Saturday, January 21, 2017


How To 180 Into A Switch Tail Butter and 180 Out

Posted by Snowboard Addiction on
The 180 Switch Tail Butter 180 out, is an intermediate level buttering trick that will add a ton of style to your riding. This trick is actually a lot easier than it looks! Although this trick can be performed in either the frontside or backside direction, start with the frontside version (if in doubt):

Get Your Head Around Out

You may get dizzier than a popcorn fart watching this trick, but break it down and it becomes a combination of three fairly basic tricks.
  1. Frontside 180
  2. Switch Tail Butter
  3. Switch Backside 180 Out

Step 1) Sliding

While riding, slide a Frontside 180, then a Switch Backside 180.
Pay attention to your line of approach because you need to use a heel edge turn to set up for the Frontside 180. Once that is complete, then move to your toe edge to initiate the Switch Backside 180. As you will see, this trick is a combination of rotation and counter rotation and practicing sliding will help you dial in when to use which.

Step 2) Add Ollies

Ollie Frontside 180 then ollie a Switch Backside 180. For now, forget about the Tail Butter in there. This uses the exact same entry path and movement as Step 1, with a rotational 180 and a counter-rotated 180.

Step 3) Slide Into A Butter

This is where you are going to add in the slide part. Slide a Frontside 180 to Tail Butter then Slide a Switch Backside 180 out.
The entry path and movements are exactly the same as the above two steps, but now you are adding in the buttering position to this trick. While buttering, the tail of your board almost needs to be flat, without any edges on the snow. This allows you to maximize your balance. 

Step 4) Add An Ollie Out

Slide a Frontside 180 into a Tail Press position, then Ollie the 180 out.
This is the exact same movement as Step 3, but with an Ollie out to complete the butter.

Step 5) The Actual Trick

Frontside Ollie 180, Switch Tail Butter, Ollie a Switch Backside 180 out. Simple!
It shouldn't take long to learn the 4 previous steps, because they are designed as stepping stones to help you prepare for this trick.

Trick Tip

The trick to snapping the Switch Backside 180 is counter rotation. Because you are continuing the way you are spinning, and not going back the opposite direction, it feels pretty natural, so try not to think about it too much.

Five steps to glory is all there is to it for the 180 into a Switch Tail Butter, 180 Out! It is a super fun trick that will add a ton of style to your riding and make even a mellow run a blast. So get it on lock now and improve your riding today.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hiking on Dangerous Trails

When you hike out of the woods and there are no longer rooted trees and plants, it is because you are on ground that can not support life - either sand or rock. And, since sand is just rock that has been pulverized, its all rock and hiking on it safely requires special concerns to keep in mind.

Sand Hiking

If you've ever walked on the beach, you've felt the sand give way with every step you take. When you walk on wet sand that is packed, the going is much easier than on dry, soft sand. When the sand is piled and you are hiking up or across it, every step sinks or slips back making the going slow and more dangerous. Risks of stumbling, twisting your ankle, or causing a sandslide increase as the slope gets steeper and you get more tired. So, go slow, carefully place each step, and look for more stable ground.

Scree Hiking

Scree is bits of broken rock piled up at the base of a cliff. In the mountains, daily heating and freezing of moisture on the solid rock causes it to slowly break the rock apart and tumble down. A scree slope will pile up to its steepest possible angle. Depending on the size and shape of the rock chunks, that angle may be shallow or steep. Any additional rock that falls on the slope will roll down until it finds a resting place or hits the bottom. The same is true for your foot! When you step onto a slope of loose rock, just like sand, it will give way under the weight until the material under it settles with the new weight. This may be 1/32 of an inch or it may be a few inches. In some cases, you may be sliding down the slope along with a couple tons of rock, all looking for stable places to rest.
Established trails across scree tend to be packed indentations where many people have helped push the rock down a bit until there is a slightly wider path across the face of the slope. Scree trails can't have very steep inclines so they typically run straight across or a slight rise. It is very important to remain on the trail and watch your step. I'm not kidding when I say that you can find yourself 100 yards downhill with 1 to 5 pound rocks bouncing all around you from just one mis-step.
Screeing is a fun, very dangerous tactic of quickly descending a scree slope. If the scree is small enough and deep enough, you can kind of ski down it in your boots. You are actually creating a mini-rockslide and riding it down. Make sure there are no larger rocks to trip you up and no one below you. And, there's a good chance you will take a tumble, so doing it only on grape or orange sized scree rather than cantelope and watermelon sized scree is a good idea.

