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Archive for April, 2012

Win a Snow Peak Kanpai Titanium Bottle!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

We’ve teamed up with Snow Peak for another awesome giveaway on our Facebook page – this time we’re giving away a Snow Peak Kanpai Titanium Bottle!

The Kanpai is a double-walled vacuum titanium bottle that takes the thermos to the next level for hot and cold drinks. The Vacuum double wall construction insulates extremely well to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. But what makes this BPA-free bottle really cool is the 3 lids it comes with; an insulated lid that’s water tight for packing, a drinking lid for sipping (not fully water-tight, so keep it upright) and a cooling lid.

The Kanpai is the perfect size to hold an 11 oz canned drink – from soda to beer – and this is where the cooling lid comes into play. The lid has a gel pack you freeze at home, then slide in your canned drink, screw on the cooling lid, and go – you’ll have an ice-cold refreshing beverage at the top of the peak or the end of the day!

So how do you win? Just head over to our Facebook page and tell us – or show us – what your favorite outdoor beverage is, and include an @ tag for Snow Peak’s Facebook Page. We’re thinking of photos of a drink with a view, a story of a thirst quenched, or a creative Haiku, but  we’ll consider any creative entry.

Our favorite will win the Kanpai bottle on May 11, so get your entries in and wow us with whatever you love to swill in the wilderness!

Black Diamond Orbit Lantern Review

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Ever since the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern hit TMS’s shelves, I had my eye on it. 4 compact inches, 45 lumens, a mere 3 ounces in weight… I had to have it. So buy it I did, right before a big camping/backpacking trip to Southern Utah. You can see the BD Orbit above in a photo I took of it in our tent set up down in Coyote Gulch, right by the impressive Jacob Hamblin arch, in Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. This little lantern lived up to my expectations; here’s my Orbit lantern review:


The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern provides ample light for reading, lounging and searching for items in your tent at night. It really makes your tent feel more like a little home with that perfect amount of ambient lighting. We also used it when car camping in Zion National Park for additional camp kitchen light and the BD Orbit worked great for this. Sometimes the laser beam of your headlamp isn’t exactly flattering to your food, so the Orbit provides enough light to see but not too much concentrated directly on your plate. Its dimming ability is really a bonus. You can take it from a mellow 10 lumens up to 45 lumens. Using its minimum setting, the Orbit can last for 24 hours on one set of batteries! The collapsible hooks make it ultra easy to affix to the top of your tent or a branch, and the dimming button and extendable nature of the lantern make it mighty despite its small stature.

The only issues I found were: 1) It’s hard to read lying on your back as the Obit shines down on you making it a little hard on your eyes. Headlamps are better for back-readers. 2) The collapsible hooks are easy to open, which is good and bad. Bad when you’re in an ultralight/small backpacking tent and don’t have much space to move and thus knock it off. A way to remedy this would be to use a small caribiner in addition to the collapsible hooks BUT then this would put the lantern even lower so you’ll have to do this on a case-by-case basis. We’d need a extra small caribiner for our tiny tent. 3) It’s not the best camp kitchen light for backpacking since it needs to be hung/elevated to provide the best use of the light. If you happen to camp under a good tree, then it’d work great. We never had a spot that it could work in, especially because it was caterpillar season for Utah’s cottonwoods. I’m sure there are some clever ways to elevate it. When car camping we perched it up on a few items on a picnic table, but when backpacking, there just wasn’t enough cook space to warrant using it. Plus, we were in the tent by dark anyways so there was really no need!


The Orbit’s weight is hard to beat. 3 ounces w/o batteries, so it’s barely noticeable in your pack. I will definitely bring this lantern on any future trips.


Unlike Black Diamond Equipment headlamps, this little camp light doesn’t come equipped with batteries. So keep that in mind if you’re buying it on the go. Be sure to buy the four AAA batteries, or grab a Black Diamond rechargeable kit; the Orbit is compatible with the NRG2. Black Diamond Equipment does a great job with minimal packaging. Similar to buying an Apple product, you feel good with your purchase: very little packaging trash, easy to open (unlike those awful sealed plastic packages some brands use) and the lantern feels light and high quality in your hand.


