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Ascent of a Mud Giant, part II

May 28th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you part two of Bill Grasse‘s ascent of a “mud giant” just north of Moab…

Day two started relatively early.  Up at 6:30 and hiking by 7:15 we arrived at the base a half an hour later.  Once again, my new Mutant 38 makes for yet another comfy hike.  No time to spare, we geared up and were on our way and climbing up our fixed ropes to the previous days high point.  Ben went first, then me, and then Brad.  This way I could arrive at the top and could start climbing the next pitch while Brad cleaned the gear from the last pitch the day before.

Shortly after arriving at the top belay, I was off.  Twenty minutes later after screaming though an overhanging offwidth and obtaining a new set of cuts and scrapes, I arrived exhausted and beat up at the shoulder of the tower and built the belay.  Next, Ben, helping the haul bag on his way up, arrived at the belay.  Within seconds he freed up some rope for him to lead on and headed off on the shoulder traverse to go inspect the coming gap we had to jump over.  After Brad was at the belay, Ben jumped, then Brad, and I stayed back to take pics of Brad leading the next pitch.

Brad’s pitch went like this: nervous joking, then cursing, then quiet, more cursing, then more quietness, then more nervous joking, then the clinking of a hammer, then more quietness, then more cursing, then panting and groaning, and then a holler of success.

A strong lead, Brad was psyched and Ben and I were feeling the energy.  We all were pleased that most of the hard climbing was done and the top was only two pitches away.  Ben was off leading and meanwhile I placed a bolt to back up the anchor.  But, when Ben yelled “off belay” on what should have been the last major pitch of the climb Brad and I knew that something was up.  He was too close and the top seemed a lot farther.  When Brad and I arrived at the belay we all figured out that we were at the real top of Brad’s pitch and now looming ahead was the real last tricky pitch of the climb.

Time was of the essence considering that it was about 6:00 PM and we still had to get off.  Ben quickly got started on the lead.  After a hand crack, a tension traverse and some magic arming to a bolt ladder, Ben was at the top of the pitch and Brad was jugging up while I yet again, got to jug the other rope hanging in free space.

On top of the shoulder Ben wanted to lead the last pitch up the summit boulder because he had climbed another route on the tower and went the wrong way up the pitch. So it seemed that he wanted to find the real way up this time.

The pitch was relatively easy, starting with a worm move through a hole and then up a wide crack to a bolted slab move.  Ben pulled the slab move and seconds later was on the summit.  Brad and I joined minutes later but the fun wasn’t over yet.  It was 6:45 and we had some tricky rappelling in front of us.

The first couple of rappels involved some traversing back the way we came.  While this was a relatively smooth process getting off of the summit boulder, the next rappel was not so easy.  This rappel involved rappelling off of funky threads around a horn and through a hole, and then jugging back to the anchor – a tricky and time consuming process.  After the first two rappels there were six more not as tricky but close rappels to get us on the ground by 8:00 PM.

All in all, it was a great adventure with good friends and a beautiful setting.  This climb and others like it tell a story of triumph and tragedy, determination and defeat, and a bond shared between friends.  For me, this is one of the main reasons I climb; to have another adventure in a in a lifetime of adventures, for a guy refusing to let his life just float on by.

Brand Team posts, Outdoor Activities, Product , , ,

Ascent of a Mud Giant, part I

May 26th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you a post from Durango, CO.’s Bill Grasse. We welcome Bill to the blog with a two-part post about his ascent of a “mud giant” just north of Moab…

I was free; leaping from rock to rock.  I was a pool of energy, I never seemed to tire.  The feeling of wind in my hair and with weightless youth, I just leaped.  Hopping from rock to rock, and then mountain to mountain, each jump had grown to be a short flight through the clouds.  It seemed for hours when, upon landing on one mountain top, I came to a sudden and peaceful halt… silence.

Looking around me, I became filled with emotion.  Peacefulness, solitude, and joy surrounded me like a warm blanket as I began to look at the beauty all around me.  Gray-green peaks jutting through misty clouds and gleaming in the midday sun.  Valleys with green trees and rushing silver creeks lay thousands of feet below and all with the sound of a slight breeze whispering past.  In this state of relaxation and peace I just sat and looked. And thought.

I was pondering the beauty of life, of trees, and of this pastoral scene when it all started…”Squill!

