How Did I Do? New Year Predictions for 2015


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 23, 2015      

You can check the full text of my 2015 predictions here. Below is a summary of how I did, with my take now that 2015 is closing. Commenters! Let it fly, what’s your take on my take? (New prognostications coming soon for 2016.)

1. Avalanche airbags will become as common as beacons (nearly everyone ski touring in avalanche terrain will sport a balloon pack).
Yes in Europe, not quite happening yet in North America. Important, studies are showing the efficacy of balloon packs has much to do with terrain and ski style. For example, they’re not going to help you much if most of your skiing is in timber. Also remember you have to be in the flow of the avalanche for an airbag to work — if you get dumped into a terrain trap, you might as well be wearing a sign instead of an airbag. Most worrisome, apparently quite a few deaths may be caused by users failing to trigger their balloon. We’re not sure what the solutions are for the latter, but we’re watching everything carefully.

2. Airbag backpacks will continue to lose mass, with around 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) being in my opinion the operative goal for a 30 liter capacity rucksack.
Indeed, happening. Not with the hoped for lightweight electric packs, yet brands such as Mammut and Scott are kicking out gas operated balloon rucksacks getting down there in mass. Thing is, many airbag rucks still have superfluous fabric and junk that can easily be scalpelled out. That stuff is beginning to annoy us. I’m running out of scalpel blades and my scissors are dull. For example, while we see how guides and avalanche workers need “tool compartments,” our observations of the worldwide ski touring public reveals the vast majority would do fine with a single compartment panel loading backpack. Further, the crotch straps are essential but most seem to have very little design sophistication, instead functioning like something we could cobble up from our webbing and buckle scrap bin.

3. Despite industry efforts going to making full-on alpine bindings (freeride, baby!) out of tech bindings, the majority of the ski touring public will look to the lighter weight binding options.
Definitely the case both in North America and Europe. Most interesting part of this is bindings such as G3 ION that stay on the simple classic side, but add modern materials and a bit of mass for a sort of “compromise” tech binding.

4. Swap sole ski boots (touring and alpine) will continue to disappear.
Yep. Most notably Black Diamond has stopped making ski boots. If you like the Factor, get a spare pair.

5. Fashion perceptions change. In the case of ski poles, adjustable models will begin to be considered ugly and somewhat geekish; photographers will want nice clean sticks in their photos.
I do see many more non-adjustable poles in the backcountry, but the fashion perception has not been changing as predicted. Still, after more than 100 days of uphill skiing last season, I can not think of one time I observed someone adjusting adjustable poles. More, a quick survey of ski magazines reveals many photos of backcountry skiers sporting non-adjustable poles.

6. As airbags gain popularity, large clunky beacons will begin to be perceived as impractical or downright stupid.
Commenters? BCA Tracker 3 sets the trend? Are you still wearing your beacon hooked to a climbing harness draped around your neck?

7. Several ski bindings using the tech interface (at only the toe, or both toe and heel) will prove to ski hard on the resort as well as touring nicely in the backcountry.
Marker Kingpin appears to definitely fit the bill.

8. The one-kilo touring ski will go mainstream, with budget versions available.
Planks got lighter, but I don’t see any super-light skis that are price conscious. I’ll call myself wrong on that, or am I missing something?

9. Brands will continue to produce classic (brake-less) tech bindings that boast modern materials and design, using Fritz Barthel’s decades old design to continue winning the weight wars.
Yep, everyone from Dynafit to G3.

10. Despite efforts to market climbing skins with alternative adhesion, weight will trump things again.
Most definitely. A number of brands are touting lighter-thinner skins, though some of those are more for the 2015-2016 season. Note we’ve tested the “alternate” adhesive skins quite a bit now (High Trails, etc.). We see those as useful, but they simply don’t perform as well in cold or wet and might be more appropriate as “one lap” skins, or for use in less demanding situations such as resort uphilling.

11. “European” style clothing fit (slimmer) will continue to make inroads.
Indeed, it’s getting to the point that a person ski touring in huge pants looks out of place.

12. Gang skiing will continue to influence avalanche accident outcomes worldwide,
Sadly, last winter European accidents show this to be the case. Suggestions: Spread out, way out. To make spacing work keep group size small, use radios, pick appropriate goals considering current conditions and group skills (e.g., experts need not group tightly together, while guided novices may need the proximity of their mentor.)

