Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat from Backcountry.com

Happy Halloween from Backcountry


Haircut by Sam - Fast As Edward Scissor Hands

I dig the blog over at Howies. Transparent, candid, nothing too dramatic and of course, the employees run it. Just pure blogging.

Sam, in Bristol (yea, that's England) does just that and our man ade at Howies, who also wears a jacket from The North Face, tells about Sam the bicycle haircut man.

I'd like to see at least someone here in Park City come riding over to our office to give haircuts. Park City is trying to launch a loaner/community bike program. This would be perfect! Does anyone know of a bicycle riding haircutter in the Utah or even the states? Does this exist?


Guides Pick - Lowa Civetta Extremes Boots

Mountain Guide and Backcountry.com Athlete Nate Smith reports from Mt. Shasta, California about his Lowa Civetta GTX Extremes

Lowa Civetta GTX Extremes BootThe Lowa Civettas really stood out this past summer season while guiding on Mt. Shasta in California. They’re super warm, durable, easy to put on, extremely comfortable, and best of all, they come in red. With or without a load, these boots performed much higher than my expectations. From snow slogs up avalanche gulch, to 70 degree snow/ice on the hotlum-bolam ridge, I was never second guessing my footing.

The Civettas have an easily removable Gore-tex liner with complete rubber sole. This added ease when walking around the rocky high camp on the north side. Other pluses include step in crampon capability and extreme stability.

Lowa Civettas in action high on Mount ShastaAs a coordinator for the University of Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP), I urged the purchase of a complete fleet of Civettas for their rental program. They arrived last week. It was as though Christmas had come early. The boots will serve the student body in mountaineering/ice climbing cooperative outdoor adventure trips. Also, they will be ready for the public to rent. A full size range from 5 to 13 is available. You can see the prices for the Civettas and all other equipment at their rental rates page.

I’m excited to continue playing hard with the Civettas. I hope to use them this winter for a solo ascent of Aconcagua, and guided climbs of Shasta. They’ll continue to be my top choice for all mountaineering style climbs.

Check out Lowa boots at Backcountry.com


Monday, October 30, 2006

It's a Lange Thing

With winter coming right around the corner I stopped by my favorite boot fitting shop, (Surefoot at The Canyons) to get my new boots worked on. Since I'm a "regular" I sometimes head into the back of the shop to watch the pros at work while catching up on what everyone did all summer.

Like a good number of ski shops around the country when looking around I saw of few of the Lange Girls adorning the walls.

So in the spirit of winter and hanging out at your favorite local ski shop, a little walk down memory lane - The Lange Girls (could be mildly NSFW unless you work at a ski shop)


Hucking Cliffs is SOOOO Last Week

I don't even want to hear how big that cliff was that you hucked. This guy trumps all you cliff hucking wannabe's. Sack up and lemme see you stomp this one:


Friday, October 27, 2006

1% for the Backcountry Skiers - Response Needed ASAP!

1% for the Backcountry Skiers

Backcountry.com and Nordic United encourage you to take a couple of minutes to write a letter to the Forest Service in support of leaving in place the 2003 decision that mandated a small percentage (1%) of the Wasatch-Cache Forest non-motorized winter use. (check out the PDF map of the area)

Is this too much to ask of snowmobilers? Apparently not. They have enlisted Representative Rob Bishop and Undersecretary of Agriculture David Tenney (whose record in this sort of thing is not a shining star by any means) to help in reversing the decision that left a small area of the forest for quite winter recreation - perfect for backcountry skiers/snowshoers and ideal for wildlife.

Letters are DUE BY OCTOBER 30th! I sent my letter via e-mail as a word document - which took about 5 minutes.

Please take the time to help preserve non-motorized winter recreation in Logan Canyon.(Northern Utah). For more information, sample letters and talking points and the e-mail address to send your letter please visit Nordic United's website

You can read the Enviornmental Assesment from the Forest Service, just scroll down from the link to Tony Grove - Franklin Basin


A little history leading to the current issue

The Bear River Range in Northern Utah has been over-run by snowmobiles. The Forest Service spent 5 years conducting analysis and gathering input and in its 2003 revised Forest plan, designated a small area (9,500 acres) for winter non-motorized use. This area is perfect for skiers and snowshoers because it is accessible to trailheads, has a large variety of terrain, and much of it has low avalanche danger. There are also two yurts in the area (since the mid 80's). The Franklin Basin area has been a traditional non-motorized area. Note: this designated area represents about 1% of the 580,000 acres currently open for motorized use the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

In 2003, the Forest Plan was signed into law by Forest Chief Dale Bosworth. Unfortunately, a few of the local snowmobilers enlisted the help of congressman Rob Bishop, who in turn contacted Undersecretary of Agriculture David Tenney. Tenney then commented on this small closure and recommended that the Forest Service reconsider this closure. It is hard to fathom why someone dealing with national issues would concern themselves with the fate of a tiny section in the entire Forest Service plan for the entire Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which covers millions of acres!

