Tales from the Hinterland: Part 3, a Hidden Bump is revealed.
Where I live, the mountains are very old and worn down. We must be content with short vertical, a condition that often converts Hinterlanders to aberrent activities like telemark skiing, Masters Racing and snowboarding. So, while all you New Yawkers were enjoying the fresh powpow on your big hills, we Hinterlanders had to be content with MGP on top of McSnow at our diminutive local ski destination. Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Club is only a 15 minute drive from SBR HQ, so I should not complain too much about the whopping 333 feet of vertical and 60 second runs. Any skiing is better than no skiing! And yesterday afternoon, the skiing was terrific.
Conditions were firm and carvable, no ice (except for the snow-covered frozen waterfall on Member's Dip) and the company was great. Blue Toes and I joined our good friend FishBrother and his son, whom I shall call Mini-Fish, for an afternoon of fun and good company on the slopes. Mini-fish has just turned eight and is evolving into a dedicated skier, both cross-country and downhill. His father, a telemarker of the old school, may be at a loss for instructional techniques once Mini graduates from the Pizza technique, since FishBrother just confessed to me yesterday that he really did not know how to do a parallel turn.
It was my first tele day after knee surgery. Even with seven alpine days on the new ACL, I was a little apprehensive about the tele turn. Conclusion: the telemark turn puts more more stress on the knee, on hardpack anyway. No serious pain or injury resulted but after two hours of telemarking at Hidden Bump, I felt my knee ache more than it did after five days of solid locked-heel skiing at Jay Peak. The worst part of the whole affair was dealing with "new binding issues." I am having problems with the spring tension on my new BD O1s (edit: actually, they are 03s). After much care and reading of instructions during the installation process, I stepped out of the &%&*$# binding in the middle of a turn and fell over. No safety straps, oops. Fortunately it was at the top of Back Trail (easy run) and I landed on the ski, stopping it from flying down the hill and killing someone. I then cranked the springs so tight I could hardly lift my heel. More fiddling required. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Oddly enough, the lodge and parking lot are located in the middle of the hill.
The run visible is the middle third of the Flying Dutchman
Blue Toes poses in front the lodge, newly repainted thanks to G8 Legacy funding.
The ski lodge was Security HQ for the G8 Summit last June.
BT and FB heading down Back Trail just before I skied out of my binding.
Mini-Fish is way out in front. Scenery is fantastic.
Good thing the crowds were light, so we had time to read all the signs!
And who lives in those little rooms on top of the lift shelters? Why all the windows?
Our pal JML models the new flak jacket issued by the Hinterlandian Ski Patrol.
There's a lot here in this way cool TR, but just have time for a few points.
Sick Bird Rider wrote
..Conclusion: the telemark turn puts more more stress on the knee, on hardpack anyway.
I discovered some interesting things this weekend. Like I said in the Quiver of Two thread, I'd never had any knee pain before this past Christmas holiday where I skied 4 days bell-to-bell. And because I didn't FEEL it until the 5th day, when I was no longer skiing, I just assumed it was from teleturns. I do a lot of both - tele and parallel - basically I only tele if there is soft snow, or I'm not chasing alpine rippers.
So Saturday, in the morning I took it easy. The interesting thing was that with fresh snow, and skiing with Zelda I was doing primarily tele and it really didn't hurt. I only felt things in my knees when I reverted to parallel. My conclusion - hardpack and parallel on hard pack is tough on teleskiers.
In the afternoon I ran into Rochester Mark, PDQ, Pammy and the gang. No matter how hard I tried I just had to fly. I was surprised - it worked out fine. After 2 days of skiing this weekend I'm actually feeling good as new. It's odd. Knees feel great.
Sick Bird Rider wrote
The worst part of the whole affair was dealing with "new binding issues." I am having problems with the spring tension on my new BD O1s. After much care and reading of instructions during the installation process, I stepped out of the &%&*$# binding in the middle of a turn and fell over. No safety straps, oops. ...
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Teleskiers I know call the BD 01's the "BD Oh No's!" for exactly this reason. Telebindings - the screw tighten type - seem to loosen with use. For some reason on the 01s it happens pretty fast. Confession - this happened to me this weekend on my Rottefellas. It's very disconcerting to say the least. Once a week minimum I recommend putting the skis in your vise and making sure everything is tight.
"If it's my mountain, I'm installing a fixed grip and telling the lifties to stuff the beginners into chairs as aggressively as they have to to keep it going full speed." —Brownski
Teleskiers I know call the BD 01's the "BD Oh No's!" for exactly this reasons. A telebindings - the screw tighten type - seem to loosen with use. For some reason on the 01s it happens pretty fast.
Now that I think of it, I recall reading complaints on TTips and/or TGR about how the springs on BD bindings have a disturbing tendency to loosen themselves in transit. Several folks commented that they even duct taped the cartridges together so they can't turn. I think I will email BD tech support and see what they have to say.
Once a week minimum I recommend putting the skis in your vise and making sure everything is tight.
Good idea but IMHO things should just work the way they are supposed to. Grumble, grumble.
