Archive for February, 2009
Osprey Packs sat down with one of our star athletes/ambassadors, Alison Gannett, after the Rippin Chix Steep Camp this February, in Crested Butte, Colo. Attending this camp changed my life. Since the camp, I’ve signed up to take a stunt car racing clinic, a base jumping improvement seminar, and, I’m going to Vietnam with Osprey Packs in less than two weeks! Heck yeah!
OSPREY PACKS: What was your “aha” moment when you devised “Rippin Chix?”
ALISON GANNETT (AG): “I started teaching women’s camps in Red Mountain, Canada. From there, I began to teach women in avalanche education. That led to teaching women in India and Alaska, which brought me to Crested Butte, Colo.
“I think my biggest epiphany was on my first all women’s expedition in India. There, I realized the power of transformation that can happen with a group of all chicks learning together how to do something really hard. Conquering your fears is very powerful and helps you with everyday issues like relationships, jobs, sickness, etc.”
OSPREY PACKS: How did you come up with the techniques and procedures around teaching women to ski steeps?
AG: I was training with lots of guys for big mountain extreme comps and the X-games. I would ask them very detailed questions how to get down scary stuff and they would usually say ‘you just go,’ which is like a foreign language.
“But then I would watch and break down each move or jump, and create a whole language/vernacular for what I saw and felt as I learned. It seems to me that there is a whole series of moves that are not traditionally taught. It really gave me new confidence, especially because I was a dorky overweight brainiac kid. I became a new person and wanted to share that power with others!
AG: “I’ve only been doing this in Crested Butte for four years. I think our enrollment increase is from word of mouth. Let’s be honest: Life transformation creates good marketing that money can’t buy.”
OSPREY PACKS: What’s your favorite Rippin Chix “before and after” story?
AG: “One woman was struggling in an abusive relationship. After the camp, she found the strength to leave.
“While that’s a bit extreme, it shows how the confidence a woman gains in the camp can change your life. It’s hard to describe until you do the camp. I also have a money back guarantee that has never been use!”
AG: “Crested butte is filled with Rippin Chix! I meet them on the slopes , in the backcountry, in competitions, etc.”
OSPREY PACKS: Osprey is thrilled that you are so committed AND PROACTIVE with your environmental stewardship. You added in climate change effortlessly to the clinic —does it seem that each year your students are more proactive on the climate change/Save Our Snow issues?”
AG: “Women are getting way more involved now. I’ve created an atmosphere at Rippin Chix where we reward our camp participants’ good work on the environmental front. Those women at Rippin Chix who have had an energy audit on their home, use public transportation to commute, recycle, use 100-percent post consumer recycled paper, install solar panels, grow their own food, buy locally and consciously, are acknowledged in front of the entire group, and awarded with gear.
“I also make sure to teach them things like how to calculate your carbon footprint or how to shop for more environmentally products. Osprey’s one of those I talk about, because you guys are working to make greener products.”
OSPREY PACKS: With each group of Rippin Chix you inspire on carbon footprint mitigation, etc., you’re creating a group of citizen marketers on this critical subject. Have you thought about ways to harness them and catalyze their reach?
AG: “I do training on line and in person for folks who want to teach others about my four step CROP process to battle global warming while also saving money. This is why I started the Save Our Snow and the SOS Foundations- to create funding to spread the word. I’m working to get Osprey to join, to work toward more training, especially at schools.
To learn more about Alison’s CROP process to battle global warming while saving cash, or to hear how she trains with people like Al Gore on climate issues, visit Alisongannet.com.
The April 09 issue of Backpacker Magazine hit the stands this week, and Osprey’s Variant made the cover. Additionally, Osprey’s Sprint Series, our collection of technical, youth-sized packs, was awarded an Editor’s Choice by the esteemed editorial team of Backpacker (Full disclosure: As indicated by this overt brown nosing, I am the PR flack for Osprey Packs – wait, that rhymes!).
The editorial test team at Backpacker took a load of Osprey packs to Wales for its annual test trip, so there are also some choice pics of Osprey’s in action.
Pick up your copy now!
Day two of the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder fest found Osprey brand team member Nick Spring celebrating the coming of fresh powder and the passing of Nelson, BC ski fixture, Travis Steeger. Here’s Nick…
Unfortunately my camera decided to check out and not work, so for the sake of today I was making mental notes only! It seemed that despite there was a slight lack of POW folks still managed to have a huge dose of fun!
