If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country :-)
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of these commercial enterprises. I only put them here so that I can make use of them and if you find them useful, all the better.
This La Niña winter season has seen more snow that last year's El Niño. Snow depths were 93" at Echo and 107" at Kirkwood. I managed to use both my Royal Gorge trail passes this year for training days two and one week before the race. About 300 racers showed up for a blustery day of skiing. A bit of fresh snow over an icy crust provided fast conditions. I used a mix of red and blue Slik downhill ski wax and Ascension kicker skins for the beginning. I also skinned up the second hill and found Swix Special Red kicker wax gave enough grip for the smaller hills and flats..
This season has been greatly affected by El Niño, resulting in heavy snowfalls. The week before the race, snow depths are 88" at Echo and 112" at Kirkwood. I managed to use both my Royal Gorge trail passes this year for training days two and one week before the race. This 25th annual race featured a re-enactment of Snowshoe Thompson's trans-sierra exploits on long boards. This event celebrated the 150th anniversary of his famous exploits and included a limited edition cachet which each skier carried and was stamped at the end with an Echo Summit postmark. About 340 racers showed up for a blustery day of skiing. Snow conditions were spring-like and fast. I once again used Swix Universal glider and Ascension kicker skins for the beginning. Unlike last year, I choose to use Swix Silver wax for the middle climb and finish.
I was only able to spend one day at Royal Gorge two weeks before the race to train. This was the first full day I spent on my newly acquired combi skating skis, the race was the second day! A fine day for a race, a bit warmer and longer course than 1996. Snow conditions were spring-like, with a firm base. Skins and skating skis are the ticket for this course, although everything from snowshoes to randonee skis/plastic boots were seen at the starting line. The downhills were more gradual than 1996. My glide wax (Swix Universal glider w/ top-coat of Swix F4 rub-on) was excellent (as usual). Its so fun gliding past folks herringboning uphill on the Kirkwood trail section. By timing weight shifts with the rolling terrain there, you can fly uphill and ever catch some air over the tops of a few of the smaller hills!
My third visit to Mt. Shasta in two years, but this time with plans to climb to the summit (14,162').
After a late night drive from the Bay Area, we awake to a dusting of snow Saturday morning. A group of 11 leave Bunny Flat parking lot (7000') at 0930 on Saturday. We followed the trail to Horse Camp (1.5 mi. 8000') reaching the Sierra Club cabin at 1030. We meet three others there, one who decides to stay at Horse Camp. Several feet of snow at the cabin, although the spring and outhouses were clear. After an early lunch, we fastened climbing skins to skis and headed towards Avalanche Gulch at 1100. Climbing steadily for 3 hours brings us to Helen Lake (3 mi. 10,400') where luck would have it, a group was just leaving a well dug-in snow pit with room for two tents. Tents up, stoves on, melt snow, winds increase. One climber in from the east coast, complaining of headaches, descends at 1730 in the afternoon. According to the ranger (Dan, with 200+ ascents - "Its just another day at the office!") there are 75 tents and 150 people inhabiting Helen Lake that evening, with another 60 in Horse Camp and 40 at Bunny and Sand Flats.
At our planned 0400 wake-up time, howling winds dictate a later start. With sunrise, the winds continue, but clear skies say go for it. Although it had not snowed during the night, the down slope winds have drifted a foot of snow around our tent and buried packs, boots and skis. By 0815 Sunday, my group of three is ready to go. Already, the early climbers are reaching the base of the Red Banks. The Gulch is still in shade and the wind howling. My toes are a little numb from the cold and it takes 30 minutes of hard climbing to warm them up.
Climbing steadily, I reach the base of the Red Banks (and sunshine) at 1000, rest and eat a bit then slog up the now softening snow to the ridge (12,900') which is wind swept and fairly clear of snow. An earlier start is highly recommended. The ease of climbing in the hard cold snow is so much better than the warm wet stuff.
It takes another hour of deliberate climbing to surmount the two false summits of Misery Hill and reach the spectacular summit plateau (13,800'). The smell of sulphur from the hot springs is very evident, even in the heavy wind. The rime-covered summit pinnacle and south peak add to the surreal beauty of the scene. After 3400' of steep climbing the pleasant stroll across the plateau is refreshing. A quick climb up to the summit and it is 1145 Sunday. In the distance can be seen Mt. Lassen and Sutter Buttes to the south, the Siskiyous and Mt. McLoughlin to the north.
Air temp. is 23°F and winds are strong enough to make a 15 minute stay chilling. After signing the summit register, my right hand was feeling numb from the cold. Taking a cue from John Muir's "Snow-Storm on Mount-Shasta", I descend towards the 1/4 acre patch of sloping, snow-free ground that form the Hot Springs. The ground was very soft and several small pools of bubbling water and numerous steam vents dotted the landscape. The sulphurous smell was strong. Remarkably, the wind was non-existent in the protected bowl. It was warm and humid, reminding me of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The hot steam quickly brought feeling back to my fingers and after 15 minutes I headed back down the plateau.
At the Red Banks, it was time to remove the crampons and glissade down the 2500 feet back to Helen Lake. The snow was quite a bit softer making the glissade quite controllable. Those with plastic bags or other slippery material were able to go farther down the slope. Reaching the base camp at 1330 I pack and wait for the rest of the group. At 1530 three of us head down towards Horse Camp on telemark gear. The first few relatively easy, albeit shaky, turns give way to a steep slope of mushy corn snow. Legs weary after hours of climbing can only take a turn or two before either stopping or falling. As the slope flattens, skiing technique takes over and finally the telemark turns begin to flow together. On the heavily sun-cupped snow near the cabin, parallel turns prove most effective. We ski below the cabin to the east, towards Bunny Flat. Gradually the snow pack deteriorates into connected patches until it runs out at the ridge above the flats. A half-mile on a rough trail brings us to the parking lot, where a sign is posted protesting the proposed "Enhancement Fund" fees.
All in all, a wonderful trip. Next time, I plan on carrying skis to the base of the Red Banks for what appears to be an excellent ski descent, snow conditions permitting.
Here's more information on Mt. Shasta and mountaineering:
I currently telemark on a pair of 195 cm (Coni?) XR-7s and/or 185cm Ramer Grand Tours with Silvretta (model number intentionally omitted, they don't have one:-) cable bindings and Lowa plastic climbing boots.
|Unknown (perhaps Coni - Japan)
|Aluminum skin wood/phenolic core
|Black phenolic top, black P-TEX bottom
[Picture to be added]
|Fiberglass over foam core
|Gray w/ black graphics
|NMN (i.e. No Model Number!)
|Steel cable, front spring
I've since found a "modern" replacement for these at http://www.armysurpluswarehouse.com/
I've remanufactured the bindings front pivot on my Silvretta bindings. Originally, the toe piece was riveted to the base plate, but over the years, the rivets had worn and stretched to the point of being very loose. So, I drilled out the rivets and installed a stainless steel bolt through the toe piece. Before there had just been a rivet on each side. To keep the toe piece from crushing, I machined a piece of brass pipe to form a spacer to hold the two toe half sides apart. Several thin brass washers allow for smooth rotation. Play in the pivot is controlled via the tension in the through bolt and can be adjusted if it does loosen up. I use a nylon locking nut to keep it together. It was quite easy to do this modification, requiring only a power drill, bench vise, hack saw, file and drill bits.
I used to use my old leather Civetta hiking boots in these bindings, but the repeated wet/dry cycles were taking their toll. Then I picked up a pair of Koflach VivaSoft plastic climbing boots. They worked for a number of years, but on one trip to Mt. Shasta, I blew out a toe on one boot. After examining the situation, I determined that the rocker in the boot sole was to blame. The binding held the toe down to the ski and when the rocker was flattened out by weighting, something had to give. In fact I tore the binding off of the skis several times before the boot finally let go. The solution was to fashion a wedge to fill in the space under the heel and prevent the rocker from flattening. I found a section of 2x4 cut diagonally produced two equal wedges and this problem is now history. The wedge is topped with some old inner tube material to prevent ice buildup and the wedge also reduces strain while climbing. The wedge is visible in the lower right corner of the side view image (above).
I now use a pair of Lowa Civetta plastic climbing boots with these bindings. I find the plastic climbing boots are 1/2 the cost of an equivalent plastic 3-pin boot. If needed, I can swap the leather inner boot with the liner from my alpine boot to get a taller, more rigid setup. However, I've not needed to do this since switch from the Koflach boots. I also modified the bend of the wire bail to exactly fit the shape of the boot toe. I also adjusted the length/tension in the cable so that I also get a nice release action. The way the mechanism works is that there is a retaining clip that holds the front spring lever down. It is attached to the cable, which in turn is connected to a spring. Under normal striding/telemarking, the clip slides back nearly to the end of the lever. A little extra pressure and is goes beyond the end and the lever pops up, releasing the ski.
I mount the bindings to the skis with threaded inserts in the skis. This way I get a more solid mount and the binding is easily moved from one pair of skis to the other.[Top]
Tis' that season again.. Ski season is (almost) here!! Hence, the
following is a list of exercises to prepare yourself :-)
These handy tips come to you from Doug in Madison, WI.
From news:rec.skiing.backcountry, here are some handy ways to distinguish a Real skier from an Expert skier:
|An Expert Skier ...
|A Real Skier ...
|drives to the local resort in the Beemer with the skis on the rack upside down, tips back, ...
|hasn't dug his/her 1976 Ford F150 Pickup out since the last time he got an impound warning for impeding snow removal, walks to the lift, never shows his pass.
|got a great deal on the latest in ski gear at Sniagrab.
|picked up a used set at a garage sale and found his bindings in the dumpster outside his apartment.
|goes out to a fine restaurant for dinner, apres ski.
|is his waiter.
|'s favorite run has a name like Jaws of Death, Outer Limits, White Heat, or some such.
|'s favorite run has no name.
|counts the number of days he skied last season.
|counts the number of days he missed all year.
|wishes the ski season was longer.
|didn't realize skiing was restricted to a particular season, only that sometimes the lifts run and sometimes they don't.
|calls the avalanche report before hitting the resort.
|calls in his observations to the Avalanche Forcast Center when he gets back from his tour.
|tells everyone that they should ski his favorite resort.
|tells everyone that they should ski somewhere else.
|thinks the new lift is great.
|spent all last night loosening the bolts on pole 12 of the new lift.
|feels confident adjusting his binding.
|feels comfortable mounting his bindings.
|thinks the female lift attendant is cute.
|blushes when she tells him how much she enjoyed last night.
|subscribes to Powder Magazine to find out the hot places to ski.
|skims through the ski rags while he's at the sev' buying beer to see how many of his favorite places they've ruined.
|thinks Vail is the resort of all resorts.
|Tells everyone that Vail is the resort of all resorts.
|buys all his buddies beers at the lodge.
|gets all his beer free 'cuz he lives with the guy tending bar.
|gets real pissed off when someone skis over the tops of his skis.
|paints his skis flat black so no one will steal them, worries about the bottoms of his skis... not the tops.
|calls the resort snow report before heading up.
|carries a hand held scanner so he knows when the patrol is going to open the bowls.
|thinks off-piste is when you step into the trees to relieve yourself.
|skis home to pee.
|thinks the backcountry is a bar.
|chuckles when some touron asks him where he can find the Backcountry.
|thinks climbing skins are made of brightly colored Lycra(tm).
|knows how to reglue them.
|thinks snowboarders are pretty damn funny.
|thinks snowboarders are pretty damn funny.
|has a fancy ski rack on his car.
|has a fancy ski rack by the front door.
|sharpens his edges once a week.
|sharpens his edges when he flies home to visit his parents for Christmas in Vermont.
|knows all about snow making....
|worked on the snowmaking crew for three years.
|calls a 1-900 number to get the latest weather report.
|steps outside and looks up...
|has a Grateful Dead sticker on his BMW.
|lives with four dead-heads in a one bedroom apartment.
|has a gagloop of ski passes hanging all over his jacket from places like Breckenridge and Vail and Aspen and .....
|forgot his season pass at home... but it doesn't really matter.
|narrowly avoided injury in his last fall cuz his skis came off.
|narrowly avoided injury in his last fall cuz his skis stayed on.
|wears duct tape.
|thinks high speed quads are a type of ski lift.
|thinks high speed quads are the leg muscles of the guy breaking trail.
|gets all excited cuz it snowed 12 inches, gets up early so he can beat the crowds.
|sleeps in til noon since it only snowed a foot overnight.
|goes on ski vacation, flies out, rents a fancy Ford Explorer that he parks outside the three bedroom condo he rents.
|comes home from skiing to find some dumbshit tourist has parked a Ford Explorer with a Budget Rent-a-Car sticker in his spot again, pulls the valve stem cores from three tires, and tapes them to the windshield with a nasty note.
|Member 1999 Roger Brown
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