Thursday, April 16, 2015

GearMeOut: UST Brands Gear

GearMeOut: UST Brands Gear

As an Ultimate Survival Technologies Ambassador, I’ve had the good fortune to get a bunch of their products for testing. Not only does this make me better prepared when I head outdoors, it's also a good impetus for me to make more videos, an item on my 2015 Bucketlist.

This is video one in a series of gear reviews I have planned for the next year or so, so keep your eye out for the next one or, better yet, subscribe to my YouTube channel for immediate notification.

Ultimate Survival Technologies Sabercut Field Saw 7.0 Video Gear Review

UST Brands products were provided to me as part of their Ambassador program - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Vail: First Visit

Vail: First Visit

Admit it, you've always wanted to visit Vail, if not to ski, then to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. There's plenty of history, too; the town was built as the base village along with Vail Ski Resort, initially with housing for locals and lodging for visitors. During the 1976 Winter Games in Denver, Vail, along with nearby Beaver Creek, hosted downhill events. Notoriety does come with a price however - Vail seems a more expensive resort to visit (parking is twice as expensive at Vail as it is at Breckenridge, for example). It's also pretty compact - from the parking garage to the base of the lifts is only a few blocks.

Just the facts, ma'am. Vail is the third largest ski mountain in North America; only Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Big Sky in Montana are larger. The base elevation is 8,120 ft. (2,476 m), with a vertical rise of 3,450 ft. (1,052 m). Total skiable terrain covers 5,289 acres (2,141 ha), which includes the Front Side, Back Bowls, and Blue Sky Basin. Vail is definitely geared towards the experienced skier, with trails skewed towards experts: 53% Expert/Advanced, 29% Intermediate, and only 18% Beginner. A pretty tough day for us skiing-wise, as Munchkin and the Little Worker both are hesitant, beginner skiers. Need more than just slopes? Vail features 3 Three Terrain Parks: Golden Peak (small, medium and large features), Bwana (small and medium features) and Pride (small and medium features). All parks have progressions suitable for each level of rider/skier. There is a 22’ Superpipe and also a 13’ Mini Halfpipe to get practice and build up your nerve to jump on the big one.

Vail: First Visit

We met up with friends at the base of the Gondola, which is one of the main arteries up the mountain. Eldest sons from respective families are of similar ability, as are our daughters, so those pairings went off and did their thing with some oversight from the other dad. I skied with Munchkin initially while Laima tried to coax the Little Worker uphill. Conditions were not ideal, with spotty snow coverage in places and some icy conditions to start. Skiing was much better in the Back Bowls and in the Blue Sky Basin, according to later reports from the kids, but the front side had some issues.

After unexpectedly meeting up at the Mid-Vail terrace, Laima and I guided the boys down a Green run (Gitalong Road) that criss-crosses the face of the mountain, slowly wending its way to the bottom. At that point the Little Worker was finished, so he and I headed over to the Colorado Ski Museum, while Laima and Munchkin went back up to explore some more. The museum has some great displays, a bit static in my opinion, but we both loved seeing the progression of the technology. The town is mostly a mix of eateries, ski shops, and souvenir stores, with an old-time feel courtesy of the brick streets and Teutonic architecture - like a European resort was transported to Colorado.

Vail: First Visit

Vail has a completely different feel than other resorts we've visited. As a first timer, I'm not sure exactly what I came away with. The town has a planned feel, yet has been around for many years, so does not feel fake or contrived. The mountain is definitely shaped for more experienced skiers, so for us, this might be a resort to save until everyone in the family is a more proficient skier.  It was nice to visit a new place and ski unknown terrain, as well as meet up with friends far from home, as well as see the differences between the Vail Resorts we've visited.

Vail Resorts provided me with a complimentary media lift pass - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Coming Up for Air: Altitude Sickness

Coming Up for Air: Altitude Sickness

Nothing like finishing up a Spring Break vacation with an illness. About Thursday or Friday, I started feeling unwell: sore throat, hacking cough, headache, general achiness. It wasn't too bad, so I skied some Friday and felt okay. Our drive home Saturday and Sunday, however, had me feeling pretty bad. Monday the symptoms were full-blown and Tuesday was worse. This morning I feel better, not 100% but I'll take what I can get. After checking WebMD (not infallible), I think I had a case of altitude sickness.
"Altitude sickness can occur when you travel too quickly to a high altitude, where there is less oxygen and reduced air pressure. It is especially common at altitudes above 8,000 feet. Altitude sickness can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, cough, confusion, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can cause death."
Now I don't think I was/am anywhere near death, but it's interesting that the symptoms came on so late in the week. I should have been acclimatizing instead of getting worse. Then again, maybe it's just a cold or the flu. I'm no doctor, nor do I play one on TV. In any case, it's nice to be back amongst the living.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks

If you have kids or have been inspired by the high-flying acrobatics of pros like American free skier Bobby Brown, terrain parks are an integral part of skiing and snowboarding today. Breckenridge Ski Resort's four terrain parks give visitors and locals alike the perfect opportunity to start out new and progress through the levels or work on perfecting a trick or tricks. The four parks, located on Peaks 8 and 9, start small and end up world-class. My suggested order of progression, beginner to pro:

Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks
Trygve's: Located on Peak 8, Trygve's is a small park, with a combination of moderate jumps and boxes to help you get your foot in the door of terrain parks. Minimal fear factor here - wide open slope, smaller jumps, wide boxes, a great place to start.
Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks
Bonanza: Listed by Breck as their entry-level terrain park, Bonanza is located on Peak 9. Slightly bigger jumps, rails, and boxes, Bonanza is the perfect place to work on your spins and slides. Bigger and steeper than Trygve's, not overly intimidating but not easy looking either. 
Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks
Park Lane is the intermediate park, with two triple lines this year and various-sized rails, boxes, and jibs for plenty of variety. Half the fun is taking the 5 Chair to watch the action in the park. The most popular of the parks it seems, so many features that you could probably find something to try out. Big jumps are definitely intimidating looking and, in full view of the deck at Peak 8, so you have an audience. :)
Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks
Get your pro on at the Freeway terrain park. Four massive jumps, lots of rails and boxes, along with a 22’ super pipe will challenge you now matter what level. These are the big guns, huge pipe that is super speedy and then awe-inspiring jumbo jumps. Also in full view of the Peak 8 patio, so you better be on your A-game.
Whether you're a first timer or budding pro, Breck's terrain parks are a great way to expand your skiing or snowboarding repertoire. Every feature has a way around it, so if you don't feel ready, ski around and try again the next time.

Vail Resorts provided me with a complimentary media lift pass - all opinions are my own.

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Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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