Friday, December 29, 2006 Steps it up with the Shift Softshell

This Gear Review is provided by employee and budding ice climber Brenda Leonard

I was planning a trip to Ouray, CO to do some ice climbing. In fact, this was my first trip ice climbing and I "needed" to pick up a soft shell to climb in. Being that I work at I figured I'd try out the new Shift Softshell Jacket.

The stretch and flexibility of the fabric was perfect for ease of movement while climbing. Also very durable. I accidentally stepped on it with my crampons and it didn't even leave a mark. The shell is water resistant and it easily repelled water from the dripping ice. The interior lining made it really comfortable.

Since I tend to get cold, I decided to wear my down vest underneath the jacket. Because of the elasticity of the jacket, it easily zipped up over the bulkiness of my vest and I was still able to move freely. Plus it looks great. The form fitting cut is flattering and made it a great jacket to just wear around town. All in all, I was very impressed with this jacket and I had a great weekend of climbing.

I'd recommend this jacket for ice climbing and mountain town sidewalk surfing based on its:
  • Great flexibility for movement
  • Super comfortable, even with bulky layers
  • Highly water resistant and lucky for me, puncture resistant toughness
  • Comfortable cut and looks great
Check out the new Shift Softshell from, Men's or Women's models and get your ice climbing game face on.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Energy Saving (and Marketing) Tip #25: Do your business before you fly

After yesterday's wind power post I stumbled upon a post by Tom over at about China Southern's urging passengers to avoid the fuel-wasting toilets on board.

Tom says:
They claim each flush burns one liter of jet fuel, creating about 5.6 lbs of CO2....The results are clear: ditch your holiday biomass before you board the plane. For a cross-country flight, each extra pound you carry on puts almost a pound of CO2 in the air. As for the tips from our friends in China, our quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that you would have to reduce your weight by over two lbs to achieve the claimed CO2 savings on a 1500 mile trip! A more “normal” event would be half a pint, or a savings of just 0.44 lbs of CO2 for your pre-flight bathroom trip.
Whoa, two pounds?!? I like to eat, but whoa. Better add some fiber to your diet.

Tom got stuck on the toilet and didn't read the Reuters story further. The Chinese airline has calculated that carrying one kilogram of items such as blankets and pillows by air for one hour uses 0.2 kg of fuel.
"This means the blankets and pillows on board the aircraft eat up 60 tonnes of fuel every day. If each seat is loaded with three 450-gram magazines, another 60 tonnes will be consumed," Liu explained.
So are they going to tell travelers to just go cold on the plane? Yea, right. People will bundle up and given our need to over consume the plan will backfire. Consumers will go big and start buying up the North Face McMurdo Parka - weighing in at 4 lbs 12 oz (2155 g). Obviously not helping here.

BUT, if China Southern told all their passengers to buy (or better yet issued each passenger) a North Face Flash jacket - weighing in at 12 oz (340 g) - not only would the Chinese airline save fuel but people would be ultra warm and VF Corp would sell more jackets.

They could even re-brand the airline as China Northern. Everyone wins! That is unless they "buy local" and purchase some knock-offs from the thriving Chinese black market. Sigh.

But I digress...and I think I need a bathroom break before I start to get some real work done around here.

The Full Story - Reuters UK


Powder Magazine Photo of the Year - Vote Often

Excluding the Pacific Northwest and our friends to the east (not too far east, I'm talking Colorado) it feels like the season really hasn't started for the rest of us. Regardless, Powder Magazine is looking to the masses of powder starved people like myself and yourself to determine the Photo of the Year.

The thing I don't get is how can they limit the field to 7 images? I mean, c'mon, only seven? Go and vote anyway.

How will they be judged?
The votes gathered here will be tallied, combined with the results taken from our panel of experts and fed into the BCS computer for a preliminary ranking. That ranking will then be sent to Donald Rumsfeld who will ultimately choose the 2007 Powder Magazine Photo of the Year. In the event Donald Rumsfeld and/or the BCS computer is unavailable, the Powder staff will choose the winner based on the results garnered here and from our panel of experts.
Here are some samples:

No better way to start the day than skiing orange pow
If there is skiing in Heaven, and I think there is, it would feel like this
Big Sweet Air
The winners will be announced at the Powder Video Awards on January 27 in Aspen, Colorado, and webcast live on


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Got Wind? Snowkiting Across the Moon

It was - Utah Kite Boardingwindy this morning driving over the hill from Kamas into Park City. As I passed a farmers field, one of only a few left, five kiteboarders were cruising back and forth on the snow, their kites soaring with the wind, skis and snowboards their sliding devices. It reminded me of a couple guys from North Dakota who are setting out next week to cross the moon, on snowboards with kites.

I've never been to the moon but I've seen some places in Southern Utah that sure look like they could be the moon. Inhospitable, dry, and nothing for miles. There is Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I've never been there either but after telling a buddy he should stop there on the way to Oregon from the Tetons he sent me a single photo of him flipping off the monument sign. I guess he didn't like the moon so much.

Some have said that North Dakota in the winter resembles the moon. Inhospitable, extremly cold and not a sign of life for miles at a time. And then there's the wind. Lots of it.

The AWEA (American Wind Energy Association) reports that North Dakota could theoretically supply over 1/3 of the electricity needs of the United States. (check out ND in the map to the right showing the windWind Density Classification for the United States. densities) With competing costs to produce per kilowatt in the same price range as that of coal and natural gas, cleaner air and cleaner electrity is there for the taking. Yet according to a 2003 article that appeared in the Stanford Report in 1999 only .12 percent of the electricity in United States was produced by wind.

Granted this number has increased since 1999, but by how much? Is your business powered by wind or solar? How about your home? Your neighbor's home? Anyone in your neighborhood? If you're like me, which I suspect you are, you answered no to all of those questions.

Solar has been a hot topic this past year. Some outdoor companies, like Black Diamond, have gone solar. Others like Ibex, are using Cow manure (no that is not a misprint) to provide electricity for their business needs. Vail Resorts has converted to 100% wind power and by so doing is the second largest purchaser of wind power among all US corporations. 100%!? Right on Vail! (never thought I'd say that)

So what has all this talk about wind got to do with Snowkiting across the moon? Everything. The two aforementioned North Dakota based athletes are going to launch an expedition next week to snowkite across the state of North Dakota. They are doing this in an effort to raise awareness about the potential that exists in wind power. Using Ozone kites for momentum while sliding on skis and snowboards they'll travel up to 35 miles per day.
Map of North Dakota route to kite ski/snowboard.
Be sure to check their site to follow along as they start the expedition. (check out their map to the right)

To Cross the Moon- snowkiting across North Dakota

One thing is for sure, all this talk of wind power has got us here at rethinking where our power is coming from.

To this end I'm currently researching the cost to convert to wind power. While the finance guys aren't too keen on cost increases, the CEO told me that if it means we'll put less of a strain on the enviornment by going to a clean energy source then he'll pony up the extra clams for wind power. I'll keep you posted.

Wind power info via


Yo, I'm Off the Grid Man!

Nope, we're not talking wind or solar power (not yet, stay tuned). We're talking Warren Miller Films' latest movie. I say Warren Miller Films rather than Warren Miller's because the man whose been putting out ski porn for half a century is nowhere to be found in this film.

I think this is the first year since I was a young lad that I didn't bother to go see the film. It was so memorable growing up in Portland, Oregon when Warren himself would sit to the side of the screen and narrate the entire film, live. Portland was the first public showing each year. I first met Scott Schmidt, Glenn Plake, Tom Day, Kevin Andrews and others during those years.

Of it SoCal says:
...but the commentary was lacking. It consisted mostly of brief intros of the skiers and ski areas interspersed with the skiers' themselves making cheesy "off the grid" comments...i.e. "This place was off the grid". Every once in a while there would be a comment by Warren. But it was never more than a sentence and it sounded like it was just a dubbed clip from a previous movie.
Check out SoCal Ski blog's review of Off The Grid, this year's film.

And bring back Warren, not Bloom.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chris Davenport Still Skiing the 14ers of Colorado

After a little Holiday hiatus here on I was poking around Chris Davenport's website that documents his quest to ski all 54 of the 14ers (peaks that are above 14,000 feet) of Colorado. His quest was to do it in one of 3 ways.

Plan A - Climb and ski them all in one season

Plan B - Climb and ski them all in one year (2006)

Plan C - Climb and ski them all within 365 days

Well, he's on to Plan C. But the reality is, regarless of if he accomplishes Plan C (which I hope he does) I've got to give him mad props for getting after it. Little did I know of Chris' dedication to skiing beautiful peaks nor of his ability as a ski mountaineer.

