Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Backcountry Access Climbing Skins

Skinning is a huge part of backcountry skiing. We use them for most of our ascending to the top of peaks or in touring deep into the backcountry.

While touring in the North Cascades this February for an AMGA ski guides course we saw variable conditions that included a rain/snow/sleet mix that would freeze as we approached the summits. Backcountry Access (BCA) uses a more durable synthetic material that repels water in melt freeze conditions to prevent snow from glopping to the bottom of the skins. They work great for single day trips as well as long multi-day tours where skiers don't have the opportunity to dry out thier gear when winter camping in the snow. In addition, BCA is using new materials for better gliding. This helps me get the most out of every kick, which in turn saves time and energy for skiing the blower pow.

With backcountry gear, weight is everything. I am always looking to shave off an ounce or two anywhere I can. BCA climbing skins are lighter weight and more packable than most of the other brands you'll find. This makes them a must have for my touring quiver.

With most other skins that I have used, the big problem is they don’t stick. I was delighted to find out with BCA climbing skins after the glue has been used a few times the holding power gets better as the skin “breaks in”. I use these climbing skins with a pair of K2 Combas which fit nice and snug to the ski because of their deluxe tip and tail hardware.

I'll continue to use BCA climbing skins, I suggest you do too.

Hope to see you in the backcountry this spring. It's just getting good and we have so much more skiing to do before hanging up the boards for the rock shoes. Come and join me for one of our backcountry ski tours happening every week.


Joey Thompson
AMGA Certified Rock Guide
AIARE Level 1 Instructor

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dueter 45+ Guide Pack

The Dueter Guide 45+ pack has all the bells and whistles… okay, no bells, but it does have a whistle - conveniently built into one of the buckles. I love to see added functionality with no cost to weight; it’s the hallmark of quality mountain gear. My favorite feature: The Alpine Back System provides a cooling channel of air along my back for the length of the pack, reducing the sweat-factor on those long chops up to Lumpy Ridge. Dueter’s VariFlex hip belt is as cushy as they come and adjusts way out for layered-up winter outings. This pack’s main compartment has a removable separator which allows me to separate gear within the load when necessary. It’s hydration system compatible, and carries ice tools and crampons without worry. An extendable lid is essential for me, and Deuter was smart enough to put one on. I can't go without the easy access allowed by carrying a rope saddlebag-style under the lid.

One feature that I would welcome adding to this pack is a small pocket on the side that I could use to stuff a CLIF Bar wrapper or a beanie into mid-hike. If I happen to be on the trail without pockets on my pants, a small elastic sleeve on the side saves me from having to stop and remove my pack to stow those little things along the way.

The Deuter 45+ is a great all-around pack - and tough. I’ve been rockin’ mine for more than 5 months. It’s been through the ringer, and has shown no weakness.

Luke Terstriep
AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor
Colorado Mountain School &
Boulder Rock Club
2829 Mapleton Ave.
Boulder, CO 80301