The Forest Service is now proposing to re-open a large portion of the designated closure area, giving the reason that snowmobilers need a way out of the bottom of a steep bowl in the event the weather changes or they cannot negotiate the climb back out. In the spirit of compromise, the non-motorized users agreed that "emergency egress" to allow a snowmobile to leave this area in the event of an emergency was appropriate. For the motorized users, however, this was not good enough and the groups pressured the Forest Service to re-open 55% of this area for snowmobile use. If the proposed action is implemented, the snowmobilers' original request of an emergency egress may ultimately result in the drastic reduction and fragmentation of the non-motorized areas.

If this proposal is implemented, all that will remain are two small islands surrounded by motorized areas. The proposal also includes a groomed snowmobile trail through the remaining closed area to facilitate a snowmobile shuttle between parking lots (wouldn't it be nice if the Forest Service would provide shuttle service for skiers and kayakers)!



Suunto X6HR Product Placement on LOST

I noticed in the most recent episode of LOST on Wednesday night the character, Sawyer, received a morbid pacemaker that would explode his heart if his heart rate went above 145 beats per minute so he wouldn't escape. They also gave him a Suunto watch to monitor his pulse. I don't think Suunto is coming out with the crazy pacemaker accesory anytime soon but they have great watches.

The X6HR works the same way as a cell phone as far as menu navigation. Alot of people are digging the PC compatible feature so they can see their vertical after skiing or hiking trip.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Second Year on Mount Rainier

This past summer, a few friends and I were able to squeeze in a climb of Mount Rainier. Climbing Mount Rainier in a white outThree in the group had never done any “real mountaineering,” as they called it so we decided to climb via the disappointment cleaver (DC).

The DC is often referred to as the “highway” of routes for Rainier. Even so, it provides an awesome experience for the unfamiliar climber with outstanding views, and great practice of glacier and mountain travel.

What a difference…to climb during the middle of the season instead of the end. Labor Day of 2005, I lead a ground of students from the University of Utah up the DC. We barely ever saw the mountain. When we arrived, and left, we were surrounded by fog. During the majority of our climb, we were either blinded by a white out or dense fog. Even with the bad weather, we were able to reach the summit.

This time, the weather was amazing. From the trailhead, the entire mountain was in view. Also, we didn’t encounter any altitude concerns for all six of us. The only issues we had included some wind and colder temperatures on the last mile push to the summit, and me breaking through the trail into a crevasse with one leg on our decent just shy of the summit plateau (kind of shook me up for a little bit, never let the conditions of a trail fool you).

Mount Rainier on a sunny day.Rainier is an incredible mountain. I look forward to returning next summer. I plan to assist some friends attempt the DC for their first time, and possibly a personal attempt via a more technical route up the Liberty Ridge. I highly recommend to all climbers to take advantage of Rainier’s opportunities if they haven’t done so already.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Epic Storm in Escalante

Adventure Report: Guest author Stefan Folias tells of a 50 year storm in the deserts of Utah, truly an amazing story with even more amazing photos

Two weeks ago, my good friend Nat Smale and I spent 5 days on the Escalante river of Utah to descend some of the narrow, water-filled slot canyons which form tributaries of the Escalante river. We had planned this trip since early May, as autumn is a nice time along the Escalante, with cooler temps and infrequent flash floods, and is at a time when we both have a regular holiday from work. Anticipation for the trip was building as the days approached closer and closer, considering the area is possibly our favorite of Southern Utah and the Colorado Plateau. It was not obvious beforehand that a 50-100 year storm would inundate Southern Utah with raging torrents. Walking these Southern Utah washes for years shows you how and where water is capable of going ... but you are left unprepared for the experience of witnessing it. I was simultaneously filled with horror and excitement---simply an unreal experience.

The Escalante cuts through the structurally weakened spine of an uplift of bowing layers of colorful sedimentary rock, with spectacular side canyons (tributary systems) adorning its entire length, as it makes its way from the highlands of the Aquarius Plateau down to the depths of a section of the Colorado River known as Glen Canyon (Lake Powell). The side canyons meander sinuously as they cut their way through the erosive rock, some wide and deep, some impossibly narrow and beautifully sculpted. Literally, narrow slits in the rock, slot canyons act as constrictive drains for the rain water that falls on the large expanses of mostly barren rock and soil comprising much of this area. Even a short, strong dose of 20min rainfall is capable of causing a deadly flashflood, were one to be caught within one of these slot canyons, many of which have no routes of escape.

