American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education – Course Review

In December I headed to Chamonix to take the AAIRE Level 1 Course and AAIRE Rescue Course ran by the Chamonix Experience. The Level 1 Course is a is a 3-day introduction to avalanche safety and hazard management, combining classroom and field work, focusing on decision-making skills in avalanche terrain. The Rescue Course is an extra day bolt on at the end of the course that is focused on rescue practice including the transceiver skills, shovelling methodology, single and multiple burials and rescue response drills. My motivation for seeking out the courses was two-fold. Firstly, from an academic point of view I am always keen to find out more about how the geography and weather are going to affect the quality of my annual ski trip. And secondly because my skiing has improved (or certainly my confidence not necessarily my technique!) I find myself looking further afield for more challenging routes, or for a fresh stash of powder. With increased attention on avalanches and the dangers of venturing off piste, especially following recent tragedies even in resort, my ignorance of my decision making is no longer bliss! Day 1. We spent the first morning in the classroom, being introduced to the “Ride Safely” framework for planning and organising trips into the backcountry. The main emphasis was on introduction to different types of avalanches (there are nine different types!), what conditions they form in and what the warning signs are (if there are any!). As well as monitoring weather and snow reports throughout the season to get a feel for what’s going on in the snow before you even arrive on site. In the afternoon we headed up the Chamonix Valley to Le Tour and spent the afternoon learning how to use beacons, probes and shovels to find backpacks buried in the snow. This included the best practices for how to use each piece of equipment but also, what to watch out for in terms of good and “not-so-good” equipment.
people in the snow
Le Tour learning how to use beacons, probes and shovels to find backpacks buried in the snow.
Day 2 was again split 50:50 with the morning in the classroom and the afternoon out on the mountain. During the morning we continued to learn about how different weather conditions influenced the snow pack, but also on how to identify avalanche terrain and warning signs when out in the field. We also looked through some case studies of historic avalanches, as well an example of a situation where one of the instructors had a near miss on a day that was a level 2 on the scale. This really hammered home to me how naive I have been previously with my decision making. It turns out being in the wrong place on a level 2 day can be the same or worse than being somewhere on a level 4 day. This is probably my main taking from the course. How can you have enough information to be safe based on a scale that runs from level 1-5. Different parts of the mountain can be different levels on the same day, the scale only says the highest risk. We spent the afternoon at the top of the cable car at Le Brevent, looking for avalanche terrain and trying to find the safest touring routes through avalanche terrain.
Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, in the back ground, looking for avalanche terrain.
snow covered mountains View north-west from Le Brevent, which is a popular ski touring route. Can you see the areas to avoid? We finished the day digging snow pits to look at the make up of the snow. Digging snow pits is the part I was probably the most looking forward to, however it’s a bit too advanced for the level 1 course. Having spent a lot of time talking about “weak layers” and “facets” over the previous couple of days, it was really interesting to see these terms first hand.
avalanche probe and shovel
Snow pit!! You can see where we have used our gloves to mark different strength layers in the snow-pack.
The final day of the Level 1 was spent touring. The class split into two groups and we had to plan and execute a safe tour for the day. The avalanche risk was level 4 (high) and the visibility was extremely low so this severely limited what we could do safely. However we managed a full day touring in relative safety by minimising our exposure to avalanche terrain. This was the first time I have ever been touring, and whilst we did not do anything overly challenging, it was an awesome experience. It was also a great opportunity to put everything we had learnt in the classroom to good use. I spent the last day doing the optional Rescue Course. I nearly didn’t stay on for this course, especially having spent a little time on the other course practising some some basics rescue techniques, but I am so pleased I did. We spent the whole day in the field going over different search scenarios and practising. I have to say I was blown away but how quickly you are able to land a “probe strike” on a bag hidden a metre down in snow after learning different techniques. By the end of the day we were getting down to having found buried bags in little over one minute, that’s how good the techniques and equipment were. The last day also allowed us to continue honing our skills from the Level 1 Course. Having checked the weather and avalanche forecasts before heading out on to the mountain, we knew roughly where to look for areas at risk to avalanches. During a one hour period at lunch we witnessed seven or eight small avalanches going off in a steeper section of terrain in between two pistes. Not only that people were still following tracks and skiing off piste in this section whilst it was happening, completely oblivious. I couldn’t help but think how many times that had been me. The terrain in question is in the picture below:
snow covered mountains
Can you see the ski tracks and all the avalanche activity on the terrain? (look above the tree). The lift to access this terrain was just off the picture to the right.
Overall, both courses were incredibly enjoyable and informative. Although quite expensive, the instructors and guides you gain access to were incredible and the whole experience has hammered home how naive I have been on all my previous ski trips. I was definitely the least experienced person on the course but I left the course feeling like I did it at the right time in my skiing journey. To give you a sense of my level, I ski once a year on holiday (twice if I am lucky), on some all mountain skis and spend my time on piste, on the side of the piste or getting a guide for a day if the weather is good. I’ve never been touring until the course. If you are staring to venture off the side of the pistes and are considering venturing in to the off-piste world with a guide, I would definitely recommend doing these courses. www.chamex.com/trip_courses/aiare-level-1-chamonix www.chamex.com/trip_courses/aiare-avalanche-rescue-course Thanks Will Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Smith Optics I/OX Snow Goggles Review

