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4 Million feet of climbing, The higher you get the higher you get!

January 28th, 2013

I had re-started my watch after last year’s previous million vertical feet. I wasn’t too concerned about going for it again.

Later in the season, I was up in Kelowna mountain biking with my brother, when he asked me “Are you going for another million”? As I looked at my watch, I was aloof, but all of a sudden something in me ignited. I got motivated. I did some quick calculations. Well, I wouldn’t say quickly. I actually had to grab a calculator. I was at 750,000 with only two months to go. I would have to average over 5,000 feet per day for the next two months. If I was this close I might as well keep going, right?

In the past on the bigger mountains I had a bad attitude and when I didn’t feel like it, I would bag it. So I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Yes, it was going to be hard and boring, and motivation would be low in the fall with less daylight and usually less snow. But the snow soon arrived with a vengeance and I was ready to rock.

Along the way you can’t help but ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Where’s my lift pass”? But then you have those moments when you push on whether it’s raining or dark, where you find that flow state and start begging for more. That happens when you push through the pain and pressures in life and live in the moment; a moment you can only achieve through human powered travel. When it’s your tenth lap and the temps cool, the weather clears, and all of a sudden you are skiing knee deep pow when everyone went home, you know you were there for the moment because you were in the cycle.

The streak was still alive! I compared it to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks game playing streak for some extra motivation. Like they say, it’s not the end result but the journey that counts.

I’ve been given the nickname Andy Gump for my obsession with traveling uphill. But as much as I enjoy the climb, it still really is about the down. It just feels more rewarding when you have to work to get there.

As in life, people will make fun of you for you doing something against the grain; like skinning up a run when they are skiing down. If I was a kid, I probably would have done the same thing. Not every day are the conditions right for backcountry travel due to snow stability.

Sometimes this game even leads me to where there’s no snow and I’m skiing on rocks. That was the case when I was visiting family in the Okanagan, so I had to make the most with what I had. There wasn’t really a dedicated backcountry zone, so I was relegated to doing short laps on Kelowna mountain with a 40 cm base. Now that tested the motivation!

In the end you have to follow your passion and enjoy being outside. I want to be out there every day, so I try to make it happen. This is where I truly feel alive and free.

Hopefully my 4 million feet motivates somebody to get out there and get off the couch, be it by climbing ten feet or riding the bike to the corner store.

Be calm like water, roll with the punches. Sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride.

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adventure, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities , , ,

Osprey Viper 13 Review by Canadian Cycling Magazine

January 26th, 2013

We’re thrilled when publications we know and love give us great shout-outs. As such, we’re sharing this excellent review from our friends over at Canadian Cycling Magazine. It’s short, sweet and to the point. Check it out and read the following write-up that accompanies the vid:

Gear editor Gus Alexandropoulos talks about the Osprey Viper 13. The hydration pack is perfect for long trail rides. It has plenty of pockets including three outer mesh pouches and a small upper pocket for your cellphone and wallet. The total carrying capacity is 13 l. Three of those litres can be taken up with water in the hydration bladder. It’s made of stiff plastic so it retains it shape, making it more comfortable against your back. The bladder has a large opening for filling and cleaning. The bite valve has a magnet that attaches it to the chest strap to keep everything from flapping around as you bounce down singletrack. For apres-ride, hang your helmet from the “LidLock,” a clip at the top of the pack.

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Bikes Around the World, Lane Love, video , , ,

Beauty and the Beast

January 25th, 2013

The spray of liquid magma burst into the night sky. Mt Etna was erupting, as she does once roughly every two months, and we were skiing under the orange glow of her latest paroxysm.

In early February 2012, a promising Italian snow forecast had us chasing a storm to Sicily, an island on the Mediterranean Sea. While much of the U.S. languished in a dry early winter, Europe was being blasted by heavy snowfall and Italy was deep in the weather pattern. With a lofty goal of ski exploration on Sicily’s notorious active volcano, Etna, our team thought it best to aim for winter-like conditions.

With the promise of powder, we booked tickets and landed two short days later in the coastal Sicilian city of Catania. Geographically, Sicily is the soccer ball to Italy’s boot. Assembled at the airport, we had a vague plan of action. On assignment for Salomon Freeski TV, filmmakers Nick Waggoner and Zac Ramras, photographer Grant Gunderson, and Salomon freeskiers Elyse Saugstad and I loaded into a white minivan and drove out of the city and up towards the volcano.

Reigning above numerous fragile, cozy old towns, Mt Etna basks in a sea breeze that wafts over its small, scattered cones, jagged igneous black-rock ridges, and wide, fluted flanks. Steep, rocky lines run down parts of her face along with miles of more benign terrain to descend. Topping out at almost 11,000 feet, Etna’s high position provides unobstructed views of the coastline, which blend seamlessly into the olive groves and vineyards dotting the landscape.

The quaint Sicilian town of Nicolosi was our home for the next 10 days. From the lower vantage point we admired the mountain, scoped our dream lines, and we waited. Each morning we were greeted with unpredictable weather and the repercussions of an eruption that included turbulent cloud cover, and low visibility for skiing on her relatively blank, high-alpine expanse. Café-bound, we sipped our espressos, snacked on arranchinas (popular rice cones & balls served hot with a variety of inner ingredients) and waited for sunshine and clear windows to explore the vast terrain and the best ski lines on the active volcano.


We quickly realized we had to accept Mt Etna at her best and her worst. She threw out strong winds, thick fog, serpent-like clouds, and serious eruptions. She rumbled, coughed, spit, and spewed volcanic bits, with lava flow and liquid magma sliding down her slopes. We inhaled and skied ash debris but also enjoyed a few short sunny, clear stretches with a steady refresh of white snow from the constant storm cycle.

With slow access via an ancient gondola, creaky chairlifts, and struggling pomas, we got a gradual boost up 740 meters of hillside. Passionate locals joined us in gondola line each morning with their short carving skis and big smiles. Pouring out of the cabins, we warmed-up with the Sicilians on a few of the groomed options at one of Etna’s two ski resorts.

After sampling the mellow in-bounds terrain, our team headed into the backcountry. Though there is easy access to ski tour and explore the many additional acres of more challenging off-resort offerings, there is absolute solitude. We had any line we chose all to ourselves.

As we ventured across Etna’s broad landscape, we crossed high ridgelines that protected hidden valleys of rocky couloirs, mini-volcano cones, and small amphitheatres with mini-golf-like terrain. Dropping off one sastrugi-ridden ridge to the West, we skied wind-buffed corridors and then toured back up and skied corn back to the resort. Checking out the Volcano cones, we set a hard edge on each icy turn on the windward slopes and then skied packed powder on the leeward. Skiing into the craters was almost always soft as the sun reflected heat into the white belly of their inner bowls. We got a taste of everything.


One evening as the setting sun cast luminous colors over the horizon and the volcano erupted behind us, Nick turned to us and asked, “Should we hike up and get some ski shots next to the lava?”

Elyse and I looked at each other, then looked at Nick, and said, “No, thanks.”

Though there were many cultural highlights, we were there to ski. When the visibility was poor up high, due to Etna’s unusually deep snowpack during our visit, we were able to find good alternative options. We ducked into heavily wooded hillsides off the winding road up to the resort. From a skier perspective, the forests needed some pruning, but we found tight alleyways and fun, smooth powder skiing under the protected canopy of the towering trees.

The tempestuous visit was a beautiful and healthy reminder that nature is very, very close. Etna was in charge and we were on her agenda. After ten days of patience, waiting, and unusual skiing adventures on Etna’s flanks, our U.S. team “Magma” was provided with a couple of lessons: don’t book a ticket to Etna for a storm, and Sicily is beautiful but Etna can be a tricky beast.

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adventure, Osprey Athletes , , , , , ,

Variety is the Spice of Farm Skiing

January 23rd, 2013

Two nights ago it was so cold that a giant pack rat froze to death in the middle of our barn. 2013 has been frigid and snowy here at Holy Terror Farm in Paonia, Colorado. In between feeding and watering chickens, dogs and cats, we are harvesting carrots and cilantro, and sneaking in as many types of skiing as possible.

For the sake of saving our snow, in 2001, I willingly gave up heliskiing (even free trips) and in 2005 I sold my snowmobile. 2010 was my first year ever without a ski pass, getting just one step closer to the all-human-powered skiing dream. Now that Crested Butte seems like a distant dream, I have new skiing challenges, not as gnarly but potentially more fulfilling.

Skiing here in the peach fruit-belt of Colorado, nestled down low at a mere 6,000 feet is better than many would think. Our farm borders the Grand Mesa, home to Powderhorn Resort and backs up to the West Elk Mountains on the backside of CB. Most days I find myself clicking into my Rando Race skis and tromping off into the mountain lion-infested surrounding BLM lands; adventure skiing at its best! I credit my two Akbash livestock guardian dogs for keeping me alive these past three years.

On low snow days, I opt for nordic skiing – either classic up Stevens Gulch, or skate up toward Electric Lodge. Always an ass-kicker for getting in shape or turning the most benign hill into a double black on the descent!

The original fat skis were most likely invented by the Chinese in the Altai over 3,000 years ago. My friend Nils was so enamored by these skis and this utilitarian system that he is now designing, manufacturing and selling a version of these in North America.

I’ve yet to ski on these gorgeous fatties, but I did order the ones that can fit on all types of boots, just like they use in Asia – that way I can use them for hunting, hauling water, and back-40 adventure epics. I can use them with my ski boots, my irrigation boots, or have my mom use them for ski-shoeing in her KEEN hikers.

I’m not sure I’ll be hucking big cliffs in these babies quite yet, but there is something so appealingly primal about this style that grabs me. The built-in skins are a super bonus, and glide downhill almost like a regular ski.

While I’m not yet trading in my rocketed Armada VJJ’s, I’m thrilled with yet another sliding apparatus that I can incorporate into my everyday life, just like our wintery ancestors would have done. It is also wonderful to think that skiing can be made available to more income levels and can be done in the backyard. It brings me even closer to divorcing myself from the consumerism of today’s ski resorts.

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adventure, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities, photos, Southwest Colorado, Uncategorized , ,

Getting Back on Track

January 21st, 2013

Starting the 2012-2013 winter season has been a huge personal battle for me. First, our beautiful backcountry ski lodge at Valhalla Mountain Touring was trashed in a storm, requiring a huge renovation (thankfully covered by insurance!). Then when November ended and you last heard from me after climbing El Cap, I came down with a sudden and severe staph infection of my ankle joint. Weeks of home IV treatment and arthoscopic surgery kept me on the couch for almost five weeks wondering if this ski season would even happen.

Well, it has happened, and I think I am more thankful than ever to be shredding the home turf cold smoke. But enough chatter, let the moving images show you what has been going on!

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America Moves to Make More Bike-Friendly Housing

January 19th, 2013

If you’ve ever lived in a less-than-deal apartment for the sake of saving a buck or for reasons related to an expedient break-up/move-out situation, you understand how hard it can be to find a fantastic place to store your most prized possession: your bike. Sure, some old-school buildings offer neat nooks and crannies that you can get creative with when it comes to your two-wheeled baby. Yet in the case of a balcony-free, cramped living space, what happens to your ride?

Fortunately, that question may become obsolete as Americans begin pedaling more, prompting builders to recognize the importance of providing residents in apartments with bike storage. An article posted on The Daily Journal points out the straight facts, stating:

Bike commuting is on the rise in many cities, studies show, and as the number has grown, so has the need for bike-friendly housing.