12. Skimo racing will boom in North America, and “uphilling” at resorts will continue to grow like a well fed puppy.
COSMIC skimo racing in Colorado has big turnouts, and astounding numbers of people are uphilling at resorts such as Aspen’s Buttermilk. As a side note, European Alps are having a thin start to this 2015-2016 season, so flocks of uphillers have invaded resorts — resulting in some of the hard hit resorts banning uphilling!

13. Splitboarding will mainstream as a ski touring tool.
Happening, with some of the board and hard-boot setups equalling or besting ski gear in the weight department. Thing is, what do I mean by “mainstream?” Just that it’ll be common and work well, but splitboarding will not ace out skis any time soon as having one plank per foot — uphill and down — is simply the best in terms of versatility.

14. And what’s the next BIG thing? In my view, the exponential growth of “backcountry skiing” is the biggie.
As stated in the original blog post, it is indeed phenomenal, a classic example of mathematical compounding.



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Comments

65 Responses to “How Did I Do? New Year Predictions for 2015”

  1. Pablo December 23rd, 2015 10:05 am

    I Agree with almost everything.

    Thinking about point 2, How necessary do you find a dedicated avy pocket in a ruck??
    I think a shovel blade, or probe are not the things that are esay to get lost in a symply “only one compartimment” ruck.

  2. Rod December 23rd, 2015 10:14 am

    I have a one compartment backpack, and I can’t imagine taking any longer getting my shovel and probe than if I had a multi compartment bag.

  3. craig December 23rd, 2015 11:06 am

    Just got a Kode 42 pack, first time I’ve had a dedicated ski pack (I’ve always used my top loading climbing packs). I love the tool pocket, keeping that stuff separate from my clothes, mitts, food etc. is great. Those tools also just stay in pack all the time, where before I’d have to unload everything, with the danger of forgetting something on the next tour. I can live with the weight gain of the pack for ease of use. Still haven’t had the heart to take scissors to all the unnecessary straps and buckles though.
    What I would like is a ski pack made of waterproof materials, that doesn’t soak through on wet days.

  4. Andy M. December 23rd, 2015 11:12 am

    RE: 2) You know, I think the scalpeling is a bit overblown. When I got my Float 32, I remembered reading an article here about how you guys trimmed it down to lose weight. I hunted it down, and discovered that the difference was only like 1-2 oz, and said screw that, I’d rather have some of those features than lose an un-noticeable amount of weight. That said, airbags need to get lighter, and get better designed from a backpack point of view. Even my Float (which is one of the lighter bags on the market), is heavy enough that I reach for my regular BD pack when the conditions are safe (which also has some better features like back panel access and a better suspension/hip belt).

    RE: 6) Strongly agreed. Size was a factor when I picked out my Mammut beacon to replace my Tracker 2. Also, I’d like to see more touring pants include a dedicated beacon pocket (with reinforced leash attachment point and mesh sleeve), so we can do away with the silly harness all together. There are only a few that do this (Trew, Black Diamond).

  5. Carl December 23rd, 2015 11:16 am

    As a telemark skier I find adjustable length poles to be highly advantageous. I like long poles for the way up for more efficient skinning and short poles on the way down for turning.

  6. XXX_er December 23rd, 2015 12:02 pm

    I find a number of benifts to lengthening /shortening my poles for different conditions but only if I take 30 sec to actualy adj them. If a skier does not adj their adjustable poles then maybe they are missing out, maybe they should just stikc with fixed length but to say adjustable poles don’t do anything might be wrong?

  7. Shane December 23rd, 2015 12:15 pm

    #2: What Craig said. I’ll keep my wet skins, shovel (after digging a pit), and other hardware away from my dry cozy mitts and puffy, thank you.

    #5: Particularly with consideration to #13, splitboarders need adjustable poles. It’s nice that BD makes those really collapsible tent-pole style models but they don’t work with my snow saw.

    #6: After all the hype I read about the revolutionary small size of the Tracker 3 I was pretty disappointed to see that it’s actually larger than my old Barryvox. Time will tell if it’s any quicker.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 12:32 pm

    Shane, the T3 is darn quick… but of course what you’re used to and practice with is the quickest…

    Regarding tool compartments, design wise, in my opinion the lightest cleanest design is to have a one-zipper panel loader, with a simple waterproof partition on the inside. That’s how Scott does it on their 20 liter pack, super clean, save a bit of cost, easy to remove if you don’t like it. But for those of you who do a lot of pit work etc I totally see the usefulness of the two separate exterior zippers. It’s just that the vast majority of ski tourers do not dig snow pits, nor do they need to.