Most people involved in the festival were probably a little foggy as the Saturday night Buff-eh took its toll on us. The Selkirk College culinary program treated us to a feast fit for kings…a “dessert room”…yes a dessert room ended the meal component of the event and things were turned over to local media icon and MC for the evening Mitchell Scott (of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine). He lit up the room with his witty remarks as he introduced the photographer finalists in the slide show contest. I must say the caliber of photographs our local talent captured could fill a whole season of Powder magazine! Nelson Brewing Company did a wonderful job making sure that no ones lips were dry.
The on-hill festivities continued with the Poker Rally and the Gerrick’s Telly Cup. Athletes enjoyed another day of sunshine and fast turns; however as the afternoon moved in so did the clouds and I can happily say the first storm system to hit us in weeks has arrived.
The snow riding community of Nelson and huckers across the globe have to take their hats off in respect to a great skier who had his young life swept from beneath his feet late Saturday night. Travis Steeger skied harder than anyone I have ever met and always raised the bar. He was the defending winner of the Valhalla Powder Keg Booter in 2008 but did not attend this year’s event because he was competing at the Freeski Big Mountain competition in Fernie B.C.
Osprey Brand Team ambassador Nick Spring of Nelson, BC is our man on the ground at the Kootnenay Coldsmoke Festival happening this weekend in Nelson. Read Nick’s account of some of the wild, ski culture themed events that took place yesterday in the snowy Kootenays and check back for updates from days two and three. Nick is demoing Osprey’s new Kode 38 pack and he’s putting it to the test at some semi-serious, sorta-wacky Coldsmoke events! On to the action, here’s Nick…
The Coldsmoke Festival is under way and day one is a wrap, well, the “on snow” portion that is. Now we are left with an evening to reflect on the events and mayhem of the day. From going big up on the ridge to the grueling randonee race it seemed to be an event enjoyed by all. The sun was out and strong on our faces making it an enjoyable day for spectators and participants alike. The vendor village was bustling and the list of demo tents was long. For those who were cold a nice steady bonfire kept the masses warm as they talked about lessons learned and lines ridden!
I spent the bulk of my day up on the ridge as I was involved in the day’s biggest spectacle, the Powder Keg Booter! We took a traditional big air competition and added a Kootenay twist (there was nothing green involved)! Talent from our local area and abroad competed in a freestyle expression session off of natural terrain. Thick pillows and gnarly cliffs line the Powder Keg venue and fluidity and style set the bar for competitors to come. Everyone was welcome and everyone had fun, from mother and daughter to young up and comers. The event’s highlight was a HUGE 60 footer from a local ripper whose name shall remain anonymous. Without a doubt my favorite and definitely a crowd-pleasing category were the young bloods, the kids barely old enough to stay out past dark. They were so exciting to watch and will for sure set a new level of stoke as they grow into their reverse camber powder skis!
After all the competitors had a moment to catch their breath we had the results tallied and prizes were ready to be handed out. Of course those of age enjoyed the last of the sun’s fine rays with a frosty mug of the Nelson Brewing Company’s finest. Prizes were given out and respect was paid for those who stepped up today, I look forward to tomorrow and the fun times it will bring. Tonight we will shake the night away and enjoy a beach themed party at the college in honor of our mountains and culture here in the snowy Kootenays.
The Coldsmoke festival is more about the ski culture than it is about skiing, and to get the full experience I encourage you to book time off in advance and make your way up to Nelson B.C. and snowy Whitewater Ski Area for the next one. The hidden talent and skill level here is unprecedented, making it an event that everyone can enjoy. For those of with less of a competitive edge the list of courses and seminars are outstanding so get up here and have some fun!
Here’s proof that Osprey packs will carry everything but the kid. And since we can’t carry the kid, why not have the kid carry their own gear with our Sprint Series. Custom fit and comfort for kids. Of course this little guy on Dad’s shoulders might want to stick with what he’s got going!! Thanks to John Fitzpatrick of Durango, CO for this photo.
Admittedly, I was up loooong before the alarm on Saturday, Day 1 of Alison Gannett’s Rippin Chix Steeps Camp. Event though it was still dark, I could tell Crested Butte was shrouded in the storm that NOAA predicted every day I obsessively-compulsivly checked the week prior to leaving. Nothing like sideways wind and snow coupled with low visibility for a confidence booster…. Awesome!
We had a curtain call of 8 am, and my nerves and seven cups of coffee fueled an on-time arrival. Wound up like a five-year-old on Halloween candy, I had no clue what to expect.
Walking into the sign up room was a jolt stronger than the buckets of caffeine I’d consumed. There were 60 women in the clinic. … You read that correctly, 6 – 0!
