Friday, March 30, 2007

The Pull of Yosemite's Big Walls

If this doesn't make you want to get out and climb hard so you can knock off one of the big walls in Yosemite then either you aren't a climber or if you profess to climb you are a sprayer not a player.

If you need some motivation in the form of someone else that has made the leap, check out Kevin's blog.

Vid was made by the folks at

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

So you think Technical Canyoneering is just hiking with a few rappels thrown in…? Think again!

Adventure Reporter Eric Godfrey tells the tale of a dark and forbidding canyon that has gained a reputation as being a potential death trap and shows that there is more to canyoneering than just sliding down ropes and walking between rock walls!

One dark slotIn a remote corner of Southern Utah lies a canyon that many canyoneers hear about and shudder at the thought of descending. I’ve heard of more difficult canyons in Utah, but there is one canyon that is talked about around campfires, rumored about, and feared by more people in the American canyoneering community than any other canyon I know of. It’s said to be so narrow you have to climb high above the bottom to find a spot wide enough to fit. When it is wide enough to walk along the bottom (which is rare) it will soon close off to a small crack, forcing you to do difficult, unprotected climbs to get back to where you can fit, and most canyoneers agree it has the most difficult obstacle found in any known canyon which has not yet seen a free ascent. It’s called Sandthrax… Chasm of Doom!

The documented history of the canyon starts in 2001 when a group of experienced canyoneers were exploring new canyons in an area near Lake Powell. The team consisted of Shane Burrows (owner of, Hank Moon, and Chris R. Their story of the first documented descent can be read here. Basically they had been descending canyons in the area all week and thought this would be similar to the other, fairly straight forward canyons they had done so far. After scouting from the rim, it looked short and they figured they would knock it out in a few hours then head home. After rappelling in from the head they pulled their rope and were committed to finishing the canyon. It started out as a beautiful trip through what looked like would be another great find… then things got serious.
The canyon soon closed off into a slot too narrow to navigate from below so up they went, feet on one wall, back on the other until they were soon nearly fifty feet above the bottom. Unlike rock climbing, in a canyon you are moving horizontally rather than vertically, so protecting yourself from a fall with bolts or cams is not really feasible. One slip and it would bring serious consequences.

As they continued on they would run into what many canyoneers call a silo. Think of a large grain silo on a farm… remove the grain and you have a big, round, hollow tower standing many feet in the air. A silo in a canyon is similar; it is where the canyon is going along straight and narrow, then suddenly opens into a round “silo” then closes off to being narrow again. Many times getting past a silo involves climbing down to ground level then making the arduous climb back up to where the canyon is wide enough to efficiently continue. This generally requires a large expenditure of energy. Another option in a remotely narrow silo would be to stem across the opening while high off the ground, this would however increase the chances of a fatal fall.

After running into problem after problem, the short canyon was taking much longer than expected and it started to get dark. The group had some talented climbers and were able to climb out of the canyon, going all night and re-using only three bolts they had brought for emergency’s, to beat search and rescue from starting an attempt to pull them out.

After this night, stories started flying around the canyoneering community and very few people have dared enter this canyon since. Members of the team original team that did this first attempt at descent went back the next year, this time more prepared and knowing just how serious the canyon was, they brought along a rim team ready to help them out if they ran into trouble and completed the remainder of the canyon successfully, but will remind everyone they see of the serious nature of the canyon.

Within the last year a few other extremely talented (or stupid, whatever you want to call them) canyoneers have tackled this beast and provided the photos included in this post. Creativity and ingenuity have been used to handle many of the canyons obstacles, and those techniques have been passed on in an attempt to more efficiently pass by the jaws of this beast. Their love for canyons runs deep and when they successfully challenge places like this it is an exhilarating feeling, and shows that no matter how far you go in this sport you can always find places that will demand every ounce of skill you can muster. A friend wrote an excellent synopsis of his experience in this dangerous narrow crack in the earth and gives us a glimpse as to why he enters places that many would call him crazy for doing. Here are a few of his words:

“Dave and Hank seemed to know I needed to go (into Sandthrax Canyon) before I did. I told them that I was thrilled with the experience, but in no rush to go back, perhaps ever. They both laughed a derisive laugh at me and said "You're going back!" Here it is a week later, as I write this and I know they are right. I think about Stevee and Tom and Corbin and Roy and Wade and Jud and Murray and several others, who haven't been and I wish to share this place with them. All the people I have bonded with before, stemming out between two high rock walls. I also have two 15 foot sections, one vertical, one horizontal that I wish to do in better style, but mostly I will go back to "dance" in there again. The joyful dance of mind and body moving as one.”

To read the entire story and view additional photos from the above quote, click here.

All photos in this post are compliments of Hank Moon and Shane Burrows.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

S'Moils? Fos'mores?

