Off Yonder – Adventure Travel Stories - Seeing the world for what it is

Review: K2 Work Stinx Telemark Skis (2006)
United States

Like the rest of my ski equipment, I’ve had these skis for about four years now. Though, they’ve really only seen two solid seasons of skiing, mostly in Colorado, though they have skied in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and even Illinois!

This is a great all-mountain ski. K2 has been making skis since 1961 and they make a quality product, these skis being no different. They are a little heavy, by design, to punch through any crud and avoid chattering on groomers while going fast. They are fat enough to float nicely in deep powder and turning on them is always a pleasure.

The only problem I’ve had with them have related to keeping climbing skins on them and K2 would argue I’m using the wrong skins. They have the hole at the tip for clip in skins, but I use a pair of Black Diamond skins with the D-ring that goes over the tip. Only once has the D-ring worked it’s way off the tip and a little adjustment has fixed it fine since.

This ski takes to edge extremely well and once on edge it arcs into a beautiful turn be it in powder, on groomers or going through the bumps. Icy slopes and super hard snow is never easy to edge into and undoubtedly my skill set could be improved to better manage those conditions even though I’ve wanted to blame the skis for the chattering and scraping along.

I’ve skied a few other skis since being on the Work Stinx and I’m always happy to come back to them.

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Review: G3 Targa Telemark Bindings
United States

G3 Targa Telemark Binding. See http://offyonder.com/?p=917 for the review.To be fair, these are really the only kind of Tele bindings I’ve ever used. In a way, that’s a good thing as I’ve not been driven to replace them.

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Review: Crispi XP Telemark Boots
United States

After trying various Garmont and Scarpa tele boots I found Crispi, an Italian brand that fits my feet perfectly: wide and high volume. I ordered the XP’s as they were described to have the broadest versatility, especially for a relatively new telemark skier. Medium weight to help punch through any crud snow and plenty stiff for tight response. These boots have served me well in all conditions from crusey groomers to earning turns in the backcountry. Most importantly they are very comfortable and my feet are totally secure in them. My heel stays in place and I’ve never had any issues of rubbing, blistering or cramping. I skied on them for a full season before I baked the thermal liners. After molding the liners to my feet I found a whole new level of comfort and control. The boots are also plenty warm which is very important when on a backcountry lunch break between climbs and runs sitting around in the snow. I have yet to take these boots on a multi-day tour to see what it’s like to put them on after sitting out overnight in the cold, but hopefully that will come soon.

The Crispi XP’s soft rubber Skywalk sole grips the snow well when walking around on compact snow and the duckbill is strong and stiff enough to punch enough of a lip to step on when booting it up sections too steep to make it worth while to skin up.

My few concerns stem from how easily the tongue under each of the upper buckles sometimes mesh the wrong way. I usually catch this when it becomes ridiculously difficult to lock the buckle down and after catching this the first time I know to keep an eye out for this. Also, the power strap is way too long. It makes me wonder how fat of a leg it can accommodate. Maybe it’s that long to work as a shoulder strap when strapping the boots together to carry them, but I’m not sure as I have a boot bag for them. Another little annoyance is having to flip up the D-ring where the leash attaches. I don’t really have a well thought out solution in mind, but if the D-ring could somehow stick out some and not just rest right up against the boot, it would make it easier to attach the ski leash.

Continue reading: click “Full Story” below.

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Backcountry Skiing
Old Monarch Pass, Colorado, United States

At Christmas Camp in Buena Vista, CO we offered something new this year: backcountry skiing. We only had one camp guest sign up, but that was just fine as seven staff (including myself) went on this trip. The slopes were gentle and the weather was perfect. See it all in the video below. I originally had Tegan and Sarah’s “Take Me Anywhere” as the sound track, but YouTube has a soundtrack copyright checker and disabled the audio. I think that’s pretty neat that they can check for that sort of stuff now, but it forced me to choose one of their “approved” audio tracks which was just a touch longer than the video so it gets cut off and I can’t fade it down for when I ask Daryl (our one guest) what he thinks of backcountry skiing. Fortunately, I had already added subtitles to the most important part of his response. Enjoy:

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100 Mile White Mountain Ski Tour
White Mountains, Alaska, United States

Although the calendar said it was the end of winter and the start of spring, Alaska clearly wasn’t paying attention. Nathaniel and I got a later than expected start (which we will find will actually become our norm) and we had to ski through a windy and dark -40F to make it to our first cabin. We only dared stop for mere moments to sip hot tea from a thermos (our water bottles, though insulated, had frozen solid) and split a large chocolate muffin. Yes, it was wicked cold at times and the wind was often howling, but it was beautiful. The photos (see more by clicking on this photo) and the video will never do that beautiful landscape justice (click “Full Story” below or the title above to see the video). But, come have a look and make this journey with us as best as we can share it.

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Buried Aircraft Found
South Pole Station, Antarctica

The wreckage of Skier 917 has been found. It took the effort of many, but we’ve reached the goal of crawling down through the escape hatch into the buried plane. Everyone who visited the wreck site took at least three hours of their free time per visit skiing or walking out to the site, climbing down into a five-meter snow hole and hauling out a few buckets of snow. That’s a true group achievement.

Two days before Christmas Kris from the meteorology department and I skied out there to check it out. No one had visited the site in some time so a few inches of snow drift had accumulated on the sheets of plywood covering the access hole.

After a little more digging and cleaning up around the edges, Kris handed up the hatch cover and disappeared into the perfectly round hole and entered the cockpit.

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Happy Camper School
South Pole Station, Antarctica

It was our weekend of Antarctic car camping. An instructor came up from McMurdo to take a group of us “Polies” out into the Great White Nothing to go camping for a night.

We started off with a classroom session on Friday night to get the basics on keeping warm, avoiding hypothermia and other ‘winter’ camping skills. Then, Saturday after work and dinner, we gathered and loaded up our ride out to the campsite in the middle of the Antarctic Plateau.

Actually, not everybody rode the “Piston Bully,” a personnel transport on tracks. Chris and I decided it would be fun to ski. Somehow skiing to camp heightened the adventure of the experience.

Chris and I loaded our gear onto the Piston Bully (this is car camping, remember) and started off on skis behind the rest of the group. At first we skiied in the tracks churned up by the transport vehicle, but after skiing on the raw sastrugi (wavelike formations of windblown snow) we found we got much better glide.

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Polar Thanksgiving
South Pole Station, Antarctica

Here at the Pole, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday. And by celebrate, I mean we got the day off from work and consequently, our first two-day weekend of the season. To celebrate, we had a big turkey dinner on Saturday night.

But I’m not writing to tell you how amazing the food was, how interesting it was to see everyone dressed up (relatively speaking – these are people I normally see in heavy work overalls, huge jackets, and frost-covered face masks, neck gaiters and goggles). Nor is this about the dance party that ensued after I had a nice long sit watching a movie (because we can’t get any football games on TV).

This is a story about the next day. The day I joined my first off-station Antarctic expedition.

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President’s Weekend Sierra Ski Trip
Carson Pass - June Mountain, Sierra Mountains, California, United States

What started off as a day a the ‘office’ up at Carson Pass testing our latest prototypes of snowshoes, turned into a great weekend of some in and out of bounds skiing and snowboarding. The story is in the photos… maybe something more will flush out here some day!

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Tele Part II
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California, United States

It was an all day event. Departing Berkeley at 6am, Mark and I caravaned up with a family he met while doing a newspaper story on Social Security. We were on the snow by 9.30. We started on the Red Dog chair which departs right from the parking lot. The snow was still cool, but […]

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