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Archive for November, 2011

New from K2: Splitboards, Skiing Helmets and Avalanche Gear

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

K2 Skis continues to come up with great backcountry ski and backcountry snowboard gear well designed for venturing out of bounds. We’ve been huge fans of the K2 Coomback, K2 Gotback, K2 Sidestash and their well designed climbing skins, but this year, when they offered up an all-inclusive splitboard package, we new we had to add a snowboard to our lineup.








The K2 Panoramic Splitboard packages together a great all-mountain splitboard, Voile plates, and K2 Climbing Skins for the best splitboard integration we’ve scene. K2’s tip and tail holes mean secure attachments for the climbing skins – something you don’t see on splitboards. The great price gives new backcountry snowboarders a great alternative to splitting their own board, which exposes the core to moisture and damage. Check out our video overview:

The top of the line K2 Helmet, the K2 Diversion Audio, offers great construction, fit and ventilation and adds easy audio integration for your smart phone or MP3 player. See all the features here:

And last but not least, K2 has clearly put a lot of thought into their avalanche rescue gear – a great avalanche shovel called the K2 Rescue Shovel Plus, and a smart Avalanche Probe. The shovel can be used normally, in “hoe mode,” or even as a rescue sled when combined with skis or your splitboard. And the probe packs cleanly, offers great strength and weighs little. Here’s a quick look:

So if you’re interested in heading into the backcountry this winter, or you’re a veteran at the out-of-bounds steep and deep, K2 clearly has some great options worth considering.

K2 Panoramic Splitboard Package
K2 Panoramic Splitboard Package
MSRP: $899.95
K2 Diversion Audio Helmet
K2 Diversion Audio Helmet
MSRP: $159.95
K2 Rescue Shovel Plus
K2 Rescue Shovel Plus
MSRP: $74.95
K2 Avalanche Probe Aluminum 300
K2 Avalanche Probe Aluminum 300
MSRP: $59.95


How to Nordic ski, and why you should

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

This special guest post on Nordic skiing is written by Tim Hauserman, author of the books “Cross-Country Skiing in the Sierra Nevada” and “The Tahoe Rim Trail: A Complete Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers, and Equestrians.” He teaches both skate and cross country skiing at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area and offers up this primer on how to Nordic ski, and why you should do it this winter.

Tim Hauserman teaching a skate skiing lesson at Tahoe Cross Country

Does the cost of a downhill ski ticket make you break out in hives, or are you just sick of the crowds? Do your friends spend most of the winter at Tahoe Cross-Country, Tahoe Donner Cross-Country or the Nordic trails where you live? Perhaps it is time to go uphill, where for less than half the price of a downhill ticket you can get a good workout on groomed trails and begin skiing just a few feet from your car.

Nordic skiing at cross-country ski areas falls into two categories: striding/classic, and skating.  Striding involves skiing in tracks, with your skis pointed straight ahead. Skating is done on a skating lane, which is a five-foot wide swath of corduroy next to the tracks. Like it sounds, skate skiing is skiing with the motion you would use ice-skating or rollerblading.

I like to say that striding is easy to learn but hard to master, while skating is hard to learn, but easy to master. If you have never cross-country skied before, striding is a good place to start. It is a little like walking and you can just shuffle along while you learn the sport. For many, the balance is easier than skating, especially if you are given the assistance of the tracks. Moving beyond the basics to becoming an expert classic skier, however, can be challenging and requires a lot of practice. At least that is what I’ve heard; I haven’t quite reached the expert level yet.

Skate skiing has become very popular among runners, bike riders and assorted other endorphin junkies as it is very aerobic, faster than striding and some unbiased observers such as myself believe it is THE GREATEST SPORT ON EARTH!

I have been teaching skating for years and see some people pick it right up, becoming great skaters after just a few days… others, not so much. The strange thing is that I have never been able to put my finger on what the factor is that makes is easy for some and a challenge for others; it isn’t athletic ability or coordination. The key is to take a lesson, listen to your instructor, and give yourself a break if you are not an instant expert. The good news is that remember what I said about how skating is hard to learn, but easy to master? It’s very true, once you get the basic motion down, you will be skiing like an expert quickly.

