My kids are reaching the age where backcountry adventure is evolving from a tag-along activity to where they share the enthusiasm, and we have reached the critical stage where we need a functional backpack as opposed to a glorified book bag.
Enter the Deuter Fox 30 backpack. The Fox 30 is a scaled down version of Deuter's Aircontact pack line and offers adjustability, suspension and features worthy of backcountry travel and overnight adventure. It's a traditional toploader with a lower zip panel for easy acces to the bottom of the pack.
The suspension and back panel use the same Alpine Back system as Deuter's adult packs. The shoulder harness adjusts to accomodate a range of torso lengths and for future growth of the user. From the looks of the set-up, we should be able to get multiple seasons of use out of the pack as my daughter grows.
At 30 liters, the volume is just right for packing a light overnight load. The pack holds a sleeping bag, assorted clothes and there's still room for trail food and various "must-have" items. The Fox 30 is also hydration bladder compatible. At this point in my kids' adventure life, I'm still the guy carrying the tent and cooking gear, so there's no need for a monster pack for my kids. The smaller size of the Fox 30 means it doubles as a day hike pack, too. From my daughter's perspective, she is most excited about the bottom compartment zip acccess, the daisy chains and the side zip pockets for storing odds and ends, and we can't forget abot the color.
It's great to see enthusiasm for the backcountry from my kids, and keeping them comfortable is a key ingredient to the equation. Deuter delivers just enough tech features and, in my daughter's words, "real backpack" style to make for a functional kids' backpack that really performs like its adult counterparts.
Back when having big skis meant they were long, Scott Scmidt was the poster child for North American extreme skiing. This week's Tuesday time waster takes us down memory lane with some Warren Miller Footage of Schmidt ripping it up with his big boards, one-piece ski suit and trademark hop turns. Must be the mid to late 80's . . . nice special effects.
The first issues of Powder and Backcountry are in the hands of skiers around the country, and the reach of summer is waning a bit here in the Northwest. The first issue of Off-PisteMag is not due until October (we are firm believers that August is too early to get distracted from reality), but we are lining up a great season of stoke-filled content and opinions of backcountry ski gear. We'll be sending out subscription renewal notices at the end of the month and are looking forward to another great winter chasing untracked lines.
In the meantime, the ski industry news wheel is picking up steam, and we have a few stories of interest to pass on and help keep you in the know on all things ski . . .
First off, our friends over at Backcountryskiingcanada.com just posted an interesting video interview with Greg Hill. Hill answers questions about his recent move from Dynafit to Salomon and his interest in helping Salomon delve into the world of backcountry skiing. Although Hill does not spill the beans about specific Salomon backcountry products (i.e. tech bindings and lightweight touring skis), he lays it out that we all know his focus and we should be able to figure it out ourselves . . . check out the Greg Hill interview.
Other news of note is that the USFS has granted approval for the Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion plan. The expansion pushes Breckenridge's operational boundary to include Peak 6, the next alpine summit to the north. The plan adds over 500 acres of ski terrain, a new lift and at least one new lodge structure. There is a healthy opposition to the plan in town and for good reason. The Peak 6 area has long been one of the few easy access touring areas for Summit County backcountry skiers. It's not exactly world-class gnar, but it is an undeveloped area close to town that offers quick access to several day tours and holds one of the few healthy spruce forests in the area. Many view the expansion as resort marketing fodder, so Breck can claim new terrain and more lifts to help boost visitor numbers versus truly offering improved or more varied ski terrain. I'm not sure how the decision will play out, but you can read the details and follow updates at the Summit County Voice. They've got details, draft maps and ongoing coverage of local opinion related to the Peak 6 expansion plan.
Finally today, you may have read back in June or July about the closure of June Mountain Resort in California. June Mountain is one of those small ski hills that offers access to incredible terrain for touring. The resort is, however, owned by Mammoth Mountain, and from what I can infer from reading a bit of the details is that the closure may well have a politcal component that revolves around the desire to expand real estate development in the area (imagine that), but that might just be the conspiracy theorist in me coming out. Eitherway, local residents are not happy about the closure and a Save June Mountain group has rallied to well, you guessed it, save June Mountain.
Avalanches are a backcountry skier's worst nightmare, and the three basics - beacon, shovel and probe - have long been considered required equipment for responsible ski touring in avalanche terrain. There is no question that evolving beacon technology has made searching more efficient, and that continued innovation in avalanche safety gear is providing skiers with more options to stack survival odds in their favor. Although not exactly a companion rescue tool on par with the three basics, the advent of the Avalung and now airbag packs is aimed at improving your chances for survival in the event of a slide. Whether you see them as self-preservation devices or essential avalanche safety tools, these packs are growing in popularity thanks to user-friendly and lightweight design improvements.
The Avalung, originally launched as a standalone sling worn over your shell, has become a familiar site among backcountry skiers of all levels thanks to its clean and affordable integration into the Black Diamond ski pack line. Avalungs add an additional layer of safety in the event of a slide without impacting the overall design, functionality or fit of Black Diamond’s packs.
Following several high profile avalanche incidents last season, the next wave of avalanche safety devices to gain momentum is the airbag pack. Although they come with a significantly bigger price tag ($700+) than a standard ski pack or even an Avalung pack ($200+), airbag pack design has made significant strides in reducing weight and complexity of the system over the past couple of seasons. Although I recognize the value of the technology and its ability to save lives, I have, to some extent, written off airbags as devices most compatible with mechanized operations – heli ski, snow cat operations. That is until the newest crop of packs has begun to show that weight and ski touring functionality are beginning to gain design importance as the technical aspects of the system become smaller and more refined.
