Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch

Jackson Hole, Wyoming and other cold and mountainous environs.

Stephen's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Biking
Skiing
Climbing

Stephen's Bio

I love being active outside! Whether on a solo mission, out with friends, teaching or guiding clients how to make turns on steeper terrain, where the secret powder stashes are or the next handhold, it's all good to me! This is my life!

Winter or summer, I love being out in the fresh mountain air, with the wind blowing and having to answer to the laws of nature, not man.

I have been a Mountain Guide for 20 years and still love turning folks onto rock climbing, ice climbing, snowboard and ski mountaineering. My objective as a guide is to have a safe and fun (which is a success) experience while helping you reaching your goal. I have been a snowboard and ski instructor and love guiding snowboarding and skiing in and around Jackson Hole, my home for 25 years!

I have had many wild adventures in the mountains (and some not so great!), both alone and with partners, as well as with clients.

I survived an avalanche on Mount Owen in Grand Teton National Park where I was carried over 2,000 feet! The avalanche started above me and took me for quite a ride. When it was finally over I had a broken back, two badly damaged knees with torn ligaments and cracked ribs. The worst was yet to come...I spent the night out at over 9,000' on the snow in only a long underwear shirt and thin pair of pants...

For more visit my website/blog - www.stephenkoch.com

I also enjoy sharing my tales of adventure to corporate groups, colleges, universities and for families and private functions.

Enjoy the mountains!

www.stephenkoch.com

Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on January 9, 2012

5 5

If you are looking for a crampon that is solid, will last years, offers duel points and mono points with several ways to vary both, then the Petzl M10's are a fantastic choice. These are ideal crampons for someone who climbs ice, is new to climbing ice and has a boot that will take this crampon. I generally like lighter crampons and use the Petzl Darts and Dartwins. That being said, they do not penetrate the ice as well as the M10's and for a beginner, having the front points penetrate the ice (giving you a "foot to stand on") is vital.

Bottom line: A great crampons for ice climbing!

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 21, 2011

4 5

I have a K2 Panoramic Split 168 that I have used a few days so far this lean season. To test it out properly I headed south at Teton Pass for a tour which involves much sidehilling, normally a dread for splitboarders with soft boots, but not this time. The Panoramic held steady on the firm slope due to the torsional stiffness, which I believe K2 has focused on having incorporated into their splits for this very reason. Well, it works. The Spark Boots and Bindings helped as well.

The special skin clips that come with the K2 Split make the transitions that much faster and they are bomber!

The Panoramic is a bit heavier than I would like but that being said, this board is built to last many seasons of backcountry schralping. I have ridden lighter splitboards and they end up breaking after a couple seasons. Strength to weight is always the trade off and when I am on a serious slope with cliffs below, I will take a little extra weight to have the confidence and security of a solid ride underfoot.

The torsional stiffness of the Panoramic made the ride feel a bit less playful than I like for a powder stick. But I can see how that same stiffness could save a ton of energy on a big ascent, possibly even facilitating the window for the summit before having to descend.

Bottom line: a reasonably priced and stout splitboard that will last many seasons of splitboard adventuring.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 20, 2011

4 5

I have a K2 Panoramic Split 168 that I have used a few days so far this lean season. To test it out properly I headed south at Teton Pass for a tour which involves much sidehilling, normally a dread for splitboarders with soft boots, but not this time. The Panoramic held steady on the firm slope due to the torsional stiffness, which I believe K2 has focused on having incorporated into their splits for this very reason. Well, it works. The Spark Boots and Bindings helped as well.

The special skin clips that come with the K2 Split make the transitions that much faster and they are bomber!

The Panoramic is a bit heavier than I would like but that being said, this board is built to last many seasons of backcountry schralping. I have ridden lighter splitboards and they end up breaking after a couple seasons. Strength to weight is always the trade off and when I am on a serious slope with cliffs below, I will take a little extra weight to have the confidence and security of a solid ride underfoot.

The torsional stiffness of the Panoramic made the ride feel a bit less playful than I like for a powder stick. But I can see how that same stiffness could save a ton of energy on a big ascent, possibly even facilitating the window for the summit before having to descend.

