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2015 Goggle Gear Guide

September 26, 2015
Backcountry Essentials

2015 BCE Goggle Gear Guide

We’ve just received a shipment of Smith Optic Goggles. There are a lot of great, made-in-America options to choose from, so here is a guide to help with some of the features of each!

SMith Optics I/O7 

  • Quick-release lens change
  • Lens pivots to fit different helmets and faces
  • Smith’s Largest Spherical Lens
  • 5X Anti-Fog Technology (Smith’s highest level)


  • Quick-release lens change
  • Spherical Lens
  • 5X Anti-Fog Technology (Smith’s highest level)


  • Interchangeable Lens’
  • Extra Large Spherical Lens
  • 5X Anti-Fog Technology (Smith’s highest level)


  • Semi-rimless frame design
  • Outriggers for helmet integration
  • Potex filter for preventing optical distortion during changes in elevation
  • Fog-X anti-fog coating
  • Interchangeable Lens’


  • Semi-rimless frame design
  • Massive cylindrical lens
  • Fog X anti-fog coating
  • Fully integrated strap connection for worry-free riding
  • Interchangeable Lens’


  • One of Smith’s Best-Sellers
  • Airflow lens technology
  • Interchangeable Lens’

Knowledge Turbo Fan OTG

  • Over-the-glass (OTG) Techonology (Accommodates eyeglasses)
  • Two-speed micro-electric exhaust fan
  • 5X Anti-Fog Technology (Smith’s highest level)

Knowledge OTG

  • Over-the-glass (OTG) Techonology (Accommodates eyeglasses)
  • Adjustable lens ventilation


  • Designed specifically for women
  • Fog-X anti-fog coating


  • Designed specifically for kids
  • Over-the-glass (OTG) Techonology (Accommodates eyeglasses)
  • Fog-X anti-fog inner lens


  • Designed specifically for kids
  • Designed for wintry conditions
  • Fog-X anti-fog inner


  • Designed specifically for kids
  • Fog-X anti-fog inner lens

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Petzl Corax

August 26, 2015
by Ian Mayer

The Petzl Corax is a great multi-use harness, especially for those who are either just getting into the sport of rock climbing, or those who want one harness that can do any job pretty well.

The Corax has all of the features of a great cragging harness: light weight, durable, and simple. It has two gear loops on each side, as well as an extra small loop on each side, which can be used to rack ice screws in the winter. All of the buckles (two on the waist and one on each leg) are double-buckled and therefore just need to be tightened in order to be used properly. The waist and leg loops have enough padding to endure some hanging, but you may want to search for something more comfortable if you’ll be on a larger wall with consistent hanging belays.

What makes the Corax a great multi-use harness is how much it is able to adjust. The most notable feature of the Corax is that it has two adjustment points at the waist, which make it easy to always fit your belay loop centered, no matter how many layers you have on. The leg loops adjust to be big enough to use with mountaineering or ski boots, and the leg loops detach from the back so you can wear the harness on a bivy ledge or when nature calls.

While there are more specialized harnesses out there for the different disciplines of mountaineering, the Corax is able to excel at rock climbing, while doing a pretty good job at everything else.

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MSR Whisperlite International

June 13, 2015
by Mattias Evangelista

MSR has been one of the most recognized names in camping stoves for decades, and for good reason. At the heart of MSR's impressive stove line is the Whisperlite International. Simple, proven design makes this my go to stove for almost every occasion. Weighing in at just under 16oz the Whisperlite packs extremely light, yet I'm constantly impressed with its quick cook time. I average about a 5 minute boil time, and have no trouble cooking meals for multiple people. The versatility of being able to switch between white gas and kerosene is incredibly handy, especially when traveling out of the U.S.. hence the "International" name. The only knock I have against the stove is a lack of a "simmer" option. However, this has never been an issue for me and if you can achieve a simmer level of flame by removing the gas bottle, relieving the pressure, re attaching the fuel and pumping fewer times than normal. I would highly recommend this product to anyone looking for a simple, reliable stove that performs great at any elevation.

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Boulder X Mid GTX

April 22, 2015
Backcountry Essentials

Just like it's shorter brother the Boulder X mid GTX has proved to be a great versatile shoe. I have had a pair of the boulder x's for the last 2 years and love the shoe. From wearing them around town to scrambling around larabee to hiking down to lost lake the shoe gives good grip and fits snug on the foot due to the mythos lacing system. So I was exicited to see LaSportiva come out with a taller version. It still fits snug in the toe for those steeper scrambles or inpromptu bouldering sessions but is really comfortable right out of the box. I was actually really suprised how comfortable asnd lightweight these puppies are. The added ankle support is much appreciated and also keeps unwanted hitchikers out of your shoe (something the boulder x isnt very good at doing). The almost full wrap rand keeps them tough in the scree and protects the leather.  I haven't had a chance to put the Gore-Tex to the test but it's nice to have it in there. Having a full leather upper I would still waterproof with Obenauf's or Snowseal if I was planning on taking them through a stream or in the snow.  All in all LaSportiva has created the perfect lightweight all around hiker/approach shoe, lightweight and comfortable enough to wear around town on wet winter days but supportive enough to take to the trail/approach.

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Big Agnes Boot Jack 24

April 18, 2015
by Mattias Evangelista

I feel "bang for you buck" is the best way to describe the BootJack. For $179 you get a 24 degree bag with DownTek,  features that would run you well into the $200 price range with competing bags. As far as performance goes, the Boot Jack has gone above and beyond my expectations pretty much across the board. As far as pack-ability and weight goes, it does pretty well,  packing down to about 8 inches by 8 inches and weighing in at just over 2 pounds. In terms of fit the bag is true to size and provides ample arm and leg room. Where the bag really shines is with its durability and use of DownTek. I recently took this bag out to the Washington Coast for a surf trip. A misreading of the tide charts and camping a bit too close to the water resulted with my friends and I waking up at 2am to waves rolling into the foot our tent and totally soaking the bottom half of my bag. Despite the unwelcome addition of moisture the DownTek fabric lived up to its reputation and the bag continued to a great job of keeping me warm for the rest of the trip. My only complaint with the Boot Jack is the zipper. It seemed to get caught on excess material pretty easily, never badly, and I wouldn't call it an "issue" just enough to be noticeable. Overall, this is an awesome bag for an awesome price offering great durability and function for any adventure. 

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Sea to Summit X- Pot 2.8L

April 12, 2015
by Jon Dorman

I have been a big fan of Sea to Summit’s X series ever since I first got an XL bowl. For those who are unfamiliar, the X series includes fully collapsible bowls, mugs, plates and now a fully featured cooking pot. They use high grade heat resistant silicone as the walls to be able to fold flat when not in use. I had doubts about how strong the pot sides would be especially when the pot is fully loaded with food, but the X-Pot is plenty stout. When sea to summit says fully featured pot they aren’t kidding, it has a hard anodized aluminum base, a BPA free durable lid with built in strainer holes, and handles that double as stays to keep the lid on when storing. It also has a nesting design and can fit 2 X-mugs and 2 X bowls inside the pot when folded down. It performed just about as good at retaining heat as my traditional aluminum cookware. The only downside to this pot is you have to be careful not to turn up your stove too high as the silicone shouldn’t be exposed to direct flame. That being said the aluminum base is plenty wide to contain most any camp stoves flame. This pot is a great addition to any camp cook set. It comes in 3 sizes a 1.4 liter perfect for 1 person, a 2.8 liter pot perfect for 2 people, or a 4.0L Pot for those who are truly hungry.

By Jon Dorman

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Arc’Teryx Khamski 48 Backpack

January 31, 2014
Backcountry Essentials

The Arc'teryx Khamski48 is a backpack specifically designed for the skier. Whether you are a Mt. Baker Ski Patroller doing morning control work or a backcountry enthusiast on the Isolation traverse, this pack has what you need.

I recently used the Khamski48 on a 3 day trip into the Monte Cristo subrange and was very impressed with its versatility, comfort and functionality.  It’s a clean pack and has no unnecessary frills. With its super burly construction using AC2 urethane treated fabric on the top and front panel, you never have to worry about the wet outside environs creeping into the sacred dry zone that is your backpack. Accompanied with a 420 denier rip-stop nylon, this pack is made to withstand the test of time. The high-density 80 foam back panel allows for minimal moisture absorption while creating a good level of stability. Its ergonomic shape is well thought out and creates a comfortable next-to-body fit.  The aluminum M-bar stays enable the 48 liters to be fully utilized and carried comfortably.  They can also be easily removed along with the lid for those quick dawn patrol tours up Mt. Herman.  Skis or split boards can be carried securely in either A-frame or diagonal fashion and won’t interfere with your rope and ice tools. It has several smaller pockets to aid organization. The huge wet pocket is my favorite feature because it's spacious enough for shovel, probe, skins and crampons.

Bottom line, this would be a welcome addition to any skier’s gear closet.

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Monte Cristo 1/18/14-1/20-14

January 31, 2014
Backcountry Essentials

Saturday 18


Met my brother at the Marysville Park and Ride Saturday after work.  I hopped in with him for the remainder of the 40 or so miles out the Mountain Loop Hwy.  Once we arrived at the Barlow Pass Trailhead, we sorted gear while sharing a couple of pre-slumber beers.   


Sunday 19


Left the trailhead at 2400ft and arrived at the river crossing within the hour.  The first bridge is washed out and fortunately we found a large tree down that offered an easy solution.  It was still dark at this time so we wasted a little time making it across but ended up on the other side nonetheless.  The old mining town of Monte Cristo is located an easy 4 miles up the Old Monte Cristo Townsite Trail.  It is a great mountain bike approach in the spring because it is a large gravel road.  It currently has enough snow coverage on it to allow skinning from the car. If the weather continues on its current trend then the snow won’t be there for long. 



Reached the ghost town that is Monte Cristo, at around 2800ft.  We spent a while poking around and drinking coffee.  It's not safe to drink form any of the running water sources due to mine tailings. 



Heading up the Glacier Basin Trail (719) out of Monte Cristo we were forced to put the skis on the back due to low snow coverage.  It was only a quarter of a mile before it opened up, and we hit a sufficient snow base.  At approximately 2900ft, break southeast and climb to the obvious 4800ft saddle.  It will keep you from climbing directly up Granite Falls and out of Glacier Creek, which is choked with avy debris and carries large avalanche hazard from a shedding Cadet Peak.  Once you reach the saddle it dumps you right into Glacier Basin.  We followed the summer trail along the creek and it was a pain.



Stopped in Glacier Basin, 4600ft.  At this point we decided to climb to the north notch of Monte Cristo.  We opted for booting the entire face because of the hard conditions. It ended up being a pleasant climb.  While transitioning from skins to crampons we enjoyed a nice bag of lasagna.  Yum.



Made it to the north notch, 6800ft.  The wind was nil and we took our time watching the sun drop behind Wilmans Peaks.  At this point we decided to ski down and follow the Columbia crest, essentially traversing a hanging snowfield.  Our plan was to camp at the col between Columbia and Wilmans splitting Glacier Basin and the 76 Glacier.  We encountered some snow conditions we didn’t like.  There were wind loaded pockets along with some wind buffeted Styrofoam.  Upon further inspection we found a weak layer approximately 16” down.  We decided to change gears and camp in Glacier Basin. 


Monday 20


Spent the morning scoping lines and milling about.  Ended up deciding to head out due to poor ski conditions.  There was a ton of potential just nothing worth skiing at the time.  We exited via the 4800ft saddle I mentioned earlier.  We encountered a little bit of slide alder but still exponentially better than the summer trail route.  And after all, what’s a trip in the Cascades with out a bit of slide alder bush whacking?



Back at the car with a cold Rainier to celebrate success.


Getting There

The Barlow Pass Trailhead is located 30 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Hwy.   The Old Monte Cristo Townsite Trail is located just across the road from the parking area for the Barlow Point Trail 709.

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Maestrale RS Boot Review

November 19, 2013
Backcountry Essentials

Scarpa Maestrale RS


Size Reviewed: 28.5
Skier: 6 ft 2 in, 180lbs
Skied with:
Moment Bibby Pro 191
Dynafit Radical FT


The time had come at last; I was no longer willing to hike uphill in a ski boot with minimal touring performance. I was very impressed with the new and improved touring boot from Scarpa, the Maestrale RS. After years of success with their classic Maestrale (bright orange!) boot, Scarpa decided to create a bigger stronger version for the more downhill focused skier. Although very similar to the older Maestrale, the RS has a few key upgrades that make for a far superior downhill focused boot, which sacrifices nothing on the uphill. With an easy to adjust and easy to fix ski/walk mechanism, this boot cruises uphill with ease, its huge range of motion (37 degrees) in tour mode can accommodate strides of many different lengths. The phenomenal walk mode of the RS is only complimented by the intuition liners that Scarpa includes. Touted as the most heat mold able liner on the market, the intuitions offer a huge range of adjustment that can keep feet of all shapes and sizes comfortable, both on the uphill, and on the down. In addition to being comfy, intuition liners are the warmest on the market, keeping feet warm even on the coldest of days. Weighing in at just over 1500 grams, this is on the lighter end of the boot spectrum, allowing you to save weight and go father on long ski tours.

I was nervous for my first day on these boots, having never before skied a boot so light. I was happily surprised, the Maestrale RS performs well in a variety of conditions, even happily charging through breakable crust with no second thoughts. The only place I found the RS to be lacking was during groomer turns in the ski area. Being a tall skier, when I really opened the throttle I would feel as if I were coming over the top of the slightly shorter touring cuff. A new somewhat loud paint scheme is the only other negative, and a negative that I can certainly live with.

Overall I am very happy with the Scarpa Maestrale RS. The boot handles a range of conditions, cruising uphill with ease and providing a stable platform to charge downhill with. The RS has become my boot of choice, both inbounds and out. Give it a try, it will not disappoint!

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White Chuck Mountain

September 23, 2013
by Karl Wiggins


Sept 19th & 21st

6989 ft

The Mountain:

            White Chuck is viewed from highway 530 leading into Darrington. Standing just north of Mt.Pugh. The round trip mileage is a mere 4 miles but don’t think it’s an easy walk up. From trail head to summit you gain 2000 ft, most done in the last mile of travel. The road leading up brings you high into the alpine bypassing the old growth forest that normally a long approach includes. I was getting off work that morning so a 4 mile hike and a late start was a perfect combination for me. The mountain begins with a beautiful walk through meadows and trees as you progress along the ridge eventually popping out into the open with summit in view, progress vertically through a series of ledges, including a mix of heather and rock. Be aware this climb is hazardous if done wet, the ledges and rock scrambling although fairly safe dry does have exposure especially on your descent could be hazardous if slick. Progressing onward minor rock scrambling and spectacular views will eventually lead you to an amazing summit. Sweeping vistas of Three Fingers, White Horse, Pugh, Sloan Glacier peak, Del Campo, El Dorado, Forbidden, are all included. Be cautious on your descent there is plenty of lose scree. White Chuck is a great climb I enjoyed it so much I did it twice that week

Getting There:

            Getting out to White Chuck Mountain is a little bit of a chore, but you will be thankful that the road system gets you so high up minimizing your approach through the tree line. Have in hand a map of the FS road systems and a quick drop into the ranger station in Darrington will help you in your quest to the trail head. State Route 530 leads into the center of Darrington. Take 530 towards Darrington when the road ends in a T take a left then a right on Sauk Prairie Road. Travel 1.5 miles till you reach Dan Creek FSR #24. Follow for 8.3 miles and you will see a road shoot off up-hill and to the left. There isn’t a sign,but the road is #2435 follow for 5 miles. You should end up on a ridge with fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the mountain itself, at the next fork stick to the right which leads you to 4800 feet and the trail head.

 What to Bring:

                  I brought a small day pack big enough for my camera gear plenty of water and a big lunch as well as my 10 essentials. A helmet isn’t a bad idea either especially with the scree and if there other climbers on the mountain that day. The views are amazing so a camera is a must also bringing a map to identify surround peaks is a joy from the summit and since it’s only a 4 mile round trip, a big lunch and taking it slow is recommended to enjoy this climb. During the week you won’t have to deal with folks but it’s possible on weekends to find a party or two. Enjoy!

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