Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hybrid Pedal Dinner in Logan Utah

The Nordic United and Winter Wildlands are hosting a dinner this Saturday, August 4th, from 6-8pm at the Spring Hollow Campground in Logan Canyon. The dinner will include hanging with the Keen Footwear Hybrid Pedal tour riders and talk about winter recreation issues in Logan Canyon.

The purpose of the event is to round up support to protect quiet winter use in the canyon near Franklin Basin. Come and show your outdoor-lovin' support, dinner and drinks are from 6-8pm and it's free for WWA & NU members and $5 for non-members.

CAUTION: This event may get you itching for ski season!

Hybrid Pedal is a 1,000 mile cycling initiative to generate awareness and raise money for the Conservation Alliance, that is dedicated to protecting wild places for the habitat and recreation value. They are making a documentary film of the ride that will be shown at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City next week.

Backcountry.com is super stoked to have organizations like Nordic United to keep our Wasatch runs pure and motorized-vehicle free.

The Nordic United Blog is also a great resource for Wasatch skiing.

For information about the dinner call (435) 753-5031
RSVP to info@winterwildlands.org

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Headed to India's Himachal Pradesh to Climb

This pre-trip report comes from Pat Goodman who along with climbing partners Dave Sharratt and Freddie Wilkinson will be some of if not the first American climbers to attempt big walls and 6000m peaks in the Miyar Valley of Northern India. Backcountry.com is stoked to help these guys in their effort. Stay tuned for more updates and a post trip report.

It's 6:00 am, I can’t sleep. If I do doze off I have hectic dreams revolving around incomplete trip-check-lists and wacky, if not nightmarish traveling scenarios. This sort of behavior is something that has become standard fare before my big trips, a prerequisite if you will. I may be rather obsessive; after all, I am a rock climber that has a chalk bag with a used tooth brush in it for cleaning hand holds.

India’s Hymachal Pradesh is the most recent addition to my obsession and the current cause of my insomnia. David Sharratt, Freddie Wilkinson and Myself, have been planning a climbing trip to the Miyar Valley since last fall. All this planning has culminated into this final few weeks prior to our departure and I must admit my apprehension. Hindi, I can speak Hindi – Nameste, well at least I can say hello and good by. After all it’s not like we have to travel hundreds of miles through small towns and mountain villages, or wait, yep, we do. Honestly though, I can not think of anything more stunning.

Our expedition will begin in New Delhi with a bus ride to Manali where we plan to stock up on food and last minute items. From there with the assistance of Jeeps and mules we will travel through small villages laden with green fields of barley, potato and peas huddled under the gaze of rugged mountains. I suppose the crux of our “approach” will be crossing the 13,050ft / 3978m high Rohtang Pass, apparently depending on snow fall, it can be impassable. Our route will take us by the famous Trilokinath temple revered by both Buddhists and Hindus and the Mrikula Devi Temple, will make this journey even more outstanding. The village of Chimrat (2090m) marks the beginning of the Miyar Valley; our climbing destination and home to some of the Himalayas best kept secrets.

We have intentions to establish alpine rock routes – ideally all free in perfect, low impact alpine style. The possibilities appear to be endless for new routes as many of the peaks (most at or around 6000m) are untouched by climbers. With a bit of luck three weeks in this amazing mountain range will allow us time to climb and explore the vast potential the Miyar valley offers. Our equipment list is quite extensive due in part to the capricious weather and our desire to cover as much terrain as possible. Mountain Hardwear’s tents (EV 3 and Kiva Light), sleeping bags (Clouds Rest SL 0), packs and outerwear will undoubtedly play a huge role in the comfort and survival of this expedition.

As the rain falls outside my home in North Carolina - my head is slightly dizzy with anticipation, as the aches and pains from countless hours of running and climbing surge through my body. I grin big with anticipation of the up coming adventure.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mt. Hood PCT Ultramarathon

Mt. Hood from mile 24 of the 50 mile course

How would you like to run on this trail this weekend? Just an hour from Portland, Oregon trail runners will gather for the 9th Annual PCT Ultramarathon this Saturday at Timothy Lake. Backcountry.com is stoked to help sponsor this year's PCT Ultramarathon. This may not be your idea of getting in touch with the Pacific Crest Trail but if I was going to run 50 miles in the backcountry this place would be my first choice.

