Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goat Sighting - Mt. Olympus, New Zealand

Nothing like getting some turns during the "summer months".

This week's "Show Us Your Goat" winner comes to us from a very cool area of the globe - Club Field (ski resorts are called clubs in NZ), Mount Olympus, New Zealand. Tim couldn't handle the heat of summer in Seattle so by mere impulse he booked a trip to cooler climates and got his ski stoke fueled.

Photo Shot by: Tim Cartwright
Photo Location: Club Field, Mt. Olympus \ New Zealand
About the photo:
Thought you'd enjoy this. Here's a pic of a sticker I put up for you guys at Backcountry.com. This place is pretty rad. Those uphill tow ropes / nutcrackers - not so rad! (but otherwise fast). It was such a challenge trying to use those things. On a snowboard they would be even less friendly. The terrain was just simply awesome (I skied the chute above the backcountry goat sticker)Mount Olympus in New Zealand
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As a weekly winner Tim will receive a Backcountry.com Goat Tee Shirt for his next ski trip to New Zealand.

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 Backcountry.com and get yourself a FREE goat sticker by filling out the form or placing an order as each box we ship gets a free sticker. Then get out there and stick it, take a photo and submit it online.

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K2 On a Budget - Your Own

I tire of climbers who say, "Oh, if I just had the money I'd go climb all sorts of peaks. I'd slay the big ones and set all sorts of recoreds" as then they lift yet another PBR and sigh. Gimme a friggin' break.

On August 1 a 23 year old Japaneese woman not only knocked off the toughest high altitude peak in the world by climbing K2 via the SSE Ridge but she worked 3 jobs to fund it the old fashioned way. Nice work!

Commentary by eBomb from Get Outdoors on this is worth reading.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Noah Should Have Been a Skier

Black Diamond - solid skiing, climbing and mountaineering gear
This past Thursday was the beginning of the 2006-2007 ski season as the 13th Annual Utah Avalanche Center fundraiser party got under way. The season literally got under way with rain of biblical proportions kicking things off. Little would we realize at the time that many of the faithful powder-hounds would be skiing powder over the next week thanks to the this storm and the few to follow.

Some sought shelter under the Black Diamond roof but most milled about in the parking lot in a sea of Gore-Tex. The rain didn't detour people's enthusiasm to participate in the silent auction which combined with door proceeds exceeded $33,000. Backcountry.com was stoked to provide over $1000 worth of product for the silent auction and raffle.

Of the event Colleen Graham Nipkow, Black Diamond'’s Senior Marketing Manager and President of the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, commented:
"The skiers and riders in the Wasatch Range truly took ownership of the Utah Avalanche Center when Federal funding cuts threatened its sustainability. It is the generosity and community-mindedness of local backcountry users that allows everyone to enjoy and explore the Wasatch Range safely. Black Diamond is honored to serve as a venue for this important and inspirational event.

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Dean Karnazeas - 50 is a Cruel Task-Master

Dean Karnazeas, a likely contender for Dean Karnazeas on just another daily runthe most fit runner in the world award (if there were such an award he'd be a contender), is focused on the number 50. He's under way to complete 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.

Today he finds himself in Fargo, North Dakota for day 10. After today it will be 260 miles down with another 1014 to go. I've known road trips with that kind of mileage and had nasea just thinking about driving that far.

One of Backcountry.com's employees Katie Gold will be running with Dean for one of his marathons and I'll be in St. George, Utah for the October 7 St. George marathon - one of 7 "live" marathons that Dean will be running.

Stay tuned for an update on Katie's experience running with Dean and my trip to see Dean run in St. George.

Follow along and watch Dean's progress at Endurance50.com and be sure to check out some of the gear from The North Face that Dean will be relying on (like the North Face Boa Endurus XCR Boa Trail Running Shoe) during this grueling undertaking.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Technical Clothing:
Moove over Moosejaw - Hello Khadejha

There is a contender for your Friday afternoon surf sessions when you roll over to Moosejaw dot com to check out some of thier "techinical gear".

Khadejha is a new company whose name is prounced "Caw - duh - jah", I think. So I have a tough time prounouncing it too - try typing it correctly in the title without the "alt-tab" action. Impossible.

