Sunday, March 5, 2017

You call that a liner?

When I first bought a pair of Galibier SuperGuides I was warned to get neoprene sheets and cut them to fit the footprint. The insole of the superGs were beautifully crafted, hard leather. Along with the steel shank you could not have a more perfect conductor of cold from crampons strapped on to them (which is what they were for.) I dutifully used them, and they did cut down on the cold, but I also appreciated the additional cushioning. Fast forward about 35 years and I still like a nice insole, especially with my very flat and flattening feet. I use the term 'insole', 'footbed', and 'liner' interchangeably throughout this rant. 

(Benjamin Dulchin sporting said Galibier Super Guides in their 3rd decade, somewhere on the Sisters in the Adirondacks I think)

I'm a long time user of Superfeet's green, and at least one pair of orange insoles. I like their new black ones just as much as all I've used. The holes in the forefoot seem like they might breathe better, but I not sure and have used them only in cool and cold weather. The holes do cut some minor amount of weight. Maybe they are supposed to look cool and I’m overthinking it. They do last less long than professional leather orthodics, more on the pros below.

Custom orthotics insoles (what I used to call boot liners) are a luxury and arguably fit your individual feet best. Superfeet does offer a range of off-the-rack insoles for high arch/volume, etc. Except for the most specialized custom orthopedic applications, like for very small last ski boots (think Dynafit TLT 5s, more on that later) or other weird shapes, I'd use these. You can always trim them. I like to buy them to fit, which they do, and well. A good fit is also as warm as that specific boot will ever get. If you have a good fit on your boot you can focus on climbing or skiing as well as you can, whatever that means. Uncomfortable feet generally drive normal folks from the sport by which they experience that discomfort.

Cousin Joseph Hooper after almost stepping out of generously sized boots in the Catskills (Spiral Staircase?)

The insoles/liners these sometimes replace are those stock ones included by boot manufacturers who would like to sell you their $600 mountaineering or $900 AT boots. They should put these in there as stock, or something of similar quality. La Sportiva is the only one who includes footbeds which I'll repurpose/cut down for my child. The others are a placeholder, an admission by the manufacturer that it's not included in the price of their premium boot. It's similar to upgrading to an Intuition or Paulau moldable ski boot full liners (which top manufacturers do include): those who offer a premium boot should include a premium footbed/insole/liner. I think these are enough of a mountain standard that manufacturers of high-end boots should make them standard. And I like them in approach and work shoes too. If not Superfeet, then something comparable.

So when is it worth plunking down an additional $300-600 for custom orthodic footbeds from a professional? When nothing else works. I used Steve Rueda for some great TLT5s which were way too narrow for anything (, and he was at the low end of the range. The ones he made were based on bamboo and as a skier he totally nailed it. They are so good I use them in my TLT6s, really nothing like it. But when I presented my old Batura 1.0s, he asked if they were comfortable with stock aftermarket insoles, and declined to make customs because I said yes. I have also had street shoe orthos and while nice, the cost is rarely worth it. Except when it is.

So the blog title is from a (?) joke. A man in a trench coat walks up to an aged female fellow passenger on the subway platform. He opens the coat and exposes himself to her. She looks at his open coat, then looks up at him and says 'You call that a lining?'

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mo Wasatch

Just another pair of busy days in a small fluffy range in middle america...first three and last 6 images are copyright Andrew McLean, the rest are mine.

It was not just good skiing, but exceptional. About half a foot of new on top of a compressible consistent base which did not slide much. We did not ski very steep because of recent snowfall.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Way Back in the Wasatch

By far the best January in the Wasatch I've seen in a decade. The gear was fine. As Andrew says anything skis powder well. We both went big (99 mm and 105ish in the waist) and that was the way to go. It was actually about 5 to 10 inches of fresh on a soft, compressible base. Every day for over a week. Just about as good as it gets. And we took my 9 year old out for his first real backcountry skin and ski. His kit worked well too. Nice for $25 rear-entry Nordica boots and a nice setup of kid's Hagan and skins under small sized Fritchis and god did I mention the snow was great. I skied TLT lights on Denalis with T7s and Andrew is on new Scarpa Maestral's with Dynafit Verts (?) on BD Helio and seems very happy with their blizzard made fine finish skis. 

 Entering Brighton BC via Crest Lift 
Copyright Andrew McLean
 Andrew tells Toby about butter in hot coco on expeditions
Copyright Andrew McLean
  Hitting the skin track into Andrew's zone
Copyright Andrew McLean

 look at that 

  And he stripped Toby's skins and put them on. No, 9 year olds can't apply and remove their own ski skins. Yet.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Back in Salt Lake City

It would be a lie to state that I attend the Outdoor Retailer show every winter for work alone. And nobody would believe me anyway. However, this year was good on many fronts, both in terms of seeing old friends in the industry and making a few new ones, and some really nice skiing. I participated for the 2nd time ever in 'demo day' at Solitude, where you can ski some great boards and the entire mountain for $40. On a run to the top I took SolBright - right between that ski area and Brighton, and was very pleasantly surprised. The skiing was great on piste, but as I was taking one of many 'acclimatizing breaks' two locals stopped to ask where I was from. When I admitted Brooklyn, and they confessed to be locals, I thought the conversation might grind to a halt. Not so - they quietly told me a route through some low angle trees where I found fresh powder aplenty. I'm not sure how many folks would usually be so generous, but it set a great tone for the trip.

I did actually go to work the show, but the weekend was my time to catch up with legendary guru Andrew McLean, who had enticed me with a stellar view of the Pfeifferhorn from Red Pine the previous year. He thought I was up for it, so we made a plan. Two very fit friends joined, and we were off. A 7am trailhead start was slowed a bit by malfunctioning water bladders (avoid them) and then we were off.

At Red Pine Lake we took a break and got a good view of the ridge. The peak is not the Pfeiff, but is on the way there. The skiing between the clumps of trees was just as fantastic as it looks, as was our second run to the left of the left-most trees.

Copyright Andrew McLean

This is our brief but stressful boot up to the ridge which leads to the Pfeiff. We had fantastic weather until we achieved the ridge, when things got pretty socked in. 

Once we got to the base of the col which then leads to the last 500 or so feet of climbing, we considered our options. 2 of us had no climbing experience, and only 2 of us had headlamps. An attempt was not going to get us much of a view, and would have returned us home after dark. We decided to try another day, but were favored with a very brief view of a peak I'll be back to enjoy again some day.

The ride back down the plateau was non-eventful, but the reversing of the very loose power/rock section below the ridge was far from trivial. No accidents on the job, but it felt a lot like ski mountaineering.

After that the fun began, and we skied the terrain pictured above Red Pine lake. It was the best powder I've had in about 5+ years and well worth the effort.

Size of smiles = quality of company and skiing. I'll be back next year for sure. Thanks as always to Andrew, who continues to demonstrate a high tolerance for my pokey ways.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More Torch Songs

Gregory Rukavina has more intimacy with his inner child than most kids I know. He's also a phenomenal teacher, whether it's chess or 5.0 chimney moves. He was generous as always with his time this past weekend at the Trapps with Tobias, who is always comfortable with his guidance.
No the angle of this image has not been modified to make the participants look even more manly...
Yes, there was a bit of trepidation...
but the chimney behind Laurel proved enjoyable, to a point.
and afterwards a brief break.
and a faint ghost of Muir haunted the woods of New York this weekend...