At $29.95, it’s a bargain. This is a lantern that will last a lifetime so I highly recommend it for the price.


Me and my camping partner brought along the Black Diamond Storm and Spot headlamps. The Storm is waterproof and a bit more burly, which was good to have in our packs since we were hiking miles through a stream.

If you have a Black Diamond Orbit Lantern review of your own, let us know in the comments.

Black Diamond Orbit LED Lantern
Black Diamond Orbit LED Lantern
MSRP: $29.95
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
MSRP: $49.95
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
MSRP: $39.95


Hiking the Lost Coast Trail: Two romantic days on the beach

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

This Adventure of the Week comes from Max Neale, Review Editor for Outdoor Gear Lab, which was recently named Best Gear Website by Outside Magazine. Max regularly contributes reviews and tales from the road on our blog. He took us climbing in Turkey in February, and now we head down California’s Lost Coast…

WHO: Max Neale

WHAT: backpacking on the Lost Coast Trail

WHEN: March 6-8 2012

WHERE: Northern California coast

GEAR: MSR tent, waterproof jacket, plus gear to impress her like the Platypreserve to hold your finest wine and the luxury Nemo Fillo pillow

If backpacking trips were like dinner dates, the Lost Coast Trail would be a seaside French bistro. It doesn’t get much better than this: the logistics are simple, the terrain is mild, and the views are spectacular. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend outing, or a peaceful solo hike, the Lost Coast Trail could be one of the best coastal walks in the world.

Looking south from the Punta Gorda Lighthouse

The Lost Coast is a mostly undeveloped section of the California coast. It lies far up north, just south of Eureka. The terrain is mountainous and wet; this is the land of Redwoods and pristine aqua-blue rivers. Lost Coast can be done anytime, but summer has best weather and winter has the lowest tides (so you may be able to pass through some sections that would otherwise be impassible at high tide). The trail that bears the area’s name stretches roughly eighty miles from where Route 1 cuts inland, south of Garberville, to Fortuna where it rejoins 101. Though this whole stretch is walkable, most people do a 26-mile section (from the Mattole River to Shelter Cove) along the water. This is a rare slice of beachside wilderness. Sea otters and sea lions chatter as you walk along deserted beaches scattered with polished rocks and driftwood. Camp wherever you like: anywhere is a five star site.

Lost Coast Logistics

Park at the Mattole River Trailhead, where you self-register for free permits. “Mandatory” bear canisters are available at the Petrolia General Store (707-629-3455) for $5 plus deposit. Hike south for two nights, being mindful of several sections that can’t be passed at hightide, and hitchhike back from Shelter Cove or leave a car there. This Lost Coast map shows start and end points, particularly good campsites, and tide-related information.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk, hike, ski, Lost Coast Trail backpack in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Platypus Platypreserve
Platypus Platypreserve
MSRP: $12.95

Nemo Fillo Luxury Pillow
Nemo Fillo Luxury Pillow
MSRP: $49.95

Rock Climbing at Oregon’s Smith Rock

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

WHO: Kevin, Ashley, Mollie and Shauna

WHAT: Rock climbing

WHERE: Smith Rock, OR

WHEN: March 2012

GEAR: Black Diamond Big Wall Harness, Black Diamond Primrose Harness, Terramar TMS logo shirt, Black Diamond Guide ATC, Black Diamond Qwire Quickdraws, Patagonia R1 fleece

How can a guy top off a week of skiing, eating, libations and laughter with three of his best friends? He goes climbing! And in Bend, Oregon, Smith Rock is where you head in the winter. I met with my friends Ashley, Mollie, and Shauna who live in this amazing Central Oregon town. We spent 2 days at Mt. Bachelor, toured Shevlin park by way of trail running, sampled lots of great beer, woke up late for coffee meetings at local spots in funky brick-lined alleyways, dressed up for neon-bowling, wined, dined, danced, and laughed ourselves to death. Did I mention that it was a spectacular week?