Anyway, they too make technical climbing gear and I suspect thier new site will soon rival Moosejaw for branded technical climbing clothing. You be the judge:

Moosejaw Mountaineering Tiny Tank rapelling (is that an EMS rental climbing helmet I see?):
Or Khadejha technical rock climbing tank:

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Han Solo Jackets, Biking Shants and Boutique Chalkbags

I'm not so much a fan of the biking shants (yea I'm a roadie snob now) or the boutique chalkbags but I sure could use a Han Solo jacket to fend off the December weather we are having right now. The trees in the parking lot outside of club med (backcountry.com HQ) are pegged under a Hoth wind.

The new "all things gear" blog from Backcountry.com is a keeper. Better add it to your blog roll - I did.(and I wasn't forced too either)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Goat Goes Base Jumping Above Park City

This Adventure Report comes from Baxter Gillespie, a customer of Backcountry.com

What would be more fun on a hot summer day than a hot air balloon ride over beautiful Park City, Utah? Well, how about jumping out of a hot air balloon over Park City?!?Nope, this is not Park City. Baxter Gillespie over the Snake River in Idaho

Last Thursday that is just what a bunch of experienced skydivers did and some of the jumpers even added a little extra excitement using highly advanced ‘wingsuits’ and parachute systems specially designed to open at very low altitudes.

Modern wingsuits have been around since the mid-1990s when a Frenchmen, Patrick DeGayardon, started working with modern fabrics and skydiving gear to develop a system that would allow jumpers to significantly decrease their fall rate and increase their forward speed.

In April of 1998, Patrick was killed while jumping his wingsuit and a Croatian named Robert Pecnik picked up the development torch. Pecnik’s company Phoenix-Fly (www.phoenix-fly.com) manufactures several models of wingsuits each designed for a particular purpose. The highest performance suit, the Vampire, is capable of lowering an experienced wingsuit pilot’s fall rate to around 30mph (vs. 120mph for a normal skydiver) and increasing the forward speed of the wingsuit pilot to over 100mph!

On a very basic level, this performance is accomplished by placing material between the legs and arms which is aerodynamically designed to move the pilot forward and decrease the vertical speed. Obviously, to fly with such a suit you need to be a highly experienced skydiver and have special training as errors made flying the suit can be tragic.

Our goal last week was to jump from a balloon with the suits and also use specially designed parachute systems to let us open our parachutes around 500’ AGL (vs. the usual 3000’ opening altitude by normal skydivers)Nope, not Park City either.  No clue where this is but it could be close to Park City.

The weather on Thursday was great and the ride to altitude was quite fun. Several other balloons were taking off and the visuals were sweet on such a clear morning. The exit required us to climb on the rail of the basket and to not push off as we exited since pushing off would cause the basket to rock significantly unnerving the non-parachute wearing passengers.

Once we jumped from the balloon there was a period of several seconds before the vertical speed increases enough to allow the suit to start to fly. Once the suit began to accelerate, and the fall rate was decreased, we were able to plot our course back over the neighborhoods and into the landing area.

Needless to say, the visuals were spectacular! Video Link: http://www.para-noid.com/balloon.mov

All Photos by Jason Cade; Video by Kevin Steen

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Clinton Wins! Roadless Rule Intact Once Again

In the last year of his administration Clinton passed the "Roadless Rule" which protected 58 million acres of land in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Bush was quick to action once he took office to appoint a timber lobbyist to a senior position whose first major action was to overturn the Roadless Rule.

Today a federal district court reinstated the Roadless Rule and said that the Bush Administration:
"...failed to comply with basic legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act"

But this isn't so much about Clinton or really about Bush. It's about preserving the land for the future and a system of prioritizing values - history and wilderness before bottom lines and revenue.

As and active wilderness and Forest Service land user (just last week I was in a designated wilderness area and I live only 5 miles from a huge swath of Forest Service land which my family regularly uses) I am estatic about this turn of events.

Thanks go to the folks over at EarthJustice.com and the countless others who have put forth time and money to making this announcement a reality.

Of this the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, said:
"Today marks a huge victory for America’s last remaining wild forests and the millions of Americans who have spoken out in support of protecting these special places for future generations. These are increasingly scarce unspoiled places that provide some of the highest quality fish and wildlife habitat, backcountry recreation and clean water supplies in the country."
The Full Story at EarthJustice.com

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Monday, September 18, 2006

And Then There Was Silence

This past Friday evening found me up late typing away on the computer. The weather outside was windy and raining pretty hard. Amidst a pretty good surfing session the pitter patter of the rain against the window of my office tapered off to an eerie silence. It must have been around midnight, perhaps later.