Talus Hiking

Talus is really what scree is. People just tend to call smaller bits of rock Scree and bigger stuff Talus. Really big Talus is called Boulders. It's all the stuff that has broken off of mountains and piled up. Depending on the composition of the original rock, the pieces of talus will be tiny, huge, or somewhere in between. Don't tell anyone, but this is really my very favorite kind of hiking. It can be very dangerous and takes a lot of effort, but when things are just right, you feel just like a wild mountain goat scampering wherever you want to go. Boulder hopping is when you step or hop from one boulder to the next in a large field of talus. In good hiking boots with grippy rubber soles, on dry rocks this is fun. Instead of working your way between big rocks, you are stepping on the tops of them. Besides, I get scared when I'm standing between two big rocks - I feel like an ant between the finger and thumb of my son. :-()
After practice and you are sure of your strength, balance, and ability, you can practically dance down a boulder field. Know where you are landing and have the next couple of steps already planned ahead. I usually hop back and forth when descending a steeper field because the change in direction helps slow me down - its kind of like turning on skis to slow down.

Cautions on Rock of All Sizes

  • It's easy to miss a step. Twisted ankles, scraped shins, broken bones are all things to consider. If you are going to boulder hop, think ahead about how you will get out with a broken leg. If you don't think you can, then you should find a different trail or go slowly and carefully.
  • Don't even try rock hopping if it is raining, or your boots are wet, or its cold enough for ice. Any slippery surface will be disastrous.
  • It will take a long, long time to cover a mile. Reduce your distance expectations if part of your trail is on loose scree or talus.
  • Chances of slips and failing rock are greater on the descent than the ascent. You are hitting with much more force coming downhill.
  • Don't hike up a slope at a steep angle. Go across in a switchback style. This gives the rock a better chance to accept your extra weight and keeps the person behind you out of your 'rock schadow' - that danger area where you will kick loose rocks.
  • If you kick loose some rocks, yell "Rock!". If you hear someone above you yell "Rock!", crouch down and cover your head. It's not cool to yell "Rock!" as a joke - kind of like yelling "Fire!" in a theatre.
  • Stay completely focused on where you are putting your feet. Checking out the scenery should only be done when you stop to rest.
  • Use hiking poles for more support on loose rock. If yours have metal tips, they may be more dangerous if you are stepping from rock to rock.

The seven stages of becoming a cyclist

Once upon a time riding a bike was something I did to get to a friend’s house. Said friend lived colossal distances away. About 200 of your adult metres. We would go on bike adventures that strayed a massive 500 metres from our homes. We were 7 years old and bikes were something to play with. Not exactly what you might call a cyclist.
For many this is where our relationship with the bike ends. A tiny minority stick with their two-wheeled friend but most progress to sex, drugs and rock & roll before er, progressing to cars, a mortgage and buying bikes for their own kids.
Yet an increasing number of us are rediscovering the humble bicycle. This makes me happy. Although I’ve always cycled, mostly as a commuter, I followed a similar journey myself many a year ago. Cycling begins as a crazy notion of going for a bike ride and before you know it you’re wearing Lycra, carrying bananas on your back and riding insane distances.
Here then are the seven stages of becoming a cyclist. Which stage are you at?



Stage 1 – First Time Cyclist

No helmet. Fail.
For some it will be commuting. For others it will be a seemingly mad charity ride. Some rediscover the bicycle for fitness and others are cajoled by their weird friend who wears revealing clothes and disappears every Sunday morning.
My story began in 2010. I was commuting daily by bike when my brother invited me to ride a sportive with him. Sure I said, not thinking much of a 90 mile ride that was “around Reading” as I was told, or the exhausting Chiltern Hills, as I now know better. If I can ride 10 miles a day surely I can ride 90 was my thinking. Muppet.
Worried my £35 ebay bike wouldn’t make it, I bought another second-hand bike on ebay for £650, which at the time felt like a substantial amount of money (still does in fact). I gave no consideration to bike frame size, components, brand or anything much. I simply liked the colour. This bike is still my best bike today.
With no training, I set off. Boy, did I hurt and struggle on that ride. The bottom bracket on my newly acquired bike gave out within the first ten miles and so I crunched and slumped my way to the finish line!
First Time Cyclist key characteristics:
  • Rides any old cheap bike you can get your hands on
  • Rides in jeans
  • Cannot change from the big ring to the little ring without dropping the chain
  • A penchant for homemade cycling gear – a bin bag with a hole in it is considered waterproofing
  • Only thing they measure on a ride is how far they ride and how numb their ass is (very)
  • Rides as the crow flies where possible. Direct. ‘A’ roads are good.
  • Takes no food and water on long rides (anything over 20 miles at this stage)
  • A puncture is a life changing event – what the hell am I supposed to do? I neither know how to fix this puncture nor do I have the tools
  • Willingly signs up to monster sportives without the fitness and then worries about it but completes it anyway
  • Thinks ‘cycling gear’ begins and ends at a ‘bike’
  • Avoids hills or walks up them
  • Never cleans bike or lubes chain
  • Average speed of 14 mph
  • Top speed of 15.5 mph coasting downhill
  • Tyre pressure is measured using thumb test. It’s always good.
  • 60 rpm average cadence (what’s cadence?)
  • Pre ride nutrition: burger and beer
  • Ride nutrition: burger and beer
  • Post ride nutrition: burger and beer
  • Overheard before a ride: Why am I doing this?
  • First thing they do after a ride: complain about their sore butt
  • Cycling season: August and bank holiday weekends

