Monday, May 29, 2006

Goat sighting - Gobi Desert Race in China

The Gobi Desert Race just got under way on Saturday in the Gobi Desert of China. A grueling 150 mile multi stage, self supported race through miserable heat and varied terrain is not your typical outing. athlete Chrissie Evans (on the left) is spotted here prior to the race with her Marmot Precip jacket sporting the Goat logo.
Racing The Planet - Chrissie Evans and fellow competitorsAfter two stages of the race Chrissie finds herself in 3rd place among women competitors and 16th overall. Her stage two 1st place finish among women and 9th place finish overall has likely helped her to size up the competition and get excited for stage 3. I'll keep you posted.

When heading into the most extreme desert on the planet, you'd better bring along a little water.
Water trucked in for the start of the Gobi Race
The amazing Gobi Desert - mountains and valleys at the starting line of the race.
The amazing Gobi Desert of China - Racing The Planet starting linePhoto Credits - Racing The Planet


Climbing and Rafting in the Moab Area - Part 2

Adventure Report: Nathan Smith, Ambassador and general climbing bum/student raves about southern Utah. This is part two of two posts from his recent trip.

Running the Colorado River

Six days were spent rafting the 80+ mile stretch of the Colorado River that includes Cataract Canyon. It was absolutely amazing to run it during this time of the year as it was running around 25,000 CFS (cubic feet pet second). Most trips run it around 5,000 to– 10,000 CFS.

The first three days included two days motoring into Spanish Bottom, a lay over day at Lower Brown Betty beach just below rapid number one, and a beautiful hike up to the Dollhouse of Canyonlands National Park.

Days four and five were our rapid days. With the water levels as high was they were, a good portion of the rapids were washed out. Big drops one, two, and three were huge. We scouted out one and two. One went great. Two was the largest of all three. After watching two boats make it through two alright, I got ready to take mine through. As I approached the rapid, one of our 18 foot cat-a-rafts was stood up vertical like an office building and flipped over.

At this point we were committed. Trying to t-up with ledgemere wave, I hit it diagonal and we went overboard. I've never been ejected out of a raft in such rough water. I felt like I was in a washer machine on heavy spin. I surfaced, got a hold of the boat, and worked my way atop of it. Once on top, I made eye contact with the other passenger and then again, got thrown off the boat by a wave. I felt a strong force pulling me aside and away from my boat. The eddy had gotten a hold of us, but our boat was headed for Big Drop 3 still upside down alone.

Three of our seven boats flipped in the Big Drops. After all the rapids, we pulled over on a beach to have lunch and piece back together all our gear. We spent the rest of the day motoring to Dark Canyon.

From Dark Canyon, you typically motor out the remaining twenty miles. One of the other friends on the trip was up for leaving early during the morning and rowing this portion of the flat water to the take out. We did so in a light down pour. Great way to end an awesome trip.

I learned a lot during these trips. Best of all, I had fun! Bottom line: Get out to play and play hard!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Climbing and Rafting in the Moab Area - Part 1

Adventure Report: Nathan Smith, Ambassador and general climbing bum/student raves about southern Utah. This is part one of two posts from his recent trip.

Recently returning from 13 days in the Moab area, I'’ve realized how incredible this part of Utah is during this time of the year. Temperatures and traffic typically decrease in the winter months and pick up to extremes in the summer. Now seems between the two. Nate Smith on top of Off Balanced Rock in Arches National ParkClimbing and rafting were our two chosen activities for this time period.

The Climbing

Five days were spent rock climbing in Arches National Park and along Wall Street off of Potash Road. In Arches, we climbed Owl Rock, Off Balanced Rock, and made an attempt on the Three Gossips. All was great for Owl and Off Balanced Rock. We even hauled the small Black Diamond Stubby Haul Bag up the chimney of Off Balanced with a Coleman Party Grill and enjoyed a barbecue looking down on the famous Balanced Rock.

Our attempt on the Three Gossips was delayed for a Grilling dogs with the Road Trip Party Grill on Off Balanced Rockfew hours while waiting for a group of five climbers to make there way up the route. I was a little surprised to find a group this big on this line. We found the ledge after the first pitch crowded for just two of us. Also with only one option for an anchor, it wasn'’t possible to belay a lead up the second pitch while belaying a third, fourth, or fifth up the first pitch. The route is in the shade during the morning and early afternoon. By the time I reached the anchors atop the first pitch, we were in the sun and out of water. Maybe an earlier start will get us ahead of groups this large in the future.

