Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: FiveTen Freerider VXi Elements

By the end of April, I got these shoes. After having a winter biking in my DH 5.10 boots, suffering cold and wet boots sometimes. So my decision for these shoes was based on looking for a 'winterized' version, and I read Aoife Glass review, that gave me a hint and I agree a lot.

Summers in Alaska, are wet and I used these shoes all summer for normal MTB riding. With thin socks for biking. That didn't gave a sweaty feet, or super warm feet. The DWR was able to repel water on the splashing. Unless (again) comes from the top or ankle. Talking about the grip, well, I don't know how that VXi flat sole works, but is sticky. That just work as magnet to the pins in the pedal.

Anyway. I wanted to use them for winter, so I did.

Knowing that I had to cover my ankle from snow I did shoe set up. Went for a pedal (pushing sometimes).
Usually riding around 20's/ lower 30's by the end of one hour I get my boots wet and cold feet. BUT with the FR Elements this didn't happen. My feet stayed warm all the time, using a normal Costco wool sock.

The Grip is good, even when the rubber feels hard as ice, they stick well in the platform, BUT I always check to have clean platforms. Snow can stick so easy in aluminium pedals, making chunks of ice sometimes.

The external material DWR helps not getting the shoe wet due snow. The density of snow is not as water, so it's harder to make the shoe wet. Also not easy for the snow to get inside from the laces. It repels snow so easy.
So, it works as I wanted, now let's wait for the boot version, You hear me Five Ten? ;)

---------------------------------------- ESPAÑOL -----------------------------------------------

Compre estos zapatos a finales de abril. Después de andar en bici en invierno con mis botas de DH, sufriendo a veces de pies mojados y fríos. Me decidí a comprar estos tenis por buscar una versión invernal, y leí el review de Aoife Glass review, que me ayudó a darme buenas ideas, en las que coincido.

Los veranos en Alaska, son lluviosos y use estos tenis para andar en bici casi todo el tiempo. Con calcetines delgados para ciclismo. Nunca sentí los pies acalorados o sudorosos, transpiran muy bien.
La protección contra agua es capaz de repeler agua al salpicar. A menos que entre por el calcetín o tobillo.
El agarre es increíblemente bueno, no se como, pero el hule lizo de los VXi se pega mágicamente al pedal.
Como un imán a los pines de los pedales.

De cualquier manera, yo quería usarlos en invierno, así que los probé.

Sabiendo que debía cubrir mi tobillo de la nieve, me ajusté los zapatos. Fui a pedalear (empujar a veces).
Usualmente podía andar an bici por una hora alrededor de los -10° C o 5° C con mis botas y terminar con pies fríos y botas mojadas. Pero con los Elements esto no pasó. Mis pies estuvieron calientes todo el tiempo, usando calcetines normales de lana, de Costco.

El agarre es bueno como lo mencioné. Incluso ahora con el frío el huele se endurece como hielo, pero se agarran muy bien a la plataforma. Pero siempre procuro tener los pedales limpios, porque es fácil que se congele la nieve en el pedal de aluminio, dejando pedazos de hielo en los pines.

La capa de afuera el tenis con protección contra agua, ayuda a que el zapato no se moje con la nieve. LA densidad de la nieve es diferente al agua, así que es más difícil que se moje. Tampoco es fácil que se meta la nieve por las agujetas, como con el agua. Repele la nieve muy fácil.

Por lo tanto, estos tenis funcionaron como yo esperaba, ahora hay que esperar a que hagan la versión bota. Me están oyendo Five Ten? ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MCA Ice Fest 2014

"Venga cabron!!!

The MCA (Mountaineering Club of Alaska) hosted the Ice Fest on the weekend of the 27th and 28th of September at the Matanuska glacier.
I got invited past years being not able to attend until 2014. This was first time.
When the rooster came up I was assigned to team 3, with Richard Baranow as instructor. Then I realized I was in a beginner group and we were ready to learn from walking in crampons... I guess this was result of answering the application form with some modesty as 'not much' in names of routes, or I still don't know. 
My friends were in other groups so I stayed in this one.
The big thing came when Richard told me that I could stay in the group and help if I could and if I got bored change team the next day. But at the end of the day I had a lot of fun.
The group was great, fun people and Richard taught us a lot from his experience. From walking to good and efficient ice climbing techniques.
The next day 2 members of the team left the group to go back to Anchorage, so they missed the fun of the second day; steeper ice and mock leading climbing.
Anyway, it was great to meet new people, refreshed climbing techniques and learn from others. We had chances to climb other teams ropes and test different ice axes.

Thanks to everyone for the good moments there, for the climbing, organizers and for enjoying this footage. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Black Diamond Hilight tent + Vestibule

This tiny winter 4 season tent looks and feels like a cheap light tent from the supermarket, but is not.

