Friday, May 30, 2008 Retail 101

If you live in Salt Lake or the surrounding area chances are you've dropped by the warehouse to pick up an order or three from the kids in retail. Even if you're not from Salt Lake it's not unlikely that you've dropped by when in town to pick up your gear.

Since I was in Salt Lake today I too decided to drop by, return a couple of things and pick up some "needed" gear. For those of you that haven't been to the warehouse retail store, I wanted to give you a couple of pointers and heads up so that your expectations are met.


When walking into the retail part of the warehouse, this is what it looks like.

It's simple, small (compared to the warehouse) and most of the items on display are simply for that - display. That's not to say you can't buy this stuff, but most of the experience here is either picking it up, buying product through one of the 4 computer kiosks or trying stuff on.

Front Desk

John (seen in the red cap) is your go-to guy. If he's not in, don't fret, there are others who are well trained to help you get your gear ASAP. It helps if you've got your order number but just the same he can look it up in a heartbeat.

Once you've given them your order number be prepared to hang out. If it's a Friday afternoon, like right now, your wait could be up to 30 minutes. There are plush leather sofas (seen below) and a flat screen to take in a ski or snowboard flick.

Trying on Gear

If you need to try some gear on, this is not your typical retail experience. Those North Face Mountain Sneakers you've been eyeing may be on the third level in the back of the warehouse so cut the runner some slack on the timing of rounding it up for you. Once again, plush sofas are your friend.

Pick up window

When your order is ready the guy from the warehouse who just spent the last 15 minutes running around 200,000 square feet of gear paradise will call out your name.

Slap him a high five and a big thanks for the extra effort. Word is they like chocolate chip cookies and Mountain Dew. ;-)

Last but not least

Last bit of advice is to not make your trip to the retail location a last minute situation. That's what 7-11 is for. Getting gear takes some planning.

It's all a pretty simple experience but one that requires a smile, a bit of patience and some understanding if you're hitting a peak time (after 5pm each day). The store is open from 8am-8pm M-F and on the weekends from 9am-4pm each day.



Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top 10 Gear List for Gannett Peak, WY

A week long expedition to Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range makes my back sore just thinking about it. Packing for a trip like this requires thinking about what you really want to haul into the mountains and what should be left at home. I try to stick to the cliche of light is right, but I don't want to sacrifice comfort either. With this in mind I have included my top ten pieces of gear that I will not leave at home.

I love this setup! The Mojo is light, bomber, and is great while surfing the mountains. Voile has developed a great board and they stand by their product. 

These three buckle boots allow me to enjoy skinning, boot packing without toe jam, and are crampon compatible for those hairy couloir climbs. Keep 'em loose and they will still allow that surfy feel.

This bag is the bomb! Super light with great loft and packs down great!

I wouldn't be caught in the mountains without this shelter. It sets up on rocks, in the trees, on snow and is one of the lighter shelters/tents out there. 

Higher altitude, cold, melting water? This is the ticket!

This is a nice light axe that is so popular in the backcountry and seen from the Tetons to the Wasatch.  

7. Crampons: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
These crampons are great from mellow spring snow ascents to technical ice climbs. Maybe not the lightest, but they will get you up the mountain without concern.

8. Ipod Solar Charger: Solio Classic Solio Solar Charger
A week in the middle of the mountains, snoring tent mate, or that little boost needed on that long slog, the Solio Charger will keep the tunes crankin' with a little help from the sun. Keep it green!

9. Freeze Dried Food: Mountain House Single Serve Meals
Freeze dried keeps cooking simple and easy to prepare when you are hungry. I really like the single serve size packages to keep the pack less bulky.

These little filters keep the fresh ground java flowing on those cold mountain mornings. Super light, small, and fits over a cup nicely.

With that, I am off to go pack my backpack and get geared up for a great week in the Winds! Just three days left and we will be hitting the trail in search of a great summit and some fun couloir skiing/riding.  Stay tuned for the trip report when we return. 

Peace~Jeramie Prine 


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sk8boarding Descent

REI of the north (that's is having a video contest for their customers. This one is laughable. Makes the adage "Crazy Canuks" ring true.

Perhaps the Huber brothers could use this technique on their next attempt of the nose.



Monday, May 26, 2008

Snowbird HelmetCam Action

This is my first attempt at shooting helmet cam footage with my V.I.O. POV.1.

Some Notes:
Most of the footage was shot Sunday so the snow is really crusty (hence the shakyness of the camera) and this is my first go at Final Cut Studio 2 and using a helmet cam (hence the poor angle in some of the shots). I expect the quality of the footage and editing to improve as I get better at this.

Low Quality YouTube Version:

Full Res (640x480) Version: [download]


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Gearing Up for the Top of Wyoming

Many backcountry skiers and snowboarders are stashing their gear away for the season and moving on to "filler" sports or heading south for the summer in search of powder, but for three skiers and one splitboarder/photographer the adventure is just about to begin.

The setting for this journey is deep in the heart of Wyoming's Wind River Mountains, Gannett Peak, with an elevation 13,804 feet and Wyoming's highest summit. The goal is to climb and ski Gannett Peak and as many aesthetic lines possible in this area from June 1-7, 2008.

(Gannett Peak on the horizon left of

The spark for this trip was developed over a few cold suds on a dark February night at the Lander Bar. Talk is grand in those situations and partners were many, but as summer and climbing season approached all but myself had jumped ship. With the regular partners out, it was time to recruit a few skiers who I knew would make it happen.

First thing in mind was to keep it in the family. My cousins, Chris and Tim Weydeveld, who are tele-skiing brothers, immediately were interested being natives to Wyoming. Not wanting to be crammed into a Black Diamond Mega Light for an entire week, one more partner was needed, so I emailed Steve Romeo. Steve has wanted to tick this peak off his list for a while (see other trips to this area at and treat himself to a sweet birthday present in the Winds, so he was in.

(photo courtesy of, Romeo skiing in the Wind River Mountain Range)

With strong able-bodied partners rounded up, the logistics needed to be figured out. There are three approaches to Gannett Peak and none of them are short. With skiing as many lines and summiting Gannett being the main objective, we decided to take the "shortest" route via Cold Springs, which crosses through the Wind River Indian Reservation and is 14 miles one way to the base of the mountain.

For this route, we have had to hire a Native American Outfitter to drive us to the trailhead for drop off and pick up, and pay for trespassing permits for tribal access. All of this takes place before setting foot on trail, crossing crevasses and bergshrunds on glaciers, and attempting the worthy summit that is seldom skied.

Since logistics are taken care of, we begin shuffling through topo maps, sorting out gear and food with the help of, watching the weather and SNOTEL reports, waxing boards, and just waiting with hopes of summer not coming too soon.
I would like to thank for the opportunity to document and share this trip, and for the sweet gear and dedication they provide to the outdoor enthusiast. Their quality and customer service are the best. Stay tuned for a "Top 10 Gear List for Gannett Peak" in the next day or two and a formal trip report when we return from our journey.

~Jeramie Prine (aka wysplit_ride)


Friday, May 23, 2008

May Powder at Snowbird

Snowbird Powder Day in May of 2008Here it is May 23 and I skied 12" of powder at Snowbird today. To say that it was "awesome" is an understatement. While it wasn't of the "over head blower" powder, I had to pinch myself to remember that it was May, not March.

Sorry, too good to stop for photos so the only one I could round up was this one. That Snowbird SnowCam has been a motivator for me this season. Hopefully it will motivate you to get up there tomorrow when they'll be opening Baldy.

Snowbird is going to remain open for a couple more weeks. Skiing in June - gotta do it!



Teva Mountain Games

Mark you calendars for the Teva Mountain Games coming up June 5th-8th in Vail, CO. The games has something for everyone; boating, climbing, trail running, dog racing (new one for me), and MTB and Road biking. is stoked to sponsor the Hill Climb this year and is hooking up the top amateur with a new Pinarello Galileo Ultegra road bike...ooh la la.

Sports by day, party by night, the games should not be missed. will be doing a SteepandCheap style hourly raffle at their tent, come over and win some sweet gear to make your summer epic.