It’s been almost two years since the beautiful partnership with my Smith’s sunglasses began and I couldn’t have asked for a better pair. We’ve been all over the world together from the likes of far East Asia to the busy bustling cities of Europe. 

However, as great as my sunnies are, they’re no match for alpine skiing conditions, which is why I’ve upgraded to the big guns. Tallington Lakes were kind enough to let me test out a pair of Smith I/OX snow goggles as I embarked on my adventure to the French Alps. When I first opened the box a bright smile was looking back at me, it was my own reflection cast from the pristine conditioned ‘ChromaPop’ lenses.

I’ve been skiing now for the best part of twenty years and I’ll be honest, I’ve never really invested too much into my snow goggles. Comparing my old pair to these I/OX goggles, it’s clear to see there’s no competition. It’s like trading in your old banger of a car, that’s just about managed to get you from point A to point B; for a souped up, all singing, all dancing teched out super car!

If I knew it wasn’t impossible, I would have placed a bet that Tallington Lakes had rigged the weather system in order to really allow me to test these goggles. In the one week I was there, I encountered harsh snow blizzards, gale force winds, torrential rain, depressingly overcast to extreme dazzling sunshine without a cloud in sight.

These I/OX goggles come equipped with two different lenses in order to combat the diverse weather you can clearly come across whilst in the mountains. Do not fear though, unlike other interchangeable lenses where it feels as if you are solving a rubix cube for hours, the lens swapping process here is very straight forward.

The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%. In English, it means only 13% of light passes through the lens. 13%?! I’ll do the maths for you, that means your eyes are shielded against a whopping 87% of all light particles trying to shine through. You will be correct in thinking, that’s an astronomical amount of light being blocked – however what you need to realise, is the UV rays from the sun are more powerful when you’re stood on top of a mountain. Those rays are then reflected from the snow which create the super annoying blinding-glare effect. Therefore a 13% VLT rating truly is a remarkable feat and not only does it work, it works brilliantly. I never once felt myself squinting from the sun glare. The goggles allowed me to easily pick out my turns in order to avoid the treacherous trees and murderous moguls.


The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%.

For extreme low light conditions, such as the total white out blizzard I unfortunately ended up in, Smith have designed the ‘ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash’ with a VLT rating of 50%. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to ski in a white out, you will remember the dreaded feeling of being lost, lonely and confused as you vision becomes extremely impaired. You’ll remember trying to pick out those piste pole markers you took for granted as you attempt to safely escape the mountain – the skiers and snowboarders who were only a few feet away completely disappear and all you end up saying on repeat is “I can’t see a thing in these goggles”. Sound familiar?

Without those low light lens on, I think I’d still be stuck on that mountain top.

