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Mt. Hood, OR – “Off the Clock” w/ Heffernan

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Mt. Rainier, WA – Russell and Flett Glaciers

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26
Jul

Jaybird Bluebirds X - Look for this box

We are in full on summer mode here in the Pacific NW. For us, there’s no better way to escape the heat than to head for the snow. Yes, we still have LOTS of it and it’s been safe enough for us to enjoy it accompanied by some tunes heard through our new JayBird BlueBuds X bluetooth earbuds (not something we’d typically do when we need to be alert to avalanche or other snow dangers around us). We were stoked to have these wireless earbuds on a recent 3 day trip up to Mt. Rainier to ease the long approach to our ski adventure. Enough time to come up with a list of things we really like about the Jaybird Bluebuds X:

 

Jaybird Bluebird X remote control perfectly positioned for skier/riders' gear

Form factor: Earbuds. Wireless. No-brainer. For skiers and boarders, it’s this simple: being earbuds, the BlueBuds X fit comfortably under helmets. JayBird (based in a ski/ride mecca, Salt Lake City) surely had this mind and made sure to design them without any stiff bands so that they’re completely flexible and form fitting under helmets – and very lightweight. They smartly positioned the remote controls between the helmet and jacket collar so there is no need to unzip to get to the controls or fumble with excess cord to get the controls in a good spot. When the helmet’s off, the open ear design is cooler (sweaty, bulky headphones just aren’t an option for us -especially me, with my pierced ears). The BlueBuds X come with earbuds and a proprietary ear cushion attachment in 3 sizes to ensure a comfortable and snug fit. The open, in ear, earbud design set at the right volume can also give us the ability to hear what’s going on around us – just in case safety’s a factor. The earbuds come with a compact hard carrying case the size of a small (albeit thick) wallet – it should withstand anything you subject your backpack to.


TNT with Jaybird BlueBuds X on snow

Jaybird BlueBuds X with secure fit cushions


 

Bluetooth: Wireless is the way to go for any active sports -wireless means there’s no cord to get tangled on and no need to unzip, take out and potentially drop (off a lift or cliff) the music player or phone. The Jaybird BlueBuds X works with the latest iPod Nano and iPod Touch and any operating system be it Apple, Android, Blackberry or Windows Mobile. It’s also compatible with other bluetooth MP3 player and GPS, PC, Mac and gaming devices. BlueBuds X can be paired to and remember 8 devices without the need to delete and re-pair devices each time.

 

Ease of use: A good implementation of new technology shouldn’t make the user experience more complicated. Jaybird’s bluetooth earbuds are super easy to use. The BlueBuds X remote controls are conveniently located between the helmet and jacket collar and the raised buttons facilitate use with gloves on. Audio cues assist with operation so there’s no need to take out and look at the device. The Jenna system’s voice prompts accompany use from powering on -when Jenna says “power on”- to low battery indicator. Jaybird BlueBuds X were a snap to set up. Both our android and windows phones recognized the BlueBuds X and connected automatically. The phone function automatically switches on the built in mic and mutes the music.

 

Quality: Since bluetooth audio has to be digitally compressed, the feature traditionally meant trading off some audio quality. However, the Jaybird BlueBuds X were designed from the get go to achieve greater fidelity for stereo music. The audiophiles at Jaybird developed a custom implementation of the native Bluetooth SBC codec (=an audio subband codec that digitally encodes/decodes audio at higher quality to bluetooth headphones). The custom implementation is called Shift™ and it delivers incredible fidelity. For iPhone, iPod and iPad users, the Bluebird X is compatible with Apple’s new Equalizer so audio can be customized to specific musical genres and experiences. Jaybird prides itself in delivering the best audio quality for bluetooth earbuds and believes them to be on par with wired headphones – we were extremely satisfied with the audio quality and loved their on-board noise canceling system called, PureSound™. It filters out white noise and decreases listener fatigue. The Bluebuds X were also designed with the athlete in mind and warranted to “not fail because of perspiration for the expected life of the product”. The product is intended to be  ”sweat and water resistant”, meaning they are designed to “withstand moisture under normal non-water sports and everyday use such as perspiration and accidental splashes of water….” “Expected life of the product is based on the expected life of the rechargeable battery which is up to 500 charges (Since we cannot verify how often the customer charges the product, JayBird applies a rule of 2.5 years as the expected lifetime of the product).” At first, that seemed short but after some thought, we realized that for us, that translates into what we’ve come to expect out of an electronic device (either through wear and tear or if we think about useful life lasting only as long as current technology). As for battery life, we are experiencing longer usage than the stated 8 hours using a low volume setting and about 20 minutes remaining after the audio low battery warning. Anyway, not a problem for us: we carry a very small battery pack for the many cams, phones, and yes, EVEN the BlueBud X now (which uses a standard micro usb port), for a quick re-charge. This being said, all of you Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack, Continental Divide hikers that now have a solar set up as part of your essentials, this is a great product to add to that list (especially for those long painful slogs – just ask the USA Triathlon Team – these are their Official Training Headphones).

