Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let it Snow Movie Marathon! has teamed up with Uinta Brewing and Brewvies to bring you the Let it Snow Movie marathon here in Salt Lake City. Remember skinny sticks? Remember Glen Plake? Check out the dates for what show will tickle your fancy:
  • Monday December 3rd - Ski Movie night. is raffling off a pair of Scott P3's along with other sweet schwag.
  • Monday December 10th - Snowboard Movie night. Uinta Brewery is raffling off a board along with Dogfunk dishing out the gear.
  • Monday December 17th - Greg Stump Film Festival. Legend in ski movie history. License to Thrill, Dr. Strangeglove, P-tex, Lies & Duct Tape and The Skier's Guide to the know the rest.
All shows start at 6:30pm and are FREE to get in. Uinta is hooking everyone up with $2.50 pints. What else are you going to do on your December Monday nights?


Warm Cosy Bliss

As they say, "Christmas is just around the corner", and I imagine that more than a few of the people reading this blog are trying to come up with the perfect "gear gift" for that special someone. There is a preponderance of gear out there, and sometimes it's difficult to identify the "best of the best". (If anyone has hints or suggestions I would truly appreciate the advice.) For me, if there is a single piece of gear that I have appreciated most- it is my Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Hooded jacket.

I moved to Salt Lake from South Texas with a few sweatshirts and absolutely nothing in the way of jackets. As a grad student, I didn't exactly have a large budget for new clothing and gear, so I started out trying to make do with what I had. That first winter was pretty miserable until I finally gave up and accepted that wearing two sweatshirts at a time simply was not cutting it. My first jacket wasn't anything special- I bought it at a gear swap, and it did okay. It wasn't until the next Christmas when I received a Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero jacket that I was finally able to enjoy winter just as much as fall and spring (the jury is still out on Utah summers).

The sub zero is extremely warm (the baffles are not sewn through- and it makes a difference!). I find the jacket to be excellent for cold winter belays. The zipper is two way, so you can unzip the bottom to get at your belay loop and device much easier. The hood is really nice for those extra cold days or nights at camp, and there are pull cords in all the right places to reduce the space between you and the jacket- effectively keeping out drafts. The pockets (on both men's and women's jackets) and collar (women's only) are lined with soft fleece.

I don't ski in my jacket as it is only water resistant, and it typically ends up being too hot to ski in anyway. I'm now on my second jacket - the first held up to four years of repeated abuse and my only complaint is that it now smells distinctly manky despite washing attempts (which is my fault and not the jacket's- I would recommend early washing as soon as mank begins to set in). I still keep the old jacket for cold weather climbing, camping, backpacking, etc, and wear my new (smell free!) one around town.

So if your S.O. gets cold during the winters (and you're looking to avoid having their cold hands thrust into your warm parts), I *highly* recommend this jacket.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, November 28, 2007 - Songs That Don't Suck

A while back I posted about a site called that breaks down all of the music from your favorite ski films each year. Watching the credits over and over hitting pause and then writing down the song name, musician, etc is so old school. It was worse in the VHS days...if any of you remember that.

Not a skier? Looking for the songs from this years Standard Films "Catch the Vapor" but are too cheap to buy the DVD for yourself? Head over to and buy songs from your favorite snowboard films through iTunes. No more pause/play junkshow.

Still too cheap? Round up $.99 from your little brother's coin collection, tell your buddy about the site, have him buy the Danny Kass segment song Trains and Planes by Zion I and the Grouch, give him your $.99 in pennies and then snag the song for your iPod. Songs on the cheap for you and you're spreading the word to your buddy.



Monday, November 26, 2007

Goat Sighting in Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park

A co-worker at sent this vid to me of him and some friends climbing in Kolob Canyon which is the lesser known side of Zion National Park. Personally I prefer Kolob to the mayhem that is the main entrance by Springdale.

The routes in the video are Half Route and Namaste. The climber that is sporting the Goat is Perin Blanchard who is an admin over at The first goat sighting is around 2:41 but the climbing is fun to watch the entire time. The rock formation is really wild, especially for a "Zion" wall. Check it out.

