Sunday, 28 December 2014

Transceivers and interference

Major snowfalls have been happening across the Western Alps (50cm+ here in the Vanoise yesterday!) and there should be no need to remind everyone that the avalanche risk will be high for some time to come until the newly fallen snow has time to settle, and even then there will be some persistent weak layers under the new snow due to the thin early-season snowpack...

Conservative slope selection will need to be applied, along with careful group management and it goes without saying that those venturing off piste and into the mountains would be advised to carry avalanche safety kit and know how to use it.

On that note - this autumn I revisited 2 papers presented at the International Snow Science Workshop in 2013, concerning potential interference on transceivers from consumer electronics. This is a subject that is becoming more and more relevant with the increasing carrying of smart phones (particularly with touch screens), along with GPS, POV cameras, video cameras etc - the basic premise is that any device consuming power generates a magnetic field and this can compromise transceiver function.

The papers both took a systematic approach to studying the effects both on transmit and receive mode, and the results take a bit of sifting through - so here is a 'laymans' summary of the results and recommendations - unsurprisingly these match closely the observations I have made in non-scientific tests over a number of years:

Transmit mode:

Possible effect = loss of range.

Recommendations = minimum distance of 20cm between possible interfering objects and Transceiver

Note 1: Objects found to have an effect on the transmit range included: alloy bottle, food wrapper, shovel blade, belt buckle
Note 2: Range reductions of more than 30% were uncommon, so applying some reduction to manufacturers recommended search strip width should account for this

Receive mode:

Possible effects = loss of range, loss of accuracy of direction/distance readings

Recommendations:
- minimum distance for no interference: 1m for phone with active screen, 70cm phone with screen off, 60cm camera in active mode. (With these devices switched off there was no discernible effect)
- watches (GPS or smart watches) had a significant influence within 10-15cm (hold your transceiver in the opposite hand!)
- avoid storing transceiver close to magnetic field as this can magnetise the antenna over time.

Note: significant loss in range was observed in receiving transceivers


Further notes:

- at its furthest range a transceiver is at its most sensitive and so more prone to interference, for example a digital camera 36cm away from a receiving transceiver creates noise of similar level to the received transceiver signal!
- analog function allows increase in range as human hearing is more efficient at detecting/discerning 'real signals' from noise, so can cope with a higher signal-to-noise ratio

In summary: it is strongly recommended to keep phones and other electrical items switched off whenever possible, and certainly this should be standard protocol in the event of an avalanche incident.


References:

Meister and Dammert
"Effect of consumer electronics on avalanche transceivers"
Genswein, Atkins et al.
"Recommendation on how to avoid intereference issues in companion and organised avalanche rescue"





Sunday, 21 December 2014

Glencoe off piste guidebook

Kenny at skimountain.co.uk was kind enough to give me a copy of the new Scottish Offpiste Skiing & Snowboarding - Glencoe guidebook when I saw him at the Kendal Mountain Festival last month:


This book follows on from the very successful Nevis Range & Ben Nevis guidebook and takes a very similar format.
The book covers the Glencoe area from Beinn a' Bheithir in the West, the North and South sides of the glen itself, and down as far as the hills above Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum in the South. With 93 routes of all levels there is plenty to go at in here for all ski mountaineers, from those looking for a mellow day in the hills to skiers seeking serious (in all senses) challenges, and for those who don;t want a strenuous day, there is also a full and detailed description of the off piste accessible from the lifts at Glencoe Mountain Resort.

The routes are well-described, accompanied by very clear topo diagrams/maps and photos which should help even a complete stranger to these parts find their way around with reasonable ease.

Sample page:



Back from the Nevis topo is the simple 6-step grading system of difficulty, along with the great "similar to", "harder than" and "combine with" information bars, all of which make the book very user-friendly.
Also useful for first time ski visitors to Scottish ski areas is a guide to Scottish lift etiquette, which takes some understanding to not commit a faux-pas!

The section covering the history of skiing in the glen along with the development of the Glencoe ski area makes for interesting reading, and the guide to pronouncing local place names means that no page of this book should be left unread (and having heard many, many bad interpretations of the pronunciation of 'Buachaille' this is possibly the most useful page in the book:-) ).


Another great job from Kenny, and with so much of Scotland's mountainous terrain still to be covered here's hoping there are more books in the pipeline!


Buy your copy of the guidebook direct from Kenny at the skimountain.co.uk website.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

ABS Recall - steel cylinders & twin bags

Another recall for ABS avalanche airbags - this one appears to concern any twinbag which may have been used (test or real deployment) with a steel cylinder dated pre-3/12/2014.
Full details on the ABS website: https://www.abs-airbag.com/en/service/recall/

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Pre-Christmas conditions - 3 Valleys

As you may be aware, the start of this season has been quite (very poor) in terms of snow - while it is not unusual for lower parts of many resorts to be on partial opening until into Christmas week, the lack of any appreciable amounts of snow up high are definitely out of the ordinary.

In the 3 Valleys currently Courchevel has limited opening, with no realistic possibility of off-piste adventures, Meribel has very limited opening, with downloading on lifts necessary to get back to the valley, while Val Thorens actually has about 80% of lifts and pistes open. Off piste remains very thin, but one or two possibilities remain for avoiding the crowds which aren't almost certain to damage skis or body. Late morning today there was a good clear spell and I took advantage of this to take this week's team off in search of the few cms of fresh we had had last night:


There is a bit more snow in the forecast for this week, but not enough to make an appreciable difference yet, so much care is needed to seek out safe off piste turns - head high, and stay in the depressions which have accumulated a bit more depth through the autumn.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

British Mountain Guides CPD

I have just spent 2 days over in Verbier running some CPD for a group from the British Mountain Guides. The theme of the sessions was based around steep skiing - technique, tactics and psychology, and the experience of the group varied from an Aspirant Guide preparing for her final ski test this winter, to guides with over 20 years working experience. Despite very limited snow (basically we had to stick to the few open pistes) we managed to have a very productive 2 days, covering lots of topics and with all of the group making some good changes in their own skiing. All we need is a bit more snow so the gang can put it all into action!


Photo courtesy Jonny Baird.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Aiguille des Saints Pères - Couloir Ouest

A quick hit this morning to try and kick-start some fitness and maybe sneak in some good skiing...

I had heard reports that the St Pères couloirs had a reasonable fill of snow, and with the Val Thorens ski area already open there was the reassurance of having a high roadhead and snow back to the car (quite a rare thing this December...).

Several couloirs line the face of the Saints Pères, but the right hand one is by far the steepest (and most aesthetic):


An 8:30 start saw me skinning up out of Val Thorens before the lifts opened, with 1000m vertical on the cards. Despite a gloomy morning in the valley it was actually quite clear, with just a bit of high cloud around the Aiguille de Peclet. Looking back towards the valley showed just how poor the early season snow situation is:


Looking up into the couloir from the approach slopes:


The skinning went quickly enough, but progress slowed on entering the couloir - the snow consistency was not great for skinning, even with couteaux on, but boot packing was slow going in the deep snow. The promise of a great ski down kept spirits up though and soon enough I came out at the col. The top of the couloir currently is as well filled in as I have ever seen it - just 3 metres or so of rocks which are too tight to ski through (with rocks under the snow too) but below that it was perfect - creamy, heavy powder on a fairly consistent base. In the past I have generally had to downclimb or rap the first 20 metres over exposed rocks!

Ready for some fun:


The descent was great - 400m of good creamy powder, and then by following the stream/gully lines which are well filled in I was able to ski back to within 50m of the piste edge without feeling like I was risking skis or limbs (there were a good number of 'skier vs rock' incidents when Val T opened recently for a weekend...).

Looking back up from partway down the couloir:


A good way to kick off some steeper skiing for this winter - although the couloir is graded 5.1 on the toponeige scale it doesn't often feel like it quite deserves the grade, but is a fantastic ski anyway!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Kendal Mountain Festival - full(er) review

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Kendal Mountain Festival it is without doubt the world's biggest Mountain Festival, with 4 days of films, speakers, workshops, active events, literary events, music, partying, industry events and networking!

I have been a part of the main presenting team here for about 6 or 7 years and it is always a pleasure to be involved and see so many passionate outdoors people from all disciplines coming together.

