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Archive for February, 2011

Lake Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Report

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

For this adventure of the week, we go to our own backyard. Dave, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports, took some time away during this busy holiday week to enjoy the bountiful goods the snow gods dropped around Lake Tahoe.

WHO: Dave and Jonny

WHAT: Backcountry Skiing

WHERE: Bearscratch – East Shore, Lake Tahoe

WHEN: President’s Weekend 2011

GEAR: Black Diamond Megawatt Skis, ContourGPS Helmet Cam, Mammut Albaron Jacket, Black Diamond Virago Gloves

With all the new snow we got the past week (some said up to 99 inches or more), it was time to get some of the lines that can only be skiied a couple times a year, if even that. The East Shore of Lake Tahoe is one of these places that holds those kinds of lines. The East Shore always gets the least amount of snow and with its western exposure, it warms up and melts out very quickly. So, timing is critical if you are going to get one of these lines. As the sun decided to poke its head out for the first time in 4 days, Jonny and I thought this was our chance, so we headed for possible one of the most aesthetic lines in the Tahoe Basin, Bearscratch.

View of Bearscratch from across the Lake

View of Bearscratch from across the Lake

The only thing that was going to stop us was the potential avalanche danger. This line goes straight from top to bottom with few trees or safe spots, especially in the top section. After 2 hours of very deep trail breaking and skinning (literally, thigh deep with every step), we finally made it just below the top where we could peek into the “Scratch” proper. Wow, did it look awesome and not a track in it……yet. So, we down climbed over some rocks and took shelter from the wind in some small trees at the top while we deskinned, checked the avy conditions and layered up as the wind was blowing about 30+mph. The first video of this post is the top section that was absolutely incredible and the BD Megawatts made all the difference. I love the perspective of all these videos because you can see my ski tips and Lake Tahoe all in the same shot. The next 2 videos I am standing still while fliming Jonny come down from above.

Other Details:

Skiable Vert: 2400 ft.
Base Elevation: 6200 ft. – Basically, the Lake!
Approach: NW Facing Treed Slope
Descent: The gut of the “Scratch”
Where to Park: We can’t give everything away;)

Spot Connect Racks Up Awards

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The new SPOT Connect, unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2011, has already racked up quite a few awards—and it’s only February folks!

In a nutshell, SPOT Connect turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator. That way when you’re off the grid, and 3G is 300 miles away, you can keep contact with friends, family and emergency personnel. A downloadable SPOT Connect App links up to your smartphone via Bluetooth and—voila!—you have a satellite smartphone capable of sending short emails, text messages with GPS coordinates, SOS messages for international emergency response, and even Twitter and Facebook updates.

Currently, the SPOT Connect App is compatible with the Android 2.0 or higher operating system, and is pending final Apple approval to allow SPOT Connect to sync with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Plus, in a bind, the SPOT Connect can act alone; it has its own SOS button for standalone emergency operation. But us Tahoe Mountain Sports staffers don’t just think it’s a great buy. SPOT Connect has racked up the following designations and awards; here’s a look and what other experts have to say:

  • 2011 CES Innovations Award: Design and Engineering in Personal Electronics
  • (The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger won the same award at the 2008 CES.)
  • CNET: Best of Show Nomination: Software/Service/Apps category
  • (Of more than 20,000 products showcased at CES, SPOT Connect was one of five nominated in the Software/Services/Apps category.)

“The Spot Connect’s hardware is self-contained, so it can continue to transmit your location when in Tracking or SOS mode even if the paired smartphone dies or is deactivated, and is IPX7 waterproof and shockproof, so it’s less likely to be damaged or destroyed than a relatively fragile handset… And because the Spot Connect has its own GPS receiver and satellite transmitter, it can also be used to add positioning and messaging functionality to noncellular devices, such as the iPod Touch.”

  • Mobile Magazine: 10 Best of CES 2011, Best Satellite Technology

“Some technologies clearly stood out beyond others, some we thought were just damn cool, and others we know will make a difference in our connected lives.”

  • Gizmodo: Some of Tomorrow’s Best Gadgets

“So you’re lost in the wilderness. Thoughts of a parched, solitary death are entering your mind. Well, with the Spot Connect, you can share these final thoughts on the Internet! And also save yourself (But mainly: Tweet.)”

  • Tech Geeze: Best Picks in CES 2011

“As much as we’d love to have those new and shining smartphones coming here and there and everywhere, they’re pretty much useless if you’re stuck in a location without any signals. Typically when you’re lost in some random forest where it matters most. Look no further as there’s SPOT Connect and it has you covered.”

Add waterproof and lightweight to the Spot Connect’s feature list, and we’re sold! The device is scheduled to be released this spring, but you can go ahead and preorder SPOT Connect now or shop our other Spot Electronics in stock.

UPDATE March 31, 2011 – We now have the Spot Connect in stock!

Training for the Great Ski Race

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Well, it’s on. I have 17 days until the Great Ski Race, and I need to train big time. I’ve put in more than a handful of days on the Nordic slopes this season, but certainly not enough to handle all 30 kilometers and 1,600 vertical feet. Some say, “Oh, you’ll be fine.” Others warn of the course profile: 11 kilometers of steep uphill to start, then down, down, down, and a final uphill push to top it off. I’m a little nervous, considering racing isn’t exactly my style. As a child, I used to hate being chased so much that when my brother would run after me, I’d drop to the ground and cry. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen on March 6.

Anywho, here are some tips I’m gonna follow for my belated training; they’re paraphrased from a Winter 2009-10 Tahoe Quarterly article written by Brad Rassler, who interviewed experts like Ben Grasseschi, then the head coach of the Far West Nordic Ski Team, and Kevin Murnane, general manager of Tahoe Cross Country, where the race kicks off.

