Thursday, August 31, 2006

GM Pimps Rides for MTV and You

Last night I walked down the street to a friend's metal shop to see what was up. He was busy dumping gallons of heinous used cooking oil from Food Town into a giant vat of, well, heinous cooking oil. I asked him what he was doing. "Cooking up some fuel for my truck" he replied.

GM Pimped out Tahoe for the 2006 MTV music awardsCome to find out, Dan has been going about his simple life of fabricating metal and in the meantime quietly producing his own bio-diesel. He said it's still spendy to make, averaging out to about $1 per gallon. "Yea, real spendy" I thought. When I asked Dan why he goes through the trouble, assuming the obvious cost savings he said, "We have a responsibility to the next generation to reduce our impact."

To that end, I think, GM recently launched a website called which from the surface looks like nothing more than a meager selection of random consumer videos (58 so far to be exact) that are highlighting "How would you spend your time away from the pump?" In looking at GM's SUV line up owning a GM SUV may never allow you to spend much time away from the pump given the listed mpg's. And left to the imagination are the 6 vehicles (3 of which incidentally are from the Hummer family) whose mpg's are listed as N/A.

Which brings me to GM's most recent stretch of the imagination taking form of a product placement. They've taken the MTV Pimp Your Ride concept and "pimped" 60 E85 compatible SUV's to transport celebs to the MTV awards. Of this they said,
"The partnership is an effort to educate viewers on E85 ethanol technology, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb dependence on fossil fuels."
You may have to go to the moon to find one of these babies One night of reducing fossil fuels? The fleet will be up for sale after the awards show at Chevrolet dealerships in the New York area where they'll likely end up sitting in car garages on the upper east side in company with 5-6 other "show" vehicles for the owner to choose from. I say they give the 60 vehicles to NYC taxi drivers and keep track of the reduction over a year or two, if the vehicles survive that long.

Reportedly, reported by GM, there are over 2 million E85 GM vehicles on the road. Funny that this is the first I've heard of E85. By contrast consider that Hybrids currently account for only 1 percent of new car sales in the United States. Japan's Toyota Motor Corp, the hybrid market leader, sees its annual hybrid sales topping 1 million units soon after 2010. Detroit can do better. But will they?

Sparing no expense, the vehicles have been pimped to the max by including the following upgrades:
  • On Star - "On Star can I help you?...Oh yes, there is a star on board your vehicle mam...Could I post this conversation on my blog mam?"
  • XM Radio - "Driver, will you please play my song one more time commercial free?"
  • CD/MP3 audio system - "What do you mean you can't find a station with my song? Here, plug in my iPod. I've got my latest hit on a repeat playlist"
  • Rearview camera system - "Driver, is that Nick behind us? I told him to leave me alone!"
  • Touch-screen navigation system - "Keep your hands on the wheel driver. I'm navigating this ship."
  • DVD rear-seat system with an 8-inch screen - "Wanna catch a movie later?"
  • Heated first and second row seats - "Paris, your ass is so hot!" "Well, ya, no kidding"
  • ...and more... "Is this all you've got in this thing? Pfft, my Hummer has a hot tub"
Is this the best way to reach thier target market regarding the fuel efficiency of the E85? Will the teenager next door care or even realize that the vehicle Snoop arrived in was more energy efficient? I'm crossing my fingers and rubbing the lucky rabbit's foot for a curbed dependence on fossil fuels. A likely result will be an increased demand for technology features in autos, thus boosting GM's sales targets.

GM touts Active Fuel Management Technology but I couldn't easily find the fuel efficiency of the E85 engine, one that burns up to 85% ethanol. I've been practicing my own Active Fuel Management Technology - it's called riding my bike to work 2-3 days a week and minimizing my vehicle use in general.

Jalopnik chimes in.

The comments at were more interesting than the original post, sadly so.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rich Hill Now Working for a "Real Outdoor Company"

We like Rich Hill. He's not a conformer. He shoots straight and tells it like it is. He said of Ibex that they are a "real outdoor company" compared to...?

Interesting move that he's making after a year of testing the outdoor industry job pool. Rich is the new president of Ibex, a Vermont based merino wool clothing brand. But moving, literally, he is not. Ibex is opening an "Ibex West" office in Ventura, California where Rich lived while working at Patagonia as the VP of Sales.

It will be interesting to see if the long distance love afair will prove to be effective for Ibex and if the east/west idea spawns new developments for the clothing brand that has been growing at a steady rate. Rich isn't showing his cards just yet.