This year the Oregon Road Runners club have dedicated the race to Scott McQueeney who was a trail running legend. They plan to raise money to donate a foot bridge to Forest Park in his name. If you missed out for this year, catch up with these cats next July. That also gives you 365 days to train which may not be a bad idea.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ban Cell Phones in the Backcountry?

Talking shop from the backcountry - love it or hate it?The cellular telephone - a marvel of modern technology. Cell phones have gone from a novelty to a necessity for most and even to a nuisance for some. They've saved lives, and in a recent case it helped Portland Mountain Rescue to give coordinates to some lost climbers on Mount Hood so that the climbers could self rescue.

When I go backcountry skiing in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, (my backyard) I often carry a cell phone as I know that I will have cell coverage. Yes, the Wasatch is a "wild place", but also a wired one too. My wife and I have an unwritten agreement that I call once I'm back to the car but often times I'll give her a call from the top of a peak or a line that I'm skiing just to say hi or to tell her I'm headed down. Is this a nuisance to others around me? Should I just leave the phone in the car?

I had been thinking about this when I saw an article that KE Adventure Travel published in their monthly newsletter which was a follow up to the question they asked the previous month:
Should cell phones be banned from adventure travel?
66% of their US clients who responded favored a ban on cell phones during adventure travel trips. 61% of the UK clients felt the same. This discussion and question from KE Adventure Travel and others was no doubt spurred by the successful first cellular phone call made from the summit of Mount Everest this past spring. I relish times when I find myself in areas without cell coverage. It's nice to just turn it off or leave it home. One of the comments from their newsletter posed question was this:
If you can’t get away from routine business, you should stay home. I am always amazed that as the CEO of a company with almost 900 staff I can leave for 3 weeks and life goes on quite well without me
KE no doubt is asking this of clients who might be looking to get into the wild and leave behind the wireless. Imagine the moment when you're deep in the bush and the Joey next you flips out his phone and says, "Sweet, I've got 3 bars" and proceeds to dial up the office he has spent the last couple of days talking about how glad he was to leave behind. Meh.

So, should cell phones be banned from adventure travel or other locations in the backcountry? Or is resistance futile when it comes to the almighty cellular telephone?

Chime in with your 2 cents by commenting and check out the results on KE Adventure Travel's website.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Goat Sighting - Roller Derby?

It's been a while since we've published a Goat Sighting and this is a great one to bring me out of Goat Sighting slackness. Salt Lake City Weekly is a free weekly Salt Lake City periodical that essentially covers all things fringe and some things mainstream including the best local list of events and restaurants. It's a great alternative to the church and state of the other newspapers in town.

I rolled into the office the other day and this gem was sitting on my desk.

There is some speculation that the girl in the phone may be one of our hard working warehouse employees. A couple of my co-workers speculated that she could be another one of our local customers who climbs mountains, skis and dishes out punishment on the roller derby circuit. Either way, she's proudly representing the Goat and we're stoked to give her a virtual high five! You go girl!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Mississippi kayak challenge completed successfully

I reached New Orleans Wednesday, July 11, at 1:30 pm CST. My journey ended at Audubon Park, a few miles from downtown and the French Quarter. I paddled a total of 2,742 km (1,704 miles) in 59 days.

It was quite the adventure, and a wild ride at times. I did 1,467 km (912 miles) in the last 23 days, without a break. Between Cairo, IL and Baton Rouge, LA the Mississippi is a big, wild river with nobody around, and very few towns on or near the river. It is wilder in some places now than it was 100 years ago.

It certainly is one of the more challenging things I've ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. And I'll do it all again.

I held up very well. I stayed motivated and disciplined throughout the journey, and never became demoralized, not even on the really hard days, of which I had my fair share. I never once thought about giving up, nor did I doubt that I would reach my destination. I am a lot thinner, and hopefully a little wiser too. I remained in good health throughout, and never had as much as a headache, in spite of all the strain on my body, being on the river for 10 or more hours every day, and hundreds of mosquito and other insect bites.

Thank you all for your interest in my crazy adventure, and for the material and moral support. I have posted new images on my photo gallery, and will be posting more journal entries to my blog soon


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ski Season is Officially Over

I went skiing the other day and after doing so finally put the skis in the gear closet until next season. Unlike most, I don't hang up the skis until at least the first of July. Utah didn't have a great winter season by any stretch of the imagination but for me the season that started September 23, 2006 skiing 6" of powder on Mount Timpanogos ended skiing summer snow July 6, 2007 on the same glacial snowfield of Mount Timpanogos. Nine and a half months of a ski season is just about as good as it gets.