Grasseschi recommended a 5-out-of-7-day weekly training regime. This new coat of powder isn’t exactly helping me start, but I suppose it gives me a day to map out my plan of action. I’ll plan to start tomorrow, Thursday, unless it’s still dumping snow.

Days 1 and 3: Long and Slow. I’ll be adding an hour to my anticipated race time, and keeping my workout at a conversation pace.

Day 2: Very Short, Very Hard. After a 15-minute warm-up, I’ll work on sprinting at a “race pace” for 10 minutes at a time, for no longer than 30 minutes of sprinting.

Days 4 and 6: Kinda Long, Kinda Hard. On this day, I’ll plan to skate for 90 minutes with a few bursts of high-intensity skating thrown in.

Day 5: Power Yoga. Now this I can handle!

Day 7: Rest. Ahhh… except that the next day, I’ll start it all again for Week 2.

And let’s say it doesn’t stop snowing, and my training plan is foiled? Here are a few race-day tips from the pros: 1) To start, find your rhythm and don’t worry about passing. Wait until the Fiberboard Freeway to kick it in. 2) Apply the right wax; Tahoe XC has a wax clinic before the race so be on the lookout for it and attend it. 3) Downhill technique is important, too! We’re all so focused on the up that we forget we can make up time on the down.

See you at the Great Ski Race! Do you have any Great Ski Race training tips we missed? I need all the help I can get!

5 Under $50: Ski Gear Guide

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Let’s face it, ski and snowboard gear is not cheap. But in our monthly quest to show you affordable options in our 5 Under $50 posts, we’ve uncovered some killer deals on snow gear.

1) Black Diamond Midweight Gloves $24.95

These aren’t your average, puny glove liners. With goat leather palms, strong Kevlar stitching and a 4-way stretch fabric, you won’t sacrifice dexterity, warmth or durability when wearing these midweight gloves.

2) Black Diamond Transfer 7 Shovel $49.95

This extendable, ultralight snow shovel is one of the best backcountry shovels on the market, and what a great price! Packable, with an ergonomic handle, this backcountry shovel is a marvel in design.

3) Dakine Home Grown Soy Push-Up Wax $12.95

This rub-on wax is perfect for a quick fix on the slopes when sticky snow slows your roll. It’s so small that you can keep it in your pocket, and it’s soy-based so you don’t have to breathe in any harmful fumes.

4) Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra $29.00

This must-have Eastern Sierra skiing guide flies off our shelves each winter, helping backcountry skiers navigate some 166 descents between Tioga Pass and Bishop Creek. And if you’re more of a resort-hound, don’t miss Squallywood, the famous guide to Squaw Valley, now on sale, at 40 percent off, for just $14.95.

5) Smith Cascade Goggles $34.95

With Smith’s top-of-the-line goggles hitting $165, the Smith Cascade is a steal considering it has many of the same quality features, like a thermal lens, Airflow lens technology and the proprietary Fox-X lens treatment.

5 Under $50 is a monthly Tahoe Mountain Sports 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.

What not to do 10 hours before heli-skiing

Monday, February 7th, 2011

This special guest post written by our Colorado (and Canada) ski ambassador Matt Samelson is brought to you by Adventure Medical Kits, and, of course, Coors Light…

In case your list of “Things not to do 10 hours before a helicopter whisks you away for a week-long hut trip” has an open slot, feel free to add: take a 12-foot swan dive into a parking lot.  Seems obvious, but since I recently accomplished it, I highly recommend putting it on the list.

Golden, British Columbia, was absolutely getting hammered with snow.  The roads were a mess, passes were closed, and a mile-long section of Highway 95 consisted of idling semis just waiting to rush off into the storm.  Things were looking good for an amazing trip.  Our group of 15 had successfully navigated a $1,600 food and unknown dollars amount of beer purchase in Spokane, Washington, in preparation for the hut.  Amidst the excited chaos of having made it to Golden, we realized the 250 pounds of meat and cases upon cases of beer lashed to the roof of a suburban would freeze if left outside.

Instead of making the smart choice of an orderly unpacking, we went the guy route.  We parked the suburban near the second-floor balcony where our rooms were, my brother Mike scrambled on top of the car and started slinging deli meat.  A hastily constructed fire brigade line was assembled and the car was quickly unloaded . . . until we got to the beer.

Now to his credit, Mike did mention that the 30-pack of Coors Light seemed heavy.  But I shrugged it off, “Do it.”  His first attempt came up short, but he caught it.  So I leaned over the balcony readying for his second attempt, which was better, but still a little short.  I grabbed it as its trajectory was swinging back down and whoosh! The thing ripped me over the railing.

I didn’t land on my head; that was good.  But I managed to land in the only non-snowy patch of the parking lot leading with my shoulder.  The collarbone snapped and I knew it immediately.

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SmartWool Review: SmartWool Women Apparel

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

I’ve been wearing SmartWool socks as far back as I can remember but I only recently got to try out the famous wool on the rest of my body. We have a great selection of SmartWool apparel at the shop, so I decided to try the best-looking item, in my opinion, on for size: the SmartWool Midweight Zip T.

Though I’m 5’4″ at 130 pounds, and usually wear smalls or mediums, I ended up buying a large size. Maybe I was just in one of those comfort-clothes moods; the medium was probably a better fit, but I love my large. It feels comfy, and definitely not frumpy. (And that’s not just me talking – my boyfriend even likes it on me.) The small was a little too form-fitting for my style, especially on a midweight layer like this that I often wear alone without an under or over layer.

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