Labels: ,


Go Klean and Think Outside the Bottle

You may have missed the Fast Company cover story a couple months ago that talked about the incredible impact upon the earth that is bottled water. The article contained some disturbing data about our love affair with bottled water but the one statistic that has stuck with me the most since reading it was this (in bold below):
Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person....our recycling rate for PET is only 23%, which means we pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year--more than $1 billion worth of plastic.
Which means that of those 167 bottles per person 129 will be tossed. I doubt that I've drank more than 15 bottles of water this past year but I still feel responsible to do my part. Here's my challenge to you for 2008:

First, stop buying bottled water, especially for camping, climbing, skiing and other outdoor adventures. Get yourself a Klean Kanteen and refill it with a water filter or with water from the tap - GASP! - Believe it or not tap water quite often is the same quality of many bottled water brands.

Secondly, if you compete in any outdoor events this coming year (cycling, trail running, triathlon, ultra, trail clean up events) demand that the race directors either eliminate bottled water from their race or that they become 100% committed to recycling every last bottle that is distributed. If they won't do this, don't give them your money. They don't deserve it.

Lastly, insist that your employer not offer bottled water but perhaps an alternative like filtered tap water or a 5 gallon water cooler. Have them take the pledge to think outside the bottle.(- via

Labels: ,


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paging Dick's Sporting Goods to the Courtesy Phone

I've never stepped foot into a Dick's Sporting Goods. Oh I'm sure there are plenty of cool items in there, but it's just not my gig. It's more big box than I'm interested in wading through to find stuff that actually appeals to me. But I won't hold that against them.

What I will hold against them is the blog comment spam that Coupon Album keeps leaving on behalf of Dick's Sporting Goods in various posts here at the Backcountry Blog. Here's what the comment says:
Visit at CouponAlbum site for many coupons on sports footwear from Dick's Sporting Goods store.... (links removed - no freebies for you)
My guess is that this work is being done manually by someone off shore or by a bot somewhere. Coupon Album has a privacy policy which supposedly protects it's customers from having information shared but do they have a blog comment spam policy? I think online marketers and online retailers should adopt a blog comment spam policy and do it before the need arises. Yes, that would be remarkable.

You might be thinking, "But it's not Dick's fault. Coupon Album is who you should go after." I left them a comment on their customer feedback form. No, I'm not a customer but they weren't really a blog reader either. The difference was that I left them my name and e-mail address. The web doesn't have to be anonymous.

The Outdoor Industry and outdoor adventures are build upon relationships. Unfortunately a lot of the web is not that way. Are you listening Dick's?



Friday, November 23, 2007

It's Dumping in Utah!

Well, it's not really dumping in Utah but along those lines....I was at the warehouse the other day filming with Fox 13 Morning News and visited the restroom where I saw this gem. I hope this will put your mind at ease knowing that employees are encouraged to wash their hands before returning to answer your calls or chat online as you ask them gear questions.

Compliments of RIDE Snowboards



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

STEEP Ski movie opens in one month

Maybe, just maybe "Hollywood" didn't screw up a ski film this time. Perhaps because it was a documentary done by the former PJ (Peter Jenkins) Production crew. STEEP looks like it'll be worth my time and dollar if it makes it to Utah.

Locations of it's opening are yet to be announced but the trailer is worth watching a couple of times in the meantime. My money says there won't be a single venue in any of the Rocky Mountain States - Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming.....all the ski locations. It'll open in Miami, Pheonix, LA, NYC, know, ski oriented locations.

I saw at least one of the sponsored athletes in the trailer. I suspect more of them will be in the film.



Friday, November 16, 2007

Prophesy Wall and Angles Landing

November 2-4, 2007

Participants: Jentry M., Mark G., Jocelyn B., Paul L.

When a good friend turns 28 years old I recommend making him the Czar for the weekend. The Czar calls all the shots, when to eat, what to do, and how many lashings you get if you misbehave. As you can imagine it was a great weekend.