Enjoy the freeride challenge teaser:

Add the event to your facebook calendar or write it on your hand.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Climbing Again - The Ace-Drizzle Memorial Route

The skis are back in the closet again; at least until I am in the North Cascades next week skiing volcanoes! So that means it's climbing season. Time to get back into shape and climb the rocks. Being that my wife and I are moving back to Squamish, British Columbia next week, we decided to cruise the home front here in Salt Lake City. Feeling the need to climb some granite cracks, we decided to test our mettle on a newer gear route called the Ace - Drizzle Memorial Route, 4 pitches, 5.12c. (As it is a newer route you can read about it on, which is an incredible on-line free user created guidebook to everywhere!) You might find the name interesting, and it is worth noting...It is named (and I quote the First Ascensionist Chris Thomas here):

In honor of our good friends Brian Postlethwait and Andre Callari, who were killed while climbing in the Ruth Gorge of Alaska in May, 2007. Brian and Andre were two of the most badass climbers, skiers/snowboarders, pilots, adventurers, husbands, brothers, sons and friends that ever lived, and this is part of our tribute to the amazing people that they were.

I had met these guys briefly before they died, and am great friends with some of their best friends, and everyone only attests to what stand up guys they were. What a great way to preserve their memories in the communities they were a part of!

Chris Thomas on the Ace DrizzleChris Thomas sending the crux 12c pitch. Photo by Andrew Burr

On Saturday, Jasmin and I went up to check this route out. It is rare that either of us can fire off a 12c trad pitch first go, so we knew we would have to put a little bit of time into sending it, so we got up there and worked the moves and the finicky gear out. I must say that one of the things that really helped on this pitch was the Black Diamond C3 Camalots. BD's newer micro cams are pretty awesome for tricky small protection placements. I have aliens and tcu's on my rack and now C3's, and I find with hard trad climbing that you really need a mixture of devices as different cracks take different brands of gear. However, more and more I seem to be going to these units. The narrow heads, and slightly stiffer cables mean I can stuff them safely into small and tricky spots. For multiple placements on this route, all I could put into the crack were C3s! They are also built to last. Aliens and Ultralight TCU's have some durability issues, and I seem to wear them out with my abusive use patterns. The first piece we placed on this pitch was a sideways green C3 and it was getting worked by my repeated 15 foot falls at the crux. At the end of the day, it held its original shape and function - a testament to its durability.

Getting the feel for the C3's in some good granite.

To keep going on some gear reviews here, I must say that my new shoes were pretty sweet as well. I am sporting some Evolv Pontas shoes, and their no stretch-synthetic material and sticky rubber are treating me right. The Ace-Drizzle is an overhanging tips crack, and you really need to paste your feet on some micro holds to climb this thing, and these shoes provided.

Today we went back up for round 2. With temps in the 90's in SLC, we waited for some shade and headed up the canyon. On my second try today I was able to fire the pitch, having the gear placements and technical beta dialed in. Jasmin didn't send, but she was pretty close, so we are going to cross our fingers and hope it doesn't rain tomorrow, so we can go back up and she can try again! I was psyched to fire off a hard trad pitch this early in the season; I can't wait to step it up some more in Squamish, B.C. this summer!

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Out There in the Ocean Blue

Yesterday I was posting about snowboarding big lines in Alaska, today I'm thinking about the ocean.

They say that the ocean is blue and it still is in many places. In other places it's a mess of filth and pollution with the water resembling a murky green at best.

I supposed it's easy for some people (cruise ships) to drop a piece of trash, a bit of oil or other chemical into the vast ocean knowing that for the most part it is absorbed (read - not visual). In fact, according to the Smithsonian Institute just over 60 million gallons of oil a year seep into the oceans from rock layers alone.

Here are some other staggering numbers:
  • Hundreds of millions of gallons of oil slip into the oceans each year from non accidental sources, most of it preventable.
  • 37 million gallons are from ship accidents
If that sort of quantity was accidentally or purposely dropped into a forest, what kind of results would it receive in the media? From governments?