I was intimidated, sure, but also in awe. Why? One good reason would be the instructors. I was a cartoon junkie when I was little, and one of my favorites was the Superfriends. The Rippin Chix instructors comprised a fem version of the superhero Hall of Justice, 2009. Every single one of them was super approachable, fun, gorgeous, and positive. … But there was also the unmistakable air of bad-ass about each one. Let me capitalize that: BAD ASS! I found my group and we headed up the lift.
Our instructors, Shelley and Autumn, were surprised when they ran us by our first black diamond run on the front side that morning. Out of the eight skiers in our group, not a single one was jumping up and down begging to charge down that sucker. Shelley and Autumn threw each other a sideways glance, and reminded us that our prerequisite for the class was black-diamond run experience. Secretly, I checked that box about four days prior to the camp at Purgatory with my friends Claire and Theresa. I got down the damn thing, but it was far from pretty.
Thankfully, they took our group to “work on some skills” (read: get more confidence-fast!). I realize why they took the time when I heard them talking about taking us to the storied/fabled/mythical/famed North side of the mountain.
It was nuking snow as we headed out after lunch (locally grown and home-made food, awesome!) – literally it was blowing so hard that I thought the T-bar to the North side would be closed down (okay, hoping). “Do NOT sit down,” Autumn said to me as I parked it and clung like hell to what looked like a PVC trapeze flapping in the wind. It was such low visibility that I literally couldn’t see the people on the T-bar in front of me. We traversed to a black diamond run that redefined declivity. …
Something had already shifted in me though. … I knew that my group would not be led down something that they thought we could not do, or something we’d die a gruesome collective death on. The old me would have been writing the headline for that story as I looked over what was much closer to “precipice” than “slope.” Thanks to the instructors’ confidence in us, I actually relaxed (although you could not tell that from my form). This, I discovered, was one of the tricks Alison knew about getting women to bust past their own barriers by skiing and learning in a group with other women.
The afternoon was spent on nothing but blacks, it was almost like I was watching a show about someone other than me, skiing in a group that I wished I could be a part of, but I was there doing it! I had some flashbacks to that Osprey hut trip with Alison three years prior… I beat the tar out of myself on that trip every time I couldn’t get down something, and Alison would just ask me, “well Kristin, are you having fun?” It literally should be distilled just to that – every single run. In skiing AND in life.
Somehow being with my peeps in my group enabled me to shut the trap of my inner self critic. Again, I was not exhibiting Olympic form or anything, but I was getting down stuff that I normally would have NEVER considered skiing.
The day ended too soon, and I found myself secretly pining for the next morning’s sure-to-be-powder conditions, and remembered the forcasted blue bird skies on tap.
Checking myself, I wondered if I had suddenly developed multiple personalities, as I normally would not be frothing at the mouth to get back after the steeps. Instead, I realized that I’d had the shift Alison told me I’d have. She told me that Rippin Chix would change me; it already had.
Because Alison knows her customer so very well, she had a wine, cheese and gear mixer in the lodge to close out the day. I was struck by the fact that the evening’s theme was about celebrating those women in the clinic who worked to reduce their carbon footprint! Once again, it removed rippin’ from the focus, and put it on the environment and considering climate change. We were all equals once again; something I’d never felt following skiers much more experienced than I into the San Juan backcountry. I literally couldn’t wait to get out the next day!
Another member of the all-new Osprey Brand Team is Erie, Colorado resident Joe Thompson. Besides being ski patrol at Boulder’s local hill Eldora and an AMGA Certified Rock Guide, Joe is currently enrolled (and on site) in an instructor’s course with AIARE in Valdez, Alaska where we armed him with an orange, Variant 37 pack to assist with his training.
Joe has been checking in with us via Blackberry texts and he was able to send us a nice photo of an iced-over ‘Bridal Veil’ near his group’s base camp. Stay tuned for more from Joe as we get information about how he has put his Variant to the test… So far we know Joe was stoked that despite the Variant’s large carrying capacity and size (the Medium Variant’s specs: 2250 cu. in., 37 liters, and 3 lbs 8 oz.) he was able to successfully stow the pack under his seat on the puddle jumper to Valdez. If that ain’t success for a guy carrying oodles of gear to Alaska, I don’t know what is. Check back soon for a full update from Joey T!
Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought she was far beyond reproach as a skier, until a Snow Fairy named Alison Gannett cast a spell and turned her into a Rippin Chick!
