Archive for February, 2010
I am exhausted. My body is spent. I’m having dreams where I slip into a luxurious bed to profound sleep, and the voluminous, lined bags under my eyes would bankrupt me on US Ariways. I am in Chile and life has been full bodied, in that dark French roast, 36-28-36, dank KGB kind of way. While heading south this afternoon on the bus from Puerto Natales, I was drooling onto the pages of Craig Childs “House of Rain”. Now in Punta Arenas I am running on fumes at the Hostal Amanacer where the Internet is slow and the owner is massive, as in Ignatius from the Confederacy of Dunces – hotdog cart and all, no kidding.
I am at the end of the world, not so much born again Armageddon, but more just the tip, as in the tip of Chilean Patagonia. I was invited down to speak at the Banff Mountain Film Festival y me dije, “Sipo, por su puesto, que bacan.” (Chilenismo = “Yeah dude, of course, how cool.”) I gave my show in Spanish and showed the Sender Films “First Ascent TV” episode of climbing in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge with my brother Sean. I then played LIVE rock and roll music @ the local bar Baguales until 3am with two-bands, the 1st being an ad hoc posse of want to be’s and the 2nd a consummate power trio of head bangers called Leyendas Del Rock. We raged through Zeppelin, Kiss and Deep Purple anthems amongst other covers, don’t frown; after all we’re all covers of our parents.
At 7am the next day with brain banging, compelled by the 1st splitter weather window of the season, after more than 8-weeks of cold rain and snow, I begged out of a prior ‘con promiso’ and began the hours long bus to mini-bus to trek to Japanese Base Camp. I partnered with 27-year Chilean Tadeo Sotomayor for a glorious ascent of the Monzino route of the North Tower. He was gripped, I was impatient, and together we suffered. Back at camp, Gabriela waited with juice, crackers and her radiant smile. I passed out as Tadeo salted the pasta and Steve Schneider peppered me with stories, questions and his nervy buena honda.
The next night, back in Puerto Natales, we celebrated mass summit success, at the season party for the world’s best hostal, Erractic Rock (un muy bueno desayuno, the coolest staff and wide-open, accommodating arms). We played rock and roll again for a great thrumming audience, only this time louder, longer and with 50-liters of free beer and a few special guests. As luck would have it, another window of “buena clima” appeared the following morning and we pounced.
After only a few hours of sleep and with a “hatchet in my forehead” the journey back to advanced base camp (a natural cave with a well crafted Italian laid rock floor) worked me badly. That night, another 3-hours of sleep led to a 2:30am wakeup call of melting snow, macking oatmeal and slurping black tea. On this ascent I roped up with a badass Colombian alpinist named Sebastian Munoz for a rapid ascent of the 2,000-ft long “Bonington Route” on the gargantuan Central Tower of Paine – solid crack systems through steep flanks of red granite leading to a circuitous traverse of fractured gendarmes, snow slopes and a short lived summit party of a high-five and a “que buneo hermano”, before beginning the next half of the climb, getting the f&%k down. At dusk, feet soaked, toes numb, hands battered and bloodied we slumped atop a sloping boulder wedged amongst millions in the moraine at the base of the last two-thousand foot snow couloir, my mind reeling from a “timmyo style” festival of 5-days of rock&roll to rock to rock&roll to rock. I wanted water, food and cryogenics.
Now it’s off to meet James Q Martin and company for a descent of the Rio Baker in order to capture the epic beauty and adventure of this ancient Aysen waterway. We are documenting the trip to aid the local NGOs in their efforts to prevent the river from being dammed. Thanks Osprey for the on-going support for my projects, climbing, music and my life. I am more afraid of not living than I am of dying, for the latter is a certainty and the former a call to action in all forms and to connection with people and the places they inhabit.
Enter Mountainfilm Photo Contest: Win An Osprey Pack and Chance for Grand Prize VIP Festival Package!
You still have a couple more days to win an Osprey Talon 44! All you need to do to win is submit your photo(s) to the Mountainfilm Flickr Pool. Make sure your photo has a title and a description. The photo should represent Mountainfilm’s mission: educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.
Every week leading up to the contest, Mountainfilm will feature a photo on their blog, The Conversation. This week, they chose a photo of Beartooth Mountain Highway (above).
We chose this photo of the Beartooth Highway because it represents a critical dilemma we face in preserving beautiful landscapes and yet making them accessible to everyone. As the highway provides access to Yellowstone and has been dubbed the most beautiful highway in America, it certainly must suffer from congestion and (relatively) heavy traffic during the high season. However, it is also critical that Americans, and people worldwide, have access to such an important part of our heritage and the ability to appreciate its beauty. Thus, the image pertains to both an issue that matters and an environment worth preserving.
We know you’re no stranger to inspiring and beautiful wild places, so dig through your photos and submit one today. You could win a sweet Osprey pack and because there’s no better way to be inspired by the Mountainfilm mission than actually being there, for the grand prize they’ll be giving away a VIP festival package including lodging!