Hard to fathom seeing that much oil going into the ocean. Then again, if you've ever driven the short distance from Pacific Palisades to Newport Beach in California, passing Long Beach and Huntington you won't have a hard time imagining this happening. Ever swam in the Hudson? Seen the waters off of Hong Kong? Yikes.

These thoughts surfaced while watching the teaser for Out There, a surfing film from Teton Gravity Research that is not only stoke filled but asks about the future of surf - the water and the land locales.

TGR has teamed up with various Surfrider Foundation Chapters for the Out There tour. I guess I'll have to buy the film since they aren't coming to Utah.

--image from Aube insanité's photostream on Flickr

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Meanwhile in Alaska...

Even though it's going to be well into the 90's today at HQ (likely 100+ in the warehouse) winter is still on the brain for some of us. Got the same problem? Need more winter stoke?

Here's your stoke. If you've not checked out the latest winter stoke coming out of Alaska by athlete Jeremy Jones you need to. He's been hunting the big ones in AK (like Pontoon Peak below), nailing lines that I'm sure will be unbelievable on the big screen this fall when TGR's new film is unveiled.

Pontoon Peak in Alaska - photo by Jeremy Jones - click the photo so visit his siteRead up on what Jeremy has been getting done in AK. It's worth the click.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Why I don't do motor sports...

Moab is a great place to go, when I was a newbie my trip always landed on Jeep Safari weekend. It was fine, they guzzled gas on desert trails and I rode my mountain bike. Over time I have scheduled my trips to avoid the Hummer infested weekend. Powering your own machine whether it be biking, kayaking, or climbing is very fulfilling rather then just laying on the gas.

People often ask me, as they do you bloggers, "Why do you ride a bike over a motorcycle? Why do you climb rather then drive a jeep?". This video doesn't show reasoning for climbing and biking, it shows the reasoning for staying out of motorized vehicles in the desert.

Ouch! Happy Monday!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beater - T-Shirt of the Month

I'm not quite sure how the first of the month escaped me. But here we are, 17 days into a 31 day month, the first of the month a lost memory. Perhaps then, it's with a pinch of irony that the May T-Shirt of the Month from is entitled "Beater".

On top of that, while stepping out of my office to take a picture of me wearing the Beater T-shirt I locked myself out. Truly a Beater move.

Rather than the typical 100% organic cotton, this month's shirt is a blended fabric that feels like cotton yet performs like a synthetic. The fabric is built by Sport Science whose shirts have come a long way in the past few years.

When I first put on the shirt it felt soft enough to almost pass for a merino blend. The sizing is a bit off from a traditional cotton tee.

These shirts are a bit larger than the size indicates. I typically wear an XL cotton tee, especially in the 100% organic style that has been using. In this shirt a Large fits good, while the XL would have been quite baggy.

I'm stoked to be sporting a shirt that is both smart and functional. Now, if only I weren't such a Beater...



Friday, May 16, 2008

My Latest Backcountry Tool

Since moving to Utah two winters ago I have quickly gained an arsenal of equipment for backcountry skiing.  Lighter & fatter skis, skins, AT bindings, beacon, shovel, probe, camelback, backpack, etc.

Me on Mt. Baldy last May thinking, there has got to be a better way...

Yesterday I scored my latest purchase in the form of an ice axe.  I remember being told early this season by a friend that he had started bringing an axe on tours for certain sketchy situations and I laughed at him for trying to be too extreme, but after hiking up the icy East Face of Twin Peaks last Saturday I was convinced.  Just my luck that the Black Diamond Raven Axe popped up for $36 on SAC a couple days later.

Twin Peaks last Saturday, wishing I had an axe...

Hoping that for an overnight refreeze so I can play with my latest toy
...or at least look cool après-ski with it,

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Goat Sighting - Boston

So not sure how they took the picture. Got hit by the car but in the air got this picture? Windshield cleaner dude? Bike commuter? Guesses are welcome. I would offer something to the winner but I really don't know the story.