Foil S'mores
We still don't have a name for them but its a good one to try on your next outing. Just get a piece of foil the size you usually use for foil dinners and load it up with the goods.
  • 47 mini Marshmallows
  • 18 broken Symphony Chocolate bars
  • 22 graham crackers that are in bite size portions
This is a good alternative for not having the big nice marshmallows that no one ever buys. Be careful with the graham crackers, they tend to burn really easy and make it really nasty so actually save the grahams for sprinkling them on top after you scorch the mallows and chocolate.

Oh and bring a tooth brush, this is quite the sugar rush and you probably want to leave the Jet Boil at home for this camp casserole. Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Heading out to Kathmandu...then Everest Base Camp

The gear has been packed, the research completed and the training done so there is nothing left to do but get on the plane and start the journey. I leave tomorrow for Kathmandu via Bangkok arrivingLast Skydive around noon on Friday so things are getting real very fast.

This week I’ve gotten in one last paragliding flight, did a few base jumps and one last wingsuit skydive just so that I could have fresh memories while I’m away.

Wow, it is hard to imagine all the changes that are going to occur over the next few months. Illnesses endured, storms weathered, friends made and images burned into the brain. So much is going to occur that is can be a bit overwhelming. Someone once said that climbing Everest is like eating an elephant. If someone asked if you could eat an elephant you’d probably immediately say ‘no’ but if you took a bite every day the animal would soon be gone. It is hard to think about all that has to be done to ever get to the mountainEverest Gear let alone to start climbing but all I can say is that I like elephant and damn am I hungry!

One of the most enjoyable parts of the preparation has been accumulating all the gear. Thanks to things were made a bit easier. I had to buy all the cool stuff that you see in climbing shops but never really think that you’d be in a position to need it. Things like a Marmot 8000m suit, La Sportiva Olympus Mons boots and Julbo Glacier Glasses with a nose cover are just a few items that are going to be fun to put into use.

Here is the tentative schedule…
  • March 28th Depart SLC;
  • March 30th Arrive in Kathmandu;
  • March 31st Final gear checks, sightseeing, shopping;
  • April 1st Fly to Lukla;
  • April 1- April 9th Trek to Base Camp;
  • April 10 - May 4th Establish camps and acclimatize;
  • May 5 - May 12th Rest at Base Camp or lower down valley;
  • May 13 - May 25th Summit Climb;
  • May 26 - May 27th Clean up & depart Base Camp;
  • May 27 - June 1st Trek to Lukla;
  • June 1st Fly from Lukla back to Kathmandu;
  • June 2nd Depart Kathmandu.

My wife, Molly, will be posting updates from our team up until she leaves in May to trek to Base Camp so stay tuned!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Goat Sighting - Khumbu Climbing School

This weeks Goat Sighting comes to us from the Khumbu Climbing School from a recent trip they took to Nepal. While in Nepal the KCS teaches Sherpa certain climbing skills and technical aspects of climbing that ensure both their physical safety while climbing and guiding in addition to ensuring the financial stability for them to earn a better living for themselves and their families. is proud to donate useful climbing items to the Khumbu Climbing School.

Sherpa in Nepal sports the Logo hat
Photo by Peter Carse, one of the KCS instructors and an Exum Mountain Guide.

Typically with the weekly winner of the "Show Us your Goat" Goat Sighting contest the photographer will receive a Organic Goat Tee Shirt but given that this winner is the Khumbu Climbing School we will make an additional donation for the course to be held in January of 2008.

Please consider making a donation of your own to the Khumbu Climbing School through's page for them.


And as always, 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 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.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And You Thought Your Kid Was a Good Skier

It's either a case of me getting older or kids these days are getting better. When I was nine years old I could barely manage walking from the parking lot to the ski hill without crushing myself. Fortunately I've improved a bit since then.

But now nine year olds like Colby Stevenson from Park City, Utah are tearing up the terrain park like seasoned veterans. And not to mention they'll likely show up in TGR's film this coming fall entitled "Lost and Found". Not bad.

Watch the video on the Teton Gravity Research Blog


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Merino Wool - Feedback from a Customer

In the spirit of opening up this blog to more than just what customers do for adventure, (and what I want to spray about) I wanted to give our customers a little more real estate here.

Last month following the newsletter article entitled "The Itch vs The Funk" we recieved some customer responses. The following feedback was from one of our longtime customers. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse given that the Goat,'s gear blog, raised the issue as well. But what do we know, we're just bloggers.

I'm not one for sensationalism and I don't believe that this is what Marielle intended with this e-mail. With her permission I wanted to be sure this feedback saw the light of day as I think she raises some good questions that we as a retailer should consider when selling gear made from wool. If you have some feedback either way, we welcome your responses in the comments below.