In typical weekend-warrior fashion we packed up and headed out of Salt Lake at 6:36pm Friday. We spent the night at Jocelyn’s mother’s house in Cedar City and hit the back roads through the small town of Enterprise, Utah to Prophesy climbing wall. With a set of Black Diamond Camalots the Czar orders us up the mixed sport/trad route, Sticky Revelations 5.10a. Here is the Czar, Jentry, in action, notice the extraordinary distance end to end of his femurs. Having a rock climbing novice on the wall, it was Jocelyn’s second time ever climbing, the Czar dictated a 3 pitch climb that we all conquered mightily. We took a classic “Goat” shot to give the readers some perspective and rapped back down to another climb on Prophesy wall.

Then the Czar lead us up a two-pitch 5.10c route called The Visionaries. The second pitch was a little tricky, but we prevailed yet again. The Czar has a knack for great camera shots, check this one he took .

After some good climbing we headed back to Enterprise and went to the Buckshot Grill for some triple-decker burgers and fries, at the Czars command of course.

We camped outside of Zion Park Saturday night and then wanted to get somewhere with a view, Angles Landing did just that. We started the hike and the Czar pointed out our summit. The hike was beautiful with the fall season golden leaves. The trail travels along an exposed ridgeline and the park service has put in chains for people to hold onto in the sketchier spots. As you may have suspected, the Czar ordered Mark to not use his hands for balance at all during the hike. The summit was reached, the lounge position assumed,

and some vulture watching took place. We saw some big wall climbers going up the northeast face of Angles Landing, maybe in a next year I’ll learn to aid climb. After another nice fall leaves shot at the bottom of the hike we got on the park shuttle and headed back to our car.

That evening Jocelyn made a superb birthday meal, we watched the sun set and then headed back north. Another great adventure weekend survived and we lived through the Czar’s commands, at least until next November...

Check out the Czar birthday weekend complete photoalbum

-- Paul

All photos copyright to Paul Larkin

Labels: ,


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Battlefront of Indian Creek

Trip Report: Indian Creek, Utah
Kim Havell leads Rochambeau in Indian Creek
As the weather starts to change, temps drop, and there is not quite enough snow yet to start skinning, some of the folks in Telluride turn to the desert for off-season fun and weekend warrior projects. Groups head to Moab for biking the Slick Rock experience, and others head to Indian Creek to battle it out on the beautiful parallel sided sandstone cracks.

So, it's now weekend number three for me. Still getting reduced on a daily basis but the strength and endurance is slowly returning and I am hoping to step up to some of those climbs that are on my "hit list". This weekend, I was in the presence of greatness with some rad climber couples. Dave M & Ximena, and Melanie & Winslow-- all versatile, hard climbers from Telluride that love what Indian Creek has to offer us in way of humility, strength, and highs.

With the threat of weather the past few weekends, the crowds are still not too bad, and we get first dibs on all the routes we want on Saturday at the Reservoir Wall. Mel and I each warm up on an easy 5.10 big hands crack. Ximena charges up "Pente"- a classic route at 5.11- and 160 feet- an enduro pitch with some great rests and beautiful moves for those of us with small hands, myself included. Winslow puts up a sporty flaky 5'10 crack, "Dr. Carl" on a face around the corner from us- tricky and a bit loose, it offers us some excitement. Later that afternoon...

Read the rest at
Kim Havell is a Telluride based athlete represeting, Cloudveil, CAMP-USA to name a few.

Labels: ,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Ski Bumming: Less Skiing more Bummer

Box Canyon - Telluride - in the fallSki town culture in America is changing, and being a ski bum is not what it used to be. When I moved to Telluride about eleven years ago, fresh with dreams of scenes from Greg Stump's "Blizzard of Ahhhs", a big part of the draw was the culture of the people that seek out this sport. Those people are now losing their foothold in American ski towns.

It used to be easy to work a couple of jobs, go out at night, attend one of the many themed parties from "the Loveboat" to "Ullr Bonfires". These days it is seems that you really need an insider advantage to have a chance of survival. What drew many of us to these places in the 80's, 90's etc, has now changed and is slowly but surely barring others from entry. Being a ski bum is no longer what it used to be.