2 comments Merino Base Layers

For just over a year now has been producing some technical clothing as well as some Backcountry Merino Crew Base Layer - shirtcasual stuff (like the limited edition tee shirt of the month). If you've missed it or perhaps dismissed it as "logo stuff" you need to take a look at it again.

One tester said, “I’ll wear it until is disintegrates.”

Like any skier, climber, etc I'm critical of the performance clothing I buy and use. Despite working for I had been suspect of it, but after recently checking out the Merino Crew base layer for myself, I admit that I too am becoming a believer.

I'm not the only one taking notice. The June issue of Backpacker Magazine just landed in our offices. Here's what they had to say about the merino base layers.
After successfully tackling the retail biz, this online shop is now taking on manufacturing: is making its own brand of competitively priced, lightweight wool baselayer tops.

Both the long sleeve crewneck and zip-T (our favorite) are made of fine merino from New Zealand, which is soft, itch-free, and naturally more odor-resistant tan synthetics…The 18-micron merino is among the softest we’ve tested.
For the rest of the review, go check out the June issue of Backpacker Magazine.



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PBR Retro Coolness

PBR - the beer of climbers and skiersClimbers, skiers, mountain bikers and skidz alike have, generally speaking, crowned PBR the beer of beers. Cheap as piss and tasting about the same, it has somehow managed to make a surge in popularity over the past decade.

Of PBR Rob from Brian's Belly says:
Yes, PBR does fall into the "piss" category. And yet, there’s a certain retro-coolness to be found in those all-American aluminum cans.
Ok, let's stop right there. "Retro-coolness"? How's this for cool:

I was with my family (boys ages 9, 6,5 and daughter 18 months) a couple of miles up a really scenic slot canyon in Southern Utah called Red Cliffs. About half way up the canyon we left the water to scramble up a side wall after which we passed through a narrow canyon to then descend back to the river. It was high among the rocks that we came upon this little piece of tall boy "retro-coolness":

The retro-coolness of PBRSadly, most litter doesn't phase me. Irritating? Sure. But there's just too much of it out there to have it phase me. I just pick it up and carry it back to the trash or recycling.

But this one had me wondering WTF? Perhaps it was the location of it, tucked into a little alcove as if to say "oh, this is a nice little spot. I'll just leave it right here where nobody will see it". Perhaps it was the fact that this was no road side location but miles away from any road and on a trail that took skill and effort to reach.

And although I make a generalization here I can only think that the likelihood of this can getting to this spot was from a climber or outdoor enthusiast. And quite frankly that has me pissed.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Robbers Roost

Whit Richardson downclimbing in the MindbenderAmerican Canyoneering Association (ACA) certified Rob Cobb is a funny guy, and very, very good at solving riddles. Deductive reasoning is his forte. He is also a master at canyoneering- a sport that seems to slowly be growing throughout the United States, and that is already a popular activity in Europe.

Early Saturday morning, Rob, photog & fellow canyon explorer Whit Richardson, Tor Anderson and I headed out from Moab, Utah to the Robbers Roost, near Green River, UT, to explore two beautiful canyons in the area- Mindbender and the Not Mindbender. Each canyon would take a day to explore and climb. Rob was on his 146th and 147th canyon adventure, respectively. There is an art to this sport, and multiple systems, mechanisms and approaches to style and safety. Rob has incredible, extensive knowledge in this arena, acquired from time spent in canyons all over the world- both wet and dry, as well as from courses taken to receive his ACA certification.

See photos below- they capture a few of the highlights better than words:

Whit in the Not MindbenderRob in the Not Mindbender

Whit in the Mindbender slotTor on the first Mindbender rappel

Whit in the Not MindbenderTor bouldering in the Not Mindbender

Tor & Whit meandering in the Not MindbenderWhit prepping in the Mindbender

After very different types of experiences in each canyon on Saturday and Sunday, the following are just a few of the considerations if you are undertaking a more adventurous canyon:
Rappeling, and hanging rappels
Knots- Munter, Bolen, Overhand, and Eights
Webbing, Static Line, Harnesses, Belay Devices
GPS AND/or excellent map & compass skills
Some basic climbing/scrambling skills- up to perhaps 5.4 or 5.5 with some comfort with exposure
Be prepared for some super jerry rigging- off rocks, packs, and deadmans etc- and to be able to pull the systems
Clothes & a pack that can withstand shredding, and some good sneakers, Wetsuit

