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Ski Blog

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

clock 7th December 2011 | comment0 Comments

Over the past week winter has returned to the Alps in style, even though the BBC, Daily Mail, Guardian and the Metro would have had us thinking differently.

The three well known purveyors of news all ran articles of doom and gloom on the slopes on Monday sparking us, and many others in the ski community, into a Twitter frenzy of live snow updates, photos and forecasts. Thanks to team members and friends in the Alps, our snow reports section, using snow data we receive from Snow-Forecast and the Ski Club, and a variety of up-to-date webcams, we helped to dispel the rumour.


Okay, so I have to concede, following some fantastic early November snowfall, with the likes of Zermatt and Saas Fee boasting well over a metre of snow, the temperatures in Europe warmed and the best early snow seemed to be arriving in North America, with British Columbia and Whistler in particular, looking impressive and more akin to mid-season conditions already.

But, thanks to Mother Natures, the snow gods, or to whom you choose to believe in, the snow is coming back in huge amounts at the moment. Over the weekend a think dusting or fresh, cold, white snow covered to Alps, from Austria to France, via Switzerland and Italy. The webcams began to tell a story of fantastic snow and the pictures from resort started to appear in my inbox.


By Monday we were receiving powder-filled photo's from some of our staff in Tignes, followed by snow-covered photo updates from the Masterclass ski school in Alpe d'Huez and, as always, some fantastic photos of Val d'Isere courtesy of Y.S.E Ski. Before we knew it we were bombarding the offending press with snow-filled tweets and more and more of our followers and friends jumped on the bandwagon.

As the week has gone on more and more snow has arrived in resort. Official snow reports are showing 20cm a day in some places, while eye witness and resorts locals have reported half a meter falling in Val d'Isere, Verbier, Mayrhofen and Avoriaz in the past 24 hours. There is more snow arriving today, and though there is a sunnier outlook for the weekend, the temperatures are cold and the long range weather forecast is showing signs of more of the same next week.

The old adage of head high in early season, is still the sensible approach, given last months lack of snow, though there are plenty of micro-climates out there also worth a look. Flaine is boasted 70cm of snow in two days this week, as did Avoriaz and Megeve — with all three ski areas benefitting from a close proximity to a huge supply of water, Lake Lucerne, and a huge Mountain to cool any precipitation, Mt. Blanc.


Val d'Isere this morning — photo Y.S.E.

Over in Austria and the Arlberg region also boasts a renowned micro-climate, with St. Anton, Lech and St. Christoph boasting some fabulous snowfall this week. High resorts such Ischgl and Soll have also had some fantastic snow over the past five days.

The season is approaching full swing, with the Christmas holiday season two weeks away, and the mountains are getting into the right spirit for a white Christmas. So, as the old song goes: Let it snow, let it snow, let is snow...



The Ski Holiday Checklist

clock 2nd December 2011 | comment0 Comments

Now I appreciate most people who use Igluski are regular skiers, but for those who are either new to the sport, are forgetful or wonder why they are always cold, no matter how big their jackets are, here is our ski holiday checklist, to make packing that little bit easier.

Whether skiing or snowboarding, the vast majority of your 'software' will be the same, brands apart. Where it differs is down to personal preference, the weather and the type of skiing or snowboarding you plan to undertake — for example you don't really want a shovel on your back and an expensive transceiver on if you are hitting the park.


Don't be left feeling like something's missing.

The Essentials

So to help you be prepared for every occasion, here are a few essential items to make sure are in your suitcase and ski bag before you leave the house:

  • Thermals: thermals keep you warm and dry, they are breathable and keep moisture away from the body, but don't have to be expensive.
  • Gloves: ski gloves, not woolly gloves, as they are waterproof, windproof and warm.
  • Goggles & sunglasses: Goggles are for skiing in, sunglasses are for wearing at lunch. Most goggles come with spare lenses which are always worth taking too.
  • Sun cream, lip balm and after sun: you are several hundred metres close to the sun, surrounded by a white reflective surface, you've been warned!
  • Beanie or headband: remember the old adage that you loose 70% of you heat through your head? Well keep it in. Headbands are for skiers only!
  • Water bottle: simple, you're doing exercise, so keep hydrated. There are loads of different types from camelpacks to thermos bottles you can use.
  • Ski jacket: a proper outdoor jacket is needed, they are water/snow proof, breathable and keep you warm, ski jackets also have garters to prevent you getting snow everywhere.
  • Salopets: again, proper ski salopets or board pants will keep you warm and dry. Skiing in jeans won't!
  • Ski socks: you don't need expensive ones, but you need proper ski socks are as opposed to thick socks or football socks, which won't keep you warm at -5°c.
  • Helmet: would you ride a motorbike without one? Thought not. Your head's pretty important, keep it safe.
  • Travel insurance details: make sure you are covered for winter sports and in an emergency you know where you've put it. Also take emergency contact details with you.
  • Phone: pay for a roaming package as you'll be surprised to how many times people take 'the other left' on the mountain.
  • Rucksack: whether carrying a hip flask or packing your kids off to ski school for the day, rucksacks are essential.
  • Labels: if you are skiing with your family, label EVERYTHING. You'll be surprised how helpful it is at ski school the following morning when little Johnny gets his gloves back.