An important issue with snow goggles is the potential fogging up of the lenses. This can be due to a number of different reasons from the change in air temperature to difference in altitude to simply the hot panting breath you produce when working your legs overtime to get those turns in.

Thankfully Smith have countered all these problems by installing an incredible feature called the ‘AirEvac’. It allows for a constant air flow in order to reduce the risk of foggy goggles. On top of this amazing feature, the Smith lenses are equipped with 5x anti-fog inner lenses which provide five times the fog absorption compared to anything else on the market!

I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I always wear my neck-warmer around my face and over my nose to stay warm. Therefore every time I breathe out, the hot air rises and attempts to pierce through my goggles defences. If I were in my ‘old banger’ goggles I surely would have fogged up and skied off a cliff. These goggles didn’t even slightly fog up once during my entire week!  

The extra-large spherical lens of the I/OX allows unparalleled peripheral vision which is absolutely vital when you’re skiing on a busy slope surrounded by potential collisions.

To top everything off, the goggles are perfectly designed to fit comfortably on your face whilst attaching easily to the back of your helmet.

With the weather forecast ahead still predicting a huge amount of snow this season, it’s not too late to book another ski adventure. I cannot recommend these ski goggles enough – imagine a ski holiday in ultra coloured HD, it’s there and yours for the taking!

Check out our selection of Smith Optics snow goggles, here.

Adam (Ski Instructor and Water Ski/Wakeboard Boat Driver))

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Q&A With GB’s Sam Turnbull

Our Chief Instructor Lotti had a chance to put some question to GB snowboarder Sam Turnbull:

Q1) What’s your perfect breakfast to set you up for a big day on the mountain?

My go to breakfast before a big day on the mountain is a sausage, bacon & egg sandwich, followed by fruit and some porridge if I’m really hungry.

Q2) What’s your favourite song to ride to?

Surprisingly I don’t actually listen to music while I ride. But If I need that little bit of motivation and drive my usual go to is AC/DC , Camo & Krooked or a cheeky bit of Jess Glynne on the way up the mountain.

Q3) What’s the most epic moment of your snowboarding career, so far?

There’s has been so many epic moments throughout my career from landing a trick for the first time to winning contests it’s hard to choose.  I think the best thing about my career though is the opportunity I’ve had to travel the world and experience things not many people have had the chance to do.

Q4) How do you think dry-slopes influences the snow industry, and do they have a place on the ‘big scene’?

I think that the dry slope has massively influenced the snow industry and has helped the scene grow to what it is today, I believe it also gives the younger generation a platform to start from and to showcase their skills and not have to spend excessive amounts of money travelling to the mountains to train. It definitely has a place on the big scene, I mean some of the best UK skiers & snowboarders have all grow up riding the dry slope including myself.

Q5) What’s your favourite mountain day, hot park laps or powder days?

As much as I love Powder days it’s got to be Park Laps for me.

Q6) What’s your favourite set up: board, bindings and boots; and why?

My snowboard I ride is the Space Echo 154, it’s such a good all round board from smashing out park laps to cruising the deep powder of the back country.  For my boots I ride the Judge boots because they do exactly what i need them to do, they are a super comfy for riding and hold my foot and heel down nicely when cruising around the mountain and doing what I do.  And Salomon defender bindings as I’ve ridden these for years and have never faulted me yet, they seem to last forever.

Thanks Sam

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Skins DNAmic Base-Layer Review

If you haven’t read our article about base-layers; you can read it here.

If you have read it; you’ll know how important your first layer of clothing is, in maintaining your core-body temperature, while skiing or snowboarding in the mountains.

However, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think most of us have heard about the benefits of ‘compression’ clothing:

  • Reduce injury by keeping muscles warm
  • Improved blood flow
  • Stabilising joints
  • Aid recovery from muscle stiffness and soreness

And we’ve seen athletes using them, even people on long-haul flights wearing them, but are they any good for skiing or snowboarding?