    Lou

  9. OMR December 23rd, 2015 12:50 pm

    #14 is way too true. I got into BC skiing in the ’70’s to get away from the crowd, but the crowd has now caught up. Anyone who actually breaks trail in the Central Wasatch is doing something way wrong. If you get to the TR too early, and the skinner is not set, take a 20-minute nap (in your warm truck) and you’ll have a manicured skin track waiting for you.
    The up side to the deluge of humanity is it has forced me to go further afield to find some solitude and I’ve discovered some great skiing off the beaten track. The Wasatch has tons of untouched terrain outside of the tri-canyons if one is willing to hike farther and deal with some grungy (brushy) approaches. Like most aspect of life, BC skiing is as much, or more, about the social scene rather than actual skiing, so it is to be expected that the herds will descend on once lonely terrain. And I’ll admit, I’m kind of weird in that I like my powder untouched and my turns unadulterated. But it’s all good. When I do meet other skiers I love the enthusiasm of the youngsters. The attitude is infectious, makes me feel young again.

  10. Andrew December 23rd, 2015 1:32 pm

    #5 – I got adjustable poles a year ago and I couldn’t imagine going back to fixed poles. I like it for those steep ascents side-hilling to have one pole long and one short (downhill and uphill). I also found having shorter poles for skinning was more comfortable; more like canes than walking sticks.

  11. Truax December 23rd, 2015 2:40 pm

    #5 – Long, flat and/or undulating approaches. That’s when my adjustables go to 130 or 140cm. Usually on the egress. And then we have booting couloirs. That’s when they often go as short as possible, depending on steepness. As much as I’d like fixed length poles for strength and simplicity reasons, it’s just not realistic for the terrain that myself and my ski partners encounter.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 3:01 pm

    When I actually see someone adjusting adjustable poles, other than a snowboarder, I will eat my shirt. (grin). But sure, thanks guys for chiming in, I’m sure they’ll keep making them. I used to shorten them up for couloirs as well, works nice. Lou

  13. Mammut Dave December 23rd, 2015 3:13 pm

    #12. I would dare say that backcountry skiing is no longer a solitary or small-group “wilderness” pursuit for the majority of people venturing into avalanche terrain on skis.

  14. Michael December 23rd, 2015 3:24 pm

    I like a tool compartment in my ski pack – I use it as a wet compartment and shove my skins, sticky gel wrappers, etc. in there + wet shovels, snow saws, etc.

  15. Ben W December 23rd, 2015 4:35 pm

    I definitely prefer a pack with a minimum of pockets and features, but I would be devastated if I didn’t have adjustable poles. Don’t you have any long approaches in Colorado?

  16. Bard December 23rd, 2015 5:37 pm

    Sorry Lou, adjustable poles are the bees knees. Sometimes I’ll put em clear up to my armpits on a long, flat road. I’ll give you credit for mentioning BD’s Flicklock mech a while back:)

  17. Olivier December 23rd, 2015 5:53 pm

    Sorry Lou but I would never go out without adjustable probes. We have often long, somewhat downhill exits in the chic chocs where pushing with longer poles gets you going much faster. As for packs, as I never have to get out probe&shovel, I prefer to have them out of the way in a separate compartment of my pack..

    merry Xmas!

  18. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 6:26 pm

    Good comments you guys, thanks!

  19. ptor December 23rd, 2015 10:23 pm

    Yoga/skiing crossover fashion definately on the horizon. Watch out for Lulu Lemon. Thankfully, at least skiing downhill on pin bindings will soon be obsolete. Airbag backpacks will have vaporizers and yoga mat pocket built in. Split-mono is the next big thing.

  20. JCoates December 24th, 2015 1:10 am

    It seems fairly silly to debate ski technique at Christmas when I really just want world peace, but here goes anyway (since you are all wrong). 🙂

    – All ski poles are adjustable. Sometimes you adjust your hand up the pole, sometimes you adjust them down. Luckily none of my partners have ever said: “hold on for a minute while I adjust my pole for this traverse” but if they did I probably would stop going skiing with them–or at least chew them out and tell them to get their head out. Again, Remy Lécluse said you should never ski steeps with adjustable poles–they have a tendency to fail when you can’t afford it. I agree…just one more silly extraneous thing to possibly fail in the backcountry.

    – With that said about extraneous gear, I think ALL touring packs should have a separate compartment for the shovel and probe. This is emergency equipment. The compartment doesn’t need to be bomber but you need to be able to access it quick and you need to know exactly where it is in an emergency without thinking about it. Every single time. Single compartment packs are fine for climbing but it always turns into a yard sale when you are trying to dig out your shovel and its catching on your puffy, water bottle, etc. You don’t hear skydivers/pilots/cops saying: “well, sometimes I store my rip-cord/landing gear/gun on the left and sometimes I store it on the right depending on how I feel that day.” We rehearse avy rescue so that we can hopefully perform it correctly when we are totally stressed out and probably not thinking completely clearly. Not having to look for your shovel is one variable we can control in this situation.