The Full Story


The Crusher Traverse - Anchorage to Valdez for a Beer

The name "Crusher Traverse" doesn't conjure images of eating roasted duck and sipping red wine while going from lavish hut to hut in the Alps. No, it brings to mind the last time I ran the Pikes Peak Marathon - that was a crusher, as well as another story.
Andrew Wexler in the Chugach Range of Alaska
Last spring Andrew Wexler and Joe Stock struck out on a 175 mile traverse of the Chugach Range in Alaska. It's a funny phenomenon in the world of outdoor athletes. They will push themselves to the brink, swear they'll never ever punish themselves in this fashion again and then remarkably be it two weeks, two months, two years later they find themselves once again on the verge of a sufferfest, or in this case a crusher. All in the name of fun and adventure.

After recalling the last sufferfest that he endured with Joe, Alex recounted the start of the Crusher Traverse:
This time Joe wanted to start skiing from his front door in Anchorage and keep going until the Chugach Mountains were behind him and The Pipeline Bar in Valdez finally blocked his way.

We skied out of Anchorage on April 10, 2005 with empty packs. We covered 28 miles that day after 13 hours on the move and arrived at the first of three caches. If I had known then that this would be the second easiest day of the traverse, I swear I'’d have pulled the pin right there and skied out to Girdwood.
Read the entire story and check out the photos!


Monday, August 28, 2006

And The Mustache Winner Is....

The ballots are in and the winner of the first (will it become an annual event?) employee mustache contest is...

Nate "Grease Ball" Brunson

Most Honorable Mustaches went to:

Never one to take competition lightly "Jumpin" Jim Holland (the CEO) took the simple mustache contest to a new level. He's the one on the right. (Would you work for this guy?)

Ross "Issac" Hayes went retro with his stache

"Pope" John Thomas III as previously seen in an earlier post of stache evidence rounded out the last honorable mention

And lastly to the suave look which was represented by T. "Pickle" Meikle -
"Hallo, H'would you like to buy a car? I have just the thing for h'you."


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Starting early is a GOOD thing!

Adventure Report: Eric Godfrey is reminded once again that when it comes to dropping down unknown slot canyons, the earlier you start an adventure, the less time you spend chasing the sun!

After a LONG summer semester, I finally got a break from school and it was time for some adventuring. Unfortunately my work schedule can be sporadic, and although I get a lot of time off, it doesn’t always correlate with the Monday through Friday crowd, but I did manage to get in a few trips including a quick weekender down south to hit a canyon. Summer is generally the “off season” for most Utah canyons, the desert just gets too stinking hot, but there are those select few canyons that are almost always full of water that never sees the sun, which makes them ideal for doing in the blistering heat (hypothermia can be a real concern in some canyons, even when it’s 110 degrees outside).

Down to Southern Utah we went for an excluded from guide books and web site’s canyon that very few people have the opportunity to descend. I didn’t really take any video because of reasons you will learn as you read on, but I’ve attached my finally finished video of Misery Canyon from a trip a month or two ago, here:

I had good information including GPS coordinates on how to get to the drop in, got a strong group together and off we went. The route required a shuttle vehicle which we dropped off LATE the night before, and we were going off about four hours of sleep, but we were determined to knock this thing out. The route started following an old washed up atv track that was slowly fading into nothingness. Before long we were supposed to locate a faint hiker trail leading to the top of a prominent knoll… we never found the trail, so off through the thick bushes we went. Sometimes we would find nice openings to keep ourselves from getting too scraped up, other times we went head first into the brush.

After fighting our way through the bushes we made it to the top of the knoll and had a good view of the route to the head of the canyon. Down the knoll, around another drainage to the base of a smaller knoll, then drop in and we are good to go.

The bushwhacking from here wasn’t too bad, we found a lot of openings and the “extreme” stuff was short and pretty infrequent… until we got close to the drop in. We reached the end of the lower knoll and thought’ “ok, we skirt around this next drainage then we should run into the canyon we want to drop into.” Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! It took us about an hour to move the next ¼ mile, it was the worst bushwhacking I’ve done to date, if only we had any idea the drainage we were working so hard to pass, was the one we actually wanted to drop into.