This winter I tried some ‘compression’ base-layers from Skins, both the Skins DNAmic long sleeve base-layer and three-quarter tights. I chose the three-quarter tights, over long-johns, because these would not affect the fit of my ski boots – less crease points! I have invested in quality socks and a custom boot fit, so why would I add another layer inside my boot to mess things up?

First thing first; these are ‘compression’ garments – so they are a very snug fit, if not a little difficult to get on. At first you could feel the ‘tightness’ or ‘support’ the garment gives you – it felt quite good, ‘superhero-like’!

I donned my other layers, and quickly headed out into the cold, because I was starting to get hot in the chalet.

As a base-layer they did their job; keeping me at a comfortable temperature all-day long. Moisture (sweat) generated on the exhilarating decent was wicked away, helping maintain a warm core-body temperature on the cold chairlift ascent. Early morning ski touring was cosy, without overheating.


Skins Womens DNAmic Thermal Mock Neck Half Zip Baselayer

As the days, and week of skiing, progressed I was pleased with my fitness/endurance. Yes I had prepared for the holiday, by going to the gym beforehand; but I do believe the ‘compression’ of my leg muscles, by the three-quarter tights, had made a difference. Also, after a few stretches and enjoying tea and cakes, sitting around in the ‘compression’ tights helped recovery for the following day’s skiing. I generally suffer with lower back pain; but once again because my hamstrings, glutes etc were ‘supported’ this was eased too.

As for the torso; I felt more stable. Yes I had done some core exercises at the gym, but once again the garment assisted.

So, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think they are good, and as a quinquagenarian I will certainly wear them (especially the three-quarter tights) when skiing.

PS The wearing of ‘compression’ clothing does NOT negate the need for exercise/fitness training for your chosen sport!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stance Backcountry Socks – Review

Start from the bottom up! That old saying “a house is only as good as the foundations” might not seem appropriate to skiing; but have you given your sock choice much thought recently?

Here in Colorado many of the mountain resorts have stopped the gondola wheels spinning, because Spring has sprung. For some of us the need for gondolas and chair lifts has long been gone, the deep powder days have come to an end, and the desire for ski touring has been getting stronger by the day. With clear skies, and an ever settling snow pack, the long days in the skin tracks are become a daily ritual – 4am trail head starts by head lamp and t-shirt hikes out; are how we spend the days.


With clear skies, and an ever settling snow pack, the long days in the skin tracks are become a daily ritual. Photograph Joe

With the Spring sun the days might start cold, but they soon warm up. And as for all the great things ski boots bring to the slopes, breathability certainly isn’t one of them. Consequently I was pretty excited to try out Stance’s new super light weight, super breathable Backountry Ultra-Light Sock, and see what they could do for my feet. Out of the pack these socks feel light and thin, very thin, and initially I thought Stance might have gone to far – and it would feel like I was putting my bare foot into my ski boot. That being said, and “you don’t know until you try”, I pulled them on and took them for a test on my pre-work skin up Vail Mountain. Straight away any concerns disappeared; because my feet felt great, and comfortable, in my Dalbello Lupo boots. My feet stayed warm, the arch support hugged my foot, and the gradual compression kept my legs feeling fresh – although I hope that was partly down to my fitness, not just the socks!

With the initial test out of the way, it was time to really put the socks through their paces. The planned route would be a twelve mile round trip, gaining a vertical height of 1400m (4600ft), and descending the south couloir of East Partner in the Gore Range, Colorado. Again, starting by headlamp in the early hours of the morning, the socks preformed excellently keeping my feet warm and comfortable for the first few miles of hiking. Once on the skis, and skins, everything still felt great. The thin slight compression-nature of the sock gives a great feeling that your foot is well held, and not moving around inside the sock or boot. The temperature regulation was good, which became more evident the longer the day went on and everything started to warm up. I have previously felt that once my feet get hot the socks can rub and create sores; this was not the case and I felt great all the way up and down. The trip, with its varied terrain, was more like an alpine ascent to the summit – including skinning, boot packing, and ice climbing in crampons – which took approximately eight hours; and I can truly say it’s the most comfortable my feet have felt all season. Don’t get me wrong I was super happy to get my ski boots off at the end!


The trip, with its varied terrain, was more like an alpine ascent to the summit – including skinning, boot packing, and ice climbing in crampons – which took approximately eight hours. Photograph Joe

Stance has produced a full range of ‘360 Feel’ snow socks ranging from ‘All Mountain’ poly blend to the performance driven ‘Backcountry Ultra-Light’ merino wool blend. Whichever category you put yourself in I’m confident you will not be disappointed; and I’d seriously recommended heading to the Pro Shop, and checking out their Stance range of ski and snowboard socks, ready to dial in your ski kit for next season.

Please note for the 2019/2020 season the Stance sock range will be called, for either ski or snowboard: Performance, Merino Blend, and Ultra-Light
Merino Blend.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Product Recall: O’Brien Performer Pro Combo Skis

Please see message from O’Brien Watersports Inc:

Name of Product: Performer Pro Combo Skis

Hazard: During falls, the binding’s retention rate can outperform the strength of the ski, causing breaks and delamination of the ski.

Remedy: Refund
Consumers should immediately stop using the Performer Pro Combo Skis and contact O’Brien Watersports Inc. for a store credit or refund.

Consumer Contact:
O’Brien Watersports Inc. at 800-662-7436 from 8:00am to 4:00pm PT, Monday through Friday or online at webcontact@obrien.com.

RECALL DETAILS

Units: About 3,560 (in addition, about 700 were sold in Canada)

Description: This recall involves O’Brien Performer Pro Combo Skis. These skis have a binding mounted to a plastic plate that is then mounted on the ski top. From 2011 to 2017, the skis were equipped with O’Brien’s “X9” binding. In 2018, the skis were equipped with O’Brien’s “Avid” binding. The skis are also equipped with an aluminum fin. O’Brien’s Performer Combo Skis, which are equipped with a plastic fin and O’Brien’s “X8” binding, are unaffected by this recall.

Item NumberProduct Name
2111112Performer Pro Combo Skis in black/gold
2121100Performer Pro Combo Skis in red/white/yellow
2141102Performer Pro Combo Skis in blue/green
2141102Performer Pro Combo Skis in blue/green
2161102Performer Pro Combo Skis in black/grey/yellow
2181104Performer Pro Combo Skis in black/grey/yellow

Incidents/Injuries: O’Brien Watersports Inc. has received three reports of leg injuries associated with skis breaking or bindings pulling off the ski during falls while slalom skiing.

Sold at: Overton’s, watersports and sporting goods stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2011 to April 2018 for about $300.

Importer/Distributor: O’Brien Watersports Inc. of Snoqualmie, Wash.
Manufacturer: Playmaker Co. Ltd. of Taichung, Taiwan, and CHN Mawei, Fuzhou Playmaker Co. Ltd. of Fujian, China
Manufactured in: Taiwan and China

Obrien Performer Pro Composite

ABOUT U.S. CPSC:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals – contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

For more lifesaving information, follow us on Facebook, Instagram @USCPSC and Twitter @USCPSC or sign up to receive our e-mail alerts. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC’s Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired.

CPSC CONSUMER INFORMATION HOTLINE

Contact us at this toll-free number if you have questions about a recall:
800-638-2772 (TTY 301-595-7054)
Times: 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET; Messages can be left anytime
Call to get product safety and other agency information and to report unsafe products.

MEDIA CONTACT

Please use the phone numbers below for all media requests.
Phone: 301-504-7908

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stance Adventure Socks – Review

We are all encouraged to get outside more, and reap the benefits of the great outdoors – both physical and mental. Walking is one of the easiest ways to do this; whether a simple stroll in the park, a walk in the woods, or a hike up a mountain!

So when it comes to walking the first thing we think about is what walking shoes or hiking boots to put on our feet. We may even think about insoles to give support and comfort. But how much do we think about the interface between our feet and our footwear? Yes I’m talking socks!

women's stance adventure socks
Stance Women’s Hike Timber Multi Coloured Socks.

