Monday, December 31, 2007

Tubbs Romp to Stomp Series

The Tubbs Romp to Stomp Breast Cancer Snowshoe Series is a national event series aimed at introducing the healthy, fitness benefits of snowshoeing while providing a chance to raise awareness, and monies, for the local Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. is stoked to team up with Tubbs to get people on snowshoes and support this cause. Dates and states below:

  • Jan. 26th - New Jersey
  • Feb. 2nd - Utah
  • Feb. 9th - Vermont
  • Feb. 23rd - Oregon
  • March 8th - Colorado

Each event consists of a 3 or 5k snowshoe benefit walk or 3k race. Check out the site for a complete schedule of events, registration, or to make a pledge to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Labels: , ,


Monday, December 24, 2007

Alta - High Rustler Helmet Cam

Check out this point of view video that athlete Sage Cattabriga shot while skiing High Rustler (High Boy) at Alta. Utah has been off the hook the past week with more fresh snow on the way.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Early Christmas Powder in Utah

This video from Piton Productions is from this last week's storm that pounded Utah. With two more storms on the way I'm sure similar scenes will be repeated.



Monday, December 17, 2007

Steve Su and Pete Takeda go to Pakistan

This past fall sponsored a trip by Steve Su and Pete Takeda to attempt peak 6890 in the Karakorum of Pakistan. For Steve, this was a year of major climbing accomplishments, including one day ascents of Supercanaleta on Fitzroy, the Frendo Spur, and the North Face of the Eiger. If you haven't heard of Steve it's because he's a normal guy living in Boulder raising a family and working as a computer programmer. But when he ties into a rope, watch out- he's virtually unstoppable. Plenty of people you have heard of can't keep up with him. Pete's no slouch either. Enough spray about Steve- here's the story...

Upon arriving to base camp summer like conditions gave way to fall. Temps were no longer warm enough to melt new snowfall and the mountains were starting to show their winter coats. We would have 20 or so days of fickle weather with on and off snow showers before a significant weather window arrived.

The mountain we chose to climb is peak 6890 in the Karakorum mountains of Pakistan, approximately 70 miles west of K2. This is a seldom visited area compared to the peaks along the Baltoro glacier. Peak 6890 is majestic peak with a steep rocky south face crowned with Peruvian-like snow flutings.

There is no easy route up this peak. The route we chose was the prominent south ridge. By quick observation it is an inviting line until you follow it to the summit slope where the ridge abuts a huge ice cliff. It is the kind of thing that you would never know if it was passable or worth passing due to objective hazards until you where standing right there. After some debate, we decided we would throw ourselves at it with 5-6 days worth of supplies.

The Climbing
Day one on the route started off with climbing a 1500 ft couloir which takes us to a 1000 ft rock wall.

This was the first big obstacle of the route. Much of the lower wall was slabby and sparse on features. We should have guessed this due to all the water streak marks covering the wall. By the end of the day and into the night we were half way up the wall. With no place to set up a tent, we each chopped a ledge to sleep on and called it good for our first night out.

The next day we topped out on the rock wall
and were now on the south ridge. It was a relief to be on easier terrain again, 60 degree snow slopes. However, on the third day the snowy ridge gave way to the next big obstacle, a 2000 foot section of exposed rock.

While scoping out the route previously, we predicted that this would be the most difficult part of the climb. The climbing proved to be fairly complicated, mixed, off-width, aid and finger crack climbing all in the opening pitch. The 3rd and 4th days brought intermittent snow squalls and slowed progress.

We only managed 1000 feet of climbing during these two days and were forced to another open bivy. This time the bivy was not so pleasant with the wind swirling snow into our faces.

By the fifth day time was running out and we still had a ways to go. We kept cracking away at the technical terrain but were just not fast enough.

At this point, we finished up a section called the black fin
where the ridge narrows down so that you can just about straddle the ridge giving you a feeling of really hanging it out there. By this time it was dark and cold, and the terrain was more convoluted. I lead out in hopes of finding a bivy spot but hit a dead end and had to retrace my pitch. It probably took several hours before we could find a reasonable place to bivy.

Pete meanwhile was going numb from the cold while belaying me and could not wait several hours more for me to climb the next pitch. There was nowhere to bivy except down. This meant that the climb was over.

We couldn't reclimb the technical terrain again with our limited supplies. We had climbed about 4500 feet and still had another 3500 feet to the summit. And that’s how the cookie crumbled.

Steve Su

Labels: ,


Friday, December 14, 2007

Taos opens to snowboarders

Oh what a day in the snow-riding world. Some say Taos caved, others praise them for getting it together. Starting March 19th snowboarding will be allowed at the Taos ski area...err riding area. Dang if I only would have bought the domain, which I am assuming is going to be their new address.

