Sunday, October 27, 2013

Totally Gnarly core shot repair

Up in the Cirque at Snowbird last week on my first ski of the season I hit a rock hard enough for my Dynafit to eject. Of course the core shot I got out of it is somewhat respectable, but not to worry: Tognar to the rescue! With my Skimender RP100 I was able to get rid of it. The Skimender uses the 11mm P-Tex sticks that are a lot more solid than any P-Tex drip candle so it’s a great tool for larger gashes and especially core shots. Below are the before and after pictures (click to enlarge):

Waiting for the storm

We are now looking into a forecast that may lay the foundation for our 2013/2014 base layer.
The prior storm’s snow has all but melted off in most of the Wasatch with rare exceptions the most notable being Great Baldy, a little in the Ballroom and some more in the Cirque at Snowbird. Good thing too as all that’s left from the prior storms is all sugar now and would obviously make for a heinous base layer.
While waiting I went out for yet another pre-season hike, got to keep those legs somewhat busy… I went to Jupiter out of convenience but also so that I may have Skadi with me. With all the watershed restrictions dogs find themselves excluded from nature in most of the central Wasatch… I started from the PCMR parking lot at First Timer and went to Jupiter via Crescent top, Bonanza top, and Pioneer Ridge. It’s a very long walk for just 3,000’ elevation gain but it was nice to be back at the resort. Funny thing about Jupiter: On the USGS it’s a Hill and on the resort map it’s a Peak. Drama sells and I guess Peak sounds more BA?
The resort is absolutely ready with the snow cannons now. They are primed, set and aimed -Just waiting for this storm’s frigid Canadian temps to fire off.
Here are the pictures of the day (click to enlarge): 
The Yurt got an upgrade since Skadi was here last. To compare click here.

Here is the East face with no more than a couple of inches left..
...and this is Wolverine bowl with not so much more than Jupiter.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Totally Gnarly Tuning

Typically every season I turn my skis in for an annual professional tuning. After the first tuning I do the upkeep through the season myself. The three main reasons why I do it myself is 1) I get out often enough in season that leaving my skis several days anywhere is not an option, 2) most professional tuning is calibrated for really thick resort skis and our AT skis are thin enough that eight roundtrips on the grinding stone removes too much base material (once after a tuning I could see the core of my skis through the base…), and 3) I enjoy caring for my equipment and I do want to know every nook and cranny of it.
To do this you need some supplies and some basic knowledge. Here in Park City there are several places you can go to. However my absolute favorite ski tuning supply store is Tögnar Toolworks and they are out of Ashland, OR so I shop mostly online at and/or use their excellent catalog. I don’t know anyone else with the breadth of selection that Tögnar offers. From “Sandvik” Swedish steel base scrapers to Arkansas polishing stones (for your edges) and all the wax brands you could imagine as well as ski tuning benches, Tögnar has it all. Their 2013/2014 catalog is a 62 page treasure trove of extremely useful tips and background info as are their online video tutorials on their blog (scroll down till the great intro video to hot waxing skis). If you don’t like that video, DO NOT miss the snowboard hot waxing video, whether you’re a snowboarder or not, you’ll thank me later...
to see this video, click here
In any case back to the boys at Tögnar: I have been ordering supplies from them for the better part of the last decade and service and prompt delivery never ever fails, these guys are on it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First ski of the 2013/14 season!

It’s always a special day when you get to make the first turns of the season, especially when “first skin” and “first ski” are on the same day. Some seasons both are not on the same day see Wasatch 2009 (skin ski) and Alps 2012 (skin ski). Yesterday I hiked from Alta up Baldy by its western ridge and back down by its eastern. Comparing the current conditions with last week’s hike it was clear that we got a fair amount of more snow during the week as I found at least an extra foot compared to last Saturday. However I still found a bit too many rocks lurking just beneath the surface to qualify for “snow cover”. I got to inspect the Great Baldy chute entrance and there too the amount of rock would bring stone grind to a whole new level that I wouldn’t expose even my rock skis to. This is a kind of a close call though and several ski tracks could be seen off the chutelettes off of Baldy west ridge, Great baldy and a little in the Ballroom; clearly people with a higher tolerance for equipment abuse... In any case as I was hiking up the western ridge I got a fairly good view of the Cirque in Snowbird and that looked a lot more promising so I decided to bring the skis up there on Sunday and check out the conditions a bit.
Turned out to be quite the good move: I got to skin about 3,400 and ski 1,200 in powder and another 2,000 on all sorts of icy crud in more of a combat skiing mode. Combat skiing mode is generally code for worthless, heinous skiing that is better left alone. However I have always been of the opinion that bad skiing beats no skiing any day of the week, so I had quite a good day of it!
Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
The Cirque this morning

First skin: My rock skis and boots, these can take abuse, within reason...

First turns (looks a lot flatter than it is).

First core shot, good thing these are rock skis.

Suicide chute is doing a lot better than last week...
...whatever ski you get out of this though, it's all work before and after.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BCA Recall

This is an important message from our friends at BCA:

We are conducting a trigger upgrade on all Float packs sold into the marketplace during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. Please see the attached Safety Alert and Important Recall Notice for details. Please assist us in distributing this information.  

This trigger update includes the Float 30, 18, 36, 22, 32 and Throttle. The Float 30 with T-handle is not included. Any Float packs received after July 1st, 2013 are also not affected.  The upgraded trigger assembly is standard on all 2013-2014 airbags and utilizes a hex crimp instead of an E-clip as a retention solution.

We have found on a very few number of packs that the E-clip that holds the cable assembly together can accidentally become dislodged while connecting or disconnecting the compressed air cylinder. If this happens, the pack may not deploy properly. While the probability of this occurring is extremely low, we believe it is best to replace the entire assembly.

We have Float Trigger Upgrade Kits in stock in our warehouses in both the US and Canada. Each location will be able to directly assist customers with this upgrade. It is not necessary for customers to send their packs in to retailers to have the upgrade installed.
BCA's mission is to save lives, not just sell products. Our customers' safety-and their loyalty-are our top priorities. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at 303-417-1345 or email us at .

Thank you, 
Sander Wyjad
Customer Service Manager

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alta Recon

With the snowfalls becoming increasingly frequent one starts imagining skiing may not be too far off. Early season Alta is often a good bet for some early turns so I went there yesterday to check out the situation. After lugging skis and boots all the way to the Timpanogos snowfield the last week-end to no avail, I decided to not even bother with skis on this recon tour, good thing too!  It’s just not ready yet but on the north facing it may not take too much longer… Most of the Ballroom has about a foot with up to two feet in a few rare privileged spots.
Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
Sugarloaf with a thin and inconsistent snow cover.
Superior is going to take a while...
...but Suicide Chute is slowly and hopefully surely building some sort of cover.
American Fork Twin Peaks and Mineral Basin

Great Baldy is holding some snow but not enough...
...neither at its entrance...

...nor at its exit.