An inadequate, poorly fitting sock will negate all the money spent on your hiking shoes/boots; making them uncomfortable, they may even give you blisters, and therefore unlikely to get you outdoors more!

At Tallington Lakes Pro Shop we stock a range of walking socks from Stance. Stance is a sock company; they make socks and they are good at it. We have previously praised their ski and snowboard socks, and know how comfortable their classic lifestyle socks are – especially if the ‘Stance icons’ are on the inside of the foot1.

So what about their walking socks? The ‘Adventure’ range from Stance consists of the following socks, for both men and women: the ‘Outdoor’, the ‘Hike’ and the ‘Trek’. The socks are made of an ‘uncommon blend’ of fibres to produce a sock which is durable, temperature-regulating, moisture-wicking, and comfortable. Price varies between the three, as the socks get a little more technical, but there is a sock for everyone.

But what are they like to wear? Well let me tell you about the ‘Hike’ socks I recently wore, in both walking shoes and hiking boots, on a resent walking holiday. The mountainous area presented a variety of terrain: dusty rocky trails, a few marshy bits, boulder fields, and snow; and the weather was predominantly warm and dry, mid twenties degrees C.

I’m a UK 9.5 and selected a size large (UK 8.5-11.5). The first thing you notice when putting the socks on is the fit. As you pull the ‘L’ sock onto your left foot you feel the sock securely encase your toes, support your arch, encase your heel and reach the base of your calf. It’s a snug comfortable fit, like a second skin. Once in your shoe or boot, and you start to tighten your laces, the sock interfaces between foot and footwear to give a secure and comfortable fit. Whilst walking the sock didn’t move, and my feet didn’t get too hot – keeping them dry – thanks to the breathable nature of the socks. And when the socks did get wet, through the occasional deep snow, they were still comfortable and dried out quickly!

Having camped out over night, I had to wear the socks for a second consecutive day, and was pleasantly surprised they maintained the comfort of the first day; and didn’t smell (too bad).

men's stance adventure socks
Stance Men’s Pennell Hike Black Socks.

So if you’re wanting to get outside more by walking, ladies and gentlemen, you won’t be disappointed with a pair of these socks – whether a casual stroll in open park land in the ‘Outdoor’ socks or a full-on walking holiday in the ‘Hike’ or ‘Trek’ socks. Basically “these socks were made for walking”.

Note 1: the classic socks do not have a left and right indicator, like the more technical snow or adventure socks. However they are still ergonomically designed/manufactured; therefore there is a left and a right sock for you left and right foot. Although not essential to have the correct casual lifestyle sock on the appropriate foot; they will be even more comfortable if you do. So when wearing the classic Stance socks, remember the ‘Stance icons’ to the inside!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Ski Touring – What Gear is Best For You?

Ski touring can mean different things to different people – depending on the desires of those participating. According to Google dictionary, the defining features include ‘skiing across open country, walking uphill on skis as well as skiing downhill’. With this in mind; there are multiple options of how you can spend your day ski touring – depending on your own priorities. Many people use ski touring as a means of fitness. Some are captivated by the ability ski touring gives you to escape the crowded slopes and travel into the wilderness. Meanwhile, others use ski touring as an effective method of transport on the snow, ultimately to get to a destination. This destination could be anything from a mountain hut, to a line you have been dreaming about skiing for years, or even the finish line of a race. Therefore, to answer your questions of what gear is best; first you will need to prioritise your own ski touring desires.

There are two extremes within the ski touring world. At one end of the spectrum you have the lightest skis and minimal pin bindings, combined with extremely lightweight, soft boots. And at the other end there is the freeride setup, which uses heavier and fatter powder skis, with a more performance binding and stiffer boots. The lightweight setup is perfect for those hungry to push their limits on the ascent; by beating time records, increasing their distances, or simply for anyone wanting to make walking uphill on snow as effortless as possible. This is a good option for endurance ski tours, such as multi-day or hut-to-hut trips where you need to save your energy. Plus, for ski tour racing the lighter the gear the better. On the contrary, the heavier setup is designed for those really prioritising the decent and wanting to charge down a line with the best equipment for exactly that. This freeride setup tends to be used for shorter ski tours due to its weight, but what it does best is allow you to ‘earn your turns’ in most snow conditions, especially fresh powder. Also this setup is perfect for side country access skiing, where you may need a short walk to get to a line or even just to skin out from the bottom.


