim will stretch, the stitching will unravel and holes will appear in the most unusual wear spots, all within a year. The Patagonia pants cost you quite a bit more, but they will hold up to abuse for years and years. Plus, Patagonia will repair them if the stitching does wear out. They won’t end up in landfill. On top of that, you won’t have to hassle with something that doesn’t work right, and you’ll end up saving yourself money by not re-purchasing.

How does this relate to Leave No Trace? With items as simple as water bottles, you can prevent waste and reduce the possibility and temptation to leave stuff behind on the trail. Here are our 5 Under $50 picks for leaving no trace:

1) Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks $26.95

These small, roll-top dry bags not only work well for organizing your personal items or food but they also make awesome trash bags. Being dry bags, they are leak proof and able to handle coffee grounds or empty oatmeal packets. Plus Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever!

2) Nite Ize S-Biners $1.95-$9.95

Organize and connect your equipment so that it isn’t strewn around. These s-shaped clips are well made with a simple and durable wire-gate design. They function just like a two-sided carabiner, and they are immensely popular! The large variety of sizes will do everything from clipping your bear-bagging cord onto a sack of rocks, to preventing the loss of your Nalgene by keeping it secured to your pack.

3) Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottles $10.95

In addition to holding water, these versatile and durable bottles make great storage containers for foods like cereal, powdered drink mix or any dehydrated foods. This means that you aren’t tempted to throw those food packets in the fire, and trash won’t accidentally get blown into a lake by the wind. Plus they are way more durable (and also less likely to get thrown into the fire) than a re-used Alhambra bottle.

4) Petzl Zipka Plus Headlamp $44.95

This headlamp is an excellent around-camp and around-the-house light. The retractable cable serves to secure the Zipka to your head, wrist or a backpack. The 35-meter range will help you in cleaning up after dinner so a bear won’t sneak to your campsite for your leftovers while you’re snoozing.

5) Trek Windproof Lighter $24.95

Quit buying all those cheapo plastic lighters and matches. This butane jet lighter will stay lit in the worst weather, and you won’t be throwing used matchsticks in the trash.

And lastly, for FREE you can support leaving no trace by simply liking Tahoe Mountain Sports on Facebook. With every new fan we get through Wednesday October 27 we are donating $1 to Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. We’ve raised $300 so far… help us raise more!

Kevin O’Hara is Tahoe Mountain Sports‘ hard goods manager, and 5 Under $50 is a TMS monthly blog series dedicated to showcasing some of our more affordable products. Each month we pick a theme, then show you the gear. Suggest a topic in our comments if you need some shopping help!

Cruising to Clean Up the Truckee River

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Our Adventure of the Week blog series usually highlights athletic mountain pursuits, but this week’s adventure didn’t involve sweat or skill. Nope, instead of hitting Tahoe’s mountain bike trails primed from a night of rain I headed to an event our new partner Leave No Trace would be proud of.

WHO: Lis and Biking for a Better World friends

WHAT: Biking for a Better World’s Truckee River Clean Up

WHERE: The Truckee River, between Alpine Meadows and Tahoe City

WHEN: October 17, 2010

GEAR: Cruiser bike graciously donated for the cause by Olympic Bike Shop, bike basket to hold larger trash items, rain jacket, Patagonia Capilene 2, warm waterproof gloves for the bike ride plus a latex one for picking up the trash

The forecast was bleak, calling for a 90 percent chance of rain, so you could call those of us who turned out hard core about cleaning up the Truckee River. As Lake Tahoe’s only outlet, the river is especially important to our region. And as booze cruise–rafting central each summer and located alongside a highway, it’s sadly subject to quite a bit of trash.

So when my friend Kendra asked me to join her for the day, I couldn’t say no. And when I woke up to a soaked ground and more rain in the forecast, I had to buck up, put on my rain jacket and hope for the best. Lucky for us, the weather couldn’t have been better (except for our rainy bike ride home). The sun even came out for Duncan Sisson’s epic dive into the river to pick-up a drowned beer can. Egged on by our crew who together promised to donate $50 to his Biking for a Better World nonprofit, Duncan came through, despite barely being able to breathe in the super-cold water.


I don’t have any specific stats, but know I filled up 3+ plastic grocery bags to the point of overflow, plus a bike basket of larger items. Among our bounty were: a 6-pack of unopened beers, countless flip-flops, a Croc sandal, a lifejacket, dozens of plastic bags, two dirty diapers and a few abandoned bags of dog poop.

A few other highlights of the day included Clean Up participant Aaron Gaines, who was particularly indignant about the all the litter, throwing his hands to the sky, declaring “why God, why?” with every beer bottle collected. And Dan Hurley’s poundage of an unopened fruit punch Gatorade. One man’s trash is another man’s refreshment

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Like Us on Facebook, Support Leave No Trace

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Tracy and Bigfoot of Leave No Trace, with Dave, Adina, Pam and Kelly of Tahoe Mountain Sports at Lake Tahoe

Remember our recent visit from Bigfoot, the Leave No Trace mascot? Well he came to see us in Lake Tahoe for a good reason. Today marks day #1 of the Tahoe Mountain Sports Leave No Trace initiative on Facebook. For every new Tahoe Mountain Sports Facebook fan we get in the next two weeks, we are donating $1 to Leave No Trace!

Yep, by simply clicking “Like” on our Facebook page, you can support the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, an educational nonprofit that promotes responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors.

Why Leave No Trace?