Learning both striding and skating will allow you enjoy yourself no matter what the snow conditions. Right after a big storm, is the perfect time to be striding (unless you are also a downhill skier, in which case it might be hard to drag you off the mountain). That cold and squeaky sound is music to the ears of a strider, while it makes the skater feel like they are skiing in slow motion. As the snow gets older and firmer, that’s the best time for skating. Hard pack, springtime corn, hasn’t snowed in a week? All good and fast for skating.

Different techniques require different gear. Skating boots are stiffer, poles are longer, and skis are shorter and designed differently then striding gear. Why? Because when skate skiing you need a firmer attachment to the ski, you are poling at head level instead of at hip level, and the skis are all about glide and not kick. When selecting striding skis, you must choose between waxless and waxable. With waxless skis you only need to wax the tips and tails, the glide zones, and do not need to wax the kick zone, which is underneath your feet and grooved to keep you from sliding backwards on the uphill.  Waxable striding skis require you to wax the kick zone as well, but with a kick wax, which is different than a glide wax. While it can be a real challenge to get the kick wax right, if you get it, waxable skis are faster and more enjoyable then waxless skis. It’s easier to get the wax right when it is cold, dry snow…which is the best time to be striding anyway.

Nordic gear starter guide:

You don’t need much to have a good time Nordic skiing. Though the upfront cost is fairly high when you buy new, your gear lasts for years and years since Nordic skiing has much less impact and on-slope hazards than traditional alpine skiing. You can outfit yourself completely with Tahoe Mountain Sports’ new line of Salomon Nordic gear. Here’s a short list of the essentials; browse the full Salomon inventory for different styles and men’s and women’s versions of most of the below items.

* Hip belt for water and snacks, or a backpack with a water reservoir. Salomon makes many different versions of hip belts, but this XR Sensibelt model has a more flexible hip band that can transition to running better if you want to use it year-round.

* Lightweight gloves. A rookie mistake is to wear too bulky of gloves. You want a pair that will let your hands breathe like the Salomon Nordic Training Gloves.

* Softshell pants. Again, breathability is key when you’re working up a sweat on the Nordic trails. Opt for the Salomon Super Fast II Pants or the Momentum model.

* Lightweight Salomon Momentum II Soft Shell Jacket or the Salomon Super Fast II Jacket: the perfect layer.

* Poles. Length is the important difference between poles for skating or striding (cross country): buy ones at armpit length for cross country, and poles that measure between your chin and lip for skating. And don’t just think you can use your alpine skiing poles. You want to buy ones specific to Nordic skiing as they are much lighter. TMS carries three different Salomon Nordic ski poles to choose from.

* For cross country skiing: Salomon Escape 7 Pilot boots for men, Salomon Siam 7 Pilot boots for women, Salomon Snowscape 7 cross country ski

* For skate skiing: Salomon Vitane 8 boots for women, Salomon Active 8 boots for men, Salomon Equipe 8 skate ski


Tim’s picks for local places to cross-country ski:

Tahoe Cross-Country between Tahoe City and Carnelian Bay has 65 kilometers of groomed trails, several leading to awesome lake views. They have free skating clinics several times per week, and pride themselves on a friendly, small town atmosphere.

Tahoe Donner Cross-Country in Truckee has close to 100 kilometers of trails with access to the lovely Euer Valley. They also provide lessons for every type of skiing and sport a wide variety of awesome skiing terrain.

Kirkwood Cross-Country, 25 miles south of Lake Tahoe, gives you jaw-dropping views of Round Top mountain as you climb up, up and away.

Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center at Mammoth Mountain is right in the middle of the central Sierra, so you will find awesome views of the High Sierra and deep snow.

Where to eat in San Francisco

Friday, November 25th, 2011

We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled Adventure of the Week programming to bring you my quest for great food in San Francisco, where I’m currently spending the Thanksgiving holiday—happy Thanksgiving, and food coma recovery to you! I’m an Atlanta native and a 7-year Tahoe resident so I’ve spent plenty of time in SF but not enough to know all its culinary secrets. So, I asked all my Facebook friends where to eat in San Francisco, and the response was overwhelming! Thus, I’m going to share this intel with the world here. And of course they spilled on where to get the best San Francisco coffee too!

