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Posts Tagged ‘tahoe backcountry’

Adventurous Dining at the Peter Grubb Hut

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn  more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Chef Brian Robinson from the Clair Tappaan Lodge, cameraman Calvin Scibilla, dogs Bella and Shogun, and myself
What: Hike to Sierra Club’s Peter Grub Hut and cook lunch in the hut
Where: Tahoe National Forrest and the Clair Tappaan Lodge
When: November, 2014

This was the first official episode that I filmed for Adventure Dining Guide with a cameraman, a script and an experienced chef. I was both nervous and excited for this adventure and spent weeks making sure everything turned out as planned.

ADG

Calvin and I arrived in the morning to the Clair Tappaan Lodge to be greeted by Chef Brian and the friendly staff and volunteers who were at the lodge. We all sat down to enjoy a family style breakfast, where Calvin and I were able to hear some great stories about the lodge and its long history.

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Prepping the taco meat ingredients in the Clair Tappaan kitchen

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Five Skis Tested for 2015-16

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

The #TMS Crew headed to Mt. Rose Ski Area for the WWSRA (Western Winter Sports Rep Association) Demo Days. FIVE AWESOME SKIS FROM THE FUTURE WERE TESTED. 

READ MORE IF YOU LIKE COOL SKIS…

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AB and KS at Mt. Rose

Nik Somers, Kevin Snow and I got out and tested new skis on what was the first major storm cycle to hit the Tahoe area since the first part of the season. Mt. Rose received around 40″ of new snow and 15-25″ at its base. Then, the wind came in and made things interesting. We skied every conceivable type of snow condition (powder, blown powder, ice pellets, crust and groomed runs).

Five skis were reviewed and tested.

One ski will likely make a return to the wall, while four others might make a grand entrance next fall…

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Blizzard Zero G 108 and Zero G 98 Skis

SKI TEST #1: Blizzard Zero G 108

Test Size and Weight: Length – 185cm, Weight 1,750 grams (per ski)
Binding: Marker Kingpin
Boot: Dynafit Mercury
- Beta: Lengths: 171, 178, 185 cm | Sidecut: 136-108-122mm | Radius: [185 cm] 27.0m  | Construction: Sandwich Compound | Sidewall; Carbon Drive Technology.

From the Blizzard Skis 2015-2016 Catalog…ZeroG-108Diagram

Carbon Drive is the integration of a 3D unidirectional carbon fiber frame with an ultra-lightweight palowina woodcore construction. The carbon frame’s 3D geometry guarantees optimal flex and torsional rigidity. The end result is industry leading lightweight products that deliver a level of downhill performance that is unprecedented in the world of alpine touring and backcountry skiing.

REVIEW: The major buzz words in ski technology have included carbon. While carbon offers great rigidity and stiffness, it often doesn’t give with each turn as much, which translates into a ski that needs to really be driven (read: BUCKLE UP). The new Blizzard Zero G is a good mix of both playfulness and a hard-charger. A super nimble and lightweight option for the backcountry enthusiast, this ski is a true testament to the advanced technology and construction found in many ski options today.With a mixed bag of conditions to ski in on the demo day at Mt. Rose, the Blizzard Zero G really shined. The one con in the ski I tested was that you really need to stay on it. Just like most of Blizzard’s great line-up of skis, this new beauty needs attention. Drive it and stay on the gas and you’ll have a great day.

Final word: A solid winner and “go to” ski for any conditions. Look for them on the TMS ski wall in 2016.

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Salomon Q-BC Lab Skis (2015 Top-Sheet Graphic)

SKI TEST #2: Salomon Q-BC Lab

Test Size and Weight: Length – 184cm, Weight 1,800 grams (per ski)
Binding: Dynafit TLT Radical ST 2 AT Ski Binding
Boot: Dynafit Mercury
- Beta: Lengths: 176, 184 cm | Sidecut: 140-114-128mm | Radius: [176cm] 21m, [184cm] 24m | Construction: Sandwich ABS, SidewallAn exception balance of touring efficiency and downhill performance, the Salomon Q BC Lab Skis are a full wood core with ultra-light CFX Superfiber reinforcement for the ultimate ski experience. The perfect balance of downhill performance and touring efficiency.  Salomon’s revolutionary, ultra light CFX Superfiber reinforcement and a full woodcore combine for stability, control and response not found on other lightweight touring skis.

*Editor’s note: This ski is not changing for the 2015-16 ski season (just the top-sheet). If you’d like to seize the day and grab a pair of your own, click HERE to purchase a pair!