Here are some of the highlights of sessions I was involved with:

Dream Line

It was a great privilege to be introducing Bjarne Salén and his (and Ptor Spricenieks') latest film "Dream Line" .

Ptor has a particular philosophy on life and in particular on how our dreams and real life can intersect at times and if we are open to this we can let this help to guide us through life. The film puts this across very well, without drifting too far into fluffy philosophising. It also features some great ski mountaineering, including archive footage from the first descent of Mt Robson, and a ski and snowboard descent of Artesonraju and culminates with an attempt to ski the Shina face of Gashot Peak in Pakistan, not without a mishap or two along the way. Well worth one hour of your time!


Snowsports night

What a night this was! Aside from the stress of hosting this (I took up an offer to work on the main presenting team at Kendal a few years ago specifically to challenge my fear of public speaking...!) the line-up and content was probably the best we have had in the 6/7 years I have been involved with this night. A first half packed full of British ski talent - Ross Hewitt, Tom Grant and Michelle Blaydon giving a short insight into their trip this spring to the ski mountaineering mecca of Baffin Island, Kenny Biggin following up with a great short film of a descent of Great Gully on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe, Scotland and then Ben Briggs with a glimpse into the world of extreme skiing (and as a man who has skied the East Face of the Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey, Y couloir on the Aiguille Verte, Sentinelle Rouge on Mont Blanc and many many more he is as qualified as anyone to use the often mis-used term 'extreme skiing').

Multi-talented Swiss skier Sam Anthamatten picked up the baton for the second half - 8a+ rock climbing at age 14, 7 years on the ice Climbing World Cup circuit, ascents of Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Freerider on El Cap, Moonflower Buttress on Hunter as well as a new route on the North face of the Matterhorn, 2nd overall on the Freeride World Tour in 2011, filming with Xavier de le Rue and Andreas Fransson - Sam is representative of a new generation of talented all-rounders operating at a really high level in the mountains, and pushing the boundaries of skiing by bringing the speed and fluidity of freeride competitions into areas and onto serious faces previously tackled at much slower speeds...

The evening was capped off with a series of short films, and an emotional tribute from film-maker Bjarne Salén to his friend Andreas Fransson (guest speaker here at Snowsports night 2 years ago) who was killed in Chile this September along with JP Auclair while filming with Bjarne.


Other highlights from the festival:


Valley Uprising - one of the common complaints amongst presenters and festival goers is films which are too long... this film is the exception to that - 90 minutes long, and it leaves you wanting more! A fantastic trip through the history of climbing in the Yosemite valley - part documentary, part social commentary, part climbing film, and hilarious in places (as long as you aren't of too politically correct a mindset...)

Jeff Lowe's Metanoia was another gripping film, charting his battle with an incurable disease, as well as retelling the story of one of ice climbing's most important pioneers. A measure of the importance of the Kendal Mountain Festival is that Jeff took the time (and great personal effort) to travel over and present the UK premiere of this film (and if you watch the film you will understand how much effort that is).

And finally, Afterglow. There are probably very few people who have not seen this since it went viral on the internet a few weeks ago, but it truly comes into its own on a big screen with a high quality projector!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

An early Christmas!

I am currently back home recovering from a busy 5 days working at the Kendal Mountain Festival. Once again it surpassed expectations and I had a fantastic time with some great speakers and films to introduce: Bjarne Salén and Ptor Spricenieks' Dream Line, photographer and alpinist Jon Griffith, Kilian Jornet's Déjame Vivir, and of course the main Snowsports night, featuring Ross Hewitt, Kenny Biggin, Ben Briggs, Bjarne Salén and Sam Anthamatten!

Christmas has started arriving early - courtesy first of Kenny Biggin and SkiMountain with a shiny copyof their brand new Glencoe guidebook which looks fantastic and not only details some great descents but also has some interesting history as well a visitor's guide to the peculiarities of Scottish ski area queue-ing systems (anyone who hasn't been will nto understand until they go...).


Also arriving i France shortly after I did was a pair of shiny new Whitedot Director Carbonlite skis - thanks Whitedot!