The forecast a week before the trip called for relatively good chances for rain, 20-40% as a system would be moving in from the southwest. One of the problems with scheduling trips like this is the chance for it to get spoiled by a sufficient chance of rain. We planned to descend a few slot canyons and thursday-sunday would have to boast good weather to feel comfortable entering these canyons. We hauled our gear to the slender river, which is intrenched in the sandy, cottonwood-strewn flood plain of the Escalante river canyon and, while the water was only calf to knee deep, the depression itself was well over our heads. We made our way into familiar Neon canyon and settled our camp high on a sandstone bench just a shortways upcanyon.

October 4 ~ The slot canyon to the north is a long and difficult canyon, with no escapes for much of its length, and would take the better part of a day to descend. It would be hazardous if there was a good chance of rain at any time inside. A very dark grey mass of thick clouds hung in the sky less than 50 miles to the west, and it wasn't looking good. Upon arrival to the drop-in point of the slot, we decided that we should NOT enter and, instead, spent the rest of the day hiking around. At two points later in the day, rain fell moderately hard. The storm had shifted from its northerly direction and encompassed the whole of the Escalante area. It was clear that we made the right decision. If it rained hard today and it was only 20%, what did 30% have in store for us. It rained for much of the night and I felt the incessant rain on the bivy sack and and the rain jacket covering my face. I distinctly remember, for much of the night and early morning, the sound of a rushing torrent of water just below our sandstone bench filling lower Neon Canyon.

October 5 ~ Without getting up, it was simple to deduce that a considerable amount of water was strongly flowing through Neon canyon and there would be no canyoneering today. At two points during the morning there were intense superpulses of rain, each lasting about 30 minutes, with surrounding periods of strong rain. Large drops of water splashed everywhere and muddy rooster-tailing waterfalls frenetically poured off of the terraced wall behind our camp, feeding the Neon torrent below. A moderately strong rain ensued for some time and eventually stopped during the afternoon. The water level in lower Neon reduced quite a bit, and a sandbar and tree trunk, which we used as a meter, had emerged almost completely. Strangely, a very short time later, the water not only rose again to completely submerge the sand bar and trunk of the cottonwood, but in fact almost completely stopped its flow altogether. Something was damming the flow and holding a significant amount of water in what I fondly dubbed "Lake Neon."

After examining this lake from other vantage points down below we decided to climb up onto a narrow ridge to get a better view. As we reached the apex of the ridge, an untamed scene enveloped before our eyes. The entire Escalante flood plain at the base of the canyon was filled, from wall to wall. The raging water formed rapids over the sand bars, bushes and trees below, as well as whirlpools and wakes in its flow about the many cottonwood trees scattered around the floodplain. The entire canyon resounded with the crashing water of this impressive deluge. Occasionally large thickets of tree snags were carried afloat and often approached the wading cottowoods. Some were capable of bending tall but slender cottonwoods to completely submerge them as they passed over. Others were caught momentarily or permanently on the upflow side of the trunk ... something you see sometimes perched high on the trunks of trees while walking along canyons on the Colorado Plateau. Occasionally, we even saw cottonwoods crack under the drag force these clusters of tree branches/trunks thrust upon them. For awhile we stood speechless at the astounding sight, and it was clear what precisely had dammed the flow in Neon canyon. Nat suggested that this was quite possibly the most astonishing thing he'd ever seen outdoors ... I had to agree.

Essentially the entire Escalante canyon system and its profusion of tributaries ALL were massively flooded and raging...

Click for a more detailed trip report and additional photos


Free Lunch - New Climbing Route in the Wasatch

Who, other than my dad, says there's no such thing as a free lunch? Climbing legend and route pioneer Kevin Quaderer, who spends his spare time working for Backcountry.com, has given climbers of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah just that - his instant classic route aptly named Free Lunch.

Although the grade, at 5.5 R, will likely draw scoffs from Little Cottonwood Climbers, those that attempt this line will surely agree that leaving the confines of the Cottonwood Canyons for a Free Lunch is worth the trip. After all, it is a Free Lunch.