We ended each day with a climb on Wall Street on Potash Road. Completely in the shade by the late afternoon, I was shocked to not find a crowd of climbers. The rock was still warm, and the outside temperature enjoyable. I've always found that regardless of the conditions, it is always a good time climbing on Wall Street.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hillary spends his $.02 on the most recent episode of "As Everest Turns"

If you've not been following the latest saga in what seems to be an annual event on Everest, well, it's time to check out what's up. Sure, there's drama, there's death and moral dilemmas each year on the big E but this year's episode seems to have crossed the line. Climbers and armchair wannabe mountaineers around the globe are piping in.

Sir Edmund Hillary, who shared the first summit of Everest with Tenzing Norgay, spent his $.02 today.

Want more fodder? Check out Everest News or the forum discussions at or


TTips East Side Gathering: Tobacco Flats

After making skiing my number one priority this winter, my other commitments (school, work, family, etc) finally won out and kept me from doing any skiing during the last 5 weeks. So when I found out about the Telemark Tips gathering taking place this past weekend at Tobacco Flats on the East Side of the Sierras, I was all ready to load up my car and make the journey from San Diego.

After 6.5 hours in the car, we made it to the Tobacco Flats camp site at 1:30 AM. The directions were spot on. I woke up at 6, half surprised that I was the 4th person up. Eventually the rest of the crew up. After a nice leisurely breakfast, a cup of French Roast (thanks Jim), and a motivating bag pipe performance (you the man Charlie!), a group of about 15 of us set out around 7:30. Being my first time there, I was content to follow the rest of the gang. About halfway up, we split into two groups. The Socal group (myself included) went up Old Man Bowl on Little Morrison. The rest of the group headed for the Hippie Chutes (also called Finger Chutes) and Mt Aggie.
During climb up, I was surprised by how much the 5 weeks off had affected my stamina. After only 4 hours, my legs were exhausted and my lungs were gasping for air. By the time we made it to the top of the Old Man Bowl at 11:30, it had already softened up quite a bit. The run down was awesome though. This was my first time skiing corn and it was wonderful. I cranked big GS turns all the way down. As much as I wanted to stop and savor the run, I was having too much fun to stop.
Once we made it to the base of the bowl (~1130), we had a decision to make. We could either keep skiing or we could head back to the campsite and start drinking. I'm embarrassed to say that we were all dead tired and chose option B. We were back at Tobacco Flats drinking cans of PBR by noon. The other group didn't arrive back at the site until 4 pm. They ended up making it up to the top of Aggie and doing several laps on the Hippie Chutes. They reported that the snow on the Hippie Chutes was still excellent as late as 3:45. After hearing how great their day was, we were looking forward to rallying and skiing the Hippie Chutes on Sunday.

As the afternoon went on, more and more people started showing up. By the end, we probably had about 25-30 people there. It was great to get to know all of these other people who share a passion for backcountry skiing. As a couple of us remarked, the gathering was really a testament the power of the internet. Five years ago this gathering would not have been possible. But thanks to the Teletalk forum on Telemark Tips, a group of strangers coming from everywhere from Seattle to San Diego was able to get together for a weekend of skiing. Most of my friends think it's a bit weird to be driving 7 hours to meet a group of strangers I met over the internet. If I were them, I'd think so too. But let's face it, there aren't that many backcountry skiers in Southern California and the internet allows us to all come together. More importantly, if a person is into backcountry skiing, they might be a bit insane (aren’t we all?). But deep down, they’re a good person.

The last weather forecast we saw before driving up said that it wasn’t supposed to start raining until Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, I started hearing drops hit my tent around 1:30 AM. By 3:00 AM, those drops had turned into a downpour and heavy winds. Worse for me, I was too lazy when we set up camp Friday night and too drunk on Saturday to put on the rain fly. So I bailed from the tent around 3 when the tent started leaking like a sieve and finished the night in the front seat of Tyler’s car. Needless to say, we didn’t go out skiing on Sunday. So the Hippie Chutes will have to wait until next year.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Anomaly - Early Bird Gets the Worm

Teton Gravity Research has named the film for next year and recently launched the "teaser for the teaser" which has been getting some solid traffic on YouTube and responses on the TGR Message Boards.

We managed to get a hold of the logo that they are going with for the film - not sure if this is the "final answer" but it's what they've got so far.

First impression had me thinking it is more of a video game logo, but it could grow on me. Your first impression? Chime in and comment.


