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Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett – EPA and Green Sports Alliance

November 27th, 2013
Alison at gala with the Statue of Liberty

Alison at gala with the Statue of Liberty

I got a surprise call the other day from the EPA/The White House asking me to speak at the Green Sports Alliance gala in NYC. My dream topic? Women, Sports and the Environment. Seeing as this opportunity was basically just that, I could only think that they must have created this symposium just for me! Osprey stepped up and helped me attend the prestigious event, where I was able to represent Osprey, myself, and also my Save Our Snow Foundation.

Transported from rural Colorado and our Holy Terror Farm, I suddenly felt underdressed mingling with NBA, NHL and NFL stars and team owners. I had thought that my all-black ensemble would fit in for “NY Casual” but apparently New York City casual involves five-inch heels, black sequined dresses, tuxedos and diamonds. At least I had my bright pink KEEN sneakers and Osprey pack, so that I looked a bit intentionally like a pro athlete?

EPA/Green Sports Alliance Gala in NYC

EPA/Green Sports Alliance Gala in NYC

I made some small talk – “and what do you do?” and got some not-so-typical answers – “I run Nike,” “I own the Philadelphia Eagles” or “I play for the Edmunton Oilers” were some typical answers. I quickly realized how high-powered the corporate executives were at this event, and became intensely excited about speaking to 500 of these impressive women the next day.

Finally I ran into a familiar face – Kimmy Fasani – Pro Snowboarder and rider for Protect our Winters (POW), and Klean Kanteen’s marketing director and POW’s executive director turn out to be my dinner seat mates.

Pro Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani with POW

Pro Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani with POW

The next day brought one of the biggest keynotes of my life – such big names, such huge corporate successes, and WOW, so many green success stories that one would think sustainability was cool and mainstream. I was super impressed by the work of the National Hockey League, not so impressed by the National Football League and blown away by Philly Eagles owner Christina Weiss Lurie who received the Environmental Leadership award for their zero-wast, 100 percent renewable-powered football stadium/team. I was honored to kick off the talk for “Women, Sports and The Environment” with my steep skiing crazy videos transitioning into how to green your business while saving money. Special thanks to Osprey for helping me get to this special speaking event! The crowd was equally inspirational and there to learn from other success stories. Maybe next year we go to The White House and present the President with our latest greatest recycled material pack? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Vote with your dollars and support companies that make products with iron-clad guarantees! The greenest pack is one that you don’t have to buy again!

Alison testing the new Carve Pack by Israel Valenzuela

Alison testing the new Carve Pack by Israel Valenzuela

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Advocacy, causes, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, travel, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

The Grandest Time

November 26th, 2013
The Colorado River carving through the Grand canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trail.

The Colorado River carving through the Grand canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trail.

“Life comes from water,” my friend Erich explained at the kitchen table over a beer. “Everywhere you look is something” he quipped, describing the lushness that fills the banks and surrounding terraces along the Colorado river as it carves through the Grand Canyon. Although Erich had made a month-long voyage through the canyon by boat before, this conversation was just 22 hours after our visit there. A journey that made an immutable impression on me as I traversed on foot from one side of the canyon to the other and then back — doing something known as a Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim.

To know something, I must dive in, get my hands dirty and commit. This was my first adult trip to the Grand Canyon so I set my bar high. Always an eager ear to listen to my river-loving friends’ tales of the months of their lives spent exploring this place, one of the seven wonders of the world, I came away with a sense that the canyon was quite large and almost guaranteed to free you from the technological and municipal tangles of daily life. It has walls that are five-to-six-thousand feet high, hidden trails that can only be reached by water and tales of explorations in rugged environments as variable as winter and summer in the same day. My friends always echoed that planning is critical to success, keeping it in check is critical to success and luck… well, that would be a part too. I had that this weekend, that was the most critical piece to my success venturing into this stunning terra firma — not for a month, but for a very long day.

At 5:06 AM in sub freezing temps on November 19th, 2013, the three of us, Erich, Heather and I, dropped over the South rim of the Grand Canyon via the South Kaibab trail. A feathery wave of warmer air softly invited us to descend into the chasm, guided by a full moon and anticipation of our long day. The trail was wide and well worn, with each foot strike powdery bursts of red dust erupted and sent a misty cloud into the follower’s headlamp beam. Massive jagged shapes — like those drawn in Dr. Seuss’s books — slowly rose above us as Gotham-esque outlines. In an hour we were warmed up and dropping 4700′ of vertical to the Colorado river minute by minute. Then suddenly it happened…”Ben” Erich exhaled from behind me “I fell.”

I knew how he felt, the day before I had stepped off a snow-covered front porch in Telluride, Co and ate it so hard. I fell directly onto my butt and took a diagonal impact across my entire lower back and sacrum to the point of some immediate swelling, bruising and an occasional pinch since then. Content to carry on and visit the canyon anyway, I iced it in the drivers seat, took some ibuprofen and figured that a six-and- a-half-hour car ride was plenty of time to determine how it would play out.

Erich Owen running through the canyonlands

Erich Owen running through the canyonlands

Unlike my klutzy self, Erich made it to the trail before going down. He caught a foot step in a powdery pocket of dust, hyperextended his right knee and sent his body hurtling forward. Starting from 8 mph and ending at 0 with a white flash and nausea, a crumpled red dust covered being barely set atop a rock is a tough place to be 5.2 miles into a 42.4 mile day. I walked 150′ back up to Erich and helped him assess the situation. His gear lay strewn about the stark landscape like a gypsy yard sale at a Phish show. The impact had been “big” and he sat on a rock, reeling from mild shock.

“Man, what do you think?” I said. “I think I blew my knee and I’m seeing white” he said. Ughhh, I thought, THAT sensation, when you have cratered full-on superman style into a pain cave, disorientation and a sense of despair so low, so ominously coursing through every inch of your body that retching is all that sounds good. Erich was going to need a few minutes to recover, then we would see where he was at. He is a strong dude with a solid chassis.

In a little time, Erich shuffled to his feet and walked 100′ downhill and it was clear that he could move, but rather than take that as a sign to continue, he wisely chose to use his energy to get himself out of the canyon less injured. He was finished. We both knew Heather, tactfully descending somewhere above us, would be a solid back up as she was doing a burly 14 mile day with 9400′ in vertical change, turning around at the bottom of the canyon and heading back up. I cleaned his shades, put his visor back on him and said good bye with his confidence I could still complete the day alone.

Off I went into the dark maw until dawn. I crossed the Colorado river and arrived at my first water break at Phantom Ranch some seven miles, 4700′ of descent and two hours into the day — a slow setup to a long sustained effort. Forty extra minutes of darkness and low temperatures were absorbed in the scenario above and it was important to cruise with a little urgency in the cool morning up a 6200′, 14.2-mile climb to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had time thanks to the early start and I wasn’t bothered at all about being off schedule, just aware that the sun would be up soon. I took off from Phantom Ranch after hastily replacing the half liter of fluids I had consumed and had a nice time running a little harder on the North Kaibab trail’s lower reaches and seeing the life Erich had spoken about, the life that comes from water in the depths of such a stark and craggy stack of monoliths.

As I strode through a broad section of opening valley, a hole burst in my hydration reservoir, right at the bottom of the pack and like that, at mile 13 — I had potentially blown this attempt. I had fumbled around in my pack in the dark and placed a sharp object too close to the durable plastic. When I filled the bladder to capacity at Phantom Ranch it put too much pressure on it. My jacket, gloves and two McDonald’s cheeseburgers were soaked in an orange solution of gatorade and fresh water. I was super pissed, this was my fault and now jeopardized successfully completing the traverse to one rim, making running back to the other nearly impossible.  All I had left were two gels, three blocks, one granola bar and 29 miles to stretch it out.

 

It goes on and on for days, huge craggy spines and monolithic structures a scale unlike any I'd ever seen!

It goes on and on for days, huge craggy spines and monolithic structures a scale unlike any I’d ever seen!