    There you go…time wasted.

  21. Aaron Mattix December 24th, 2015 6:43 am

    Extrapolating from my own experience on #14: I think a rising number of new entrants to skiing and/or snowboarding will be pursuing the sport with backcountry access as their prime motivator, v. it being the domain of experienced skiers/riders who are burned out on resorts.

    This may also lead to a need for clarification in terminology of the experience the user is pursuing. “Backcountry” seems to be in danger of becoming as over-used, and meaningless as “epic ride” in mountain biking. I have come to prefer the term “touring,” as it seems closer in spirit to what I’m usually doing when I strap on skins. I’m not into summiting peaks, or navigating avalanche dangers (yet). Mostly, I’m looking for an interesting walk through the woods, paired with some fun tree runs, and open meadows (merrily adjusting my poles all the while ;).

    #13: Splitboarding will be the cheap gateway drug to the backcountry/touring; skiing will be the preferred means for those with a predilection for bushwhacking/getting lost.

  22. ben ellis December 24th, 2015 7:21 am

    I still use/need adjustable poles. Short for the hike up Glory. Long for pushing out the flats in Teton park. Just right for skiing down. Only use fixed poles when I forget the adjustable… .

  23. Kristian December 24th, 2015 7:46 am

    “Long for pushing out the flats in Teton park.” Yes indeed!

    I am guessing that those who do most of their backcountry miles with snowmobiles or ski lifts will not need the increased mechanical advantage of making your poles longer. (Pushing backwards with your upper body strength as part of your kick & glide forward.)

  24. GeorgeT December 24th, 2015 7:53 am

    #14 (b) The big trend is more people skiing uphill in resorts. Most rarely access the backcountry and this is OK by me. Some may touch the slackcountry a few times per year, but 95% of their time is resort skinning and skiing for fitness and fashion.

  25. See December 24th, 2015 8:32 am

    Just as long as they’re not driving in their ski boots…

    To all of you I’ve offended, sorry if I caused any bad feeling. I have much respect and I wouldn’t bother sharing my crackpot opinions if I didn’t. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Best Wishes for the New Year to you all… whatever your persuasion, thanks for putting up with me.

  26. Hacksaw December 24th, 2015 8:53 am

    Maybe, people will start seeing the true value on snow field books.

  27. Ryan Albert December 24th, 2015 8:56 am

    Yeah, definitely prefer the avy pocket. Keeps things organized and not forgotten, not to mention separation of wet/dry items.

    Ski pole adjustability is indispensable. Short up the boot ladders, full height poling on the out. And adjusted without breaking stride;)

  28. Lou Dawson 2 December 24th, 2015 9:03 am

    Regarding the backpack tool partitions, the interior partition does work, but it has to have some sort of closure so the tools don’t fall out every time the pack clamshell is opened up. This type of partition can be easily removed if the user wants a simpler pack, so I’m for it. I just don’t like the elaborate extra external zippers and heavy duty construction some packs involve just to stow some skins and a shovel blade. Yet as mentioned above, I do see the usefulness of such for folks who dig pits or do a lot of avy rescue practice. Climbing skins? That’s what skin bags are for, or the inside of your jacket.

    The adjustable pole issue makes me laugh. I’m sure there are 18 people out there who actually adjust them in the field, and all of you commented so I appreciate that (grin)!

    Lou

  29. Hayden Beck December 24th, 2015 9:18 am

    Personally, I like skis adjustable ski poles for two reasons; one, is that they seem to be less prone to bending than a fixed length pole (aluminum of course) and the second reason, is that using one set of poles for BC and resort use is nice. I ski about a seven centemiter longer pole when I am touring because I like the extra length for uphilling. I do recognize your point that nobody really changes the length of their ski poles mid-tour.

  30. Chris SG December 24th, 2015 9:48 am

    Lou

    Funny stuff on the adjustable poles.

    Despite near unanimity from your commentators that yes, adjustability is useful, they’ve seen people adjust their poles and they themselves adjust their poles regularly, you just double down to say that these must be the only 18 people adjusting poles. (But in a moment of weakness you admitted adjusting them yourself, so… ).

    You’re trolling us right?