In the battle over synthetic versus wool, there was one key factor left out of the discussion. While there was one sarcastic remark about an aversion to animal testing,
there was no other mention of the cruelty endured by sheep, especially Merino sheep
raised in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia is the source of more than half of the world's merino wool, where it is still legal to use the practice of mulesing, or removing the flesh of the sheep's rear with garden shears, in order to prevent maggots from eating the sheep alive. It's really disgusting and unquestionably cruel. Once the sheep stop producing the copious amounts of wool for which they are bred, they are boarded onto huge cargo ships and then slaughtered in open air markets in the Middle East. For more on these issues, please visit and watch the video expose.

I believe that once you realize the horrible conditions in which these sheep live, you
will not be as supportive of wearing wool, no matter how soft or stink-free it may be,
unless you know that the sheep were not maimed for it. There are some companies,
such as SmartWool, that are trying to change the practices of ranchers so that sheep are
treated compassionately, but unless a company flat-out boycotts wool from those
sources, there is no way to tell if your garment is a product of animal abuse.

Also, it's good to note that some wool products work better than others. While my
SmartWool underwear is fantastic, I can tell you from my experience this weekend that the SmartWool snowboarding socks feel like they are made of tiny razorblades, slicing the
skin off the soles of your feet, after you have been riding for a few hours. Seriously.

It would have been great if you mentioned that many synthetic fibers are made from
recycled plastic bottles among the strengths of those garments. I think not wanting to
shower or change your clothes are pretty poor reasons not to wear synthetic garments. However, if those are legitimate reasons, tell those folks to come to Vermont. I have been served while covered head-to-toe in mud after mountain biking without any disapproving stares.

Maybe you don't care because you think sheep are insignificant. That's your choice, but once you realize what mulesing actually involves, I am sure you won't have much of an appetite.

Lastly, if this email sounds mean or overly critical to you, I apologise, as that was not its intent. I assure you that I am kind and nice and I didn't write this email to ruin your day. I love the newsletter, but I also love animals. I really do hope you visit because you have a really amazing opportunity to use your platform to make sure that gets its products from sources with animal welfare standards.

Thanks for listenting.

Marielle Vena Customer

Editors note: We have confirmed with vendors like Ibex who have agreements with their wool providers that no mulesing is currently taking place with the wool growers.


Monday, March 19, 2007

9 Days until Kathmandu!

The training is still on track and going well. After getting over the flu, probably the result of too many long, hard training weeks suppressing my immune system and Molly’s continual exposure to illness in her petri-dish office, I struggled through another week. I was able to squeeze in 60 miles of running, three nice days of hiking with a pack and then some weight training…. yum. I’m pretty much ready to quit training and get on with the real deal.
Perrine BASE Jump
One of the high points last week was the BASE Jumping Introduction Course I taught for Morpheus Technologies up in Twin Falls, Idaho. This was a bit of a stesser as it was my last real chance to break myself up before the trip. Even though I’ve jumped off the Perrine Bridge hundreds of times before with no lasting physical injuries, I had that lingering bit of doubt that since I was trying to be ‘extra safe’ on this trip, I might end up breaking a bone or worse. I had three students, all experienced skydivers, take the three-day course and everyone was able to get plenty of jumps in with no injuries or near misses. Whew!

Over the last week I’ve also done a bit of shopping for a few good books. Since we’re going to have time in Base Camp to recover and acclimate, I did some research and came up with a few books to take. I found the National Geographic list of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all Time and since I’ll probably be cold, tired and missing Molly and the dogs, I figured some good books about others people who really suffered would be good. Maurice Herzog’s story of the first ascent of Annapurna, Everest Shankleton’s Antarctic adventure, South, when his ship, the Endurance, sank and Apsley Cherry-Garrard book, The Worst Journey in the World about how he volunteered as a young man to go to the Antarctic with Robert Falcon Scott in 1910 all seem to fall firmly into the suffering category.

Lastly, one of the coolest things that happened recently has been all the positive energy that I’ve received from friends. One of my friends and next door neighbor gave me a really nice vertical prayer flag, a bracelet and some rice that was blessed by the Dali Lama. We’ve hung the prayer flag in the yard so that it is already throwing prayers up to the heavens. Some good friends from Atlanta gave me a necklace from New Zealand that has a charm to protect from accidents and evil spirits. Boy, do I need this!

All of these gifts are going into a small ‘juju’ bag that I’ll carry with me on the trek and up the mountain. This sort of incredible generosity and thoughtfulness is very special and will no doubt provide me with strength on this long journey.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Essay Submission - What's a Day of Skiing Worth?