Before I continue this real-life fairy tale, it’s important to start the first of three blog posts on Osprey athlete Alison Gannett’s Rippin Chix ski clinic in Crested Butte, Colo., with a little background info on Alison. I’ll also throw in a bit of info to frame the impossible case study, moi.
First, Alison…She is best described a multi-faceted professional athlete and climate ambassador. Not many people can write “World Champion extreme FreeSkier” and “award winning global cooling consultant” on the same resume — Alison can.
The ski comps she’s won in Canada, Japan, South America and the United States are surely feats to admire, but the fact that she was chosen to work with Al Gore on climate change mitigation and solutions? Well, that’s pretty much beyond proud. Wait. … There’s also her ski mountaineering expeditions that she organizes and successfully executes in far-flung places including Bhugan, Argentina, South Africa and Pakistan, among other locales.
Watching Alison ski could allow one to incorrectly assume that she spends all waking hours practicing her turns, but in reality, she spends much of her time working to help save our snow and our planet from Global Warming. She does this by working through her own Save Our Snow Foundation and The Office For Resource Efficiency non-profit organizations.
Alison is a solutions-oriented, proactive person who really won’t tolerate lame excuses or being told no. Which is why there was hope for me at her Rippin Chix clinic.
But first, more about that impossible case study. We’ll need to rewind to March, 2005 to provide a quick synopsis of why I almost = hopeless. Osprey marketing manager Gareth Martins invited me to go on a pack-testing hut trip in the San Juan mountains with Osprey. I immediately balked. “It will be fine,” he told me. “There’s another woman on the trip; Alison Gannett.” Let’s face it; I work for Osprey, I had to go. At least I wouldn’t be the only fem on the trip, aside from my malamute Neve.
While the thought of having Alison on the trip was comforting, no amount of comfort could stop my cruxation over the experience of a three-day hut trip. Why? I just did not see myself as a skier. Maybe I over thought things… Here’s a pic of me using my head while skiing.
I am guilty of pissing away years of potential skiing practice (I’ve lived in the San Juans for 14 years). Instead of working on my skiing, I would choose to snowboard or train on my skate skis. Why? Because I sucked at alpine skiing, and I was reminded of it every time I chose to go backcountry skiing with my husband and our friends. So there I was — no where to go but up, not the best place to be when learning to ski.
I survived the hut trip, and even had fun, because Alison made sure I stopped kicking the S*&^ out of myself for being sub-par with a capital “P.” And, because Alison, Gareth, Sam and Nathan were all hilarious and not judgemental in any way.
But truth be told, on that hut trip, I was not great, or even good – okay, even marginal – going down hill on skis. It did not help that I was testing and skiing with a 35-pound pack on my back (a first for me), or that I was four-weeks pregant and didn’t know it (a def. first on skis). … Or, that we skied tree runs with said pack on my back (again, a first), and in deep powder (okay, you got me, a first again).
I could skin up anything happily, but when it came to going down, well… Train wreck, junk show, craptastic — all are suitable descriptions.
Since that time I have gone skiing more, but still didn’t commit. On the first day of 2009, I found myself following my husband up a backcountry skin track outside of Silverton. I skinned like a champ but star-fished down the entire powder run.
As I unintentionally made snow angels face down in the powder mid-run, I cleared the snow from my mouth and nose, and stated out loud that I’d had enough. “I am ready to change” I snorted. I hit the Rippin Chix website that night and Valentine’s weekend, 2009 can go down in history as the day I learned that I actually was a Rippin Chick. It’s nothing short of miraculous…
(Next post will hit tomorrow, and will cover day 1 of the mind-blowing, two-day Rippin Chix experience).
The U.S. Freeskiing Qualifier took place in Telluride, Colo., for events on February 6, and 7, 2009. Despite no new snow, the event was a success, and there were no injuries to report. Osprey was on hand in Mountain Village to demo packs, give out swag, and size folks for packs at our demo tent. The brand new backcountry Kode Series (so new it won’t be in stores until Fall 2009) as well as our versatile Talon Series were offered to demo. The Osprey demo tent also had our climbing pack, the Variant and our current snowsports pack, the Switch, as well as Osprey travel product, our super light rolling duffel, the SpaceStation and Sojourn.
There was a lot of curiosity for Osprey at this event. Some people told us they’ve been using Osprey packs since the days we were based Santa Cruz, while others were surprised to learn that our offices are located just down the road from Telluride, in Cortez, Colo. We were psyched to see the little munchkins come out of the woodwork to get their share of chocolate, Clif bars, lipbalm and stickers. We raffled off a Kestrel 28 pack at the end of each day to a lucky dog who had either demo’d a pack or donated $5 to Colorado Fourteneers Initiative. Fellow green lift sponsor ULU/Chaco demo’d their sheerling boots, which kept our feet toasty and cozy in the cold temps.
