Colorado Winter Storm Number Ten Provides Backcountry Skiing

Post by blogger | November 29, 2006      
Backcountry skiing.
For two days we’ve had a high quality storm (WS10) here in Colorado providing copious nieve polvo for the betterment of humanity. Got out today for a taste and shot a few photos of Lynn S. feeding a healthy habit. A bit cold, but terrific conditions for November “gear testing.”

As we were skiing with little avalanche danger, I used the BCA Alp40 pack instead of the Black Diamond Avalung pack. Alp40 worked well. Main feedback is that the waist belt pockets are useful, but somewhat small and located too far to the side for easy access to my larger point-and-shoot digicam (Canon A620). A smaller camera would fit fine. Not a big deal, as I’ll go back to a shoulder strap camera case, and use the side pouch for something else like my 2-way radio or GPS. As for the size of the pockets, much bigger and they’d hang down and bang your thighs as you plod, so they’re probably about as large as they can realistically be.

I didn’t test the BCA Nalgene sip tube system today, but did so last season when it was first released by BCA. I like the Nalgene system, but like anything its got pros and cons. Having a bottle instead of a bladder during backcountry skiing is much better if freezing of the sip tube might be an issue, as it’s easy to pull the bottle out, unscrew the cap and take a swig. Bladder is nice because it gets smaller as you drink, and larger bladders hold a ton of water. Jury is out on how reliable the breather valve is on top of the Nalgene bottle — we wonder if this could be forced to leak. More on that to come.


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5 Responses to “Colorado Winter Storm Number Ten Provides Backcountry Skiing”

  1. Shane November 29th, 2006 4:09 pm

    Lou, You mention using one of the hip pockets to carry a GPS. Out of curiousity, how often do you use a GPS on your trips?

    My partner often brings one with him and we’ve yet to use it for anything. I personally have never seen the need because my BC trips tend to be in places that I’m familiar with and/or are easy to navigate in.

    I’ve used a map and compass to get out of a couple jams while travelling cross country in fog or dense timber and find that to work good enough and at less of a weight penalty compared to a GPS.

  2. Mark Worley November 29th, 2006 5:14 pm

    Wow, that snow looks really nice and dry–not to mention deep. I’m ready to go, but we’ve got no snow here.

  3. Lou November 29th, 2006 5:31 pm

    Shane, yep, I don’t use a GPS much and indeed find that map/compass/altimeter are usually all I need. BUT, there have been a few times when the GPS is incredibly useful, such as for finding a pass in a whiteout or in the dark, that sort of thing. I only carry it when I think we might have visibility problems, and could also see using it when I’m in totally unfamiliar terrain, though I usually depend on a local for that. I usually leave the GPS at home. 2-way radio is usually much more useful.

  4. Derek November 30th, 2006 8:08 pm

    Beautiful pic in this post Lou. Nice work.

  5. Ernie December 4th, 2006 2:08 pm

    Hi Lou….just picked up the Alp 40 and am impressed with BCA’s ongoing thought process. Weight is always on their minds….
    Your photo looks really great as I sit here in Vermont…..looking at bare ground….ahh…patience is a virue I guess.
    Thanks for the review and happy turns.

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