All posts by Arran

From learning to ski at Talllington Lakes, many years ago, to climbing instructor, workshop technician, boot fitter and waterski boat driver. Arran has spent his fair share of time with us at Tallington Lakes. Now living in Vail Colorado his chance to ski and climb on a daily basis gives us a great incite into mountain life. #getoutside

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

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

Black Diamond Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant Review

The few that have kept skiing, even when the lifts have stop turning to ‘earn their turns’, spring has been a quick and warm few months!  The ski season is well and truly over with the last of the spring snow gone; and now the skis are serviced and the batteries are removed from our trackers it’s time to reflect. Here are my thoughts on Black Diamond’s Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant

Coming into this year’s ski season I was super keen to increase the hours I spent touring; so a nice lightweight breathable outer shell setup was going to be a must. However, moving to Vail Colorado, one of the world’s largest ski resorts, with ‘day in day out use’; protection from the elements and durability where going to be a key factor.

I have not personally used any of the extensive clothing range from Black Diamond, but I am familiar with their climbing gear. And I was confident that their commitment to producing excellent climbing hardware would be transferred to their clothing; so I decided to try the Mission Shell snow jacket and Sharpe End snow pants.

Being almost 6ft 4in tall I often find that technical apparel never quite fits right; having to wear larger sizes to accommodate for the extra length, but then finding it way too baggy everywhere else. With Black Diamond I settled on ‘large’ for both pant and jacket, although I could have been a medium in the pants. The large pant gave an extra 2.5cm inseam, and with the integrated belt system tightening up the waist, the large was the better fit. The large jacket was a great fit right from the start, with the under arm gussets giving a great range of movement. The super adjustable cuffs, powder skirt, and Cohaesive cord-lock technology hood all contributed to sealing up the jacket from the elements. Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the metres of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

skier on mountain slope
Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the meters of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

After six months of clattering through tree runs, being stuffed in a bag, ploughed through countless feet of snow, and some rain, this setup has proven its worth many times over. And still now, all be it not smelling quite as fresh, it looks as good as it did when it came out of the packaging.

So if you’re looking to progress into the off-piste and earn your turns, ski groomers all day, or go get buried waist deep and send powder shots overhead this Black Diamond Mission Shell jacket and Sharpe End pant combo will keep you dry and warm on the way down; and well vented and breathable on the way up. From freezing chair lift rides, to climbing across cornices, it’s great to have 100% belief in the kit you’re using – and Black Diamond didn’t disappoint. And not having the extra worry of being too cold or too warm; you can just focus on the objective in front of you.

Looking out for Black Diamond clothing coming to the Pro Shop this winter season 18-19.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Whitedot Ragnarok Skis Review

It’s been an interesting season so far in Colorado, USA. It’s had record low snow fall, record high temperatures, snowpack instability, and winds ripping through the valley – not what the locals have come to expect from this staggeringly vast, peak fill, snow playground in the Rockies!

The Whitedot Ragnarok is the brainchild of Fred Syversen; and after a quick ‘Google Search’ it becomes very clear why these skis just want to charge everything you put in front of them! Originally the Ragnarok was a super stiff , but this second generation Ragnarok is a little more playful. With 118mm under foot, 143mm up front and 130mm in the rear the ski is definitely designed to float, and to charge face-first down powder lines and steep faces. Just looking at the skis; they scream “powder day”!

skier in powder
Just looking at the skis; they scream “powder day”!

However, like I said, “it’s been an interesting season”. So the deep powder days have been few and far between (although the snow is starting to come more regularly now) leaving sunny, chopped up half powder/half mogul filled runs, which isn’t really what most of us would call ‘ideal skiing’, but the Ragnarok has a different opinion. If you can manage to blank out the bumps, and your knees will let you, the Ragnarok will ‘smash’ through whatever you put in front of them.

But it’s not all ‘smash and grab’! The stiffness helps to add a fun ‘pop’ to the exit of hard turns; the minimal camber under foot is enough to carve corduroy with the best of the ‘short ski groomers’, and the rocker (both tip and tail) will make these big skis scrub their turns, through tight trees, with ease! Whitedot gave this ski its own category “The Fun Charger” and they hit the nail square and true on the head.

looking down at whitedor ragnarokskis
It’s as if the people at Swiss Army Knives gave the guys at Whitedot a pep talk before they designed this ski; it does everything!

I cannot say enough about how versatile this ski is; and that’s me having put standard alpine bindings on them! The Ragnarok has had me cruising Vail’s vast inbound powder fields, to boot packing out-of-bounds on East Vail’s endless selection of rolling pillow lines, open bowls, cliffs and tight trees. And not once did they disappoint! It’s as if the people at Swiss Army Knives gave the guys at Whitedot a pep talk before they designed this ski; it does everything!

And if you go for the Carbonlite Ragnarok, with a pin binding setup, those steep, remote exposed lines in your dreams will become a reality.

So it turns out us Brits, who live on an island, with a maximum height of 1,345m, and relatively little snow, make one-hell-of-a ‘big mountain’ charging ski.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Drysure Boot Dryers Review

Coming into my first extended period of skiing (a season’s vacation in Vail CO); checking all my gear was up-to-scratch was a massive part of my so called ‘pre flight checks’: new powder skis, new outer shells, base layers, mid layers, helmet and all the other usual bits a week at a time skier needs. It wasn’t until my mother made the point about my boots smelling rancid after a week’s skiing, that I thought “I could be in for a smelly few months”! With the plan to get as many days on the mountains both alpine skiing and touring; it was a problem I was keen to solve.

 Having worked at Tallington Lakes as a boot fitter, I am not keen on using the normal boot dryers. Heating the boot even very lightly without my foot being in the boot to hold the foam in place seems a bit counter productive to the extensive moulding processes that is offered at the Pro Shop; in my opinion. So when I was introduced to the Drysure Boot Dryers, I was intrigued. The appeal of not adding heat to dry the boots perked my interest; and secondly the versatility of them, being able to throw them in a bag on hut trips and have dry boots in the morning after the previous days hiking is a nice concept. After using them for almost 50 days on the mountains I can’t believe how well they have worked at drying my boots over night, at room temperature, and most importantly the odour reduction of my boots. My boots smell fresher after 50 days skiing with Drysure than a week’s skiing with conventional drying.

Drysure works by absorbing the sweat and moisture into the Desiccant Silica Gel inside the boot dryers. This helps to, firstly, dry the boots but also, because the sweat is absorbed, bacteria doesn’t have chance to grow which is the cause of the rancid smell. The rancid smell does not come from the sweat itself, it actually comes from the bacteria breaking down the proteins in sweat. No bacterium also means cleaner and healthy boots, and feet because foot fungi are eliminated.

drysure boot dryer
Drysure works by absorbing the sweat and moisture; therefore cleaner and healthy boots, and feet!

The dryers are easy to maintain. After 10 or so used you can easily remove the silica pouches from the hard shell and place them on a radiator, or in front of the fire, to dry the Silica Gel pellets inside and recharge the effectiveness of the dryers.

For a relatively inexpensive item, that will easily fit in your boots whilst travelling, I will never fly anywhere without my Drysure Boot Dryers again. The versatility of being able to take them on hut or camp trips, and the effectiveness of the technology,  means that wet, smelly boots are pretty much a thing of the past; much to the appreciation of my mother!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Snow Goggles: Fashion or Protection?

When you look for your next set of snow goggles; what do you consider: style, do they match my outfit, price, when am I going to wear them (all of the time or just in the low light), do they fit my helmet?

However, perhaps the biggest oversight is the use of goggles as a vital piece of protection! We protect our head (well we certainly advise you to do so), and some go that extra step and wear body protection. But I imagine few of us choose a set of snow goggles on the basis of eye protection.

Eye Protection

Since working at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop my understanding and approach to eyewear has dramatically changed. During my first years skiing I had very standard snow goggles, no massive brand name, I just brought cheap with the mindset I only use them once a year.  And truthfully I brought my first set of Oakley Crowbar goggles on style, with little thought for anything else, via the internet and I was lucky they fit me and my helmet well.

So after different goggle brand training, I purchased my second set of Oakley Splice goggles in store after trying numerous ones on with my helmet. I found they fit better than other brands, the peripheral vision was far superior, and the level of protect Oakley offer made them an obvious choice.

That being said I would like to point out that all goggles we sell online and in store are CE approved, and perfectly suitable for all your wintery needs. Oakley, like in their sunglasses, has taken that testing/certification one step further and as they put it: “this level of testing is absolutely unnecessary”. The standard test to CE approve a lens, whether it be goggles or sunglasses, is to resist the impact of ball bearing dropped on it. Oakley didn’t feel this was enough and with the leading cause of eye damage to the London Eye Hospital being sunglasses shattering into people eyes, as the result of car airbags, they looked to improve this. The answer, Plutonite, developed by Oakley not only to be optically pure but also much more durable than other lenses. Oakley lens test – fire a metal spike at their lenses and the lens must not crack, but absorb and resist the impact. What is considered unnecessary by others is mandatory to Oakley. You can read about Oakley’s eyewear impact test here.

This technology has been around for some time; so in store we do highlight the pros of using goggles as a piece of protection. So what has prompted this article?

I was lucky enough to be in the French Alps recently, when as many of you will know the powder conditions where amazing, however avalanche risks where high, so the powder was to be skied in the safety of the trees. Great for snow pack confidence, however, with trees come roots, fallen branches and uncertainty under the seeming flat smooth snow. After a great run through the trees I popped out into a little clearing and put a few turns in, and up to this point my poles where disappearing half way into the powder. However my  next pole plant found something a few centimetres of snow: perhaps a branch or a rock. Needless to say my pole didn’t disappear as far as expected and I ended up head butting the top of the pole grip. Yes I felt the impact but I finished my run, and it wasn’t until the chairlift back to the top that I noticed the rather deep scratch running across the lens of my goggles.

scratched oakley lens
It wasn’t until the chairlift back to the top that I noticed the rather deep scratch running across the lens of my goggles.

It’s hard to say what might have happened if I was wearing sunglasses or a low specification pair of goggles. Certainly in the case of sunglasses I would have been looking at a broken nose and some fetching black eyes. In the case of a less durable lens, the lens could have cracked possibly causing eye damage.

All I can say  definitively is that  CE approved (or better) snow goggles, which ever brand you choose, should be a serious consideration and not a last minute ‘fashion’ pick up.

So take the time to come in store with your helmet and try on some snow goggles; or give us a call. Make sure they fit and  are comfortable, including wearing your helmet. Make sure the lens tint is right for the conditions you except to ski in; so that when you walk out onto the slopes you have the peace of mind that whatever happens your eyes are well protected!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather