Friday, March 31, 2006

Goat Sighting - Ski Mountaineering Lessons on Mount Timpanogus

The goat is well traveled and lately by the photo submissions we've gotten it seems that winter still has a strong hold on many of the Backcountry.com customers out there. From the homeland of Utah comes this week's "Show us your Goat" winner.

Mike snapped this photo while attending a course on ski mountaineering, a personal favorite pursuit of mine, on the north slopes of Mount Timpanogus with none other than Utah Avalanche Center guru Drew Hardesty.

This is not the first time Mike has submitted a photo of the goat. It seems that his luck is changing. Nice work Mike.

As a weekly winner Mike will receive a Backcountry.com Nalgene water bottle that he can use on his next ski mountaineering adventure.

Photo Shot by: Mike Kisow
Photo Location: American Fork Canyon Near TIMP, UT
About the photo: This is Drew Hardesty the SLC Avy forcaster doing his thing and teaching a ski mountaineering class that I took today. Great man, great day. The goat is doing his thing too.

Mount Timpanogus - Utah's finest ski mountaineering local

1 comments

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nascar Sighting - Our Goat is faster than your Bass

The Backcountry.com Goat was sighted on the Nascar tour with the UPS 88 car. The Goat was seen (below next to the numbers on the car) just edging out the bass from the Bass Pro car. Needless to say a few Nascar fans have poked their heads up from within the employee ranks. We'll keep on cheering for the 88 car with the fastest goat on the planet.

UPS Nascar 88 car with the Backcountry.com goat sticker

0 comments

Your Bid, Sir!

Columbia's purchasing power has shown itself again at an auction yesterday in bankruptcy court. For 20.4 Million and assumption of certain liabilities, the outdoor powerhouse acquired the Pacific Trail group.

This will increase the already expansive offering of Columbia (which includes Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, and Montrail) to now include the Pacific Trail outerwear and sportswear brand, the Towne® outerwear and rainwear brand, the Pac Tec high-performance outerwear brand, the Black Dot Clothing surfing/snowboarding apparel brand, and the Moonstone mountain equipment brand.

"With the acquisition of Pacific Trail, we continue to strengthen our portfolio of authentic, outdoor brands," said Tim Boyle, President and CEO of Columbia Sportswear. "We are particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to leverage our design and capital strengths to expand the growth opportunities for Pacific Trail products in distribution channels that Columbia has not yet developed."

Moonstone's technical level of their product offering and strength overseas creates opportunity for Columbia similar to the technical superiority acquired from Mountain Hardwear. The future of these opportunities and the success of these purchases will be seen sooner rather than later.

For better or worse, the current most effective way for Columbia's to grow is to buying other companies. What could be next for the retail magnate?

(from SportsOneSource.com)

0 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mammoth Mountain - still going off

I hate to say it but I told you so. I told you to go west to Mammoth and did you listen? Well, don't feel so bad - neither did I.

Regardless, Mammoth Mountain in California had better be on your radar screen now.

Let's look at some stats:
  • The most recent storm put down 28" at the BASE of the mountain, most of it coming in a 12 hour period.

  • Mammoth Mountain has a recorded 535 inches of snow this season with 135 inches in the month of March alone - and we've got 2 more days to go with snow in the forcast. This is the second most snowy march they've had - second only to the "Miracle March of 1990" when they recieved 197 inches.

  • The snowfall from the past two winters, 04-05 and the current 05-06 season, are the two greatest back to back years on record at Mammoth Mountain. The grand total so far over two seasons - drum roll please - 1142 inches with two solid months of snowfall left to go.
Are you listening now?

0 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006

Canyoneering in March

Adventure Report: Eric Godfrey and friends find unexpected difficulties while descending some remote, deep, and menacing, but incredibly beautiful slot canyons in Northern Arizona.

The weather forecast for the first weekend of our trip to Northern Arizona was looking grim. The plan was to descend some infrequently descended technical (requiring ropes, and other specialized gear to descend) slot canyons in a very remote but breathtakingly beautiful location. We would hike in on Saturday, try to scout an exit from the canyon on Sunday, and then descend the canyon Monday. After that we would spend another day scouting exits from two more canyons and descend them also. Nat had been to the area before and was serving as a guide of sorts. Friday came and we watched the weather closely hoping for a change in the forecasted snow. Unfortunately nothing changed so after discussing options we decided to postpone the drive down by one day. This would make us lose one of our scouting days, but we felt like we had enough information to at least descend part of the canyons. The scouting was mainly just to allow us to travel further down canyon than what the information we had would allow.



