Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This year it's been tough for me to find my usual late summer anxiousness for the impending ski season. I've been dealing with a shattered tib-fib from an accident at Squaw in February (see the write-up here) and an odd hammertoe condition with my big toes that likely will require a tendon release surgery. With worrying about employment, health insurance, etc., it's been really hard for me to get excited about skiing. And this is coming from somebody who obsessively surfs TGR, Telemarktips, various ski blogs, and the forecast discussions of three different NWS offices for hours a day.

That said, I'm going to briefly mention what skis I'm going to be (hopefully) on this season in a feeble attempt to get stoked on skiing for a bit.

Last season I had a four ski quiver: 180 Maroon Buddha Volkl Explosivs, 174 G3 Tickets, 180 Black Diamond (black and orange foam-core) Verdicts, and 188 Praxis Protests. I had O1s on the Verdicts, O2s on the Tickets, and Hammerheads on the Explosivs and Protests. I drove these skis with the new Black Diamond Push boots. Overall I was happy with all of those skis. Mostly medium-stiffish flexes.

Explosivs: Faster groomer/crud skis. I felt like I could have skied them longer. I only weigh 160 or so, but at speed when straightlining extra length would have been nice.

Tickets: Teaching/bump/easy day skis. These things turn. They were my go-to ski for teaching ski school and hanging out with the girlfriend.

Verdicts: These were my only ski with a free pivot touring binding. They were light and I liked the flex, but they got kicked around in junky snow because they're so light and they're foam core.

Protests: Big days. I only got on these for 3-4 days before I broke my leg, which was, coincidentally, right before Tahoe got slammed with 8 or so feet in five days. These guys are Keith's "Continuous Curve Rocker." They're rockered front and back. They're almost completely reverse sidecut (in addition to reverse camber), but have a small amount of sidecut underfoot. I wanted them to be just a bit more versatile then the full on Praxis Powderboards. These were my first experience with a newer shape and I was an immediate convert. So much fun. I didn't like them tele, and I skied them parallel most of the time. I'm really looking forward to skied them with a locked heel this season. I felt like I was going over the bars sometimes last year when the snow was a bit stickier. That was partially the tele mount, and partially because Keith's recommended mount range was so far forward. I had them BC at 101. This year I'm going 103-104. In addition to how they ski, Keith puts out a fantastic product. I will never sell these.

This season I'm switching from tele to alpine/AT due to the aforementioned injury being primarily caused by non-releasable tele bindings. My planned setup is the following:

Black Diamond Factor Boots: I like the fit of the BDs. I got a screaming deal on a very lightly used pair so I grabbed them in April. I have both the DIN soles and the AT soles. I'll probably be switching them quite a bit. In the future I may pick up a pair of Dynafit Zzero 3 Carbons to pair with a light pair of ski mountaineering sticks, but these are fine until I have more disposable income.

jondrums (TGR) DynaDuke Plates: If these things get finished in enough time, then they're going on my skis. They allow you to have just the plates screwed into the ski, and then swap Dynafits and Marker Dukes/Barons on and off the skis as you see fit.

Dynafit FT12 Bindings: If you enjoy backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering and not carrying tons of excess weight on your feet, you mostly likely ski on Dynafit bindings (or you tele, maybe). I've wanted to tour on Dynafits for a long time, and after breaking my leg, I finally have the impetus to switch. Really looking forward to these. The reason I went with the FT 12s (12 DIN) even though I only weigh 165 lbs. after a big dinner is that I want the extra DIN because I may be hammering on them inbounds. I don't tend to break gear in general, but I thought for a tiny bit of extra weight I'd take the extra DIN. If the swap plates come out in time, these may be switched between skis (i.e. Dynafits for touring/Dukes for inbounds-sidecountry). If not, they will be mounted on...

