Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy Birthday Shane

Shane McConkey would have turned 42 years old today. Friends climbed to the top of KT22 to sit beside the eagle and celebrate his life. Nearly three years since his passing his spirit seems stronger than ever. We’ll never forget you buddy.

Friends remember Shane beside the eagle shrine at the summit of KT22.

SBDC author Rob McCormick with Shane McConkey circa 1993

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Gear Review: Redemption Song Earphones

After gremlins snuck off with the last pair of earphones in the house, Rob and I were treated to two new pairs from House of Marley. Rob has been using the Redemption Song Earphones and I have been using the Conqueror Earphones.

Both come with a pouch full of silicon tips of varying shapes and sizes so we were able to choose the ones that fit our ears best and provide optimal sound. Being able to customize the fit is especially important so that the earphones don’t slip or fall out when running or otherwise moving around. Its also nice to have some backups in case you loose a tip.

The long fabric cord is another really cool feature. I am the queen of cord tangle; if its possible for something to tangle, I’ll make it happen. The fabric cord on these earphone is significantly less likely to tangle, and much easier than rubber to untangle.

Attention to detail and emphasis on social good is another great reason to choose House of Marley. The packaging and the aluminum ring are made from recycled material and a portion of proceeds go to 1Love.org, an organization that supports charities for sustainable and responsible living.

To use these earphones as a handsfree device, you can upgrade any model to a 3-button remote with microphone for $20. You also get a choice of tip color on many models.

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Backcountry Ice Skating

If there is a silver lining to our lack of snow it is that ice skating on local lakes is all time right now. Cold temperatures and no snow has turned many lakes into perfect slates of clean black ice. We’re talking better ice than an NHL Zamboni could produce. The combination of awesome ice and clear, dry hiking trails has brought into play an elusive sport known as backcountry ice skating. Small high alpine lakes are in perfect skating condition and easily accessible. If you want to turn your lack of snow frown upside down perhaps you should pack a lunch, pair of skates, and a nip of Scotch and head to the hills for some backcountry ice skating. It won’t be this good again until we have this bad of a start to winter again. And let’s hope that’s a long time.

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Here’s another great ice sport:

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Return of the Extreme Bench

Back where it belongs. The Extreme Bench at Squaw.


Remember the Extreme Bench at Squaw Valley? You know, the one in front of Dave’s Deli? The bench where Squaw Valley’s raddest rad dogs would saddle up with a mediocre beer of the week and tell everyone how rad they got that day? Under the Cushing Regime, the Extreme Bench was removed to prevent riff raff from hanging out at the base of the mountain. Paradoxically, many of the apres dwellers they were trying to eliminate are now legends of skiing and guess what? The Extreme Bench is back! Although most of it’s former occupants have migrated to the sanctuary of the Chammy, it’s nice to know this artifact of ski culture is back where it belongs. Next time you’ve slayed every line on KT in a far radder fashion then everyone else at Squaw, maybe you should grab a tall boy from Dave’s, saddle up and let the spraying begin on the good old Extreme Bench.

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Tahoe Today Interview with MRA Founder Jamie Schectman

Todd Offenbacher met with Mountain Riders Alliance founder Jamie Schectman to discuss his vision of sustainable ski areas.

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G.N.A.R. Showing in Tahoe City this Thursday

Legends in their own minds Robb and Scott Gaffney will be on hand for a showing of G.N.A.R. in Tahoe City Thursday evening. This should be a rip roaring good time as anyone familiar with the movie knows. Doors open at 6pm at Hacienda Del Lago in the Boatworks Mall. The movie is free and Hacienda will have food and drink specials too.

G.N.A.R. – movie trailer from UnofficialNetworks.com on Vimeo.

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Ground level of Olympic House now open

The new and improved Wild Flour Bakery.


The remodeled ground level of Olympic House is open for business. Wild Flour bakery has tripled in size and has added heartier breakfast items to its lineup of tasty baked goods. The elevated section in front of Wild Flour that looked like a cheesy carnival room has been removed and wooden picnic tables have been added in front of the fireplace. The wall on the west side of the room has been blown out and replaced with comfy lounge furniture, a fireplace, and windows facing Cushing Pond and KT. For parents, the lounge is strategically located between the video arcade and a new kids play zone. More importantly, it’s just downstairs from Bar One and a short skip to the Chammy. Lockers and remodeled bathrooms occupy the hallway where the arcade used to be. Basically KSL has taken a disgusting, outdated space and turned it into a contemporary ski lodge that has something for everyone.

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Backcountry access between Squaw and Alpine may happen this season

A pilot study on backcountry travel between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows may lead to limited access as soon as the later half of this ski season. The area under review is wilderness land to the west of Troy Caldwell’s White Wolf zone and does not involve his property. Check out details courtesy of Moonshine Ink:
Moonshine Ink report on backcountry access between Squaw and Alpine

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Troy Caldwell confirms Squaw and Alpine to connect via White Wolf

Unofficial Squaw reporter Miles Clark met with Troy Caldwell recently to discuss the connection of Squaw and Alpine through Troy’s White Wolf property. Apparently, Troy has no intention of selling the property to Squaw outright but intends to partner with KSL to fulfill his vision for White Wolf resort and ski area. Check out the interview courtesy of Unofficial Networks:
Miles Clark Interview with Troy Caldwell

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Christmas Product Review: Hotwheels Track Pack and the Gyrowheel

Christmas is right around the corner so we are going to review two gifts for kids, one affordable classic and one revolutionary bike riding training tool.

Hotwheels tracks have been around since the 70’s. They are inexpensive, do not require batteries, encourage creativity and are super fun. The Hotwheels Kidspick Track Pack contains orange sections of track that are linked together with red connectors allowing you to create a custom raceway that is compatible with most Hotwheels and Matchbox cars. Unlike many “themed” track kits that are kind of gimmicky, the Kidspick kit contains all the essentials to get rad with none of the bogus flair. The kit comes with track, a loop, 180 degree berm, trackclamp for gravity setups, trigger propulsion system, risers, jump, catchtrack, carrying case and of course one HotWheels car. The traditional propulsion method is to set up a high start point and use gravity to roll cars downhill. The other option is to use the included rubber band trigger system to rocket cars down the speedway. Kids can get creative with limitless different track designs. Not all concepts work. You need to incorporate physics into your track design to keep cars from jumping off the track. If your track is too steep or off camber, cars fall off. If your inrun to the loop is not fast enough, the car won’t make it. Things get really exciting when setting up large gap jumps. The set comes with a jump and “catch track” that if placed properly will allow your car to stick huge jumps. You can maximize thrill factor by setting up stuff like toy bussess under the jump just like Evil Knievel would do. At around $25 this is good ole fashion fun that lasts for hours and won’t break the bank. You could really go nuts if you got two kits and linked them together. Bring out the stuntman in your kid with a Hotwheels track for Christmas!

The next gift item is an amazing piece of technology designed to help kids ride a two wheel bike without training wheels. The Gyrowheel, designed by two Dartmouth Alumni, goes in place of the standard front wheel on your kid’s bike. It uses cyntrifical force to stabilize the bike when moving forward. It offers more tension at slow speeds and less at high speeds allowing the rider to learn to balance naturally. It comes with three different settings so that you can start with the most stable and back it off as balance improves. Eventually your kid won’t need it and will be able to ride a bike about five years ahead of schedule. At $150 the Gyrowheel is not cheap. The smart thing to do is buy one and share the cost with your neighbors. Once your kid can ride, pass it on to the next kid. Pretty soon you will have a BMX gang of four year olds terrorizing the neighborhood.

UPDATE: Fact correction from the manufacturer. SBDC apologizes for the misinformation.
I do have two quick fact corrections for you however. First, Gyrobike’s basic “proof-of-concept” was the brainchild of four undergrad engineering students for a class project. Gyrobike’s founder and CEO was at the business school at the time finishing her MBA. She licensed the patent, founded the company, and worked with a team of engineers in San Francisco to bring the concept to market.

The second thing is about the physics behind why Gyrowheel works – it isn’t a centrifugal force that creates the stability. If you really want to geek out – the physics principle is called “gyroscopic precession.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precession) Simply put, the disk/wheel wants to stay “upright” and at a 90 degree angle to the axle – the “axis” it is spinning around.

Here’s one last tech toy that rocks…The Syma Remote Control Helicopter. Here’s our review from last year.

Syma metal series mini helicopter review

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