The Black Diamond Hilight tent, is intended for 1 person lounge (a lot of room for solo trips) OR the 2 person alpine attack shelter (where you gonna sleep like 4 hrs in a reduce space and keep climbing). Due to it's super light and fast to set up, 2.5 poles. 

The Weather-Proof Fabric
Its made from Nanoshield fabric. A fabric that stand for a water-proof single wall and breathable. My comments here is that it really keeps the water out, but one have to seam seal it just out of the box. 
Let's move to physics here and be clear, the material is water-proof intended for 4 seasons, which means more for snow, winds, or cold and dry conditions. That's why the ventilation is just 2 panels on top, and not the whole walls. So, that been said, when the weather is considerable warm and wet, rain is not gonna get through BUT condensation is gonna be the main issue inside. Lots of condensation as warmer it gets and humidity outside its higher. Like understanding Gore-Tex.

I have been using it in solo trips, really light, compact when packed and big space for me. I use a heavy use tarp in the floor, to protect the tent from the ground. The two poles stand across each other from the inside of the tent. It's easier to place the stakes first then the 2 poles inside and last the half pole on the roof, that creates a little awning in the canopy, really useful when getting in and out and keep roof stretched when is wet. Also if wind is hitting from either side, all the air gets redirected through the windows of the tent. A feature that is missing in the firstlight.  
The side wall door is wide open, so if there's two people sleeping there, the one inside has to jump over the other to get out. But both persons can be seating inside while cooking, putting boots on or simply feeling less like inside a dark cave. It's easy to hang it to dry and clean it. 

The Vestibule
Got this in spring, but recently found the vestibule online, due BD site is unavailable. So, the vestibule adds extra room, great for leaving shoes, boots or gear outside. Also is great for cooking under the rain with no problems. A little privacy extra space.

It has to be stretched with two stakes minimum. With option to add some cord to pull. The door can be open from both side and leave it rolled up. Or one side to get in and out. It uses one pole.

The way to attach the vestibule to the tent is by some hook to loops around the main door. The advantage of the vestibule is that now I can have the door open more time, with no worrying about rain, snow, wind. It has a little vent, so if the door is closed, there's still some ventilation. It adds a little weight to the camping trip, but it's a fancy accessory to have. 

I had this tent last winter, but didn't camp much, once in spring. Winter camping is going to be funnier now.


Esta pequeña casa de campaña de 4 estaciones parece y se siente como una baratija de supermercado, pero no lo es.

La Black Diamond Hilight tent, es intencionada a 1 persona (con mucho espacio para viajes en solo) O la típica de 2 personas para ataque alpino (donde uno duerme como 4 horas en espacio reducido y sigue escalando). Debido a que es super ligera y rapida de instalar, 2 varillas y media.

El Material 
Esta hecha de Nanoshield. Un material contra agua, de una sola pared y permeable. Mis comentarios aquí son que realmente si mantiene el agua de lluvia fuera, pero uno mismo tiene que sellar las costuras en cuanto la sacas de la caja.
Moviendonos un poco a la física y para ser claros, el material es contra agua, pero con la intención de ser 4 estaciones lo que significa, nieve, viento, frío y condiciones más secas. Es por eso que la ventilación solo son las dos ventanitas arriba y no los muros completos. Una vez dicho esto, cuando el clima es cálido y húmedo, la lluvia se mantendrá afuera, pero nos enfrentamos a condensación interna. Bastante condensación si no esta ventilada. Mientras más caliente el clima y alta humedad, más condensación habrá. Como el Gore-Tex.

La Estructura
Esta es mi casa de campaña en viajes en solo, es super ligera, compacta al cargar y con mucho espacio para mi. Siempre pongo una lona (lunatica) entre el piso y la casa de campaña, como protección. Las dos varillas van una cruzada de la otra de esquina a esquina. Es más fácil poner las estacas primero y después insertar las varillas y al final la tercer varilla que extiende el techo, creando una especie de marquesina a los lados. El techito ese es muy útil cuando uno sale y entra de la tienda y el techo está mojado. También si el viento pega de cada lado, el viento se encasilla bajo la marquesina, empujando el flujo de aire a través de las ventanas. Una característica que le faltó a la firstlight.  
La pared/puerta se abre de lado a lado ampliamente, por lo que si dos personas duermen ahí, una tiene que brincar a la otra para salir. Pero las dos personas pueden sentarse a comer, ponerse las botas o simplemente sentirse menos como en una cueva. Es fácil de colgarse para secar y limpiar.

El Vestíbulo

Apenas encontré el vestíbulo en Internet, debido a que BD siempre lo tiene como no disponible. El vestíbulo agrega espacio extra a la parte de afuera, perfecto para dejar el calzado o equipo. También es perfecto para cocinar bajo la lluvia sin problemas. Un poco de privacidad extra.

Tiene que estar clavado con dos estacas mínimo. Con opción a amarrarle algunos cordones y estirarlo más. La puerta se puede enrollar a cada lado al abrirse o solamente abrir una para salir y entrar. Utiliza una varilla extra.

La manera que se adiere el vestíbulo a la casa de campaña es con unos ganchitos a unos lazos alrededor de la puerta principal. La ventaja del vestíbulo es que ahora puedo tener la puerta abierta más tiempo, sin comprometer el interior a la lluvia, nieve o viento. Tiene una pequeña ventila en la parte superior, por lo que si la puerta está cerrada, todavía tiene cierta ventilación. Es un poco de peso extra a la mochila, pero vale la pena tener ese lujoso accesorio. 

Tengo la casa de campaña desde el invierno, pero no la utilicé mucho, solo una vez en primavera. 
Acampar en invierno va a ser más divertido.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Zipline in Talkeetna

Last weekend we went ziplining in Talkeetna.
I got a gift certificate for the zipline in the Oxygen & Octane 2013.
The prize was for winning a 3rd place in the Sportman's Adventure Film Fest with a video.
I thought it wasn't worth it to join the Film Fest, but after all I got a place.

And almost a year after... (and some days before the expiration day)... we went to Talkeetna; the climbers basecamp. With no so much mountain terrain in town, we walked around, eat local food and beer, tried some fishing and went to the zipline.

I have no planned video for this year, but if you are thinking about it, you should join the Film Fest.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Hang 2 in Alaska

So, we went to the DH park here in Alaska the other day ...

... and I finished that video, after using the Hang 2 Softride rack.
It was reviewed in the Hang 5 version by Geargals in previews times.

The good thing is that my wife is getting in to the DH park stuff... 
...the bad thing is that she likes my bike and I'm loosing rights on using it by myself. 

Let's keep hanging out & safe DH rides! \m/

Review: SealSkinz waterproof socks

I hear about Sealskinz in the winter, when all my feet got wet biking in the snow. Looking the get better biking shoes, I read about this combo of some Elements Five Ten shoes with Sealskinz socks.

This rainy summer, those shoes had been my new Mountain Biking flat pedals shoes. Which I'll speak about them later, in the winter, after trying them in the snow. But for now I want to talk about the socks.

I have been using the socks more than just biking.
Hiking, running, walking, fishing.

The technology in this socks is base on layers, from the inside with some soft merino wool/nylon/elastane that together with the seamless technology gives comfort to the foot. The merino wool mix wicks moisture away from your feet, but their stretchy nylon/elastane exterior layer keeps water away.

The socks by themselves feel funny at first time, more like neoprene boots than socks, but in lighter version. But after putting shoes or boots on, the fit is good. Comfortable and really repeals water when stepping on puddles or creeks. 

Something to notice (by logic), since the sock is made by layers, if water comes from the top of the sock (let's say running down through the leg skin) then is gonna make contact with the inside layer, making the feet wet by nature.

The way they work is if water hit from they outside layer, like from a broken running shoe...

... I got my Sealskinz in REI with discount, they are getting cheaper, I don't know the reason, but I'm assuming is due their rebrand announcement 

Which is a little confusing but seems to me that they are coming out as Hanz, from where I got my Chillblocker socks to give a try in winter biking, here, in Alaska.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Engaging Kodiak

This season the snow wasn't the best, there was snow, but not tempting for so much enjoyment of powder.
For the holy week, in the middle of April, we had a different plan. As my only 4-day-weekend was worth it to fly somewhere. It was time to met the roots of my beloved.


Everything is packed and ready.
I just have to go to work and Jill is gonna pick me up there and then go to the airport.
But the morning started rough for us, with a cat sick and emergency cleaning.
By 4pm we made it to the airport, Era airlines door, now Ravn airlines.
Flying in Era is like those times I was going to my hometown in the bus,
where locals travel with everything they want. No TSA drama.
A bag of bread is standing alone in the desk, no airport shuts down. 
The plane, a bombardier dhc-8-100, take us from a sunny runway and lands in a rainy runway.

We met Linda & Roy, old friends of Jill.
My bet is that they don't see each other since 30 years ago, I can be wrong.
Yes, I'm like a little kid in Disneyland watching everything around through the windows,
without speaking.
My ranchero face is still stunned by the pictures and stories.
My silence breaks only for ask about pictures.
During dinner I kept listening stories that probably I just saw in movies or NatGeo before,
but this time I was there, with someone in person.
Roy's heritage back in the day, the union of his Russian grandfather and local Suqpiaq Aluttiq grandmother.
Then his father was bear hunter and guide,
and they did a lot for Kodiak bear hunting, around WWII times.
As this mentioned, Kodiak has a big  mix influence and roots from Russia and locals still.
After great time meeting them, we drove around town to finish the day.