Like the sport of rock climbing, there are differing opinions on bolting, anchors etc. Be prepared to take care of yourself if none of the aforementioned options are available..And for more details, links, and guidebook info on routes near your area-check out some of the sites below:

Rob's video site

Rob's canyoning photos site

The Yahoo canyons group

For some beautiful canyon stock photography:

And for excellent General Utah Info: You have to pay to be in the “circle of friends” for the beta, and for general US info:


Monday, May 12, 2008

I agree, biking is way better

Here's a story about a local Salt Lake biker who had his ride stolen. He eventually tracked it down on ebay, but by the time he managed to do this, the police informed him that the person in possesion of his bike was the "rightful owner". His story is pretty interesting and he also provides information on how to prevent something like this from happening to you, as well as a campaign for changing a legislative bill that reduced the number of days a pawn shop must check an item's serial number before selling it.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Biking vs. Driving

I much prefer biking to driving, especially with gas prices as they are.



What it Takes to be a Ski Guide, Part 4

Today was the last day of the course/exam, and things are all wrapped up. I made a flight back to Anchorage, and have a few hours to kill before my 1am red eye back to the lower 48, allowing me to decompress and chill out for the first time in 10 days. Can you feel the weight lifting off of my shoulders?

This is not an easy process - either for the aspiring guide or the instructor/examiner. The long days, lack of sleep and continuing challenges of touring and guiding day after day had taken their toll on everyone with a touch of fatigue setting in...but that can tell you a lot about a guide, as they process these issues, and still manage to guide and have some energy in the reserves for the anticipation of whatever issues may come out of the blue.

Granted these courses tend to push people a little hard at times, as the candidates aren't used to juggling so many things day after day, but anything can happen in the mountains, and we need to know that these candidates can handle and manage all of these things before we can allow them to pass the examination component of this course. As a result, a 50% failure rate in guide programs throughout the world is not uncommon.

Most aspiring guides usually fail at least one exam in their path to full certification as a rock, ski and alpine guide. This is for sure one of the toughest parts of the examining job, as you have 'journeyed' with these candidates through the last 10 days, helping them to achieve their goals, and they don't always make it. But so it goes...if everyone passed just for signing and showing up, then being a certified guide wouldn't mean a thing.

Marc leads Julia up the Python for some practice guiding

At least for the last 3 days we got to hammer out a few more quality ski lines, possibly some of my last few turns of the season, as I will be diving head first into climbing season this week. In fact my last few turns were on one of my favorite runs on the planet, the Cherry Couloir on Python Peak. This dog leg chute drops right off the small summit down about 1,500' vertical, lined by cliffs holding an angle in the mid 40's. After that, another 3 grand of cruiser turns take you back to the car - you gotta love the big vertical of Alaska!

I already have a potential trip guiding in Valdez for next April, and I can't wait to come back! This place continues to blow my mind, and my last turns (possibly?!!?) of the season will carry me through to next fall...

Rapping down into the top of the Cherry Couloir right off of Python's Summit

Julia Niles rips down the guts of the Cherry

Joey Vallone showing us how its down on the lower part of the Cherry

Yours Truly (Evan Stevens) getting in some amazing final turns of the season

You can track my other posts at

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Peace Out Nalgene

Within the last couple of years an increasing desire for product knowledge has gained momentum. Specifically speaking, more and more consumers (that's all of us) are becoming keenly interested in knowing where the products we use and consume come from, how they are made and what they are made of.

Over the past 13 years this thought had not crossed my mind when drinking from one my many Nalgene bottles which have been with me to many summits, climbing crags, down rivers and slot canyons, on road trips and more recently on hikes with my kids.

Then I read 5 months ago about MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) pulling Nalgene bottles from their shelves due to the bottles being made from polycarbonate plastic containing BPA (Bisphenol A) which is made form Acetone and Phenol, both toxic and harmful.