 

About the reviewer: Snow Trooper Sting is a member of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards) and headed up the music and soundtrack licensing business for Xbox. In addition to working on the billion dollar Halo video game franchises, she has worked on dozens of video game music soundtracks with multi-Grammy Award winning producer and artist, Nile Rodgers. Her credits include Executive Producer of Halo 2 Soundtrack with Incubus, Hoobastank, Breaking Benjamin and Nile Rodgers which received the Spike TV Video Game Awards nomination for Best Soundtrack.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received JayBird BlueBuds X for free from Jaybird as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Retailer Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.

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23
Jul

 width= Super fun one, that just took place recently, to our South at Mt. Hood’s Timberline. Mostly a park edit, however the guy killing it this vid, Matt Heffernan, is on my list of favorite all time REAL skiers. You know, REAL skiers, like Davenport, Plake, Morrison, ect., that have mastered the inbounds action of their generation and now have evolved into the ski mountaineering world. What I love about this method of progression is by the time they are slaying big lines, they are doing it with the tremendous ski skills gained from years of riding chairs. To me, this is so important mainly to get you down the mountain safely ( I can’t count the times I have seen people ski above their level and do it with exposure!?!), and second it makes for a good looking video! Live to ski another day and always know your limits! Back to Matt, he first caught my eye, 3 or 4 seasons ago, destroying the feather light powder in his home range of the Wasatch ( having a pulse on him since and looking forward to more bc POW adventures in 2014/2015)! In the mean time, we hope to get down and visit Matt at Hood before he packs up for another SW Winter. Check this one out!

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20
Jul

 width=Just saw this really cool MX video below, that brought me back to a different time in my life. First of all, the video featuring Red Bull athlete, Robbie Maddison, is off the hook. He pulls off some cool stunts using a dessert plane bone yard which is really what caught my eye, having been a 5 day a week MX desert rat back in the 80’s and early 90’s. However, it’s not only the desert MX plane “props” riding that has me sharing this video today, it is MAINLY the location. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, My Grandpa Frascella was the supervisor for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base “Air Plane Grave Yard”. This place was AMAZING, and I am not sure how he was able to take me out there as a child, but he did, always before our main target of the day, “DM AFB bowling alley action”. Out in the true grave yard we would drive for miles and miles past perfectly lined up fighter jets, cargo planes, B52s, B29s and so on… Thousands and thousands of planes! Even though, this vid wasn’t actually shot on the base, it was very close and still has a similar feel. As soon as I clicked play on the video, I knew it’s location and thought it was a really cool idea for a video shoot. I grew up North of Tucson, at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains (seen in the thumbnail above). Super cool mountain that rises over 7,000 feet above the desert floor. The 9,159′ Mt. Lemmon, not only provides as a great Summer escape from the heat for the local desert dwellers but also provides for a small ski area up on the very top, known as Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley. The small ski area is located in what’s left of the Aspen, Ponderosa and Arizona pines stands, after a jackass flicked a lit cigarette on his June 17, 2003 nature walk, which ended up tourching over 84,000 acres (basically the entire mountain burned down with almost all the homes too). A little Mt. Lemmon side note: I was speaking with Glen Plake a few years back about the Lemmon, and was blown away when he mentioned having skied there years ago, and proved it by recalling the terrain with in moments / almost perfectly naming the steepest run found off of the most Southern ski chair lift in the Continental United States. Anyway, not may people know that I traded the 5 day a week dirt bike life back in the early 90’s for the ski life that later lead to my current year round alpine touring life, which I have found gives me a far greater feeling of FREEDOM! Live to ski another day!

Wild to find out watching the “behind the scenes” below, that Robbie dislocated his shoulder at the beginning of the shoot.