Ski season is coming - a teaser for a teaser

You finally caved this past weekend and hung up the skis in garage, swapping them out for a mountain bike and a rock climbing rack. Well, believe it or not it's almost time to pull those sticks down and start waxing them up cause ski season is coming. How do I know? Ski films are in the making and that always rings in the start of the season.

Don't believe me? Here's the teaser for the soon to be released teaser for the soon to be released feature film coming this fall to a city near you from our friends at Teton Gravity Research out of Jackson Hole.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Giving Misery company

Adventure Report: They say misery loves company, so we decided to give her some. Time to head down to Zion National Park for some more slot canyon adventure, this months trip? Misery Canyon.

Misery Slot Canyon near Zions National ParkWhy would anyone want to descend a canyon named Misery? What makes a canyon so miserable that it would warrant such a name? What obstacles would we encounter? What kind of creatures lived in the deep depths of this narrow slot canyon dropping into the East Fork of the Virgin River, just outside of the Zion National Park boundary?

After a late start on Friday night we finally reached a camp spot near the river around 2:00 a.m. We only had one day to spend outside and we had to make the best of it. We can sleep when we are dead so we were up by 6:00 a.m. and off to the trailhead.

The hike began near the famous Checkerboard Mesa, the first major landmark encountered when entering Zion from the East Entrance. The climb up a large canyon between Checkerboard Mesa and another unnamed mesa looked steep and long. Maybe this was the miserable part of the day?

Natural Arch, okay so it's a bridge, in Zions National ParkThe approach canyon started the day off right. Tall cliffs through a deep open canyon covered with all types of vegetation. The contrast of green tress and bushes in front of soaring red and white cliffs is one of my favorite features of the Utah desert, and Zion never disappoints, even in random, unnamed, un-hiking-guided canyons like this one. The canyon was beautiful and shaded in the morning light, nothing miserable about this.

After crossing the pass we made our way along the base of the cliffs and into the drainage we planned to descend that day. The canyon was wide and shallow but we marveled at the micro eco-systems found in each pool of water we passed. Insects, tadpoles, frogs, and who knows what else all called these pools home.

After a bit of walking the canyon closed in and off we went. Surely things would get miserable soon. We were all anxious to see what was around each corner.

The rest of the story, including more photos.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Headed to the Valley - El Capitan is calling

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park - do you hear it calling?Each year when the snow melts our man Kevin Quaderer starts to hear a whisper that with the passing of the days gets stronger and stronger - El Cap is calling him back to "the Valley" - Yosemite that is. Last year Kevin managed two trips Yosemite, one in the spring and one in the fall.

Big wall climb climbers are an interesting lot. These days with the explosion at gyms and bouldering sites one could conclude that they are a rare breed. Perhaps time constraints have lead more climbers to satisfy their thirst at a local crag or on a boulder. Regardless of the excuse, Kevin has none. I sat down with him for a couple of minutes to get the 411 on big wall climbing:


Powstash: Why big wall climbing? Isn'’t it a dying sport?

Kevin: Why bigwall climbing? I'll be asking myself that question over and over while we're up there. It's hard to explain "why." If you're a climber, and you've ever stood at the base and looked up at el cap, you'd know.

I wish it was a dying sport, but unfortunately I don't think that's the case. It seems like more and more people are climbing walls every year. The impacts are becoming more apparent. Popular routes see placements getting blown out, and extra holes appearing. We all have to tread lightly and act with future climbers in mind.

P: What is the pull for you to make your annual trip to "“the valley"”?

K: It's just that - it's a pull. Again it's hard to explain. I kind of get emotional trying to talk about it. Can you turn the camera off please? Turn it off.

P: Fine, it's turned off (wink). What route are you attempting on this trip?

K: We're attempting the Salathe Wall - the second route to go up on El Cap. It's characterized by killer ledges, some scary wide sections, and awesome exposure.

P: What is the vibe like in Camp 4?

K: Crowded. Dirty. Climbers. You've never seen so many in one place. People walking slack lines, drinking cheap beer, telling war stories, racking up for big stuff, or nursing their wounds from their last climb. There's a core group of resident dirtbags, people on road trips, local legends, and tons of international climbers. You've got Japanese, Korean, Australian, British, Brazilian, Basque, you name it. It's the Mecca.

P: When you're climbing in a special place like Yosemite do you ever think about those legends that may have climbed the same routes you are embarking on?

K: Yeah, that's part of the whole experience. Knowing the history of a route is a key part in appreciating where you are and how you're climbing it. I try to imagine what the first ascent was like. I try to imagine all the people who passed that point before us, and all the epics that took place there. It's a trip when you get on a pitch that you've seen a million pictures of. Usually, things are more windy in real life.