Ashley had asked me to bring some gear with me. Since she’s starting to rock the local indoor bouldering scene at Bend Rock Gym, she wants to begin tackling outdoor routes. Sweet! One more bag of gear to shuffle into the pickup. So on Sunday morning, Shauna, Ashley, and I headed about 25 miles northeast of Bend over to Smith Rock State Park to scope the scene.

From the parking lot, it’s a short, scenic walk across the river to the two most popular sections of rock: The Dihedrals and Morning Glory Wall. We had belay school for a bit, and then hit a fun easy climb: Five Gallon Buckets (5.8), which consists of a tafoni-pitted rock face. We then moved to a 5.9+ route just left of the Peanut, a spot between Morning Glory and Dihedrals. The name escapes me, but it was a great climb forcing you to use some jamming, stemming and some teeny, crimpy little holds. What I noticed most about Smith is how well developed this wonderful climbing location is. Belay pads have been built with rock retaining walls, and in some spots there are beefy wooden stairs leading up and down the pathways, or directly up the rock to a belay. I was extremely impressed with the work they’ve put in there!

In Bend, you could literally ski Bachelor all morning, then head to the rock in the afternoon and have less than an hour commute between the two. Additionally, most of the climbing at Smith Rock faces south, which means you’re taking in the sun the whole time. The scene here on a warm day is pretty busy. Smith is definitely a popular location, but worth going because of the mellow vibe and beautiful view. And there’s so much climbing, that even with the weekend crowd, we were able to find climbs without waiting. There are plenty of routes on both ends of the difficulty spectrum. From 5.7 to 5.12 and above. How can you beat this in the middle of winter?

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

Black Diamond ATC
Black Diamond ATC
MSRP: $16.95
Black Diamond Quick Draws
Black Diamond Quick Draws
MSRP: $17.95
Terramar TMS Logo T-shirt
Terramar TMS Logo T-shirt
MSRP: $19.95


The Top 12 Avalanche Safety Tips from my AIARE Level 1

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Avalanche safety is forefront on our minds in Tahoe with this season’s uncharacteristically weak and shallow snowpack and friends’ lives lost and endangered. I was lucky to be one of the Squaw Valley Avalanche Education Fund’s 2012 scholarship recipients and get a full ride to an AIARE Level 1 avalanche course at Expedition Kirkwood last weekend. Here are the top 12 things I learned during the course, or at least the ones I wrote down. I learned so much!

I highly recommend getting AIARE certified, and I can’t speak highly enough about Expedition Kirkwood and our instructor Geoff Clarke. While you’ll notice my list has a lot of “don’ts,” Geoff was very positive about the sport and the inherent dangers. We ski because it’s fun to push the limits. His course was all about knowledge. Know when and where it’s ok to push it, then go for it. There are just certain aspects on certain days that you must be aware of. AIARE Level 1 is a great place to start. Kirkwood is a great mountain to do it at since it’s a Class A avalanche resort, with loads of terrain that your AIARE guide can tour you through so you can see avalanche-prone terrain first hand.

Some stats to get you thinking: 90% of avalanche accidents are attributed to human factors traps. 95% of skiers who’ve gotten caught knew there was avi danger that day.

1)   Here in California (Maritime climate, prone to more loose snow avalanches), many of us assume that trees are safe zones, but when you’re dealing with slab avalanche conditions (deeper snowpack instability more common in Inner Mountain and Continental climates), trees are not your friends. They instead can act as trigger points for a slab, and hazards if you get caught.

2)   That said, know the primary avalanches concerns for every day you ski backcountry, and act/plan accordingly. Don’t plan to ski a peak a week earlier and not have an alternate. Always scout out your safe zones/escape routes before you drop in.

3)   Watch for wind-loading. Wind can turn 1 foot of snowfall into 10 feet of wind deposit, creating hazardous conditions even when it hasn’t snowed recently. NOAA has remote mountaintop sensor data to show you peak conditions.

4)   30- to 40-degree slopes are the most prone to slide, with 38-degree slopes (equivalent to a resort’s double-black diamond in steepness) being the magic number. Above 40 degrees, slopes usually self regulate. Below 30 degrees you can still get in slow, wet slides or be poised in the run-out of a slide path or a concave terrain feature that can trap you.

