Gear Archives - Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures
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Preventing Avalanche Transceiver Interference

Wed, 20th Dec 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
avalanche transceiver interference

The amount of consumer electronics carried by skiers and snowboarders on a daily basis has increased significantly in recent years. Smartphones, GoPros, cameras and GPS tracking devices all have their place, but when setting foot into the backcountry it's the most important piece of electronics - the avalanche transceiver - that needs to do its job in order to keep you alive. All the other pieces of technology can cause avalanche transceiver interference affecting your beacon's signal and search capability. This article goes into a bit more detail, but if you need a quick rule to follow, store your items at least 20cm away from your transceiver when transmitting and about...

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MSAA and Escape Route Demo the Alpine

Wed, 29th Nov 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Escape Route Alpine Demo Centre

What’s the biggest barrier to backcountry skiing and snowboarding? Gear. Skis need specific touring bindings. Snowboards need to be able to split in half to allow ascent. Then there’s the transceiver, shovel and probe for self-rescue, plus a backpack to carry it all. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? You’re not wrong. All the aforementioned gear adds up to thousands of dollars when all is said and done, which can make the backcountry discipline of snowsports a tough sell to those wishing to try it for the first time. Begging and borrowing from friends will only last so long. After all, these are the people you want to be in the backcountry with. The solution? Try be...

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MSAA Gear Guide: Ski Touring Boots

Thu, 26th Oct 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
backcountry ski touring boots

Just like with alpine (downhill) skiing, one of the most important parts of your backcountry setup are your ski touring boots. Given the amount of walking one does while ski touring, boot selection is even more paramount for a pain-free time in the backcountry. The most affordable way to start ski touring is with your regular alpine boots and a set of Alpine Touring (AT) bindings. However, now that more manufacturers than ever before have entered the backcountry market, many skiers are choosing to purchase lightweight downhill-capable ski touring boots instead. [caption id="attachment_4641" align="alignnone" width="700"] The Scarpa Maestrale RS is one of the top-sel...

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Guide to Camping in the Mountains: Tents

Tue, 26th Sep 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
4-season tent winter camping

Shelter can save your life in the mountains. By keeping the elements out and warmth in, spending the night in a tent is the best way to get the most comfortable sleep possible. Previously in this camping gear guide series, we've covered the importance of sleeping bags and sleeping pads, but those pieces of kit are not much use without an effective tent. Camping on hot summer nights may be the exception, but you'll probably want something between you and the bugs. And when climbing into the alpine areas it's best to be ready for rapid changes in the weather. 3-Season or 4-Season? The first question one is asked when walking into an outdoor store looking for a tent is: wh...

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Guide to Camping in the Mountains: Sleeping Pad

Tue, 29th Aug 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
sleeping pad camping mountains

When camping in the mountains, your greatest enemy is the cold. Ambient air temperature affects your comfort during the day, but when sleeping at night it's the ground that will sap your body's warmth. We can guard against the cold with effective base layer clothing and insulated sleeping bags, but for a good night's sleep you'll need something between you and the ground (besides a thin tent floor). That means choosing the right sleeping pad for camping in the mountains, both for warmth and for comfort. Sleeping Pad Options Like most camping equipment, sleeping pads come in a price range from as little as $20 for a closed-cell foamie to more than $300 for an ultra-insul...

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Guide to Camping in the Mountains: Sleeping Bags

Tue, 1st Aug 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
sleeping bag mountain camping

Every weekend of the summer tens of thousands of Canadians load up their vehicles and bed down in campsites across the country. While car camping has its conveniences and comforts, we at MSAA like to wander a bit further from our vehicles before making camp. That means a slightly different choice of gear, particularly when sleeping in the wilderness. As the main interface between your body and the outside elements, your sleeping bag can make or break your camping experience in the mountains. To that end, we've rounded up some tips on: Buying the right sleeping bag for you Using and maintaining it for maximum warmth and comfort [caption id="attachment_4456" alig...

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Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Harness

Mon, 12th Jun 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
rock climbing harness

One of the key pieces of rock climbing kit is the harness. It's a crucial link in the belay lifeline, wrapping our waists and thighs with padded webbing that catches us and helps catch our climbing partners in the event of a fall. The climbing harness experiences relatively low wear and tear (at least in most climbing situations), meaning the harness you choose will likely remain in your kit for a few years. To help you make that first important choice, Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures brings you our guide to choosing the right rock climbing harness. To see all of our rock climbing courses and tours click here [caption id="attachment_4145" align="alignnone" wid...

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Introduction to Crevasse Rescue Part 1 – The Gear

Wed, 22nd Mar 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Glacier-mountaineering

Ski mountaineering season will soon be upon us and that means going after bigger objectives in more technical terrain. One of the gateways to standing on summits and skiing couloirs in western Canada is glaciers. These stretching snow-covered ice sheets  provide suitable access routes and great low-angle skiing. But a caveat of glacier travel - whether on skis, skins or snowshoes - is the prevalence of crevasses. These gaping cracks form where the glacial ice in tension, creating a dangerous fall hazard. [caption id="attachment_3809" align="alignnone" width="710"] Travelling roped up in groups requires practice and good team communication[/caption] By mid-winter...

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VIDEO: Tuning for backcountry skiing and riding

Thu, 9th Feb 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
tuning for backcountry skiing

An essential part of the backcountry skiing and riding routine - one that people often neglect - is tuning. Backcountry skis and splitboards spend a lot of their time skiing the best snow in powder conditions, so why would you head out with gear that's in substandard shape? Well-tuned equipment comes with some healthy benefits when ski touring and splitboarding, but most of all, it just feels nicer when making turns. Especially in the fresh powder snow that we're all seeking in the backcountry. To explain the best methods and choices for tuning for backcountry skiing and riding, Mountain Skills Academy &  Adventures teamed up with Whistler-based Underground ...

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Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Shoe

Fri, 24th Jun 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Shoe

The most important piece of equipment for any rock climber is their shoes. Not just any shoes mind you, modern climbing shoes are able to stick to tiny ledges and grip on steep, smooth surfaces. That comes with the caveat of discomfort, a reason why almost every beginner climber has a love/hate relationship with their footwear. But it doesn't have to be that way. By choosing the right rock climbing shoe for your ability and climbing style, you can get the most out of this exhilarating sport with as little pain as possible. [caption id="attachment_3182" align="alignnone" width="710"] From left to right, examples of neutral, moderate and aggressive climbing shoes.[/capti...

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Share Shed: Creating easier access to adventure

Fri, 22nd Jan 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Share Shed

Have you ever wanted to try an outdoor activity but couldn't because you weren't equipped? Purchasing and renting outdoor gear isn't cheap and remains one of the tallest barriers to entry for adventure activities. Conversely, your garage may be overflowing with items that are seldom used anymore and you could use some residual income. What if an online service could match these two people to rent equipment at an affordable rate? That's the concept of Share Shed, a Vancouver upstart founded by young entrepreneur Daniel Dubois. We chatted with Daniel about how the sharing economy is on the rise with outdoor equipment and how Share Shed is giving everyday people one less...

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Gear for successful skinning on skis

Thu, 3rd Dec 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Skinning on Skis in the Alpine

For first timers heading out into the backcountry, the first challenges usually revolve around equipment. Bindings that switch from ski to walk mode, snowboards that somehow split into half (and then reattach for the descent) and most of all, those sticky lengths of carpet that allow uphill travel on snow – the skins. Just like any sliding skill, the technique and pacing required for effective skinning doesn't happen overnight. The most advanced ski tourers and splitboarders have accumulated hundreds (sometimes thousands) of hours of experience on the skin track, letting them approach various skinning situations with ease. Today we take a look at the equipment that ma...

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How to choose the best base layer for skiing and snowboarding

Thu, 22nd Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Icebreaker Top Clothing Layering

One of the biggest things that people pay attention to with winter sports apparel is what's on the outside. The waterproofness, breathability and insulation of outerwear is considered alongside the more cosmetic considerations of style and colour. But staying comfortable in the mountains depends so much more on what you have underneath all that Gore-Tex and down fill. In order to get through the coldest, wettest days without retreating into the lodge every couple of runs, Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures give you the guide to choose the best base layer for skiing (and snowboarding too). Lose the cotton Possibly the worst fabric one can take into the mountains i...