I look forward to getting these mounted up and a full review will follow shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile we are playing a waiting game here in the Vanoise - after the early November snowfalls it has been quite dry and some major precipitation is now needed to get things up and running for the winter - fingers are firmly corssed!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Courchevel snow report

A quick update from the 3 Valleys in the video below...

Originally I had bigger (and steeper) plans for today but work and family conspired to limit me to a quick afternoon leg-stretch!

Courchevel Snow Report 18 Nov 14 from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

4 days and counting...

4 days and counting until this year's Kendal Mountain Festival kicks off.
I am excited to be hosting and introducing the Bjarne Salèn and Ptor Spricenieks film 'Dream Line', Seb Montaz and Kilian Jornet's 'Déjame Vivir', uber-talented photographer & alpinist Jon Griffiths, the inimitable Al Lee with Julian Lines and of course the main Snowsports night:


There are still tickets left for these events so head on over to www.mountainfest.co.uk/ and get set for a great weekend!


Friday, 7 November 2014

Winter 2015 is go!

With good snow reports and a blue-sky forecast I headed over to Tignes today (after a slight delay to get the kids to school) for a bit of a play about and to get the legs back into ski mode again. Having not had a particularly active summer I want to hit the ground running this winter so a few gentle turns top start off seemed like a nice idea.

The upper slopes (around 3500 lift) are in great condition with a few patches of ice showing through lower down (Champagny & Rosolin) but most impressively, there was barely a queue on the mountain - a pleasant change from this time last year when we were queueing for 25 minutes each time...

The summit pyramid of the Grande Motte looked in good condition so obviously after a few laps off the lifts I though I had better see how my lungs would cope at 3600m for the first time since spring. As it had happened someone else had the same idea, as we both got off thetop lift, walked over and started strapping skis to bags in perfect unplanned synchronisation!

A little bit of scrambling to add some interest:

Almost like the Domes de Miage...


Bird's eye view of Tignes:


Joining the selfie craze:


Stunning views from the top:


And good powder on the way down...


And of course the obligatory Espace Killy Monoskier - seen here in 'I'm cool even when I'm riding the chairlift' pose...!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 - Julbo Snowsports Session

Here it comes!

In just over 2 weeks time the 2014 Kendal Mountain Festival will be kicking off for 4 days jammed full of films, books, activities, art, speakers, socialising and partying!

I will be back on the main presenting team again, and am particularly excited to be hosting the Julbo Snowsports Session on the Saturday night.


With Swiss legend Samuel Anthamatten, film-maker Bjarne Salèn, and the UK's own steep-skiing heroes Ben Briggs and Ross Hewitt on the roster this looks set to be an awesome night! Thanks to headline sponsors Julbo, and also Whitedot and Ultimate Outdoors for making this possible...

If you haven't got your tickets yet there is still time, in fact, you can win a weekend for 2 at the Festival including tickets for the Snowsports Session thanks to those nice people at Lyon Equipment.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Jewels to gather - Photo Exhibition

If you are in the Cardiff area between 7 November and 5 December be sure to check out the 'Jewels to gather' photo exhibition at the Saltmarshe Gallery.

Nick is a long-standing client of mine, and among other skills is also a fantastic photographer. The exhibition covers mountain ranges from Wales, through the Alps, to the Himalaya (not forgetting Lofoten obviously!).

Monday, 20 October 2014

Getting excited for winter

As always at this time of year some great ski films start showing up - here are a couple of my current favourites - the full 12 minute Afterglow film from Sweetgrass Productions, and 'The Wise Man' chapter from Sherpa Cinemas' 'Sculpted in Time':

AFTERGLOW - Full Film by Sweetgrass Productions from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.




And, to keep my sideways-sliding friends happy, there is of course the original LED suit video from a few years back:

Glowing Man HD from Jacob Sutton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Top 5 bits of kit for 14/15

This week the mist has been hanging over Bozel lake in the morning and the Grand Bec is sporting a dusting of snow up top which means only one thing - winter is on its way!

With this in mind here are my top 5 bits of kit for the coming winter:

1 Whitedot Skis Ranger Carbonlite


Super-light, wide enough for great float in all snow conditions, but stiff enough to maintain great grip when the going gets firm, these skis became my go-to weapon of choice last winter. Stable at speed yet surprisingly manoeuvrable at slow speeds and in tight spots, the torsional stiffness also made them very comfortable on the uphill, particularly skinning on refrozen spring snow when often a wider ski can feel like it is about to break out sideways on every step.


2 Dynafit Mercury boots

The touring boot market has really come on leaps and bounds since my first pair of touring boots (red Denalis... fortunately I missed out on the TR9s and other delights!) and Dynafit really hit the spot with the Mercury - beefy enough to drive big skis hard, but with great ankle freedom in walk mode and all at just 1.7Kg per foot. The 3rd buckle (the missing link on the TLT5) gives for great holding power, keeping the heel locked in the pocket, and the simplicity of the walk/ski lock mechanism is great, particularly on wild & windy changeovers when you want to minimise faffing!



3 Silva Expedition 4 compass

No batteries to run out when you most need them, a compass (and map) is your best friend if you do get caught out in poor visibility. Of course it helps if you know how to use it properly, but then, you did learn how to navigate using a map and compass before buying that GPS, didn't you? And no, a smartphone is no substitute for a dedicated navigation device...


4 Terra Nova bothy bag

Not the smallest item in my pack but now a regular feature after this incident 2 years ago... Looking after an injured skier in a Norwegian blizzard hammered home the benefits of having a proper, decent-sized shelter. If you need to cover a casualty lying down + one rescuer then a 4 person version is the minimum to get really good coverage without having to move them too much (they will thank you if they have a broken pelvis...).


5 Snow

OK so its not really a piece of 'kit', but here is hoping for some fantastic light fluffy (and relatively stable) snow for this coming winter!


On the subject of kit, I now have a pair of Tech 250 crampons in transit from the USA so will post up a review as soon as they arrive and I can get out to test them out...

***Edit on 16th October***

To add to the above list, all I want for Christmas is an LED lightsuit!:

AFTERGLOW - Lightsuit Segment from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.




Thursday, 2 October 2014

Important - ABS Vario 2011/12 information

Not quite sure how old this is but have just been made aware of a call to check ABS Vario base units from 2011/12.
Apparently over time the velcro closure securing each inflatable bag can become so well fastened it prevents the bag from deploying properly. ABS have released a fix for this - more details on their website here:


Serial numbers starting 612 or 712 are concerned (serial number located next to deflation valve).

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Black September

It starts the same way every time - a text message, phone call or email - "I'm not sure but I think there is some bad news..."
And so it was yesterday, 3 more gone in the space of a day. Andreas and JP on Cerro San Lorenzo and Liz on Cerro Vespignani. Add in Basti Haag and Andrea Zambaldi on Shishapangma a few days ago and September 2014 will definitely go down as a bad month in the history of ski mountaineering.

Some little gems come out of these things though, like Steve Casimiro's article for Adventure Journal.

And Ptor Spricenieks' wise words: "celebrate their lives... ...send love to their families and friends... ...and then take a hard look at the details of the accident scenarios."

Friday, 26 September 2014

Superlight crampon *with update 14/10/14*

These crampons look very very interesting from a ski mountaineering point of view, paticularly for those days when you aren't planning anything technical but want a bit of margin, or for booting up couloirs on spring snow or with a bit of underlying ice. Only downside is that currently they are only available from the US and postage costs to Europe through the webshop are extremely high ($95).



Definitely worth considering, particularly if you know anyone flying back from the US this autumn!

*Update 14th Oct 2014*
After contacting Pro Guiding directly they are offering postage to France at a very reasonable $20 - one pair of Tech 250s hopefully winging their way to me very shortly - look out for an 'in the flesh' review soon.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

We're back in business!

Yes, it has been a very quiet summer on the offpisteskiing blog with work and family conspiring to keep me extremely busy but there is definitely a freshness in the air in the mornings here in the Vanoise so that means only one thing - winter is slowly but surely on its way...

To get in the mood here is a great little video from Scott Gaffney - 45 years old and still pulling backflips as if he was 15!