To survive now, you need to ditch your dog, get a real job, and be able to pay a lot of rent. Many of these resort areas claim to have "master plans" but somehow it was overlooked that affordable housing is a necessary component- and large component- of the land that is available. In the continual, and important, fight for the preservation of open space, we are indirectly also closing the door on opportunities to allow these towns to be sustainable, as the economies are driven by locals and the working class....

Read more of this essay at

Based in Telluride Kim Havell is an athlete representing, Cloudveil, Volkl-Techinica among others.

Labels: ,


Alta Reporting 225" Base

Dreams really do come true at Alta. This is the Collins plot snow report from Sunday morning. I want to see photos!
Technology is a dream eh? I suppose 200"+ would leave you looking something like this. (photo taken on March 26, 2005 at Alta)



Thursday, November 08, 2007

Greatest Gear Inventions

It’s that time of year again when all of the new winter gear is out…catalogs are circulating, magazine buyer’s guide are written, and the ‘new-gear’ jones is in full swing. We’ve seen everything from reverse-camber twins proliferating the ski scene, to ProShell everything, to truly interchangeable goggles lenses, and the list goes on and on.

All this new gear got me thinking. I once saw a show on A&E about inventions that have had the greatest effect on mankind (as a side note they cited Gutenburg’s invention of the printing press as the greatest invention).
This has really gotten me thinking about gear innovations. What is the greatest gear invention or innovation? What has had the farthest reaching impact? A swirl of thoughts spun around in my head…"shaped skis, AT bindings, Camalots, canister stoves, goggles with fans, Primaloft…”.

I could be wrong but to me it seems like the invention with the farthest reaching impact would have to be GORE-TEX. GORE-TEX fabrics are in just every piece of gear they can be put in. GORE really got the ball moving on waterproof-breathable fabrics. Every single company is trying to emulate (or copy) what GORE has created. This is definitely a point of controversy and is definitely up for debate.

What do you think is the greatest gear invention (innovation) that has had the farthest reaching impact on the outdoor industry?


Monday, November 05, 2007

Attention All Gear Sluts

If you're reading this you're either a gear slut or you're lying. C'mon, we're all gear sluts. Take this simple test:

Do you have more than one pair of skis?
More than one climbing rope?
More than 1 outer wear jacket?
More than one fleece jacket in the closet?
More than 2 pairs of ski socks?
More than 1 day pack?
More than 2 beanies?
More than 1 pair of Chacos (or sandles)?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above, you're a gear slut. Welcome to the team.

Kim Havell, athlete and official gear slut, is pictured below taping up for another session in Castle Valley, Utah. She took the 3 step program. You should too. Athlete Kim Havell openly showing that she too is a gear slutThere's no escaping this affliction. But there is a way to cope. I give you the three step program.
  1. Admitting you're a gear slut is the first step.
  2. Don't be afraid to let people know. Grab a GearSlut tee from (GearSlut ladies version) and proudly display it to the world. (the men's happen to be on sale for $11.17 - sorry ladies)
  3. Third step is to sell blood, dig under the couch cushion, empty the change from your ash tray, or list that garage full of old gear on GearTrade or Craigslist and start the acquisition phase all over again.
I feel ya, trust me.



Climbing CastletonTower's Kor-Ingalls Route

This Adventure Story comes to us from Paul Larkin, a customer who I incidentally met while climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon last month.

Date: October 19-20, 2007

Climbers: Jentry Miskin, Chase McMillan, Mark Greenwood, Julia Maddox, and Paul Larkin

As we depart en route to a climbing classic, the Kor-Ingalls Route (Grade III, 4 pitch, 5.9+) on Castleton Tower near Moab, Utah, our nerves are titillated by dreams of a pinnacle summit. We drive the 3 1/2 hours and start to head up the canyon overlooking the Colorado River. After our turn off to Castleton Tower we found a dirt wash to sack out in for the short 5 hours before we had to get up.

Alarms rang at 6:00am, it was a brisk morning and still pitch black out. We drove to the trail head to find a full parking lot full of climbers and our first glace of the tower.