I have not had an episode like this in a while, where a total meltdown could be so imminent, with nearly no solid food and no water or way to carry water. I was in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, six miles from people in one direction and going to have to pull off 22 more miles with what I had with only two chances for mere sips of water in between. This was a moment for contemplation as a bright wave of sunlight slowly pushed silhouttes of the enveloping 5000′ canyon walls down into the valley and soaked into my bare shoulders for the first time.  I made my decision and went for it; I like to finish things, and figured that if had to hike out to conserve energy — I would, I could — even if it meant going into darkness.

This was my sixth “ultra marathon” distance run. I went into it expecting to just cruise it, albeit with a partner, food and water.  I had strategically wanted to run hard from miles 21.2 to 35.4 for training, but other than that, I had no real goals other than finishing before dark and having a nice day on the trail with some friends. This was not a race, it was a day out. I had never set foot on a trail in the Grand Canyon so it felt like I should allow time for photos as well, you know, like a tourist. But now this, a chance for an epic draw on my deepest reserves instead became part of the experience. I hadn’t explored that kind of distance totally alone before and this was my last run before a mandatory prolonged break for a few weeks in between seasons.

The trail leading toward the North rim of the Grand Canyon

The trail leading toward the North rim of the Grand Canyon

Without belaboring the point or disrespecting the canyon, I will say the eight miles and 6200′ of uphill in the sun were hard with no water! As I neared the top and mile 21.2, I felt the pangs of desperation uncoiling from within and sequestering my brain to intervene and stop this messy attempt if I saw anyone at the parking lot. When I arrived, there in the frost-covered shade of a stone-planted National Park sign were three spigots of water I had planned on seeing. I strolled up, tried all three and not a trickle flowed. “Shit, no water, oh man, it’s over,” I thought! I sat down, it was cold, my clothing was soaked in my pack and I sort of zoned out and was trembling from the still, cool air in the shade. Moments later, a trio of climbers I passed on the way up appeared and I asked them if they had any disposable water bottles. They gave me a fresh 24 oz. water bottle that I opened and chugged.  Damn I was lucky. Flat out, that gesture took this from being the longest day ever to the longest day on empty.

I crammed the awkwurd bottle in my pack and had revitalized my hydration to a manageable point that could be recovered. Cramping in my side due to dehydration and the fall off the porch from the day before inspired me to jog down the trail a little easier until it abated and soon the trail was flowing singletrack and a river ran nearby. I was never afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it and even got to push the 14 mile section I wanted to, not a ton, but enough to feel like I really “ran” the rim to rim to rim.

By mile 35 I had been through everything, I had lost my partner, my water, my solid food– but I gained the confidence I needed to carry forward and I took a chance that paid off because of luck. As I sat at Phantom Ranch the second time passing through, seven miles and 4700′ below the South Rim in post lunchtime sun, I wiped my salt covered face off with a wet handkerchief. Autumn’s golden foliage flowed from side to side and I sat undisturbed at a drinking water spigot outside the ranch’s canteen for nearly a half hour. Wow, I thought, it’s nice to sit down for a moment and reflect at the actual lowpoint of this trip. I had almost totally crossed this huge feature on foot with the bare minimum and couldn’t really complain about anything. It was all working out, just with some readjusted expectations. I was fast enough to get it done and slow enough to see it for an experience and not just an achievement, it was real and not just a blur.

Boaters portaging at Bright Angel landing below the suspension bridge at the base of the South Kaibab trail.

Boaters portaging at Bright Angel landing below the suspension bridge at the base of the South Kaibab trail.

With this in mind, I departed down trail to the Colorado River and stopped to observe portaging boats as they made their way to and through the beach at Bright Angel campground in the midst of their own three-week journeys through this magnificent feature — the same journey my river-loving friends were always bating me with. I thought about how still and tranquil it must have felt for them at times and how glad I was at the time to know my compressed journey was almost done and it was long before sunset. I was ready to head back to the world to friends and family.