Where to eat in San Francisco

A guide compiled by Tahoe locals and friends of Tahoe folk (so this is going to be your average man’s guide with a bit of everything, not some microscopic-plated gourmet tour)

FOR FOODIES (recommended by my food writer friend): Go to the Ferry Building to Cow Girl Creamery and Acme Bread, then go to The Alembic for dinner – SO GOOD. And for breakfast go to Zazie.

FOR NIGHT OWLS: Chambers Eat + Drink for late nite. Great food, very cool design. Coronado’s on lower Haight. Great spot for a late night beer. [Couldn’t find online link; perhaps he meant: Toronado] Hands down best beer: City Beer — I haven’t found anyplace like it!

FOR THE HEALTHY EATER: Cafe Gratitude in Mission!! All Raw/vegan Yuminesssss! If you like garlic, I suggest The Stinking Rose.

BEST OF THE BEST SF FOOD: Suppenkuche in lower Hayes (German food)!!! Good Thai: Ar Roi Thai Noodle. Grubsteak for delish diner food, beyond delish. You need to go to Little Star the best deep dish cornmeal pizza ever!

BREAKFAST AND COFFEE: Go to Outerlands in the Sunset for breakfast… 45th and judahish. It is amazing. Blue Bottle Coffee or Philz Coffee! Tartine on Guererro is amazing for pastries and coffee.

I will update the list after my trip, and add any stragglers that come in via Facebook. Feel free to add your own recommendations for where to eat in San Francisco in the comments.

Hestra Glove Review: Top Quality Winter Gloves

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Hestra Gloves started out 75 years ago with one leather work glove, and has grown to an international company making some of the best ski gloves and snowboard gloves around.

The difference is in the details, which makes an online review difficult – you need to put a pair on your hands to truly understand the craftsmanship, fit and design. We could talk about the details for days: like goat skin used over cowhide in the Hestra Vertical Cut glove to give it 20-30 percent better durability because of the finer pore structure; the outseam stitching on the fingers that mean some gloves take 2 1/2 hours per pair to sew; the way the liners don’t slide out every time you take your hand out; fabric loops on the fingers so you can hang them right-side-up from your harness mountaineering-style so snow won’t pour in; “handcuff” loop fabric around your wrists so when you take your gloves off they’re still attached – not flying off the chairlift when the wind picks up. It’s all about the details.

Here’s a quick video walk through:

So if you’re in the market for a new pair of winter gloves, we strongly recommend Hestra – they aren’t the least expensive gloves but they’ll fit better, last longer and keep your hands warmer and dryer – a worthy investment for all lovers of the winter months. Have a Hestra Gloves review we should hear? Let us know about it in the comments.

Hestra Ski Cross Gloves
Hestra Ski Cross Gloves
MSRP: $119.95
Hestra Heli 3-Finger Gloves
Hestra Heli 3-Finger Gloves
MSRP: $114.95
Hestra Heli Gloves - Women's
Hestra Heli Gloves – Women’s
MSRP: $109.95

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale featuring Patagonia, socks and Coutour deals

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are back and so is our killer Patagonia Cyber Monday Sale!

Get up to 30 percent off your favorite Patagonia clothes, like Patagonia Down Sweaters and the brand’s Gore-tex jackets and pants for skiing and riding, all weekend long starting on Black Friday and running through Cyber Monday.

And that’s not all. We’re taking 20–70 percent off our entire inventory* for the whole long weekend, so now is the time to stock up for the season. Holiday shopping on big ticket items like skis, boots, bindings and avalanche safety gear, stocking stuffers like warm down booties and hats… we have a gift for everyone on your list. Plus, all the outdoor clothes and accessories to get you through winter. 