I'm not one for ski streaks but the thought of skiing in August would make it 12 consecutive months of skiing, a first for me. Will I make it? Doubtful. By my estimation the snowfield may melt out this year. The snow quantity up there right now is similar to what I saw there last September.

The Timp Glacier - photo taken June of 2006. - photo from Summitpost.org

I left work a bit early (thanks boss) and met up with my touring partner Alex at the Aspen Grove trail head at 5pm. The late afternoon/early evening hike up Primrose Cirque was beautiful with the wild flowers in full bloom, the waterfalls funning full and mountain goats out in numbers. By my estimate we saw nearly 70 goats throughout the hike including a young one that at most was a week old. The smallest mountain goat I've ever seen.

Timp Glacier in 2004 when it dried upTimp "Glacier" in 2004 - the first year ever recorded that it melted out. Actually the glacier is under the talus but the permanent snowfield melted for the first time in 2004. I expect it may melt out again this summer. - photo from Summitpost.org

The snowfield is still continuous (barely) from the saddle to Emerald Lake, yielding 950' of skiing. We arrived at the saddle at 8:45 pm to hughes of red and orange being cast across the sky, having ascended 4200' vertical from the trail head.

We clicked in as the sun went down and pushed off. The skiing was, well, it was good....for July. The snow was quite firm underneath with a couple of inches of soft snow yielding to our turns. It wasn't worth writing home to mom but it was worth the trip. We donned headlamps and headed down the trail.

If you're in Utah and planning on catching the wildflowers or the last bit of "good" snow to ski, head up Timpanogos sooner than later. The views, the goats, a great hiking/skiing companion, wild flowers....it will make a fantastic outing.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cannondale Mountain Bike Demo

Last weekend at Snowbasin Cannondale brought out their new bikes for anyone to come and ride. The resort is a great place to do lift serve or (what I like to do) cheapskate, where you can just start at the bottom and play in the half pipe.

The first bike I took out was the Rush which is a full carbon hill climbing monster. With a $5,000 attractive price tag you really are getting what you pay for. If your into full suspension and like to not only save weight but not have your bike weigh anything then this is your bike, save your pennies!

The other bike I tried was the Caffeine 29er. Going up the single track with 29 inch wheels is like having someone do your taxes. I will say turning that thing was awkward, it seemed very wide.

I don't know how I feel about the single front fork, my motto is: two is better then one and one better be pretty dang amazing when your not having to use two.

For bike demos in your neighborhood check out their calender here. If your in need of some bike gear, SteepandCheap is having a lot of good stuff pop up and the BCoutlet has jerseys and tires.


Monday, July 02, 2007

It's All About the Gear - Madagascar Update

Ross, who is part of the team that Backcountry.com sponsored to go to Madagascar, sent me this quick update on how the relief effort has gone. After reading it not only was I stoked about the work he and his team has done but it's great to hear that the gear he chose to pick up from us (with a bit of help on the costs) has made the trip. It's interesting to hear this from so many customers - the gear made all the difference.
Quick update for the blog. The pay-as-you-go dial up will never load the page and I've only got access to a computer briefly before we leave again.

Things here are going great, and the gear has worked out amazingly. We've spent the last month doing health outreach work in a large number of villages and as expected we've been on the move a ton. Our pattern has been to hike the few days into each village giving advanced notice so that people from nearby villages can come to see the health team while we're there, and we stay for a few days to do some educational work as well. This means that we're carrying a ton of gear a very long way over rough ground and through a surprising number of rice paddy's. As such, the words "wet" and "muddy" have come to define most of life.

On top of the distance, the research station we're based at and many of the villages are actually in the cloud forest, so we spend big chunks of time in the clouds where anything just exposed to air gets soaked. everything we own is pretty much covered in mud, but all of the waterproof gear has held out great and really made things much easier and more comfortable. It's also kept all of the more important supplies and medications dry in the rain and fog, which has been invaluable. Both the Mutha Hubba and Seedhouse SL 3 have turned out to be bulletproof, and the Naos and Bora packs have been lifesavers as well. The gear has really made all the difference in making us being out for so long possible. Thanks again to Backcountry for helping us out.

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