Ascending out of the valley and up the South Kaibab’s 4700′ trail winding through dreamscape and postcard views, I soaked up the last of my water, an 80 calorie espresso flavored gel and just plodded along on empty. In perfect light above wild steppes and crumbling mountainsides carved out of a vastness so immense, I could understand now that which can only be understood after 42.4 miles and 22,000′ of elevation change in a place. My expectations were totally vanquished, I couldn’t help but revel in the sheer magnificence of this iconic National Park and at the same time still obsessively eyeball every 10th of a mile on my GPS watch until the end — about 54 in a row on the grueling return uphill. There is no way to come here and say it should be called, “pretty big canyon” or “yeah that’s a nice canyon.” This thing is the definition of Grand to the core. The running part, totally secondary.

The final four-tenths of a mile at the top were steep but Heather and Erich were there cheering as I approached the end of my first journey through the Grand Canyon. With sunken eyes and waning energy I was thankful for hearing their voices, the jug of water they handed me… and sitting down. Life comes from water, sharing a few sips and scanning the horizon for the last rays of the sun dappling the many features of the sterile and parched upper canyon, life indeed was coming back.

Some of the steps in the final miles of the Rim to Rim to Rim crossing.

Some of the steps in the final miles of the Rim to Rim to Rim crossing.

adventure, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Life, travel , , , , , , , , , ,

Watch: Afghan Cycles Trailer

November 19th, 2013

“Nothing is possible without the participation of females today.”

In Afghanistan, females riding bikes is still considered taboo, and is hardly considered a given right. But some brave women are working very hard to change that by way of the Women’s National Cycling Team of Afghanistan. From Vimeo:

“Afghan Cycles introduces the first women to ride bikes in the country, illustrating the gender and social barriers that the team is breaking, one pedal stroke at a time. Highlighting 4 of the 12 teammates, we look at their lives on and off the bike. From training on dangerous trucking highways to following them through a typical day in Kabul, the film shares the intimate story of these brave and passionate young women who feel free when they are on their bikes in an otherwise oppressive culture.”

Check out the trailer for this short documentary film above, and take a minute to peruse the new Afghan Cycles website too.

Active Lifestyle, Advocacy, Bike, causes, International, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, video , , ,

What a Difference a Year Makes

November 18th, 2013

The Dolfin arch of Rodellar, Spain. I tried a route right on arch. Beautiful hiking all over the place as well.

What a difference a year makes. Last November Jasmin and I were on a ‘working’ vacation. Now don’t get me wrong, free climbing El Cap was a dream come true for us, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was the hardest thing I have ever done in terms of athletic endeavors. I have done big days in the mountains on skis, rock and ice, but the sheer labor involved in free climbing a big wall for five days with diminishing sleep and a taxed body is a huge mental and physical struggle. I think combining that trip after a summer of desperately rebuilding the family business after storm damage, followed by an ankle joint infection requiring surgery, and then six weeks later destroying my knee led to one of the hardest years of my life. I had great friends and family through it all, and money was never a stress so there is a lot to be thankful for because at the end of it all was the muy tranquilo Spanish climbing vacation that Jasmin and I so desperately needed.

After a spring and summer of rehab, which is every bit mental as it is physical, I feel like I am finally firing on all climbing cylinders again. September saw me get oh-so-tantalizingly close to my sport climbing five-year project. Even though I didn’t send it, I did better than I ever had before, on my hardest route ever, which to me means that I was back from injury better than ever. The new and improved Evan, I hope!

Yours truly having fun while following the outrageous steeps.

Yours truly having fun while following the outrageous steeps.

So with that mentality Jas and I left for seven weeks of clipping bolts in Spain, specifically Rodellar and Terradets, two well-known destinations in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Tons of tufas drip and dangle from the overhanging walls, teasing us desperately toward the top of 30-40m endurance climbs. If steep, fun sport climbing, with five star hikes on your days not climbing is your thing, then it’s time to head to Spain.

Chris and Heather following us up the famous Riglos climb "Fiesta de los Biceps"

Chris and Heather following us up the famous Riglos climb “Fiesta de los Biceps.”

Overall, the quiet Spanish towns are friendly and chill, which was a huge contrast to spending two days in Barcelona. I know we are not city people, but the homelessness and unemployment of Spain didn’t hit until we got to the city. 25 percent unemployment is high, and crazy enough is the fact that youth unemployment is 50 percent! A quick trip to the city made me thankful for all we have; jobs, homes, friends, family and health. At home I feel as though there is so much opportunity and support for me to pursue my passions.

Riglos, Spain. Home of the wildest sport multipitch climbs any where I know of. Long approach too ;)

Riglos, Spain. Home of the wildest sport multipitch climbs any where I know of. Long approach too ;)

So we continue to climb until we can’t hold on any more on some of the best rock we have ever touched. Staring off and wandering through the beautiful country side, enjoying local artisan breads, cheeses and produce. The simple life of eating, sleeping and climbing is being extra appreciated right now with the final countdown of just a few weeks to 17 hour work days and bottomless powder. Now and in the busy winter to come I will surely be loving exactly where I am and what I am doing and who I am doing it with! Except of course for the four days that I have to sit in a classroom to re-certify my first aid!

 

Just another ancient Spanish town on a cliff above some amazing canyons.  Alquezar, Spain

Just another ancient Spanish town on a cliff above some amazing canyons. Alquezar, Spain

 

 

 

Active Lifestyle, adventure, International, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities, Travel , , , , , , ,

Osprey Radial 34 on Urban Velo

November 15th, 2013

DSC_9640-200x300

We’ll start this post out by saying on big, huge, giant thank you to all of those editors, bloggers and journalists out there who write reviews of Osprey Packs. We’re excited every time we see a new one, and we treasure your opinions. Every once in a while, we come across a review that strikes us — and we like to share those to make sure they get read as much as possible! This one in particular comes from Urban Velo, written by Urban Jeff. First of all, he says this:

I’ve yet to find a need for their All Mighty Guarantee, which seems to be one of the best in the outdoor industry, but it’s refreshing to know that my pack is covered for life.

And he continues…

One thing many companies try to accomplish but fall just short of is creating a backpack that allows air to pass between you and your pack. Osprey’s AirSpeed backpanel does this better than any pack that I’ve ever used. It uses a combination of stretched mesh which rests against your back and a curved, rigid panel with contoured padding to hold the pack away from your back. The packs main straps are also made with mesh and perforated foam to increase ventilation without sacrificing comfort.

And tops it all off with…

The size M/L Radial 34 measures 22″ x 15″ x 12″ and weighs just under 3 lbs. With such a lightweight design you might suspect its durability, but as I said earlier, Osprey packs are built to last. My Talon pack has been ridden hard and put away wet for years, seen its share of brambles and tumbles, and save for a smattering of mud stains, it’s still every bit as good as the first time I put it on my back. I have no reason to expect anything less from the Radial 34.

Here at Osprey, we’re incredibly proud of the product we provide — and we appreciate any and all feedback we get on that very product. With all of that said, here’s one last huge thank you and cheers to a great write-up!

Active Lifestyle, Bike, Gear Review, Osprey Culture, Pedaling Change , , ,

Free to Roam

November 15th, 2013
Ben Clark running the last steps to the summit of 13,432' Oscar mountain outside Ophir, Co.

Ben Clark running the last steps to the summit of 13,432′ Oscar mountain outside Ophir, Co.

I don’t think I could be a mountaineer without traveling the world, and vice versa. For me the freedom to roam in the mountains in any way I want feels natural, like a “given.” I don’t mean to say that I can do anything I want physically, I’m referring to the opportunity to explore anywhere within reason or without one at all! I am grateful to be an American and to have the privilege of that freedom. If there is a mountain somewhere I want to climb — I can probably at least try it — almost anywhere in the world. So I travel.

One of the lessons I learned traveling was that in other countries, the U.S. stands out, and not just because of our extensive national park system. There were people out there who were so psyched on the U.S. that they would volunteer to die for it — no questions asked. I will always recognize that in our homeland, one of my best friends is one of those people and we grew up near Ft. Campbell, Ky.