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Essential Mountaineering Gear

Thu, 15th Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Essential Mountaineering Gear

Last week we talked about how October is one of the best months for alpine climbing and with some sun left in this month's forecast, there's still time to tick off a few objectives. If you're new to climbing or mountaineering, the equipment, skills and physical exertion required to make it to the top of a mountain can seem a little daunting at first and likely, outside a lot of people's budgets. The great thing about mountaineering gear is that it's built to last; stainless steel teeth, aircraft aluminium shafts, nickel-plated threads. Hardware may need some sharpening after a couple seasons of heavy use, but otherwise it won't deteriorate at the same rate as skis and ou...

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Get the jump on the Whistler Turkey Sale – UPDATED FOR 2017

Thu, 1st Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Turkey Sale Whistler Blackcomb

The annual Whistler Turkey Sale has become one of Whistler's most attractive fall events. With humble beginnings as a yard sale of excess gear - some purposely abandoned in hotels by international visitors - the popularity of this door-crasher sale spread among locals in the Sea to Sky Corridor and eventually to Vancouver and the entire Lower Mainland. Now with thousands of people flocking up the Sea to Sky Highway - the Whistler Turkey Sale has officially gone mainstream. So in order to get that killer deal, you'd better get in early, and know where to look. Grab the Big Bird The biggest event of the weekend is the Whistler Blackcomb Turkey Sale, kicking off at the...

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Interview with Icebreaker’s Jeremy Moon

Thu, 17th Sep 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Icebreaker Jeremy Moon

Temperatures are falling, rain be a comin' and soon, the snow will be flying. It's these months of the year when flip flops and summer short-shorts get relegated to the back of the closet, the warmth and comfort of winter clothing slowly starts to make its way to the front again. Base layers are an integral part of winter wear, keeping warmth as close as possible to the source - your own skin. One of the most effective base layers is wool, its natural fibers superior to polyester and polypropylene synthetics in terms of warmth-to-weight ratio. The problem with traditional wool is its scratchy feel to the skin and the tendency to shrink in the washing machine, but...

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Forgotten Gear: The Backcountry Map

Wed, 2nd Sep 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Topographic Relief Perspective Backcountry Map

When driving around looking for a particular street address, do you find yourself watching the smartphone screen instead of the number on the houses? With the trusty Google Maps app (or the proprietary equivalent), progress is measured by the little pulsing blue dot approaching  the flagged pin, it's only when the two are almost touching that people begin to observe their surroundings for clues their destination. Siri, that soothing voice of Apple devices,  can even talk you through it all. The item that's missing in cars and backpacks alike is the good old paper map. Most of us are old enough to remember how to get there the old-fashioned way, back when every ...

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The Tremendous Truth About Trekking Poles

Thu, 27th Aug 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Mountain Trekking Poles

By Karen Lenehan There is much debate - among hikers and guides alike – on whether or not to use trekking poles over long-distances. The question is, are trekking poles worth the investment? When I spent my first summer in the Whistler area a few years ago I started hiking weekly, sometimes daily, to explore the surrounding mountains and trails. I noticed that trekking poles seemed to be increasing in popularity, and to see if it was more than just another equipment trend, I turned to research. One has to keep in mind that many studies are done in a laboratory or other such controlled environments. That means subjects may not have time to experience the im...

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Guide to Gore-Tex (and other membranes)

Wed, 5th Aug 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Arc'teryx Gore-Tex

Rain has returned to the Sea to Sky this week, sorely needed for wildfires still burning in the region and giving the soil on hiking and mountain bike trails a chance to replenish its moisture. While it has been an unseasonably hot dry summer – an anomaly that seems to be becoming an annual trend her in British Columbia – outdoor folk of the Pacific Northwest know full well that rain can often arrive unannounced and linger for longer than expected. Thankfully technology has us covered in the form of waterproof breathable fabrics. And there's one household name that has dominated this corner of the outdoor apparel market for decades –  Gore-Tex. Invented in 1969 af...

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Stay in touch with a satellite communicator

Wed, 22nd Jul 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
in Reach SE Satellite Communicator

Stepping off the grid into remote locations - away from cell phone signal - is a large part of what makes the experiencing the wilderness experience so special. With smart phones now firmly integrated into our lives and constantly keeping us connected, stepping out of cell phone coverage can give us a sense of freedom, with no one bothering us about work, gossip or pressing social engagements. But despite parties being adequately prepared, accidents can happen in the backcountry. The old school method of letting next-of-kin know your departure point and expected return - while still an important part of trip planning - will only let Search and Rescue (SAR) organizations ...

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