Stage 2 – Beginner Cyclist

This aerodynamic stuff is easy. Waterproof socks? Pah!
After my sportive I began riding moderate distances at the weekend in search of more cycling freedom and er, speed. My range soon hit 50 miles and I believed I was ready for anything. My bike felt like a smooth speed machine compared to my rusty commuter bike.
I rode 100 miles from London to Southend and back. In my jeans. It was a very hot day and I thought I was pro eating very sticky prunes from my er, backpack. My jam sandwich was also not in the best of condition. Still at least I was taking things seriously enough to bring along some Lucozade.
Adventurous, I set off on a three-day ride from London to the Norfolk Broads and was introduced to the concept of a headwind and riding in the rain. My backpack was not very aerodynamic. It was also very difficult to read the handwritten directions on my arm or use the soggy paper maps printed out from the internet. Despite stopping at every junction for directions and breaking the front dérailleur (damn you ebay!) I somehow made it home.

Beginner Cyclist key characteristics:

  • Bike repairs are conducted with either a hammer or a screwdriver
  • Being prepared is remembering to buy Lucozade. The ‘Sport’ version not the ‘ill’ version.
  • Discovers the joy of B roads
  • Cycle clothing is wearing shorts
  • Backpack is the equivalent of very roomy jersey pockets
  • Paper maps and getting lost are part of the adventure
  • Gets more punctures in a day than most do in a year due to pinch flats
  • Half of the contents of the shed are carried in backpack
  • Bonks for the first time and vows never to cycle again
  • Bike maintenance is inflating the tyres and spraying WD40 everywhere
  • Average speed of 14.5 mph
  • Top speed of 21 mph pedalling downhill, oh yeah!
  • 65 rpm average cadence (what’s cadence?)
  • Pre ride nutrition: Toast and a sip of Lucozade
  • Ride nutrition: Jam sandwich and Lucozade
  • Post ride nutrition: Fish and chips, more Lucozade
  • Overheard before a ride: This’ll be easy
  • First thing they say after a ride: That wasn’t easy and boy my thighs are red raw from those jeans
  • Cycling season: May – August, weekends only

Stage 3 – Amateur Cyclist

Celebrate at your own risk
With loads of miles in my legs (about 300!) I was ready for anything. After a short winter break (September to May) I psyched myself up for the ride of a lifetime. My grand plan was to ride from London to Spain. In two weeks. Solo. To this day I do not know where this notion came from. It just felt like the right thing to do.
Enjoying my second year of cycling I had learnt a lot of cycling lessons the hard way. I bought a set of cheap Lycra shorts and a jersey. After much deliberation and confusion I even took the massive and scary leap of buying shoes that would fix my feet to the pedals. Going clipless was a terrifying prospect.
The big cycle tour? I made it to Spain in ten days, riding on average of 100+ miles plus each day on a bike ride I will never forget. The man with the hammer and I became close friends and this was the ride from which point I knew I was a cyclist. Fantastic.
Amateur Cyclist key characteristics
  • Knows to take spare innertubes on a ride. Preferably five of them.
  • Backpack is replaced by panniers for cycle touring
  • Believes himself to be a ‘bike engineer’ because he changed brakepads
  • Falls off bike very slowly when stationary at traffic lights (damn you new clipless pedals)
  • Thinks being aerodynamic is sitting up in a tailwind
  • Has learnt how to drink water whilst still pedalling. Still dribbles down chin though
  • Masters the art of the snot rocket
  • Can now brake without skidding
  • Rides no handed eating a banana and pretends to be pro
  • Finally understands why bike handlebars have drops
  • Worried about slow cadence without really understanding why
  • Eats peanut butter sandwiches and bananas
  • Has a Garmin for directions and measuring average speed and distance travelled
  • Average speed of 16 mph
  • Top speed of 33 mph downhill
  • 85 rpm average cadence (must work on that)
  • Pre ride nutrition: 2 rounds of toast and a coffee
  • Ride nutrition: Peanut butter sandwich and water
  • Post ride nutrition: As much food as you can find
  • Overheard before a ride: I’m aiming for 16.5 mph average speed today
  • First thing they do after a ride: Check their average speed
  • Cycling season: April – September, weekends only

