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Archive for December, 2009

Aimee’s Adventures Continue: St. Lucia, South Africa

December 30th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 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, delivers the latest from new team member Aimee Cebulski who is on a 6-month world travel adventure. She’s taking an Osprey Sojourn 28 with her (from our new Travel Collection) and has moved on since her troubles in Capetown…

For the last few days we’ve been roughing it a bit in the bush…Staying at a one of a kind backpacker’s facility in Hluhluwe, South Africa.  Hluhluwe (again, pronounced “shlu-shlu-ee”) is in the NE corner of the country and home to the oldest game park in Africa.  Designated a protected area in 1895, the park is home to the Big 5 and has the largest concentration of the endangered White Rhino in the world (2,200 out of the 7,500 White Rhinos in the world live here).

We stayed at Hluhluwe Backpackers, otherwise known as “Dave’s Place.”  Run by a free spirited South African, this is one of the most laid-back places we’ve stayed on this trip.  It’s about 1.5K from the entrance to the park and set in very pretty rolling countryside surrounded by Zulu homesteads.  “Town” is about 12K away.

Our “en-suite” room turned out to mean there was a toilet in the building, not our room, but we weren’t too put off – Dave and Sean’s (our other host) attitudes and the vibe instantly puts you at ease.  We were treated like members of the family, sharing stories and food and generally being all around nice guys.  It was very relaxing out in the bush, quiet and we enjoyed the company of the other travelers at Dave’s.

Our first night we had a bit of a start when the frame of a picture on the wall spontaneously failed at 2 a.m. and the glass in the picture fell out, shattering on the tile floor.  We thought one of the critters from the nearby park had gotten into our room!  Our night was a little sleepless and we were tired in the morning for our game drive, but raring to go nonetheless.

The park at Hluhluwe was very different than the parks in Kenya; much more rolling hillside and forest-like shrubbery and far greener.  This area hasn’t been as devastated by drought and the landscape was vibrant and lush and the animals were much healthier.  We had a great ½ day in the park, seeing many great animals and spotting lots of rhinos…One group of 5 playing around a water hole right near the road was fun to watch.  You don’t want to get too close though!

Speaking of close, we did have an amazing encounter where two herds of water buffalo came together basically right in front of us on the road and we were parked for more than a half hour watching the two groups greet each other and exchange formalities before linking up.  It was fascinating and our guide gave us great insight into what all the behavior meant.  He also instructed us to just be mellow and not make any big sudden movements since the buffalo were checking us out.

After a while they started to clear but one juvenile stubbornly blocked the road.  We were amazed as our guide talked to him gently in Afrikaans, asking him to please move to the side.  Amazingly, it worked!

We’re now in the town of St. Lucia, part of the greater St. Lucia Estuary.  It’s a protected area where the river meets the Indian Ocean and home to lots of hippos and crocs.  Tomorrow morning we’ll walk down to the protected area where you can watch from the shores and try to scout out these beautiful but shy creatures.

Tuesday morning we head to Sodwana Bay to begin our next dive adventure!  We’ve talked to several people who have said Sodwana has great diving and we are hoping for good conditions.

Brand Team posts

Cliff Jumping in Copenhagen

December 21st, 2009

Jumping of 50-footers is easier than walking 250 flat miles with skis on my Osprey Pack, or tackling the immense issue of solutions to climate change. Once my sore feet arrived in Copenhagen, presidents from around the world signed my skis, as I worked to raise awareness on the importance of saving our snow, not only for our wonderful sports, but also to demonstrate that snow is responsible for almost 50% of the world’s drinking water. In addition, with a press pass from Skiing Magazine, I had access to the UNFCCC COP15 treaty talks and negotiations, as well as meetings with all kinds of famous leaders, activists and Presidents from around the world. I was even able to present a keynote for the United Nations UNEP program, and even made The New York Times. As a climate change solutions consultant, I was also able to meet with US leaders on my four-step business plan for meaningful and cost-effective climate change emission reductions, and I plan on continuing those meetings in Washington. With 68,500+ media stories from around the world, the trip has exceeded even my high expectations to spread awareness – I’ve posted on Twitter and Facebook: http://twitter.com/AlisonGannett, http://www.facebook.com/alis on.gannett and my blog and photos of the three-week journey is on www.alisongannett.com.


Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Uncategorized

Robbed in Capetown!

December 18th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 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, delivers the latest from new team member Aimee Cebulski who is on a 6-month world travel adventure. She’s taking an Osprey Sojourn 28 with her (from our new Travel Collection). Trouble struck in Capetown, as Aimee and her partner were robbed…

For the first time in both our lives, Jeff & I were robbed.  Last night, we came back from dinner to find our room door was unlocked.  Jeff opened the door and we found our stuff scattered all over the floor.  After all the hundreds of places the two of us have stayed in over the years, it’s the first time either one of us have been robbed. It sucks.

What really sucks is our guest lodge is in a very nice, quiet part of Cape Town and is super secured with outside gates and two double-locked front doors.  This was an inside job.  No forced entry.  Our door had been unlocked and then they opened up the back door and the back security gate and slipped out.

It’s ironic:  We have stayed in so many places with many more opportunities for theft – tents with nothing but a zipper, old doors, etc….However; this place had outstanding security features.  Go figure.

Let me make this very clear:  We were SO lucky.  Our room had a safe where we had our passports, credit cards, extra cash and the netbook.   We had gone out to dinner for a few hours so I didn’t bring my camera (too bulky).  So now that’s gone, including my brand-new Tamron super zoom lens I bought for this trip.  Oh well, at least I got to use it on safari which was its number one purpose.

They also took Jeff’s entire backpack.  Most of his clothes were left behind but they took his whole pack.  Mine was spared and all my clothes were still there minus my windbreaker and hiking shoes (who wants my smelly old Merrells????)

For me, the saddest part is the loss of Passport Duck.  I can get another camera, another iPod and reload it when I get home…  Passport Duck was in my backpack, tucked away in his regular spot.  He’s gone.  Also gone is my little bag of jewelry I brought from home – Nothing of any real value – But sentimental pieces from previous travels that are irreplaceable.

Also a bit of a bummer is the fact that I had several souvenirs that I was actually just getting ready to mail home for Christmas that I had picked up for loved ones here in Africa.   Sorry everyone!

Jeff’s also now out a Dive Computer, we both lost all our chargers/cables and Jeff’s cool travel sleeping bag was in his backpack too.  On the bright side, they somehow missed Jeff’s camera tucked in his small backpack so at least we still have one camera!

We’re not going to dwell on this.  It’s not a reflection on Cape Town or Africa.  This could have happened anywhere.  Someone had a key and it happened fast.

We’re totally fine, no harm done, just a few things to be replaced.  If we had to get some new stuff, at least we are in one of the best places for some shopping.

Since the robbers took the extra key we had left in the room during dinner, we’ve bailed out of Ashanti Gardens and moved to its sister property a few miles away called Ashanti Green Point.   We’re still planning on enjoying Cape Town and meeting up with Jeff’s friends on Sunday.  Hey, any excuse for some more wine, right???

It’s been a crazy day and we wanted to share our latest development.  I’ll have to find something new to replace Passport Duck – More to come!

Editor’s note: Aimee’s Osprey Sojourn (see below) was not stolen! Here’s what she had to say —
‘They didn’t take my Sojourn, probably because it was open and on the floor, not easy to stuff things in and run…However, they did get Jeff’s Osprey Ather 70 which he bought for the trip!

Sojourn 28

Features of the Sojourn 28 wheeled convertible pack: Our StraightJacket™ compression system has always been well-suited to the rigors of travel. Add the High Road™ Chassis to the mix and you’ve got the Sojourn. For those who want to reduce the hoist component of their haul time it can’t be beat. When you do need to carry the Sojourn our superb zip-away suspension is on the ready. You’ll also find foam sidewalls for keeping the load secure, while handy mesh pockets, clothing straps and front panel daisy chains maintain your organization. Colors available: Earth, Charcoal, Pepper. Click here for more information – Sojourn Series.

For more information about Aimee, check out her bio page here.

Brand Team posts

Aimee’s next stop: Zanzibar

December 14th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 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, delivers the latest from new team member Aimee Cebulski who is on a 6-month world travel adventure. She’s taking an Osprey Sojourn 28 with her (from our new Travel Collection). She recently landed in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Set off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is an ancient island full of flavor, spice and history. Over the centuries, this small island has been dominated by Persian, British and African cultures, and the result is a unique feel of crumbling colonialism with a tropical vibe.