Do you think he's asking, 'Is this worth it?' - Whistler, CanadaLiving and working in Park City, Utah and watching the tens of thousands of people who come here to ski each season has me thinking. Are these people really getting their dollar's worth? Do they really care or is it more about the experience or getting away from the "Bob's" and TPS reports than it is about the money? Many of these people who come here are customers of ours. You may be one of them.

This week in Park City has seen temperatures in the upper 50's approaching the 60's. Trails are drying up, road bikers abound, shorts are appearing and there is no end in sight.

This week in Park City is also full swing as far as the ski areas are concerned with ski schools booked to the max, lodging at 90%+ occupancy levels, restaurants and shops at full capacity and the slopes will be packed. This brings me back to the beginning - if it were you coming to town, would it be worth it?

With that in mind here's a little essay that my friend Al wrote after visiting the U.S. from Europe for a ski trip last season. I'm posting it with his permission.

There's no doubt for me that skiing is worth it but I have a season pass and hike for turns more often that not. My question is - What's a day of skiing worth to you?


Nobody pretends that skiing is a cheap sport; some people even seem proud that they participate in a "rich man's sport" (although they mostly seem to be the types to tread on your skis in the lift line and flagrantly use their mobiles on the chair to bray at their brokers). But putting images of pitifully obnoxious people aside, the wildly differing sums I have paid for day lift passes this season - from €13.50 in St Pierre de Chartreuse to CAD$80 in Whistler - have got me wondering: just how much is a day's skiing worth? And why does the cost vary so much?

My days at St Pierre this winter had me grinning the whole time I was there and each time I have thought about them since. Reduced price tickets (due to certain lifts being closed), practically no-one on the mountain, fresh tracks all day and cheap and delicious lunches in the mountaintop restaurant were not only an excellent day's skiing and great value, but would have still been good value - easily "worth it" - at twice the price.

Jackson Hole, where the gutters run so deep with latte that the ladies must take care not to ruin their designer fur-effect cowboyIs this worth a $70 lift ticket? boots, appears to be one of the most outrageously expensive lift passes in the USA. For the princely sum of $70 a day (or very nearly $2000 for a season pass) you get access to a paltry 11 lifts and vertical that is considered pitifully small in Europe. On top of that the owners are pulling down the mountain's tram, the area's biggest (and in my opinion best) lift, supposedly because it costs too much to maintain. On a powder day I saw that you can have a LOT of fun on the mountain at Jackson and that it is "big" by American resort standards. But what are you getting for all those extra greenbacks that you don't get in St Pierre? Certainly the lifties who think they are air-traffic controllers ("I got room for one in car 98, one in car 98. Two please approach for car 99, two for 99...") are an amusing touch as are the boxes of tissues by each chair. Harder to laugh about are the long lift lines and crowded slopes I experienced there. So is the $70 worth it? Not to me.

On the other hand, friends have recently gone on heli-trips to Alaska and British Columbia where each run costs as much as a Jackson day pass. The packages they bought cost enough to pay for my entire last winter in the Alps, bar bill included. "Was it worth it?" I ask. "You bet!" they say. They all said they skied the best snow of their lives, were fantastically looked after and had an amazing time. Perhaps when you get to that level the cost becomes a trivial factor in the experience; I can't really say as I have never gone on that type of trip. Suffice to say, it is lucky none of them spent a week on a helicopter and only to ski breakable crust.

Whilst I wouldn't heli-ski for now (not on my account at least) and found the skiing at Jackson heinously over-priced, the conversations overheard on the lifts thereWhat would you pay for this ski experience? were indisputably priceless, one of the best being a rant about the plummeting price of cocaine in New York: "It's so cheap ANYONE can afford to take it now," the lawyer shouted. It was then that it dawned on me why they charge so much to ski there: because they can and people will still pay to go there. If the French were to charge the same money for the same skiing experience they would be laughed out of business faster than you can say "freedom fries"; in America there seem to be enough people (predominantly aging baby-boomers) willing to pay absurd sums for their lift passes that resorts get away with it.

The sad truth: the cost of the day's skiing, even more so in America, has nothing to do with any relative "worth", it is actually a question of how much resorts' operators can squeeze out of their consumers. The owners of Jackson Hole must laugh themselves to sleep every night. But after my next day at St Pierre just try wiping the smile off my face.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Weekend Warrior Checklist

Do you still erroneously cling to the term "ski bum" when you describe your current ski lifestyle? Do you hear the term "weekend warrior" and turn to look at others nearby?

Take the test on and report back in the comments below where you stand.

Sadly, the last question was the straw that broke...well, you know.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What Makes Mount Hood Different?

This past weekend, I traveled with two good friends to Portland to celebrate one of their fathers 60th birthdays. Despite all the discussion of the recent events, we decided to stop in at Mount Hood to try a winter ski mountaineering style ascent.

After the 12 hour push of driving, we arrived around midnight in the Timberline Lodge parking lot. We had decided to attempt the standard South Side Hogsback route as the day was calling for 90% chance of snow with high winds and low visibility.

After crawling into our tent, we took a short nap, waking up around 6:00 a.m. We ate, packed our bags, put on our skins and started up. A little snow occurred that night, but the real storm didn’t hit us until ten minutes into our climb.

We followed the line of the chair lift to guide us through the low visibility. After reaching the top of the Palmer lift of Timberline Ski Resort, we made the decision whether or not to press on. Having climbed this route during the summer, I understood what direction Crater Rock was and about how far we had until the final ridge through the pearly gates.

As we started into the “backcountry” portion of the climb, thoughts passed through my head of what it must have been like for the two groups that found trouble on this same mountain earlier this same season. Within minutes, our visibility of 20 feet shortened to less than 5. The wind was pounding us from the west. We each experienced a little vertigo and found that we had reached our limit. A mountain that so many consider a “walk in the park,” or as posted on, “A mountain that can be climbed in high heels,” had proven to us its strength and power.

Keeping our skins on, we descended the “cascade crud” back to the top of the Palmer ski lift. There we stripped the skins and continued the next 500 vertical in survival mode. Prior to the resorts mid mountain, we were finally getting turns in that were worth the effort.

From parking lot to our turn around point, we achieved 3200 vertical feet. The skiing wasn’t great, but the experience was fun. Even in horrible weather, we were able to maintain a solid smile.

I have a very different perspective of Mount Hood now. I understand that it can be powerful and furious. A mountain of any size, shape, and history should always be taken seriously. Mount Hood is known for creating situations within the climbing community. I hope anyone considering climbing this mountain applies good judgment in their preparation and during their climb as it is widely understood that it can be unforgiving.

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Vive la Ogden!?!

According to Ogden City Mayor Matthew Godfrey, Nidecker Snowboards will move all of its North American distribution to Ogden. Nidecker becomes the seventh snow sports company to move to Ogden, Utah, in the last two years. "This substantiates why Ogden has been dubbed 'The Hub' for the snow sports industry," stated Mayor Godfrey. In 1983, Nidecker became Europe's first snowboard manufacturer. And here I thought that only thing Ogden was dubbed 'The Hub' for was the Utah meth industry. What do I know?

For the past five years, Nidecker's North American distribution has been run out of San Diego. But owner Courtney Boyer changed all that with this move to Ogden. "The icing on the cake," said Boyer, "is Ogden's proposed gondola project which will run from downtown right to the top of Milan's Basin. It's incredible to think of taking a few runs over my lunch hour, but more important to the company is the closeness of the mountains and local resorts for accomplishing product testing."

With recreational opportunities from skiing and snowboarding to rock climbing and kayaking, all within minutes of downtown Ogden, city officials have been targeting the snow and outdoor recreation industry with incentives to attract investment. With a proposed new resort that backs to Snowbasin, Ogden is proposing a gondola that would link downtown and Weber State University to the slopes.

The Nidecker move is the latest in a series of similar moves. November 2004, Descente moves North American operations to Ogden.

December 2004, Goode Ski Technologies moves corporate headquarters from Waterford, Mich., to Ogden.

January 2005, Kahuna Creations announces new headquarters in Ogden.

September 2005, Scott USA consolidates assembly, warehousing and distribution of their product line in Ogden.

October 2005, SnowSports Interactive moves its North American operations base to Ogden.

August 2006 Amer Sports announces Suunto and Atomic will move to Ogden.

Curt Geiger, vice president, Descente North America, stated, "It is very possible that Ogden will become the Milan of the ski industry. A retailer from anywhere in the country can land at 9 a.m. and be in our office by 10 a.m. From there, you work for two hours and get on a gondola from downtown to a nearby ski resort and go skiing. You come back down, catch a late flight home and that's all in the same day. You just can't do that anywhere else in the world." the Milan of the ski industry, in Odgen? Perhaps that's a bit of a stretch but there are more than one ski biz companies who are willing to pull their weight to make it happen.



Monday, March 12, 2007

First Chair or Last Chair?

Which would you prefer? First chair or last? Most of us would prefer first chair. I can recall my many "first chair" experiences with ease but try as I may I only have a few last chair experiences.

I have a few experiences that have been after last chair at The Canyons, when an afternoon backcountry ski tour has extended into the early evening and upon returning through the ski area to the base of the mountain I've found myself alone in a landscape that rarely knows alone. I think in those few times I've felt more at home on the mountain than when racing for first chair and first tracks.

Here's a perspective on catching the Last Chair I found a while back. Perhaps your spring skiing experience may be a bit different this year if you shoot for last chair.



Saturday, March 10, 2007

Momentum Climbing

Momentum Climbing
Climbing at Momentum is a step up from your average gym.
With the sweet set up they have, bouldering there is totally awesome.

To the right Jay Vasquez is throwing down a sweet lunge. This place has great route setters and is super clean to have a nice bouldering session.
Just make sure to bring a ball of chalk to keep it clean, no loose chalk!

Momentum ClimbingTheir over hangs have great problems and they have a numbered traverse that Emily Wallace here cracked.

The other nice thing about this gym is how they positioned the mats up to the wall, they taper down so you an actually do a sit start.

So the next time your in the Sandy area here in Utah, drop in for a couple hours. They don't have the rope section set up yet but that is going to be totally awesome!

Momentum ClimbingAnd don't forget its never to early to get your kids rockin on the wall. The kids wall is huge and has plenty of room for them to run around.

And check out the new Kumo shoe by La Sportiva. It's a great shoe to get into climbing with the awesome new sole that is grippy for polished holds.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

BD Ski Demo for '08 Skis

The Black Diamond Demo at Brighton this year just so happened to land on the same day as their 19 inch dump of snow. Perfect for trying out some fatty tele skis.

Black Diamond Havoc Ski
The Havoc, despite the nasty looking skull on the tip its a killer all around ski that drives really well. With having the new dump of powder it was a great ski for the afternoon.

  • Perfect for the bumps!
  • Good float in the powder.
  • Snappy, light, and responsive.

On the Swank Scale this gets a big

Black Diamond Verdict Ski
The Verdict was great for the morning powder. It was great to try this out on a big powder day. It's a heavy ski so if you have an extra loot of money lying around, this would be great for the morning and busts through the crud in the afternoon.

  • Solid powder ski.
  • Heavy, but worth it.
  • Crud destroyer.
On the Swank Scale I give it a Stellar Swank.

Black Diamond Kilowatt SkiOk the Kilowatt. Take both of those skis above and mush them together with what Seinfeld would classify as "Jujubees being cemented with coke on the theater floor since the premire of Shawshank Redemption".
  • Sick float in the powder.
  • Bomber Bump ski.
  • Light, but does well for crud.
On the swank scale this is going to get a Super Dank Swank for being a great all around ski that just rocks every terrain on the hill.

Great day on the hill! I skied all the skis with BD o2 bindings and are my absolute favorite binding.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sequoia National Park: Soccer Fields

Over the last few weeks, winter has finally arrived in Southern California. This Friday afternoon, I packed up my car, picked up my friend Brett, and headed north for my first trip of the year to Sequoia National Park. We arrived at our friends' Chris and John's house in Three Rivers 6.5 hours after leaving San Diego (gotta love LA traffic!).

We set out from the Wolverton parking lot (7200') at Sequoia around 7:30. We initially started on the Panther Gap trail before taking a left and heading up the Pear Lake trail, which took us up to the "Hump". (9200') The trail is marked with Yellow Reflective Squares on the trees. However, they are spaced very far apart. If there isn't already a skin track in place, the best recommendation I can give is to aim to stay on top of the ridge as it climbs up.

From the hump, we left our skins on and descended a few hundred vertical feet to get to Heather Lake. After crossing Heather Lake (watch out later in the buddy Carl broke through the ice 2 seasons ago), you climb a few hundred feet to the base of the ridge on the other side of the lake. This is the base of the run we call the Soccer Fields. They're called the soccer fields, because the top looks like 2 soccer fields that were placed end on end at a 20-25 degree pitch.
We broke trail and after another hour (4h20min after leaving the parking lot), we were up at the top (10,100').
View From the Top of the Hump

John, Steve, and I made it up to the top before all of the others. We were surprised when we saw how far back Brett had fallen. When he got a little closer, we saw him clutching a single pole with both hands to help him on the skin up. It turned out that one of his 10 year old Life Link carbon fiber poles had snapped when he used it knock snow off his boot. Since backcountry skiers have to adapt and overcome, that's what we did. Using duct tape and a piece of a tree branch, we built a splint to hold the two pieces of his pole together. The pole was a few inches shorter, but it held up for two laps and the skin out.The top of the soccer fields is a wide open 20-25 degree slope. Because of its northern exposure, the snow had stayed dry despite the warm temperatures (45F in the sun) and we got in some fabulous turns. After about 550 vertical feet, the wide open slope gives way to a fun 350 vertical ft mix of rocks and trees. Overall, we were skiing on 8-12" of soft, relatively dry fluff.
On the second skin up, I started cursing myself for the steep skin track I had laid. Apparently, my thin straight skins had better traction in the fresh snow when I was breaking trail than in the slicked beaten-down skin track when we were heading up the second time. Once again, I seemed to be moving back 1 ft for ever 2 ft I went forwards, was cursing Jim (from Norpine) and was thoroughly frustrated.