My friend Don is a steady badass, and has been since we were 13. He is a helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard and an engineer in Atlanta, Ga. He’s a classic alpinist basing out of the hinterlands of mountain hope in the South and clawing up ice climbs in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia during the winter. After growing up together in Tennessee, Don and I were “all in” on the mountains for a few solid years and notched many adventures in our 20s in Colorado and one sleepless Mexican volcano trip. Two college dropouts — from architecture school and aeronautical engineering — we marched steady toward our dreams.

Don (left) and me on top of 14,005' Huron Peak in 2002. We are celebrating our Tennessee heritage in "special hats" before cutting loose and charging down the mountain.

Don (left) and me on top of 14,005′ Huron Peak in 2002. We are celebrating our Tennessee heritage in “special hats” before cutting loose and charging down the mountain.

Climbing peaks sometimes requires a soldier-like mentality; those who cope with fear are generally successful as long as they have tactical skills and luck. Many times when we were younger we talked about the balance between death and “getting the most out of life.” Six months after becoming a Dad, I sent Don an article contemplating some legitimate concerns regarding risks and the types of environments I was negotiating in 2012, Don got it and deadpanned:

“I will always love mountains, even in light of their ability to strike down the sturdiest of souls. I enjoy exercising my body in an environment that is set to the scale of my mind. Living and climbing in Colorado during my early 20s fueled my ability to pursue academic and professional accomplishments that I once thought were unattainable.

Four years ago I took an oath which affirmed that I would put myself in harm’s way for the greater good of our Nation. I would not have been able to take that oath had I not previously put myself in harm’s way for my own self-validation and pure enjoyment. In my own mind, from now on it might as well mean something.”

Don would go to war and die so we could visit the mountains if he had to. I’m not sure how I feel about war or death, but I know how Don feels about our country and I appreciate him even more because of it.

We are here today enjoying what we do because of sacrifices others have made. Ultimately it is up to us all to move ourselves forward remembering that sometimes others gave their lives and that we are the product of the freedom they are protecting. I did the edit on the video below and hope that you will take a moment to learn about Wear Blue: Run to Remember for those who serve our country and protect freedoms as innocent as being able to go outside. Remember those who protect our freedom, they are risking something for us that we should forever be grateful for.

 

adventure, Advocacy, Osprey Athletes, video , , , , , ,

What’s in Your Pack? Yackle Brothers Raptor

November 12th, 2013

So, you’ve got the perfect pack for your next adventure in hand. But this very fact has you wondering what the crucial items you need to carry might be. Fret no more! Our Osprey athlete  What’s in Your Pack? video series will give you the expert advice you need to be sure you’re dialed for that next adventure. In this month’s video, champion cross country mountain bike Osprey Athletes Jake and Nye Yackle show us what they keep in their packs for long rides.

Check out the second installment of this exciting series – and never be afraid to ask What’s in Your Pack?! We’ll have a new video each month to help you see what our Osprey athletes are packing.

 

Active Lifestyle, Osprey Athletes, video, What's in Your Pack? , , , , ,

The Adventures of Osprey and the White Rim

November 11th, 2013
About to drop in to the White Rim Trail

About to drop in to the White Rim Trail

With snow beginning to fly and temperatures plunging, our cycling season in southwest Colorado is coming to an end. Of course, there is still riding to be done by the lunatics that get out in the snow on their fat bikes and the hard men and women who suffer through frigid temps on the their cyclocross bikes, but the rest of us are packing away the bike gear and dusting off the skis or snowboards. As a Colorado native, I have been through this annual ritual plenty of times, as have most of my Osprey co-workers. This year it was a little harder to let go so we decided to celebrate a terrific year of biking by going out with a bang. The “bang” being a company-sponsored three-day journey around the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park. The White Rim is an iconic ride that circles the Island in the Sky on a mesa above the Colorado and Green rivers in southeastern Utah. Overall distance for the loop is a bit over 100 miles and with the exception of a few relatively short, hard climbs, elevation change is minimal. The lure of riding the White Rim for us was as much about the scenery, camping and camaraderie as it was the actual riding. One person in our group compared the ride to a river trip for cyclists, which is a perfect correlation.

