Colorado Weather & Friday Grab Bag

Post by blogger | November 13, 2009      

Saturday Morning addendum (as the Colorado snow dumps outside our door):
Everyone, I was thinking quite a bit about avy safety over the past few days. Coincidentally yesterday, a writer called me up for an interview and asked me where I thought the developments were in avalanche safety. Like a trained dog, I barked the usual pablum about airbags, breathing devices, and beacon “improvements.” After I hung up the phone, I realized, wow, everything I mentioned had nothing to do with real avalanche safety, only avalanche rescue and survival. Perhaps that’s a fine distinction, but it became crystal clear to me.

Thus, I raise my hand and testify that I’m frequently guilty of focusing like some kind of brainwashed automaton on what we do AFTER we’re caught in an avalanche, rather than what we do to prevent getting caught.

Thinking that way, something like the Backcountry Bomb cornice cutter we reviewed a few days ago could actually be more innovative and important to your personal safety in the backcountry than any beacon improvements imaginable. Or better than any airbag. Or more effective at saving your life than an Avalung.

Will the Backcountry Bomb win an ISPO gear design prize? Probably not. Is it a new idea? Not really, just an incremental improvement. Does it cost $500? Nope. Did it require a team of engineers 6 years to develop? No. Does it flash, beep, and have 50 different icons that dance on an LCD screen? Sorry.

But sometimes the best stuff comes out of some thinker tinkerer’s garage.

Wow, I’ve got a ton of backcountry skiing gear to blog about over the next weeks. Our Denali gear is pouring in. Yesterday I got my WildSnow review samples of NEOS Overshoes, which we’re hoping are the ticket for glacier living when we get tired of ski boots. All our TNF Himalayan parkas are in as of yesterday, and Jordan got his review boots from Scarpa (some Skookums) in the size we’re thinking will work for a frostbite safe Denali summit.

Oh, and I almost forgot (sorry Carl), Carl Pelletier of Liberty Mountain stopped by to demonstrate just how nicely the latest Pieps DSP avalanche transceiver worked. Yes, it indeed had terrific range and impressive abilities to sort out multiple beacons. He also got me going with their iProbe, which is essentially a beacon built into a probe pole that I’ve been aware of for a while, but hadn’t really focused on. That thing really does work, though it’s bulky and heavy and probably better suited to heli and cat skiing guides than human-powered backcountry skiers. More on that stuff coming soon.

Seems like at least 20 people have emailed me asking if I’ve seen the “DynaDuke” binding swap plate made by a guy who appears to pretty much live in the TGR forums. Apparently he’s limited in how many he can make, so he’s done the odd customer criteria of people needing to have been TGR forum members at least as long as he has. Whatever. The web is known for innovative sales techniques… I’m sure his swap plates work reasonably well, but one has to wonder if the combination of Dynafit toe/heel/boot will always line up properly without a way of tweaking the sideways position of the toe to slightly move the boot heel left and right. In my experience, this is almost always necessary when mounting Dynafits, as like any manufactured product the binding has inherent tolerances, and more, all boots are imperfect as well. Bill Bollinger of B&D ski gear solved this problem by building a set-screw controlled side adjustment in his tele/Dynafit swap plates, if that tells you anything. We shall see.

And, of course we’re testing the new WildSnow Silverado Duramax camperized TAV this weekend, no matter what the weather! This, of course, will be blogged as certainly as the powder falls or the sun rises. Soon.

As for the weather, yes, here in west central Colorado we’re getting hit by excellent moisture that might set us up with a firm snowpack foundation that’ll reduce avy danger over the winter. We’ll know if that’s so in a few more weeks, as they say, “Got hope?”

Big news in Colorado weather forecasting for skiers is that powder prognosticator Joel Gratz now has his website up. Check it out. Joel is not only a good writer, but he’s managed to tie being a humorous weatherman with forecasting specific to winter storm skiing. Since we all live for the storms, he’s the man.

Thanks everyone for a fantastic season lead-up over past weeks. Now, let’s dance!


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


14 Responses to “Colorado Weather & Friday Grab Bag”

  1. jondrums November 13th, 2009 11:05 am

    Hey Lou,

    I’m the guy behind the DynaDukeS swap plates. Fun to see it show up here on my daily read… Yup, my sales technique is odd. That’s because of a few things: I’m not a business, just a guy who wanted these for himself. I don’t have time, or the money (or the liability insurance!) to really promote this product, and this seemed like a great way to get it out to a group of people who want it. I’m an engineer by trade, and this is really just a fairly involved DIY project born out of a discussion that started and was fueled by the TGR forums. I don’t think its unreasonable to offer it back to the group of people that spawned the idea.