Fri-Mon only – 20-70% off everything*
*excludes Black Diamond, K2, Smartwool and other small restrictions

1) Patagonia Clothing Up To 30% Off
Get Patagonia Down Sweaters and Gore-Tex Jackets and Pants at great prices, just for Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend
No code needed
Starts: 11/23/11 at midnight
Ends: 11/28/11 at midnight

2) Take 20% Off All Socks
Socks make great stocking stuffers, so stock up today. Take 20% off the best socks from Smartwool, Wigwam and Keen
Code: Socks20
Starts: 11/23/11 at midnight
Ends: 11/28/11 at midnight

3) Get a FREE Surf/Wake Mount when you buy a Contour Roam POV Camera
In addition to the free mounts that come in the package, we are throwing in an extra surf/wake mount for all Roam Purchases throughout the weekend and on Cyber Monday
No code needed
Starts: 11/23/11 at midnight
Ends: 11/28/11 at midnight

We have the best Patagonia Cyber Monday sale around, so don’t miss it. Now is the time to shop for winter!

Canfest: On the hunt for the best Canned Beer for the Outdoors

Friday, November 18th, 2011

A good beer on a great trip; it doesn't get any better.

We take our gear testing really seriously here at Tahoe Mountain Sports: giving you the scoop on the latest and greatest ski technology or waterproof breathable fabric stats.  And it was with equal gravity that Hard Goods Manager Kevin and Web Editor Greyson selflessly took on a serious evening of testing last weekend at Reno’s 3rd Annual Canfest.

Samping Snake River Brewing from Wyoming at Canfest.

Canned beer can evoke images of inferior quality beer in many minds who prefer a good draft or bottle, but Canfest founder Buckbean Brewing Company aims to overturn that preconception. To that end, Buckbean and Abbi PR brought in 30 breweries sporting around 80 craft beers, all in cans, from places ranging from Hawaii to Alaska, South Dakota to Texas.

As outdoor enthusiasts, we at Tahoe Mountain Sports are fans of good canned beers (to be enjoyed responsibly, by persons at or over the age of 21, of course) as an excellent option for backpacking, hiking, skiing, or whatever. Easy to pack, no glass to break, compactable when done (Leave No Trace), cans have bottles beat up and down in the backcountry.

Kevin, fresh off three weeks on the John Muir Trail, had this to say: “What I love about these awesome beers is that on a trip into the wild I can pack them in and pack them out easily. Case in point: On the JMT my hiking partner Eric carried a can of Hamm’s the entire trip, just so we could get photos with it.”

Kevin, celebrating the John Muir Trail on Mt. Whitney.

Truly exotic “beer drinker’s beers” can now be found in cans, like 21st Amendment’s Back in Black Black India Pale, Boulder Beer’s Hazed and Confused, Buckbean’s Original Orange Blossom Ale and Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Porter.

And some classics are starting to show up in cans, like Anderson Valley’s Boont Amber Ale, Big Sky Brewing’s Moose Drool Brown Ale, Blue Moon, Mammoth Brewing Company’s Epic IPA and Golden Trout Pilsner, and Four Peaks Brewing Kilt Lifter Scottish Style Ale.

Here are Kevin’s Picks from Canfest: “My favorite beers were From Snake River Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery. The Snake River Brewing cans ‘Pako’s Eye-P-A,’ an India Pale Ale which has an outrageously hoppy nose, and the bitter hops linger on your tongue long after you’re done sipping. Just the way I like my beer.  Oskar Blues Brewery’s ‘Old Chub Scotch Ale’ uses scotch barrels during the process to flavor the beer. Delicious carmel and chocolate, with some woody notes from the scotch!  The fact that these breweries make beer in cans allows me to elevate my backcountry beer experience above PBR or Coors.”

Mammoth Brewing Company's Golden Trout.

Greyson’s favorites were predictable for those who read this blog: “I always go back to the beers of Mammoth brewing company; the Golden Trout is light and refreshing, a perfect thirst quencher after a day of hiking, climbing or skiing, and so is the Epic IPA. But I also really enjoyed the Anderson Valley Brewing Company Boont Amber Ale for a solid beer in the backcountry.”