On we forged and finally made it to the other side. It was getting really hot, and we had discussed earlier if we didn’t make it to the drop in spot by 1:00, we needed to turn around because we probably wouldn’t make it to the other car by dark. It was now nearly noon, but luckily we were only a mile away… so we thought. Down the drainage we went… it is going to turn west any minute now and take us to where we want to be… after about ten minutes of walking down this drainage it became clear that it was going the wrong direction. A quick look at the GPS and sure enough, ever since we bypassed that last drainage we have been getting further from the spot we want instead of closer. We were all very tired and seriously considered turning back, but by now we were starting to run low on water and we knew the canyon would provide us with filterable potholes.
Straight up the side of the mountain we bushwhacked some more, down another drainage, up the side and across a plateau. It’s almost 1:00, our turn around time, and we still aren’t even in the drainage we want. Finally a steep drop and we all agree, if this isn’t the one we want then it’s time to give up and hike back to the truck. Fortunately this was the right canyon, but it was about 1:30 before we reached the first rappel. What to do? Do we have enough time to make it through before dark? Do we have enough water to hike back to the truck in the heat of the day if we need to? Which would suck more, turning back and running out of water, or doing the hike out in the dark? We decided we still had a chance of making it out before dark if we hurried, and we had all done portions of the hike out before and thought it reasonable to do with headlamps if we really had to (but we still REALLY didn’t want to). We each had emergence bivy gear and so I tucked the video camera in my pack, and whoosh we went down the rope.

The canyon turned out to be very nice, lot’s of fun problems and really beautiful scenery. The ending was best with multiple waterslides into deep pools of water. The final rappel was nearly 200 feet and quite beautiful.

After reaching the end it was time for the hike out, we had about 2 ½ hours of daylight and six or seven miles of difficult terrain. We hiked fast and efficient and made it to our destination with only a small amount of light to spare. We all celebrated our accomplishment; VERY glad we made it out before dark.

All in all it was a great day, awesome canyon with good friends. It was nice to see that there is still a lot out there to be discovered. Hope you enjoy the Misery Canyon video, and watch for my review of La Sportiva’s new canyoneering shoe available at, coming next month.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Southeast Climbers - Find a Crag and Adopt It

It's been a hot muggy summer in the southeast and so far so good with hurricanes. But these things don't deter climbers. If you've not been out climbing this summer there is still time for you to tie into a rope, pull out the crash pad and even time for you to give back to the climbing community through a few Adopt-a-Crag days in the month of September.

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition has 3 different Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag events coming up in September. has teamed up with the Atlanta Climbing Club to sponsor the Lost Wall crag event on Sept 23. If you can't make it out to that event, here is a list of the September events happening in the Southeast.


Sand Rock AL on Sept 9. Meet in the parking lot at 9:30am CST. We'll work for half a day - collecting garbage, installing anchors, and performing trail maintenance. Free lunch and goodies for all volunteers!! Gear raffle during lunch. Contact Michelle Connell at for info.

Griffin Falls AL on Sept 16
- Located near Collinsville, Alabama. Hosted by Southeastern Climbers Coalition -(9am CST). We will be working on the trails and picking up trash. Please wear boots and work clothes. Bring trash bags and tools (picks, shovels, chainsaws, etc.) for trail work. We will be climbing at the crag after lunch. Please contact Jeremy Boydston at for more info.

Lost Wall, Pigeon Mountain, Georgia on Sept 23 - 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Come on out and help the Atlanta Climbing Club in their efforts to help keep the Lost Wall and Rock Town trails in good shape.

Bring shovels, picks and rakes and a chainsaw if you have it. Please wear work clothes with sturdy boots. No sandals. Contact: Jeff Mekolites at for more info. Trail Day Info flier: Print out a flyer for this event and put it up at your office, climbing gym, etc.


Alpine climbing in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Andy coiling ropes after climbing TocllarajuAndy and I trained for six months before going to Peru to test ourselves in the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. The neighborhood kids mocked us as we did lunges in the street, threw wall balls against my house until the porch light rattled loose, and dry heaved in my front yard. Eventually came the day when it was time to pack the gear and see what we were really made of.

I gathered my 180 pounds of luggage and went to the airport. A half day later I arrived in a country where my vocabulary dropped to about 50 words—none of which could be put together to form a sentence. After a few days of hanging out in Huaraz and a short acclimatization trip into the mountains, I managed to contract something nasty and was out of commission for a week. On my second day of being sick, I set a personal best by reading a 580-page book, cover to cover, without leaving the bathroom. It’s a record I hope to never beat.

Eventually I got to the point where I could leave the safety of the bathroom, but we didn’t dare risk staying in a camp. So, we got in a Taxi at 4:30am, rode a couple hours to the trailhead, climbed (plodded up) Vallunaraju (5896m, 18,660ft), and were back in Huaraz eating chicken in the Brasa Roaja 11 hours after walking out the front door.

Once back in town, Andy got the funk, so I hung out and worked on my very-poor Spanish while he suffered the wrath. Several rolls of toilet paper later, Andy found (relative) health, and we headed back into the hills.