5)   Beware of false senses of security: seeing tracks down a slope, a well-set skin track. Even though many people may have gone before you, it doesn’t equal safety. They may not have hit the slab’s trigger, or wind loading that day could create a dangerous zone above the skin track.

6)   Don’t ski like you’re in a resort: convex rolls and gullies are very unsafe in the backcountry.

7)   Keep your phone off or on airplane mode. Cell phones interfere with transceivers.

8)   See the avalanche path, not just the ski run. A wide-open run in the backcountry is often wide open for a reason. Look for flagging (the uphill side of trees with broken or missing branches) and snow deposits at tree bases, which indicate avalanche activity.

9)   Ask questions; communicate with everyone in your group. You need a leader, but never give anyone “a halo” of authority; trust your instincts and own knowledge.

10)  Learn to ski in all conditions—it all exists in the backcountry.

11)   Know your transceiver, and practice, practice, practice with it. Recalibrate your transceiver every 5 years, or buy a new one. Take the batteries out after each season to prevent corrosion, and insert new ones at the start of each season.

12)  Know when to say no. Turning around if needed and making other safe decisions that may not be as fun in your mind is just part of the backcountry experience. Mental discipline can save your life.

For more avalanche safety advice, stay tuned to the TMS blog. I plan to write a few more avalanche safety posts from my AIARE training, including what to do if you’re caught in an avalanche. I also want to plug a piece, “A Winter in Avalanche Country,” I wrote for Moonshine Ink’s April 2012 edition on backcountry and avalanche safety trends. We’re seeing more people in the backcountry, more gear sales, and more avalanche safety course enrollment in Tahoe. Interesting trends to follow…

Outdoor Leadership and Guide Training at Tahoe: May 18-20

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Competence and confidence in the outdoors are imperative in our mountain environment, and for anyone who recreates outside. Whether you’re a guide or an outdoor enthusiast, this is the guide training event for you!

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s 4th annual Outdoor Leadership and Guide Training event is May 18-20 at Granlibakken Lodge & Conference Center in Tahoe City.

You’ll leave with skills to increase your confidence and competence in the outdoors. Industry professionals along with experienced Tahoe Rim Trail guides will lead workshops in Outdoor Leadership, Risk Management, Trip Planning, Field Skills, Leave No Trace and much more! The weekend offers many opportunities to network with professional and volunteer guides, as well as participants who share in common pursuits and passions.

Tahoe Mountain Sports is one of the event sponsors, and our owner Dave Polivy will be speaking on a panel about the latest and greatest group gear. Don’t miss this!

The 3-day workshop costs $250, which includes dormitory lodging, tuition and materials, day and evening training sessions, all meals, parking, conference fees and taxes, and wireless access. Plus, there are many price packages available, including affordable prices for Tahoe locals.

Start your guide training and outdoor leadership skills at one of the best locations for outdoor recreation: Lake Tahoe! Register through the Tahoe Rim Trail, and contact Jaime Souza for more information:, 775-298-0231.

Adventures of a Tahoe Snowskater

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

In this Adventure of the Week, we hear from Kendra Wilson, a University of Nevada, Reno, student who is serious about snowskating. Follow her from competitions to powder runs in this exclusive report on the Tahoe snowskating scene.

WHO: Kendra Wilson (pictured above at the Minus 7 Melee comp)

WHAT: Ralston Cup and Minus 7 Melee Snowskate Competitions, and the best Powder day of my life.

WHEN: March 10-18 2012

WHERE: Tahoe ski resorts Sierra at Tahoe and Donner Ski Ranch

GEAR: Ralston Snowskate, Florida Powderskate, Keen Boots, Smith Transport Helmet, Snowskate Leash

My passion is riding snow… without bindings. I’m a snowskater, which means I’m the person on the mountain having the most fun. Snowskating is like skateboarding on snow. We don’t use bindings. We don’t use uncomfortable boots. The top-deck of a snowskate is shaped like a skateboard with grip on top for traction. Snowskate-specific trucks attach a ski to the bottom of the top-deck. Just like skiers and snowboarders, we can ride all mountain terrain, and we can grind rails. What we can do that you can’t are flip tricks and one footed and no footed grabs.

