Archive for September, 2014

Scratching the dirt for blog post content

sawtooth board demos jeff jump Scratching the dirt for blog post content

I tried to get starfish to publish this picture of Jeff Tulloch in one of the Skate the sawtooths articles but Tim said I was crazy to want a butt shot next to one of Jeremy’s powsurf hammers. Problem was it was one of the few pictures I took that weekend.

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One of my favorite pics. Look where snowskating has taken these guys!

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Pretty sure we would not have gotten the invite to Smith optics backcountry reserve had we been strapped in. That we haven’t gotten an invite back is the question….You take what you get!

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This is what Alan Gerlach wears when he’s hiking the backcountry

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Just let it be white this winter!





Roots Ramblings

Check out the German Swingbo National Team

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I dig the twins in matching garb. Every once in a while I think about the concept of two skis moving independently to create edge control. Then I think about weight and cost and realize that simple is usually better. Its always a balancing act. You can’t forget to remind yourself that you ditched the bindings to simplify. Of course it made it harder in a way. Do you remember why you started snowskating? I wanted something for the backyard. Easy like a skateboard to use. I had no idea in the beginning that people were riding them on slopes. Once I started having fun on it then the “potential” became a driving force. Building up my backyard was hugely entertaining.

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We have a gravel pit down the road. I rode by it on my bike yesterday and was reminded of how fun a zone it was. Six inches of snow or so was good enough for some turns. Since it’s a snow skate you don’t care if the base get trashed!

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But even fun things get boring after a while. Thankfully I discovered backcountry access via the chair lift at Schweitzer.

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Which of course led me to want to explore other backcountry zones with snowmobiles. I got a new sled this summer. Its way over my head and I’m a bit nervouse about the trouble I’m going to get into but excited too.

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It’s a simple sport that will broaden your horizons. Thank you snowskating!


Building skis with my boys

I know every snowskater has gone through at least a couple of situations where friends or strangers have been kinda blown away by riding without bindings. As a builder its even more intense when they learn I made the snowskate. Its fun…sometimes, to share with interested parties the why and how of snowskating. Most of my friends are accustomed to seeing me on a skate so now there really isn’t any more wide eyed looks from them. I bring a new sub into the house and the kids are always nice and say that it looks good but no one is blown away any more. So I was a bit surprised at the reaction I got after making a set of skis with my boys. Let me say that my boys do snowskate but they LOVE to ski. They have a group of ski buddies, they watch all the vids and they follow the pros. They love to ski! So when I started on this ski project the difference began with the kids being waaaay more interested in the shop process. Always asking if we could go out and work on the skis. Then all their buddies got excited then the parents of the buddies got excited. People were asking me crazy questions like did I drip all the ptex onto the core to make the base, or how did I bend the wood. How much did it cost, how long? Were did I learn to do this? Where did I get the material? And these are from people who have been watching me snowskate for years and know I make all the parts on the skates??

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Well I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I do live in a ski town. But that’s ok cause I have an ulterior motive for building skis for my boys and that’s to try and make a super fast sub for snowskating. Maybe its because I’m a bit worried about our el nino winter prediction and how it often leaves us with few pow days. My guess is it falls into the summer wacky idea category. Way back in the early days of bidecks, a company from england named Barefoot tried to start a revolution with skate decks mounted to full size skis. They looked a bit wierd and disappeared soon after buying a full page add in starfish. But there is no reason a long narrow sub with the right dimensions couldn’t instill confidence when going really fast. It might need a high truck mount and I’m kinda in the dark as to radius but hey that’s the fun part when building a product so few people understand.

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Climbing up them hills

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It’s a known fact that you got to go up if you want to ride down. If the snow at the resort isn’t to your liking then trekking out of bounds is your best option. This can be as simple as grabbing your skate and plodding up hill, as E2 does in the picture above, its cheap, easy and a good workout. If there is more then one of ya, you can take turns putting in the boot track. The great thing is, on the next lap the boot will be solid and the climbing will be easy. The hard part though, if its deep it can take a lot of energy. You’ll most likely be soaked in sweat when you reach the top and not so ready for lap number two. Luckily there are a few tools available to make the up hill trek easier. Starting from the left MTN Approach skis, Atlas snowshoes, and Verts.

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The cheapest option are Verts. These are the small plastic snowshoes on the right. They are light, easy to put on and kick ass in steep terrain. At around 110.00 shipped they are a great option for starting out. They only weigh 2 lbs and can easily fit into a pack making transitions even faster.  It really just feels like your boot packing without sinking in so deep.

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As you can see in the boot pack picture above, you do sink a bit but since your foot is at the front of the verts, its easy to step forward without dragging snow. As with boot packing the second lap will be a breeze and it will be fast as your path tends to go straight up. We usually drop from above then put the first boot pack in our track. This cuts down a bit on how much snow you have to walk through but is only an option if you get to start from the top.

Verts don’t perform as well on long flat sections. Your toe tends to dive since your strapped to the front of the shoe. On icy terrain they do ok but its more of a work out to get the toe to dig into the dense snow pack. If long flat sections are in the mix then traditional snow shoes are the way to go. You’ll want to make sure they have heal lifts. These are wire bails that flip up and support your heal when hiking steep terrain. You flip them down for the flats. A good set of snowshoes with heal climbers will run 200-250.00.  They are a bit more weight, at around 4 lbs a pair. As with boot packing and verts, the second lap will be easy and working with a crew will make breaking trail a snap.

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If you’re hiking the back country with alpine touring or telemarkers then snow shoes and verts won’t work quite as well. You can do it but snowshoeing on a skin track will usually get you some negative vibes from your touring partners. It tends to wear out the skin track and make it difficult for the skiers to climb. They main reason I don’t like it though is that skin tracks tend to wander across the hill. Side hilling on snow shoes sucks. It wears out your knees and ankles and isn’t very efficient. There is an option though, MTN Approach skis. These are foldable skis that fit into your pack. They are heavy weighing in at 8 lbs, there expensive costing around 800.00 and the hinge mechanism sometimes breaks. All that being said I really like them.

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They haul ass over flat terrain. They are long enough with a wide waist that you don’t sink in but their short length makes kick turns on switchbacks a breeze. They transition really fast. They stow in your pack close to your back so it doesn’t throw off your weight when riding down hill. Best of all, no stink eye from the skin trackers. They just function really well. They are currently coming out with a much beefier hinge so the snapping hinges should be a thing of the past. You usually carry an extra hinge and surprisingly you can swap out a broken one faster then a split boarder can get their stuff back together. If your touring with skinners it’s the way to go.