Andy of the business pitch of the West Face Direct, TocllarajuWe made the 5600+ foot approach through the Ishinca Valley and up the moraine to find a less-than-ideal campsite at the base of the glacier. Our sorry excuse for acclimatization wasn’t doing the job, and we felt terrible. Regardless, we were running out of days, so we got up and started to brew when the alarm went off at 2:00am the next morning. We crossed the ’shrund just as the sun was rising and started up the West Face Direct on Tocllaraju (6032m, 19,760ft).

Tied into our single 8.5mm x 70m rope, Andy and I simal-climbed the first half of the face in an hour and a half. When I threw in the first belay with the last of the gear, our progress came to a screeching halt. Altitude hit us like a brick, and we eventually had to start pitching it out. The last belayed pitch went into a crevasse near the summit and climbs up an 80-degree snow (not ice) wall to exit onto the ridge. Andy stepped up and put it to bed—a very impressive effort.

With the acclimatization gained on Tocllaraju, we had one day to rest, one day to pack, and needed to be back into the mountains on the third day to get a shot at our main objective. The author feeling the altitude on the summit of TocllarajuYou guessed it… I got sick. We racked up a total of 14 sick days (full on in-the-bathroom days) between us during the trip. We never got a chance to attempt the route we trained so hard for. Instead, with one day left, we went downtown and sold the vast majority of my gear so I could pay my mortgage when I got home.

What little climbing we did in Peru was excellent. The access to very impressive mountains is extremely easy. And basecamps on grass makes for a pleasant trip (unless you’re sick). I made my mortgage (barely), and am already trying to decide where to go next year. Maybe I’ll go to Alaska and find out if it’s better to spend 14 days in a tent than 14 days in a bathroom.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BCA Gets Exclusive With Rottefella Telemark and Naxo

The press release reads:
"Rottefella has signed an agreement with Backcountry Access Inc. to become the exclusive distributor of Rottefella telemark and Naxo alpine touring bindings in North America. BCA will begin distributing the products in 2007-2008, starting at the 2007 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, where BCA will launch Rottefella’s much-anticipated New Telemark Norm."
New Telemark Norm? Ah, right, I know what that is. The new norm is the exodus from Tele to AT.


Stache Evidence

I managed to snap a few photos around the office of some staches. The best of the day goes to 'Pope' John Thomas III who actually broke out the country boy theme, shit kickers and all.

T. 'Pickle'’ Meikle expresses his stache with flavor with his famous "Slacker" t-shirt on.
Ross 'Isaac' Hayes looking...well, he's just looking.

In case some of you think that we don't work around here, well...the Semi-Annual sale at started yesterday. We managed to find over 6000 pieces of gear and put them on sale. Proof that work, along with some stache fun, has been done.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Men of the Mustache - Magnum PI Day Cometh

The time is growing nigh for the employees who are in the mustache contest. Here is the latest from the committee:
As the originator (brain child with inspiration from Jesse Stay) of the official Mustache Contest I'’m stepping in as temporary board chairman for the day. It my privilege to let you know that tomorrow is the day that we all have been waiting for. Yes, that'’s right! It's Magnum P.I. day tomorrow! All contestants that are still real men and holding strong with abstinence need to come to work sporting the Majestic Stache. This is where the real men are separated from the little boys that hide there baby faces under a beard. REAL MEN WEAR MUSTACHES!

Don'’t mistake Magnum P.I. day with Judgment Day (Aug. 24th). So wear your mustache proud! And remember part of the contest is to make it to judgment day with your stache. Picture with out any photo shopping will be accepted from only those that are not able to make an appearance on judgment day.

Judgment day isn'’t the last of the Mustache Contest of 2006. The last day will be determined by how manly the contestants really are! Yes that'’s right the contest goes until the winner of longevity is the last man standing wearing his stache with honor and a good chuck of loot in his pocket.

We the Board have been discussing that the pot needs to be split in half instead of 2/3'’s to the man with the best stache growing skillz and a 1/3 going to the winner of longevity. We the Board are true Mustache Lovers and want to encourage a furry upper lip for a longer season. So we are splitting the pot and the last mustache wearer standing will walk away sexually deprived with his half of the pot.

Let the STACHE wearing begin!


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nissan Xterra Thompson Lake Off-road Challenge

Adventure Report - This adventure report comes from Horde member Rusty Milholland

I am not a multi-sport athlete. I can not swim 50 yards in a crawl without having to stop and switch to backstroke. Last weekend, however, I decided to get a team of buddies together to make a relay team for the local off-road triathlon called the Nissan Xterra Thompson Lake Off-road Challenge.

Even though I’ve competed in many different running and mountain bike races, nothing could have prepared me or any member of my team for this race. In fact, I’m not sure race is even the right word, Challenge was a more appropriate word.