Osprey launches its 2009 Brand Team with this post, from Nick Spring, a Brand Team member from Nelson, BC. Osprey Brand Team members are being dispatched to outdoor events all over North America this year, reporting from the ground back to our friends through this blog! Nick will be spreading the Osprey word and wreaking havoc on the many events planned for this year’s fantastic Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder festival. This is Coldsmoke in a nutshell (for more check out the event’s official site here):
The Kootenay Cold Smoke Powder Fest is a grass-roots gathering where both experienced and debutant backcountry skiers and snowboarders can celebrate the culture of backcountry pursuits amongst breathtaking scenery and world renowned snow. Nelson, British Columbia, the powder mecca of the Kootenays is a natural choice, and so the 3rd annual Kootenay Cold Smoke Powder Fest is slated to be held from February 20-23, 2009. In addition to seasoned veterans, this event will also draw “keen to be” backcountry skiers and snowboarders who want to give off-piste adventures a try. Whitewater resort’s terrain combined with the Selkirk’s legendary snow, provides fantastic opportunities for all levels to ski, learn, compete, and celebrate off-piste and backcountry riding. The festival revolves around 4 full days of clinics, films, beer drinking, and competitions for all ski/snowboard pursuits as well as a ski/snowboard photojournalism competition.
Nick will be demoing the brand new for ’09 Kode 38 pack (check the sneak peak Outdoor Retailer review here) and will be able to show all you eager souls what we think will be a huge hit for next season’s snow crowd. Enough of the babble – here’s Nick.
I can’t believe we are in the middle of another deep winter. The Cold Smoke Festival for people in the Kootenay Region is a platform to showcase the beauty of our mountains, people, community and of course legendary deep snowpack. The 2008-09-ski season has been riddled by many unusual circumstances. We had an unusually long fall that held the early season snowfall at bay, we dealt with a wrath of unfortunate avalanche fatalities and hazards, and one of the longest sustained high-pressure systems recorded to date. Words like catastrophic, epic and “never seen before” were used to describe the storm and avalanche cycle that we dealt with in early January.
So where does that put me? Aside from the edge of my seat it puts me into a state of Zen like patience. One thing is known about the interior of British Columbia, the snow comes for those who are patient. Snowfall amounts that trump most ski area’s monthly snowfalls are a weekly occurrence up at Whitewater Ski hill, host and creator of the Kootenay Cold Smoke Festival. With a week of sunshine behind us I find it hard to believe that I spent that last two days lapping deep untracked blower snow just minutes outside of the ski area boundary. Currently Whitewater holds one of the deepest snowpacks in the province and is set up well for future storms to come. If you have not been to the area the festival is a great venue or “sampler pack” if you will of what goes on here daily.
My name is Nick Spring, and I moved to Nelson to pursue a lifestyle in the mountains. I chose Nelson because it is different then other mountain towns; we don’t have any large and over powering hotel chains, restaurants or tourist attractions. People come here for the exact opposite, to get away from the rat race, to walk down a main street littered with independent unique shops and eateries owned and operated by local residents. I have an active role in the community and find my time spread thin across my many adventures. I spend my day outfitting the coolest clients in the best gear shop possible, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, whether it is an Osprey pack for extended trips or short day journeys. When I am not at the shop I spend a good deal of my time training and practicing with Nelson Search and Rescue and am ready at a seconds notice for a variety of emergency situations. I have a Talon 44 packed and ready to go regardless of the situation. On my weekends I patrol up at the ski hill and tour the phenomenal backcountry we have in the area on my split board. Come on up to the festival and just maybe if you catch me at the right moment I will divulge some of the deepest of local backcountry secrets. Nelson gets a mixed bag of bio-diesel powder hounds, dedicated heli ski clientele and industry professionals intermingling together in the many cafés and bars around town.
The festival is a great reason to make your way up here, it is action packed with all sorts of events, clinics and demonstrations. The vendor village is a great opportunity to catch up with the latest trendsetters in the industry and talk shop with the brand representatives. The après ski will be full of delicious food and local brewed organic beers, musicians that have set roots in the Kootenay area will entertain until the sun comes up with their eclectic world beats. Bring your ski boots and dancing shoes with you and come spend a week in a powder hounds paradise! I hope to see you out on the hill and keep your eye out for me on the hill; I will be showcasing some of the coolest new innovations from Osprey!