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16
Jul

Andrew Eckels reports back from his Lemah Mountain trip in Washington’s Cascade range (in an area north of Snoqualmie Pass). He, Woods and Galen Herz backpacked there via Lillian, Lila Lake, Chikamin and Pete Lakes. Lemah Mountain consists of five peaks (and a glacier): Lemah One – Five with the highest topping out at >7480ft. They skied some beautiful lines as their reward for what Woods called “whacking through the gnarliest brush from upper regions of Lemah Valley”, among the many other challenges involved in tackling this route. Check it out in this video captured/edited by Andrew. Live to ski another day!

 

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14
Jul

 width= One of my favorite spots on Mt. Rainier. I love views you get, but the early Summer skiing can be really fun too. Super long cruisers on the Russell Glacier, that can take you down to Seattle Park, along with short steeper shots on the Flett. It takes a little work to get into this zone, that starts at the Mowich Lake CG, but well worth the work. If you do wander for a ski or just a hike, be sure to NOT forget that good camera and bring a head lamp (to catch a sweet sunset). Sweet sunset shot to the left was captured by Tara Simpson & below is a VERY nice edit, that Carl Simpson banged out from their recent July eye candy and soft sun cup adventure.

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12
Jul

 width= Our friend Russell Cunningham, of Karakoram – high performance splitboard bindings, just sent over his chopped up raw video of their recent descent on the North face of Mt. Adams. The target was the NW Ridge, a super long and steep descent made even longer with the firm conditions they found this past July 7th. The vid is long, so if you are doing some house chores, like I was a bit ago, this video will get the adrenaline going as you are folding a basket of laundry or doing some dishes, etc. Thanks for the share Russell!

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11
Jul

 width= A little edit of a BIG pre 4th of July trip South to Mt. Adams, with Tim Black, Adam Roberts and Jason Hummel (be sure to friend his facebook page, Jason Hummel Photography, to keep a visual pulse on his adventures from ski to bike, whitewater and more!).

photo credit/ Jason Hummel Photography – pond skimmer/ Adam Roberts. Below is Tim Black’s sweet edit of their July 1st – 3rd, 2014 Mt Adams adventure.

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07
Jul

 width=Short little 4th of July edit from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, accessed from right here on Snoqualmie Pass, WA. The original plan was to head South for Rainier, but with the weather not looking so grand, I chose to put the time in on a hiking trail rather than behind a windshield. About an hour and a half after pulling out of Hyak, I was clicking in for a nice ski towards Rampart Lakes. I had figured the sun cups would be gnarly by now (based on a short vid I had just seen from Mt. Baker’s Artist Point with HUGE sun cups), but I was wrong as my skis sliced through the “hand” sized, soft sun cups. The first half of the day was full of sunshine, later the clouds blew in quickly and posed a threat.

However, not a drop of rain fell, the clouds backed off and the evening fun began. “O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming, and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air”, gave proof that all my Hyak friends were down there… Below “Rampart Ridge”. Live to FREEdomski another day! 238 years old.

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06
Jul

 width= Super fun “Paradise” blend of goodness, that took place earlier this week, just prior to the 4th! So stoked to have the freedom to enjoy such beautiful moments with friends in real time or in “Reel” Camera time at later date. If you happen to be in the Sunday chill mode, kind of like me right now, then click play for an added boost to get out and enjoy the remainder of the day! BTW, there is a nice looking window of weather for you mid-week volcano skiers, GET IT! Edit below and pic about by Jeff Rich!!!

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04
Jul

This video below of a hiker being extracted, by Snohomish Helicopter Rescue Team (HRT), from a cliff this past Monday (6/30/14), near the Alpental ski area, has a good outcome. However, seeing this really COOL video bothered me quite a bit, watching the guy being plucked in his walking/hiking gear from what seems to be about one pitch into a multi pitch 5.8 (or something) climb!?! When I hear or see a rescue like this one, I always think of one in particular, it was an incident in Little Cottonwood Canyon (SLC, UT) back in ‘98, where a guy was skiing out of bounds at Snowbird, then got caught in slide. I was driving home from Alta, as I passed the search and rescue command post, got home to Salt Lake City, the late news said they found him in the bc with a broken leg and a heli had been dispatched. I went to sleep, happy they found the guy, then woke the next morning to hear they all died on the flight out of Little Cottonwood. So tragic! So, that being said, watching the video below of the incident here on Snoqualmie Pass, and I am so stoked the guy was saved (minus his pack), but I have to ask (and I think the networks tried asking but the hiker had no comment), “What the HECK were you thinking!?!!!” We can all take a fall, down the stairs, skiing on a green dot run, or in the parking lot (all falls that have taken me by surprise), so please know your limits and always remember to “Live to ski another day!”

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