Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to one and all. Family day for me today... here's hoping the New Year will bring us lots of snow!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Salomon MTN LAB boots - first impressions

I am now 4 days in on a pair of MTN LAB boots (thanks to Salomon UK !!), so here are some initial impressions:

(for reference I am 83Kg currently, size 28.0, previous touring boots include Dynafit Mercury, Technica Cochise Pro 130, Dynafit Titan & TLT5P, along with a variety of 120/130 alpine boots; conditions tested - hardpack piste, grippy piste, old soft powder, variable/crud... early season '15 in the Alps!)

Fit - seems similar to a Titan but possibly slightly tighter at the ball of foot and toe box. I never had to have a Titan shell pushed out, but most likely will with the MTN LAB

Buckles - The 2 buckle + powerstrap system seems very efficient at creating great hold of the foot in the boot. My initial worry looking at the boot was the lack of a 'middle' buckle, as with 2-buckle boots in the past (ie TLT5s etc) I have had trouble getting sufficient 'hold' of the heel back into the pocket, particularly noticeable when skiing heavier snow.

Boots with a view:

Walk mode - amazing! The range is very good (though this isn't a big factor for me as I don't typically go for uber-long strides even on the flat) but what really sets this boot apart is how good the walk mode is without unbuckling the main buckles (unlike the majority of touring boots I have used in the ast where most buckles had to be very loose to create a noticeable 'walk' feel). The lever to lock/unlock ski/walk mode is small but very positive.

Ski performance - very good so far - on a par with the Technica 130s, and considering these are 400gs lighter per foot (going on book weights - to verify on the scales when I have 10 minutes) this is impressive. Flex is stiff (good) but very progressive. Lateral rigidity seems excellent.

More to follow when I have had a bit more time in these...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Risk tolerance

This short video featuring Swiss avalanche researcher Manuel Genswein is a very concise explanation of the long-term potential consequences of different levels of risk tolerance. Increasingly I found myself a little (lot) perplexed at the levels of risk some people will accept - consciously or unknowingly (that is of course the question...) - this early season is a case in point with people quite happy to ski through rock minefields with zero base of snow other than the snowfall from 2/3 weeks ago... maybe it is just experience (and dare one say wisdom) accumulated from various friends who have had early season prangs in similar conditions ( one a broken femur, another an exploded shoulder, pneumothorax and a few other things, another a tib-fib...). Maybe I am just turning into a grumpy old git!

Friday, 11 December 2015

3 Valleys snow report 11 Dec 2015

One word summary: bony!

Compared to last year there is a bit more snow down low, but less up high - compare and contrast these 2 photos of the St Peres couloirs - first last year on 6 Dec:

And today:

Good to see where the 'schrunds are on the Peclet West face:

The rot spreads a bit further - there is now a blue piste down into the Bouchet valley from the top of the Thorens lift, so was once a brilliant quiet valley easily accessed from Orelle, or from Val Thorens with a minimum of effort has now the double-despoliation of the zip-wire over the top and a piste down it... oh well that's progress I suppose!

Back to the snow report, there are quite a few tracks in various bits of offpiste, but there are very few places which currently seem justifiable considering the risk of knackering ski or body on the rocks... though some friends skied the Lac du Lou itinerary the other day and reported a reasonable fill, though with an exit to the skier's left of the lake. Fingers crossed for some snow!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Pralognan ice

With off piste in the Vanoise still an unappetising game of russian roulette with the rocks today I met up with Gordon for a mini-adventure on an icy goulotte above Pralognan. The little bit of skiing we did off piste to get down from the route was enough to convince me I am in no rush to go too wild off piste yet... More snow needed!

Target for the day:

Gordon on the approach:

Someone was keeping an eye on us...:

Thanks to Gordon for this photo: