Monday, December 14, 2015

Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada camp

Well, we missed the boat on Asulkan this year, but the Alpine Club of Canada generously provided us space at Bow Hut for a couple of days of eat-ski-sleep-repeat. The glacier toe made for some easy laps and we were able to mostly able get to the fresh snow before the wind got to it.

Bow Hut. With shit barrel capacity for 30 people!

heading up for a frigid Mt. Gordon lap. Some crevasse weaving on the icefield.

Martha finding great snow down to the hut. She and Michelle cooked some delicious food!

Adam as well.
Rocky down low, but good snow higher up where it is sheltered from the wind.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vert 180 Report

Another Vert 180 in the bag. The final hour was as painful as it's ever been.

Bill with the Old English feed zone
The Vert 180 is likely the biggest contributor to the growth of ski mountaineering in Canada. With the race being in the middle of a city on a Saturday night, the sport gains massive exposure, with only Christmas parties to distract people. Ski boots and skis for "everyday" touring have approached the weight of race setups from 5 years ago. With that said, I was musing on the drive over about how the growth has been slow and I wasn't expecting much of a showing. MEC  has carried decent race skis and boots on and off for a couple of years, yet unsold skis always find their way to the clearance racks. As a weekend warrior, it can be a hard sport to train for, when the most effective way to train is to ski in the mountains, something only a dedicated few can do more than on the weekends.

But I was surprised to see a packed pre-race presentation theatre and a bunch of new race gear scattered about. Will there be a new challenger this year?

The usual suspects lined up on the front row, Travis having just finished marking the up-route. Melanie begged me not to take my usual speedy start, and I actually considered listening to her but the excitement of a fresh season, fast skins, and light gear took over. Off the line cadence was fast and speed felt effortless. The uproute was set at the perfect angle and quickly a gap was formed. Travis joined me after admiring the long line of racers behind, and took the lead with some fast transitions while I had some minor missteps.

Lap 2 with Melanie still nipping at my heels, I closed to within conversation distance of Travis, keeping the cadence lightning fast. The first 50 minutes flew by and I established my hold of 2nd place while keeping Travis in sight. My mind was somewhat impaired from the effort but I was able to maintain focus and improved my transitions.

The last hour was tough. My cadence dipped on the sidehill section and lap after lap I came into the bootpack almost blown.  Travis was disappearing from sight, and my gap over Melanie and Steve behind was no longer widening, in fact it dramatically decreased in the final 2 laps. Still those fast laps at the beginning make me think this was my best Vert 180 yet. 17 laps of the 150m hill.

Once again the hamburger and fries at the end brought me back to life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Helmets for Ski Mountaineering

If you are thinking of upgrading your racing helmet to something lighter like the Petzl Scirroco, 165g or Black Diamond Vapor, 189-199g it’s probably a good idea to hold off. For 2016/17 ISMF season, dual climb and ski certifications (EN 12492/UIAA 106 and EN 1077 class B) will be required. This is certainly a step in the right direction as the potential for head injuries in a ski mountaineering race are more likely due to crashing than from rockfall. But there aren’t many dual certified helmets on the market right now! 

Cebe Trilogy 280-360g

Kong Cosmos/ Cosmos Full, 350g. “Full” version comes with earflaps, but both appear to have EN 1077 certification.

Dynafit SR Race/Salewa Xenon, 320g (The Dynafit helmet is now discontinued, the Salewa one has limited NA distribution)

Dynafit Radical Helmet. I've only seen one site advertise this one as being dual certified.

Salomon MTN, 280g (brand new helmet for 2016 season)

Camp Pulse, 285-355g (must be worn with winter kit to be EN 1077 certified)

Ski Trab Sintesi, 270g (this is now discontinued. This is the only dual certified helmet I have seen that does not come with earflaps.)

Mammut Alpine Rider, 334-359g.

Uvex P.8000 388g

Scott Couloir 525g
Scott Couloir 2 355g

Casco Gams

Alpina Snow Tour, 330g. 

Sweet Protection Igniter Alpinist, 500g

Julbo Freetourer, 

It is interesting to note that the CAMP Pulse is only EN 1077 certified if worn with the winter kit. I wonder if this is the case for the other helmets? North American availability of these helmets is also an issue as it appears that only the CAMP Pulse and Mammut Alpine rider are easily available here.
For EN 12492 Helmets for Mountaineers, the helmet is impacted with two different 5kg strikers (one hemispherical and one flat. The hemispherical striker is dropped from 2m onto the top-front area of the helmet, and the flat striker is dropped on the front, sides, and rear of the helmet. Transmitted force cannot exceed 10kN. The helmet is also tested for penetration with a 3kg conical striker dropped from 1m.

For EN 1077 Ski and Snowboard Helmets, the helmet is mounted on a headform and dropped from a height of 1.5m. Peak acceleration cannot exceed 250G’s. A penetration test is performed as well with the helmet dropped at 10km/hr onto a conical striker (class B).
250G’s is still quite a large acceleration and even the best ski helmet has limited potential to protect against angular accelerations (something that the MIPS system tries to account for).

Note: After attending the 2017 ISMF World Championships, I did not see anyone racing with earflaps. CAMP has a new dual certified helmet coming, but all CAMP athletes were using the Pulse (without earflaps). Some skiers from Greece, Japan, and Iran didn't even bother to buy dual certified helmets and were still allowed to race.