The race started with an 800 meter swim in the rain on Thompson Lake in Poland Maine, and our swimmer was 4th out of the water. As the swimmers came out of the water, they had to run up a hill to the transition zone where their bike, or biker in our case, was waiting. Not only was it raining during the race, but the last few days had been filled with intermittent thunderstorms which made the ground nothing but slop.

The race description had said that the bike course was filled with 1/3 singletrack, 1/3 double-track jeep trail and 1/3 on paved and dirt roads. Under normal conditions, that may have been true, however, on race day, it was more like 1/3 river, 1/3 slop, and 1/3 something that resembled a road. Our biker left quickly with clean bike and a full head of steam into the pristine wooded singletrack, at the front at the pack. Just about an hour later we saw him cranking his way up into the transition area with what looked like about 5 pounds of mud caked all over his body and bicycle. He gave me a muddy high-five, and I was off on what I thought was a 5k trail run.

"A 5k run, how hard could it be?" I thought to myself as I sprinted my way out of the transition zone. First of all, it was really 4 miles, although I didn’t find that out until I was finishing and looked at my watch which read 26:15. Also, our biker had gotten passed by a few competitors, one of which was a team. I had to put on two and a half minutes on what looked like a good runner over what I thought was 5k.

The course was not that hilly but boy was it covered in mud. For the first mile, we tramped through a winding singletrack until to my relief we hit the little dirt road. We followed this road for too short of a period of time and then darted back into the woods to tackle a brand new section of trail. This trail more resembled a river that we had to clamber through for the majority of the rest of the race. After a minute or two I gave up trying to stay dry and ran through every puddle on the trail. My shoes must have gained 3 pounds a piece in water, muck, sticks and rocks by the time I crossed the finish line. I never did make up that gap to the leading team, but I did cut about a minute off their lead.

After the race our team huddled up to converse about the race, and all agreed that it was one of the most crazy things we’d ever done. We also made a plan right then and there to do this exact same race the following year, but this time we’ll know what we’re in for.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Bottomless SAC - Now You've Got Weekend Plans

Just in case you haven't heard the news, SAC ( has gone from a one insane gear item per day to a bottomless SAC of insane gear deals. Today kicked off the start of the madness with items selling out faster than the powder can be skied at Alta.

Rumor has it that the Bottomless SAC will be going on for a few days. So keep checking in to SAC throughout the weekend to see if your dream deal on that Marmot sleeping bag you've wanted has arrived. (Cue Blackberry owners - this is where technology will rule for you. )

If you Digg, help push the article to the top of the tech geek world.

Digg SAC


Hey Buddy, You Forgot Your Shoes

"Hey buddy, you forgot your shoes" is something I'm sure that Barefoot Brett (known around as barefoot bmw) has heard from time to time as he trains for yet another marathon. Brett has now run a total of 3 marathons in his life, all of them barefoot. The Deseret Morning News marathon in Salt Lake City, Utah was his latest. The Deseret News wrote about Brett's friend Rick Roeber, aka Barefoot Rick who also ran the marathon in Salt Lake City.

What's next for Brett? He recently picked up the new Vibram FiveFingers and has been putting them to the test on the Glenwild Loop Trail, an eight mile loop of fine single track here Park City, Utah.

Another unique aspect of Brett's running is that he is an avid fan of merino wool products from companies like Ibex and Smartwool. No polyester/nylon running shirts for him. 100% natural please.

Orlando Sentinel ran an piece about Brett's barefoot running citing that "For Williams, an employee of who goes barefoot at work, the plunge into barefoot running got off to a bumpy start..." I wonder if the "bumpy start" was the hazing he took from the office. Weather you think he's nuts or not, there's no denying that he's committed to the core.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poison Ivy in Utah? Oh Yea, We've Got It!

Most people think that with Utah being so dry and hot and, well, a desert, that there isn't any poison ivy to be found. Oh how I wish that were true.

A few years ago I had a most regrettable close encounter of the very wrong kind with this three leaf foe.

Read all about it. Let the humiliation begin.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cordillera Blanca Gear Tests:
MSR Dromedary Bag

MSR Dromedary BagIn my opinion, the MSR Dromedary Bag is the only water bladder you should ever take into the mountains. Many of my climbing partners have had issues with popping their water bladders, but the Dromedary Bag has never given me any problems. I used it for my entire Peru trip, and it performed smoothly. The trick to using a bladder in the mountains is to have to option to leave the hose behind. Stash that sucker in camp, and only use the screw-on cap (comes with the Drom) when the temps will be below freezing. You still get the low-bulk/low-weight advantage, and don’t have to worry about ice blocking your water supply. I would not recommend the Dromlite Bag for trips to the mountains, as I (and several partners) have destroyed them on ice climbing trips, but they do save weight over the standard Drom.

