Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi

Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, Colorado, Alta, Snowbird, Silverton, Mad River Glen, The Gunks, Red River Gorge, Joshua Tree, Catskills, Adirondacks

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James's Passions

Alpine Touring
Backpacking
Trail Running
Hiking
Ice Climbing
Sport Climbing

James's Bio

I'm out there in all seasons, as often as possible. The mountains are my playground, especially in winter. I love earning my turns, as well as kicking back on a lift on a blower day. In summer, I climb the granite at the Gunks and the sandstone in the Red River Gorge. I love backpacking and trail running, and have traveled all over the lower 48 to experience beautiful alpine spaces. I also know the Catskills' trails like my own driveway, and have spent more nights in a tent there than most folks have stayed in hotels. The rocky, gnarled, ornery old-school trails at Mad River Glen feel like home to me, but it's tough to beat skinning for knee-deep turns in the Wasatch.

Some of my favorite pieces of gear are: the Marmot Dri-clime Windshirt, Dynafit AT ski bindings, Dynastar skis, Black Diamond packs, Lowe Alpine packs, Backcountry.com softshells, Ibex merino base layers, Full Tilt alpine boots, Garmont AT boots, and Sierra Designs tents.

Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on January 16, 2009

5 5

The 174cm Kailas is my standard all-around lightweight backcountry touring ski. I have them mounted with Dynafit bindings for a very light but capable setup. They work surprisingly well on ice and windblown hardpack, and are even fun in the bumps. If you lay them over, the edges have tremendous bite, which builds a lot of confidence on nastier snow. The shovel is rather soft and can get bounced around a bit, but they are stiff underfoot, like a typical Atomic alpine ski. (Note that the Kailas is essentially the same ski as the Snoop Daddy, minus a little metal to save weight). For really deep snow, I prefer a fatter ski underfoot, but these work great for any tour where variable conditions or less-than-epic powder are expected.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote an answer about on January 15, 2009

Well Alex, this would be a good choice. the other ski i would look at the the BD Havoc. both are stiff where they need to be and have a wonderful flex. you would have a great replacement either way.I agree with Gabe's suggestion. I have the Kailas in the 174cm length, and find them to be quite stiff and stable in longer-radius turns, but their light weight makes them very swingable when needed. If I remember correctly, they have a 20m turn radius. If you like the feel of Atomics, it's hard to go wrong with these.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote an answer about on January 14, 2009

I'm also a Northeasterner and ski the same conditions and areas you do. At your skill level, I think the 170cm will be too short, and you'll quickly overpower them. The 177cm would probably be a better choice. It will give you more stability, while still being manuverable in the north country's tight trees and on the hardpack. Keep in mind these are going to feel a lot softer than your WC GS boards.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote an answer about on January 14, 2009

Karhu and Line are the same company. Line markets their skis as alpine boards, and Karhu as tele, but the Prophet 100 and Team 100 are the same ski except for the graphics (as the earlier posted noted). Either would make a fine fat AT ski. If going uphill is a priority you might also look into the Karhu Storm BC, which is a little narrower but lighter.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on January 12, 2009

3 5

The good: this pack is well constructed, with tough materials and strong stitching. The bad: it is extremely complicated, with way too many zippers, pouches, straps, and miscellaneous unnecessary features. While the capacity is listed as 35L, it appears that a significant proportion of that volume is taken up by dividers and a multitude of odd storage pockets. It even has what I think are pen holders, as if it were a laptop bag or briefcase (note these are in addition to plenty of pockets for usual avalanche tools). My biggest complaint regards the arrangement of the compartments. The avy tool section is accessed by a big zipper that runs over the top of the pack, which is good, but the main compartment is accessed by a long zipper that opens the back panel from under the straps. Opening it to get a jacket, water, food, or anything else involves folding the straps out of the way, pulling the zipper(s), then pulling the back panel open. It's rather odd, and too finicky when you're cold or tired and just want the thing to open. Gadget freaks may love this thing, but I prefer simple, straightforward gear that's easy to use in the field where it counts.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote an answer about on January 6, 2009

By "short term storage," I assume you mean something like in the car on the way to the trailhead, and in your jacket or pack on the descent. For those situations, I fold and join each skin individually, in half, glue side to glue side. Joining two full-length skins together cleanly is very tricky, especially if it's windy or snow is blowing around. It's usually not worth the effort.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on January 5, 2009