    (For the record, in the Canadian Rockies there are lots of flattish valley approaches that you’re pushing out of at the end of the day… pretty much everyone prefers a long pole to double-pole and shuffle out. I’d say adjusting is more common than not here)

    Other random comments

    Airbags: Nowhere near as common as beacons (99% of skiers vs. ?).

    Thanks for reprinting and distributing some of the more interesting thoughts on risk reduction from airbags (Haegeli and others) in the last few months. The posts on the relative risk of skiing with or without airbags were particularly impactful: airbags are less protective than the 50% fatality reduction rate commonly cited would have you believe (because most avalanches would be survivable or fatal regardless of having a balloon)… but having said that, beacons are even less protective than you’d think — less than a balloon in terms of the relative risk reduction.

    Airbags II:

    I just got a jetforce 38 and agree on the extraneous weight and unnecessaries. 38L is not what you actually get from that pack, by the way. Part of the reason is that in any pack, the greater the number of compartments and pockets the less the effective volume. I *squeeze* the same stuff into this “38L” that my old top loading 30L swallowed up handily…. When people ask about the pack (because, like, at most 10% of the skiers I talk to have a blow-up bag), I tell them all the same thing:

    A good ski touring pack is bomber, simple, and light while being large enough to carry emergency gear and mountaineering/glacier gear. One compartment top-loaders are great, top loader with separate shovel/probe pocket also. (Canadian bias here: it’s typically colder here, the tours are more remote, the mountains are glaciated. I’m sure the folks poncing around in the Sierras can get away with a windbreaker and fanny pack).

    Blow up bags are complex, heavy, tend to be complex or awkward (pockets, sleeves, zippers, etc) and are near-universally too small. That is, they are poor *ski* packs, but they are better at being ski packs than standard packs are at being balloon packs. So.”

    Finally, popularity of backcountry and/or touring.

    Well, it’s hard for me to get all bothered by this. First, because despite a lousy and often terrifyingly fragile snowpack, our backyard is so huge that you very much never have to cross another track or skier if that’s how you want it.

    Second, because ski touring and ski mountaineering are pretty much the most fun you can have with your clothes on, so we can’t really begrudge people getting after it, right?.

    I do worry, in an old man ‘get off my lawn’ way, that people getting into it without much mountain sense can do silly things. All my skiing crowd comes to it from climbing / mountaineering. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way we approach our tours and objectives to people stepping out of the resort (and who are paddlers or mountain bikers rather than climbers in the summer).

    Finally, your anti spam question asks me what we wear on our feet while skiing… apparently not skis. Is it boots? socks? Dammit it’s hard to be a spam bot these days

  31. Chris B December 24th, 2015 9:58 am

    #7, KaPow! Wailer 112 Pure, Kingpin 13 and Freedom SL. What a nice Christmas present to myself. Resort and side country only. I have never felt comfortable rocking hard at a resort on Radicals. But I do love my V8s and Speed Radicals with Spectres for the real tours. Used Marker Lords with Freedoms last year while waiting for the Kingpins get dialed in. I thinks the Lords are a great option to use with one’s AT boots when now uphill capability is not necessary, like when I am riding the lifts with my kids. Merry Christmas one and all.

  32. Eluder December 24th, 2015 12:31 pm

    #8 The Zero G line from Blizzard?

  33. XXX_er December 25th, 2015 2:47 pm

    I think the care & use of the adjustable ski touring pole would be a great artical for Lou to write here on wildsnow, merry Xmas Lou!

  34. Jim Milstein December 25th, 2015 10:21 pm

    I agree XXX_er. That and an article on the poetic beauty of the telemark turn.

  35. Brad Fowler December 25th, 2015 11:19 pm

    I like adjustable poles. Longer up, shorter down helps things out!

  36. Steve December 26th, 2015 12:08 pm

    #Spent the 24 & 25 Earning some turns in the Bitterroots. And while no huge crowds (yet thank you) made a point of looking to see what poles people where using. Did not see a sole without adjustable poles. Maybe we are just a little too hillbilly here in Montucky.
    Enjoy your blog and happy holidays to all.

  37. Hacksaw December 27th, 2015 12:30 am

    BTW, yOu’re daft on #4.

  38. Greg Louie December 27th, 2015 10:53 am

    Hey, all my poles are adjustable. Not that I ever change the length, but it’s way easier than wrapping a bunch of duct tape around them to keep you hands from slipping below mid-shaft . . .

  39. GeorgeT December 27th, 2015 4:16 pm

    Adjustable poles for growing kids…guarantees at least one adjustment per year.