So I did email Black Diamond today and to my pleasant surprise, received a thoughtful and useful response within hours. Excellent suggestion and worthy knowledge for all BD binding owners. Why don't they put this info in the instructions? I suspect other tele bindings may benefit from the same treatment:
From your email I can tell your cartridges definitely spun loose while in
transit. When the cartridges on the o-series bindings are not
tensioned/locked in place, they will spin loose. When properly adjusted and
your boot is clicked in to the binding, the cartridges are locked in place.
To mitigate the loosening of the cartridges when they aren't being skied,
simply lock the heel bale of the binding down on the heel block. This
tensions the cartridges, locking them into place, and eliminates them from
spinning loose on you when they're slung over your shoulder or kicking
around the garage or back of your car/truck.
Joe Penacoli | Black Diamond Equipment
2084 E. 3900 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84124
Tales from the Hinterland: Part 4, Skiing in the Dark
So while the Vermonters and New Yorkers rested from a day of powder skiing, I went night skiing on MGG. I love night skiing. I usually ski alone when night-skiing, so for me, it is a kind of meditative workout, a solo Zen-like experience inside my own bubble of helmet and goggles. If I ever have a skiing breakthrough, it often happens when night-skiing, because I focus more on technique and skill development while skiing in this bubble. And avoiding getting creamed by out-of-control teenage snowboarders. The Spidey-sense is dialed up to full, I can hear hear them scratching up behind me, I turn away and tele off to safety.
Tonight was a breakthrough night. After the binding debacle described above, I re-positioned the heel block on my new tele set-up so I could lock the heel bale as BD Joe suggested. I am now totally paranoid about heel bale locking and even lock them when I take a lodge break. Although skiing enjoyment was on the agenda, my main goal tonight was to test the newly adjusted bindings. And it worked! The BD binding is smooth, powerful, neutral-feeling and suits my skiing style perfectly. I am a very happy telemarker and feel like the Sick Birds are a brand new pair of skis that I never skied on before. BIG FAT FAST TURNS were the order of the evening.
The lift conversation of the night happened on the first run. Thursday happens to be "Cheap Night" at Hidden Valley, so it is the night when Mom and Dad drop off their spawn to slide down the hill for several hours. Mostly they hang out in the lodge, spewing hormones, creating a weird kind of high school dance vibe when you go in for break. It also means that despite a lift line, an old guy on skis will ride solo most of the time. The kids are too cool for sharing a chair with Grampa. But not The Little Girl in Pink (she is maybe 9, or 10). While I had resigned myself to a lone ride on the Bigwin Quad, she poled up beside me, gave me the look that let me know I was the Grown-Up in Charge of this lift ride, and off we went. I politely inquired if it was OK to lower the bar and she agreed with an emphatic "yes." After a few seconds, she looks at me and says, pointing left:
"When we get to the top, you should probably go that way."
Me: "OK, are you going right?"
LGiP: "Yes, I"m not very good at getting off the chairlift yet."
Me: "Well, OK."
LGiP: "I just got these skis today."
Me: "Oh, have you skied before?"
LGiP: "No, this is my first time."
Me: "Is anyone teaching you how to ski?"
LGiP: "No, I am skiing by myself."
Me (concerned but not wanting to sound like a weird old guy): "So, are you here by yourself?"
LGiP: "Oh no, my brother and his friend are here too."
Me (relieved, then putting my skis in the wedge position): "Do you know how to do the snowplow, you know, when you put your skis like this?"
LGiP: "Oh, yes, I do that. I am teaching myself to ski!"
Me, by this time we are at the top: "Well, good for you. Are you ready to get off? Stand up when your skis touch the snow!"
So I go left, then turn and watch her ski off the lift pretty well, stop, fall over, immediately get up and ski off, straightlining down the easy hill in full pizza stance. This girl is going to be a skier.
Tales from the Hinterland: Part 5, Telemark Hill is open!
AP NEWS RELEASE: this just in from Telemark Dave
Flaunting a non-traditional, non-alpine start, Telemark Dave has raised the 2011 season bar by dropping the first descent of the new Telemark Hill trail at the RHSSCC (Ravenscliffe Highlands Ski Snowshoe and Country Club).
T.D. waited until mid afternoon to start his approach, stating that the minimal snowpack needed to soften up for his
attempt to post first trax on Telemark Hill's new old skewl down mountain trail.
"I timed everything perfectly" stated T.D. "The snowpack was ready by mid day. It was perfect timing"
T.D. utilized the established Jackrabbit Trail approach, but deviated at the crux hairpin, turning North towards the bottom of Bonk Hill. He quickly set tracks through the valley and up to the summit of Telemark Hill.
"I paused briefly to survey the situation" stated the intrepid skier, "but only for a moment. I dropped in, old school
stylie, turning only where the trail turned. It was very sketch. I'm glad I was on my Karhu Guides...."
T.D. retraced his way back to the summit, then made tracks back to the base of Secret Hill, where he utilized an established skin track to ski to the top of the high alpine ridge. Once there, he followed another established route to
the top of Bonk Hill, continuing to the safety of Hundwalden.