Zanzibar gained prominence mostly for its good location to access the trade winds and distance between Africa and the Middle East. It became a major trading hub and also legendary for its spices. Cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, lemongrass and countless other fragrances fill the air here.

In addition to its distinction in the spice trade, Zanzibar was also under colonial rule for quite some time and was a major port in the African slave trade. Thousands passed through here in route to places like Britain, Oman, Persia and other Asian destinations.

The resulting culture here is one of a true melting pot. Swahili is easily intermixed with English, Arabic and even Portuguese around town. The cuisine here is also quite varied, ruled by spiced dishes such as rice and sautéed vegetables and meat. The food here has been very tasty and we’ve gone to the night market where chefs in white coats and hats grill up fresh seafood from the day and local delicacies like a Zanzibar Pizza (more like a quiche filled with meats, cheeses and spices). At an average of one or two dollars per item, it’s quite a steal!

We’ve visited some of the main historical sites here such as the House of Wonders and the Old Fort and wandered the maze of crumbling buildings in the compact old center of town. One of the most popular places to take in the sunset is the main bar at The Africa House, one of the oldest hotels in Africa…Even for being an upscale renovated historical property, drinks at the bar still remain a good value and the balcony is spectacular for the afternoon light.

On a musical note, Zanzibar is the home of Queen frontman the late Freddie Mercury; several buildings around town pay homage to him and there’s even a restaurant (Mercury’s) with an outstanding waterfront view and Queen memorabilia on the walls.

Today I ventured out of Stone Town and went on a half day spice tour. Our guide took the group out to a local spice farm where we saw how cloves, vanilla, peppers, cinnamon, pineapples, breadfruits, coconuts and more are locally grown and various harvest techniques. No wonder the island is renowned for its spices! Their procedures are painstaking and thorough to ensure the best quality end product.

The highlight of the spice tour was lunch at a local home. Our hostess had prepared us a lunch of spiced rice (with spices right from the trees) and various sautéed vegetables and sauces. We sat on mats on the floor and enjoyed this simply prepared home cooked meal. It was delicious! Her mastery of balancing the spices obviously came from generations of instruction.

Tomorrow we are heading north out of Stone Town, to the beach area called Nungwi, to check out the famous turquoise Zanzibar waters and see about potential good dive spots. Wifi seems to be hard to come by around here, so hopefully we’ll be able to post again soon.

Sojourn 28

Features of the Sojourn 28 wheeled convertible pack: Our StraightJacket™ compression system has always been well-suited to the rigors of travel. Add the High Road™ Chassis to the mix and you’ve got the Sojourn. For those who want to reduce the hoist component of their haul time it can’t be beat. When you do need to carry the Sojourn our superb zip-away suspension is on the ready. You’ll also find foam sidewalls for keeping the load secure, while handy mesh pockets, clothing straps and front panel daisy chains maintain your organization. Colors available: Earth, Charcoal, Pepper. Click here for more information – Sojourn Series.

For more information about Aimee, check out her bio page here.

Brand Team posts

Gracias por el Aguante

December 9th, 2009

Find out about climbing in Argentina in this latest post by climber Crystal Davis-Robbins. Robbins made a first ascent in Arenales with Ignacio Elorza and María-José Moisés. The ascent was 600m 7a+ (5.12-).

Within the immense valley of towers in el Cajon de Arenales, the peak “El Cohete” sits in the forefront, known for its splitter cracks and for having the longest routes in the area. Although the East face is climbed very frequently, all the other faces are practically unexplored. The North face had no known previous routes on it until this month.

After four days of vertical gardening and rock-tumbling, we completed “Gracias por el Aguante.” The route meanders up the middle of the North face, with wandering crack systems. It begins with a few rope lengths of easy climbing. Then one chooses between a 5.10 dihedral and a fist crack slightly easier just to the left of it, I recommend the dihedral.