Waking up in Kodiak with a sunny day it's a good score.
We drove North in the road system, not much in time.
White Sands Beach was the first stop. Walked on the low tide all the way to the water. Then the rocks.
A bald eagle was sitting in a rock, letting me get closer to see it. Marine life was still in the rocks and pools.
A trail was heading inside a rainforest. And around the bay. To the point of bush-walking.
Spring is the time were bears wake up. Even if I was excited to see them, is not a good idea.
No in Kodiak. No without bear spray.

Lunch at the Monk's Rock. A quick stop by Orion's for a map,
a local shop with mountain gear, climbing gear, ski stuff and surf shop at the same time.
Yes, you can climb a mountain, ski and surf the same day in Kodiak.
The sun is still out there. Some rain drops fall with the breeze.
It's just warm and perfect.

Fort Abercrombie is our host now.
A magical rainforest with saturated humidity, embraced bunkers from long time ago, they hold the hand of stunning cliffs to the sea, where we can see sea otters, eagles, boats.
Then more hiking between Beach, Rainforest and NAVY special warfare detachment area.
A quick stop in a giro place followed by the local brewery.
Near Island is a piece of land that host the new dock, we stopped by too.

Another day with sun, the 18th. Now South.
To go across the island in the road, that passes between mountains to head down to another beach area.
Pasagshak Bay with a few  old houses, next to big brand new houses.
If you follow the road you get to Surfer's Beach. Huge bay sending lefts and rights to the sand.
The area is surrounded by buffalo. The vibe and energy there is strong.
The buffalo walk from the mountains to the beach, between grass and sand.
I was feeling like if I was in the past, a native in the land of bison.
But a rocket launch facility in the background of the buffalo, reminds me the modern era.

Fossil beach. The last point we head in the truck.
While walking around between rocks, the waves were breaking just a few meters from us.
Looking for fossils in the rocks, but at the same time for places where to step.
Little pools where hosting little fish and starfish.
The walls of the cliffs are shaped by the waves and probably storms. Bands of rocks,
fossils of trees or maybe maritime animals stuck up there.
By the time we were there, one couple showed up, walked a little and gone.

We started a fire.
While enjoying the fire, we saw whales. Probably humpback whales. Like 7.
Sea lions. One surfer catching some waves. Two chairs, lunch, smokey fire. Local beers.
A Black Raven proposing to an Alaskan Gull in the same magical spot from where she's playing years ago.
A storm in the horizon is sending fishing boats back home.
The Gull says yes to the Raven.
In the top of the cliff, a deer is watching the whole scene.
Time for the birds to fly away.
Dinner at Old's River Inn.

3rd Day. Rain. The Kodiak Weather is back
Still with that we drove Northwest, to Anton Larsen Bay.
Dirt road almost all the way. A road next to the bay, with cars parking in the edge,
but nobody around, no humans. Still no bears.
3 miles hiking under the rain. Rain jackets and rain pants saturated.
Arrived to Three Pillars Point, looking for japanese glass floats.
3 miles walked back to the truck with empty hands. But a great hike.
It's time to stay in dry and warmer places. Like Museums. Or Bars.

We stopped by the Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center,
where there's a big bear statue next to a picture of 26 years old Roy.
Dinner and local restaurants.
From the B&B for local drinks to the Powerhouse for sushi a sake.
Before heading to bed, we drove next to the East Elementary School,
three deers where walking and eating grass.

On Sunday, the Sun was out again.
It was Easter Sunday.
We headed to Pillar Mountain, a road took us all the way to the top.
Eagles, Ravens and Windmills were spinning with the wind.
Clear view of the Kodiak town to one side. The mountains still with snow to the other side.
The ocean to the horizon.
There was the time to appreciate a great moment, relax and views.
After there, we went to Mill Bay to play in the rock that cut in half.
Surfers were catching waves. Kids getting the feet in water.
It was time to head back to see Linda and Roy,
we had dinner and we had more stories.
Stories that now some tears are dried there. Happiness.

They gave me a hat, a book, an a card.

The moment when they left us in the airport,
was the moment when I realized that there was a picture missing in my trip.
At least a picture of us together.
At least a picture with Linda and Roy.
And at least a picture of the Kodiak Bear.

Another excuse to go back... right?! :)

I wish I had the time to finish the video and share all the pictures, but I have a normal job & I'm going on Vacations ;)