@jedi you're hooked ! Early March always offers good value and typically decent snow. I cannot say how spring boarding is (could be a bit damp for boarding if it does get warm) but the longer days and sunshine of later in March are wonderful on skis. Also the normally hard/semi frozen pistes of early morning are a great excuse for a lie in.
Ah nice Digby - that'll save me going on a training course
(Just ordered that book you recommended by the way, as well as the companion "Avalanche Essentials: A Step by Step System for Safety and Survival" and "Avalanche!: Understand and Reduce Risks from Avalanches" - probably more than I need but all looked very interesting).
I thought the program was pretty good on the whole: it thankfully managed to avoid the over-dramatic style all to common with these kind of 'freak weather' programs whilst still being poignant, moving & informative.
I wasn't rubbishing them, just referencing an earlier post by steveomcd that kind of was - he's not an IT manager from Surrey either, though I wonder if the reports are harming his business (chalet owner)?
I can see how it would be frustrating for steveo. He's selling the backcountry experience, so negative press will affect him. Yes, there's a weak layer in the snowpack; yes caution is needed; yes, the balance of risk and draw of the fresh snow is a tricky one, and yes it's important for this message to be broadcast.
But the media can't help sensationalising - because readers love a sensation There's a balance between "When will these extreme sports fanatics learn to stay away from the French Alps?" (actual headline in national press from a few years ago) and "please be extra careful, because it's more dangerous than usual and people who aren't being careful (and even some who are) are dying."
I went for a backcountry week in the middle of BC a few years ago with a similarly sketchy snowpack. The skiing wasn't all time amazing, we kept to low angle stuff and trees, but it was great fun and hugely preferable to the other options of a) staying at home or b) a cold death, suffocating under under tons of snow.
There's a balance between "When will these extreme sports fanatics learn to stay away from the French Alps?" (actual headline in national press from a few years ago) and "please be extra careful, because it's more dangerous than usual and people who aren't being careful (and even some who are) are dying."
Yes there's a lot of hype around at the moment, and much of it is just that, but then there's the need to say to a lot of people, OK, so just because you've been to a ski shop and bought some phattt powdah plankz and some "all mountain" boots, doesn't mean you should be dropping in anywhere you like. (Ditto snowboardists)
Knowledge is the key to both avoiding the unnecessary hype AND staying safe while having fun!
Disclaimer - Am a full on slack country afficionado, only usually going properly beyond the ropes on guide days.
Was perfectly skiable at the weekend, but was better up above 150er Tux than down near Horbergbahn, and I think it snowed since. Didn't do Kaltenbach. Zell am Ziller was a bit scrapy, but nice up Königsleiten, and the flat blue above Gerlos.
Off to Dolomites in 2 weeks. I hear they got all the snow.
Seemed like a really nice jacket. Was chuffed with it. But during my first week of wearing it we stopped for lunch on a sleety day and noticed that the jacket was absolutely soaking wet and hanging down heavily. Basically I looked like a drowned rat.
Inside it I was still dry. The laminate was obviously doing its job, but the outside fabric of the jacket was saturated, heavy and wasn't beading at all. Like a really old jacket that has totally lost its DWR coating - except this was brand new.
So anyway, in November of this season I decided to take it into snow+rock where I bought it and see what they had to say (within a year of buying it and well within the Lifetime Warranty of the jacket).
At this stage it seems to me it is a manufacturing fault and for some reason the jacket just didn't get a factory DWR coating at all because just spraying some water on it you can see it soak in rather than bead.
The S+R girl I speak to seems very sympathetic and agrees a brand new £300 jacket should perform much better than that.
Agrees to send it off to "send it for assessment" which will take at least a month.
(A week later I get a call saying they forgot to ask me to sign something so could I pop in then they'd definitely send it off. Grr.)
I get a phone call again after a few weeks and the (very apologetic) says that the team has looked at it and reckon it's just because the jacket is dirty and it needs reproofing. I explain to her that it did this from new and it can't be that dirty I've probably worn it for less than a month in total since I bought it.
She says that the assessment team will only proceed if I give permission for them to wash and reproof it to see if that helps. I reluctantly agree. I'll have to wait till after Christmas now.
After Christmas - no word from them.