Saturday came around and off we went. The weather in Salt Lake was ok, but as we got to about the middle of the state the snow started falling. As the road climbed up over a couple passes the snow got deeper and the driving slower. There was basically between one and four inches of snow on the road all the way to the Utah/Arizona border. We had had enough for tonight and opted to get a hotel then get up early and finish the rest of the drive the next day.

The next day we woke up to light snow and promising roads. Off we went, but as we got closer to our destination the snow started falling harder. At one point there were about eight inches of snow on the dirt road, luckily the terrain was fairly flat and our 4wd was handling the snow nicely. Finally the snow dropped to only about 4 inches on the roads, but now the road was getting rougher, with more and more ups and downs through washes and shallow canyons. After getting the 4-runner stuck twice and nearly slipping off the road, we thought it prudent to give up on making it all the way to the trailhead and pulled over about a mile short of the normal start point.

The hike in was an amazing trek across a snow covered winter wonderland. The trail was snowy but luckily easy to discern. The views of slickrock in the distance were amazing. Much of the distant slickrock was at just low enough of an elevation that it was not covered in snow, while the terrain we were walking on was. After dropping into a big canyon the snow started to fall harder. It was cold and blowing and all of us were starting to question our choice to come out here in such extreme conditions. Finally the sky cleared, the snow stopped, and we made it to the point where it was time to leave the trail.

more...

0 comments

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ducking Lines at Mammoth Ski Resort

Perhaps you heard about Eric LeMarque and his amazing seven day survival in the Sierra backcountry after ducking a rope at Mammoth Mountain. He was recently released from the hospital and is recovering from severe frostbite. His story is worth the read.

Although he employed some skills to keep himself alive, he should have paid better attention in the boy scouts - always stay put when you're lost.

The Full Story - MSNBC.com

0 comments

Ski Town Love - A Dirtbag's Guide

Heading west? After all the snow and epic skiing that places like Jackson Hole and Snowbird have had this year you've resolved that next season will be "my season" and you'll join the ranks of the dirtbag ski bum collective.

Forget picking your town, that can wait. What you need to do is get right down to the basics and understand the ins and outs of ski town love, if such an elusive thing exists. Perhaps leaving your hometown sweetie behind may not be as easy as you thought.

From the archives of Powder Magazine - Enjoy.
Beware the Cougar

0 comments

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Goat Sightings - Spokane, Washington represent!

I had to dig into the past for this weeks "Show Us Your Goat" sticker contest winner. The few entrants from this past week didn't quite stack up. This week's winner is Sam Estock of Spokane, Washington. Keep the photo submissions rolling in as we'll continue this contest weekly.

As a weekly winner Sam will receive a Backcountry.com Nalgene water bottle that he can use to catch rain on his lunch breaks.

Photo Shot by: Sam Estock
Photo Location: Riverfront Park, Spokane, WA
About the photo:

I took this during a break in the rain on my way to work. Originally my thought was to stick it to one of the runners, but this sculpture is kind of a historical landmark in the city of Spokane's history, so I opted for an electrical box near by. (nice move) The sculpture was donated to the city to commemorate the annual Bloomsday race.

1 comments

Friday, March 10, 2006

Review: Movement Skis: Pow-Pow & Pow-Pow LTD

Movement Skis, a rootsy Swiss company (“The Swiss Freeride Ski Company”), started manufacturing skis in 2002, and has quickly garnered a loyal following of hard-core skiers in Europe. They’re launching into the North American market for the ’06-07 season, and were kind enough to give one of their few new dealers, tramdock.com, some demo time on next year’s line.

Movement is defined by the freeride movement, and their skis reflect that focus in every way. Scrawled on the white underfoot sidewalls, you’ll find the slogan, “Fight the Power. Ride the Powder.” And it isn’t just smart, targeted marketing. This is a company that believes its product should be built to satisfy the demands and desires of dedicated freeride and freestyle skiers who push the boundaries of their sport every day.

I skied the Pow-Pow and Pow-Pow LTD (swallowtail) in varying conditions this week. These are skis built with care. The bases are perfectly flat and beautifully structured; the topsheets seem indestructible; edge impacts hardly leave a mark. Underfoot, a length of white vertical sidewall marks the stiffest part of the ski’s construction, lending incredible stability. Toward the tip and tail, the sidewall tapers and turns black, marking a medium, round flex pattern.