Of the project Chris recently said:
Mother Nature was tough on me last season, leaving me with nine peaks left to go this fall and winter. But then she came through in a big way this week with a fat storm that covered all the right zones. So now I have five peaks to go: Crestone Needle, Blanca, Little Bear, Shavano, and Longs. I was hoping to finish by the New Year, but now it looks like I will change to plan C, which would be to finish in a year period from when I started last season, January 21. That gives me three weeks to do five peaks.

Good luck in making it by January 21 Chris. Rarely do I hope for Colorado to get more snow than Utah, but in this case, I sure hope Mother Nature blesses our friends to the east.

Photo credit -
Photo caption - Chris drops in from just below the summit ridge.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Mount Hood Climbers - Survivor of '76 Gives Hope

I've been thinking that there is little chance of finding the missing climbers alive on Mount Hood, but an article I read today in the Oregonian gives me reason to think differently. Hopefully the families of the climbers are able to find renewed enthusiasm and hope from this article.

On New Years Eve in 1975 three young men set out for a summit climb. What ensued is a tale of struggle that after 13 days in a snowcave ended in the three walking away from the mountain that almost cost them thier lives.

The Full Story


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Testing Snow Stability with the Shovel Tilt Test

Although this test is not a proven method to test snow stability it is used by the Utah Avalanche Center and seems to make sense to me - particularly given that the compression test isn't as effective when there is new snow. Check it out!

Shovel Tilt Video - 5.3mb


Snowbird Tunnel V-blog

Snowbird spent this past summer drilling and mining the flanks of Baldy and Hidden Peak to create North America's first ski tunnel. At over 600' feet long it connect the Peruvian Gulch area to Mineral Basin. Check out Snowbird this year by picking up your discounted 1 day lift tickets and 2 of 7 day lift tickets from

This video is courtesy of our friends at


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Getting Some Mountain Khakis at

The Mountain Khakis Built Tour came through town a couple of weeks ago and made this little video about ordering a pair of Mountain Khakis from Weather you stop by our warehouse to order or get it online the process is just as fast either way.


3 Climbers Still Missing on Mount Hood

Last summer I climbed and skied Mount Hood via the Coopers Spur, a line I had eyed for years when growing up in Portland. As we approached the Coopers Spur that July morning I got a good look at the north face of Mount Hood, the same face on which 3 climbers are currently missing.

In the image to the right, the Coopers Spur is the line on the lookers left, up the broad snowfield and through the rocks to the summit snowfield. From what I can figure out the line that these 3 climbers were attempting to climb is the sliver of snow between the two large rock outcroppings in the middle of the image. This line hovers above the Elliot Glacier and is a fantastic mountaineering objective.

Climbers, mountaineers particularly are a tight knit group. Bagging peaks and pushing yourself beyond physical and technical boundaries is rewarding and fulfilling. One of the climbers involved, Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, 36, of New York City, who according to CNN went for help, is an active member of an online forum for mountaineers.

This past month he had posted a thread on, looking for additional beta for his climb. Reading his last post on 11.14.06 is somewhat eerie knowing the current situation. Mount Hood is seeing winds up to and beyond 85mph and heavy snowfall.
Thanks for the info guys....We'll shoot for it in a day, if conditions are slow then a short bivy somewhere along the way and over to the South side and down the next.

I will definitely post pics and a TR
[Trip Report] with approach conditions. Also [we/I] will be trying out a half sleeping bag/DAS parka bivy system, will let you all know exactly how much that sucks if I have to use it-yes I know, "if you bring bivy gear you will bivy".
I sure hope the Portland Mountain Rescue and others involved are able to make something happen today as a small weather window seems to be opening up. Namaste fellow climbers.

CNN Link


Monday, December 11, 2006

What a pain in the crevasse

Hit the jump, land switch, ride it to the road...or so he thought. Skiing on a glacier is not without surprises.

Crevasse Video Link - video is rated PG-13 for language.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rainier Flood November 6th and 7th

Broken up highway in Rainier National ParkThe rain brought 18 inches in 36 hours to Mount Rainier National Park tearing up roads, campgrounds, and terrain. The damage has been estimated to $30 million with it mostly being fixing up the roads and highways in the park.

The park has been closed since the 6th of November and hasn't seen this type of action since 1980 when Helens blew. I can't imagine how long this is going to take to get the park up and running again. Hopefully by next summer Rainier hikers can make it up to Paradise to make their summit bid.

I guess mother nature was letting us all know who is still in charge. Check out this slideshow on Adobe for more pictures.