All of this got me thinking twice about Nalgene water bottles and if I should hang onto them. I realize that each day, whether we like it or not, we are exposed to a lot of chemicals and other things that are harmful. But to do so knowingly has keep me thinking, until now. As of today, the only place for my Nalgene bottles is in the recycling bin.

Adios Nalgene

But not ALL of them. Remember the old school Nalgene bottles that were the common clouded white color? The same ones that everyone couldn't wait to lose so they could upgrade to the cooler colored ones? These bottles are BPA free and are identified by the number 2 on the bottom of them vs. the number 7 with the PC letters under it that the colored ones have.

These old school Nalgene bottles are keepers

Nalgene said late last month that they are phasing out the bottles that contain BPA "because of consumer demands", also stating that the bottles made with BPA are safe. Of course they'd say it was safe (safe being a relative term in this particular discussion), with millions upon millions of dollars at stake.

On the flipside an article entitled "Don't buy a Nalgene Water Bottle Until You Read This" on last month cites a study which says that BPA is not safe. The US EPA says that they are safe while Canada's helth organization has banned them from the country. Who's right?

Like my mom used to say about food in the fridge that had been around and was suspect - "when in doubt, throw it out"

But to Nalgene's credit, they have introduced a new Nalgene Choice microsite that shows the line of bottles that you can choose from which are BPA free.

So while I'm ready to say Peace Out! to my colored Nalgene bottles it's not entirely the case for the brand itself.


Update: The content crew informed me that this past month they wrote an article for the newsletter about whether its poison or plastic. I guess I need to read our own newsletters more closely

Don't want to recycle your Nalgene bottles? Here are some ideas from



Environmentally friendly alternative to AAA

I've been a member of AAA for a number of many years now, and never really thought much about the service. I do a lot of traveling, and am pretty scatterbrained, so I like having a back up in in the event that I lock my keys in the car, get a flat in the spare tire thanks to taking the Corolla off-roading (Oops. Third time's a charm, right?), or need a jump because I left the door ajar (again). I know they supposedly have discounts on hotels and restaurants and whatnot, but honestly, I haven't thought that much about the service.

Ceclia from Phdcomis (I'm a postdoc as well as a climber) recently posted about the fact that AAA has a track record of lobbying fairly strongly against environmentally friendly legislation. Apparently, they lobbied against airbags in the late '70s, opposed strengthening the Clean Air Act in 1990, and recently argued against increasing auto fuel efficiency standards. She suggested the Better World Club as an alternative roadside assistance program.

They provide very similar services to AAA (plus assistance for cyclists as well!), while working toward environmental objectives. And, like Patagonia, they donate 1% of their revenues to environmentally active organizations. There is an interesting article describing the goals of this new organization here.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is that what I think it is?

*rubs eyes* Is that...a golf bag? On Steepandcheap?

Yep, thats right. We were dealing out the Ogio Shadow golf bag for 75 bills. The comments are pretty funny to read on the SAC discussion board.

I went golfing one time, the whole "get a teeny ball into a teeny cup 150+ yards away"...not a fan. Looks like they were selling out though. Maybe our gear addicts are using these bags to store their ski quivers.


El Camino del Rey

Back in 2003, I spent a month climbing the amazing limestone of El Chorro, Spain. There is enough rock there to keep you busy for a lifetime, and there is also an excellent range of route difficulties ranging from 5.9 to 5.13. You can choose from gorgeous tufa lined caves, stellar crimpy vertical climbs, and numerous bolted multipitch routes. A month certainly did not feel like enough time to really explore the area. One area, Makinodromo, can be accessed via the train tracks (which get a lot of traffic) or alternatively, you can walk El Camino del Rey. Wikipedia calls it El Caminito del Rey, and states that it was built as a walkway for worker to haul materials for building the nearby hydroelectric power plant. While I was there, I heard that it was built for the King to oversee the project. Who knows which is accurate, but the name seems to suggest the latter.