Stage 4 – Proper Cyclist

Cycling is sexy they said
After riding over 1,000 miles in ten days, I barely cycled again for the remainder of 2011. Resting of course. Come 2012 I considered myself a fully fledged cyclist because I owned one set of Lycra and could cycle clipped in to my pedals without falling over.
Dedicated, now I was cycling every weekend and cycling 100 miles became routine as my average speed (still my yardstick) crept up to 17 mph plus depending on the length of my ride. I developed a taste for hill climbing for some unknown reason and began seeking the biggest, steepest hills I could find. A sense of competition hit me and now I was riding hard round local cycling routes to measure myself against others.
Proper Cyclist key characteristics
  • Has developed a Haribo addiction – thanks Wiggle!
  • Strava becomes a thing
  • Rides tyres pumped to Max PSI
  • Has a ‘system’ for applying chafing creme
  • Begins to log elevation gained as well as average speed
  • Has named bike
  • Discovers layering is the key to keeping warm
  • Rides roads not on a map, stubbornly refusing to change route no matter how bad the surface
  • Talks about gear ratios way too much
  • Still can’t index gears
  • Bores others with talk of monster rides
  • Diet is all about carbs and prone to overeating
  • Riding with a hangover is endurance training
  • Has bought a massage stick but is not quite sure what to do with it
  • Runs up elevators because it’s good training
  • An interval is riding as hard as you can, everywhere
  • No longer needs map for local roads but still gets lost
  • Every ride with another is a race, even his girlfriend
  • Average speed of 17 mph plus
  • Top speed of 56 mph rolling down a very steep hill with panniers
  • 90 rpm average cadence (cracked it!)
  • Pre ride nutrition: 3 rounds of toast and a coffee
  • Ride nutrition: Lots of horrible energy gels
  • Post ride nutrition: As much pasta as you can eat
  • Overheard before a ride: Are my thighs getting bigger?
  • First thing they do after a ride: Check segments on Strava
  • Cycling season: April – December, weekends only

Stage 5 – Avid Cyclist

Lovely day for a bike ride
I’m now well and truly a cyclist. There can be no denying it. My year round tan lines don’t lie. As far as possible I plan my life around riding. Holidays near famous climbs. Nights out combined with rest days. I study the weather more than sailors and read more maps than a budding boy scout.
My Lycra collection rivals that of the Marvel Comic archives. I wear cycling specific everything. I’ve got different clothes for different weathers, glasses with different lenses, shoe covers of varying insulation. And let’s not even talk gloves.
I finally understand watching cycling on TV and even enjoy it. My bike collection grows and I take more than a passing interest in mountain biking, track riding and cyclocross.
Avid Cyclist key characteristics
  • Returns to B roads because they are quicker
  • Obsesses about the correct tyre pressure
  • Looks the business. Kit always matches
  • Spends longer planning the perfect route than riding it
  • Has two bikes
  • Has moved best bike from shed to bedroom
  • Thinks The Rules are a thing
  • Finally learns how to index gears
  • Spends an inordinate amount of time concentrating on the perfect pedal stroke
  • Refuses to drop into the small chainring because he’s strong, even at 26 rpm on steep hills
  • Says ‘chapeau’ a lot, much to the annoyance and confusion of friends and work colleagues and the bloke behind the bar
  • Films and measures every ride, including the pootle to the shops
  • Off the bike, wears shorts on cold days to show off calves and cycle tan
  • Eats gels for lunch and sips on electrolytes throughout the day
  • Heart rate monitor is worn more than it should be. Obsesses over HR rate
  • Average speed of 18+ mph
  • Top speed is still 56 mph as I’m no longer crazy
  • 98 rpm average cadence (too high but I don’t know this yet)
  • Pre ride nutrition: Porridge, lots of the stuff, and a coffee
  • Ride nutrition: Malt loaf and bananas, and water
  • Post ride nutrition: As much food as you can find
  • Overheard before a ride: A solid threshold and endurance ride awaits
  • First thing they do after a ride: Stretch, shower, eat
  • Cycling season: Every day, rest is an alien concept

Stage 6 – Serious Cyclist

The cyclist’s body – a cling film wrapped chicken carcass
A few years later and I discover the joy / pain of cycle training programmes. I learn to speak a new language full of acronyms to describe the various interval sessions I’m now riding weekly.
I have a spreadsheet with every ride for the next 12 months mapped out. I have targets. I am a machine, a scientist, my own coach. I’m way too serious about the whole thing.
At this point competitive cycling should be introduced but that’s not for me. I ride for solitude, for space. I just like to do that as quickly as I can.
I’ve finally discovered the joy of rest and not always having heavy legs. I can ride in zone two without the temptation of nailing every stretch of road. Speed is no longer my concern. It’s all about power now. And panache. I’m invincible. Although I’m still working on my pedalling ‘technique’.
Serious Cyclist key characteristics
  • Touches thighs more than he should to check how they’re feeling
  • Spends more time riding indoors than out
  • Talks about the same road in the Alps only they have ridden whenever you mention a climb
  • Has carbon everything
  • Measures resting heart rate more than he should and often quotes low numbers out loud to amaze nobody but himself
  • Skinnier than when he was 14
  • Spends an inordinate amount of time lying on floor with feet raised high
  • Spreadsheets dictate his life ride
  • Actively seeks headwinds
  • Calls any day not riding hard a recovery day and any day not riding a rest day
  • Obsesses about carb and protein ratios
  • Drinks coconut water and pretends to enjoy the taste
  • Constantly worried about form and fitness even though he doesn’t compete
  • Has 23 cycling caps
  • Says things like bidon, anaerobic, lactate threshold. A lot.
  • Ignores all numbers except for those measured in watts
  • Cleans bike thinking it will make him quicker
  • Obsesses about weight, has cut brake pads in half on hill climbing bike to save vital few grams
  • Talks about riding with panache to anybody who will listen
  • Is not sure what riding with panache actually is. Riding with one eyebrow raised perhaps
  • Average speed: who cares? My FTP is 298.
  • Top speed of 56 mph downhill, still
  • 92 rpm average cadence (after much experimentation)
  • Pre ride nutrition: Eggs, toast and a coffee
  • Ride nutrition: Soreen, bananas and water
  • Post ride nutrition: Protein and carb blend, nutrition drip
  • Overheard before a ride: This will be a steady state ride with a bit of endurance and anaerobic thrown in to lift my FTP
  • First thing they do after a ride: Analyse and pretend to understand the 37 lines on the post ride graphs in Golden Cheetah or TrainingPeaks
  • Cycling season: January – December. Days dictated by the spreadsheet.

Stage 7 – Seasoned Cyclist

Ride on
The natural resting place of all cyclists. No longer kids himself he’s training for anything and just rides. Swiftly, after all these years. Enjoys overtaking younger cyclists who don’t seem to understand how someone on a touring bike with panniers is overtaking them. Uphill.
Considers himself a plodder, only because he has learnt not to chase everything that moves. Has no ride plan other than to get lost and enjoy the scenery. Looks forward to the mid ride coffee almost as much as the post ride coffee.
His GPX is his brain, riddled with routes he’s been riding for years. Rides often and rides far, not that he’s counting.
Seasoned Cyclist key characteristics
  • Can repair most things on the bike using a cable / zip tie
  • Remembers mechanical gears
  • Bike is what others call vintage but he thinks is still relatively new
  • Ancient steel bike is in better condition than your three-week old carbon racing machine
  • Never seen out of breath
  • Uses bike to get everywhere
  • A short ride is 75 miles
  • Cadence remains the same no matter what the terrain. Smooth
  • Always takes waterproofs, just in case
  • Knows every cafe within a 115 mile radius
  • Point to any spot on a map and he’ll have a story about a bike ride on those roads
  • Wears cycling gear even when not cycling
  • Large saddle bag is essential kit
  • Flask of coffee replaces bottle of electrolytes
  • Thinks being aerodynamic is waxing his beard
  • Has more bike tools than your local bike shop
  • Average speed? As long as it takes
  • Top speed: see above
  • average cadence: see above
  • Pre ride nutrition: Whatever I fancy
  • Ride nutrition: Cake
  • Post ride nutrition: Whatever I like
  • Overheard before a ride: I’ll amble over to the lanes and take it easy down to the canal
  • First thing they do after a ride: Check images of the scenery from their ride. All 57 of them.
  • Cycling season: Whenever I feel like it. Which is most of the time
So where are you at in your cycling development? Beginner or pro?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

How To Beat Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis accounts for about 10 percent of all running injuries.
This nagging injury can be long-lasting if not treated — and if your running form needs some work.
The name Achilles is said to be a combination of two Greek words that together mean “grief of the people.” The injury that bears that hero’s name, in honor of his only weakness, certainly aggrieves many runners, with Achilles tendinitis accounting for around 10 percent of running injuries.
Technically, Achilles tendinitis is acute inflammation of the tendon that runs along the back of the ankle, said Joe Uhan, a physical therapist, coach and ultrarunner. Pain in that area for longer than a couple weeks is not really tendinitis anymore. Athletes, however, tend to characterize any pain along the tendon above the back of the heel as Achilles tendinitis.
Achilles tendinitis can be confused with other injuries, such as heel problems, but the hallmark sign is “if you’re pinching the Achilles and it’s really sore,” said Uhan.
Once you have acute pain, said Phinit Phisitkul, a University of Iowa associate professor in orthopedic surgery, the treatment is pretty much the same as with any acute injury — and not something most runners want to hear: rest, ice, anti-inflammatories. Some doctors also recommend sleeping with a brace on your foot to allow a state of relaxed dorsiflexion and avoid walking around barefoot (or in high heels) so that your tendon isn’t overly shortened or stretched.
Studies have found one of the most successful treatments involves eccentric strengthening exercises, said Phisitkul. Stand on the edge of a step and lower yourself slowly on your injured foot, essentially exerting force as the muscle extends. Then use your other, non-injured, foot to raise yourself back up, so as not to stress the tendon in the rising motion. Do 15 repetitions, twice a day. However, if the pain is severe, it can be best to rest before easing back into exercises and workouts.
Of course, instead of treating the injury when it’s too late, wouldn’t you rather avoid it in the first place? That can be a little complicated, though, since why you get Achilles tendinitis really depends on what you’re doing.

“It’s almost always an overstriding problem,” said Uhan. When your foot lands in front of your trunk, especially if you land on the forefoot, you end up putting all the weight on your Achilles tendon. “That’s stress your body has to absorb.”
While Uhan said that the most common problem he see is from overstriding, there are other issues that lead to Achilles injuries as well. Runners who don’t engage their glutes tend to push with their toes instead of with their glute muscles, especially when trying to run fast. That kind of stress can cause inflammation.
Basically anything that stresses your Achilles tendon can lead to Achilles tendinitis if you’re not careful: too much mileage, too many hills, too much speed work without building up appropriately. In fact, there isn’t always an obvious reason why someone might start to suffer from Achilles tendinitis. “Most patients usually don’t have any identifiable source,” said Phisitkul.
Fortunately, the Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body. As long as you’re careful while you ramp up your training, you should be able to keep it healthy and strong. Often Achilles tendinitis manifests first as stiffness in the joint that eventually warms up. If, when you first notice the stiffness, you take preventive measures to increase ankle flexibility and pull back on your mileage, speedwork and hill running, then you can avoid it turning into a serious problem.
To prevent Achilles tendinitis in the first place, it’s important to maintain your flexibility. Stretching can help; just don’t overstretch. Simply spend a minute each day stretching your calf and ankle joint. One of the easiest stretches, said Uhan, is to put one foot on the ground behind the other and push into a wall.

In addition to stretching, using a foam roller and getting regular massage to keep the joint mobile can help prevent any problems from starting.
If you start to feel inflammation in your tendon or have Achilles tendinitis once, it isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Let it rest and recover, which can sometimes take as long as four to six weeks if you waited until the pain was acute.
The real problem is if Achilles tendinitis becomes an ongoing injury. If it keeps recurring, then it’s time for the perpetually injured to examine what they’re doing to cause the problem. “They need to get their running mechanics analyzed by a professional,” said Uhan, who swears that once you get your foot to land all the way underneath you, then the pain goes away quickly.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Snowshoeing

There’s a common phrase when it comes to snowshoeing: If you can walk and hike, you can snowshoe.
Sure, there’s technique involved (see below for tips on climbing hills, descending hills, breaking trail, etc.) but the learning curve is much tighter than when you try  to snowboard or ski for the first time. And the equipment is less expensive.

What You Need

  1. Snowshoes. Rent or buy them. ($60 and up to purchase; $15 and up to rent per day)
  2. Poles. Use ski poles or hiking poles fitted with ski baskets. ($15 and up)
  3. Layered clothing. Snowshoes with spring bindings will flick snow at your backside. If you have those, you’ll want water-repellent or waterproof pants. On top, you’ll want layers that you can shed during this highly aerobic activity.
  4. Gaiters. Well-fitted gaiters can make all the difference in your experience. They can keep you dry and comfortable and stop the snow from soaking your socks.
  5. Insulated and waterproof or water-repellent boots. We’ve seen people snowshoeing in snowboarding boots and hunting boots, but you’ll be most comfortable in boots that you could hike in.
  6. The 10 essentials: Map, compass, water, extra food and clothing, fire starter, matches, knife, first-aid kit, flashlight.
  7. Sunglasses and sunscreen. Even a cloudy day during a Colorado winter can be brutal on the eyes and skin.
A hat and gloves. You’ll be working harder than if you’re skiing, but you still want to protect your head and hands.

What You Need to Know

  1. Information about the terrain. Snowshoes offer an easy way to access even the most avalanche-prone terrain. Check conditions before you go at http://avalanche.state. co.us and click on “Forecasts,” or use a reputable snowshoe guide, such as “Snowshoeing Colorado” by Claire Walter, that notes avalanche risk on each trail.
  2. Trail etiquette. When you snowshoe in a place that’s also frequented by cross-country skiers, stay out of the ski track. Snowshoers can easily walk down a skier’s trail; it’s not so easy for skiers to glide on a snowshoer’s trail.
  3. Walking technique. It’s easy to walk straight up and down, rather than at a diagonal. Snowshoes will slide if the cleats aren’t properly placed. If you hear your shoes hitting each other, you’re walking with your feet too close together.
  4. How to climb a steep section of trail. Kick the front of your shoe into the snow and press down before you put your weight on it. Make the steps fairly far apart for a more stable climb.
  5. How to go downhill. Don’t lean forward. Keep your weight on the cleats. Use your poles for stability.
  6. How to get up from a fall. Cross your poles in front of you and put your weight on them while you push off the ground to get up.
  7. How to break trail. When you’re with others, take turns.
  8. How to read the terrain. Animal tracks can direct you to stable snow bridges over creeks. Use your poles to determine the snow depth.
  9. How to have even more fun. If you reach a hillside that looks perfect for sledding, try it out on your butt. (You wore waterproof pants, right?) If you go with your kids, take along a bottle of pancake syrup and cups and make your own backcountry snow cones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Risks Of Climbing A Fourteener Rise In Winter

Hiking a fourteener in winter is nothing like hiking one in summer. You can’t stuff a pack with snacks, a couple of water bottles and some extra clothes and then head out expecting success. The risk and difficulty increase significantly.
Most of Colorado’s fourteeners are considered a mountaineer’s kindergarten playground during summer. Trying one during winter is a good first step into the world of real mountaineering.
I have successfully summited fourteeners 20 times in winter, have had eight failed winter attempts, been part of a number of winter alpine rescue missions and participated in several winter overnight training sessions in temperatures as low as minus 30. While this doesn’t come close to making me the most experienced person in the Rockies, I have learned a few helpful tips along the way.

LEARN TO LAYER

Use clothing layers well and invest in a shell of clothing that is waterproof and breathable. If you have a solid shell, then your layers don’t need to be anything fancy, as long as you avoid cotton. Don’t forget layers for your head, face, neck, feet and hands.
Be proactive in adjusting your layers. When you stop to take a rest, put on additional layers before you feel cold enough to need them. Pause before you reach a ridge or a saddle and zip up your shell layers. Winter winds blow harder and will steal your body heat if you don’t seal them out.

PROTECT YOUR WATER

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your body’s need for water decreases. You will be working hard to climb the mountain. But carrying enough water does you no good if you can’t drink it.
In winter, I give up on my hydration packs. Tube insulators, blowing out the tube between uses and putting the pack inside my jacket have all failed me. I stick with large-mouth water bottles, keeping one in an insulated pouch that is easily accessible. It’s best to store it upside down as any ice that forms will be at the bottom of the bottle. I keep additional bottles in my pack, wrapped up in my emergency gear and extra clothing.

PLAN FOR SNOW

Bring footwear traction appropriate for your terrain whether it’s crampons, snow/ice traction devices or just a pair of boots with good lugs.
Bring snowshoes (or skis) for deep snow. I don’t like snowshoes; they are awkward and tiring. However, I hate post-holing — when you step on the snow and your foot punches through. Then, as your next step is about to get you out of that hole, that foot punches through. This leaves a trail of holes that look like fence post holes.

CARRY AN ICE AXE

You can find trails that don’t go into terrain where you’d need one, but getting off route in winter is common and an ice axe can save you in a bad situation. The basic use of an ice axe is to help you stop in an uncontrolled slide. There is little time to respond, so make sure you’ve learned to use it properly.
Know how to navigate your route without any clues besides the topography. Snow can obscure a trail and even your own tracks might be swept away behind you in seconds.
Most importantly, be prepared for avalanches. Take an avalanche-awareness class (at least) and make sure you - and everyone in your group - have the proper equipment and know how to use it. At a minimum, this includes an avalanche beacon, probe and metal shovel. Don’t skimp on this equipment.

TAKE A HEADLAMP AND EXTRA BATTERIES

The math is pretty simple. Hikes take longer in winter, and daylight lasts as much as 6 1/2 hours less. Put those together and you’ll likely be hiking in the dark.

BE PREPARED TO SUCCEED

Plan ahead. Know how close to the trailhead you’ll be able to drive. Pay attention to the snowfall that occurs in the weeks preceding the hike. Try to pack as light as you can without leaving anything behind you’ll need. Get in shape and lose weight if you’re carrying extra pounds.

BE PREPARED TO FAIL

I don’t advocate giving up when things get hard. Mountaineering involves persevering through a lot of difficulty, but at some point continuing to push on risks too much.
Also be prepared for when things go wrong. Make sure you have the gear needed to spend an unplanned night out.
Taking on such a challenge is to experience the real Colorado, rugged and untracked wilderness. You might even experience a modern-day rarity — solitude. The price of admission to the fourteeners in winter is high, but the splendor is all the more rewarding.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Avalanche: Keep Yourself Alive Out There

HOOSIER PASS 

It’s a powder day high on the Continental Divide. Three inches of snow have coated the evergreens like a winter postcard and left the ground pillowy and untracked.
Tromping in snowshoes toward timberline, above the 11,452-foot pass that separates Summit and Park counties, it’s hard to imagine that this gift from nature could mask a hidden danger.
But the picturesque blanket of snow hides layers underneath — solid icy slabs, soft filling, another slab, and beneath it all, the sugary few inches known as “depth hoar.” It doesn’t take much pressure with a shovel to make the layers slide apart.
That’s why we’re here. Avalanche danger is a concern throughout winter and spring in Colorado, usually because our storms tend to be broken up by days of the sunny, bluebird skies that draw many of us to the high country.
Colorado leads the nation in avalanche deaths, with 241 between 1950 and 2011.
But it’s no reason to avoid the backcountry. In that spirit, I took an Introduction to Avalanche Safety class with the Pikes Peak Group of the Colorado Mountain Club.
With the right training and gear, outdoors lovers can penetrate the depths of Colorado’s high-country wilderness with confidence.

