Caren Ware's Blog

January 29, 2013

Gearing up.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:13 pm

IMAG0158Sunday, I ran those 21 miles in a storm.  Monday, I did abs and nordic skied on the most perfectly groomed tracks,  The tracks went through a sun spattered woods overlooking Pinedale, Wyoming and overlooked a very, very frozen Fremont Lake.  The color of the leafless aspens against newly fallen snow was magical.  I was so into the moment of whisking through a quiet setting, I forgot to take a picture for you. backcountry

 

 

This is a new world to me…nordic skiing with its classic ski, skate, and tour skis.  Downhill resort skis being big and wide for powder.  And than there is BACKCOUNTRY skiing.  Today, I got to use my back country gear and skis for the first time.  A Teton Mountaineering employee was willing to take me out on a day off.  I appreciated the guided expertise.  There is a humbling amount to know.  Just two days ago, two young lives were claimed in two separate avalanches in this area. It is news no one wants to have to hear.  It is what makes these BACKCOUNTRY people advocate avalanche training and the call to carry specific gear.

On tame slopes on a tame day of no wind or falling snow, we inaugurated through my first day of how all the gear functions and how to be prepared out here. Even at that, the new inches of snow atop an ice layer was easily punched through to softer snow.  It was conditions to be respected, conditions that lead to avalanches and arduous travel. IMAG0156IMAG0152

Here’s how backcountry works.  Special bindings have evolved that allow you to clip in only the toes of the alpine boots for crossing fields or climbing up.  You keep the buckles loose and these specific boots at a flex and nordic ski on them.  There is a heel plate that can be pulled over using a ski pole so you do not have to flex as much going up hills.  ‘Skins” are adhered to the bottom of the skis with a special glue that allows you to peel them off and put them in your pack when you downhill.  The bindings than can become clamped down so you can downhill ski.  The poles are adjustable so you can use for both set ups.  With backcountry skis, you are an all in one ski package.  I had the opportunity to learn about DYNAFIT and BLACK DIAMOND from the reps that came to Skinny Skis.  DYNAFIT is pronounced DEAN-A-FIT and makes these fine tuned mechanical bindings that clamp and rotate.  They also make light weight skis specific for taking into the mountains.  So does Black Diamond. I have Dynafit boots and bindings and Black Diamond Starlet skis. And I acquired a Black Diamond Ava lung backpack.  This pack is made to hold a light weight shovel, avalanche probe ( A pole that uncoils and can be stuck in the snow to find a submerged body), and extra food and clothing.  It also has a liner in the  shoulder strap that the camel back tube feeds  through so your water does not freeze.  It is specifically called the Ava lung because the other shoulder strap has a breathing tube and mouth piece that allows the pack to be an airbag in the event of being pulled under in an avalanche. Added to the ensemble has to be a transmitter beacon.  This is turned on and worn close to the chest when in the ‘backcountry”.  My device came from  Ortovox.  It can find and it can send to be found. We all watch documentaries where people are ‘skinning’ along in their skis in vast territories of snow.  I am thankful to learn the proper safety protocol.  Thank you, Teton Mountaineering and Skinny Skis for your teaching and training.  EXUM Mountain guides and other agencies offer great courses in how to manage safety in avalanche country.  I am going to humbly take one of those courses.  IMAG0170IMAG0168IMAG0167IMAG0165

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