Kevin makes the final clip of his instant classic Free Lunch
The first ascent of Free Lunch in Park City's Redstone Center
It goes up the Southeast Buttress of the Furniture store in Park City's Redstone Center and can be seen from Backcountry.com HQ. Backcountry.com - demanding the most out of an office location!

Kevin chalks up for his next move. Backcountry.com HQ in the background.
Dipping for chalk during Free Lunch-------

I recently caught up with route visionary Kevin Quaderer for some beta:

BC Blog - Can you give me a little more beta on gear? .5’s? Aliens? Nuts?

Kevin: I placed a few sketchy small pieces: one BD .3, a blue TCU, and a blue alien. But the rock quality was highly suspect - I didn't really trust any of the placements to catch a fall. They were mostly to keep my belayer from worrying too much.

BC Blog - Also, was there a crux?

Kevin: It was dicey the entire way considering the rock quality. The crux was in the mind - overcoming the demons.

BC Blog - Have you ever climbed such a striking arête?

Kevin: The arête was beautiful, wild exposure and great location. Sick line, begging for a 2nd ascent!

Kevin ropes up with his trusted climbing partner and belay slave Peter looking on
Battling demons as Kevin ropes up for his first Free Lunch


Black Diamond Gear Swap 10.21

It only comes but once a year and it is worth the sweet deals going on tomorrow morning. They say it starts at 8am. but don't be suprised to find gearheads gathering at 6. From cams to skis to AT gear to down jackets. Bring some goods to sell or bring some cash to stock up for the winter. You will not want to miss the Gear Garage Sale of the year!

Make sure to carpool because the BD parking lot will be full.

Check out the details.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Utah Skiers - Deal on Snowbird Tix

If you live in Utah, buy these. If you don't, find a friend in Utah and buy these.

You won't regret this decision.

Snowbird 2-day lift ticket for $64


Let My People Play Tag

All I can do is shake my head and ask "WHY?" It's not like the children of America aren't allreay living static lives where the most exertion they see in a day is wrestling the Xbox controls from their sister. Let the kid run and play fer cryinoutloud.

Let my people play tag


Slope Style...Literally

Perfect tranny landings and smoove as ever hits. Practice up, winter is almost here.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Train up a child...

It's the middle of October and the days have been steadily getting cooler. Bouldering in American Fork CanyonThe weather report indicated that we're going to get drenched at the start of the next week, so I figured that this could be the last good weekend to take the family climbing. So we loaded up the vehicles and headed out for American Fork Canyon to clip some bolts. My buddy Tom has bolted some easy sport routes across the highway from The Membrane and we've been climbing there all summer. The kids have the routes dialed so they got bored pretty quick.

After the kids were climbed out, I was determined to get some climbing in as well. We hiked around the side canyon for about an hour without finding the routes that we were looking for. Just at the point when I was ready to lose it we passed a boulder with chalked holds and pockets. So we spent the next few hours working problems. The really cool thing is that the kids were full on into it. It was great to see them so determined to nail the problem and they kept getting back on it, even after they had it wired. All in all it was a great day in the canyon. I hope the kids remember it the way I will. Now bring on the snow.

Bouldering kids in AF Canyon, Utah


Fall in the High Sierra

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but fall can be one of the most beautiful times of the year to enjoy the High Sierra (spring, summer and winter are my other top picks). Fall colors – yellow and gold aspen trees, red tundra – are on full display in late September and October, and with colder temperatures and less predictable weather scaring off many would-be hikers, you can enjoy your favorite trails in relative solitude. Day-time temperatures are generally moderate and pleasant, but night-time temperatures can be well below freezing so bring a warm sleeping bag and bundle up!

This year in late September I found myself at Saddlebag Lake, just East of Tioga Pass and Yosemite National Park. Saddlebag Lake is a popular destination with both fishers and hikers in the summer months, and can be very crowded during summer weekends. Even in late September, we encountered several other hikers on the trail and saw a number of people fishing in Saddlebag Lake, but this represented only a small fraction of the number of people visiting the area only a few weekends before.

The trail around Saddlebag Lake into the Twenty Lakes Basin is gently graded trail through beautiful terrain. We passed through alpine meadows and lakes beneath the rugged, imposing faces of White Mountain, Mount Conness and North Peak until we reached the head of the basin. We continued following a use trail, then ventured off-trail to finish climbing to the top of the ridge and McCabe Pass. I was hoping to continue down the steep, rugged West side of the pass into Yosemite National Park to camp at upper McCabe Lake, but I was outvoted. After enjoying the view we hiked back to a high alpine meadow to make our camp.

When the sun went down around 7:00, we quickly discovered anew why so few people venture into the High Sierra in the fall. Temperatures dropped rapidly, and we bundled up in our sleeping bags for a long, cold night. When we woke the next morning it was twelve degrees (colder than on many of our spring ski tours), and the nearby stream was frozen. We watched as the golden glow of the sun slowly worked its way down the peaks to our camp, instantly raising the temper. Across the way a group of hardy ice climbers ventured from a bivy and began inching their way up an icy couloir on White Mountain. We decided to venture out in search of warmer pursuits, hiking to the nearby Hess Mine and several lakes before heading back to our cars.


America's Redrock Wilderness - A Land of Beauty

A few weeks back I attended an event for SUWA, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Although in the past I've been a bit reluctant to embrace this organization (primarily from a lack of ignorance) the experience left me with amazement for the beauty I have the chance to see here in Utah and with respect for those who are diligently fighting to preserve it.

At the event they showed this video which although not as crystal clear in this compressed video as it was on the big screen I think it still captures the wonders of the Redrock Desert landscape in Utah. Enjoy.

The first 14 minutes is the bulk of the message with the remaining 6 minutes dedicated to a current effort that centers around the land adjacent to Zion National Park.

America's Redrock Wilderness Act, now pending in Congress, will preserve one of the world's most unique landscapes — where towering buttes, sweeping plateaus, and intimate canyons are enveloped by a rare and breathtaking silence.


The 50 Trend

Dean Karnazeas is over the hump and well on his way to completing his 50 marathons, having completed his 30th today. But did you know that he's not the first to do 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days?

Sam Thompson
, an ultra marathon runner from Mississippi conjoured up his idea to run the 50/50/50 a couple of years ago after running the entire Appalachian Trail (over 2000 miles) and in July and August of this year he completed his goal.

What's your 50/50/50 going to be?


Monday, October 16, 2006

Road Bike Rush - Break on Through to the Other Side

This little adventure report comes from the President and Co-Founder of Backcountry.com after a recent lunch time road bike ride.

I had a very short window in the middle of the day to go for a ride and I was desperate to get some exercise. So I bolted on my road bike and decided I’d try to set a personal record riding to the top of the hill above the Olympic ski jumps here in Park City, Utah. It’s about 1,100 vertical in three miles, so steepish, winding, gets my heart pounding and then a sled ride down.

At any rate I pounded up at what is a fast rate for me and was trying to think logically about how to set a good time. I’m wicked spastic with a water bottle so I thought, “the gate will be open because it’s the middle of the day, so when I get to the downhill by the gates I’ll drink quickly and recover my heart rate a bit and then start pounding again.”

I grab my water bottle, toss my head back and gag down half the bottle as I’m approaching thirty miles an hour…and of course the gate is closed. It’s a big aluminum bar that rises vertically, when open. I was about 20 feet away and had time for these thoughts: Oh damn, I’m going to crash…nah, maybe I can bust through the gate…BRACEBRACEBRACE. I rocked back off my seat and KBWANG! Broke right through the gate, all hollywoodish.

It turns out they design these gates with nimrods like me in mind and it has some type of shear system where if a 210 lb. biker hits it at 30 or more it’ll crank right open. Who knew it could move in two different planes.

So I stopped, searched the weeds for my water bottle, reset the gate sheepishly as a van full of tourists waited to get through it(won’t work when all pranged up.) and then headed on my way. I missed my PR by 35 seconds and my pinky hurts like crazy. The Kona is fine.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Take your Kids with Kelty

Make sure to strap on the sweet front pack like the Kangaroo Kid Carrier by Kelty. I promised myself when a kid came along so would one of these and they are totally bomber. One thing that really makes it great is the back support. So if you want to work on your posture don't hesitate in snagging one of these for snowshoeing in the Wasatch.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

14'er Season in Colorado

Colorado has been getting hit with snow to the high peaks and there is evidence of mid winter conditions as a few dedicated skiers got out and nailed not one but two 14'ers (Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak).

Check out the photos and the trip report at TGR

Skiing Mid Winter Conditions in October - Castle PeakPhoto by Dave Bourassa
Follow Dave's blog this winter.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Mountaineering Boots Not Your Style?

Prada on Ice - the new style in mountaineeringIf you've got a flair for fashion and would not be caught dead on Rainier in those clunky mountaineering boots I present Harriet Carter to the rescue. Prada on ice never looked better.

And if you're not a fan of Prada (read: if you're a guy) then check out the new Dansko Mall Walker for a casual yet comfortable performance on ice with your Harriet Carter no slips.

Photo from www.bookofjoe.com