When choosing what gear to buy, there will always be compromises to make, but with technology constantly improving, those compromises seem to keep getting smaller and smaller.

However great each of these setups are for their purpose, choosing between them will subsequently mean compromising the ascent or decent. For example, super lightweight skis with pin bindings are not going to give you as much control or float in powder as a fatter, stiffer setup. On the other hand, climbing up with heavy gear will naturally slow you down and use up more energy. This limits the distance you can travel in a certain amount of time, and time is a critical factor when travelling in the mountains. Therefore, if you are looking to enjoy all aspects of ski touring, you may want something a bit more ‘middle ground’.

When choosing what gear to buy, there will always be compromises to make, but with technology constantly improving, those compromises seem to keep getting smaller and smaller. In fact Atomic (and Salomon) have released a brand-new binding, which is the ‘first compromise-free binding’. Whereas before you had to make a big decision of pin or freeride touring bindings, now the Atomic Shift binding perfectly combines the two systems. The many benefits include being lighter under foot for each step you climb, being securely locked in for charging the decent and importantly being able to release if you crash. Plus having brakes make transitions slightly less worrying when taking your skis off; unlike many pin setups which do not have such luxuries. These bindings are compatible with all Multi Norm Certified soles on the market today: Gripwalk ISO 9523, WTR ISO 9523 and Touring Norm ISO 9523 ski boots when in ski mode, as well as most ‘pin binding’ touring boots. The only sole not compatible with the Shift binding is the Non Touring Norm sole. Fundamentally, this makes tehn the ultimate all-round ski touring binding currently on the market.


The Atomic Backland skis are a great example of a versatile, lightweight ski, which can handle a range of conditions and terrain.

Touring skis are also closing the gap between what’s good going up and what’s good skiing down. The Atomic Backland skis are a great example of a versatile, lightweight ski, which can handle a range of conditions and terrain. Their ultra-light wood core and carbon backbone make climbing a doddle, while their HRZN tech tips, cap sidewall and all-mountain rocker increase float and give great edge control for ripping through the powder, crud or on piste. Furthermore, Atomic have an extensive range of their Backland skis, which include women specific models, and range from 65 to 107 under foot to cater for everyone’s needs. For the ultimate balance of up-and-down the women’s Backland 85 and the men’s Backland 95 are perfect. Combine these skis with the Atomic Shift binding and you will be well on your way to the perfect all-mountain touring setup.

To top it off, ski touring boots keep getting lighter, stronger and stiffer for you to really make the most of your time on the snow. If you are looking for a boot that can really do it all, look no further than the trusty Atomics, to complete your own ultimate touring setup. For both men and women the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD is the perfect balance between a freeride boot and a touring boot. With the pin system and lightweight shell ready for cruisey ascents, and a stiff flex for shredding at speed, you can enjoy one pair of boots for all your mountain adventures.

To top it off, ski touring boots keep getting lighter, stronger and stiffer for you to really make the most of your time on the snow.

And its not just me that thinks that; here’s what On The Snow have to say about the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD ski boots!

So, hopefully you will have a broader understanding of the different meanings of ski touring, and have a better idea of what will ‘tickle-your-fancy’ in the mountains. If you are at each end of the spectrum and want to push yourself in either the ascent or the decent, then size and weight are both critical factors when buying gear. If you see yourself as an all-mountain ski tourer, you will seek the perfect balance with the least compromises. The aforementioned Atomic setup (Backland skis, Shift bindings and Hawx Ultra XTD boots) will provide you with comfort, control and enjoyment in all aspects of ski touring.

Also this set-up is perfect for those new to ski touring, because it’s very user friendly and great value for money. So, if you are looking for one pair of boots and one pair of skis with bindings that you can truly take anywhere and have a good time, this is for you!