At first I figured that the rain had stopped altogether but after a while I was almost startled by the silence. Peaking up from the computer I looked out the blinds to see my entire front yard white with winter snow - and it was coming down hard.

Wind pushed flakes around in a wild dance of snow flurries. Stoked to see the first snows I grabbed my camera and went outside to celebrate.


First Snow in Utah - Kendall Card enjoys the weatherInternational language for "Hell yea! I'm stoked for winter"

By morning the roads were covered with nearly 3" as storms throughout the day would drop another 2" of snow. Although the sun is out today and most of the snow melted the cold bite in the air and the white mountain tops signal winter will be here soon.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

La Sportiva Exum River Canyoneering Shoe - Review

A review of the new canyoneering specific shoe from La Sportiva, the Exum River.

Canyoneering is still a relatively new sport, and has just recently started to really gain popularity. Technical canyons (canyons that generally require the use of ropes and rock climbing equipment) have been explored in the mountains of Europe for many years, and in the late 60’s and early 70’s climbers and adventurers did first documented descents of technical canyons in Zion National Park (Zion would probably be considered the birthplace of American Canyoneering). Accounts of descending some of the big nasty slot canyons of Zion pop up in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In some of these accounts we find rock climbers recognizing the need for specialized gear to make their trips easier. Many of the accounts list items not taken on standard climbing trips like wetsuits, triple garbage sacks for bagging gear that needs to stay dry, floating packs on inflatable mattresses, etc... As Canyoneering becomes more popular, more companies are starting to manufacture canyoneering specific gear that makes traveling down slot canyons much more efficient and enjoyable. One of the most important pieces of gear is a good shoe.

There are currently two major Canyoneering specific shoes on the U.S. market. There are many that can be used for Canyoneering, and some hardcore canyoneers prefer these non-specific shoes, but most end up using one of the two made for the sport sooner or later. The first shoe to come out is made by 5.10, called the Canyoneer. The new kid on the block is La Sportiva’s Exum River, the first shoe to give 5.10 some real competition.

Before I go over the pluses and minuses of La Sportiva’s shoe, lets go over what a good canyoneering shoe should have. First and foremost is the sole. Canyoneering many times involves swimming, wading, and climbing on all sorts of slippery surfaces, it is essential to have a shoe that will grip when wet. Canyoneering can many times involve climbing moves, especially stemming and chimneying, in some cases 20 to 80 feet off the deck for hours at a time, if you can’t trust your footing you can get into big trouble. Another key is how comfortable your shoes are when wet. They need to drain well and not shrink or dry up when constantly getting wet. Like any other shoe they need to be comfortable for the approach and exit (no one wants to carry two pairs of shoes) and be able to take a beating like no other shoe can (I can’t think of any sport harder on gear than canyonnering, it shreds anything and everything to pieces).

So with that intro, how does the Exum River stand up in the mostly dry slots of the Colorado Plateau (mainly Utah/Arizona)? My first impression was good, it is a low top (5.10’s is a mid top) shoe, which some prefer. It feels sturdy and seems to be tough enough to handle what the canyons dish out. It also has a strap that tightens over the top of the tongue, designed to keep it on when tackling strong current (not too useful in Utah, but might be useful in Europe), it also seems to help keep rocks out (which is a strong point of the 5.10 shoes design). I was a little leery of the straps; they looked like they could easily be shredded to bits after just a few trips.

The first canyon I tested them in was a beautiful little canyon high in the mountains with light water flow and all kinds of slip potential. I had scouted the canyon and been down portions of it in my 5.10 shoes and was anxious to see how the Exum Rivers would perform as we descended the entire canyon for the first time. The shoes were comfortable and handled the approach with ease, but upon dropping in to the light water flow, I noticed immediately that the sticky rubber soles, although far superior to your average shoe, didn’t seem as sticky as my 5.10’s.

The second canyon was a hidden gem in Zion, with plenty of pools, but no flowing water. Upon dropping into the canyon, just as I suspected would happen, one of the rubber straps snapped off. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the same thing happens to the other. Hopefully La Sportiva will either fix this or get rid of the strap altogether, I really don’t see much use for it personally.