Why the Drom rules:
  • Collapses to save space as you drink
  • Super durable (especially compared to other bladders)
  • Lighter than Nalgen bottles (the 2L Drom weighs 5.6oz)


Beware of the Italian Threat - Mustache Men of

The dog days of summer. For skiers and snowboarders, which most all of us at consider ourselves, the dog days of summer have arrived. It is a time when Powder Magazine lands in your mailbox while the temps outside flutter around 90. When snowboard film teasers do more than tease - they taunt. When wiping the sweat off your brow is preparatory for wiping the pow off your goggles. Surely the dog days are upon us.

It's also a time when irrational and wacky things are done, sometimes for the sake of begging and pleading for the early snows to fly and sometimes for the sake of just doing something, well, wacky.

Enter - the Mustache Men contest. Born from the dog days of summer this contest has gained momentum and the participants range from the top of the food chain down to the bottom. Questions like "you in?" and "paid up yet?" have become commonplace around the office. Yea, it's been a productive week for us.

The Contest Details

Everyone that is in pays $5. The judges, a select number of the women at, will determine who has the best stache after 2 weeks with 2/3 of the money going to him. The the other 1/3 is behind held for the longevity side of the contest. Some are saying this is what separates the men from the boys.

Heros of the stache who we hold in high regard are Thomas P. Magnum, Goose, Pedro Sanches (vote for Pedro) and the one and only Don Mattingly who so proudly wore his stache amid battle on the diamond.

Over the next two weeks we'll be featuring some of the following contestants and showing you just what the dog days of summer have driven some of us snow deprived employees of to do.

The Players

Introduce the 2006 Mustache Contest Contestants (feel free to take offense to these nicknames).

'Jumpin'’ Jim Holland

T. 'Pickle'’ Meikle

Tim 'Ozzy' Ostler

Phunk (Tammy's Man)

Bob Merrillo

Josh "Sunshine" Rhea

'Mike' Tyson Perry

'Tight pants' Nick Clark 'W. Grizwald'

Todd 'Chicken Pox' Cox

Aaron 'Provolon'’ Provine

'Lt. Pete' Mitchell Kruesi (Not an Italian Threat)

Terry 'Catfish' Grant

John '‘LumberJack' Bresee

Ross 'Isaac' Hayes

Brian 'The Man'’ Gulotta

Dave "‘I'’d Rather Be ________"’ Gauthier

Justin 'Young Republican'’ Pauletti

Cpt. Kirk (or Spock) Harr

'Pope' John Thomas III

Abe Froman 'The Sausage King of Chicago' ”

Scott 'Dapper Denim' Klossner

Christian "I'’m Intimidated by the Italian Threat"’ Gennerman

Matt 'Menlove' Enloe

Nate "I'’m Brown" ”Brunson

David Yusef Sadr

Gardner Saywhat

Sam 'Italian Threat' Bruni

Dave "Dr. Jenkels" Jenkins

Kendall 'Three' ’Card ' Monte'

Gross Alex

Peter 'Makin Noise' ’ Makowski

Greg 'Space Cowboy' ’ Evans

Luke '‘SkyWalker'’ Cudney

Dustin '‘the Kandy Man'’ Robertson

Christian '‘Deville'’ Castellani (from Poison)

Walt W. Walters (his website:

"We on the committee are extremely proud of you all for signing up," said committe chair Brian 'The Man'’ Gulotta, "and for putting your love lives on the line. The memories will be worth it. The pot o-money is up to about $150. I wish you the worst of Luck. It'’s On."
And in case you are wondering, my wife said that she wasn't going to kiss a scruffy face man and threw down an ultimatum - the Mustache Men contest or kisses. I'm proud to say I'm still scruffy.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tribute to a Fallen Friend

John, the President of said that "B" was "incredibly nice to me [as] I skied with her on her last day in the rubies". Our deepest condolences go out to her family and close friends.
“On July 23rd Belinda Edwards, a great colleague, friend and soul of the snow industry passed away after a long and defiant battle against an undiagnosed form of cancer.

Known by most as ‘B’, her legacy in the snow industry began in 1987 as a designer at Seirus. During the 90’s she chose to focus her energy on raising four daughters and embarking on countless epic journeys into extraordinary wilderness settings with friends and family.

In her renaissance, she successfully drove territory management for Peppers, Zeal and Betty Rides. And later, her senior management positions with each brand drove significant results - via product design and sales management.