Monday was a bumped-out hardpack day at Alta, and it was the standard Pow-Pow’s turn on the hill. With a versatile 92mm waist, it railed on groomers as easily as it floated through crud. The first thing I noticed was, “wow, these things can hook up a turn.” With the super fast base, finely tuned edges, and a healthy sidecut, I felt like I was riding a pair of fine Wusthof cutlery. Once I got used to the ski’s mannerisms, it was time to let them start really exploring the mountain. Since the snow wasn’t great, we entertained ourselves with steeper, more technical lines on the mountain—bumped-out lines ending in cliff sneak-throughs and small airs.

The Pow-Pow’s performed flawlessly. Every turn was precision itself. I felt confident snaking through exposed cliff bands and eking past tight trees at speed. When dropping into a choke between cliffs, I encountered a small mandatory air into the chute. On a soft day, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but with crusty hardpack and a bumped runout, I was a bit nervous. However I trusted the skis, and pointed it off the air—no problem. They maintained perfect stability through the nasty conditions with the stiff flex, but the softer tips allowed me to arc right into a speed-dumping turn in the apron. I’d pick these skis as an everyday ski in a heartbeat.

A few days later, we’d received several feet of snow and it was time for the Pow-Pow LTD’s to show their stuff. The LTD’s are a stiffer version of the standard Pow-Pow, with the same dimensions and their most obvious difference: a dramatic swallowtail. I’ll be honest—in Utah, a 92mm waisted ski is considered, at best, a mid fat; in some circles it’s practically a carving ski. I was worried about riding a ski this narrow on a Utah powder day. One day after the storm, the snow had set up a bit and I was looking at heavily chopped mashed potatoes where the mountain had been open, and about 24” of wind-affected, untouched powder just waiting for Ski Patrol to drop the ropes. It was sunny and going to be a great day.

The skis, despite being a bit under gunned, performed flawlessly. You really couldn’t afford to let your skis get too far under the snow surface since it was heavier stuff, and the Pow-Pow’s swallowtail seemed to make that task easier. I still had to backseat it a bit to get the tips up where I needed them in high-speed runouts. But cranking off mid-sized turns in the powder, these skis just shined. They are lively but damp and stable, make beautiful round turns but are stiff enough to hold up when carrying real speed through highly variable crud and powder conditions. On the groomers, the LTD’s shone as well—they were super stable, carvy, fast, and fun. I would have definitely liked a wider ski on this day, but I would choose the LTD’s over any other ski of the same girth for shredding the pow and then railing the groomers back to the lift.

Expect to see a lot of Movement skis across the North American freeride scene next year—especially in places like the U.S. and World Freeskiing Tours. Word on the street is prices will be extremely reasonable as well. These are sick skis. Josh Rhea

0 comments

Mammut, Mary and Daisy head to Mount Everest

Mammut has teamed up with Mary Woodbridge of England, a spry 85 year old, who will soon be going for the summit of Mount Everest (along with her dog Daisy). Most climbers are making final preparations for the fast approaching climbing season. Watch below as she explains her reasons and shows some of her training techniques.

Video is 1:55 long

If the video does not display properly
click here to upgrade to Flash 8

Check out more of Mary's videos (I'm quite fond of her supporters video) and find out more about her deal with Mammut.

0 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The North Face is now an adjective

In keeping with the theme of all things The North Face we've had around here lately comes this little gem from the Marquette Tribune by way of our good friends at The Piton. Just go and see.

1 comments

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Attention all Trail Runner Geeks - Water Tech

Scott Dunlap has a pretty cool trail running blog that I check into once in a while. For you running geeks out there that just have to know all the distance times and splits, the heart beats, VO2 max and other related training data Scott has an idea worth checking out.

The hydration fluid intake monitor is his latest ultra induced concept creation. Like any self respecting gear freak I'm sure if and when it hits the market I'll want one. Are you buying into it?

0 comments

Monday, March 06, 2006

The North Face Endurus XCR BOA Trail Running Shoe

Gear Review - The North Face Endurus XCR Boa

For months now Dean Karnazes has been running in the Endurus XCR Boa Trail Running shoe from The North Face featuring the Boa lacing system. For a guy that once ran 350 miles in one push who knows how many miles he's put on these shoes. Likely thousands. The North Face Endurus XCR Boa Trail Running Shoe

Just trying to sift through all of the technology that they've packed into it can wear you out. Some people write shorter thesis'. When it comes to picking a trail running shoe, even the most discriminating trail runner will find something here to write home to mom about. For starters, focus for a moment on the Boa lacing system.