My wife snowboards so I can't say this is the worst thing in the world. I did have to drop a few bills for her tele set-up so we could ride together at Alta. I'm not bitter about that though because I would rather boarders convert to planks and just get with the program.

Is this going to be bring more accidents? More money? More butts on the hill, literally? Yes, yes, and yes! Facts:
  • I love my Alta pass, the fact that I got it for $99 is part of it, but it is nice to not have boarders ripping through lift lines.
  • I don't ski Taos. I don't plan on it.
  • This probably won't directly effect me except for the occasional "C'mon Alta, everyones doin' it" bumper stickers I'll have to read.
I don't think other resorts are going to start falling in line to be more 'family oriented' but then again I don't see the future. If I did see the future I would have snaked that domain name.

Enjoy the 316 comments from the post on the Taos website, it really is like a bunch of kids fighting in a sandbox. And my $99 Alta pass? I got hooked up for a ski school class at the University of Utah. Teach kids how to ski 11 days out of the season, get free lunch, ride thrifty.

What do you think about this whole deal?


Thursday, December 13, 2007

This comes in that? A picture post

I've never actually seen Under Armour in it's packaged form (this is the internet folks, if I haven't bought it I don't know what the packaging looks like) but I've seen it on people, mostly football players. I was reading the Snaz and they were talking about the packaging from this little base layer not only being Super Sized but that it isn't recyclable. So essentially -

I'm feeling buff just looking at this
Comes in this package (which doubles as a great storage facility for dog food):
recycle me
But the packaging won't do this:
Ah, the landfillLeaving the only option for it to end up in this:
Ah, the landfill that hides our sins
If that's the case then I'm not really stoked on this:
Under ArmourShouldn't they pass some regulation on the size of packaging and waste exceeding that of the product? More weight requires more gas to transport, and more resources to build not to mention more in the land fill which leaves me more empty thinking about how Under Ar-more should do more to make less.

Read the rant at



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

200 lbs of Clothes 20,300 feet of Mountain - Part 2

Part 2 of Connie Garretts climb of Kyajo Ri in Nepal. As part of her trip she delivered over 200 lbs of gear to the Sherpa Climbing School that she rounded up from blog readers and locals in Bozeman.

...continued from part 1

Within a few days of leaving Namche we arrived in Gokyo, stopping along the way in Machherma where we got our first view of Kyajo Ri. Gokyo is a lake-side village pretty much at the end of this branch of the Khumbu highway. Continuing north, the trail becomes very faint and ultimately ends at the Gyazumba Glacier and Cho Oyu. The Ngozumba Glacier, the longest glacier in Nepal, separates Gokyo from anything but view to the west. Gokyo has some of the most breathtaking views of this region. Cho Oyu is north, the Everest stream of mountains is the to the west, including Pumori, Lhotse, and Lhotse Shar and to the east is Gokyo Ri and Renjo La (pass). Our team crossed Renjo La and continued south back towards Namche on a trail less traveled. In Thame, a 2-day trek from Gokyo, we headed toward Mende and back north again into the 14,800-foot valley that would be our base camp for Kyajo Ri.

Kyajo Ri stands 20,300 feet and is considered a trekking peak in Nepal. Trekking peaks are defined by height, not by technical difficulty. Climbing Kyajo Ri from Mende is the least technical route with about 10-12 pitches of snow and ice for the last 1000 feet. From base camp there are two steep boulder ascents. The first boulder ascent brings climbers to a lake valley before the second boulder ascent. Each boulder ascent is about 1500 feet. Camp 1 was established at the top of the second boulder ascent at 17,300 feet. From Camp 1, our team established a high camp at 18,500 feet. Kyajo Ri can be climbed from Camp 1 in a long 15-20 hour push. The climb from Camp 1 to High Camp crosses the Kyajo Glacier and ascends another boulder field. Our team set up fixed ropes, which are completely unnecessary. At approximately 18,700 feet a col is reached. From there teams may elect to rope up for safety. Accomplished climbers can easily simu-climb from the col until at least 19,700 feet. Our team elected to belay from this point. Approximately 10-12 pitches from the col will bring climbers to the narrow snow-covered summit.

Plagued with head colds, tonsillitis, and an assortment of ailments, our team waited an extra two days in base camp. This was just long enough for the weather to change from t-shirts and knickers to long underwear and down suits. We found ourselves grossly unprepared for sub-zero temperatures in every way possible. The snow was too hard for pickets and too soft for ice screws. On summit day we treaded forward in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the sunrise in hopes of warming the ambient air temperature. Pitch after pitch demanded intense anchor placement and each anchor became more and more difficult to build as the snow hardened with the westerly bitter cold wind. At 19,700-ft we found our feet frozen and our enthusiasm dwindling. With the summit just 600-ft above and completely within view it tears at something deep inside your core to turn around; a bitter defeat as the mountain wins again.