  40. Lou Dawson 2 December 27th, 2015 5:42 pm

    Aha! I think I vaguely recall something like that (grin).

  41. Mike Browder December 29th, 2015 1:10 pm

    Count me as one of the 18+ people that regularly uses adjustable poles–the only way to have efficient technique in all conditions, up, down, and flat, and the only way to travel on a plane. And yeah, as a track nordic racer, I’m egotistical enough to say that most people don’t have efficient technique at all on the way up or on the flats (Is that you, Lou?– wink, wink). Choking up is all well and good, but not the same efficiency. 🙂

  42. ty January 2nd, 2016 8:06 pm

    everyone that i ski tour with adjusts their adjustable polls…kinda helpful in montana where we start flat and then boot a steep couloir many times a year. also great for when you want to strap em to your pack when climbing or towing behind a sled.

  43. Jim Milstein January 2nd, 2016 8:28 pm

    Yeah, Lou, we adjust our poles. You need to get out more. I do it even when it’s pointless . . . especially when it’s pointless, just because I can. Besides, it wastes time, and who doesn’t like to waste time?

  44. Truax January 2nd, 2016 10:32 pm

    +1 @ Jim M

    Love it. #Louloveslowangle #Loulovestosnowmobile #montucky #fknsndnr (#grin)

  45. Truax January 3rd, 2016 7:49 pm

    Sorry about that, Lou. Alcohol and interneting don’t always mix well. My sentiment is the same but my delivery should have been less abrasive. No ill intent.

    I still agree with Jim, regardless. And am still surprised that you have such limited experience/belief in adjustable poles being adjusted in the backcountry. Your street cred went down a bit in a lot of folks books, I’d presume. About 18 of us if I recall.That’s ok though, you’re still *his blogness* to all of the fixed pole users out there! #grin

    Oh, and for penance, I didn’t adjust my poles for the few miles of treacherous exit today on my tour. Kidding, they were at 140!

  46. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2016 8:24 pm

    Trua, all good, and I feel the sting of those 18 people’s feelings about me!

    BTW, I’d offer that I’ve used adjustable poles quite a bit, as well as non adjustable. I’d suggest that anyone wondering about this issue should set up a nice pair of featherlight carbon non-adjusters, and just see how you like them. Sure, if you have long flat approaches and exits perhaps a bad idea, but in reality, the vast silent majority of backcountry skiers out there simply don’t need or use adjustables. Whoops, I said it again. (grin).

  47. ptor January 3rd, 2016 11:29 pm

    I’m getting old(er), so I like non-adjustable poles with duct tape ‘handles’ on them…but I don’t approach, I only ski.

    Still sayin’ skiing downhill on pins will thankfully be soon obsolete.

    Gang skiing on the uphill is almost worse… while stepping on the the person in fronts tails, the silly bum sniffer simply cannot properly appreciate tight fitting Lulu Lemon clothing from so close.

    People will also begin to appreciate ski shapes for wild snow over gram counting and ‘modified piste skis’ as Lulu Lemon infiltrates the ski world adding yogic values… dispelling the need to hurry about everywhere and to be in a proper ‘ski pose’ while skiing down.

  48. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2016 6:23 am

    Ptor, thanks. Yeah, you might have noticed that my Ultimate Quiver for this year is not quite so weight fanatic. The idea over past years was that by emphasizing ski weight, new materials and techniques would be used industry-wide and the weight of everything would gradually go down. That appears to be happening. On the other hand, there is indeed a feeling of freedom you get when you tour on a “1 kilo” ski setup, that’s undeniable, and even being taken farther by guys who simply tour on skimo race setups.

    Much of this depends on where you live and what you do. Guys in the Tetons can’t use sleds for those approaches in the Park, right? So they need adjustable poles to help scoot along in the “Chamonix of North America.” In our lifestyle, we have a couple of snow covered roads we drive in the summer and sled up and down in the winter. In other places, they simply have quite long distances, and no huts you can tour into with a light pack, so getting to the ski mountaineering terrain is commonly done with a snowmobile, which isn’t any big deal.

    I’ve done a lot of touring in Europe with approaches on roads that farmers use snowmobiles on, but the public is required to travel under human power. A hut is the goal at the end, so a light pack is all that’s needed. I’ve also been to some places over there where they scooted us up on a snowmobile, or gad forbid, a ski lift!