Unlike traditional lacing systems, the carefully engineered Boa system enables minute adjustments for optimum closure force each and every time includeing the all important on-the-fly adjustment. It fits like a glove, for the foot. With the Boa there are simply no pressure points. Instead, it operates like a special suspension system that enables the runner to dial in an even and repeatable tightness.

Most snowboarders will recognize this type of lacing system - similar to what DC and other boot manufacturers have been utilizing in their snowboard boots. Bottom line for both applications is elimination of pressure points and the precision it allows by dialing in the exact fit you're looking for.

One of the most attractive features of the Boa is the replaceable ultra high strength stainless steel lace cables that slide easily through elongated lace guides. Other shoes I've tested with a lacing system don't offer a replaceable laces - and trust me, they will break.

More Technology
The North Face Enurus XCR Boa Trail Running Shoe - Men's Q-Silver/Tuscan Red
You want more technology?
  • Ultra™ which is an all terrain all condition rubber outsole providing excellent traction for running on trails, scrambling over scree, or for every day use.
  • Roll Control technology that uses a higher density heel wedge to prevent rolling. In the process of preventing the foot from rolling it also helps to create a more accurate strike pattern which I've found is near impossible on the mixed terrain that the rugged mountain trails here in Utah dish out.
Bottom line - you want light, fast, waterproof and a perfect fit every time? Behold, the Enrurus XCR Boa.

Try your luck and Enter to Win a pair from The North Face.

Or just admit that your luck ran out in 2002 and that you should just pony up and buy yourself a pair at Backcountry.com. Available both in Men's and Women's versions.

0 comments

Twenty One and a Half at Solitude Resort

Adventure Report: Adam Barker lays it all on the line...and lives to tell the tale

"I thought these gloves were supposed to be breathable". That'’s all I could think about as I stood atop the line that I believed was sure to end my mortal life. Shot 21 ½ at Solitude Mountain Resort had been calling my name ever since the vertiginous ribbon of rock received enough snow on it to be skied safely. Heh - "safety" is such a relative term.

"What good does a helmet do for your internal organs?"”

"Wow, those rocks look mighty sharp. Wouldn't they just like to chew on a shaking leg or two." Solitude Mountain Resort - steep powder skiing

More thoughts of potential disaster flowed through my brain. And then - calm. As I drop in, I immediately feel the exposure. Staying focused on each turn is difficult, as a mental neon light flashes across my field of vision "No-Fall Zone..click, click...No-Fall Zone". I weasel my way through (and over) some hidden sharks at the top, and then I'’m locked in and in it to win it. Slough is moving all around me, breathing down my neck, threatening to knock me off my feet and into the white abyss to my left. I feel confined, wondering how a space can look so much wider from across the canyon.

I arrive at the top of the mandatory exit air and am perplexed to find the 5-footer I had scoped earlier just went through a growth spurt. Three feet to my right appears to be the edge of the world.

"Maybe the earth really is flat? Are these gloves breathing yet?!"

A rocky takeoff and landing spell d-e-a-t-h. Confidence is key here, but I think I left it three turns up. There'’s no pussy-footing this air. I count to three and point 'em’. The ground leaves my feet, the air leaves my lungs, and for a moment - —I'’m freefalling. The steep landing arrives quickly, and before I know it, I'm doing mach looney - struggling not to cross over the space/time continuum and melt into utter disaster altogether. I steer my skis through the exit chute, frantically looking for a place to dump some speed. I find it unexpectedly as my skis hit a pile of slough, promptly sending me into a violent cartoon-like melee of cartwheels and frontflips. Limbs and saliva fly everywhere, and all of a sudden, —breathable gloves lose all importance. Weird.

As I tumble to a stop, I can'’t help but smile and laugh. I'm safe. I did it, and I'’m safe. While my exit was akin to that of a Courtney Love concert, I made it. I proceed to pull snow out of every hole in my face and hike up to my skis.

Note to anyone looking to push their limits: Invest in breathable gloves. Your palms will sweat.

0 comments

Friday, March 03, 2006

Goat Sightings - the Backcountry.com Goat in the Smokies

The winner for this past week's "Show Us Your Goat" sticket contest is Josh Mausolf. His photo of winter camping in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is a great location for the Goat to be found.

As a weekly winner Josh will recieve a Backcountry.com Nalgene water bottle to add to his Nalgene featured in the photo.

