Tendon Master 7.8 Rope Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Short thin “rando” ropes are incredibly useful for ski mountaineering. I’ve carried a 10mm 60 meter rope a few times while skiing, and it sucks. It’s way easier on the muscles to take a nice light 8mm 30 meter. Out here in the PNW, I find myself taking such cord on a lot of trips, given the profusion of glaciers around here.

Gear for backcountry skiing

I broke out the Tendon cord on Mt. Baker recently.

My old rando rope didn’t really wear out, but it was a few years old, and the dry-treatment was noticeably less effective. Important when you’re dragging it on a glacier for a few hours. Strength also deteriorates over time. Time for a new cord.

Tendon ropes are relatively new on the scene, at least in North America (they are from the Czech Republic). They make a variety of ropes with some cool features.

Tendon’s 7.8 Master rope is their thinnest and lightest. At 7.8 mm, and 38g/m, it is definitely minimalist. It’s also rated as a twin and half rope, meaning it’s versatile. I’m not sure I understand the physics behind a rope that has both ratings. I thought they were mutually exclusive. Anyone care to enlighten me?

The Master’s packed with more features than I thought a rope could have. In addition to the dual rating, it also has two separate dry treatments. The rope has Teflon embedded in the sheath and the core in order to make it harder for dirt and water to stick to the fibers. Another cool feature is that last few centimeters of the rope are woven in a way that makes the end thinner than the rest of the rope.

The 7.8 Master packs down nice and small.

Beyond all the fancy stuff, still, what I like about the Master is it’s light weight and small size. The fact is, the lighter something is, the more likely I’m going to carry it if I’m trying to decide how light I want to go. Of course, no matter how your rope starts out, if it gets soaked it’s going to weigh a ton. From a limited amount of testing, the Tendon dry treatments seem to work well. Another thing I’m excited about is their marking system, a color-coded strand in the end of the rope that indicates what year it was made. My old rando rope was a hand me down from my Dad, and I never really knew how old it was, and I can’t even remember the year I bought my climbing rope. It will be nice five years from now to know weather I can eek one more year out of my rope or not.

Only gripe I have with the Tendon Master rope I’m using is there’s no middle mark. It’s a time saver to not have to flake a rope to find the middle, whether for rappelling, or tying in during glacier travel. I’ve never seen a 30 meter rope with a middle mark, and my old rando rope didn’t have one. Tendon ostensibly will be making a 30 meter rope with bi-pattern so you can find the middle, but we’ve not seen that model yet.

Of course, various tried-and-trued methods exist for making your own middle mark. The way I did it is to wrap some thread around the sheath, and pass it through a few times with the blunt end of a needle. I’m confident this doesn’t reduce the strength of the rope at all, and it holds up well. A bonus is you can feel it go through your hands, if you have to flake it headlamp-less. The same method used on my climbing rope has held up for over a year, and that rope gets a lot more use than my rando rope ever should.

Not many companies make thin ropes in a 30 meter length, and if your in the market for one, I’d recommend Tendon. Here’s to hoping I never have to “really” test it.

Shop for it? We’re not sure where these guys are available, but suspect we’ll be enlightened soon enough.

Comments

42 Responses to “Tendon Master 7.8 Rope Review”

  1. Nick October 28th, 2011 11:34 am

    Very interesting Louie – had never heard of that Company. Just curious, with a 30M how do you guys rope up? I assume just 2 guys on the rope with as much space as possible and some extra line at the end for a drop loop or something? My glacier skills are virtually non-existent here in the Sierra other than the occassional forray up to AK with 2 30M ropes and 3 guys on them (middle guy tying into the ends of both). Also comforting to have 2 ropes split between 2 skiers for the downhill I guess (and 3rd guy w/out goes first). Disclaimer: I have used the system only like 3 times. Like I said, glacier novice.

  2. San Juan Fun October 28th, 2011 11:40 am

    I have a 30m 8.0mm rope, (edelweiss?) I got in Portland. Its 8 years old, but sure is nice for quick rappels. I occasionally double it for leading short sketchy pitches.

    I’m interested in seeing how the Tendon holds up; I grapple with whether I want a full 60m rope or 2 30m ropes, there are a few lines in the San Juans where a 30m is just a bit short.

    How does a 8mm hold up to catching a crevass fall/slide?

  3. Steve October 28th, 2011 11:47 am

    I guess you know already that half ropes are tested with a single strand and a 55kg mass, where as twin ropes are tested with a double strand and an 80kg mass.

    If a rope passes both tests that it can be classified as both a half and a twin rope.

    I’m not certain, but I’ve always suspected that lower specification half ropes would fail the twin ropes test due to generating an impact force that was too high. Similarly, I’ve always assumed that low specification twin ropes are not rated as half ropes because they would fail the edge fall test.

    Hope that helps, I enjoy reading your contributions.

  4. Woody Dixon October 28th, 2011 11:58 am

    Woody Dixon here, from Cascade Alpinist, the US distributor for Tendon.

    Half vs. Twin is simply the testing methods and the standards it needs to reach. Our skinny cords are tested for both, and we have an 8.9 coming out that is tested for 1/2, twin and single usage. What does all that mean? More flexibility. Climbing a wandering alpine or ice route? Use the ropes as a twin. Vertical pitch? Climb as a Half. Just don’t switch between the two techniques once you start a pitch.

    End of the rope is actually melted with an ultrasonic system, (similar to the way they “weld” seams on clothing). This not only allows for easy feeding through knots, etc, but also helps prevent core/sheath slip, which eventually causes the sheath to emerge from the end of the rope.

    And yes, we do have an 8.5 bi-pattern available in 30m and 40m.

    Tendon can be purchased from retailers such as: Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue, Feathered Friends in Seattle and Pro Lite gear in Bozeman. We have a website: http://www.mytendonusa.com that we also sell direct from, but don’t carry a huge stock, so sometimes we have to order from the Czech Republic and then ship to you, which takes a little bit of time. We do have some 7.8 and 7.9s available right now.

    I’ll be watching this post, so I can answer any other questions people may have about Tendon.

  5. Louie October 28th, 2011 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the info on the Half/Twin testing methods, pretty interesting.

    Elaborating on what Steve said. I’ve understood that twin ropes are more dynamic (stretchy) than half ropes, since they are designed to be used doubled up, which effectively decreases the stretch. Supposedly if you use a half as a twin, it wouldn’t be dynamic enough, and generate high forces on both yourself and your protection in the event of a fall. Is that correct? How does the Tendon rope address that if that is the case?

    Nick, I usually use a 30 meter with two people, with a bit extra rope coiled with each person (more for the last person). Using a short rope can cause some problems during a rescue, especially if the rope cuts into the lip. It would be safer to carry a longer rope, or an extra cord for hauling, but that stuff is heavy. The weight benefits make it worth it for me. I also sometimes put 3 people on a 30 meter, which technically gives you enough space between everyone, but not much extra rope. The Cascades don’t have enormous crevasses like AK, so you can get away with people being closer together.

  6. Bob October 28th, 2011 12:34 pm

    The first poster brought up a discussion on spacing using a 30m rope on glaicers. I’d like to know more. Spacing, lengths on each end, using two to join groups; all very interesting.

  7. Steven October 28th, 2011 1:30 pm

    Sounds like a great new (to the US) rope company. My current favorites are the half and twin Mammut rope line. Excellent durability, dry coating, and blend of stiffness and suppleness.

  8. Aaron Trowbridge October 28th, 2011 2:28 pm

    My preference is 2x30m for ski mountaineering . I like the peace of mind of 2 seperated ropes for times when skiing unroped (don’t want your only rope in the hole).

    Everyone ties into the end of the rope (center tied to two ropes). End people take in coils. All people have prussiks attached. When dealing with conviluted icefalls you can use the prussiks as a quick belay to take rope in and out during zig/zags or when dropping or picking up coils.

    I would love to find a 30m dry treated static rope for ski mountaineering glacier work to avoid the stretchy noodle of skinny lines.

  9. Scott October 28th, 2011 2:31 pm

    Woody,

    Don’t want to nitpic, but don’t you mean you would use the half rope on a wandering pitch?

    Also, does it really matter if you mix it up? I’ve always thought that was more superstition than fact, but wasn’t sure. Seems like you would just get some sheath rubbing and maybe a little melting in a hard fall.

    Thanks

  10. Woody Dixon October 28th, 2011 2:47 pm

    @Scott

    Yup, total durp durp moment for me, I meant half rope for wandering pitch and twins for vertical stuff. Perhaps the powers at be can edit my original post?

    I’m just a sales rep who skis a lot (and carries a 7.8 Master) and climbs casually on single ropes, so I’ll see if I can’t hear back from the folks in Czech Republic on the questions about stretch in a half vs twin and if you can mix twin and half climbing styles. I was under the impression that you couldn’t/shouldn’t but it would be interesting to discover the truth here.

  11. Ryan B October 28th, 2011 4:51 pm

    Metolius ropes are rebranded tendon ropes with the addition of a sweet middle marker (colored thread through the rope) but they don’t sell the 7.8 in a 30m length so you would have to split a 60.

    At least the middle marker would tell you where to cut.

  12. Louie October 28th, 2011 6:03 pm

    I’ve always been taught that 30 feet is the minimum distance you want between people on a Glacier. Of course that’s for the Cascades, not somewhere with bigger cracks. That means that you can get 4 people on a 30 meter rope, with no extra. 30 feet looks pretty short to me, so I usually try to have a bit more than that.

  13. Jonathan Shefftz October 28th, 2011 7:04 pm

    Curious if you’ve actually tried setting up a 6:1 Canadian drop loop rescue for a two-person team traveling on a 30m rope? (And let’s just assume away the problems of self-arrest for the moment.)
    We decided it wasn’t very feasible, so we travel on a 46mm Sterling Ice Thong.
    Then one skiing, one person takes the 46mm rope, and the other has a 30mm Beal Rando.

  14. gillesleskieur October 29th, 2011 1:48 am

    Beal JOker 9.1mm is certified as a single double and twin rope. pretty versatile too.

    30m can be short, why not go dyneema? 6mm cord (5.8) 1800Kn 40mm is lighter than 20m 8.1 dry . and various “clamps and pulley” as tibloc, minitraxion, rope man …. do work well on them.

    Sure dyneema ropes are semi static but no one s climbing on this so..

    just my 2 cents from Switzerland

  15. gillesleskieur October 29th, 2011 6:21 am

    40 meter that is.. oops

  16. Robert October 29th, 2011 8:15 am

    i carry a 8 mm Beal rando rope and extra 20m of 5mm accessorie rope, use the pezle crevasse recscue kit

  17. Rob October 29th, 2011 11:26 am

    Does your Petzl kit work with the 5mm rope? I thought the Petzl kit was for minimum 8mm.

  18. Craig October 29th, 2011 5:02 pm

    Tendon has 40 meter ropes available. Probably the optimum length since most classic routes were climbed on 40M ropes. You can get an 8.5 Bi-color in 40 meters – could be the perfect ski mountaineering rope.

  19. Robert October 30th, 2011 4:22 am

    rob

    just checked my extra line again,its 6mm not 5. and yes this it seems to work ok with the peztl Tibloc and mini traxion compononts of the kit at least in demo practice training at home hanging from the stairs,
    never had to put it into use for real yet

  20. Steve October 30th, 2011 11:33 am

    Louie:

    It sounds like there is a need for a followup article on ropes, rope physics, and mechanical rope techniques. There are a lot of questionable techniques being suggested in the comments here.

    For example the mini traxion device is only recommended for 8 mm to 13 mm rope. The tibloc is rated for 8 mm to 11 mm rope when used with a 12 mm diameter carabiner. There are suggestions that 6 mm static dyneema cord is OK for crevasse falls and rescue and can be used with the tibloc/mini traxion rope rescue methods. Is it?

    We’re all searching for lighter systems so that we are more likely to actually bring them along. The manufacturers say one thing. Physics calculations say something else. The rope and rescue rigger type lab testers say another thing. Does anyone have any “stories from the field” on what was definitely too small, non-functional? What are the minimalists using and getting away with? What are professional mountain guides using.

    I’m involved with rope rescue as a backcountry ski patroller and have designed and tested various rope/mechanical rescue systems, but the more I get into this the more I’d like to have an industry consensus standard on lightweight, backcountry rope rescue systems. Does anyone know of anything like this?

  21. Jesse October 30th, 2011 2:06 pm

    “Why not Dyneema”

    Dyneema cord work great for anchors, hauling, or even rappelling but is a dangerous substitute for a dynamic rope.

    The dynamic load regulation properties of ropes are extremely important to any system where there is dynamic loading (falling). In any decent fall on piece dynema or any nearly static cord will put massive loads on the anchor and falling climber. These none regulated loads would make arresting a falling climber nearly impossible and will tear standard snow anchors out.

  22. Lou October 30th, 2011 7:00 pm

    Jesse, good points, but on the other hand, a 30 meter hunk of 5 mil Dyneema cord is a great “second rope” for crevasse rescue. For example, when Keresote and I did the Silvretta Traverse a few years ago, we usually roped together with a 30 meter dynamic, but kept the Dyneema packed to use if needed for extrication.

    On the other hand, perhaps poor judgment but we did use it as a climbing rope, and Louie and I used the 5 mil Dyneema as a glacier rope on Denali.

    Lou

  23. Phil October 30th, 2011 11:34 pm

    I’m curious as well about what the various guide associations (and manufacturers) say about this.

    You have to make decisions based on the hazards associated with your particular usage. The vast majority of roped crevasse falls do not provide the same loading as climbing (rock or ice). However, I would guess that the variability of conditions would make coming up with meaningful general test results difficult.

    Clearly, for normal glacier travel, a rope doesn’t have to be as dynamic because some of that is built in by: a) the rope cutting into the snow and b) the rope partners getting yanked (and sometimes frighteningly dragged!) as they are skiing/walking. And as well as being lighter, a static line is much easer to ascend…
    But how dynamic should a glacier cord be?
    How durable are things like Dyneema over ice edges? (probably just fine)
    What are the best and/or lightest ascending options for something like Dyneema?

    I’ve been thinking about retiring/updating my glacier gear so…. this has been a good thread to get me thinking about that (I normally use a 35m 8.5 Mammut Genesis which is a bit on the heavy side).

  24. Rik October 31st, 2011 2:58 am

    Hi,
    I hope this article convinces you not to use Dyneema ropes for glacier ropes, where your crevasse fall has to be absorbed dynamic..

    http://dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/how-to-break-nylon-dyneema-slings/

    regards,
    Rik

  25. gillesleskieur October 31st, 2011 3:20 am

    Interesting vid!

    But one could argue that a crevasse fall would in no way be comparable to a fall on a bolted anchor. (more dynamic as the partner s being towed forward) ;-)

  26. Rik October 31st, 2011 3:39 am

    @gilleslesskieur: yes thats true , the rope will not break imo.
    But you will get a much higher impact force on yourself as with a dynamic rope, when your friend is going into the crevasse . I think there’s a higher risk of not holding him.

    Regards,
    Rik

  27. Lou October 31st, 2011 8:40 am

    I’d also add that 30 meters of 5 mil Dyneema cord does stretch. I’ve tested it.

    Louie, didn’t you tell me that at NOLS you used static ropes for glacier travel?

    Lou

  28. Bob October 31st, 2011 11:44 am

    On these small cords, wouldn’t tying friction knots and using any manner of friction device be a significant issue? I can’t see anyone climbing up a small cord and breaking might not be effective, especially in a dire circumstance. Am I going over on this?

    Great thread in any case.

  29. gillesleskieur October 31st, 2011 12:18 pm

    “static” ROPE would stitch about 8% where a dynamic rope would stretch 15 % otherwise its called a CABLE.. ;-)

    From my experience the ascenders I listed above ( Tibloc, rope man,mintraxion) do just fine on 5.8mm (but yes it sour of the recommendations and I would nt use this system with clients.. aldo it work just fine for private trips and expeditions.)

  30. Louie October 31st, 2011 1:39 pm

    Nice discussion!

    I’m fairly confident that I can set up a crevase rescue in almost any situation with just a 30 meter. In the event that the rope is cut too deeply into the lip, AND the victim can’t ascend out on their own, then I might have to setup a second anchor as close to the lip as possible to get enough rope for a drop loop. Or if you don’t have enough rope for a drop loop, you can always simply drop the other end of the rope and use a z-pulley. If you don’t have enough rope for a z-pulley, you can use a long sling or cordollete as one, until you haul up enough rope to use. I don’t deny that a 2 person crevasse rescue would be a cluster, but with some creativity and time, it’s doable.

    If I remember correctly, we used 10mm static ropes on my NOLS mountaineering course for Glacier travel and top-roping. Not sure why, probably to make us carry more weight. I’ve heard that Nylon “static” ropes stretch more (8%) than spectra or other high-tech static ropes, not sure if that is true though.

    I think I’m going to try to setup a ultra-light emergency glacier system with Dyneema cord. The friction hitch issue is interesting, especially since I strictly use prusiks, rather than other ascenders, in glacier travel (teeth scare me). A few options exist, alpine clutch, for one. I’ve also been looking at using 3mm cord as a prusik for thin rope. Of course with either system, it’d be a good idea to tie backup knots periodically.

    I’d love it if someone did some testing on ultralight glacier systems, but like someone said, the variability of snow conditions makes it pretty difficult.

    http://www.neropes.com/product.aspx?mid=FC4DB29E596CB9D0D1DE3CDC00B982F1&lid=3&pid=66

  31. Lou October 31st, 2011 2:28 pm

    Use of static rope in mountaineering systems is one of those almost dogmatic sins that it’s hard to get past to practical testing and discussion. So it’s interesting to at least try and talk about it (grin).

    Personally, I’ve always felt that simply adding some type of shock absorbtion system to each end of the static cord would be the excellent solution. I got some Screamers to test for that, but they’re not “soft” enough in my view. Beal is said to make a rope “end” that could work?

    Dragging heavy ropes on glaciers is the perfect place to innovate using lighter cord.

  32. Steve October 31st, 2011 3:53 pm

    Louie:

    The following article on short roping might give you some ideas to consider as you design your lightweight glacier rope system:

    http://www.alpinerecreation.com/pdf/ShortRoping.pdf

    Read the information in the article with an open mind and a large grain of salt. Some of the methods are controversial and have not been endorsed by the guiding community.

    When I design custom rope rescue systems I start by performing physics- calculation-based “critical loads” and “failure modes” analysis usually in combination with a bit of shop testing of portions of the system where I can’t find the needed component or rope/cord properties from the manufacturers. After that I then I go test the system in a safe spot in the field with a large group of ski patrollers with diverse backgrounds to see where the system is too confusing or may fail or get jammed up.

    Often by adding extra safety backups or systems you make the system so confusing that it become less safe. I can tell you are already focussed on keeping things simple which is great! Just make sure that you partners have the required knowledge and skills to use your system. Things like the alpine clutch work great in the hands of skilled operators. A traxion device that was designed for a 5.8 mm dyneema cord might be a safer progress capturing device for less skilled folks. It sounds like mini traxion and tiblocs are being used in the field with small diameter cord. I wonder what the manufacturer’s thoughts would be on this?

    It is almost impossible to determine the risk of a system by only performing field testing or only performing lab tests or physics calculations. IMO I think you must do all these in combination if you are designing new systems.

    You also need to give some thought to the limits of the system. It is human nature to believe that when we have a positive experience with a rope system that we then believe that this means the system is proven to be OK for that situation. This may be true or alternatively we might have just gotten lucky even though we were an infinitesimal amount away from having a negative result (system failure). Unless we perform repeat test of the system to its failure state or combine field tests with physics based failure loads/failure modes analysis we have no idea how badly we’re sticking our neck out.

  33. Lou October 31st, 2011 4:27 pm

    Steve, thanks for sharing your excellent knowledge and experience!

  34. Jon Moceri October 31st, 2011 8:35 pm

    This is a great discussion about dynamic vs static ropes and glacier travel. The DMM video was very enlightening as I always clipped in with a Dyneema sling. Not any more. I’ve cut them all up and thrown them away.

    On the other hand, I’ve gotten into sailing recently and see the varied choices in lines that are available and have thought that some of these would be great for glacier travel and rescue work. They are very light and strong, don’t adsorb water, don’t stretch and hold well in winches and clutches.

    I wonder if Louie has the time to see the guys at Sampson Rope, in Ferndale, just up the road from Bellingham. They are a major player in commercial and recreational boating, rescue, arborist etc.

    http://www.samsonrope.com/

    And while these hi tech lines aren’t designed for any climbing applications, I think some could be useful for crevasse crossings and rescue, but only for those who fully understand their limitations and liabilities.

  35. Louie November 3rd, 2011 10:47 pm

    Hmm that’s interesting, I should go up there and check some of their stuff out.

    I’d be fairly nervous using something that isn’t designed with climbing in mind though. Since I can’t pretend to know enough about the engineering that goes into these things, at least enough to know what the limitations of a marine rope used for mountaineering might be.

  36. Graham November 5th, 2011 3:37 am

    Where (particularly folks in Europe, though with the wonders of internet retail, less of a problem) do you source long sections of dynemma cord? I’ve been wanting to get 30 or 60m to go with my rando-rope for use as a tag line and as extra rope for rescue.

    Please don’t cut up your dynemma slings based on the DMM video! (unless they are worn, furry, UV damaged, etc, etc……..!) The point of the video was to show how, like all climbing equipment, it has to be used correctly. So if you’re going to wander about on the belay stance, tie in with your ropes, if you’ll be fairly still and keeping the sling pretty much in tension, slings are perfect. To snap the sling as shown in the video, you’d have to managed to get round the friction of yourself against rock as you fall, the give in the anchors, the give in the harness and your body and the snapping of your neck due to the impact.

    Great thread this (as ever) If you’re more skier than mountaineer, the Andy Kirkpatrick web page is good for getting ideas to simplify and lighten gear, though generally outside of manufacturers recommended useage and often to be done only when it’s all going very, very wrong…..
    http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/technique/

  37. gillesleskieur November 7th, 2011 2:00 am

    Millet and Beal both are making such a dy rope. 6mm et 5.5 mm all available at snell in chamonix and most climbing shops (at lead in switzerland) on order.

  38. Lou November 7th, 2011 4:55 am

    Graham, when I bought my 30 meter Dyneema I didn’t have any trouble finding it on the web. That was a few years ago, I don’t remember where I got it. I do remember when I bought it the place was simply selling it by the foot, and I ordered that many feet.

    I’ve actually always wondered if Dyneema slings were appropriate for alpinism when you’re doing a lot of rowdy and creative work with ropes and anchors. Seem like nylon slings are a lot more forgiving, and contribute rather than detract from the elasticity of the total system.

  39. Graham November 8th, 2011 3:25 am

    Cheers Gilles & Lou.
    A brief search earlier in the year only turned up kiting and sailing cord that was too skinny for my liking, and I’d not been able to find the Beal 5.5 for less than £4/m (about $6.5/m) in the shops, a bit more effort into my googleing has yielded more results.
    I’m not sure how much of a difference there is in the elasticity of nylon and dyneema in practical terms, once the distortion of harnesses & the body, friction on rock, etc etc. has been acounted for. My concern has always been the lower melting point of the material, so making sure to keep any moving objects away from the slings, and retiring the gear afterwards if I’ve not managed.
    Very grateful to companies such as DMM & Black Diamond who will make easily available the results of testing to help everyone make better choices (even if the better choice is generally to bin your stuff more often & buy more of their gear….)

  40. stephen November 10th, 2011 2:47 am

    Some great information here and in the links posted – thanks everyone!

  41. Lou November 10th, 2011 5:23 am

    Stephen, yeah, big issue. Ski alpinists need light weight cord, so as things develop we will be on the cutting edge of using it. I still think a method of using 5 mil Dyneema will be developed, probably some sort of shock absorber system. It’s just so cool to have a rope you can stick in your jacket pocket. Very compelling.

  42. Wyatt July 8th, 2012 9:59 pm

    Finally decided to pick up a 70m version of this rope and can’t find it for sale anywhere. Anybody know where I can find one?

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