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October 23, 2006:

What Was That Noise?

Michael T. and I were hunkered down behind the outhouse at Camp Muir on Saturday the 21st of October, kickin' it out of the wind and enjoying some bread, cheese and Gatorade, when both of us thought we heard a rumble . . . we looked to the south, and saw a jet of black dust erupting from the St. Helens crater! Now the USGS is reporting a combination earthquake/rockslide that day. Whoa. We thought there was something suspicious about the four big serac falls we saw while up on the mountain! Click here for a cool animated GIF of the dome before and after.


October 4, 2006:

Don't Believe Everything You Read on the Internet Dept.

I was surfing ski retailer sites the other day, looking for a current price on Dynafit bindings ($399 without brakes seems about average for standard Comforts) when I happened upon REI's Expert Advice piece "how to choose randonee ski gear." Reading through the thing, I was astounded by the number of untruths included in the FAQ, and felt compelled to send them an e-mail suggesting a few changes. Here's a link to the page on REI's site.

Here's the text of the e-mail (text from their FAQ in quotes, my comments in red):

Hi REI, There are a number of factual inaccuracies in your "How to Choose Randonee Ski Gear" FAQ which you may want to address as the season approaches.

"Randonee boots are stiffer and the skis typically wider than 'tele' gear, so you have a bit more control for negotiating steep chutes while carrying a pack."

(Randonnée boots are typically equal to or less stiff laterally and lighter these days than comparable price-point tele boots, the difference in downhill control is due solely to the binding being latched down).

"In the free-heel mode, you can even carve telemark turns with randonee gear."

(You would do well to omit this piece of information; although people often do this for fun, no randonnée binding is designed to withstand the forces generated by tele skiing while unlatched and this might create some liability issues for you).

"There are slight drawbacks to this style (the reference is to Dynafits), though. You have to get out of them in order to switch between uphill and downhill modes, and they are also compatible only with boots made specifically to fit them."

(Your writer may be thinking of the widespread myth that Dynafits must be removed to go from skiing to skinning mode, but neither statement is true. Anyone with reasonable flexibility can lock their heel and remove skins with Dynafits on; you can also unlock the heel after skiing by twisting the heelpiece while applying upward pressure with the boot heel).

"Randonee skis are usually wider than either telemark or standard skis. How wide you get them will depend on the type of snow you most often encounter."

(In practice, most tele skis are now marketed or at least used as both rando and tele tools, so the skis are exactly the same. In fact, any alpine ski without a plate can and often is used as a "randonnée" ski).

"Keep in mind that, because of the walking sole, randonee boots cannot be used with regular (downhill) bindings. Plastic mountaineering boots may fit some randonee bindings, but it's best not to use them."

(Randonnée boots will work with many common alpine bindings, notably most Salomon models, though the release may be inconsistent due to greater friction from the rubber soles. PMB's can and often are used as an approach tool for alpine climbs in conjunction with light rando bindings and short skis. They are well-suited to such use and the danger of needing reliable release is small).

You may want to reconsider your spelling of the word "randonee" - correct spelling in French is "randonnée" with the first e accented acute (é) - I would be inclined to use this spelling as many European customers see this site. My second choice would be the "Americanized" spelling without accent, "randonnee" - Just my two cents worth. Sincerely, Greg Louie

BTW,I am not longer an affiliate for either REI or REI-Outlet; for some reason (inactivity?) my account was suspended and my re-application denied. I am currently an affiliate for Sierra Trading Post and, meaning that any sales originating at this site will pay me a percentage (you must click on the banner links on my link page before buying), so if you have no other charity you'd rather donate to, I'd appreciate your using the links on this site.

Previous Incoming Pages:

September, 2006

August, 2006

July, 2006

June, 2006

May, 2006

April, 2006

March, 2006

February, 2006

January, 2006

December, 2005

November, 2005

October, 2005

"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 link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .

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