Are you Canadian or do you live in Canada? Are you a mountain bike rider? Are you thirsty for action?
Osprey Packs’ Canadian distributor is looking for 10 Canadian mountain bike riders to form the first Canadian Osprey Hydraulics Team. The lucky team members will receive one of our new Raptor hydration packs, which bring Osprey’s Hydraulics™ solutions to mountain bike riding. All we ask in return is that you use your pack during the 2010 season and blog and document your fun along the way. That’s as easy! Send us your application and show us your thirst for action between March 1st and April 30th 2010 to get a chance to put your hands on a free Osprey Raptor pack.
Information and details at www.ospreypacks.ca
Here at Osprey, we’re all about exploring wild places to find new adventures, and protecting those special places so that future generations have the opportunity to do the same. And that’s why we’re proud to sponsor Mountainfilm. Leading up to the the festival in May, Mountainfilm is launching a photo contest to capture what the mission of the event is… Check it out.
Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining. That’s our mission statement and we think it nicely captures what we’re about. We wonder what it may convey to others.
To help us find out, we’re launching a contest leading up to our 2010 festival to find photos that communicate either all or any part of our mission statement. What kind of photos do we expect to find? Anything from inspiring adventure photos to landscape shots of beautiful natural spaces to portraits of people taking action and working for positive change. The contest theme is broad because we want to see all the ways that our mission may speak to you.
As incentive to enter our Mountainfilm Photo Contest, we’re offering a chance for a little fame and fortune. Every week leading up to the contest, we’ll be featuring a photo on our blog, The Conversation. We’ll also be giving away prizes each month of the contest to photographers whose images especially resonate with us.
This month, we’re giving away three Osprey Talon 44 packs! And because there’s no better way to be inspired by the Mountainfilm mission than actually being here, for our grand prize we’ll be giving away a VIP festival package including lodging! Visit the Mountainfilm blog to learn more and check out the other sweet gear up for grabs in the coming months!
Entering is easy! To submit, upload your photo(s) to the Mountainfilm Flickr Pool. Make sure your photo has a title and a description. We look forward to seeing your work and, we hope, seeing you in May!
Joe Stock is an Alaskan adventurer, AAI guide, photographer, writer and has worked as an Osprey pack tester for many years (ala Osprey Athlete). We love Joe.
I’m nervous. Normally, mountains are just mountains. Some are huge and glaciated while others are just rocky. Add a frenzy of foreigners, a network of telepheriques, a 300-year old guiding history and the mountains suddenly become daunting to me. These are the French Alps around Chamonix. Tomorrow we’re going there.
Guiding in France is a rite of passage for IFMGA guides. Chamonix is the birthplace of mountain guiding and still sets the international standard for guides. My wife Cathy and I will base in Chamonix for the next month, taking the lifts to mountain summits for day touring, then spending two weeks hut-based in the area. I’ll take any odd work from guide friends in the area, but focus on learning the system, writing, and shooting.
The world’s finest ski tour is the second portion of our trip—the Ortler traverse in the Italian Alps. This will be a recon before I guide five customers across the Ortler for Sierra Mountain Guides.
Cathy and I are taking Mutant 38s as our main ski packs since ice axes go inside the pack while riding the telepherique. On lighter days, we’ll use the Kode 30. We have the Flap Jack and Flap Jill Mini as our townie bags.
The Osprey quiver!
Mowzers perusing the trip literature. Her favorite book is Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges – a guide for skiers by Anselme Baud. The steep skiing history has her wiskers twitching.
Cathy running at Bethany Beach, Delaware where her parents live. The east coast called this the Blizzard of 2010. Reagan International was shut down for four days from 30 inches of snow, but it looks like we’re flying out tomorrow.
Osprey Athlete Ben Clark was in Michigan for the Michigan Ice Festival. He attended as an athlete/presenter Photos courtesy Downwind Sport
Flying into Marquette, MI late on a Thursday night in February was about as exotic as my life could get. I’m a climber from Colorado and heard there was ice here, in the cold and windswept upper peninsula.Not just normal ice of course, ice that had drawn climbers to the region for a climbing festival running into its 26th year. Really???
For all the promise of cold, it was the warmth of the locals that made the trip so worthwhile. Heading out to Sand Point on Friday with Rep Bryan Kuhn and his friends, I was treated to thunker swings in a savory pillar of steep waterfall ice. We shared it with several locals, looking to experience the privacy that makes ice climbing so cherished in this region about to be inundated by weekend festivities. I was psyched to be there and happy to be surrounded by such nice people.
The weekend went really well and the Michigan Ice festival had 481 attendees. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, Event Organizers Bill and Arnie from Downwind Sports are longtime climbers and locals. The enthusiasm and commitment that it takes to learn ice climbing seemed to be innate qualities of the beginners who showed up for the clinics I would get to teach. Swinging, kicking and then finally smoothing out into climbing and hooking, the learning curve matched the motivation and it was clear that ice climbers were born both days. That is a real victory for climbing, to see all ages and body types learning about this activity that was once the realm of frozen high altitude alpinists.