The second run was also great. This time we went a bit further to skier's right when going through the rocky section. Towards the bottom, John skied past us over what he thought was a rollover. It ended up being a 20 ft cliff. John, being the great skier that he is, took the surprise with ease and landed it beautifully. So then, after a bit of goading, I decided to huck myself off of it too. John said the landing was super soft and that the conditions were ideal. Still I had never really jumped anything bigger than 10' before. So I was very nervous and I thought about it a little too much. I didn't chicken out. However, I also didn't approach it with the right attitude. Even though I decided to jump, I was hesitant about it. I took one turn too many, killed too much speed, got leaning back too far and the result was a complete yard sale. I ended up being fine and I'm glad I did it. But in the future I really need to approach it with an attitude of success. Attitude really is everything!At this point we decided to head home for the day. Once we got to the hump, instead of following the skin track back, we went to skier's right along the ridge and skied down a beautiful, north facing, 25-30 degree meadow with a sprinkling of sequoias. Due to the lower elevation, the snow was much heavier than the Soccer Fields. But with a little speed it was very skiable and a lot of fun. It would definitely be a great place to come back to after a fresh snowfall. Once we made it to the end of the meadow, we traversed to skier's left until we made our way back around the ridge to the Pear Lake Trail. After a fun luge run, we found ourselves back at the parking with a cold 12 pack of beer waiting for us. All in all, it was another great day in the backcountry.

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"They" Are Saying That We're a Player

Yes, yes, it is true (or soon will be).

Incriminating Evidence: From the front of the the April 2007 issue of Men's Journal as part of their Hot List.

But before our heads explode, we know that although this is a good start there is still a lot to be done to further tweak this and other pieces of Goat Gear. Stay tuned.

Check out the Shift Jacket from and see the what a couple of customers have said in the customer reviews section at the bottom of the page.



Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Future of Telemark Skiing

In keeping with the Telemark theme, there is a Tele Pow Wow at The Canyons Resort coming up March 11. It's never too young to get your grom on Tele.

From what I can gather, it's geared towards confident alpine skiers and snowboarders in grades six through nine, and telemark skiers of all abilities. Essentially it's the televangilization of the youth of Utah as PC Telemark looks to form the 2007-08 Youth Tele Tribe, a new youth winter sports organization.

So get your telemark gear at, check out the details at PC Telemark and get your grom ripping with a bended knee.



Meanwhile at Alta...Baldy Avalanche

Impressive to say the least. Baldy was bombed by Alta Ski Patrol and ripped huge, engulfing the ski runs below. The runs had been closed for the control work.



Climbing Gear for Newbies

With Spring and the beginning of the Wasatch climbing season around the corner, I've gotten numerous questions from friends just getting into the sport about the vast options for climbing gear. In an attempt to de-mystify the overwhelming gear possibilities, I've put together a blog detailing some of the essential pieces of gear for both bouldering and sport climbing. Of course the possibilities explode with traditional (trad) climbing, so I don't get into passive and active gear. But if you're interested in learning to climb and need to figure out gear, this should be a good place to start.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Telemark Skiing is King

Despite the ongoing telemark war (mostly among online forums and tele tech geeks the world around) some guys are still out there killing it on Telemark gear, not worrying about which sort of boot interface binding system techno jargin that "insert your favorite brand here" makes which they are currently employing to schralp deep pow with.




ifitstobeitsuptome...destination Africa

It took me a couple of tries too. Let me help you out with that title. It says "If it's to be it's up to me" and it's the mantra for our man hIrSch who after biking across New Zealand and then from Canada to Tierra del Fuego is embarking on a journey (leaving today) to Morocco and beyond. Where is he off to after Morocco?
"...pretty much anywhere in the world is new for me. and new is good. and new and on a bike is even better. so depending on how it all plays out, i may cross africa, i may do a loop in africa ultimately back to morocco and then hop the strait of gibraltar up into spain and then blast through europe and then maybe turkey or russia or iran. who knows. and until i meet who, i don’t know either. and it’s nice not to know. it really is. it’s actually somewhat of a relief."

But getting from here to there in Africa is where it may get tough and where hIrSch may have to jump through some hoops at embassies, standing in lines waiting for the coveted visa to come through. Relying on others is not his style.
"...i prefer situations where ifitistobeitisuptome. not ifitistobeitisuptothatguywiththatrubberstamp. that sort of thing will push my psychosis to new and dangerous levels, because, after all, all i want to do is ride my bike."
Cue the classic Queen song. We'll be checking in with hIrSch from time to time.


What's your next adventure? Let us know where you're headed and why you're doing it. From climbing Everest to biking across Africa, will consider helping to make your next adventure a reality and we'll document it here.