Our retail business doesn’t just thrive on the outdoors, we do. And if we can do our part to make sure we all respect the water, soil, snow, ice, rock, grass and sand on which we recreate, then we’re all for it.

Based on scientific studies and common sense, Leave No Trace has seven guiding principles: Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Plan Ahead and Prepare, Respect Wildlife, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. We at Tahoe Mountain Sports abide by these principles ourselves, and also strive to spread the word to our customers, whether they’re buying camping gear, ski equipment, clothes or shoes at our Kings Beach store or online.

Your Call to Action

We hope you take a minute to not only like us on Facebook but also get to know us and the products we carry from top brands like Patagonia, Black Diamond, Keen and MSR, most of which are environmentally responsible.

Although you may initially “like” us for this special Leave No Trace fundraiser, we hope you become lifelong fans of Tahoe Mountain Sports. We’ll gear you up for adventure, wherever you may live, so let us know how we can help you.

As of 12:01 a.m. on October 13, we had 516 Facebook fans; our Leave No Trace promotion runs through Wednesday October 27, 2010 at midnight PST. Let the liking begin!

Tournament Recap and Bigfoot Sighting

Monday, October 11th, 2010

In case you missed it, our 4th Annual Pro/Am Disc Golf Tournament was a success! The weather was gorgeous, and the competition high. Round 1 saw two hole in ones: “The Todd” Avcollie on hole 17 and Mike Bachman on hole 13.

Here are the top winners in each division:

OPEN PRO: 1 Greg Breazeale, 2 Nick Long, 3 David Madruga

MASTER PRO: 1 Scott Miller, 2 (tie) Glen Whitlock/Paul Sanchez

ADVANCED: 1 Joe Akhavan, 2 Josh Evans, 3 Jesse Hast

ADVANCED MASTERS: 1 John Brokaw, 2 Tullin Valdez

ADVANCED WOMEN: 1 Leah Feltenstein

INTERMEDIATE AM: 1 Scott Poynor, 2 Todd Avcollie, 3 Skot Meyer

BOYS JR: 1 Noah McDermott

Bigfoot, the Leave No Trace mascot, even showed up to play, or rather hunt down any stray discs to keep the forest clean. Here he is with the Tahoe Vista course founders, Kevin McDermott and Craig Getty.

We at Tahoe Mountain Sports got pretty chummy with the furry guy, so stay tuned for more Bigfoot news this week!

Magic Wood: Bouldering in Ausserferrera, Switzerland

Friday, October 8th, 2010

This Adventure of the Week comes from a hand more than 5,000 miles away in Paris, France. TMS friend and former Tahoe local Anya Miller Berg and her husband picked up and left their Seattle homestead for a 5-month stint in France. An avid boulderer, Anya shares with us here a recent excursion to Magic Wood in Switzerland.

WHO: Anya Miller Berg and Charlie Berg

WHAT: Bouldering at Magic Wood (Averstal)

WHERE: Ausserferrera, Switzerland

WHEN: September 2010

GEAR: Crash pad, chalk, climbing shoes

Paris, Zurich, Chur. Our sights were set on the Averstal Valley in southeast Switzerland, home to Magic Wood, a much-talked of and quite-distant bouldering spot. After leaving Chur, things quickly became much more rural. A train took us only as far as Thusis (TOO-sis), where Charlie and I stammered around a bit to find the appropriate bus and happened upon it quite quickly: Andeer, here we come. Gunning it up a steep and narrow valley the giant yellow bus we went. Those things are driven like supercharged wagons! Deposited in Andeer, we only had one more bus ride to get to Ausserferrera. So we waited.

We strolled around Andeer with all of our junk, found an ATM and got some food and drink for a few days of bouldering. The bus finally came and the driver hopped off, took one look at our crash pad and said “Mageek Woot?” in a heavy German accent. He clearly didn’t speak any English, but he knew where we wanted to go and that was good enough for us.

We hopped off right in front of the Gasthaus Generoso, the biggest building in this village with a population of 47. Inside a very traditional Swiss house, we checked in with the owners and were given a key to the non-descript building next door. I was a little disappointed: I wanted some authentic Swiss atmosphere! My worries were quickly put to rest… Charlie and I walked into the building and realized that it was the coolest place we had ever stayed.  The building had been built about four years ago by the Swiss government for the use of the town to generate tourism (mainly from boulderers, ice climbers and hikers coming to the valley). The design seemed to be a governmental standard for the mountains … it could have sat anywhere: it was so unbelievably durable, functional, sparse, but somehow still warm and comfortable. Classic Swiss. Dinner was being served at 8h30 sharp (everything really is on time in Switzerland), so we had a few hours to get out to see the boulders and climb. Good thing I had bought a watch in Chur.

Across the road and down the hill was a flowing turquoise river and a footbridge. We crossed over, literally and figuratively, into what really was a magical wood … a centaur came out and greeted us, there were faeries and nymphs, and a unicorn shook its mane and munched around on some lush grass in the distance. Not really, but almost. The light was soft and dim but still golden and the rocks were just all jumbled … kind of like Chaos Canyon in RMNP but placed in Washington, so there was moss all over everything. Luckily, the problems were clean in the midst of all of the vegetation. The gneiss was steep, tall, coarse and most problems generally had horrendous landings. A bit of a rude awakening after the kind stone and flat landings at Fontainebleau. All of them seemed beautiful, serious, and enchanting! We got over our fears and climbed a few tall moderate problems, walked around the forest, and got excited for the following day…

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