KNOW WHAT TO LOOK - AND LISTEN - FOR

Survivors typically describe a cracking sound.
A slab of snow breaks away from the mountainside, and anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in it is hurtled down.
About a quarter of people who die in avalanches are killed by the impact of the snow, or by hitting rocks or trees. Those who survive the slide often find themselves buried. Unable to move, their breath forms an icy mask and they asphyxiate, usually within 15 minutes.
During two nights in a classroom and a day on Hoosier Pass, much of my avalanche safety class was focused on not getting into this position.
Any backcountry snowshoe, snowmobile, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing or snowboarding trip to the mountains should start with a visit to avalanche.state.co.us, the CAIC’s website. Forecasters rate the danger for every mountain range on a scale of “low” to “extreme.” If it’s “high” or “extreme,” usually right after a heavy snowfall, consider staying home or choosing a route far from any steep slope.

Most deaths occur when the rating is “considerable,

as it was during our field trip. It’s a gray area, and unless your trip takes you across flat terrain or to valleys far from any suspect slope, the best thing to do is dig deeper. About four feet deep.
Dig a pit in the snow near where you will be playing, on a similarly-angled slope, and examine a flat cross-section of the snow. With gentle finger pressure you can identify the different layers of snow. Dig out a column and see if levels collapse when pressure is applied on the top and then again, when digging behind it with a shovel.
Ideally, you’ll find consistent snow without layers. For us, it was easy to make the upper hard slab come off. And it was easy to imagine how much damage 100 tons of that slab rolling downhill could do.

Most avalanches occur on slopes with grades of 30 to 45 degrees.

The one we were on was about 20 degrees, and most in our group agreed we would not ski anything much steeper in these conditions. With such unstable snow, we also agreed we would confine our hiking to ridgelines, which are generally safe.
But simply staying away from steeper slopes is not always enough. “All snow is connected,” said our instructor, and when a slab of snow is under enough pressure, stepping or skiing even on the lower aspects, the area called the “run out,” can lead to a fatal slide.

HAVE A PLAN IN HAND

Most of the time, you’re not in danger of an avalanche unless you put yourself in harm’s way.
Experts cite a number of human mistakes in most avalanche deaths: people believe terrain is safe because it’s familiar; they dismiss risks because of “summit fever” or “powder fever” or because they’ve spent a lot of time and money on a trip; they bow to the actions of the group’s “expert”; they believe tracks made by others mean a slope is safe; they don’t voice concerns because the rest of the group seems fine with the conditions.
If you’re heading into the backcountry, you must be able to rely on your companions. After a slide, getting timely help is rarely an option.
“It’s the people who are there who are going to pull out a live victim. If you get a team together, it’s a body recovery,” said course instructor Eric Hunter, of Colorado Springs.

Everyone going into avalanche-prone terrain should wear an avalanche beacon,

a device that emits a signal that other beacons can latch onto to locate someone under the snow. During the field trip to Hoosier Pass, everyone in class spent a couple hours practicing finding beacons buried in the snow. They’re not cheap — a new beacon can cost $250 — but they’re essential gear, along with a shovel and probe for finding a victim under the snow.
Some extreme backcountry skiers also wear Avalungs, which allow you to exhale carbon dioxide into a tube to preserve your air pocket if you’re buried. And some wear airbags that can help you float above the snow during a slide.
My avalanche awareness class focused on removing the fear of avalanches and creating confidence to step off the beaten path. It’s the most basic avalanche training. Other classes require many days of field and classroom and book work.
“If I’m going to get out in the backcountry, I kind of want to stay alive,” said Shari Pederson, of Colorado Springs. “Understanding will take some of the fear out and allow me to get out there and off the couch.”

WARNING SIGNS

• Danger rating from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
• Heavy recent snow, 1 inch per hour or 12 inches in a day
• A weak base layer of snow and a consolidated slab
• Rain on the snowpack
• Regular melting and refreezing
• Wind-blown cornice above the slope
• A “whoomping” sound of air escaping below you
• Recent avalanche activity
• Trees are “flagged,” showing where a slide has knocked them over or stripped off all vegetation on the uphill side

ESSENTIAL GEAR

• Avalanche beacon for everyone in a group, with fully charged batteries
• Collapsible probe to look for victims under the snow
• Shovel
• Slope meter
• Helmet

IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN AN AVALANCHE

• Yell to your partners
• Throw away ski poles
• Fight to stay on top, swimming and flailing with arms and legs
• If possible, grab a rock or tree
• Close your mouth
• As it slows, throw an arm upward and take a deep breath
• Make breathing space by putting an elbow or hand in front of your face. Don’t struggle or breathe hard.