Looking for the ultimate conveyance for your canned beer into the backcountry? Check out the Snow Peak Kanpai Titanium Bottle, which can keep a can of beer cold with it’s double-walled thermos-like construction and “cooling lid” with a gel pack you freeze to keep your beer frosty! Back in stock at Tahoe Mountain Sports at the beginning of December, it’s the perfect holiday gift.

And come hoist a pint with us at “Drink to That” Night here at the Kings Beach store on Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. We’ll be serving up beer to benefit Tahoe Institute for Natural Science,  give you a shot at prizes, and more. Tune into our Facebook page for more details soon.

5 Under $50: Eat Thanksgiving Outside

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we expect you’re already making plans… what you’re making, where you’ll be eating, who you’ll be eating with, and so on. Why not shake things up this year by cooking and eating entirely outside? With deep-fried turkey so popular these days, the star of the show is easy to make outside. Here are our five picks, all under $50, to get you started.

1) Thermarest Travel Cushion $29.95 Fall isn’t the friendliest time for outdoor seating (snow, mud, cold park benches), so prepare for a long time at the outdoor table by bringing along this camp cushion.

2) Platypus Platypreserve $12.95 Bring your wine deep into the woods with this collapsible Platypus wine preserver that’s air tight to keep wine good for weeks.

3) Snow Peak Spork $9.95 One of our most popular camp products, the Snow Peak titanium spork combines two strong utensils in one, and you’ll never lose it with three bright colors to choose from.

4) Snow Peak GigaPower Torch $39.95 Ignite anything with ease with this portable butane torch. Use it to set cooking fires fast, then to top off your camp creme brulee for dessert!

5) Snow Peak 3 Piece Cookware Set $49.95 This titanium camp cookware set is ultralight, with folding handles for packability. A must-have for any gourmet camp kitchen.

Shop our Camp Kitchen selection for more ideas, and watch the video below for some inspiration from the BBQ Pit Boys on deep frying your turkey. And remember, always wear your camo and/or denim when deep frying a turkey, and don’t forget the excessive manly handshakes and cackles (see at 1:33 in the video).

When done, your turkey should look like this (photo by Mot the barber/flickr):

And if all else fails, hit up your stash of Backpacker’s Pantry.

A 2-year old skis before you this season

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Yep, you’ve been one-upped by a 2-year-old. Remember Makenna Larkins, the 1-year-old skier from last winter? She’s back at it, starting her season tally early last month. Here’s some video her mom captured on her iPhone, so excuse the low resolution. So awesome how she asks for more at the end of the first video from October. Shred on, Makenna!!

WHO: Makenna Larkins

WHAT: Skiing

WHERE: Tahoe City, California

WHEN: October and November 2011

GEAR: Patagonia kids ski gear

Check out those fresh tracks! Skiing pow at 2! This is surely toddler skiing at its finest.

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

Sorel Boots Get Fashionable

Friday, November 11th, 2011

When you hear the words Sorel boots, you probably think of this:

But what you can now also be thinking is this:

Sorel has really upped the fashion in its women’s line, bringing some serious styles to its functional and warm components. Here’s a quick look at the more fashionable lineup we carry in the shop, listed from left to right as shown above. All models are fully waterproof, with Thinsulate insulation and felt linings for warmth, and feature multidirectional rubber outsoles for great winter traction. We also carry the functional classic, the Sorel Caribou, in both men’s and women’s versions.

Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots: The full lacing, full-grain and suede leather, and faux fur cuff make this pair legit in both fashion and Arctic circles. Whether you need them for sub-zero conditions, or to just look good, Joan of Arctics offer the best of both worlds. They have a removable felt inner boot like the Caribous, which is great for drying them out. Recycled felt inner boot, 2.5 mm felt lining, $139.95 retail

Sorel Tivoli Boots: I own this Sorel boot and love the lower cut that’s just the right height in my opinion. While I love a tall boot on occasion, I prefer the lightweight feel of a smaller boot. The Sorel Tivolis offer just that. They are surprisingly lightweight (1 lb 1 oz) while being warm at the same time, kinda like a winter sneaker-boot. Houndstooth uppers give them nice style, and each pair comes with 2 lace colors so you can customize your look. 100 grams of Thinsulate insulation, $109.95 retail