    Lou, if you want a pair to review, send me an email. It really does work, and the front to back alignment is dead on. If you watch the youtube video (user: dynaduke) you can see that a pair of FT12’s goes on pretty quick and the boot goes in straight.

    The product appeals to three basic types of backcountry skiers:
    *1 ski quiver, dynafit or duke bindings for side/backcountry (don’t have to buy another pair of skis)
    *2+ ski quiver, one binding (saves money on $400+ bindings)
    *2+ ski quiver, dynafits and dukes

    I hope to take a bit of cost out of the product throughout this winter, and shop it around to a distributor. I’ll continue to make and sell sets through the TGR forum under the screen name “jondrums” or via my hotmail email address with the same handle.

    Thanks for the coverage…

  2. Lou November 13th, 2009 11:10 am

    Hey Jon, fair enough. I’m sure you can understand my concern about the left/right heel alignment. If it works, great! I guess we should review. Does it help that I’ve been checking TGR since it began? Although, alas, I’m not a forum member. :angel:

  3. Caleb November 13th, 2009 11:46 am


    Which NEOS Overshoes are they? The link isn’t working. The Luna Puff’s?

  4. brettf November 13th, 2009 1:13 pm

    Lou – glad to see Joel getting some more recognition – he’s been doing a great job since day one!

  5. Joel Gratz November 13th, 2009 4:45 pm

    Lou – Thanks much for the mention! The storm was slow to move south into central Colorado, but it now appears that Aspen is finally seeing some better snow. The snow is pretty heavy, so hopefully this sets up a decent base for the season…

  6. Lou November 13th, 2009 7:26 pm

    Caleb, they sent you and Jordan the Luna Puffs, I’ll be testing the Adventurer and Trekker models.

    Seriously, for review I ordered a few sizes in what appeared to be the best uninsulated models for winter camping overshoes. I’ll be evaluating next week.

    Sorry about the link not working, I fixed it.

  7. Randonnee November 14th, 2009 8:13 am

    Right-on, Lou. Go-no go decision making is of primary importance, good comments. I always attempt vigorously to make a slope avalanche that I am about to ski. Either high-energy ski cuts on the steepest starting zones, or cornice kicking are used to test stability or propagate avalanche activity. It gives on an idea of what may occur, whether to go or no-go. Great, thanks for this focus that I am very keen on.

  8. Carl Pelletier November 14th, 2009 9:44 am

    Hey Lou,

    Great to see you and Lisa again! The new TAV’s addition looks amazing. I hope to get back out there for some laps this winter. Keeping my fingers crossed for a great season.

    And as you say…..May your turns be many, safe and sweet.


    P.S. the invitation is still there if an opening comes up on the Denali trip…..I’d be happy to be your personal sherpa :biggrin: .

  9. Matt Kinney November 14th, 2009 11:11 am

    Hey lou,,,,got my “Backcountry Bomb” today and prelim tells me it is well built. Kudos for quick shipping! Only thing missing is a handy dedicated nylon bag with fancy writing on it for the device. Field test to follow. Much like an oil spill, the key to avalanche safety is prevention.

  10. Jon Miller November 14th, 2009 8:42 pm

    I think you’ll like the NEOS. I have a pair of the Explorers and they are TOASTY! The soles on all of them are pretty nice and they are just about bombproof. I’m guessing you are planning on putting your boot liners in the uninsulated ones?

  11. gtrantow November 15th, 2009 7:52 pm

    Lou, I like the Eagle Cap. Did you consider travel trailers before the Eagle Cap? The weight of the Eagle Cap is same as many fiberglass trailers and offers many pros and cons.

  12. Lou November 15th, 2009 7:56 pm

    Hard to tow a trailer and a snowmobile trailer up a trailhead road… bad enough just having one trailer… better having a pickup with a camper on it…. nothing perfect… more soon…

  13. Lou November 15th, 2009 8:01 pm

    Everyone, I’ll work like a dog on a camper review tomorrow, hopefully publish Tuesday.

  14. Shane March 23rd, 2010 5:52 am

    Hi Lou,
    I bought a couple of pair of Jon’s Dynaduke plates which came all the way across to Australia. I mounted them up with Dynafit ST10’s and Garmont Radiums. Just used Jon’s template and Youtube instructions. Too easy. Their first use was an 8 day BC tour in Hokkaido in Feb. Worked great.

    My only problem now is working out how well crampons will work when we get into some New Zealand ice as the binding is is 7mm higher than normal with the plate.

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