A noise came from a close rock.  “Pill!”  It came again.  “Pill?  What?”  “Fill!” once more.  “Who is Phil?” I thought.  “Bill” it said clearer.  Then I heard it again: “Hey Bill, are you up?”  “Are you up?” Suddenly realizing I was in some sort of bag, I was now awake.  “Bill!” it said again.  It was dark and I as I was squirming around I found a hole.  Straining, I pushed for the hole and reaching it I looked through… stars.  Then it hit me.  I was sleeping.  It was all a dream. “Bill!” said my friend Ben as I awoke from my daze.  “Get up!  Aren’t you psyched, were going to climb Brer Rabbit! Brad’s up. Let’s freaking go!”…And so it began.

Brer Rabbit lies in a group of sandstone towers known as the Fisher Towers located 30 minutes north of Moab, Utah.  Climbing one of the formations known as Cottontail Tower, Brer Rabbit ascends the south ridge via an adventurous climb on Fisher Towers’ loose and muddy Cutler sandstone.

Though they may not look it, the Fisher Towers are responsible for some of the most adventurous, dangerous, and spectacular climbing routes in Utah.  Some friends and I have been slowly ticking off the major formations for years and Cottontail was one of the last.  So, when one of my buddies called all fired up about Cottontail, I had to go.

Here is the story:

Day one consisted of five pitches, curse words, wide cracks and an array of gear placements that left me surprised at how many times we had to climb out of our aiders and into wide and unprotected terrain.

We left the car at 7:45 with my Mutant 38 loaded to the brim with ropes, food, cams, stoppers, harnesses, clothes, runners, carabiners, climbing shoes, helmets, water, headlamps, tape, med kit, and gloves. Let’s just say that the load was heavy and the new pack had me cruising down the trial.  After a not-as-long-as-remembered hike we found ourselves nervously racking up at the base.

My buddy Brad took the first pitch and judging from the words coming out of his mouth, it seemed like not the easiest pitch in the world.  After jugging up to him, it was my turn.  The pitch started off with some relatively straight-forward aid climbing that lead through a roof to an unprotected mantle. The rest of the pitch consisted of more wide slots intermixed with easy aid to a couple of ancient bolts that were easily backed up with a cam.

Pitch three started out with the plan to link it with the last but upon rounding the corner, I found myself hanging on crap gear, looking at even worse placements ahead and with enough rope drag to stop an elephant.  So it was back to the belay to ask Brad and Ben to come on up to join me.

After their arrival, I quickly found myself above the bolt ladder that I was initially trying to reach and at yet another impasse looking for the right way to go.  “Why do I always get the pitches with the free climbing over bad gear?” I thought as I was mantling over a lip with only some funky slung horns for pro.  Well let’s just say that after some sphincter exercise, I found the bolt I was looking for and reached the belay.

The next pitch was Ben’s lead and he easily negotiated the run-out traverse.  Then, Brad went and sarcastically said, “why am I always the one to be the last on run-out traverses??”  To which I replied, “Well played Brad, well played.”

So now, late in the day, Ben readies himself for the crux.  He makes his way out to an old bolt and before long he is off in a world of unprotected trickery, peckers, and free moves only to arrive at the belay an hour and a half later.  “Nice lead Ben!”

Now, to get down which, from the base of the crux, was easy due to Brad rapping down and placing a new bolt at the otherwise old anchor below us.

That night consisted of celebrating a friend’s birthday and learning of Brad’s fear of spiders.  And in the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Check back on Thursday for the conclusion of “Ascent of  a Mud Giant” and take a look at Bill’s profile for more info.

Brand Team posts, Outdoor Activities , , ,

The Gift of Grist

May 20th, 2009

There’s still time! If you missed yesterday’s post about the special Grist/Osprey opportunity, listen up!

Grist.org, the funny and poignant eco-news site is having a fundraiser. And we need YOUR help. You have until the end of today (Wednesday the 20th) to be 1 of 30, $120 donors  who will receive a sweet Osprey pack as your gift for donating to Grist.

Grist is a non-profit but unlike our friends at PBS whose pledge drive prizes usually include gifts like a 1980’s romp through Yugoslavia with Rick Steves VHS tape or a double CD set of Gregorian chants, this drive offers a gift much closer to our outdoor hearts.

By donating to Grist you can win a genuine ReSource series pack made from recycled soda bottles – sturdy enough for your daily commute or day hikes and featuring compartments for your laptop, MP3 player, water bottle, and more.

So go here to donate and win!

Act now! Don’t be late! Don’t hesitate! Don’t delay!

And if you’re not up to date on Osprey’s own environmental activities and contributions, read about them here.

Help a Grist out, yo!

Osprey Culture, Product , ,

Beacons in The Smog – Grist.org and Osprey Packs

May 19th, 2009

Grist.org, the self-proclaimed “beacon in the smog” of mainstream media and environmental consciousness, is on a mission. For ten years the non-profit has pushed the positivity in eco news — preferring to promote the humor and possibility for our planet over the typical doom and gloom.