Finally, when ski touring in the backcountry, choosing your gear is only the beginning of all the important decisions to be made. Take no unnecessary risks and be snow avalanche aware; but most importantly have fun and enjoy the freedom!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

CAPiTA ‘Children of the Gnar’ Snowboard Review

This review will let you know what’s great about this CAPiTA snowboard, what’s not so good about this snowboard and everything in between.  Stick with me as I explain what riding this snowboard feels like and how it performs when compared to other snowboards I’ve ridden.

Pop Jumps

Since I have started riding this snowboard, I have instantly gained confidence and have been able to complete/learn new tricks. In addition this snowboard is absolutely amazing for Ollys and Nollys. It has made it so much easier to do spins and tricks over little bumps and kickers in the park. The slight camber structure makes me pop like a boss plus I feel more stable in the air and when I land.

Carving

It might just be that it is brand new but I feel the edges and side cut work better than previous snowboards; which makes it easier to carve and get low. With this factor I am now hugging the snow while I do a mahoosive ‘Euro Carves’ across the slope. The edge to edge transition feels so much easier and I end up going as fast as a mouse trying to escape a cat.

Jibbing

When you are jibbing, you can really see how good the board actually is. It is so easy to pop up onto the rail or box. The snowboard feels solid and stable on rails but the best part of the jibbing factor is the amount of height you can get on the features; so not only can you pop with ease but you can get tons of height with ease as well. 

Graphics

The graphics on this board are proper gnarly.  All sizes have the same sort of design on the top sheet and all of them are super rad.  I love the skulls on the base best.  The black on the top sheet makes it hard for my stickers to stand out though 😊.

My Snowboard Set-Up

I ride with Burton Cartel bindings on my CAPiTA board.  The flex is just right to get the most out of the board and they are super comfy too.  Overall I’d rate this board as a 4.5 out of 5, and I’d definitely recommend it for young riders wanting to progress their game.  It’s totally rad!  I’ve rated the board in different aspects so I’ll take the best and worst factors from each area:

  • Pop Jumps:                Best – plenty of pop and height you get from this snowboard. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
  • Carving                      Best – stability through aggressive turns. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
  • Jibbing                       Best – solid feel over features. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
  • Graphics:                   Best – proper gnarly. Worst – can’t see some of my stickers. 4 out of 5

Thanks Ollie

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cutting Ski Touring Skins

Cutting ski touring skins can be on of the biggest nightmares when getting a touring set up dialed; especially if you have a little OCD like myself and want a perfectly symmetrical skin cut.

After cutting my first skins, a set of Marker Universal, and a buddy’s Black Diamond Ascension; I can say with out a doubt G3 make it far easier and less stressful! The skins themselves are not only one of the best on the market but the attention they have put into the cutting process sets them in a league if their own!

So you may have seen or know how to trim skins by cutting one side, then move the skin over – guessing the amount of edge to reveal – then cut again. I don’t know about you but I feel this a rather inaccurate method!

What G3 have created is a trimming tool that lifts the skin off the base, spaces the cutting blade just the right depth in from the edge, and trims the skin all in one pass. So with this process there is no need to move the skin and try match up the edges; simply attach the skin centred on the ski and cut both edges – brilliant!

g3 skin with cutter
What G3 have created is a trimming tool that lifts the skin off the base, spaces the cutting blade just the right depth in from the edge, and trims the ski all in one pass.

So once trimmed it was ‘in-at-the-deep-end’ with a skin up to the Birthday Chute – a 1.2 km, 30-45 degree couloir in the Colorado Rockies. The skins preformed faultlessly with excellent grip in the steep kick turns and a super easy transition in gusting winds on the summit. The light weight cheat sheet and stuff sack kept the skins in great condition, to re-attach for the skin out. On previous trips I’ve had issues with glues not sticking and icing over; but not this time! So if your in the market for some new skins this winter season stop by the Pro Shop and check out G3 skins – you won’t be left disappointed.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather