Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26 — Review and Mods!

By Guest Blogger | March 18, 2019  

Gary Smith

This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. They won’t drill holes in your pack for you, but they’ll discuss it.

Skiing a new-to-us line in a Colorado February moderate rated snowpack. The Tour 26 was welcomed insurance.

Skiing a new-to-us line with a Colorado February “moderate” rated snowpack. My Black Diamond Tour 26 airbag backpack was welcome insurance.

This winter is my first season skiing exclusively with an airbag backpack, the new Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26. While avalanche airbags have been in development since I was born, cost and weight have been the primary reasons for slow adoption by myself and many other skiers. Also, here in the United States, terrain type is another reason for limited use. Efficacy of a balloon bag is proven for long slide paths lacking trees and and terrain traps. Instead, much of our winter skiing on this side of the pond, and particularly in Colorado, is near or below treeline in rolling terrain, often terminating in creek beds where you might initially come to rest on the surface, but snow sliding above you can bury you deep — if you survive being “strainered” through the forest.

All that said, with diligent monitoring of snow stability, there are still many opportunities to ski long steep, sparsely timbered pitches throughout our ski season. That’s when the airbag comes in to play.

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24 Hours of Vertical Skiing — How Much can You Climb in a Day?

By Lou Dawson | March 18, 2019  

This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. Ask them about the 24-hour wax job.

Sean Van Horn during his attempt at the human powered skiing record.

Sean Van Horn during his Colorado attempt at the human powered skiing record.

NEWS FLASH: From midday yesterday to this morning, skimo racer Sean Van Horn (age 32) made an exciting stab at his mark in the record books. At Buttermilk resort near Aspen, he skied up and down the Tiehack ski slopes for a total 60,000 vertical feet, just short of the mark he was aiming for (Mike Foote’s 62,000 vertical foot day in 2018). Sean skied at an oxygen deprived starting altitude of 8,037 feet, which as far as I know is significantly higher than other record attempts, meaning Sean might be the toughest of them all. We’ll update this with more info as it comes in. Meanwhile, congratulations Sean on a bold attempt!

Note: as far as we know, the biggest verts skied in a day have been done by Skjevheim in 2018, 20,939 vertical meters, and Killian Jornet’s 23’400 vertical meters. Killian’s is said to be the record.

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Review — La Sportiva Solar Ski Touring Boot

By Guest Blogger | March 15, 2019  

Aaron Mattix

This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. SPRING SALE.

Powder dingo approved plastic origami power.

Powder dingo approved plastic origami power.

I could count on one hand the number of races I’ve entered, and still be able to grasp my favorite beverage. Though I don’t dream Lycra, I love how racing technology trickles down to make pedestrian ski touring life more enjoyable. The La Sportiva Solar uses design cues from skimo racing; Sportiva claims it’s a simplified entry-level skimo-race type boot. Works for me.

Any advances that help me get fresh turns quicker and easier are appreciated. Much of my skiing occurs as a side benefit of being the groomer for the West Elk cross country ski trails outside of New Castle, Colorado; located at the southern edge of the Flat Top mountains. This is “upside down” touring — the parking lot and xc trails are located at the top; you enjoy your turns first, then earn them back on the return to the car.

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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