In early-April my Dad, my cousin, and I were fortunate enough to spend two spectacular days on Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc. Both days came at the beginning an eleven day ski trip we took to France/Switzerland. Though we headed to Chamonix with no particular agenda in mind, I think we were all hoping weather and conditions would align for us to spend a few days high on Europe’s “White Mountain”. Well align they did, and on the morning of the third day of our trip we found ourselves being pulled upwards through the clouds via cable car towards the mid-station of the Aiguille du Midi tram. Our destination: the Grand Mulets hut (10,009 feet) at the west end of the Bossons Glacier. Keep reading…

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, with more than 10+ miles lying above 11,000 feet. Contrary to popular belief, the entire road is actually always “open”. You just can’t bring your car with you from October through June. With the absence of a motorized vehicle and the addition of snowshoes, even an easy peak, one just a half mile off of the road like “Trail Ridge”, becomes quite a feat. Scot drew up the plan. It included 3 ranked peaks that would make any driveaneer drool in the summer. While Scot was certainly up to the task, I was unsure if I had it in me after sitting in a chair for 3 months, but knew that I had to give it a go. Fast forward to Friday and we both found ourselves standing at the gate at Many Parks Curve ready to put in some miles. Keep reading…

I’ve been meaning to ski Mount Toll’s classic South Face for years now. Toll can be easily previewed from a number of vantage points around Boulder and the Front Range, as well as its neighbors, which saves the aspiring skier a lot of gas money on wasted reconnaissance. Ron Haddad’s “Front Range Descents” includes a number of routes from the Mitchel/Blue Lakes region and Toll seems to get the most raving reviews. When you get up there, it certainly steals the show. Before the toll road opens to the summer trailheads, its a bit of a trek to get back in there, but can be worth your while, depending on your tolerance threshold for longer(ish) approaches. Keep reading…

The Flylow Higgins Jacket, one of the companies most consistent products year in, year out – is a skier’s dream. First, I’ll disclose the only con I’ve found with the jacket – the weight. For a tourer who goes deep in to the backcountry often and likes to count ounces, this might not be a good match, as the fabric is thick and the bells and whistles of the interior of the jacket may not be necessary for some. For anyone who wants a durable shell that’ll help you feel perfectly content with whatever crap mother nature throws at you – you will get along very well with this piece of gear. I bring it on all my tours – long and short – and the functionality of the jacket was obviously well thought out.

It’s not really a hardshell, but its also not ┬áreally a true softshell – its a true hybrid. It’s got a moderate amount of stretch, but it also would take a bowie knife from John J Rambo to penetrate its fabric. There are also pit zips, a characteristic more common with a hardshell, and they are almost snag free and easy to open and close on the go. I’m 5’11 185 with a 36″ waist and the large was taylor made for my frame. It comes with all the standard features as well – water tight zippers, helmet compatible hood, numerous pockets, DWR finish (20k/20k), etc. Keep reading…

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