Thoughtful and caring to all, she was a master of relationships. Belinda had a unique quality in her honest and direct approach to her friends, business partners and employees.

She will be remembered for her warmth, style, beauty, innovation and honesty. But most of all, she will be remembered by her friends and colleagues as a true lover of the snowsports lifestyle.

Her final day on snow was remarkable. Heliskiing in the Ruby Mountains on a crystal clear day, 12 inches of fresh, with her husband Joe, and her closest friends. A perfect day with an incredible person.

And we will all miss her so.”
Ski Press Link


Breathalyzer Required at the Open Air Demo

Word from our buyers at the Open Air Demo of the Outdoor Retailer show is that you will be required to take a breathalyzer test in order to test drive a Hummer. So keep it sober out there folks and minimize your impact to an eight foot wide swath of nature destruction as you motor around the Open Air Demo in plush Italian leather trim interior.

Can SNEWS be trusted?

In this cell phone photo from the demo it looks like Hummer has banners up and representing.


Sounding Your Voice: Hummer Pulls Out of Outdoor Retailer Demo

Hummer announced late yesterday afternoon that they will not be participating in the Open Air demo of the Outdoor Retailer show as a previously planned portion of their sponsorship.

We recognize that this action by Hummer is a result of the continued pressure from The Piton, a well written editorial by SNEWS, the development of a grassroots tee shirt campaign by and other influencers in the Outdoor Industry who have voiced their opinions.

Here's how it went down.

The Timeline -

January? March? May? June? Early July?
- Someone brilliant at Outside Magazine recommends to Hummer, a long time advertiser with Outside Magazine, that they sponsor the Outdoor Retailer show to get closer to outdoor people. Hummer takes the bait as does VNU (the company that puts together the Outdoor Retailer show) citing Outside Magazine as a long time voice of the outdoor consumer, its long history, yada, yada, yada.

July 17 - SNEWS reports that Hummer will be at the OR demo stating "How anyone at Outdoor Retailer...thought this was a good idea is beyond us."

July 19 - The Piton takes a stab at Hummer and Outdoor Retailer, clearly drawing a line in the sand. Discussion ensues with 21 comments and a trackback to

July 20 - SNEWS starts a topic on their forum.

July 21
- The Piton begins to ask probing questions and suggests Open Air Demo Shirt #1, the first of a handful of pokes at Hummer.

July 22-26 - Base Camp Communications' Mike Geraci and's Dustin Robertson begin to toss around some tee shirt ideas of their own as a form of protest. The idea snowballs and three separate shirt designs emerge from a flurry of activity at HQ.

July 27 - sources and purchases organic cotton tee shirt blanks from American Apparel as the shirt project gains momentum. That same day The Piton publishes the three tee shirt designs giving "Huge Kudos to for Taking a Stand (unlike the rest of you wankers)" Hummer fans take note and chime in as 24 comments are posted. Still, silence prevails in Outdoor Retailer land. Outdoor news sources are still hush on the topic.

July 31 - The Piton pumps out it's official stand - still on the same side of the line in the sand as it was before. Perhaps more clear than before? Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) partners with in support of the tee shirt project and agrees to receive proceeds from the sale of the shirts.

Aug 2 - begins to sell Hummer inspired tee shirts. Pre-orders are steady as support grows.

Aug 4 - SNEWS takes a stand with a very well written and healthy six page editorial on the issue. This piece brings to light among many fact the point that OIA (the Outdoor Industry Association) and OR (Outdoor Retailer) by contract cannot be critical of VNU

Aug 7 - learns that the VNU PR firm has been discussing the shirts that has been making. They weren't ready for the onslaught of outcry and action from the Hummer decision.

Aug 7 - Breaking news - Hummer announces that they will not be participating in the open air demo of the Outdoor Retailer show. What was deemed as unlikely and improbable has taken place.

A greater issue has emerged from. That of OIA's inability by contract to properly voice itself to VNU as it relates to the Outdoor Retailer show.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Warming Up for the Darwin Awards

I give this guy 3-4 years before he's a Darwin Award nominee. From the Oregonian:
Here's a tip for campers on the go:

Bring a flashlight when wandering in the woods.

Jerry Mersereau, 23, learned that lesson the hard way when he trekked out in the dark to relieve himself and fell off a cliff in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Here's the caper from his lawsuit against the government -
"While finding a place to relieve himself, plaintiff walked off the unguarded and unprotected cliff falling approximately 20 to 30 feet to the creek bed below."
Yea, I said lawsuit. I'm embarrassed that this loser is from my home state.

