Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
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!