Monday, February 23, 2015

Catching the corn before Winter returns.

My brother recently visited from our old home of Steamboat Springs Colorado with a couple of over-sized grown up toys to play with in the spring  like conditions of the Wasatch! Thanks to his wife for loaning her Specialized Fatboy to my wife, I then secured a Salsa Mukluk from the cool folks at Go-Ride sports. Conditions were mere guess work as this is a fairly new sport here and finding "daily ride" conditions is really hard. It only took about a mile of dry road before we got onto snow and even though we had a late start conditions were now great for the 4.7 inch tires with 6 psi.
The views are very impressive from the road, but we were hoping to find some firm corn which would allow for an almost endless choice of routes. Due to our late start, the higher we went the warmer the snow was feeling and the less our options became.

We stuck to the snowmobile tracks as these had the most stable base to keep us floating, but once we hit the highway summit we realized our tour was hitting it's return mode. The next day would change dramatically with lower temperatures and a lake effect[ storm.
Wow, what a day can do in the mountains! We actually made it to the summit of Guardsmen pass in the blizzard and decided the visibility was only getting worse, plus we were both ready to dry out,warm up and find some breakfast.
Meanwhile, back in the valley we had to get Blue out on at least one trail as the Wasatch canyons are all watersheds and do not allow dogs up any of them. The reliable Bonneville shoreline trail is always fun and even funnerer on a Fatty!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's skiing like April

I truly don't have anything to complain about in the BIG picture, so I will try to sound optimistic on this short post. Even with the lack of fresh snow deposits on a consistent basis and above "normal" temperatures the higher ground always holds a revitalizing sense of place. Today at Solitude Mountain Resort I watched these 2 ski patrollers scaling Fantasy ridge to test the snow stability of the honeycomb cliffs.
While we couldn't wait for them to summit my new skier athlete friend Jason and I went to see how the 3" dusting would play out this beautiful morning.
Solitude is home to a ton of these twisted, gnarled Bristle cone pines that can be great for a backdrop of powder skiing. Real fun snow for just a few inches.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday with friends.

Although this hasn't been a banner year in or out of bounds, touring with friends is always good!  Today was another first for me to this little mound of goodness up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  My tour guides chose to return  back here from the previous day saying there was plenty still to be enjoyed.
 Leading the haul was my awesome cousin Kate Kopischke along with brothers Ralph and Bill Becker.
Playing around with some settings on the Fuji X-T1 I found you can move the "tilt-shift" to any where the focus point is.
Ralph Becker taking the lead for a bit while I admire the  aspens..... I think I see my line!
And for all that, you are often rewarded with stellar views of the surrounding Solitude.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Still finding Solitude.

Solitude Mountain Resort is a new and unfamiliar playground for me. Finding the ideal shooting spots can often take years to learn and I have a hard time with that. Fortunately, the other day I was  introduced to my new favorite action hero, a veteran athlete and Big Cottonwood local by the name of Jason West.
This was going to be a great day!
A locals knowledge is good, but a veteran athlete's is really good! As a bonus some new terrain was opening and with the warmer temps and clear skies it would be a challenge to find the lighter snow.
After a big traverse we found some surprisingly light and unnoticed lines to work with.
Solitude is a quaint ski resort soon to experience some upgrades from the recent acquisition with Deer Valley.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mindshift gear bag review

I was recently fortunate enough to test out a unique new photo backpack style bag by the makers at www.mindshiftgear.com a sister company to www.thinktankphoto.com. The particular model I got to work with is the rotation 180  Panorama, and is the smaller of the 2 photo dedicated models. After sizing it up with my Canon 5D MK III and lenses I decided to use my "lighter rig" Fuji's mirrorless X-T1, 10-24 F4 ois and 18-55 F2.8-4. I had been using a Lowepro 200 AW bag all summer long with this kit for lighter shoots and a lot of mountain biking and would now try similar lighter Winter adventures with the Panorama.
I had to test this bag in bounds at a ski resort before it goes in the back country so I opted for the world class runs of Alta ski area, with the towering Mt. Superior in the back drop.
I decided to make some "mark ups" to the areas I liked and dis-liked on the bag to help with the visuals.
Let's start with the straps, ample padding and great curvature to stay snug around the neck and comfortable on the shoulders when loaded down.
I had to utilize the tripod attachments in order to mount my skis in case Main chute opens and I have to dash up there. This eliminates bringing a tripod though. Would like to see the typical "snack pouches" I've gotten used to on all my other packs? It shouldn't hinder the rotation 180 at all and would keep the idea of not taking your bag off for access more consistent.
There is a top strap on both sides for what I hoped to hold a pair of skis, there just isn't a lower strap to stabilize the skis. The top strap seems more for extra clothes or for tightening a lighter load. Also would like to see a shovel slot somewhere. Once again I don't think ski mountaineering was the intention for this sized bag I just wanted it to compete with my Lowepro 200 AW that does hold a shovel in the back compartment. Great zipper pulls though and easy to grab with a ski glove too.
This is the whole concept of the bag, to not remove your back pack every time you use your camera! The apex of this bag I believe is the speed and unique way at which you can access the main camera compartment without taking the bag off. To get the full schematics please visit the site to see in greater detail how this works and the accessories you can add on at www.mindshiftgear.com .
The hipbelt can be used separately for smaller trips and I also found that if you rotate the hip bag forward before loading a lift you can keep the back pack on while the lower compartment compresses enough keeping you deep in the chair instead of feeling like your getting pushed off the whole time. Not fun!
There is a hydration pouch on the left side (2 liters or smaller) which I didn't get to test because all of my bladders are 3 liters and I did try all of them with no avail.
It would be nice to have seen a strap system underneath the main bag for extra clothing or a lighter tripod attachment too.
I think this bag is revolutionary for "fast access" photography when time constraints are against you like in bounds ski-action on a powder day, mountain bike rides with impatient riders or even back country skiing where a speedy exit in hazardous conditions would keep your gear with you? Mobility and speed are the advantages with this system.
 Will this totally eliminate my other bag and be the end all to the perfect smaller bag search, not yet. If you want gear protection while hiking, the fastest access ever to your camera with room for a day hike I would highly recommend the Panorama! My take is a very critical one because this helps progression and I realize there is always room for advancement in man made objects.



Thursday, January 8, 2015

The air out there!

This is going to be a short post, because I had to test out some new product (good plug) www.buyc2.com before the air gets any worse in our beloved city of Salt Lake. As an outdoor adventure sports paradise you might find it odd that there is such a battle with something as simple as breathing while enjoying life outdoors. There are often many smaller contributors to poor air quality but sometimes there are large contributors too. I won't go into detail but (bad plug) www.stericycle.com has been independently tested to be a MAJOR player in the degradation of Salt Lake city's AQI (air quality index). It doesn't stop some of us, but it does slow many people down from enjoying the city they pay taxes in. Today is an orange day or USG (Unsafe for Sensitive Groups). If you are ever curious about your air just visit www.airnow.gov .
Perhaps I should follow the girl with the dog and run away from the brown cloud?
Yes, that is the downtown of SLC.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Last photo of 2014

I decided to brave the cold of the Canyons Resort last night for their NYE torchlight and fireworks display. With the help of a clear sky, 3/4 moon and ample snow cover I managed to put together one decent compilation image of the festivities. Make 2015 a great year!