5 5

These mittens are an excellent part of a multi-layer handwear system. I've always liked unlined shell mittens for their versatility. These OR Endeavor mitts are windproof and waterproof, and can be worn with varying levels of insulation, which is critical for sports like backcountry skiing. For the skin up a slope, I wear Black Diamond Woolweight liners underneath these shells. If my hands get too warm, the shells can be removed and placed over my ski pole handles or stuffed in a jacket pocket. For the ski down, or other less aerobic activities, I'll wear them over Ortovox Dachstein boiled wool mitts for an extremely warm combination that still preserves some dexterity. They can also be worn alone for rain protection in warmer conditions. These shells are lightweight, but have proven to be plenty durable over many backcountry sessions so far. They're definitely not flimsy. The rubberized palms provide plenty of grip. I also like the simple cuff cord system -- pull the gray cordlock to tighten them, then pull the black cordlock to loosen when needed.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on January 5, 2009

5 5

These are an excellent backcountry ski pole. They are super lightweight and easy to use. The Flicklock adjustment mechanism is quick and straightforward, and works well with gloved or mittened hands. Mine have survived many thrashes through thick Vermont underbrush and on rocky trails without a scratch. The rubber used for the grips is considerably stickier than the hard plastic used on my (very) old Traverse aluminum poles, thankfully.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on January 5, 2009

5 5

I am a huge fan of liner gloves for backcounty skiing and winter camping, and these BD Woolweights are perhaps the best combination of features yet for my purposes. They are thick - think expedition weight (for a liner, that is) and surprisingly warm. For the uphill skin before a ski descent, I find my hands are plenty warm in these alone, in temps down to around 15 F or so. For the descent, they are usually warm enough when worn beneath a windproof shell (such as the OR Endeavor mitts). An especially nice feature is the full leather palm with a reinforcement between the thumb and forefinger. If you've ever shredded a pair of liners near the thumb by grabbing skis around their edges, you'll definitely appreciate this addition (note that it is a little difficult to see this leather strip in the picture). The wool blend fabric is not windproof (nor is it meant to be), but provides some resistance to moderate breezes while letting sweat escape. I wear a size large, and these fit true to size, albeit snugly. For a looser fit, size up. One caveat so far: after several days of use, the fabric has started to pill around the knuckles. This hasn't affected the durability yet, but it is something I'll keep an eye on.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote an answer about on November 19, 2008

If you don't want to get into "AT stuff" for backcountry use, then whatever alpine boot you choose is essentially immaterial. I assume you mean you will be using your regular alpine bindings and skis to access the backcountry, and you'll be hiking with the skis strapped to your back. In that case, your choice of alpine boot doesn't matter much, since none of them are particularly comfortable for hiking, and none have a grippy Vibram tread like an AT boot. The Full Tilts may be slightly better for this simply because they weigh less than a lot of other alpine boots, but they still suffer the same flexibility and traction limitations as the rest.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on October 31, 2008

5 5

Love. I love this thing like a mother deer loves her newborn fawn. If you look at pictures taken of my outdoor four-season adventures over the past 10-plus years, you might assume I only own one jacket. That's because the DriClime Windshirt is so versatile it invariably winds up on my back whenever there's a camera around, even though I have plenty of other gear. There is no other piece of clothing that so perfectly fulfills a need in such simple, effective fashion. I know of no other garment that can function effectively as a base layer, insulating layer, or outer layer. It's perfect for blocking the wind and wicking the sweat from a t-shirt after summiting a peak. When it's not needed, it packs down nicely and weighs little. It's great under a softshell on colder days. And it's still the most perfect thing I've ever found for cold-weather running or snowshoeing. Worn over a baselayer, it wicks sweat while blocking the wind without overheating. If Marmot ever stops making these, you'll need to beat me to the final stash of them, because I'll buy every last one.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on October 17, 2008

5 5

These are a standard for racking trad gear on your harness. They help keep jumbles of stoppers, slings, cams, etc., organized and accessible. The wiregate shaves some weight off a rack versus a solid gate oval. To my knowledge, the only other wiregate oval on the market is the Omega Pacific Doval.

Ovals are also typically used in aid climbing, but since I don't aid, I can't comment on the BD's performance for that purpose.

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Jim Orsi

Jim Orsi wrote a review of on October 17, 2008

5 5

These have become the standard non-belay locker on my rack. They are excellent for anchor building or adding security to the rope end of a draw. Replacing heavier and larger lockers with these will shave significant weight off a trad rack. The gate action is smooth, and the snag-free keylock nose clips into tangles of webbing, hangers, etc. easily. One note about the color: although the description calls it "lime," it's really a yellow tint with a hint a green. Kinda like the filling on an authentic key lime pie (the type without the radioactive green artificial coloring).

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