That is the type of celebration of spirit any ice festival could learn from and that will have the hidden routes of Grand Island beckoning me like a siren for years to come. Most importantly I feel like I made friends and met new partners, what more could you ask for? Oh yea, there was free beer too.
Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett here, writing from Crested Butte, Colorado. Lots of time I’m training for competitions, or fighting to save our snow, but today was one of those days were I just SKIED. Not only was there stellar powder, but I was hanging with my good friends.
Gareth and Sam from Osprey had just sent me a new KODE 30 to test, so I guess I was really working hard today – right? I must say, I loved the gear compartments, the side zipper access, and its sexy look. Another test item I brought along was a jelly jar filled with coffee, wrapped in a hot pink Osprey beer Coozie. I think everyone should have one.
Great powder days like this not only remind me of why I fight to SAVE OUR SNOW (http://www.saveoursnowfoundation.org) but also it really recharges my batteries, gives my life a blissful balance, and reminds me of how damn lucky I am, especially in the wake of Haiti.
Stay posted for my upcoming competition – The 7 extreme hours of Banana, and I’ll try to dig up some good photos of my 42k skate race in a thong bikini.
Over the weekend, Telluride hosted the third stop of the Subaru Free Ski World Tour and Osprey Packs was there representing as the Official Pack of Telluride. The Tour brings top athletes to contests that go on to become the best in the freeskiing world.
Telluride’s very own Travis Wolfe took the men’s competition while another Colorado resident, Claudia Bouvier, took the women’s competition. Despite the boney areas of protruding jagged rock, these athletes took on the steeps like nobody’s business. The crowd was lively enough with falling snow, hoisting Pabst Blue Ribbons in the air and cheering on the skiers.
Among the freeski-style suits and abundance of furry dogs, Osprey’s front and center presence was strong with a tent parked in front of the base chairlift. Osprey fans and newbies alike were drawn to take a look at the hanging packs, asking questions about the features or just talking about their own Osprey packs. A demo line was on hand, allowing mountain warriors to try out our Kode snowplay series packs as well as our lightweight Talon packs; all assuring inbound skiers an experience that guaranteed ease and comfort on all runs of the day, carrying what they needed.
There was plenty of buzz surrounding a chance to win a raffle of the Osprey Vector 25 Travel wheeled luggage piece, a benefit for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. In addition to having a shot at the drawing, people stopping by the tent didn’t leave with a free hand– picking up an Osprey koozie, waterproof neck capsule, stickers, temporary tattoos or organic lipbalm! The tent was hopping!; be it munchkins drawn in for some chocolates or the local teens showing off their snowblading dance moves. With plenty of young kiddos coming up and asking questions about the packs, we know there is hope for the younger generation!
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…
January 19, 2010 – One Night (OK 2) in Bangkok
My Sojourn is still holding up well, though filthy and one of the straps got run over so it’s a little frayed, but after 18 countries and almost 5 months on the road, still doing well! It’s our second night in Bangkok, Thailand. We arrived yesterday from Macau and headed over to our hotel on Khoasan Road. If you haven’t been to Bangkok, this is an area where the crossroads of the worlds meet. Travelers from all over intermingle with locals and this street is closed off to traffic at night, lined with countless food stalls, vendors and entertainment options
We’re staying here for 2 nights before heading out to Koh Chang, an island about 350 KM southeast of here. We’ll be heading back to Bangkok on the 25th to meet up with my friends Rachel and Carla when they arrive for a 2-week visit to Thailand…Can’t wait to see you guys!
Last night we wandered around a bit and had dinner at one of the street front restaurants – I had cashew chicken with rice and Jeff had a traditional Pad Thai with (chicken???). The best part about Bangkok (besides the shopping) is the FOOD! Phenomenal Thai food at amazing cheap prices along with delicious Chinese, Japanese and other international flavors. You could eat like royalty here for less than $9/day.
After dinner we I got an incredible 30-minute foot massage for about $3.60. I will definitely be getting more of those!
Tonight, we actually tried a small Mexican food restaurant we had seen advertised. I had chips with guacamole and Jeff had tacos with (seasoned beef???). It was probably some of the best Mexican we’ve tried on this trip, but nothing compares with rolled tacos back home. Soon, soon…
Tomorrow morning we are on the bus to Koh Chang (about 6 hours plus a 20-minute ferry ride over to the island) for a few days on the beach. After crazy city time here and in Hong Kong and Macau, we are ready for a slightly quieter pace. We’re looking to stay first at Lonely Beach (great name, huh)? Then White Sand Beach.
We’re unsure about our wifi capabilities out on Koh Chang, so here are a few photos from around Bangkok. We’ll take a lot more when we are back here next week.