After a couple more rope lengths of moderate climbing that traverse leftward, we arrived at the base of a prominent dihedral that spits the face into two. We climbed the dihedral for about twenty meters than followed a thin crack that eventually separates out right and turns the corner anther twenty meters (5.10). Then, after a lot of weed pulling, we exposed another great pitch of 5.10+ finger crack, that dies out about thirty meters later, and ends with a couple of memorable slab moves out right to another system. We roared.

The next pitch is the crux, a finger crack out a small roof, with a pocket of crystals that is used as a salvation hold after the most difficult moves. Majo and Nacho named the pitch “el techo de las faldas” (the roof of skirts) after I had yelled out that I was wearing my skirt on the on-sight attempt.

After that there are four more quality pitches including “el paseo de los cristales” where the wall had a sea of crystals embedded in the cracks. I knew that I was in the right place when I came across this pitch. The last pitch is a strenuous slightly overhang fist crack in a red dihedral. As we were finishing the route with the last light, it started snowing upwards; time to get our butts down. We drilled a total of nine two bolt anchors to the ground.

Outdoor Activities

Skiing the Flying Dutchman in RNP

December 7th, 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, checks in with Erie, Colorado resident Joey Thompson. He is a ski patrol member at Boulder’s local hill Eldora and an AMGA Certified Rock Guide. Here is Joe’s tak on skiing the Flying Dutchman in Rocky Mountain National Park…

My partner and I had gotten up early that morning (3am) to meet up and check our equipment to make sure that it was appropriate for our activity. As we drove up to Long’s Peak trailhead we discussed our tour plans for the day leaving our options open. We pulled into the Long’s parking area turning our headlamps on and finishing our last sip of coffee. We hurried to sign in and off we went in slight jog up the trail.

In the morning we found great step kicking up the shaded couloir with my Osprey Mutant 38. The snow pack was fairly firm. We traveled more towards the shade line to find even better snow for our crampons. Clear skies in early am with light North West winds gusting mildly during the day. The temperatures above tree line remained cool.

The snowpack had strong bonding and strengthening in early morning hours. With warming weather there had been an absence of a deep re-freeze. The rapid and intense warming will decrease stability of the looming cornice above. Pin wheeling and wet sluffs were occurring on the interface between new and old snow layers. As rock faces heated, numerous ice and rock fall could be heard around the Long’s Peak area.

10:10am, Tim and I skied Flying Dutchman Couloir (50 degrees + at its steepest) near an elevation of 13310 feet, we had soft skiing conditions with really fun corn skiing at the top.

Osprey Mutant 38

Osprey Mutant 38

Melt water was running under the 40 foot 70 degree ice section on the Flying D. We set up our rappel leaving slings and rings for our technical descent. After our rappel over the ice fall, we skied to a breakable chalky crust, mixed with warm surface melt to the bottom of the Flying Dutchman couloir. We had to traverse above Chasm Lake because of the creeping cracks that were starting on the flanks of the lake.

Cloud cover rolled in as we returned to the car at 1:53pm. This wound up being my last ski day of the 2008-2009 ski season. I am now anxiously awaiting the good snow to return…

Joey Thompson
Colorado Mountain School
jthompson@totalclimbing.com

For more information about the Osprey Mutant 38 please click here.

For more information please see Joey’s bio page here.

Brand Team posts

What Will You Do To Keep Snake River Salmon Spawning?

December 2nd, 2009

There are not many issues that people can agree on. But for 20 years, a diverse coalition of commercial, sport and recreational fishing groups, outdoor industry businesses, conservation organizations, and clean energy and taxpayer advocates have joined forces to save a icon of the American West — Snake River salmon.

These fish are bad ass. Snake River sockeye have the most epic migration of any salmon on Earth — swimming more than 900 miles inland and climbing nearly 7,000 feet in elevation to spawn in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. That’s right folks — these fish do it at altitude!

So, what will you do to keep Snake River salmon spawning? Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 21, give us your best answer to that question.

How to enter:

* Answer the question by leaving a comment on the Save Our Wild Salmon Facebook page or…
* Tweet your answer with the hashtag #salmondoit on Twitter!

On Dec. 21, we’ll randomly choose who will win an Osprey Pack filled with 5 pounds of wild smoked salmon! Can’t get much better than that!

Happy Holidays!

Conservation, Product, Uncategorized

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