Even defeat on a mountain can be success overall through the lessons learned, experiences gained, or charity provided. In Nepal technical climbing gear is a much needed commodity as the porters only make about $10 per day and are not able to work year-round. One gore-tex jacket will cost a month’s salary for a Nepali. Those interested in continuing to donate technical clothing should contact one of the organizations above.

As for this mountaineer, it’s time to start planning for the next climb—Denali, spring 2008.

Labels: , ,


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ski Theme on Today

I remember theme days while in elementary school. There was green day, messy hair day, red day, 50's days (the 60's were still too recent) , know, all types and flavors. Today there is a ski theme day at Frankly I could go for ski theme day every day.

There was a sweet deal on some Salomon X-Wave 8 boots last night ($262 if I remember correctly) and the Dynastar Ledgend 8000, one of my favorite all mountain skis, was just on for $280.

Don't miss out on the ski theme today at SAC.

What is SAC?



200 lbs of Clothes 20,300 feet of Mountain - Part 1

This Adventure Report comes from Connie Garrett of Bozeman, Montana who last month set off to climb Kyajo Ri in Nepal and who along the way delivered over 200 lbs of gear to the Sherpa Climbing School that she rounded up from blog readers and locals in Bozeman.

Butterflies held a field dance in my stomach as I boarded the flight from Bozeman for the Khumbu in Nepal with 200 lbs of donated winter clothes shoveled into 4 duffel sacs. By the time I return from climbing there would be ice in Hyalite, snow on the ground, and leafless trees echoing in the winter wind.

Our climb of Kyajo Ri became a vehicle for delivering much needed technical clothing for Nepali high altitude workers. It all started as an easy way to distribute a few unwanted jackets from my closet and turned into a clothing drive resulting in 200 lbs of technical winter gear. Items were received from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta in Canada and as close as my closet, ranging in techno-colored gear from the 80’s to items featured in last year’s catalogues. All of the donated clothing was distributed to the Khumbu Climbing School, Porters Progress, and Inter-Mountain Explorer’s Connection.

Our plan was to climb Kyajo Ri, just a day’s jaunt from Namche to the north. For acclimatization, scenery, and a taste of the Khumbu our team circumnavigated the mountain before trekking into base camp. The Khumbu highway has two main branches from Lukla—one to Everest Base Camp and the other to Gokyo. They split in Kyahgjuma where trekkers have their pick of the many varieties of Pringles and enough tea to fill your bladder for days. Street vendors sell jewelry items, yak bells, knitted socks, and other trinkets. These street vendors are savvy, selling part time in Nepal and then charging to Aspen, Colorado for the ski season. All of the villages are reached only by foot and an occasional helicopter. Porters carry large loads of supplies, including meat, plastic lawn chairs, tables, and vending goods. One porter may carry as much as one and half times his weight. Female porters abound, often carrying farming goods between towns, such as a basket of potatoes. Life is simple in the Khumbu.

Trekking in Nepal is a journey in itself. Trekkers seldom carry over 15 pounds. There are tea houses within 20 minute walks of each other. Maps of the area show distances measured as time, not miles or kilometers. Majestic mountain views are in every direction, including famous peaks like Everest, Ama Dablam, and Cho Oyu, with some of the best views being the unknown peaks such as Thamserku, Kongde, and Teng Ragi Tau. Trekkers will find themselves at 10,000 feet with mountains twice as high surrounding them in all directions. There are prayer flags, monasteries, stupas, and prayer stones throughout the entire region setting the path on which direction to walk—to the right around prayer stones to build up merit.

After trekking a few days from Lukla, we arrived in Namche’s amphitheatre hamlet for a rest day and some sight seeing in nearby Khumbjung. Namche is picturesque with views stretching seemingly as far as Lukla. The ridge above brings towering views of Everest and Ama Dablam. In the “square” Tibetan traders set up shop after traveling over a week to the market to sell brand name knock-off’s of tennis shoes, puffy jackets, blankets, and the sort. In Namche climbers and trekkers can pick up last minute supplies from toilet paper to technical climbing gear and everything in between. Namche tea houses offer laundry, showers, and hot meals. There is a post office and I can attest that postcards mailed from Namche arrive in the United States about 3 weeks later..... (to be continued on Wednesday)

Labels: , ,


Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Gift idea #2 - Utah Ski Poster

So we're a little bias towards the skiing in Utah. Here's an image that Utah based photographer Adam Barker has chosen to make into a limited edition ski poster. Printed on extra thick high quality card stock this poster will look stellar above your ski tuning bench or in your Manhattan financial district office.