Layering

You've probably heard all this before, but it's all about layering when skiing and wearing the correct layers. Just because something is heavy, doesn't mean it's going to keep you warm, and that goes for everything from your socks to your jacket.

Whether you are on your first lesson, a seasoned skier or hiking the Vallée Blanche, wearing the correct layers is essential. Remember it's easier to cool down then to warm up. As basic guide to layers is:

  • Thermals: in all weather it's good to wear a thermal top, they keep you warm when it's cold and cool when it warm. If you feel the cold or it's particularly chilly one day, thermal long johns or leggings will help keep you warm, I even know ski instructors (male may I add) who wear tights as well.
  • T-shirt: short sleeve or long sleeve depending on the weather and comfort.
  • Fleece, hoody or jumper: try and pack at least one 100 weight and one 200 weight fleece or hoody, so you can dress for the weather.
  • Ski jacket and salopets: I prefer a Gore tex shell most of the time and have a big down jacket for those -20°c powder days.

Off Piste & Ski Touring

If you are planning on doing some off piste skiing or back country hiking here are a few more essentials to pack for the mountain:

  • Helipack: for piste skiing a comfortable backpack is enough, but when backcountry skiing you need a rucksack designed to carry all your kit, including your skis.
  • Avalanche transceiver: these things are literally a life saver, but don't just carry one, learn to use it first.
  • Shovel: from digging out buried friends to building a kicker, shovels are an essential piece of kit.
  • Probe: you can use your probe to test the snow depth, or to find buried friends, a very helpful piece of kit.
  • Spare goggles and gloves: there's nothing worse than cold hands or snow-filled goggles miles from home.
  • Water and snacks: you may find yourself further from a mountain restaurant than usual, so essential to keep you going. I personally go for Mars and Snickers.
  • Walkie talkie: you may not have phone coverage and will want to keep in contact with your buddies either in front or behind you.
  • Avalanche whistle:; not essential, but a helpful tool so your friends can find you.
  • Spare batteries: you don't want your transceiver or walkie talkie running out of juice on the mountain.

Everyone has their own idea what to pack a trip to the slopes, some people like hand warmers, others need a good bottle or brandy or single malt for their hip flask. Forgetting the essentials can cost you a fortune in resort and even ruin your holiday. So as Robert Baden Powell would say: "be prepared".



The GoPro HD Hero2

clock 29th November 2011 | comment0 Comments

This week we are looking at HD cameras for the slopes and have enlisted the expert help of Matt Taylor, from Action Cameras, to give us a review of this year's hottest piece of kit, the GoPro HD Hero2.

GoPro HD Hero2

So by now, most people have heard of GoPro and if you haven't you've almost certainly seen footage filmed on one: that video of the fella getting knocked of his bike by a buck in South Africa — GoPro, the one where Ken Block does doughnuts in his rally car — GoPro, point of view footage in films such as the Art of Flight, Deeper and That's it That's All — you guessed it, GoPro. "But that was the GoPro HD Hero 1?" you may say, "what is all this I hear about the GoPro HD Hero 2 Motorsport, Outdoor and Surf Editions?" I hear you cry, well here goes...

First up, they look (almost) the same, they weigh the same, they're both waterproof to 60m and they both shoot HD video through a 170° lens. To spot the differences between the Hero 1 and 2, you have to look deeper. Like its predecessor, the Hero 2 brings increased low light performance, 11 megapixel photos and the ability to capture bursts of 10 photos in a second, meaning it's great for sports photography and cobbling together sequential photos of you going big off that jump or successfully backflipping that cliff. Other features include a redesigned digital display, something which was much needed as the Hero 1 was, at times, difficult to navigate. Plus, there are more developments on the way from GoPro, these include a remote control and a Wi-Fi backpack, which will undoubtedly only be compatible with the new version.

In summary then, GoPros are awesome, they're great fun, easy to use, and great quality. The New GoPro HD Hero 2 ups the game a little, continuing the trend for full 1080p HD recording and offering better quality still photo options and if you like the idea of a remote control and Wi-Fi backpack, anything but the Hero 2 simply won't do.

They both weigh the same, both can record full high definition video and both can shoot a 170° field of vision. Somehow, GoPro’s latest release improves on the HD Hero.

That’s more than twice as powerful as the HD Hero, not to mention the completely redesigned wide-angle lens or simplified language-based user interface. We hope that straightens things out.

Full discloser: We are currently running a win a GoPro competition with Action Cameras.



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