Many apartment complexes are offering secure storage spaces for bikes. Some developers are even putting bike repair shops in apartment buildings.

The article also mentions über bike-friendly cities such as Portland and Seattle, both of which have apartment complexes that are specifically catered to bike commuters. These spots may be trendy in their new-ness, but we’re pretty certain that as more two-wheel commuters invade the streets, more bike-friendly housing options will pop up as well. Of course, we’d love to know: What are your thoughts?

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Active Lifestyle, Advocacy, Ditch Your Car, Pedaling Change , ,

Vertfest: North America’s Biggest Freeride and Mountain Mettle Festival

January 17th, 2013

Every year, Vertfest returns to Alpental, Washington as the biggest Freeride and Mountain Mettle Festival in North America. What’s more, this year Vertfest will celebrate with festivities at two locations, adding Vertfest January 19th at Mt. Bachelor near Bend, Oregon! As stated on the site, “This new venue will host a challenging course, backcountry/sidecountry oriented clinics, demos and loads of fun. Come join us at Mt. Bachelor for the first ‘series’ race in the Vertfest Series. Elite racers will earn points towards the series point total.”

The 7th Annual Vertfest in Alpental will be hosted February 16th and 17th, and will kick off on the 16th with the Monika Johnson Memorial Rally, to be followed by an awards ceremony and a raffle boasting skis, packs and gear galore. The event will also host live music from Head Like A Kite and Daydream Vacation, featuring Asya of NYC based Smooshand. On the final day of Vertfest, special guest Jessica Baker of Ski Divas and Neil Provo, professional splitboarder from Salt Lake City will be there to show their skills in clinics.

Want to experience all of the glory that Vertfest promises to be? Get your tickets here, ASAP!

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adventure, Events, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities , , , , ,

The 20th Hueco Rock Rodeo is Almost Here

January 16th, 2013

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Hueco Rock Rodeo, and Osprey is proud to be a sponsor of the event itself. The Hueco Rock Rodeo is one of the longest-standing climbing competitions in U.S. history, and although it’s undergone many changes over the years, it’s still put together by the local climbing community, and with help from organizations such as, most recently, the American Alpine Club. Every year since 1989, the Rodeo has brought together climbers of all abilities to compete in an entire weekend of climbing at Hueco Tanks in El Paso, Texas.

Year after year, the Rodeo has attracted big-name climbers from around the country. This year’s event promises an impressive lineup. Here’s the rundown, via Rock and Ice:

The long weekend this year will include the legendary Fred Nicole, who is going to be cooking pancakes to fuel everyone up Saturday morning. Paige Claassen and Abbey Smith are presenting the Inca Odyssey slideshow and Paul Robinson is premiering his movie Chasing Winter. After the comp Angie Payne will be presenting her sideshow titled, Discovering and Establishing Boulders in Greenland. The festivities Saturday will also include our 2nd Annual Art Show featuring local photographer Sam Davis and artist Vanessa Compton, our 2nd Annual Dyno Comp, and the mechanical bull, which is returning by popular demand! Also for the first time we are proud to include some of the cultural aspects of Hueco Tanks into the Rodeo, with the Rock Art Tour set up by the staff at Hueco Tanks.

This year’s event will span President’s Day Weekend, February 15th through the 17th. Here’s the full schedule of events, via the Hueco Rock Rodeo site:

Friday February 15th:

2:30-4:30 p.m. - Hueco Rock Art tour
4-8:00 p.m. - Preregistration and raffle booth open, raffle money going to the Youth Outreach Program
7:00 p.m. - Burrito dinner by Marmot & beer from Fat Tire
7:30 p.m. - Slideshow, Paige Claassen and Abbey Smith for the women’s side of the Incan Odyssey, Marmot’s 30 day expedition to develop unclimbed alpine boulders and explore a remote valley in the Peruvian Andes.
8:30p.m. - Movie Premier!! Paul Robinson presenting his movie Chasing Winter