In quite the same way, Osprey Packs promotes a congruent message: enjoy our planet and do it with as little environmental impact as possible. This means promoting sustainable business practice, eco-manufacturing, all punctuated by stringent efforts to conserve and protect our wild places.

For the next 24 hours you have the chance to support these ethics by helping Grist reach their goal of raising $50,000 for the future of the organization. This is where Osprey comes in: the first 30 people to donate $120 between today (May 19th) and tomorrow (20th) will score a sweet backpack or courier bag, from yours truly, Osprey Packs. Made from recycled soda bottles, these sturdy bags feature compartments for your laptop, MP3 player, and more.

So act now! Donating is simple and secure. Here’s the gris- err, “gist” on donating. You can contribute here.

Please donate to Grist today. As a nonprofit, we depend on contributions from readers like you. Your gift will support the web’s hottest climate news, green how-tos, sustainability tips, and VIP interviews. Whichever Grist features you rely on, help support them with a gift today. We wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important.

Giving online is safe, easy, and secure — just fill out the form to the left. If giving online gives you the heebie-jeebies, you may also send an old-fashioned (but most welcome) check to: Grist | 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860 | Seattle, WA 98104.

Apologies, non-U.S. donors: this page won’t work for you (yet!). But you can donate via check or by contacting Trina Stout at 206.876.2020 x221 or tstout@grist.org

*image and information courtesy of grist.org

Osprey Culture, Product, Retail Promotions , ,

Osprey Flys High At Appalachian Trail Days

May 16th, 2009

Osprey associate marketing manager Sam Mix attended Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus over the weekend. Here’s his take on the view from “Tent City”…

How best to describe the fun of Appalachian Trail Days without getting arrested?

If I had to sum it up quickly I would say a Bacchanalian celebration of the Appalachian Trail, the magnificent stretch of America it covers from Georgia to Maine and those who have, will and are planning to hike it. A true ‘merican celebration of sorts including a Hikers Parade and Talent Show, a wide array of vendors, presentations, food and drink; a rip-roaring, rockin’ good time for all, in short!

25,000 souls descend upon Damascus, Virginia for a cosmic convergence of sorts with Osprey Packs on hand in the mystical Kingdom of Tent City providing free pack and gear repairs, pack fittings and previewing all that is new in the realm of the Osprey for spring 09 – with a little of what is on tap for the fall as well.

Osprey Packs is here in support of that earth encrusted creature known as the long trail thru-hiker – especially those carrying Osprey Packs who may be in need of a quick repair or some good advice as they head down the trail. In a single season the Osprey Pack of an Appalachian thru-hiker will see several average lifetimes of usage – a true testament to Osprey’s 35 years of independent, innovative, bad-ass, burly design and the people who choose to push the capacity of human endurance – while having complete and total fun doing so. Osprey is also here in committed support of those who had the vision to establish The Appalachian Trail and the protection of the verdant and important ecological and historic landscape it encompasses.

So if you find yourself in Damascus and need your pack or gear repaired, need a pack fitting or expert advice on packs, please visit Osprey in Tent City near the outer edge of town, the fringe, if you will. Or stop in at Mt. Rogers Outfitters at 110 Laurel Avenue for an expert fitting and they will sell you that Osprey Pack for 20% off the regular retail price just to celebrate this unique, one of kind event known as Trail Daze!

Thanks for reading – I am headed out for a long walk in the woods.

The Appalachian Trail, completed in 1937:

* Is a unit of the National Park Service.
* Is the nation’s longest marked footpath, at approximately 2,178 miles.
* Is the first national scenic trail, designated in 1968.
* Crosses six national parks.
* Traverses eight national forests.
* Touches 14 states. Houses more than 2,000 occurrences of rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.
* Crosses numerous state and local forests and parks.
* Is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships.

Fun facts about the Appalachian Trail:

* Lowest elevation: 124 feet – near the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain, New York
* Highest elevation: 6,625 feet – on Clingmans Dome in Tennessee
* There are 165,000 blazes along the length of the Trail.
* More than 10,000 people have reported hiking the length of the Trail.
* It takes approximately 5 million footsteps to walk the entire length of the Trail.
* More than 6,000 volunteers contribute about 200,000 hours to the Appalachian Trail every year.

*Image and information courtesy of Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Events, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities ,

Conservation Alliance in Washington D.C. UPDATE!

