Archive for February, 2009
Today was umm, well.. it was ‘ok’.
Another 10-20cm overnight, and we just killed it. Was pretty much perfect snow density, tons of features everywhere, and you could just send it! Best day of the year so far at Baldface, and some of the best snowboarding conditions in the last few years for us. No time for riding pictures – today was all about gett’ner done.
We were up past midnight last night reviewing prototypes – up again at 7a.m. Charged hard all day, then Andrew and Colin transfered back to Nelson to continue their journey to the far east.
On the in-coming transfer came our friends Palmer West and Jonah Smith, and the yeti crew, that will be our posse for the next few days. It’s clearing and getting colder. It’s possible tomorrow could be better yet..
Andrew, Susanna, TR
TR and Colin.
The sickest board in the world! Only 2 in existence. All I can say is reverse camber is the bomb. And it’s 164 cm. Everything else is classified.
TR, Susanna, Andrew and Colin.
Yuske-san! Got to ride with our friend Yuske for two days. He transferred out for his week off today, and heading back to Rodger’s pass to work on his ACMG guiding cert. Check out the profile on Yuske that was recently published in SNOWSTYLE below. Yuske Hirota [the man].
Was dumping snow all day today and getting progressively deeper every run. We connected with Andrew Burke and Colin Alger from Burton. They flew from Burlington to Seattle, to catch a flight back to Spokane, to rent a car and drive to Nelson, to get picked up by a boat and then snowmobile for an hour to get to the snowcat… while merely stopping en route to Asia for factory visits and product development meetings.. No cliche here, these guys are dropping in and working hardcore, and yes, testing product at Baldface really is part of the job.
All four of us are testing 2011 [ak] 2nd gen. protoypes, and making the final decisions and refinements for the 3rd gen. of development. We have a very compressed amount of time to really field test everything and make improvements. We are on-snow again tomorrow before they start reversing their moves back to Spokane, to continue on to Taiwan.
We arrived at the lodge last night. The approach is by 20 minute boat ride down west kootenay lake, to the snowmobiles waiting at the other side. You then snowmo another 45 minutes up to the lodge at 6700ft. It was just dumping snow on the approach, and it continued all night. Today is going to be DEEEEP!
A new [ak] movie by Neil Hartmann, featuring some epic blower pow riding with Yoshinari Uemura(Ue), Narufumi Yoshimura, Takamasa Imai, Yoshiaki Oka, Shunsuke Hoshino, and Soichiro Tanaka.
Watch the movie(s) after the break
An interview with Susanna Bergstrom on the W’s AK program, featured in the Snowboard Canada annual W’s issue.
Just in from the [ak] underground. Chris Ankeny get’ner done [bc] style. These shots are from last week in the Coast Range. Thin snowpack this year, but conditions are finally improving.
Just arrived. The Highland Jacket is my favorite piece from the spring AETHER collection, developed by FYI. It’s a waxed cotton shell with a slick nylon lining. It’s made in Canada with premium materials, like Pittard’s perforated leather from the U.K. , and polished zippers from Riri in Switzerland.
The Highland uses a ‘busted seam’ construction, and a double topstitch so that the seams lay flat. I really like the contrast stitch as it gives character to the cut lines.
The [ak] guide program was spawned by the outerwear needs of working guides, pro patrol, avy control, and search and rescue professionals. These guys live in the elements and destroy gear. In addition they have a totally different set of needs and priorities to regular skiers and snowboarders. The mission was to design and develop purpose built gear, that helps them do their job better.
Naturally we needed to spend time with our friends at Baldface, and Powder Mountain to take a closer look at how they used and abused their gear. It was immediately clear that the first problem to solve was dedicated radio management. In addition some operations like to use remote mic’s, others didn’t. They are in constant communication with other guides / pilot’s etc. and need to have their radio secured and accessible.
Nobody wanted hand pockets – they all wear backpacks all the time, and the waistbelt strap renders hand pockets useless. Consensus was to not have a powder skirt either. The guide book, however comes out every run, all the time. And the book includes a thermometer for checking snowpack temps that can’t get bent or broken. Another problem was clients skis or boards getting ice build up on the base, while shuttling outside a cat or heli – they needed easy access to a scraper. They also asked for easy access to big pit zips, and to be able to adjust their lower hem cinch with gloves on. Everybody asked for durability. They literally live in the gear, and average product just gets destroyed.
We went to work and developed organizational solutions for the primary tools first. Commercial radio pocket that locates the radio to not inhibit movement, or interfere with wearing a backpack. Above the radio pocket we included a mic pocket that’s accessed from the inside, with ports linking the pockets for the mic wire. The guide can key the mic and speak while wearing gloves, and not exposing the radio to the outside elements. On the opposite side we developed a reach across cargo pocket for easy access to the guide book, properly positioned on the chest for backpack straps. We incorporated the [ak] drop hood, so the collar can stand properly when the hood is down in foul weather (guides keep their hoods off most of the time so they can hear better). The jacket is constructed out of the toughest Gore-Tex 3L Proshell in the [ak] range.
Simple, bomber tough, and ultra functional.
The cool thing about projects like this is that an interesting aesthetic emerges from purely functional needs. It’s honest design as nothing is superfluous.
Electric blue was used for all the guide jackets as it’s the most visible at a distance in low-vis conditions.
Baldface guide crew gett’ner done [bc] style.
Not for sale at a dealer near you. Less than 50 guide jackets are currently in existence, and being tested on-snow by workin pro’s. And most of them are at Baldface.