Camper sues the government

Next time you go camping, don't forget your camping lighting and sound system courtesy of our friends at The Piton


Friday, August 04, 2006

Cordillera Blanca Gear Tests:
The North Face Base Camp and Rolling Thunder Duffels

The North Face Base Camp Duffel has been the standard for expedition travel for years. It was recently joined by the wheeled Rolling Thunder Duffle, and I took one of each to Peru.

These bags are absolutely massive (9070cu in, 8400cu in respectively), and they easily held the 140 pounds of gear I checked on the plane. (Thanks to the guy at the Delta counter for not charging me.) Stacking the Base Camp on top of the Rolling Thunder allowed me to stroll through customs instead of dragging two bags which weighed more than me (yes, I weight less than 140 pounds).

I’ve had my Base Camp Duffel for about five years, and I’m confident it’ll last at least another ten unless it falls off the roof of a colectivo and disappears into a river. Compression straps on the Base Camp helped out when it came back less than full.

These bags are:
  • Absolute huge
  • As burly as they get
  • A great choice for expedition travel


Guest bedroom or roughing it?

It's been bloody hot here too. Sleeping in a sweat lodge is not my idea of camping either. But the back yard?

Well, I suppose if the in-laws are coming to town...


Le Femme Rippa - Girl Power!

Actually, that's Girl Powder! with a "d". Well, it's really POWDER Girl. It's the next development from the confines of Powder Magazine HQ in sunny southern California.

I've been to said HQ. It's more of a lair than an office. Ski, surf and bike posters from all corners of the globe with a spattering of desks, offices and tall ceilings. Perhaps it was the pavement melting temps and the flat surf that kept the POWDER folks confined to said office too long this summer. I predict it will be another repeat of AXIS.

Lou at breaks it down for us and throws his $.02 into the prediction hat.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cordillera Blanca Gear Tests:
Black Diamond Viper Ice Tools

Black Diamond Viper Ice ToolJust as they do on steep ice, the Black Diamond Viper Ice Tools performed great on long, 60-80 degree faces. Their shape allows a natural swing on low-angle ice (not much wrist flick needed), and the shaft plunged easily in firm snow. I used the Viper Android leashes which prevent grabbing the top of the tool. However, they were so easy to un-clip that it wasn’t much of an issue. A better solution would have been the standard Android leashes (if you want to stick with a clip leash) or the Lockdown leash.

The Fang would have added warmth by keeping my hands off the ice, but would have decreased plunging ability. Pick what’s important and make a choice.

My only complaint is that I feel a slight flex in the tool when drytooling. This is likely a product of the minor-axis shaft. I’m not concerned with the tools strength, but the movement is a bit unnerving on difficult terrain.

Make your own choice:
  • Plunge easily
  • Climb steep and mellow ice with equal ease
  • Perceivable flex is a little spooky
  • Standard leash system is a bit limiting (but comes seperate)


Jonny A, George W and a Little Jack D

Johnny A, the man of power at Scott USA, spent a little time this past weekend hob nobbin' with the man of power. While most of the crew from Sun Valley wanted to give George W a piece of thier mind some how knocking back a few Jack and Coke's mellowed out the mountain town liberals. Here's the 411 from Johnny A.
Some friends of ours got married at the little church across the street from the White House...then had the reception at the actual White House. The groom's father is first cousins with George W.

It really was a surreal experience...meeting George W, George Sr, Barbara, Laura and even the twins. There was a good contingency form Ketchum/Sun Valley there...a lot of people went in with the attitude of “Oh I am going to give him a peace of my mind” but once you are actually there, drinking a Jack and Coke with the President....a guy who is very personable and actually quit change your tune to “He really was a pretty cool guy.”

Personal cameras were frowned upon...but a buddy of mine showed up wearing a blue and white striped seersucker suit, the exact same as George Sr. After meeting George Sr, I said that I had a friend that I had to introduce to him and that I would be right back. I grabbed my friend and said George Sr wanted to meet him. We walked up and he goes...."you're the best dressed man here!" I reached in to grab my camera, but hesitated remembering that personal cameras were not supposed to be used with the first family...he saw what I was doing and said...”Fire that bad boy up”. It was pretty funny.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cordillera Blanca Gear Tests:

The MSR XGK EX Stove is absolutely great for alpine routes. It folds down to nearly nothing, weights only 14oz (including the pump) and boils water like a flame thrower.

The new flexible fuel line allows it to be packed into a 1L pot as well. We did have some problems with it blowing out in really strong wind, but it was blowing so hard that everything without a rock holding it down mysteriously disappeared from camp. Though it’s a little pricier than the standard XGK, this stove is worth every cent.

Made for alpine climbing:
  • Ultralight
  • Very compact
  • Boils extremely fast
  • Very durable