The Exum Rivers drain water well and my feet always felt comfy when wet. When wearing thick neoprene socks (for the really cold water canyons) my feet felt cramped as the shoes seem to fit people with narrow feet better than my somewhat wide feet, overall though they performed well.

Other trips went off without problem, the Exum River’s were comfortable, drained water, and other than the rubber straps, are holding up well. People with narrow feet or that can’t get the 5.10’s to fit right will especially like these shoes. One big downside for people just breaking into the sport is the price tag, at $99 a pop it's hard to break down and pay when you know how hammered they are going to get once you start using them. However if you start in the sport using tennis shoes and then decide you enjoy it enough to buy specialized shoes, you will notice a world of difference just in the friction you get from the sticky rubber soles. They make enough of a difference that if you want to really get into the sport you'll justify paying for them.

Overall, this is a great canyoneering shoe, especially if you’ve tried the 5.10 shoes and haven’t been happy with them, or if you have narrow feet and are looking for an alternative. Personally I’m not convinced to give up my 5.10’s because of their superior stickiness and comfort for my feet (I did a four day, 30+ mile backpack/canyoneering trip with nothing but these shoes and my feet were more comfortable than my hiking shoes). But it is nice to have choices and La Sportiva’s done a fine job considering it’s their first canyoneering specific shoe. Hopefully a little competition will improve both the 5.10’s and these until we have the ultimate shoe for Canyoneering.

    Pro’s:

    • Fit narrow feet better than the 5.10’s
    • Comfortable and drain well.
    • Great traction from the sticky rubber soles.
    • Stylish.

    Con’s:

    • Usless (in my opinion, although "Eruopean style" canyoneers might find more use for them) rubber straps that broke on the second trip.
    • Shoelaces can come untied, but are easier to replace than the straps used on the 5.10 shoes
    • Not as sticky as 5.10’s stealth rubber, but still good.
    • Expensive considering how trashed they will get, but 5.10’s alternative is no better.

P.S. The Exum River would also make a great Kayaking or River Hiking shoe. It’s great for anything that involves wet or slippery conditions.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beware the Attacking Bouldarians. All Things Colorado Revisited.

Ah Boulder, land of the mountain lifestyle. I'm not really sure why so many of us self proclaimed mountain lifestyle people who don't live there love to hate it. Could it be that every time a so called list of the best places to live in the Milky Way galaxy pops up that Boulder is top of the heap? Jealousy you say?

It might be that instead of the standard Subaru Outback with a Thule rack and Smith sticker that would win you acknowledgement in any other western town of being a "mountain person" in Boulder the ante is raised with an Audi A4 Quatro with a custom made sports rack and a "GO VEGAN!" sticker on the window.

Of Boulder writer Marc Peruzzi says:
It's a great place to live, because everyone looks and thinks exactly like you.* Except they're better than you. Get that straight and you'll fit in.
* If your teeth are pearly white and your resting heart rate is below 45 bpm.
Lynn Hill, arguably the best female sport climber ever, said of Boulder: "I love to go out my back door and run on the Dakota Ridge Trail. You have to pick a place that has all the things you need. Boulder was the best place I could think of."

So now you're asking yourself, "Are you sure it's not all gumdrops and lolipops? I mean, if Lynn Hill calls Boulder home, why couldn't I?"

And if you're thinking "He hasn't explained the attacking Bouldarians yet, well just click below and read on as Marc Peruzzi paints the picture for you - it's worth it, if only for the laughs.

Boulder - The Gore-Tex Vortex

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Utah Avalanche Center Party

The crisp in the air and the grumbling in my stomach tell me that it is once again time for the Utah Avalanche Center Fundraising Party. This years party, the 13th annual, will be once again held in the parking lot of Black Diamond in Salt Lake City. Click here for directions.

Utah Avalanche Center Party at Black DiamondTickets are $30 and well worth it with good grub, good brew, good tunes and always some gear to win in the raffle or the silent auction. See you there.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Barbie Goes Colorado

It seems that America can't get enough of all things Colorado. Ahhspen is sooo fabulous, nothing says "hey I'm a friggin' outdoor success story" than a Boulder based business (I still love ya Scarpa) and Vail needs no explaination cause it's Vail.

With an insatiable appetite for consumerism and selling the outdoor dream that is Colorado, the craze has trickled down to the bottom of the consumer food chain - little girls. Enter Barbie.

Pick your own model of Colorado inspired Barbies

From our friends at The Piton.

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