I went through a Transworld Snowboarding magazine several months ago and counted the number of pictures of guys doing tricks with one foot unstrapped, there were more than 10. Think about it. It is possible to ride snow without straps… all the time… on a snowskate. I fell in love with a snowskate the first time I rode one, and I don’t even snowboard anymore. I’d rather step on a snowskate and be challenged to progress at something new than… actually anything!

Now, this is my adventure:

Ralston Cup

I competed in my first snowskate competition with other female competitors on March 10, 2012, at Sierra at Tahoe. I’ve competed in other snowskate competitions, but never with other females. It was a total new experience riding and competing with women!

There were five ladies registered: Randi Rettke, Mathilda Spiers, Tara Atkins, Michelle Hickman, and myself. These ladies are some of the most talented women in the sport, and it was such a progressive experience to ride with them. These women stepped up to the most gnarly features and made them look tame. Randi really stepped in up and stomped several hits of the spotlight Neff feature.

The day was sunny, and perfect for a competition. The Ralston Cup is the event to meet up and hang out with snowskaters from all over the US and Canada. The vibe was mellow, everyone was cheering for everyone. The thing about snowskating is that the community is so small still that everyone knows each other and is super stoked to see anyone on a snowskate. Snowboarders can get a little brutal if you’re not going super big or if you eat it. You’ve got chairlift critics who can be just plain mean. It’s not like that when you are on a snowskate. You’re instantly “in” and you don’t have to put up with all that negativity. It’s just pure stoke.

I ended up placing 3rd in the competition to Randi Rettke (1st) and Tara Atkins (2nd). We each got a trophy. Then, it was off to the “Bonser Pipeline,” which is the most well-known backyard setup and after party for the Ralston Cup.

Minus 7 Melee

The following weekend was the Minus 7 Melee, which is held at Donner Ski Ranch on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012. This competition had more of a homegrown feel. We watched the features get built that day by Minus 7 team members, and features were brought from all around to build the park. There was the famous Donner Ski Ranch log jib, a kinked rail, a few flat boxes, and a rooftop feature. Everything was very hittable for almost all skill levels, which made it very fun.

I squeaked out a 1st place in this competition followed very closely by Mathilda Spiers in 2nd place and Tara Atkins in 3rd. I won a case of Guinness, a homemade hat, and some wax.

Then, everyone met at the top for the very last run of the day: the Irish Downhill Race. Rules were: No rules. Any line is a go. First one to the bar wins. Pat Bonser made it to the bottom, ordered, and received his beer before 2nd place even rolled in. He won an awesome, custom Minus 7 Longboard.

Snowskate Powder Day!

A misconception about snowskating is that it can’t be done in powder. Well, yes it can! It is the best feeling in the world to ride powder without being restricted in the confines of bindings! It’s so free and flowy. It feels like surfing!

March 18, 2011, was my first powderskating experience and I’ve been jonesing to get back at it ever since! It’s completely addicting.

Conditions were perfect! Snow was dumping and every single run at Donner Ski Ranch was freshies! There were no lift lines and we had a snowskate posse six people deep! We took runs from 10am all the way until last chair and we still wanted more of the fresh goods!

Well, that’s the short of it. My snowskate adventure, which included the very best parts of snowskating: the community, urban-style skating on man-made features, and powderskating. For more information on the sport visit

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

Keen Gypsum Boots
Keen Gypsum Boots
MSRP: $139.95
Smith Transport Helmet
Smith Transport Helmet
MSRP: $119.95
Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants
Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants
MSRP: $299


Get Kuhl in the Backcountry – Win 2 Pairs of Kuhl Shorts!

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We’re working together with Kuhl Clothing to bring you the coolest giveaway this spring – two pairs of rugged, comfortable Kuhl men’s shorts!

Kuhl Shorts in action in Escalante - photo from Kuhl's Facebook Page.

All you have to do is go to our Facebook Page, like us, if you don’t already, and post your best picture of yourself having fun in the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, climbing – whatever, just include an @ tag of Kuhl’s Facebook Page with your photo, and you’re entered to win!*

Kuhl Shorts in action mountain biking near Mt. St. Helens in Washington - Photo from Kuhl's Facebook Page.