Movement Goliath Sluffs (184): These are going to be my "skinny skis." They'll be used for everyday inbounds skiing, and most of my touring. If I do any teaching this season, I'll either be on something stolen from my brother or these. They're 99mm underfoot and have an early rise tip (i.e. a small/gradual amount of rocker). Stoked on the early rise for junky backcountry snow. All the reviews I've read have been excellent. I'm mildly concerned that they have a bit too much sidecut (I tend to like ~30m radius skis), but I doubt I'll have too much of an issue. At some point I'd like to get on a pair of full-size (191 with a longer sidecut) Goliaths. I'd imagine I'd like them for a charging ski, but they're a bit big for me for an everyday ski... and again, funding.

Marker Dukes: The new standard in heavy AT gear. These are either going straight onto the Praxii (with 130mm brakes) or onto the DynaDuke plates. It'll be nice that I can use the AT soles on my Factors with these. I'll probably use the DIN soles most of the time when I know I'm going to be inbounds, for the sake of a more reliable release, but it's convenient to not have to switch.

Protests: Again, for days when there is at least 8-10 inches of new. I'm planning on picking up skins for these by the time the big storms start rolling in. There was a touring day in February of this year that I was out on my Verdicts and I REALLY wished I was on the Praxis. It was a high avalanche danger day, so we couldn't get on anything steep enough to get any substantial speed. Even my buddy on a big splitboard was having trouble. So days like that get the Praxis. Normally I might just stay inbounds on those days, but I really want to tour more.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Phone Quorum For CRAGS Board of Directors Meeting

So I just participated in a CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates For Greater Sacramento) Board of Directors meeting. I'm an alternate on the board. The issue we resolved is the adoption and precise language of the Draft Climbing Management Plan for the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA). If you're not familiar with with CRAGS (and I doubt many people, especially those outside of the Sacramento area, are) it is the Sacramento area chapter of The Access Fund, the national non-profit organization dedicated to rock climbing advocacy and access. CRAGS' (current) website is here: http://yourcrags.blogspot.com/

The ASRA was originally created as an interim park to allow people to recreate and use the land that would eventually be drowned by the Auburn Dam, one of the originally-envisioned components of the federal Central Valley Project. Although the Bureau of Reclamation had a diversion permit from the State Water Resources Control Board that dated back to 1965, years of opposition from various local citizens' groups finally seems to have killed the project. The Bureau lost their permit due to lack of diligent diversion in October 2008. For an interesting take on the ASRA, and a great read, check out this book: http://www.naturenoir.com/

In the mean time, the ASRA developed into a recreation mecca. The Western States 100/Tevis Cup trail traverses the ASRA. The area has terrific hiking and mountain biking trails. There's an OHV area at Mammoth Bar. There is fantastic whitewater on the Wild and Scenic North and Middle Forks of the American River. There is also an old quarry.

Within the old Auburn/Cool quarry are approximately fifty rock climbing routes of various difficulties, lengths (up to three pitches), and quality. There is the potential for perhaps a couple of hundred more. One of the principal goals of CRAGS at this time is to reopen the quarry to climbing. It has been closed for the last ten or so years after a man died in a rope jumping accident. CRAGS' adoption of the Draft Climbing Management Plan is an important step in reopening the quarry to climbing. The Auburn Quarry has the potential to be one of the best sport climbing areas in the state. Probably not as good as Owens, J-Tree, or many Sierra locations, but for pure sport (and a bit of trad) that's easily accessible and climbable most times of the year, it shows promise.

(Photo courtesy of Eric Whalen on the Access Fund's website.)

Well, I Never Thought I'd Do This, But...

I always thought blogging was a somewhat self-important endeavor because when you write things in a blog (as opposed to, say, a personal journal) you have to inherently think that other people care what you have to say.

I don't necessarily think this. I think it's possible that people might care what I have to say on various topics, but not necessarily probable. I always thought blogging about things I care about would inherently be fun, and that's why I'm doing this.

So... welcome!