Bottom line: a reasonably priced and stout splitboard that will last many seasons of splitboard adventuring.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 18, 2011

5 5

The F1's are a great boot for splitboarding. I removed the tongue on the back boot to soften them up. The bellows makes for smooth and comfortable uphill riding and even offers a bit of flex on the way down, which is a benefit to me as a snowboarder. I use Dynafit toe pieces for the up and have been using both Voile Mountain Plates and Burton Race Plates for the riding. The board I am rocking is a Rome Split Proto that is super light and fun.

I love the fact that I can DRIVE MY CAR safely in these boots! It is so nice to get to the trailhead and GO without having to change into boots. I am so stoked to find this boot and get back into hard boot splitboarding. I was over the challenges of splitting with a soft boot setup. Even though the Spark Fuse Soft Splitboard Binding is great it doesn't help much with traversing firm sidehills.

These boots are difficult to get in, to have my heel drop into the pocket, but I imagine this will get easier with time.

I have a fairly wide foot and once I baked the liners I had the room needed for comfort and warmth around the bellows. The cord holding the rubber ball to open and close the tour/ski latch broke the first time I used it. I drilled out the cord and threaded a simple cord through that is holding nicely for the time being.

I also used these boots hiking Glory Bowl on Teton Pass after doing a tour up West Mail Cabin on the West side of the pass. It is a pleasure to have a firm toe to use on the firm and snowy steps heading up to the top of Glory.

Bottom line: I think you will be seeing many more snowboarders using hard boots for splitboarding and backcountry riding in general and the F1's are the best I have found!

For more in depth reviews check out my website - www.stephenkoch.com' (HARD BOOTS VS. SOFT BOOTS FOR SNOWBOARD MOUNTAINEERING –)

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 17, 2011

5 5

I always carry a Tibloc on my harness, along with a couple of prussic's, knife and in winter v-threader (made out of a coat hanger!). Can use for simul-climbing by clipping to a piece of gear with a large diameter locking carabiner with the rope running through the biner. Use two if you are climbing on double ropes. This way if the second falls they fall on the piece of gear and don't pull the leader off! WARNING!!! Cannot give slack to the second with this system, so they better have their poop together!

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 12, 2011

5 5

I have used these tools for several seasons now and love them. The new Nomics now have a hammer! Nice work Petzl! These tools climb ice very well. I use tethers to prevent droppage. Leashless is the way to free yourself and to be way more efficient. They also have added a spike at the bottom of the tool for lower angle walking and topping out on climbs. Again, nice work Petzl! When mixed climbing the Nomics excel...whether matching on one tool or gripping up high, these tools love every minute of it and when you reach the ice you are NOT bumming from the "bounce you the fuck out of the ice placement you just made because the tools were engineered solely for rock climbing," which some other mixed tools give. Instead, you are laughing your way to the top of the climb...

Bottom line: A fantastic ice and mixed climbing tool that I take into the mountains with confidence.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 12, 2011

4 5

The Spark boot by Deeluxe is what I have been waiting for in a boot since departing from Hard Boots after my attempt to snowboard the north face of Mount Everest in 2003. The security of this boot's grip while walking on firm snow is incredible. I hiked up Mount Glory on Teton Pass last Friday under the full moon with a group of friends. It hasn't snowed in several days and the boot pack was firm and slick with rocks protruding in several places. I have never felt so secure and comfortable on the boot pack as in these boots. The Vibram sole takes sure footedness to another level. I was convinced I was a billy goat for a little while and it had nothing to the products, services and beverages imbibed in and around the Stagecoach Bar before departure.

I am still getting used to the lacing system, which is not super intuitive. There has been no need to kick steps in firm snow yet with the cold snow this time of year, but I will be doing that soon enough. My initial thoughts on the toebox construction is that it could use some beefing up. I may doctor them up with a layer of Aquaseal, which would add some stiffness and protection to the toebox.

They Spark's ride well. I have ridden them a few days and they also tour fine. I am using an older Scarpa liner at the moment until I cook the ones that came with the boots, which will happen soon.

The four stars is for the seemingly flimsy toebox. If after use (I may only Aquaseal one boot) they hold up well and penetrate firm snow well, I will come back and amend the rating. But for now this is a great start to a splitboard/backcountry snowboarding/snowboard mountaineering boot.

Regarding Crampons, I haven't messed with that yet. Soon. I do know the Grivel G10 Wide's look ideal for snowboarding boots. But I am hoping for a great aluminum crampon,for most of the climbing I will be doing in these boots will be on snow.

Bottom line: A niche has been filled with the addition of a "real" Vibram sole. Gain security and confidence on snow, ice, rock and icy parking lots with the Deeluxe Spark Boot. Rides well and is light weight to boot!

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on December 12, 2011

5 5

I used the Scapra Rush last spring for a two week expedition in Alaska's Wrangle-St. Elias Range. They worked well for both ski mountaineering and snowboard mountaineering. I was doing both and was stoked to be able to use the same boots for each activity.

They are light but still stiff for their weight (just over 6 lbs/pair). If you are looking to shave weight, and are willing to sacrifice a bit of stiffness for a lighter weight boot, then the Rush could be for you. The inventive tongue design helps to make Scarpa's line of ski mountaineering boots exceptionally stiff for their weight. It takes a little patience to figure out how to cleanly open the boot by moving the tongue to the side before getting in or out. But after two or three goes you will have it dialed and stoked on the design for the stiffness it offers.

The boots tour well with lots of cuff movement. For skiing they tighten nicely and once the forward lean lock is engaged you are ready to rip. They were plenty stiff for snowboarding. For skiing they functioned well on all but the iciest terrain. During a time or two while on skis where it was steep and icy, I would have preferred the Scarpa Maestrale's for their additional support. But would not have enjoyed the extra poundage on the way up.

Bottom line: Scarpa Rush are a great boot for ski mountaineering at higher altitude or when you are going for big vertical days and want to shave weight. If you desire the support of a stiff four buckle boot, I would go with the Scarpa Maestrale.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote an answer about on December 9, 2011

SteveH,

I disagree with you. The Vasak Crampons by Petzl here are completely strong enough for serious ice climbing. Much depends on the boots. With a boot that has a stiff sole / Vibram type sole will work great with these cramons. Trying to climb serious ice (steep) with boots that are not stiff and fairly supportive won't work well NO MATTER WHAT CRAMPON you use.

The key to a secure fit is to fit the crampons well to the boot (no slop) and tighten the straps firmly. This is done, once the proper length is determined, by pulling on the straps and holding them tight by putting pressure on the strap at the point where it rests on the Flexlock binding, then you can thread the strap with the other hand and tighten, then retighten it all again for a secure fit.

I would not recommend climbing hard/steep ice with aluminum crampons.

Hope this clarifies and helps.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote an answer about on November 27, 2011

The Meteor III is an ideal winter alpine climbing helmet. It is light weight and functional. These are the two things I look for in alpine climbing gear. The vents make it light. I do not use a helmet for keeping warm. That is what a balaclava/hat/neck gaitor/down jacket are for. Regarding spindrift and wind, throw a hood over your helmet and you will have no problems. If you have a helmet without a hood the snow will find its way into your system. Never been an issue getting snow in there because if it is snowing heavily I generally have my hood over my helmet. And with this way of using the helmet, all the vents come in very handy! Also great for summer use. Hope this helps.

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Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch wrote a review of on November 21, 2011

5 5

The Volare by Ski Trab are LIGHT! I have a pair of the 185's and they ski well in various snow conditions - from crud to powder to chalk, these skis ski like a dream, and my legs are not torched on the descent because of the lightness of the skis on the ascent! The way a backcountry ski should be. Light, wide enough for deep and not too wide to feel awkward when trying to edge on firm snow, either up or down. The taper and mini swallow tail, coupled with the over-sized tip keep the tip up without "early rise" and without reducing the carvability.

Regarding non Trab skins...I notched out one side of the tip on each ski and it holds regular skins just fine. With the tail I notched out the swallow tail to square it up and it takes the BD tail clips just fine.

Bottom Line: A light mid-fat ski that rips all snow conditions with ease. My go to ski for terrain where manual up is required.

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