REVIEW: This ski is the epitome of Salomon’s commitment to being a pure mountain company. A great soft snow (and powder) ski, the Q-BC Lab shines when used in variable to ideal conditions. Although it has a 114mm waist, this ski is surprisingly nimble. The full-length wood laminates combined with the inherent backcountry ski features such as “free hook taper” (diminishing hooking up in powder) and the built in skin tail clips make this ski a machine to not only easily climb mountains, but have the confidence to ski like you want to on the ride down.

Final word: A great backcountry option, the Salomon Q-BC Lab is a great decision for those in need of a lightweight 4×4 ski.

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K2 Pinnacle 105 Skis

SKI TEST #3: K2 Pinnacle 105

Test Size and Weight: Length – 184cm, Weight N/A
Binding: Marker Griffon
Boot: K2 Pinnacle 130
- Beta: Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm | Sidecut: 137-105-121mm | Radius: [184cm]19 m | Construction: Triaxial Braid, Hyrbitech Sidewall, Metal Laminate

The Pinnacle 105 is positioned in the middle of the new Freeride series as the do-anything, go-anywhere, ski everything, quiver of one. Even the most confident skiers will benefit from the lightweight Nanolite core. Helping navigate through trees or floating in power, as much as the solid and supportive wood cores with metal laminate over the edges when charging firmer, variable snow.

REVIEW: The many technologies that K2 has seamlessly blended into this new ski are evident in that you never really need to think about it when arcing turns, bashing bumps or smearing soft snow! The diminished swing weight and torsional stiffness allow this ski to effortlessly turn, glide and rule the entire mountain. I would recommend this ski for anyone that loves to ski the whole mountain with confidence.

Final Word: The Pinnacle 105 is your quiver killer for 2015-16!

K2-Pinnacle-95

SKI TEST #4: K2 Pinnacle 95

Test Size and Weight: Length – 184cm, Weight N/A
- Binding: Marker Griffon
- Boot: K2 Spyne
Beta: Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm | Sidecut: 132-95-115mm | Radius: [184cm]17 m | Construction: Triaxial Braid, Hyrbitech Sidewall, Metal Laminate

Attack the resort in any snow condition. The Pinnacle 95 incorporates the new K2 Konic Technology with a high performance, lightweight Nanolite center core for added ease and control, while the wood core and metal laminate along the perimeter of the ski engages all the power, strength and stability needed for all mountain dominance.

REVIEW: The K2 Pinnacle 95 is nearly the same as the larger 105, but much more nimble. Grab a pair of these if you prefer a Ginsu knife over a machete. 

Final word: Rinse. Lather. Repeat. This ski does it all!

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SKI TEST #5: Volkl 100 Eight

- Test Size and Weight: Length – 184cm, Weight N/A
- Binding: Marker Griffon
- Boot: K2 Spyne 130
- Beta: Lengths: 173, 181, 189 cm | Sidecut: 141-108-124mm | Radius: [173cm] 19.7m, [181cm] 22m, [189cm] 24.5m | Construction: 3D Ridge, Tough Box | Core: Multi Layer Wood

An all time favorite ski, the Volkl Gotama is being replaced this upcoming winter season (2015-16) with a similar yet very new ski, the 100 Eight. This ski features a new construction from Volkl called the 3D Ridge. This layup offers a lightweight, lively ski feel – 141-108-124mm shape, flat tail design, Full Rocker, Smart Early Taper and an open (20 to 22m) radius combine for a smooth, playful ride for a variety of conditions, from deep powder to groomers.

REVIEW: Although I am sad to see the heralded Volkl Gotama become extinct, the future is always brighter in regards to new technology in ski construction, shape, camber profile and rocker. The 100 Eight is no exception to progression. Out with the old, in with the NEW. This ski does EVERYTHING (well,  maybe not ski moguls that well). I can’t wait to rip up the in-bounds terrain, drop cliffs, ski powder and even take this versatile ski into the backcountry. 

Final word: A lightweight, 4×4 machine, the Volkl 100 Eight is yet another great option to slim your ski quiver to ONE.

 

Snow, Glorious Snow! Tahoe Ski Conditions March 2012

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Well, our thirst for snow was finally quenched in a big way this past weekend. Sugar Bowl reported a 114 inches for the storm, so there was much powder to be had. The brunt rolled in Friday night, making powder day #1 a busy one since it was Saturday. Here, a few TMS folks report on the goods:

WHO: Dave, Greyson, and Lis

WHAT: Alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and sledding

WHEN: March 17–19, 2012

WHERE: Alpine Meadows, Paige Meadows, Kings Beach, Mt. Rose

GEAR: Mountain Hardwear Effusion Jacket, Lole Sandy Jacket, Mountain Hardwear, Smith IOS Goggles, K2 Skis.

DAVE

Finally the snow came back and made Tahoe feel like winter again. After a few backcountry outings on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was time to spend some time at home with my daughter and not rush off to ski so much. But, back to the skiing first. Randomly met up with Craig Dostie, author of EarnYourTurns.com, and we had a great hike and ski in the Mt Rose area on Saturday. It was still snowing lightly but the skiing conditions were perfect. Here are a couple of shots of Craig on the way down and then a great one that Craig shot of me (orange jacket).

On Sunday, it was time to take my daughter out sledding in this great snow, and she was a total trooper. She even carried her own sled up the luge run that we built with our neighbors. I couldn’t get any of her huge smiles from her runs down because I was too busy making sure she didn’t crash into stuff at the end!

Then, took the dog for a walk down on Kings Beach and caught these other 2 great shots. In one, you can see the snow hanging over the west side of the lake and quickly approaching Kings Beach; the other is showing just how much fun everybody was having with this new blanket of white, as these 2 guys from Europe were so happy they were skiing on the Kings Beach pier!

GREYSON

The temptation of a true powder day was too much to pass up, even if I was coughing and sputtering my way out of a cold on Saturday. I wasn’t the only one who rallied for new snow at Alpine Meadows, so I decided to be content with lapping cut-up-but-still-soft powder on the lower mountain, leaving the longer lift lines for the bigger chairs to everyone else.

Sherwood, the backside of the mountain hadn’t yet opened, and there was no indication of when it would, but I got a feeling late morning that I should be ready in case it did. I got into a long line for Scott chair, which puts you into position to get to the back side, and ran into Justin, our Mountain Hardwear rep. He, I and a few others started traversing toward the back. And like magic, the word came that Sherwood was opening, and the handful of us in position went into a full-on stampede, landing us on the first few of chairs up above the still-untouched slope.
The next five laps were the best of my season — fresh tracks, long, arching turns that my new K2 powder skis had been aching for all season — until the rest of civilization rushed over to join us. So one more steep line that drops from back to front through blower powder spraying up to my chest, and I was content. Back to nursing the cold, and wiping the huge grin off my face.

LIS

As for me, I got out to Alpine Meadows Saturday and Monday and had two great days, Monday by far being the best. Funny to hear Greyson’s tale of Saturday because I must have been a turn or two in front of or behind him that day. We too were hoping for Sherwood. We were lapping Scott and timed it perfectly, getting to the top of Scott right at the patroller flipped the sign. Our first two runs were beautiful! A pretty much vacant slope all to the few lucky ones. Then, on my third run, it began. Little ants covered the slope… and another run later and the Sherwood line was 10 minutes long. We pretty much called it a day after that, and I took this parting shot of Promised Land from the parking lot.

Sunday, I took the day off and went cross-country skiing with some friends and dogs. It was a winter wonderland! Light winds and a good dosage of snow made for some spectacular scenery. My Mountain Hardwear Effusion Jacket (in orange below) was perfect for the half-snow/half-sun conditions. And check out the difference between the trees on Saturday (above) and then the trees on Sunday (below).

But Monday, oh Monday! I got to Alpine around 8:45am, and spent the whole day seeking out pow with some lady friends. Our first run was a quick Roundhouse lap because the Summit line was daunting from all the waiters, and there was so much fresh that it didn’t matter. Back down to Summit (no line this time) we shot straight over to High Yellow for amazingly light untracked powder. Here’s a peek from the High Yellow hike, looking toward F tree above Sherwood.

We then hiked over to the just-opened Beaver Bowl but it was a hot mess with the sun baking the goodness out of it already. Hey, Alpine, how about opening at 8am in March?!

We spent the rest of the day hanging around High Yellow and Arts Knob, and sneaking in some mellow low angle turns around Lakeview. It was a beautiful day… so sunny! Felt like a Tahoe spring day, with Colorado powder thrown in. I topped it off with $1.50 PBRs at Crest Cafe, then some hot-tubbing. Caught this snow bunny on camera by the hot tub.

Thanks Miracle March! Tahoe snow was back! At least for a day. Yesterday’s warm temps put the Tahoe ski conditions right back where they started more or less.

Black Diamond Quadrant/Drift Review and Other TMS Items

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
Pam skinning up under early grey skies with Mt Rose ski area in the background

Pam skinning up under early grey skies with Mt Rose ski area in the background

Who ever knew you could get a babysitter to come over at 6am? Well, now I do! My wife and I were lucky enough to experience this crack-of-dawn babysitter who was as happy as could be at 6 am, certainly more awake than I was, which was good because soon she was going to have a 2-year-old to deal with while I was out schralping the powder in the Mt. Rose backcountry with all sorts of new gear. While the conditions were a bit wind crusted in spots, it was a great morning to be out with my beautiful wife for a dawn patrol ski during one of our busiest weeks of the year and to be testing some of our new arrivals. As you can see here, I was using all stuff that we sell here at the shop and here is my expert review of all this great outdoor gear for your reading pleasure. I will go head to toe.

Head to Toe in TMS Gear

Head to Toe in TMS Gear

Smith Variant Brim Helmet with Smith Phenom Goggles – This is a superb combination that I got it last year. If I had waited until this year, I would have the Smith Vantage helmet instead, but that’s how it goes. The Variant Brim is well ventilated, adjustable and fits my head with ease. The Phenom goggles go hand in hand with the Smith helmets. They fit great, no gaper gap at all and no fogging up due to the efficient air system that works between the helmet and goggles. I would go with a Vantage now, simply because it is lighter and has a better vent system.

Balconi Polar Visor Hat – I use this on the way up and I love it.

Sporting the Balconi Visor

Sporting the Balconi Visor

First, it is a visor so it keeps the snow off your face or the sun, whichever the weather gods decide to provide. I love visor hats when I am hiking because it allows my head to breathe very effectively and therefore regulates the rest of my body temp. Huge fan, get one if you like winter hat/visors.

Mammut Albaron Jacket – I think I might have found my dream jacket when I found this little beauty. This is a Gore Tex Pro Shell jacket, which basically means it is super minimalist, packs up smaller than a down jacket, has huge pit zips and even bigger front pockets. You can see in the picture above, there is even some tacky, reinforced material on the shoulders for wear and tear from your pack. This jacket is completely minimalist in all other ways. No stupid pull cords, no extra soft material for your delicate chin, nothing. This is a standard, lightweight, fully waterproof and breathable shell jacket that looks super hot on me, if you don’t mind my saying. I highly recommend this jacket!

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Pants – This is our first season carrying any Outdoor Research product and so far, we are very impressed with their quality and attention to detail. I have been looking for a true soft shell pant that actually fits for a very long time, and I am proud to say, I finally found a pair. I am wearing a size medium and they fit great for my 5’8″ frame. Most soft shell pants are too long on me, but not these. Some of the details that first stuck out at me: Cuff guards on the inside of boot, zippers on the outside of the boot, huge ventilation zips on each leg (see pic), 2 thigh pockets, 2 rear pockets and a built-in belt that is actually easy to adjust.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Pants

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Pants

These pants are extremely comfortable, move and glide with your every movement and are a now my go-to pant for all my backcountry travels.

Black Diamond Quadrant Boots – Generally, I subject myself to using all the demo gear in the shop rather than ever getting anything of my own, but that changed this season with the Quadrant boots. I had a chance to demo them last year in development mode, and loved them so much I picked up a pair this year. This is a true touring boot and what I like most is the flexibility this boot offers. It is incredibly stiff when in ski mode and skis like a charm even on big skis like the Zealot or Megawatts. In traditional alpine touring boot designs, the cuff edge and middle buckles limit the forward range of motion in walk mode; Black Diamond‘s Pivoting Cuff moves up and out of the way to allow the boot to flex farther forward than conventionally possible. This is a huge plus for us backcountry tourers because it now allows for a greater range of motion while walking, boot packing or even ice climbing. I am also a total believer and convert in the Boa system. I think this system is super slick and easy to adjust. It really allows you to get the liner to the perfect tension. Also, it allows you to unbuckle your boots and relieve tension on your feet, while keeping your foot in place in the liner which prevents any rubbing or blistering. All in all, these boots kick butt and that recommendation is coming from a telemarker turned ATer mostly due to these boots and Dynafit bindings.

Black Diamond Quadrant with BD Drift Skis

Black Diamond Quadrant with BD Drift Skis

Black Diamond Drift Skis with Dynafit TLT ST Bindings – Black Diamond is really trying to enter the backcountry-specific market this year, and the Quadrant and Drift are the premier boots and skis respectively that they are doing it with. The Drift is 136 at the tip, 100 under foot and light as a feather. Mounting them up with Dynafit bindings is the only way to go in my opinion, don’t waste those weight savings with a heavy, unnecessary binding. These skis skied like a dream. The conditions today were extremely variable with hard pack giving way to wind crust then to dust on crust and finally, when down in the trees far enough, bottomless powder. These skis performed excellently in all those conditions. I was surprised at how solid they actually felt as I thought they would be more like noodles and not hold an edge very well, but I admit, I was wrong. They cut through all the variable conditions with no problem at all. I was also skiing the 176cm size and thought they were perfect.