E-mail : horde AT backcountry DOT com

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Training For Everest… 26 days and counting…

Running in Cottonwood Heights
In an attempt to get ready for the March 28th departure date for Nepal, I’ve been training pretty hard. My running is now up to around 50 miles a week, I’m in the gym strength training 3 times a week and have one long day in the mountains hiking or backcountry skiing a week. With all the snow we’ve gotten in Little Cottonwood Canyon lately it has been hard not to run up and get a few turns in as well.

My wife, Molly, and I also made another cross-training trip to Ouray, CO to work on that extensive San Juan climbing tick list. After reading about the first ascent of Ames Ice Hose in the latest edition of Alpinist, I knew I had to try and get that in this season and fortunately had the chance to climb both Ames and The Talisman last week. The strength training in the gym definitely paid off as the last pitch of Talisman was a challenge with steep ice and mixed climbing rated at WI6/M7

Clint Cook onThe Talisman
Before the whole Everest climb had come into being, I had signed up for one of Gordy Peifer’s ski camps. Gordy runs Straightline Adventures Big Mountain Ski Camps which offer camps in the US and Europe. This camp was specifically for Teton Gravity Research 'Maggots' (Got change for a nickel?)and held over three days last week at Snowbird and Alta where we had over 2 feet of fresh powder and were lucky enough to have Jamie Pierre, Chris Collins, Steve Hall and Gordy as coaches. Skiing with these guys gave me a great cross training workout and I learned the hard way not to follow Jamie when he says… “anyone want to catch a little air?”



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Midnight Assault on Mount Washingon

Its midnight and we're sitting in the Den at Bates College grabbing a bite to eat. The are four of us around a small table, listening to what seems like half the college tell us we're crazy. One member of our group has already dropped out, and one of the two leaders is contemplating doing the same. Finally, after over an hour of instruction and warnings, we decide to go for it. While loading up my small Honda with tons of gear, I started to get really excited and thought to myself, "Tonight, I'm going to have the hike of my life."

Our goal was Mt Washington, the highest peak in the eastern United States standing at 6,288 ft above sea level. Most of our party had hiked this landmark before, but none of us had accomplished the feat in the winter or at night. We had been planning this trip for over a month and chose to ascend the auto road mainly because it is the safest and most traveled winter route. Mt Washington is known for its fast-changing weather and very high wind speeds. In fact, the highest wind speed ever recorded took place at its summit and had a velocity of 231 mph! Because of its reputation and grandeur we knew we had to be extra cautious.

We arrived the base at 2:30 am, extra excited and mentally ready for what lay ahead. The temperature at the was -2° F when we got out of the car, which as a result of our excitement, felt surprisingly warm. Out came the headlamps and we started putting on layer upon layer of clothing. The beginning of the climb wasn't too steep, but after 10 minutes we had to ditch a few layers to keep from sweating. It was an overcast night with a waning moon so the headlamps had to stay on to light the way for quite a while.

Around 5 we started seeing some light illuminating the partly cloudy sky from over the mountains. As we hiked on, the headlamps were put away, and an incredible reddish glow began to materialize. It was just at this time that we reached the treeline, providing for some spectacular views. We stopped behind a rock face to grab a bite to eat and toss on our extra clothing and crampons. Turning the corner and heading directly up the mountain, we all felt fully prepared for the cold and wind that lay ahead.

As soon as we were above the treeline the gusts started up and we praised ourselves for bringing thick face warmers and ski goggles. The next few miles were directly into the wind, which at that point was gusting to around 30 miles an hour. By then, the temperature had dropped to about -5° F and our water began to freeze. The shelter of a rock was used to block the wind as we transferred our water bottles from our packs, to inside our jackets where our body heat would keep them warm. After eating a bunch more food to keep the calorie count up, we started heading back up again.

The road leveled out for a while and started to switchback such that we had our backs to the wind. This was a much thanked turn of events as we were able to clean our ski goggles which were beginning to ice up from the moisture in our breath. Before we knew it, however, the road turned and headed directly into the wind again.

After another hour or so of hiking several members of our party began to become fatigued. The road straightened out directly into the wind and we kept on moving at a crawl of a pace. The winds at this time were up around 50 mph with gusts in the high 60's. We traveled another few hundred meters before we saw a huge cloud come flying directly at us. Within minutes we were engulfed and the visibility began to steadily decrease. As a group, we made the decision to abandon any hope of summiting and head back down before the weather got any worse. From our calculations afterwords, we had reached a little over 6000 ft and were about a quarter mile from the summit.

Even without the opportunity to summit it was an incredible trip. Seeing the sunrise over the White Mountains from above treeline was an amazing experience and one that I'll remember for quite a while.