It was there that he received a text message from his nordic ski racing son, who had yet again put in another stellar
result in the Provincial High School XC race series.
"I was ecstatic for Josh....his accomplishments far surpass anything that I've achieved today......"
"Really, who really gives a &%$#@ about Telemark Hill...."
T.D. is sponsored by Employment Insurance Canada and Bell Technical Solutions.
Editor's note: Hundwalden is where SBR lives. We own 50 acres of rolling hardwood forest and have lots of extra space beyond the property line. Telemark Hill is a nice low-angle glade we established this fall. The Jackrabbit Trail is an unfinished project somewhat resembling a very challenging nordic ski trail. Secret Hill and Bonk Hill are other (steeper) glade runs established over the last few years. The vert is short but the powder turns are close to home.
Tales from the Hinterland: Part 6, the week in review.
It was very cold in the Hinterlands today. While the original plan was to go ski some lift-served at Sir Sam's, nobody was looking forward to sitting on a lift for five minutes and skiing down in 60 seconds, over and over again. This is not a recipe for staying warm. It did not take much convincing for me to agree to try out those wacky skin devices and go for a BC tour out in the back yard.
By 10 am, it had warmed up two degrees since breakfast!
Before we get to the day's adventures, it is worth taking a look back at the various forms of schuss that were experienced this week.
Last Friday, we went for for the wood ski and bamboo ski-sticks approach. Telemark Dave and I waxed up with my carefully hoarded supply of Jackrabbit Dry Snow Wax and skied untracked logging roads. This wax has not been made for over 25 years so if you have a bar gathering dust in your wax box, let me know. The skiing was smooth and classic in all senses of the word - if you have never skied on wood XC skis, you are missing a great experience and the opportunity to channel Jackrabbit Johannsen.
OK, I know it doesn't look like ski wax but really, it smells like pine tar...
Fresh snow and classic 70s wood skis!
The next day, I went for a solo trip to Hidden Bump. About four inches of fresh, very dense snow had fallen overnight and there was hardly anyone on the hill. In 24 hours, I went from the skinny wood touring skis to my Prophet 100s. While I was floating in the cream cheese frosting, I could hear all the racer-types scritchy-scratching on their narrow-waisted skis. I was still getting fresh tracks at noon - it was another great ski day in Muskoka.
Race coaches prepare to suck the joy out of young skiers by setting gates on a rare Ontario powder day
Lessons have started, time for me to go home!
Well, back to work for a few days and yesterday the ski cycle started up again. After our success on the wood skis, I had the bright idea to try touring on some slightly newer but no less vintage metal-edge, old school tele skis. TD dusted off his 207 Karhu Extremes and I spent an hour cleaning rust and ancient wax off my 203 Karhu Supremes. We both made the same call on the "wax of the day," a fairly modern Swix VF20 flouro classic wax. Let's just say we had super glide, little grip and a complete lack of ability to turn in tight trees. Enough said about that day.
We probably won't be skiing on the &%$#$%& toothpick skis for a while!
This brings us back to today, a day of ski redemption. We picked the right skis (fatter and turnier), the right wax (as in glide wax for the down and skins for the up) and enjoyed some boot-deep on both familiar and new runs in my little backyard backcountry paradise. For the first run, we returned to a hill we had booted up yesterday, due to the lack of grip on the skinny sticks. Turns out the hills seem much steeper when you are climbing UP than when you ski down but it was good skinning practice for me, at least.
Like all good telemarkers, we had to fiddle with bindings before skiing
These were the perfect skis for today!
Hey, the base lodge is locked! Where am I going to get a latte?
I hope the resort owner doesn't mind us using his truck for a ski rack...
SBR carefully stashes skins into his new BD Seth Morrison pro-model pack (I know what you are thinking: SBR, orange plaid? Skulls? It was on super-sale, what can I say?). TD has the identical but more restrained black BD Bandit. It is a great day touring pack.
On the skin back up, TD admires the few turns we got on the run. It will be much more fun on the woodies.
After a hearty lunch at the Hundwalden chalet, we made a plan for the afternoon: ski steeper hills!
Bonk Hill was the first destination. It is a short, reasonably steep glade that we have "developed" over the last few years. This fall, a major forest management project was undertaken, resulting in much more skiable terrain.
TD slays Bonk powder while Utah ponders his own line. I make him wear the vest so I can see where he is.
How about those backwoods Powder 8s!
After one run on Bonk Hill, we trekked further south to our more recent glade project, Secret Hill. While not as steep as Bonk, Secret Hill is longer and has more potential for multiple lines. It gets a little tight at the bottom, so you have to be careful about getting too much speed in the top section.
TD looking smooth and stealthy at Secret Hill
What will next week week bring? Thanks for reading!
Re: Tales from the Hinterland: Part 6, the week in review.
Fujative, I have the original Sick Birds (see Tale # 4 above) and was prepared to ski on them. TD convinced me that his Bandit XXXs would be be turnier and boy, they are much lighter, so I went for it. Here is photographic evidence that I own my namesake skis: