February 19, 2008:
After a record-setting 12 hour trip from Seattle to Whistler, owing to a backup at the border, rush hour traffic in Vancouver, and a monster fatal accident on the Whistler highway north of Squamish which necessitated a five hour stay at the Squamish Starbucks . . . we, along with half of Washington State, finally arrived in Whistler for our annual family President's Day ski trip.
To top things off, we had to stop for a freight train just before coming into Creekside, and the elevator was broken at the hotel! After finally getting settled in our room and downing a round of Captain & Cokes to calm our nerves, we slept in until NOON and missed out on an entire day of skiing!
Oh well, on Sunday I hooked up with the SkiBuilders.com group, with members flying in from as far away as VIRGINIA and VERMONT for the weekend. Almost everyone was rocking hand-made skis in all sorts of wild configurations except me, but I faked it pretty well with my ash-top Trabs!
Kelvin Wu had brought up a carload of skis from the Crown Hill factory, and people had a chance to test some of the product. Most of the skis were mounted tele, and I'd neglected to bring either duckbills or tele-skilz, so I didn't partake, but there were skis in most any flavor from mid-fat to humongous being enjoyed by most in the group.
February 13, 2008:
My buddy Luca Trommsdorff is two and a half years old and lives in Zürich. He started skiing last month within eyeshot of the old family home in Niederthai, Austria. He seems to take after his relatives and has a natural tendency to seek the fall line and let 'em run!
February 12, 2008:
A few days ago I mentioned that my old Scarpa F1's had gone east to become a rando race project for my friend Jonathan Shefftz.
Only hours after the boots arrived at his doorstep, Jonathan was hard at work with scissors and grinder lopping grams off of the shells. He sent this description of his efforts:
"So far my modifications have been designed to lose some weight while still preserving all ski performance, as I'm not sure whether these will be a competitor for my 5lb 15.8oz Dynafit TLT4 Evo (tucking away the rear spoilers & velcro straps in a pack saves 3oz/pair off the feet for long ascents) or instead undergo far more modifications to become a competitor to my heavily modified 4lb 6.5oz Dynafit MLT4 (both weights are sz 27, no footbeds for purposes of comparison), or something in between. As is, the F1 seems to be stiffer than the TLT Evo, although that's just flexing inside, not skiing. The F1 also seems to have the edge in range of motion in tour mode (even setting aside the bellows issue), but then again, both boots have a huge range. To lose about 4 oz per pair (about split between the two sets of mods), getting the weight down to 5lb 11.2oz, so far I have: -- removed entire section of the rear lever that's for the release trigger; perhaps because they're used, but also because the profile of the lever is much easier to grab onto, I can release it (at least indoors) just by grabbing it; and, -- shaved away lots of extraneous material, including the plastic mount/flap for the instep buckle, the toe and heel lugs (since they need only Dynafit compatibility), the red sole rubber in the instep area, and those extraneous raised "Scarpa" letters. Removing the power strap is another easy move, since it just screws in and out. A more bold move would be removing the Dynafit heel interface, grinding away a few mm, then reinstalling. Drilling holes in the upper cuff could save some more ounces, but I'm concerned about skiing performance. Ditto for trimming the tongue, although that can also be swapped in and out easily with something more like a seal instead of a performance aid. And the list goes on..."
Here's a link to the pictures.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Rick Knowles has gone even further, chopping off most of the top buckle system and grinding much of the excess plastic away from around the bellows of his boots, as well as using the power strap to replace the lower buckle and removing the stock tongue and replacing it with vinyl. Here's some pictures of his handiwork:
February 2, 2008:
Even those of you who don't live in the Pacific Northwest have probably heard about our weather the past week. In a word, SNOW.
Lots of it. Two or three feet per day, day after day, and continued cold temperatures, have combined to both spike the avalanche danger and keep the skiers away from the mountains by closing the major roadways. Snoqualmie Pass, I-90's highpoint as it passes through Washington State and one of our favorite recreation spots, was closed from early Tuesday morning until early Saturday morning with only brief attempts to open the roadway.
When I heard that vehicles had been hit by slides on both Tuesday and Wednesday at or near the Pass, it seemed pretty sketchy but remote. Then I heard that the passengers in one of the cars were none other than Alex and Marg Walker, Alpental residents whose living room I had been enjoying coffee and chips in the weekend before last! Whew, it was a relief to hear that everyone was OK.
Here's part of the text of Marg's e-mail:
"We had a great ski day and decided to go home for one night since we had been at Alpental for a week . First , could not leave our place because an avalanche had closed the Alpental road. Finally cleared it out and we started down I 90. About a mile down I could see some snow coming off the cliffs on the right and all of a sudden we are engulfed in this white out, car swerving and spun around. When we came to a stop we could not tell if we were buried because we could not see out any window. Then I thought for sure someone would be crashing into us.They did not. I rolled the window down a couple inches and poked my fingers out...not buried. The car was sideways across the road and we were the only car around. A hundred yards up the road was a huge wall of snow. All I thought was the last car we passed is probably buried. We called 911, then called my daughter. State patrol showed up about a half hour later, drove up the west bound lane. We got in the 'perp' seats and he had to drive backwards down the road for about a mile. We sat there an hour, then Chris Williams (state patrol) said he could take us back to our condo and then come get us later when our car was dug and it was safe for us to drive it home. He called an hour of so later, sent a car to get us. By now I am wrung out and decided to stay at the condo ... so Alex went..when he got to our car there were several TV stations wanting an interview. Then at 3:00 this morning he had an interview with the Today Show. So, now I am stuck in the mountains because the pass is closesd...again! This has been quite a winter, which I love... but I am so thankful I am alive to enjoy it".
My friend Jonathan Shefftz, the rando race king of the Northeast, is always on the lookout for the lightest and fastest. I just sent him my old Scarpa F1's, and he sent me this link as a hint to what he has planned for them.
Serious business, indeed! Those Scarpa ballistic nylon tongues look sweet, though the ghetto duct tape treatment might be just as effective.
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"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the randosaigai.com link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .
© 2008 Gregory C. Louie