It was very intimidating. We got our packs ready and hit the trail at dawn.

The hike was fairly steep and it took us 1 1/2 hour to get to the base of the climb and if you look at the image below you can see the people in the bottom left corner of the photo giving it perspective. We split into a group of two (Jentry and Chase) and three (Mark, Julia, and Paul) climbers.

Pitch 2 was a beast, but Mark (a.k.a. the godfather) prevailed.

The crux of the climb is on pitch 3 with a wonderful lieback.

Can you say The exposure from the top of pitch 3 was breathtaking. The climbing up pitch 4 was the final push.

We had a nice team summit photo, of course a goat shot, and I got an individual summit photo to finish my first true pinnacle climb. Rapping down was nothing short of extreme. We found rapping down to be even more sketchy than the climbing, just the nature of rappelling after a multipitch climb. One 70 meter rope will get you down safely down the Kor-Ingalls Route.

Paul Larkin on top of Castleton Towner
After Chase pulled off some sweet mute-grabs we watched the sun set on this beautiful feature called Castleton Tower. Good times were had!

Check out the Castleton Tower complete photo album.

-- Paul
All photos copyright to Paul Larkin



Friday, November 02, 2007 Goes Easy on the Eyes

After what feels like forever and I'm sure the site designers will agree, got a new face lift yesterday. If you're not in the know then you didn't realize that is one of the family.

It's mostly run by a few renegades who were haters at first but now they more or less put up with all the granola eating Chaco and Patagonia wearing backcoutry types that are the mass of employees around here. They out style the backcountry crew and it definitely shows in the new look.

Perhaps I dig it so much because I like black websites (my personal blog is black, my Firefox skin is "Black Japan") but the site feels like a great fit for the snowboarding crew. With all of the little action images going on and the "busy" images in the header and the footer it reminds me of the Burton ads that I saw a couple of years ago.

I wanted to get some feedback from some of our snowboarding readers so here is a screenshot of the top half of the home page. Take a look at the entire Dogfunk homepage and let us know what you think of it. (not that any of your suggestions or comments will change the look of it anytime soon but hey, you'll get to spend your 2 cents)



Utah Avalanche Center Ski Swap

Each year the Friends of Utah Avalanche Center hold a ski swap fundraiser at the REI in Salt Lake City (33rd South location). It's a great cause and the perfect way to sell your used gear and help the Utah Avalanche Center at the same time. 20% of the sale of your item, plus a $2/item donation goes to help keep backcountry users in the know with up to date avalanche information.

If you're a customer or not we encourage you to help support the UAC through this ski swap.


Location - at REI on 33rd South - Salt Lake City, UT
When - Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 9am to 5pm
Admission - $5 per person/$10 per family
Gear Drop Off - Drop off gear at REI on November 1st & 2nd between 5pm & 8pm
Gear charges - $2 per item plus 20% commission, Vendors-25%

Gear that doesn't sell can be picked up Monday, November 5th between 5pm and 8pm.
But be sure you leave the ski swap by 4pm so you won't miss the Fat Flake Festival in downtown Salt Lake City which kicks of at 4:30 with the Monster energy drink Rail Jam.



Thursday, November 01, 2007

KE Adventure Travel Takes Top Honors from National Geographic

It's good to have friends in high places. National Geographic Adventure magazine recently conducted the world’s first large-scale rating of over 200 adventure tour operators. They wanted to know who is teaching their clients about the places they visit, who’s pushing the frontiers of discovery and adventure, and who’s giving back to the planet. They surveyed on spirit of adventure, quality of service, education, client references and sustainability.

After six months of work, our friends at KE Adventure Travel who we've blogged about before, was named the BEST Hiking and Trekking outfitter on the Planet. KE excelled in EVERY area, even scoring a perfect 100 in SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE. With offices in North America and the UK they've got most of the customer base covered.

If you're looking for a travel or guide service anywhere in the planet check out KE Adventure Travel for Hiking and Trekking and the remainder the complete list of the best in the world that National Geographic put together.