  49. Ray January 4th, 2016 7:24 am

    I’m all for adjustable poles, long for touring, short for down

  50. JCoates January 4th, 2016 8:41 am

    Hey Lou, what about a disclosure statement for 2016. I think you do a good job balancing your honest thoughts on the gear you review and still making a living from sponsors, but what about setting a precedent for other gear related websites and posting a breakdown of percentages of how much you made from each company for advertising/European boondoggles etc in 2015. That might give the readers a better idea of your “leanings” and maybe make it easier for you to feel a little less hesitant to include something you think might be biased.
    Just a thought…

  51. Wookie1974 January 4th, 2016 9:13 am

    You’ve never seen anyone adjusting their poles?

    All my partners spend 90% of their time on the mountain adjusting them. What a pain.

    Before: skiers vs snowboarders
    Now : fixed vs floppy

  52. Paddy January 4th, 2016 9:39 am

    I second JCoates. It would set a great precedent for other gear bloggers to follow, and make your thoughts and opinions even more valuable to your readers.

  53. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2016 10:06 am

    Hi Paddy and all, I doubt I’d set any sort of precedent. For starters most blogs make so little money it would be pointless. In my case, yes, we do make a living from blogging. But, I’m a blogger, I’m inherently biased, that’s my job. Thing is, my biases go all sorts of directions with different motivations.

    While some might want to be simplistic and think this can all be sorted out by some sort of income percentage formula, that would never work. I get biased because stuff works, or it doesn’t. I get biased while trying to make a living. I get biased by my own biases. I get biased by trying to not be biased! There is no way the percentage of income from a given advertiser causes a corresponding percentage of bias, that’s simply ridiculous. Sure, I’m human, an advertiser might bias me. To ascertain that bias, just look at the advertising.

    But, I’ll say that I do attempt to be as unbiased regarding advertisers as humanly possible. Trust me on that. Just read the massive amount of writing I do about gear that breaks, for example. That’s bias, but not exactly in favor of the advertiser!

    Other things about bias: I’ve probably spent 1,000 hours talking about this issue with readers and advertisers over the years. What I’ve learned is that any “bias” is often in the eyes of the beholder, caused by their biases! Examples of that abound, for example being accused by one advertiser of being biased towards another, then having the other advertiser say the same thing about the other one!! Pretty hilarious, and taught me a lesson for sure. What was the lesson? Do the best job I can, but don’t take it too seriously!

    Overall, again, this is a blog, it is biased. But listing those biases would take 2,000 words, and change hourly.

    Whoops, one other thing: As a writer, I learned from a mentor many years ago that one should always think about the person they are writing for. If anything, that’s a way to control bias. I write for you guys. Period. I think of you all out there, reading, every time I sit down (or contort on an airline seat or in a tent) and slap the keyboard.

    Lou

  54. See January 4th, 2016 10:23 am

    JC and P, I agree in principle, but as long as readers know which companies advertise, host junkets, etc., maybe it’s the job of “independent testers” posting comments to help Lou keep to the straight and narrow. I’m more concerned about the potential to revise history by editing posts and comments. I haven’t noted any significant examples of this, but I haven’t been keeping track.

    Bottom line, we need to be critical consumers of media, Wildsnow included.

  55. Andy Mason January 4th, 2016 10:53 am

    How about a pole compromise? 2 sections instead of 3. 3 section poles do feel floppy (note to Hayden Beck: one section of material is always going to be stronger than 2, but your adjustable poles might be made of stiffer material than your alpine poles), and 115-145 is enough adjustment range for me (G3 Vias).

  56. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2016 11:14 am

    See, I’d agree, go ahead and hold my feet to the burning tech binding plastic.

    Regarding revisions, I do them, mostly for accuracy. When I’m doing that sort of thing the comments are invaluable, because it would be very rare for me to change something that invalidated the historical continuity of the comments. In that case I usually add something clearly marked as an “update.”

    It’s very rare that companies contact me because they plain don’t like something, but when they do I deal with it while keeping in mind (and reminding them) that Wildsnow is here to serve the ski touring readers, they have their own websites and social for their PR.

    Another thing about bias, quite a bit that goes beyond bias happens behind the scenes, for example I’ve been instrumental in pushing certain companies to handle product problems both in private and public. That’s happened across the spectrum of ski touring product, in way that both help and hinder nearly every company we receive income from. I’ve been whined at countless times about this, my response always being “don’t shoot the messenger, get a mirror.”

    Lou

  57. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2016 11:22 am

    There are some cool poles out there with minimal adjustment… I probably should stay more on the case with the options. Good assignment for one of our guest bloggers at OR show. You 18 guys who actually adjust poles in the backcountry can help. How many centimeters do you lengthen for the approach/deproach? That’s the range we’d need to look for in the minimally adjustable sticks. Lou

  58. Jim Milstein January 4th, 2016 12:29 pm

    Easy for me to answer, Lou. Mostly I adjust 10 cm, occasionally 15 cm. For that rare long flat or low angle poling spree all the way out, 35 cm. I could get along with poles maybe 5 cm longer than my favored short length for the descent.

    I skied one season with super-light (158 g) Fizan three section adjustable trekking poles. They are lighter than fixed length carbon ski poles. Their only problem is that the internal expanding adjustment mechanism tended over time to crack the very stiff but brittle aluminum alloy (7001, since you asked) that they mated with. I had to cut off the cracked ends every so often. Okay for trekking, not so okay for skiing. However, while they lasted it was great to ski with poles having near zero swing weight.

  59. XXX_er January 4th, 2016 1:47 pm

    BD razors their aluminum/carbon 2 piece are very tough & probably the most common BC ski pole in BC, lately I run them slammed all the way down (quite appropriately like a walking cane) to deal with some tennis elbow

    SO when I start walking up is my cue to readjust on the fly in that very 1st minute OR I might forget to change my poles … until sometime 30-40 years later

  60. Mark L January 4th, 2016 2:07 pm

    Adjustable poles also work very well for shelters. I have a floorless tent that requires a center pole, and you can adjust the tension/height. I also go longer for x-country travel, and sometimes go long and short for steep traverses and switchbacks. I just use a 2-piece BD aluminum that has stood the test of time.

  61. atfred January 4th, 2016 2:48 pm

    and also for securing a rescue sled (,https://vimeo.com/54555456), and maybe even as a traction splint (!).

  62. See January 4th, 2016 2:54 pm

    I didn’t mean to suggest I think Wildsnow has a bias problem. One of the main reasons I visit here often is the good information Lou and co. provide. That and pastry photos.

    Also, I mostly use fixed poles except (rarely) the Whippet. But it would be nice to have adjustables on spring mornings when the conditions are right for skating.

  63. Truax January 4th, 2016 10:09 pm

    @Lou,

    As both a man of conviction but a dude of gear acquisition, I’m (potentially) willing to accept your fixed pole challenge.

    Question though: If I normally adjust between 120 and 140, with my norm at 125cm, do I get the 130cm fixed length and accept the compromise for long exits while choking up for the down or couloirs? Like a somewhat shortened skimo pole? Seems logical but I’m obviously not versed in these nefarious fixed pole shenanigans. I’m intrigued. Please expound.

  64. swissiphic January 5th, 2016 12:58 pm

    adjustable poles: in the past; lifelink variant composite (awesome swing weight and basic durability of the main parts…adjustment mechanism required frequent re/re of parts), current; black diamond razor carbon [flick lock reliable, swing weight not as perfect as life link, durability of everything is top of class]. work as a ski tech at a heliski company and we switched to the adjustable poles for the entire rental fleet a few years ago..can’t ask for a better proving ground…very few broken main pole parts relative to the extreme wear and tear experienced on a daily basis…pretty impressed after being a bit skeptical.

    I adjust mine from 110 all the way to 140cms. 110 for tele skiing, 115 for regular downhilling in pow, 120 for resort skiing, 125-130 for normal uphilling in pow, offset lengths for steep slope traversing/gullies/ wierdness. 140 for double poling on firm snow flats and kick and gliding approach/deproach. So yeah, I use all the adjustment i can get.

    Game changer for me this season was replacing the fiddly pole grip straps with one long voile and one long g3 rubber ski strap as a test….both work awesome. Folded over the tips and duct taped into a thick bulge so the ends don’t slip through the catch. Super easy to quick release and since the rubber holds a more rigid form, way easier to insert and remove gloved/mittened hand.

    My reasoning for trying it was an effort to eliminate some long term wrist and suspect tennis elblow type pain….three weeks in, all pain was gone and remains gone 53 ski touring days later. I think the ever so slight soft but supportive suspension eliminates the rigid jarring with every pole plant cased by firmer straps with no give.

    Plus, in case of emergency, you ALWAYS have two ski straps literally ‘on hand’. 😉

  65. XXX_rr January 6th, 2016 9:08 am

    The bd razors eh Guido? Interesting, they must get pretty beat up in the baskette of the chopper or rich intermediate skier ‘s constantly falling on them ? I re-purposed the old cork tape off my roadbike handlebars to wrap around the aluminum upper of my razors , cuz when you take used tape off the bar the overlapped part is still brand new, provides good grip, looks good and stays on the pole IF you get the wrap right





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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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