May 14th, 2009

It’s been two days of back to back appointments here in DC. Our fearless and “power-suited” leader, John Sterling said that we broke the record for appointments! Along the way we have had some great meetings and interactions. Here are some highlights:

David Brooks and the team at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. They have a great addition in Mike Gauthier, former lead climbing ranger for Mount Rainier National Park. He’s hung up his crampons for some time in DC and we expect to see him in the Department of Interior next year. It was great listening to Mike and Conrad share climbing stories over dinner last night.

Congressman John Salazar (CO) joined us in our meeting and expressed confidence that the San Juan Wilderness Bill (in Osprey’s backyard) will go forward soon. The congressman is unpretentious, approachable and humble. He even makes his own photocopies (rather than asking a staffer) and he insisted on a photo-op before we even had time to ask.

Congressman Grijalva (NM) is dedicated to the designation of the Tumacacori Highlands as wilderness and dropped in on our meeting to say so.

The Montana Senator’s breakfast was a blast. With some key Montana wilderness on the line, it was great to see Senator Max Baucus (MT) engage with Conrad immediately. He really wants to go to Everest Base Camp - a key opportunity for Conrad to engage the Senator on wilderness.

Peter Fischer, chief of staff for Senator Mike Crapo (ID) treated us to lunch in the Senate Dining Room. Only Senator’s and their Chief of Staff’s are allowed in – we got to take the train that whisks Senators from their offices to the Floor and the Senate sightings at lunch were frequent. We had some great discussion on creating wilderness in balance with other needs in Western states – taking all stakeholders needs into account.

The meet and greet with Senator Mark Udall (CO) really took this type of interaction to a new level. The Senator spoke to the constituents present eloquently and thoroughly about the challenges and work past and ahead. Each and every person in the room was able to introduce themselves. As an adept and experience climber, the Senator was quite thrilled to see Conrad in the room and most of our one on one conversation with him revolved around climbing. Fortunately, there isn’t a lot of work needed to engage the Senator with the Outdoor Industry. He is a true friend and ally.

While energy policy and health care reform are the dominant issues in Washington these days, there is no doubt in my mind that bright days are ahead for continued protection of key wild places throughout America. Our industry has weathered the economic downturn relatively well and no matter their level of enthusiasm towards wilderness, it seems that most of our elected officials recognize the economic viability of the outdoor industry. Further, they are truly impressed by the engagement of the Conservation Alliance in supporting the protection of wild places in a manner that truly engages grassroots support from all stakeholders and in a way that is politically and economically feasible.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana imploring Conrad to take him to Everest Base Camp

Senator Max Baucus of Montana imploring Conrad to take him to Everest Base Camp

Conrad Anker, Senator Mark Udall (CO) and Gareth Martins

Conrad Anker, Senator Mark Udall (CO) and Gareth Martins

John Sterling and our mentor, Marcia Argust of the Campaing for America's Wilderness

John Sterling and our mentor, Marcia Argust of the Campaign for America's Wilderness

Conservation, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities , , , , ,

Conservation Alliance in Washington DC

May 12th, 2009

Osprey Marketing Director and Conservation Alliance board member, Gareth Martins here. I’m in Washington DC with fellow board member and North Face athlete Conrad Anker and CA Executive Director John Sterling (and his new suit!) We’re thanking our elected officials for their great work in getting the Omnibus Land Bill passed and to encourage them to keep it going by supporting legislation or potential legislation in Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, California, Orgeon, and Idaho.

In a nutshell – the new challenge for our public lands and wild places is balancing the need to support alternative energies, like solar and wind with setting aside lands for human powered recreation. Energy is a BIG topic on the hill right now, but we hope to remind our friends in Congress that wilderness still drives our business. Much more later, signing off from Capitol Hill!!

All dressed up and somewhere to go.

All dressed up and somewhere to go.

John Sterling pysching up for the next meeting

John Sterling gets pumped for the next meeting

JS preaching to the choir

JS preaching to the choir

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Congressman John Salazar serves Disctrict 3 in Colorado, Osprey's home. He stepped into our meeting for a chat and posed for a picture!!!

Conservation , ,

Product Testing with Pisco

May 11th, 2009

Jack Roberts, Osprey sponsored athlete and owner of Jack Roberts Climbing Adventures gives us a look at how product testing and golden retriever’s go hand-in-hand…

It’s that time of day again.  The time when I rise up and attempt to make some sense out of my life by searching for meaning and purpose.  Looking outside the living room window to the grayness beyond and the raindrops that are hitting the window glass does NOT inspire nor fill me with purpose and energy.  I’d much rather go back to the climbing gym and repeat ascents on the yellow and green routes but I’ve done that too much already; play inside that is.  What I really want to do is climb outside on the rocks or go ride my bike up some steep hills but neither of those will I do in the rain…

There is however, one thing I can do in this weather.  And that is test gear.  Being sponsored by several different outdoor equipment companies carries a lot of responsibility with it.  The least of which is to go out with proposed new gear and see if it really does what it is intended to do.  But I really don’t wanna.  Go outside that is.  But there is a responsibility that can’t be ignored and that is to walk my 3 year old golden retriever.  Pisco simply must go play.  Outside.   Something that he is making very plain right now by incessantly nudging my arm with his wet snout, panting heavily and (finding my biggest weakness) looking at me directly with his big brown eyes…I guess we’re going.  Outside to play.