Kuhl shorts are made out of tough yet comfortable canvas materials that stand up to the rigors of the outdoors without being stiff or rough, perfect for long days on the trail or on the rock. All their shorts feature a blend of cotton and synthetic materials to give you the best feel, durability, temperature and moisture regulation. Crotch gussets and unique patterns mean unrestricted movement that won’t pull or bind.

The Kuhl Ambush Short is perfect for when you need to keep all your essential gear at hand, boasting a total of 9 pockets to keep everything organized.

Cotton and quick-drying don’t often go hand-in-hand, but the unique bi-componant UberKuhl fabric in the Kuhl Ramblr Shorts is just that, perfect for a summer hike that may include a dip in a mountain lake.

And the Kuhl Liberator Short features Kuhl’s Drypoint fabric creates a push-pull effect with perspiration that keeps you cool on a hot summer day.

So head over to our Facebook page and enter to win to try Kuhl Shorts for yourself.

*Sizing and color choices for the winner will be subject to availability, contest ends Friday, April 20.

Steals and Deals: The Best Winter Gear Bargains

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Winter fun is winding down, and it’s a perfect time to scoop up the best deals on snow and ski gear so you’re ready for next season. We’ve got ski sales, discounted ski jackets and gloves, and Smith Goggles going for cheep! For this week’s Steals and Deals we’ve got an awesome pair of Black Diamond Ski Gloves, one of our favorite backcountry skis, some sweet ski shells and great all-around goggles.

Dynafit Stoke Backcountry Ski

Reg: $799.95

Sale: $529.95

The Dynafit Stoke is a fantastic all around backcountry ski with powder dimensions and shape with enough stiffness for variable conditions and edge hold for icy couloirs. read more in our Dynafit Stoke Review in a recent backountry ski comparison.

And here are some specs:

Weight: 3100 g per pair (173 length)
Dimensions: 129/105/119
Turning Radius: 34.5/20.1m (173 length)
Construction: Isocore paulownia ultralight wood with stringers in beech and bamboo with biaxial prepreg, fiberglass and carbon reinforcement


Black Diamond Guide Gloves

Reg: $159.95

Sale: $135.95

The Black Diamond Guide Glove is a super warm, waterproof and durable ski glove that’ll last you years. If you’ve always just bought cheep gloves to get you from one season to the next, felt snow leak through or cursed cold fingers, do yourself a favor and get a real pair of gloves – these things don’t go on sale often!

Here’s some specs:

Temperature Range: -20 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit
Materials: Nylon, Gore-Tex with XCR Product Technology, Goat Leather, Molded EVA
100 g Fleece Palm Lining
Removable Wool Liner with 142 g or 5 oz PrimaLoft One Insulation


Smith Scope Pro Goggles


Reg: $64.95

Sale: $38.97

The Smith Scope Pro Ski and Snowboard Goggle is a great all-around goggle at an incredible price! The dual-lens has Airflow ventilation in the brow to increase circulation to keep the inner lens dry and fog free, and the lens color, Ignitor Mirror, offers a great all-conditions tint that isn’t too bright and overwhelming on sunny days, while still offering the contrast you need to see on storm days – a TMS favorite.

Here’s the specs:

Medium Fit
Dual Lens with Airflow Ventilation
Visible Light Transmission: Ignitor Mirror Lens 35 percent
Filter Category: Ignitor Mirror Lens S2, Sensor Mirror Lens S1
Smith Optics Lifetime Warranty

The North Face Chamwa Jacket – Men’s

Reg: $218.95

Sale: $131.37

The North Face Chamwa Jacket is a screaming deal at this price, full waterproof breathable protection at a fraction of the competition. Using The North Face’s proprietary HyVent waterproof breathable fabric, it keeps you dry from the elements outside and perspiration inside. And it’s got all the right features for a day on the slopes, like a goggle pocket with goggle cloth, MP3 player pocket, pass holder and powder skirt.