Saturday, February 16th:
The competition will start and finish at the Hueco Rock Ranch
6:45 a.m. - Registration
6:30-7:30 a.m. - Breakfast COOKED BY FRED NICOLE!
7:00-8:00 a.m. - Participants can try on shoes to demo for the day
7-8:00 a.m. - North Mountain video will ****IF YOU ARE COMPETING ON NORTH MUNTAIN (you will be told where you are competing when you register) YOU MUST WATCH THE NORTH MOUNTAIN VIDEO—IT WILL BE SHOWING IN THE RANCH HOUSE BY A PARK STAFF MEMBER********
7:30-8:45 - Line up for shuttles to the Tanks
8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. - The 20th Annual Hueco Rock Rodeo
5:00 p.m. - The comp ends
4:30-6:00 p.m. - Shuttles leave the Park and take participants back to the Ranch
5:00-6:45 p.m. - Turn in score cards at the Ranch House
5:00-8:00 p.m. - Raffle booth open, raffle money going to the Youth Outreach Program
4:30-8:30 p.m. - Local Art work by Sam Davis and Vanessa Compton displayed and on sale in the Ranch House
6:00-8:00 p.m. - Dinner
9:00-10:00 p.m. - Mechanical Bull riding available for 1$ per ride
8:00-8:45 p.m. - Slideshow by Angie Payne on her trip to Greenland discovering and establishing new boulder problems
9:00-10:00p.m. - Dyno Comp
9:00-11:00 p.m. - Raffle prizes given away
10:00-11:00p.m. - Awards ceremony
11:-00p.m.-3 a.m. - DJ Some Homeless Dead Guy and bonfire

Sunday, February 17th Youth Comp & Clinics begin and end at the Hueco Rock Ranch
8:00 a.m. - Youth Comp & Clinics breakfast registration
8:30-9:00 a.m. - Competitors and Clinic participants can try on shoes to demo for the day
9:30 a.m. - Youth Comp competitors head into the park
10:00 a.m. - Clinics leave for the park
6:00 p.m. - Rodeo Round-up BBQ & Youth Comp prizes awarded

We hope to see you there!
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Events, Osprey Culture , ,

How the Bike Helped the Geese Cross the Road

January 11th, 2013

Why did the geese cross the road? Because they were following the bike, naturally.

We couldn’t help but share this adorable photo and equally aww-inducing story, which we found via Grist. It goes something like this: A large flock of misplaced geese were struggling to cross the road, “getting closer and closer to being hit by cars,” according to the person who took the photo above. At this point, a man on his bike came to the rescue, and led the gaggle of geese safely across the road. The geese, lured by a bag of bread that allegedly hung from the handlebars of the man’s bike, followed their mother bike to where they wanted to be, without a single casualty.

Yet another tale of the pure goodness of bikes.

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Lane Love, Pedaling Change, photos , , , ,

Winter Outdoor Retailer & a WILD Conservation Alliance Breakfast

January 11th, 2013

The cold, dark month of January is plodding along after the madness of the holidays and a New Year Celebration. And that can only mean one thing, Winter Outdoor Retailer is nearly upon us again! The show kicks off with an all mountain demo on the 22nd, and the trade show will take place from January 23rd through the 26th. Of course, we’ll be there to showcase our brand-new packs and innovations, roosting at  Booth #5011. We hope to see you there!

We’re excited for the show as always, but we’re also stoked to announce that this OR, The Conservation Alliance Breakfast will welcome the incredible Cheryl Strayed, author of the incredibly powerful memoir WILD, which details Strayed’s journey as a 22-year-old solo-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Strayed will present on Thursday, January 24th from 7 to 9 a.m. at The Marriott, Salons F-I in Salt Lake City. This is a breakfast you won’t want to miss, and we hope to see you there!

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adventure, causes, Conservation, Events, Osprey Culture , , , , , , , ,

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