So this week the missus was near the shop so I asked her to call in and ask about it for me: "Yes, we have it right here."
It hasn't been touched. They've done nothing.
Bloke then gives her a number of excuses:
- "it was probably getting wet from the inside" (nope)
- "what conditions did he use it in?" (erm.. snowy?)
- "all jackets will wet through eventually" (she points out that this one doesn't bead at all and even her ancient £50 Helly Hansen beads)
- "he wore it with a cotton t-shirt underneath" (can't say any other jacket I've had has died due to this).
She gets him to try splashing some water on it. It soaks straight in. Guy finally says "Okay. You need to take it home, wash it, tumble dry it and that will definitely restore it."
(Another guy in the queue confides to her that he worked in an outdoor shop for XX years and this is complete bollocks)
So... we get it home. It gets washed in some Grangers Wash (no DWR just straight wash as the S+R guy said, no fast spin) then tumbled on a low heat as per instructions.
Result: absolutely no difference at all to the beading (what a surprise) and two teeth of the main zip fell off while it was being tumble dried.
Am I being unreasonable to think that a £300 "performance" jacket should be usable in the snow (even with a cotton on underneath it), should bead water off it and should survive being washed according to the care label without bits falling off??
I'd be cross, and not be happy being told that I'd been a sweaty, filthy pig and to go home and wash my clothes
Thing is the missus, who knows my smell better than most, agreed that wasn't dirty at all. Apparently the guy was pointing at a couple of grubby marks by the pockets and saying "See?" like that was causing the entire DWR to fail?!?
Burton have got some strong points, but outerwear isn't one of them, in my experience.
Is that a recent thing? They used to be good. My old Burton Tempest jacket that this replaced was a bit tattered and dated, but still going pretty strong after nearly a decade of use on snow and as a wet weather jacket. And my Burton Cargo pants are great.
@ GrahamS - I'd be very dissapointed if I'd received that level of poor response from Snow & Rock - I'm kindof surprised as I'd always had good service from the Sheffield shop (before it burnt down).
But I gave up with most snowboard 'specific' clothing years ago. As I was buying a new jacket etc almost every year!
The majority of snowboard clothing is the epitome of 'style over substance' unfortunately with most items being too warm/padded/bulky but with insufficient weather proofing - leaving you damp & chilly, and some stuff just fell apart
Pretty happy with my Westbeach jacket. Has lasted a few trips now with no signs of wear and tear, and I've not re proofed it yet with no issues. They were as cheap as £70 from SP at one point (not where I got it from).
Westbeach was one of the brands whose kit just fell apart for me - you were clearly luckier in your choice:
During a particular cold spell (-20 celsius) in BC I was acute aware of 'Stephen & the Twins' retreating inside my body every time I picked up a bit of speed on the board - felt like I'd left my flies wide open ... turned out the stitching in the trouser/crotch dept had ripped leaving a large hole in the 'tinter' vicinity. I would often spend the evenings sewing each new hole back up and covering with 'duct tape' ...!
Funnily enough my first proper snowboard jacket was a Westbeach, waaay back in the day. It was a fine jacket too.
I actually considered going back to Westbeach instead of getting the Stagger, but Westbeach had gone all fashionable multi-colour clown-outfit last year which really doesn't suit me. (That Heli Red above looks alright though)
As a jacket my Stagger seems really good in terms of features, comfort, weight and breathability etc. But if it gets soaked by snow then what is the point in it?
I'll be pushing for a refund, especially now the zip is broke too.
Burton have got some strong points, but outerwear isn't one of them, in my experience.
Oi! my Burton coat is fantastic! Was £80 i think and this week I've only needed a merino base layer under it. No sign of wear and I've worn it more than just on holidays too.
Aaaanyway.. after my quite negative post earlier this week, things have worked out brilliantly, thanks to a powder day with Rob (singletrackmind) and some chums from my chalet, its been utterly awesome
which was: a pair of gloves which didn't last anywhere near as long as Levels, an AK jacket which had a lovely feeling face fabric (and MAGNETS , but lasted hardly any time at all before wearing through, and a pair of boots which went 2 weeks of hard use before the liner packed out. Faff and discomfort for a further week and bit before I called it a day: Even with a pair of socks folded under the tongue, I still had to cinch the laces so ticht the outer started crushing my toes.