The latest crop of airbag packs is lighter and more touring-friendly than ever. We’ll have a good look at several of the new airbag packs in the mag this season. The first pack to arrive in the office is the 2012 BCA Float 32. I have had a little experience with an earlier pre-production version, and the new Float 32 is significantly lighter (about 2 lbs) and cleaner in its design than our previous sample. The new pack weighs around 6 lbs, and is remarkably "normal" in its appearance and layout, save for the airbag components tucked into their spaces. Usable pack volume is 32 liters, hence the name Float 32, and there’s a dedicated pocket for shovel and probe, a generous zip pocket for goggles or other small essentials and one large main compartment.
From a usable pack standard, it’s clean, simple and offers the essentials for day touring. The airbag system has been dramatically streamlined from previous models, and this accounts for some of the pack's overall weight reduction. Further weight reduction comes from the pack’s seemingly regular construction in contrast with the burly, apparently over-built construction of earlier models. The pack is a little long in the torso for me, but at 5' 6" on a tall day, one could argue that I'm a little short in the torso.
One of the standout features of the BCA Float packs is that BCA’s airbag system uses compressed air rather than nitrogen or CO2 gas found in other systems. The Float's compressed air system is easily recharged at outdoor shops around the world. BCA also uses a simple mechanical trigger versus an explosively charged one-shot system.
More details to follow as we get more packs in the office and get dialed in on all of the details.
Tuesday Time Waster - Powderwhore Ski Movie Trailer
As usual, the launch of ski movie teasers seems to coincide with a spike in the summer temps. It's forecast to be our hottest week of the summer, and the ski movie trailers are falling like snowflakes before a powder day. Warren Miller, TGR, MSP, Poor Boyz, Red Bull and other big name ski film makers have all released trailers, but in honor of our backcountry roots, I thought we'd skip right to the earn your turns crew at Powderwhore Productions. Their new backcountry ski film is titled Choose Your Adventure, and here's the trailer . . . hopefully, the amount of skiing in the trailer is not representative of the skiing in the full movie . . . caution: liberal use of the f-word here . . .
Winter Wildlands Alliance just put out the word that entries for the 8th annual Backcountry Film Fest are due by September 15.
The Backcountry Film Festival seeks to promote the work of grassroots filmmakers who tell compelling and entertaining stories of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation and environmental preservation. Do you have a compelling story, some quality footage and a keen eye for a fun, educational or juicy topic.
• Your film should be short—no longer than 30 minutes—and tell a thought-provoking, interesting story of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation or environmental preservation. Your film should take place during or otherwise relate to the winter. We’re open minded about what kind of films we’ll show: documentaries, fiction and experimental films are welcome.
• The Film Festival premieres in Boise November 2012 and travels during the winter months to more than 100 locations worldwide.
• Submissions must be in DVD format. Your submission must be received in our Boise office by September 15
Ski bumming is a rite of passage among dedicated skiers. Ski bumming, however, is not as easy as it used to be. Ski towns have gone highbrow, and these days you literally need a real job in order to finance a ski pass and ski town housing.
I don't have the answers to the ski bum equation, but creating your ski bum name is easier than ever. Somewhat akin to the concept of your pornstar name, I introduce you to the Ski Bum Name Chart. I'm not especially pround of my ski bum title, Old Liver Bailey. Anyone who knows me well, understands that I take it pretty easy on my liver, but maybe that's the point of the name. Kind of like my friend Baldy, who's got a full head of hair.... share your Ski Bum Name with us if it's a good one . . .
Following up on last week's Chic Scott post, here's a review of the first volume of the new Summits and Icefileds I ski guide.
Book - Summits & Icefields 1 Alpine Ski Tours in the Canadian Rockies
by Chic Scott with Mark Klassen
344 pages, www.rmbooks.com, $29.95
If you’ve spent any time ski touring in Western Canada, or even day dreaming about the prospect of touring in the Great White North, you likely have a copy or at least have heard of Summits and Icefields by Chic Scott. Literally the ski mountaineer’s bible for Western Canada’s vast snow-covered ranges, the well-used guidebook is now in its third edition. Researched and written by legendary alpinist Chic Scott and mountain guide Mark Klassen, the latest edition, now titled Summits and Icefields I, adds tours, expands existing descriptions and features great full-color, digitally-created maps for all areas covered. Of note is that the new edition is now fully dedicated to the Canadian Rockies. The tours and traverses of the Columbia Mountains to the west, originally included in earlier editions, are to be part of the forthcoming Summits and Icefields II (due November 2012).
Still focused on the classics, Summits and Icefields I adds significant content to the original editions including an expanded section on easy access roadside attraction skiing, tours in and around the Southern Rockies and expanded detail on extended traverses and icefield tours. Of course, you can still count on Summits and Icefields I for complete beta on ski mountaineering classics like the Wapta and Columbia Icefield traverses, and you will now find precise hut location coordinates included where applicable.
The new addition still includes the great historical details about classic tours and grand traverses as well as information on iconic alpine huts that help define it as more than just a basic ski guide. A consultation with Summits and Icefields I is a prerequisite for any ski touring adventure in the Canadian Rockies.