One thing we can do together is ski. Higher up in the mountains it will be snowing.  So I pack the skis, poles, skins etc and off we go to James Peak.  Pisco jumps in behind me in the passenger seat and one hour later we have arrived in the parking lot, the new Mutant pack stuffed with extra clothing, doggie treats and anything thing else to add some heft and weight to the pack.

One of my favorite things about going back country skiing in the middle of the week on a snowy day is that they’re aren’t too many people to share the experience with.  Today is no different and for the entire time we are outside we only meet one other person.  With few distractions I fall into the familiar rhythm of going uphill at a steady pace and begin to relax and enjoy myself.  The great thing about having a young dog along on a day like today when I’m testing gear is that I get caught up in watching the dog and seeing the day through his eyes.  Pisco just loves the snow and the cold and the wind and the snow.  Running back and forth, in and out of the woods, in front of me and then behind me.  One moment he is out of sight and then the next he comes running through the mist and snow in great leaps and bounds skidding to a halt in front of me.   A big smile on his face (do dogs smile?) and a look that transcends joy.

This is a dog that loves snow and all that is winter.  All I ever have to do is look at Pisco and ask the question, “Want to go ski?”   Up he jumps, wagging his tail in anticipation and looking at me eagerly as I collect the gear that indicates what and for how long we will be gone.   Running to the front door he patiently waits for us to leave. He ALWAYS accompanies me whenever I have to test something. Besides, he blocks the door and the only way out is to step over and around him.

His advice is always solid and dependable.  For instance, I’ll ask Pisco’s opinion about color.  One wag of the tail and it’s OK.  Two wags means it isn’t his favorite.  Three wags and a bark tells me we have a winner and we shouldn’t change anything.  And so it goes…me asking him questions and he giving me an answer in return.

Eventually after three hours we take a break and I bring out the dog biscuits for Pisco and the herbal tea for me. By nod of approval, Pisco lays his head on the waist belt of the pack and rests.  After a few minutes the wind picks up and our limited visibility goes away.

While I sit next to him drinking my hot tea I notice a weary look on Pisco’s face.  A familiar look which tells me, “now I’m tired and it’s time to turn around.” You see we speak the same language, he and I.   “I know Pisco.  We’ll leave soon.”

By way of an answer he looks at me again, this time tilting his head as if to say, “did I not make myself understood? The testing is over.  It’s time to leave…”  “Yes, you did tell me that”, I answer.  “We’ll leave in two minutes.”  Who’s in charge here?

As soon as I hoist my pack and turn the skis around Pisco brightens up and goes tearing off in the general direction we came from.  Seemingly oblivious to trees, bushes and small rodents.  But that isn’t it.  He just loves to run and play and crash in the snow.  The mad abandon of a Golden Retriever is a beautiful thing to watch.

As I ski behind Pisco watching him dash about it occurs to me that the real reason I came out today was to play with him. To goof off and enjoy whatever was outside and never mind the weather.  I just needed some encouragement.  And all this time I thought I was being productive…

Jack continues to seek out challenges in the mountains and enjoys visiting and learning about the many different cultures and people he visits.  Jack currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities, Southwest Colorado, Uncategorized , ,

Osprey athlete: Ben Clark skis the Himalayas

May 8th, 2009

Uncategorized

OutdoorsMagic.com Reviews Osprey Pack’s Talon 11

May 8th, 2009

97_374_lgUK-based journalism is just about as non-biased as it gets. We find that refreshing, and terrifying! Osprey Packs seems to be in the good graces of leading review entity Outdoorsmagic.com, judging by the recent review of the Osprey Talon 11 pack. The review states that the Talon 11 is an “excellent small capacity pack … that carries brilliantly walking, running or biking and has enough stowage to work as an ultra-lightweight summer hiker’s pack.” We really love how they used the term “Brilliantly!”

They go on to write: Attention to detail and build quality are second to none, though bikers used to more compartmentalised packs may yearn for a few extra internal dividers.”

We’re glad Outdoorsmagic.com brought that up, because we have something to fit that bill in the design que as we speak!

Uncategorized

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