There are only 1000 available. $1 from each poster will go to the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation which is a non-profit that helps preserve the environmental stewardship in the Cottonwood Canyons of Utah (home to Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton ski resorts)

Cost is $25 - get a Utah ski poster for yourself and one for the skier in your life.



Sunday, December 09, 2007

Utah Avalanche Center Shovel Tilt Test

Testing for snow stability while backcountry skiing is an on going effort. It's not like you dig one pit and call it good. I'm continually probing the snow throughout a tour.

There are many tests that you can do, the most widely used being the shovel compression test. But when the snow surface is powder the compression test may eliminate the layers that may be suspect.

Here is a video that the Utah Avalanche Center put together showing the shovel tilt test which although relatively new it has shown conclusive results. (conclusive of course is relative to the skier and the skiing objective) The UAC is continually getting better and better with their forecasts and the knowledge they share with the backcountry community.

Labels: ,


Christmas Gift idea #1 - Alpinist Magazine

If you've got a climber in your life and you want to give them something unique that will bring both Christmas cheer and climbing awe throughout the year you should consider a subscription to Alpinist Magazine. Beyond the personal gain, this is another reason to give Alpinist this season. Read below. (Click the image to give Alpinist as a Gift)

Alpinist Magazine
Alpinist isn't your ordinary magazine. In fact, I see it more as a coffee table publication that arrives in my mailbox four times a year. The writing is pure and the images stunning while keeping to the core of it's name - alpine climbing. Add to that the 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and earth friendly ink and Alpinist stands above the rest of the climbing "magazines".

We're sorry to hear of the loss of our friends in Jackson and hope that some of our readers and customers will consider a subscription to Alpinist this Christmas season.

--news story about the fire

Labels: ,


Friday, December 07, 2007

Mountain Equipment Coop pulls Nalgene Bottles

A week ago we were talking about the new Klean Kanteen water bottles and now I heard today that Mountain Equipment Co-op has decided to pull their Nalgene water bottles and other polycarbonate plastic products due to health concerns. Mountain Equipment Co-op, known as MEC, is often referred to as the "REI of Canada" yet more true to the mountain side of things rather than urban recreation thing. It's the largest outdoor retailer in Canada.

From the article:

The plastic in question is made mostly from bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen and is derived from petrochemicals.

“The products have been pulled from the shelves and we're no longer selling them,”
The issue at hand is bisphenol A which in some studies has shown to be harmful to hormonal balances, particularly estrogen levels. If you're a guy and have recently been pondering the use of a manzierre perhaps you should be thinking twice about the Nalgene bottles you're using.

This issue is just starting to heat up and will not be going away anytime soon. Sure, we all die sometime but to exit at the hand of man made petroleum based plastics would be a sad way to start pushing up daisies.

-- Read the full article



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The snow is always whiter?

Sometimes I realize that I have become exceptionally spoiled living in Salt Lake. While skiing this past weekend at Snowbird, I was reminded of this fact once again. To be honest, I was rather unimpressed with the start to the skiing season, with only two lifts open, bazillions of frenetic skiers and boarders, miserably long lift lines (or at least, ones where you had to wait a FULL 2 minutes!), poop for snow, rocks everywhere, and the list went on and on...

Having an AWESOME dayLuckily, I spent both days skiing with a friend from Lyon, France, who raved about essentially every aspect of the experience. Compared to his home ski mountains, the runs were not crowded at all. He recounted endless days of really and truly terrible snow, interspersed with just a few that equaled our "bad" snow, insane lift lines, etc. It was really refreshing to be reminded that we truly do have incredible skiing here in Utah. And while the snow last year, and to date, hasn't been stellar compared to our typical seasons, we are still way ahead of most everywhere else.

So for those of you like me who have been grumbling, moaning and whining- stop it and start enjoying yourselves out there!!


Sunday, December 02, 2007

When a Honda and a Jeep collide

Many men, when they reach that apparently painful mid point in life, buy a little sports car or pay a Sherpa to schlep them up a mountain, just to prove they still have IT. What does Sun Valley’s Kip Nelson do? He opens the Honda Ski Tour and Base Camp Music Experience for business. And we in the valley are glad he did. Finally some life is injected into your grandpa’s ski town.

For the second year of the tour, the successful ski competition and concert event, gobbled up its teenage competition. Jeep King of the Mountain will be the moniker of the combined series, with stops in Telluride and Squaw Valley, with the finally in Sun Valley.

This year the tour will be dropping the skier only exclusivity and adding boarder cross and snowboard half pipe to the events. All events are in IOC format, making this a top notch competition.

Not satisfied with a world class snow sport competition? Well you are in luck my greedy little friend because the tour stops will include an impressive night life. Multiple venues with halfway decent bands and adult beverage consumption will remind us what après ski is really about (and no membership is required, my Utah cohorts).