If you’re old shell is worn out and no longer waterproof, check out why The North Face is one of the best in the business.




Outdoor Research Alibi Jacket – Women’s

Reg: $249.95

Sale: $174.95

This backcountry-born soft shell hoody was one of the staff favorites here at Tahoe Mountain Sports this winter, but didn’t get a lot of attention – so now you get it at a crazy price! Really one of the most well thought out shells for backcountry winter adventures from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing or even ice climbing, it’s got to be one of the best women’s winter jackets around. It’s innovative two-piece hood has an internal balaclava to protect your face, and in place of normal pit zips, you can open the sides all the way to the bottom for serious ventilation!

Here’s the specs:

Material: Ventia Hybrid soft shell construction
Average weight: 23.7 oz (671 g)
Center back length: 25.75 in (65 cm)

The 5th Annual Mammoth Winter Biathlon

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

One of Nevada’s finest recaps the Mammoth Biathlon 2012. If you like skiing and guns, this is your kind of winter sport…

WHO: Mike Lefrancois

WHAT: 5th Annual Mammoth Biathlon

WHERE: Mammoth Mountain, California

WHEN: March 23–25, 2012

GEAR: skate skis, Nordic poles, skate skiing boots

Zack recently asked me if I feel like a Nevadan now that I made the jump across the state line.  The first thing that came to mind was guns and I did go shooting last weekend.

Up until a couple years ago I’d never shot more than a BB gun.  Then I took a clinic at the Northstar Biathlon range and got a feel for what a .22 can do.  What could be more fun than skiing with guns?

I showed up in Mammoth with rusty skills and no practice and got to talking with folks to see what I could relearn in short order.  The first thing I was told is that they are called rifles and not guns.  They are really like big BB guns with no kickback, but I don’t care either way if that makes me less of a Nevadan or not.  I’ve lived in Tahoe for 12 years and am still not sure what makes you a local.  Biathlon made its Olympic debut here in the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics so maybe having some biathlon experience now qualifies more as a local.

I was to go off in the 5th and final wave of the day around noon and it had been snowing steadily since about 8:00 a.m.  The rifles were staged in the shooting range (they provided loaners) and I had no time to practice.  I didn’t even touch a rifle prior to my start so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down.

It took 2 chairlifts to get to the biathlon range in Reds Lake Basin at Mammoth Mountain.  The course was a 1.5k loop (1 mile) with short steep climbs, hairpin turns and a long gentle grade around Reds Lake. The penalty loop was 75 meters for every missed shot.   We were at 9500’ and my lungs were challenged during my warm-ups so I made a conscious note to back it off a bit so I could see and shoot straight.  The range was impressive and could handle 20 biathletes at a time.

The first 2 waves were pro/elite and National Guard athletes.  The last 3 waves were for the rest of us.  After some delays and at least a few inches of new snow I shed a few layers and got to racing. The sent us off with a non-climatic GO!  The steep climbs and hairpin turns were all with the first minute or so of the loop so I took it easy to avoid a blow up or crash.  By the time we rounded Reds Lake I had a narrow lead and just hoped I would not blow it all with bad shooting.  We would shoot twice – once laying down and once standing up.

I arrived at the range, laid down next to a gun and just tried to relax my breathing and remember the routine to shoot.  I hit 3 of my 5 targets to my surprise so I guess I was doing something right.  I’ll give yoga some credit for the disciplined breathing.  2 penalty laps later I was back out on course alone with foggy glasses and even heavier snowfall.  The next time in we shot standing up.  It was much harder and my breathing was labored so I managed only 2 of 5 targets this time. But my skiing was strong and I made up for the penalties out on course and won my race a distance ahead of the next competitor. We were also being timed against the last 2 waves of competitors.

Winners got medals which made it very Olympic. Final results posted later put me atop the podium but they sent me home with a silver medal probably because they took me for a Nevadan.  Am I no longer worthy of the Golden State?  Honestly it makes to no difference to me because I live and race for fun and to support great causes so don’t get too hung up it the details.

The full event spanned multiple days and the Eastern Sierra Nordic Ski Association ( deserves credit for all the planning and hard work put into the event.

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

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