P: What types of objects have you seen thrown from the wall? Ever been hit by one of those objects?

K: I've seen cams, bagels, hooks, powerbars, aiders, quickdraws, hats, slings, biners, cans of food, porn, poop tubes, pitons, radios, water bottles, rocks, and climbers falling from El Cap. I've been hit by a few small rocks, had some close calls with bigger ones, and one time I got nailed by a #6 nut. That kinda hurt.

P: What type of harness will you be using this trip?

K: I'll be using my Yates Shield harness and my Misty chest harness. You need all those gear loops for a wall rack.

Send it Kev.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Goat Sighting - Bone Creek, Northern Kentucky

This week's "Show Us Your Goat" winner turns the tide from wintry snowy goat outings to the warm summer goat fun. Shane was kayaking near Big Bone Lick State Park, which has a very interesting history of mammoths and mastodons. (click the link, I'm telling ya it's interesting)

Photo Shot by: Shane Hatchel
Photo Location: Big Bone Creek, Northern Kentucky
About the photo:
Big Bone Creek is in Northern Kentucky by Big Bone Lick State Park. It was the first time I was kayaking in a river. There was no white water and the river was muddy and smally. I didn't go too far as I didn't want to end up in the Ohio River. I'm going to kayak more often and take some classes so I can take on a real river with white water.
Kayak scene on Bone Creek, Kentucky-------
As a weekly winner Shane will receive a Nalgene water bottle that he can use on his next kayaking adventure.

If you think you've got what it takes to stick a winner but you haven't got a sticker to stick, well head on over to and get yourself a FREE goat sticker. Then get out there and stick it, take a photo and submit it online.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Mountains Give More Than They Take

Yesterday's article in the New York Times (click on it while it's still free to read) about the life and last days of Doug Coombs life was very well written. If you didn't get a chance to read it do so now! It's worth the 7-9 minutes of your life.

The most poignant part of the entire article was the last line which was a quote from Emily Coombs that read:
"You know, the mountains are full of dangers, and they swallow you up," she said. "But mostly, they give."
Strong comment, especially considering the source and context. For all the days I've spent in the mountains, all the sunrises and sunsets and everything in between and for how alive it's made me feel and how that may have traslated to the type of person I am for my family and friends - if the mountains became my grave the reality would be that the final moment was but one single moment of a multitude where I was the debtor.

Check out the photo gallery from the NYT as well - a couple of photos are from the final day that Doug spent skiing in La Grave.


Wilson Wyoming rager - Support Marc Andre Belliveau

Help support Marc Andre Belliveau with a rager at Owen Bircher Park in Wilson, Wyoming - click this link for Mapquest If you don't know where the park is - well neither do I. Just drive to Wilson, stop at Pearl Street Bagels and they'll know.

If you're even remotely close to Wyoming you should consider a weekend in Jackson and a Saturday afternoon at this benefit.


Saturday, June 3rd, 3:30-8:30pm, $10 entry
Live music from DJ EL Cap, Deejay Mike Thunder and Mandatory Air
Raffle, Beer, Pizza, Volleyball,
Horseshoes, and all that fun summer party stuff!

All proceeds go to benefit our friend and TGR athlete
Marc Andre who was paralyzed in a bad ski accident this winter.

Also looking for a few volunteers to help out so contact Teton Gravity Research (TGR) if you can help out.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Attention all Ski Bum Dirtbags - 15 minutes of fame - PAID!

Here's the opportunity that all of you ski bum dirtbags out there have been waiting for. No longer will mom and dad have ground to stand on when you can call them and say "Uh yea, they are paying me to ski. I know ditching that 9-5 was the right move"

This little opportunity came across my inbox from a friend. The producer of this film is a friend of a friend.

About the film:
It's a horror film for the sci-fi channel and it's kind of a Jurrasic park meets Park City. These Giant spiders that have been genetically brought back to life and enhanced from prehistoric times break loose at a hidden mountain facility by a ski resort and some innocent skiers get eaten by them. That's where you come in! You come skiing down the mountain and one of them gets you! Sound fun? I thought you might like it!
Now here's where all you ski bums need to pay attention:
I also need 30 to 40 other skiers. All will be paid about $100 a day and will work 4 to 8 days. I also need a woman that will get featured and about 6 others in a ski lodge.

The film begins shooting on Monday and will shoot for 3 weeks. I'm not sure what days they are on the mountain and need the skiers, but I should know by the weekend.
If you're ready to make some loot sliding on snow get in touch with Joan - joan AT starlightcreativemedia DOT com or comment to the blog with your e-mail and I'll get you her phone digits


Potter and Patagonia - 2 P's in a pod

Patagonia released a statement late yesterday on what stand they are going to take relative to Dean's ascent of Delicate Arch.

Remember that catchy country tune by Tammy Wynette? I know you do. But if you didn't recall the tune I'm publishing parts of it here as a recap of the statement from Patagonia. You'll thank me later tonight since you'll be humming this little gem all day long. You're welcome.

Patagonia's statement - Tammy Wynette style

...Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh be proud of him
'Cause after all he's just a man

Stand by your man
Give him two [holds] to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely

Stand by your man
And tell the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
Stand by your man

And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Our friends at the Piton have the "official" 411 from Patagonia - check it out.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Racking up Adventure Points on Box Elder

Each summer holds the "Adventure Contest" which goes on for nearly six months after which the annual company wide adventure party is held. At said party all the points earned in the adventure contest are transferred into tickets that go into one of the biggest gear raffles this planet has ever known.

It's simple really - earn more points, get more tickets, increase your chances of winning gear. We don't only "use the gear we sell" like our company motto says we also covet the gear we sell. For some of us it's this coveting that keeps us racking up adventure points when all sanity has been tossed out the window.

So how do you earn points? A photo explanation from this weekend's adventure which was schemed at noon on Friday and underway by 8pm.

Hiking - 1 point for each hike. Jim sets out for Box Elder Peak just after 8pm in search of snow.
Jim on the hike towards Box Elder Peak
Vertical - 1 point for each 1000 feet of vertical gained by hiking, biking, rock climbing or skinning. We chose to hike/mountaineer 4300 vertical by moonlight to the summit of Box Elder. Headlamps were optional.
Night hiking on Box Elder Peak via a full moon
Camping - 1 point for each night spent camping out. Why not make the summit your home for the night? Jim's tomb where he caught some zzz's.
Camping on the summit of Box Elder Peak
Skiing - 1 point for each ski outing. Most people have put the skis away by now. Easy points here. Droppin' in!
Skiing on Box Elder Peak - NE Face
Trash - 1 point for every 4 pieces of trash you pick up on the trail with a max of 3 points per outing. I think we got our 3 points each on this trip. The lead pipe was the most unusual find of the day.
Trail trash. Who done it? Mr Redneck, with the lead pipe and Busch light on the ATV
The only other thing that would have given us points is if we would have run the trail for at least 20 minutes, gaining the 1 available point that we didn't snatch up on the Box Elder Peak adventure. There's always room for improvement.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spring Skiing in the West - Timpanogos Glacier

Although the eastern side of the US has all but forgotten the grip of winter there is still plenty of snow in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado other western states to ski. With most of the ski resorts closed only the dedicated or demented, depending on how you look at it, are still anxious to slide on snow.

Mount Timpanogos was so good last week that I had to return. We headed up from Aspen Grove, through Primrose Cirque and up the Timpanogos Glacier. The results? 4500' of perfect corn skiing with clear skies and views for miles.

Looking north towards the Little Cottonwood Ridgeline and beyond with the Timpanogos Glacier in the foreground
Climbing up the Timpanogos Glacier
Skiing the summit ridge saddle - Utah Lake below
Seth skiing on the timpanogos glacier saddle - it's tempting to ski to Provo
Last year I skied my last day on July 1. I'm pretty sure that as long as there is snow nearby, I'll be skiing. I'm not ready to hang up the sticks yet. Are you?


Catching ZZZs in Comfort Thanks to My Therm-a-Rest Dream Time

Being that I leave for climbing trips nearly every weekend in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, I tend to log a lot of car camping time. I have my system down pretty well by now, but of course, I forget something every once and a while. The one item I will absolutely never forget to bring is my Therm-a-Rest Dream Time.

When I saw that my new boyfriend, Rob, had this behemouth sleeping pad, I thought to myself, "only a princess would sleep on one of these". He raved about how comfortable it was and that because he had recently injured his back (herniated a disk some months prior), it was in fact, "necessary". Out of curiosity, I checked out the price and immediately thought that there was no way I would buy such a costly sleeping pad.

But weekend after weekend, I laid down my piddly ultralight pad next to Rob's dee-lux bastion of comfort, from which he seemed to loom over me. My pad would slide all over the tent during the night, and in the morning, I would wake up stiff and sore (as usual), while Rob was refreshed and annoyingly chipper. Finally one weekend, I decided to swipe his pad "just to try it out for a bit", and I must say that I was quite impressed, and bought one for myself in short order.

I've had my Therm-a-Rest Dream Time now for nearly a year, and have to say that it was well worth the expense. It's seen quite a bit of abuse and still looks practically new (I have had to wash the exterior- which is easily removed and more importantly perhaps, just as easily put back on).

Highlights of the Dream Time include:
  • The stretch fleece top is cozy against your skin - unlike the material of most other pads which is a plus during summer months when you just don't need your bag completely over you.
  • It places 3 inches of insulation between you and the ground. I find that often times I no longer need to zip my sleeping bag - providing me with more room to stretch out at night.
  • It stays snugly in place thanks to a non slip bottom.
  • As an added bonus, if your tentmate has one as well- there are straps to connect the pads together, making spooning much easier (not recommended for non-romantic tent parnters-except in emergency situations).
  • Built in straps cinch it down making fitting it into your car easier. I didn't even bother getting a stuff sack for it- as the straps serve my needs perfectly.
Keep in mind that this is not intended for anything other than car camping. It is somewhat heavy and bulky (even cinched tightly). As car camping sleeping pads go, the Dream Time cannot be beaten.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dean Potter - Patagonia's Ambassador Climbs Delicate Arch

So, Dean Potter, one of Patagonia's Alpine Ambassadors just couldn't resist the urge to climb the most famous of arches in Arches National Park - Delicate Arch. By so doing he broke not one but two no-no's.
  1. The obvious - climbing on a closed climbing location and state if not national natural icon.
  2. He climbed with white climbing chalk instead of the brown colored chalk that is standard for the National Park - a no-no he should know about since he lives in Moab.
Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City broke the story when Steve Baron reported about the event with exclusive video that Potter's associates shot of him free soloing the Arch multiple times.

As a result the National Park Service has issued a closed climbing ban all noted arches or national bridges.

Patagonia is looking into the incident and should release information to the press about weather or not they'll keep Dean on as an Ambassador.

Message boards like and are sounding off about it.

Our friends at The Piton have some humor on the topic.

Will his stunt keep you from proudly sporting your Patagonia R2 Fleece? One of my friends said he was not sure he'd keep his Patagonia shell, opting to sell it on eBay before he'd support them any longer.

So, what's your take? Is Dean a joke or one solid bloke? Sound off by clicking the comment button below.

Read more about this in today's Salt Lake Tribune.


Indian Creek UT: Back to the Crack

Back in November, I posted about my first positive experience in Indian Creek. Since If this isn't misery, I don't know what isthen I hadn't been back, but finally last week we returned. Leaving Salt Lake, I was determined to lead *something* while I was there. I had plenty of time to ponder over which route I should try, but was hoping to return to the pistol whipped wall as I was pretty confident that I could do "Short and Stupid". Now, this is a rather ignoble name for a first sandstone crack lead, but I felt it reflected my current crack leading ability, so I decided to shrug off the insult. Sure "Binou's Crack" had that sexy European flair, and "Chocolate Corner" well, just sounds yummy, but I decided that ultimately it didn't matter, and campaigned for a return to the Pistol Whipped Wall.

We started Saturday up at the Way Rambo wall, where my friend Chad Lake ventured up a far more imposingly named crack- The Serrator. It was positively amazing to watch him double hand stack dyno his way through the opening moves of "Serrator", and then proceed to shimmy his way up the horrendous offwidth. Watching Chad endure what I personally observed to be pure and absolute misery, I honestly could not understand why people choose to subject themselves to offwidths.
I suppose this is somewhat hypocritical of me- as I am flabbergasted that "normal" people cannot fathom why people climb at all. The answer is completely obvious to me, and perhaps to those people brave and strong enough Chad nearing the top of the beautiful but merciless, Serrator (or insane enough) to venture up and offwidth the reason is clear. In the end, I can only surmise that it must bestow upon those individuals a sense of accomplishment that can only result from pitting oneself against an immense, unmoving, and wholly indifferent opponent, and ultimately succeeding. Still, the whole endeavor appears to be pretty bloody heinous groveling to me, and I for one, plan to avoid offwidths like the plague for an indeterminate period of time.