Sorel Helen of Tundra II Boots: These offer the best of both worlds in my opinion: a look that’s snazzy enough to pair with a skirt, skinny jeans or leggings when dressing up, yet low-key for everyday wear too. Full-grain leather uppers with felted wool-style striping is unique and classy. 100 grams of Thinsulate insulation, 3 mm felt lining, $149.95 retail

Sorel Tofino Canvas Boots: Like a cross between the Joan of Artic and the Tivoli, these quilted beauties feature a waxed canvas upper that’s fully waterproof, plus a faux fur collar and bright red color to stop traffic. Sherpa Pile lining, $139.95 retail

We have loads more boots than just Sorel in stock too. Check out new styles in stock from The North Face Footwear too!

Adventure of the Week: Another Amazing Eastern Sierra Weekend

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The storm clouds break on the Sierra Crest as seen from the Buttermilks

Who: Greyson, Matt and Adam

What: Bishop bouldering, Eastern Sierra road tripping

Where: Bishop, Buttermilk Country, the Happy Boulders

When: November 5th and 6th

Gear: Our Bishop Bouldering Guidebook once again proved indispensable, my Nemo Astro Insulated Sleeping Pad with Pillow Top was totally cush, I lived in my Mammut Schoeller Dryskin pants and Icebreaker Wool the whole time, and my Jetboil provided crucial quick hot water for the cold weather.

If it seems like we blog about bouldering around Bishop a lot here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, it’s only because we do. I made my first trip down in June, and Lis wrote about taking a break from the snow to boulder in the Buttermilks last December, where she found 70 degree weather.

Well, my buddies and I didn’t get as lucky as Lis, but we still had a blast in what has to be one of the best bouldering playgrounds in the world.

We left Tahoe Friday after work, which meant missing much of the scenery of the Eastern Sierra drive, only imagining the snow-capped peaks looming in the darkness around us. Snow flurries came and went from the cone of light projected from the headlights, leaving a sense of foreboding for our plans to camp that night.

And sure enough, when we got to our campground at 11 p.m., it was cold. Really cold. We lingered around the fire for as long as we could stand, and brought every scrap of clothing we had into our respective sleeping bags, our tents already coated in a crunchy shell of frost.

Evidence of a cold night's sleep.

The Buttermilk Boulders where crawling when we got down to them Saturday morning, parking turnouts packed with camper vans and shelled pickup trucks. We were both a little intimidated by the scene, and nonplussed by the blasting death metal coming from one car — but as always, the climbing community proved our fears false.

If there’s an unfriendly, elitist or territorial climber out there, I haven’t met them. Strangers pool crash pads, cheer each other on, and stand ready to spot one another within minutes, or even seconds of meeting. And as with last time, the rock didn’t disappoint.

Topping out with the Sierra Crest in the background (Photo by Matt Renda)

After our fingers, forearms and bound toes could take no more, we wandered the streets of Bishop, getting advice at local gear stores, grub at a local restaurant and of course bread at Schat’s Bakery.

Braced for another cold night, we boiled water for hot water bottles and bedded down. The hot bottle worked wonders, as did the fatigue of a day well spent, and I only woke once to hear the sound of snow softly falling on the nylon skin of my tent.

With possible showers forecasted for Sunday, we weren’t sure what to expect when we awoke that morning (with an extra hour thanks to the end of Daylight Savings!), but the sun was shining and a new-to-us climbing area was beckoning. We drove out to the table lands north of Bishop, and joined the conga-line of crash pad–backed climbers approaching the Happy Boulders.

Matt getting after it in the Happy Boulders

I now understand what climbing gyms are trying to emulate. There were intricate and interesting boulders stacked side by side as far as I could see, all with a dizzying array of jugs, huecos, pockets and edges. Despite still-protesting fingers and forearms, we were drawn up each route, tacking as many problems as we could fit into the time we had left.

But the open road beckoned — or more accurately, Mammoth Brewing Company and one of the many hot springs you can find along the way (or in this book). A resupply at the brewery and a good long soak in the hot spring while watching the sun set over the Sawtooths was the perfect ending to another amazing weekend in the Sierra.

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