Scott Gaffney 2014 EDIT from MSP Films on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

New bindings, old bindings

In the midst of all the hype surrounding the latest binding releases, this piece from Fritz Barthel (inventor of the Dynafit binding) over on Wildsnow is well worth a read!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

2015 course dates

So finally, after much child- and work-induced delay, the 2015 off piste coaching calendar is finally coming online.

We have the usual range of course available, from Off Piste Introduction courses through to Freeride weeks and (of course) a return to the magical Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway.

Check out the course calendar and don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like more details or to request private bookings.

See you in the snow soon!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Chipie's Line

Who needs Cham?

After a slightly 'ho-hum' day off the Midi on Monday checking out lines which generally weren't looking too good, Oli and I relocated back to my home ground, where I was confident we could score some good conditions... I knew that the North face of the Grande Casse was in good conditions, and originally we thought about doing a 'in-a-day' hit from the valley - but a combination of tired legs and sore feet from the Petit Mont Blanc walk out (see here), the thought of a 2200m vertical day, when neither of us was particularly fit and then a chance message from my friend Chipie over in Tignes set us off on a new adventure.

Chipie had talked in the past of a 'hidden line' on the Grande Casse with relatively easy - if slightly exposed and committing - access from the Grande Motte lifts in Tignes, and a beautiful 50º North-facing slope as the reward.

Oli on the NW face of the Motte, our access route in the distance up the snowy ridge:


Perfect powder below the col - not bad (well, incredible actually) for the 'access route':


Time for some boot-packing, with a real wilderness feel:


As we got to the top of the ridge it became clear that accessing the slope we originally planned to ski was not going to be a great idea, with a big traverse on 50º shale partially covered with snow, and the top of the main slope looking like a minefield of shark's teeth from close range. Not fancying a game of Russian roulette we opted for plan B, and skied great snow 150m back down the ridge we had climbed - a beautiful 45º pitch with big exposure on both sides:


Then it was time for an 'interesting' traverse out onto the main face, with some big cliffs lurking underneath:


And on to the main slope - a smooth 50º billiard table with good soft snow - perfect conditions!:






Time to relax as the angle eases:


After a short section of crust we then enjoyed 600m of perfect spring snow down to the start of the boot/skin back out:


Looking back up to the line - just left of centre:


A hot sweaty hike then even hotter skin eventually got us up to the Col du Palet where we had possible the best skiing I have ever done on piste in Tignes - perfectly groomed, nicely softened spring snow, and not another skier to worry about - that certainly doesn't happen when the lifts are open!

Getting back to Val Claret at 3pm we decided we should make the most of our day tickets, and headed back up the Grande Motte for a pleasant run down the North face on cold chalky snow:




Still not quite believing our luck with the conditions we cut across onto the Wall which was nicely softened spring snow... truly one of those rare 'Midas touch' days, where everything we skied turned to gold. Even later on, sat around a beer with Chipie, Oli & I couldn't stop smiling! Due to work and family commitments this may (hopefully not) be my last ski day of the winter, but if it is then what a day to end on!






Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Petit Mont Blanc - Bonatti couloir

Guy, Oli and I have talked about this line a few times in past springs but never quite had the conditions or free time at the right time to get in here. On Sunday, along with Jon & Rhiannon we hit the jackpot with great conditions - 1000m of good cold snow with a stunning back drop!

Guy on the first abseil in - 15m gets you to a second anchor, from where 20m was enough to hit skiable snow:


Rhi at the bottom of the second ab:


Trusty steads for the day - my Whitedot Skis Ranger Carbonlites even took their own 'selfie', with the West Face of Mont Blanc as backdrop (and looking very thin this year sadly...):


Yum yum:


Rhi high in the couloir:


Oli:


Guy throwing some shapes:


'The gift that keeps on giving' - from the top the glacier looks reasonably close, but the more pitches you ski, the more you realise it is still a long way down!

Jon:


And finally... 1000m of continuous steepness later:


Happy gang!


Balancing act on the moraine ridge - the start of a 12km walk out (yes my feet are still sore now...):


Thanks to Guy, Oli, Jon and Rhi for great company and to Whitedot Skis for the Ranger Carbonlites - the more time I have spent on them this winter the more impressed I have been