I had a lot of other stuff on too, but these were the highlights. I hope you like our product reviews and if you have any questions, feel free to call the shop and talk to any of our gear experts or post your comment below and we will respond super fast.  Happy New Year to all our loyal customers and blog readers! Here are a few more pics for your viewing pleasure.

Pam switching over for the ski down

Pam switching over for the ski down

Black Diamond Drifts ripping it up

Black Diamond Drifts ripping it up

Pow Skiing on Jake’s Peak With the VholdR ContourHD 1080p

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Back on February 22nd I got out for a day of pow skiing on Jake’s Peak. I was trying to do something fairly mellow and test out my new setup of Black Diamond Zealots with Dynafit Vertical ST bindings. I’ve been a fan of the Zealot’s for a while but I am just now learning about the advantages of the Dynafit binding. They are lighter, tour better, and ski better than any other binding that I have tried. This is nothing new, I’m just awakening to what serious backcountry skiers and ski mountaineers have known for decades. These are the best no compromises AT binding on the market. Look for a full review after I get a few more days on them.

I also tried out the 720p 60 frames per second mode on the VholdR ContourHD 1080p and I think its the best quality video I’ve gotten so far with this thing. It lost some quality when the video was hosted on Vimeo, but you can get the idea. The original file was over 350 MB for a minute and ten seconds of video. Not really feasible for streaming over the net, but it looks amazing on a HD monitor.  The higher frame rate really smoothes out the video, I highly recommend this setting for skiing. As you can see from the video, the snow wasn’t too shabby either.

Jakes Peak Pow 2.22.10 from Nathaniel Mildner on Vimeo.

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing and Axl and Pieps Review

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The last couple of days have been great in the Tahoe Backcountry, but we are now in for a warmer storm that might affect the snowpack pretty high up. We can only wait and see. On Tuesday of this past week, Jeff and I headed up to Rubicon to find some great, cold, north facing powder. Jeff has been using the 22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding this season and he is a big fan. The bindings skis similarly to the 22 Designs Hammerhead binding, but with the free pivot mechanism, he is seeing the big difference……touring!

22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding

The binding in tour mode

Jeff wrote a review of the Axl binding here, so check it out. Here are a couple quick shots of the binding in action.

22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding

Use your pole to switch between tour mode and ski mode

As you can see from the pic on the left, it is super easy to switch between ski and tour mode with the simple flick of your pole tip.

Generally, for those of you looking for the best Telemark binding for skiing down as well as hiking up, the 22 Designs Axl is a great choice for you.

We also had a chance to play around with our beacons a bit, and we did some testing between the 2 antenna BCA tracker and my 3 antenna Pieps DSP.

Pieps DSP Avalanche Beacon

The Pieps DSP in "send" mode

We cannot say enough about 3 antenna, digital beacons, but they are truly superior to the 2 antenna beacons of the old days. Not only was I able to search faster and more effectively, I was able to get readings until I was practically on top of the buried beacon. The Pieps DSP is fast, accurate, updateable and most of all, easy to use. Check out the screen shot of the Pieps DSP in the pic on the right. The newest software upgrade is to the 6.2 firmware and Tahoe Mountain Sports is the only authorized upgrade center in Northern California. You can bring your beacon into the store for an upgrade or send it to us and we will send it back to you within 1 business day.

Finally, Pam and I headed up to Jake’s on Wednesday after the very warm storm we got overnight. It was still raining/snowing when we got to the bottom of Jake’s but we went up and braved the weather anyways. It was very wet and heavy up to about 8,000 ft, but then the snow dried out nicely and made for some great skiing on the way down. Here are a couple of other pics of Jeff, Pam and I in the backcountry this week.

Dawn Patrol to Mt. Rose – 2.13.09

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Kevin and I headed up to Fireplug or what some call Sparkplug for a dawn patrol early this week. I know I am late with the post, but better late than never. Had the Megawatts with the BD 01 binding along with my Deuter Cruise 30 pack, which I am very happy with, other than the lack of helmet holder. We got up to the top after sunrise, headed down the north side and then back up again and off to work at TMS.

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