Photo Shot by: Josh Mausolf
Photo Location: Camp 26, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
About the photo:

This picture was taken on February 19, 2006, at Camp 26 in the Great Smoky Mountains NP. The previous night was colder for the Smokies and the day my dad and I hiked in we received 2 inches of snow. Thinking we’d be the only crazy southerners out there I was pleasantly surprised when two other parties joined our camp. This photo was taken the following morning just as the sun was beginning to shine through the trees. The morning was beautiful, the skies were cloudless and blue, and the air was crisp. We thought the sunny weather would give us an opportunity to dry our gear, but we soon found otherwise. Instead, all the hoarfrost and snow in trees melted and dripped on us, and soon we were wetter than when it was snowing.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - winter camping

0 comments

The North Face gets some pay back from Counterfeiting

The North Face is finally getting some pay back for all those lousy counterfeit jackets we have seen the last couple of years. It seems that have busted the ring leader. Nabil Saleh, Ibrahim Saleh and Toufic Saleh who thru a number of aliases, have formed and operated a counterfeiting enterprise that sold counterfeit jackets bearing THE NORTH FACE trademarks to wholesalers and retailers throughout New York City and the rest of the United States. The North Face is getting 1 million dollars plus all reasonable attorney fees.

TNF has shown they have a no tolerance attitude towards counterfeiting which only protects all of us legit dealers in the long run. Way to go TNF. Keep your eyes open though. With how hot the brand is right now there must be another counterfeiter lurking in the background waiting to take over the Saleh's enterprise.

0 comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How pure is pure? Backcountry.com opens retail store.

We are a pure online retailer. Really, we are. It even says it on our corporate website, first line, front and center:
Backcountry.com is a pure online retailer focused on outdoor gear for the serious recreational athlete.
So we're eating crow, but who hasn't had a few spoonfuls in their day? Plus, this time it's tasting pretty good.

Although simple in size the unique nature of this store is that it combines the products from a giamongus warehouse with a core offering of in season gear for customers to fondle and drool over while store employees go to the "backroom" (read: 200,000 square foot warehouse) to get anything the customer wants to try on, size up or flex. While waiting customers can log onto one of the gear portals (computer terminals) to peruse more gear than one can haul home in a Subaru.

While the majority of our customers will still purchase online, those lucky few who live in Utah or happen to find adventure has brought them here are welcome to come by to check things out.

Need to find us? Google delivers

No mistaking, this is the place
It's all inside
Open for business

1 comments

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fat never sleeps

I do it because fat never sleeps. (This morning's anti-fat effort: Six miles, 1800 feet of climb, in two hours and five minutes. It's a start.).
That's the word from Tom over at Two-Heel Drive about why he hikes. Sure the trees, views, clean air, nature and all the feel good hippy stuff gets me out of the door too, but the reality for me is that I like ice cream and good maple bar more often than monthly and the only way to rationalize that stuff is to burn it faster than I eat it.

Check out Tom's most recent hiking report with some very cool (trust me on this one) photos of trees growing around rocks

0 comments

Ice Time in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Adventure Report - submitted by Nate Smith

Earlier this week we climbed all 5 pitches of the great white icesicle in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Overall we moved at a great pace, especially considering this was my friend Brady's first multi-pitch ascent.

The first and second pitch of climb were pretty straight forward, good purchase and good ice. The crux came on the super fun and a little buldgy 3rd pitch. Because of time, we debated on whether or not to descend at that point. I had never done the last two pitches and was eager to try them so we opted to go for it.

Starting on the 4th pitch the ice got a little thin in some areas. We worked through it after some dicey manouvering to find better ice. The fifth pitch ended up being what I felt was the most technical part of the climb. It started with a traverse out, vertical up, winding staircase around and ending with another vertical up. We topped out at some trees and decsended via the walkoff. Super fun, super excited to have completed the entire route. Amazingly good time!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beta and gear recommendations: This time of the year a couple of warnings are for the 4th and 5 th pitch. The ice is starting to get thin right now and the rain we just had probaly makes this even worse.

A few gear pieces I was stoaked on were:
  • Grivel Alp Wing ice tools - Light and strong they handle super well as both an alpine and vertical ice tool.
  • Grivel Ultimate 360 degree Ice Screws - They grab the ice super well, enter super quick, and the design allows the bolt hanger to hand regardless of the shape of the ice.
  • Beal Joker 9.1 climbing rope - I believe its the smallest single line on the market right now. We used a 70m cut that allows you to descend the Great White one pitch at a time if needed. Super light, easy to clip and great to handle in an alpine environment.
  • 0 comments