Here's a helmet-cam video showing
the walkway:


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Holding On To Winter

Spring if officially here. The sun is out today, people are riding bikes, birds are chirping and the bluebird skies with the occasional puffy clouds have warm weather written all over them.

For a lot of people winter is but a memory replaced by trail running, biking, golfing, speed walking...whatever gets you revved up for spring and summer fun. While I skied powder last week at Alta, I'm feeling like it's time to throw a summer wax on the skis and hang 'em up.

Then there are some who hold on to winter with a kung foo death grip, hoping to get every last vertical foot of sliding on snow until the happy sun melts it all, smiling the entire time. Doing so can be a lonely road.

Evidence below as seen while driving to Salt Lake City today. Click on the image to see the full size and you'll spy the single, lone track down the bowl lookers right of the middle of the photo.



Monday, May 05, 2008

What it Takes to be a Ski Guide, Part 3

Well, we are down to the final stretch, only 3 more days left of the ski guide course. For the last 3 days we were on a point to point traverse, that started off quite spectacularly with a heli-drop. Our friends at Alaska Rendezvous Heli Guides lined us up with a drop on top of the 7,000' foot peak known as 'Ice Palace'. This run was only guided once this season, and has some pretty interesting positions to say the least. Crevasses and ice falls border almost every turn on the top of the run, and everyone's adrenaline was high, when we were left by the bird perched on top of the line with packs full of 3 days worth of gear. Joey and I led the group down to demo some guiding techniques, and 3,200' later we were all stoked with the unbelievable amount of boot top powder we just skied in the first week of May.

Ice Palace

So we then traveled up and over a glaciated col, skied down another huge shot to the massive Tonsina glacier. We skied about 8km up that glacier to go over another col, and dropped down to the Tsina glacier and camped amidst the never ending peaks and glaciers.

Small skiers head down to the massive Tonsina Glacier
This was a big day, and we have been driving the candidates pretty hard. 12 hours out on the snow has been pretty standard, and none of us have averaged more than 5 hours sleep for the last week. Every certified guide I know has been put through the wringer, and it is important to know that your guide can keep going no matter what. Call it a rite of passage, or what ever you like, it is a hard process and you have to be able to keep up for days on end.

So of course we kept going the next day. We woke up at our beautiful camp, and trekked up another 2500' feet to another col that led us to the Hoodoo glacier, winding our way through more ice falls and crevasses.

Mark finds a path up to the Hoodoo Col

As instructors, we were almost hoping for some bad weather, so we could see how the candidates navigate up the big white glaciers in fog and whiteout conditions, we got a little bit of fowl weather, but it cleared out in time for our descent onto the Hoodoo.

Whiteout clears for us at the col.

We dropped onto the Hoodoo, made camp and busted up Girls Mountain for a sweet 3,000' of later afternoon skiing.

The Hoodoo Glacier and Girls Mountain

Time to camp again, and we actually got 6 hours of sleep, and took it easy on the candidates the next day, with only one short 3,000' climb and ski out the backside of Girls Mountain down to the Worthington Glacier and the cars. Athlete Julia Niles takes us down 4,200' feet to the cars

Sound like a lot? Well it has been, and like I said, we still have 3 more days of skiing left!

On another note, it is always interesting to see what gear all of the guides are hammering on...especially when there are a few items that are in almost every single guides pack. First of course are Dynafit bindings. Light and bomber, there is no other choice for ski guides. The other items would be for camping. Jetboil stoves are universal as well; light, small and super efficient. The Black Diamond Firstlight (and other BD hyperlight tents) are the ONLY tents I see people with for winter camping - not amazing in the rain, but perfect in the cold and snow. Finally would be a plug for a new piece of gear I am using, the Outdoor Research Exped sleeping mats. I can't believe how well I slept on the Downmat 7 DLX, best night of sleep in the backcountry ever for me. Period.

Okay, enough of a post for now...hope this inspires you to check out some new places, and if you hire a guide, to consider hiring an AMGA certified guide. We still have a few more days left, so check back to see what else we come up with for these aspiring certified guides!

And if you want to read my other posts (or find a link for gear discounts to pick up some of these item I recommended!) check out

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