Still, I can definitely see that "Serator" is a very aesthetically pleasing climb, that I may well someday be masochistic enough to attempt (on toprope). But for now, I will stick to my short and stupid (but far less painful) leads.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Goat Sighting - Climbing Mount Hood, Oregon

It's mountain climbing time in the Pacific Northwest and nothing says mountaineering and the Pacific Northwest more than Mount Hood and rime ice.

This past week's "Show Us Your Goat" winner comes from Julia the Mountain Girl. Julia recently dropped everything for an adventure in Oregon.

Photo Shot by: Julia Borchardt (self portrait - she's got mad flexibility!)
Photo Location: Near the Pearly Gates on Mount Hood.
About the photo:
At the top of the Hogsback are the famed Pearly Gates which were everything I had anticipated. Pearly white, glistening ice formations rise high above you as you climb through the narrow slot that leads to the summit.

Near the summit of Mount Hood, OregonCheck out Julia's Mount Hood trip report about her 12 hour and 23 minute to Mount Hood from Seattle, her cartweel on the summit and the ravenous ravens. It's worth the read.

As a weekly winner Julia will receive a Nalgene water bottle that she can use on her next adventure.

If you think you've got what it takes to stick a winner but you haven't got a sticker to stick, well head on over to and get yourself a FREE goat sticker. Then get out there and stick it, take a photo and submit it online.


Chiarock - when you need a new rock climbing project

Have all your local crags become too crowded and nothing on the horizon makes your palms sweat with anticipation to climb? Why not grow your own wall? Mount St. Helens crater feature

Needed ingredients - one active volcano, heat resistant sticky rubber (I hear Montrail is working out the details on this one) and a helicopter for access. Oxygen is optional and more style points are awarded for ascents without the use of supplemental O2.

VIOLA! You have a Chiarock growing at 1 meter per day, complete with cracks perfect for a #2-#4 camalot. (click the photo for detail) More slab-o-licious fun than your local crag could ever dish out with first ascents and redpoints there for the taking!

Don't have an active volcano close by? Check out the little project that Miss Helens is growing in Washington. Be sure to watch the 2 second time lapse video of the chiarock growing.

Don't let all that snow nearby lure you into complacency, she's a hot one. See the infrared photo below. Tee shirt and shorts kind of climbing.

Infrared image of the growing rock slab on Mount St. HelensPhoto Credit Dan Dzurisin, Cascades Volcano Observatory,USGS


Monday, May 08, 2006

The new shopping cart - tell it like it is

A few weeks ago we launched a new shopping cart. Earth shattering? Well, suffice it to say that there weren't any CNBC specials on it and none of the "We interrupt this program for some breaking news" alerts. So why did we do it?

We set out to make it clearer for the returning customer and a better introduction for the first timers. A one step one page simple checkout - just like the grocery store. We know from personal experience that sorting through pages of gear to find the right lightweight rain jacket can be a process in and of itself. The urge to get that gear and get back to work (we won't tell your boss) didn't need to be compounded by a long multi step check out. Heck, going through the previous shopping cart was a journey reminiscent of the kids in the back seat whining, "are we there yet?"
So, are we there yet? Not quite but we think we're headed in the right direction. Bottom line though is not what we think but what you think? Does it rule? It is simpler? Does is stink like Goat manure?

Lisa the shopping cart girl is just one of the team who worked tirelessly on the most recent cart. That's her saying "just a little more tweaking". Trust me, she won't stop until it's a work of art.

So, what are you waiting for? Sound off. Tell it like it is. She's thick skinned and so are we. Click the "comment" button below and spend your $.02.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinqo de Mayo at Snowbird - The 4FRNT EHP 193

Gear Review: The 4FRNT EHP 193 (Eric Hjorleifson Pro Model ski) - the ultimate big-mountain ski?

A lot of experimentation in fat ski design has been going on over the last several years: from the reverse camber / reverse sidecut Volant Spatula and K2 Pontoon to more moderate designs like the DPS Lotus 120 and now-extinct Igneous 3T. Eric Hjorleifson, along with 4FRNT Skis, has helped to develop the latest take on fat skis with radically different sidecuts and cambers than traditional skis with his new 4FRNT EHP 193. Co-owner (and marketing and sales master) Matt Sterbenz was kind enough to lend me a pair to demo. My co-ski-tester, the 'Professor' and I took full advantage of a late season storm that left Snowbird's upper bowls with over 6" of fresh, smooth snow on top of a still-130" base. Sick!


Here are 'Professor's' thoughts on the ski - JR:

"Don't you just love getting to try next year’s gear? I know I do. Fortunately for me Matt Sterbenz of 4FRNT Skis was willing to loan a pair of 193 EHP’s to to demo. For those of you that don't know about this ski, it is Eric Hjorleifson's Pro Model. There is also a 4FRNT 190 EHP, but that ski is traditionally shaped with a twin tip. The 193 EHP has dimensions of 130-112-118. It has no camber, a long wide shovel and the last 15cm of the tail turns up slightly—but it is not a twin. Think of the tail as more of a "ramp."

So what does it ski like? Well, Cinco De Mayo turned out to be the perfect day to test these skis at Snowbird. Down low the snow was wet and sticky. In the middle of the mountain the snow was simply "hard" and up high it was smooth, springtime pow. After a few laps on my own skis (193 Head M103’s), I strapped on the 4FRNT EHP 193’s. My first impression was that they felt short. Because of the sticky snow down low, the shorter effective edge of the EHP was very noticeable. After we got to the top, that feeling never crossed my mind again. Once this ski hit soft snow you could tell it was in its proper element. I knew that the design would handle soft snow well, but I was unprepared for how well. Even the first run it felt easy to ski. I did not expect the ski to handle debris and groomers as well as it did. This ski felt more stable in avy rubble than anything I have skied in the past. It also held an edge when it needed to. The only area where this ski felt a little strange was while running flat on groomers. With the lack of sidecut from waist to tail, the ski tended to wander a bit. Nothing that was a problem, but just something you needed to be aware of.

Bottom line? This ski would be great for mountains like Snowbird or Squaw where you have wide-open spaces up high, but you always have to ski some groomers to the bottom. It simply excels in soft snow without making your life miserable when conditions are less than ideal. So now the only problem is waiting for next year when the ski will be available." – Professor


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mt. Timpanogos Dawn Patrol - East Ridge

Adventure Report: Backcountry Bob and I found a reason on Mount Timpanogos to not hang up the skis for the season.

When passing by the desk of Backcountry Bob yesterday all it took from him wasMount Timanogos East Ridge, Utah a "What are you doing tomorrow morning?" to which I responded, "skiing Timp with you!"

One of the coolest aspects of working at is that there is never a shortage of backcountry skiing/climbing/trail running/mountain biking partners. If you want to climb a certain mountain the likelihood of someone else sharing the same passion is in your favor. Chances are that someone else could be your manager. If it's not, having managers that will let you get after in the outdoors while adjusting your schedule a bit to accommodate is key.

Mount Timpanogos is the second highest peak in the Wasatch Bob Merrill on the Summit Ridge of TimpanogosMountains of Utah but more importantly is that it holds more lines to climb and ski than you could undertake in one season. It's a MASSIVE mountain stretching for 4-5 miles North to South.

Our goal was to ski the East Ridge, a strikingly beautiful ridge that I've coveted for at least 6 years. We met up at 5am and made the drive to Timpanogos, ascending the Primrose Cirque above Sundance Resort.

We started booting up the cirque but switched over to climbing skins and then back and forth as the climb became steeper in some sections and more mellow in others. Up the Timp Glacier we went to theSkiing Timpanogos East Ridge in Utah summit saddle after which we turned left towards the second summit. The final portion of the summit ridge that leads to the East ridge was a rocky scramble with a huge cornice stretching out over the top of Cascade Cirque.

We down climbed about 15 feet from the summit of the East ridge and started skiing. The upper 2000' of the ridge is between 35-42 degrees in angle but in the near perfect snow condition s we had the angle wasn't a factor. We descended the ridge section by section avoiding the spattering of cliff bands that dictate your every move. Views of Utah Valley, Mount Nebo to the south and the Uintas to the east were savored as we descended into an area of the Wasatch that seldom sees visitors, particularly in the winter.

Near the bottom of the ridge you have to navigate skiers right through a chute to avoid the final major cliff band. Bob made easy work of this chute after which he opened it up, enjoying high speed GS turns on lower angle slopes that feed into the final obstacle of the descent - the tube.
The Tube near Sundance Ski Resort
The tube is a very narrow chute that exits Big Provo Cirque and the lower flanks of the east ridge near the popular summer hiking destination of Stewart Falls where a trail would lead us to the Aspen Grove parking lot where we began our day. Although the snow reaches the consistency of a slurpie it was enjoyable and challenging navigating the tube and the slopes below.

A quick hike out, a 45 minute drive to the office followed by a quick change of clothes (not to mention a heavy dose of deodorant) and it's "business as usual" for the two of us. Another day in the life of a employee.