The Osprey trip started on Thursday night where we all convened for dinner at the Moab Brewery and then headed to a campsite near our ride start point. There was definitely some nervous anticipation among those who were on their maiden White Rim voyage. Those of us who are veterans of the trip were constantly bombarded with questions of, “How far is it again?” and “How hard is the trail?” Our team consisted of a mixed crew of riders ranging from experienced riders, to bike commuters who hadn’t spent much time on the trails, but we had confidence that all would come out the other side with flying colors.

After a quick breakfast and some gear shuffling on Friday morning, we started the ride. A few miles of rolling pavement on the highway served as a perfect warmup. Conditions were stellar when we finally turned onto the dirt road and approached the steep Schafer switchbacks dropping off of the Island. The route we would be riding could be seen for miles in the distance and hundreds of feet below us. The thrill of standing atop the mesa at Schafer and seeing the trail drop down the canyon walls, knowing that you will be down there in a matter of minutes, was pretty special. Once everyone was safely down the descent, we naturally settled into smaller groups and rolled on our way, stopping occasionally to soak in the postcard views.

Each day would be a repeat of riding the rolling terrain while straining to maintain a focus on the route without becoming too distracted by the amazing rock formations, towering cliffs, distant mesas and snow-covered LaSal mountains. Multiple stops along the way for sightseeing and adventure broke up the riding segments. Landmarks such as Musselman Arch, White Crack, Murphy’s Hogback and the Holman Slot Canyon were not be missed and we made sure to spend some time enjoying the spectacular landscapes of this region. An exploration down the Holman Slot Canyon resulted in non-stop laughter as we struggled to climb back out of the slickrock canyon. The group up top had a rope and gear to get us out if needed so we were never in real danger, but instead we took on the challenge of an unaided egress.

Afternoons and evenings were a highlight as everyone reconvened at camp. We settled in to celebrate the day’s ride with cold beers, hot food and great story telling. It is amazing how good everything tastes when you have been on the bike all day! Everyone got to learn a little bit more about the people they work beside every day without the distractions of ringing phones, email and text messages. The skies remained perfectly clear making the stars and moon so bright, we barely even needed headlamps.

After three days of riding and two nights of camping, we ascended our way back off of the White Rim and up the intimidating Mineral Bottom switchbacks. Looking up these switchbacks from the bottom was as awe-inspiring as looking down the Schafer switchbacks the first day. The difference is we had to claw our way up these instead of joyfully speeding down. Eventually, each rider celebrated his and her own personal success and reached the upper rim to the cheers of those ahead of them. We laid out one last, well deserved spread of food and basked in the joyous feeling of a mission completed. Even though it was late on Sunday and we all had to drive for a few hours to make it back for work on Monday, it was obvious that no one was really in a hurry to leave. Our legs were tired and we hadn’t showered for days, but I am almost sure that given the opportunity to keep riding and do the whole thing over again, every person would have jumped on their bike and ridden off into the sunset for another lap.

 

 

 

adventure, Bike, Osprey Life, Southwest Colorado , , ,

This is Not Mozambique: The Lost Mountain Postponed Until Spring

November 6th, 2013

This is not Mozambique… (Climbing with Ray Rice at Shell Pond Maine on the day I was supposed to be landing in Malawi.)

It’s November 6th. I should be traveling overland from Malawi to Mozambique. I should be squished in a long base truck with my team alongside duffels of climbing gear, insect specimen nets and enough food for fourteen people for twenty-one days. I should have my face pressed against the window with my eyes open wide saying Oooh! See that? and pointing out beautiful granite dome after beautiful granite dome to my climbing partner Kate while she does the same from the other side of the truck.

But we are not en route from Malawi to Mozambique today. We aren’t because at 7 AM on Sunday, October 27th, we awoke to news of another incidence of violence in central Mozambique. The day before, a civilian convoy of three vehicles was attacked and one person was killed. It was horrible news for families of the person killed and those injured, for the people in the Sofala region and for the country of Mozambique. Tensions had been escalating in Mozambique in the week leading up to our scheduled departure and we’d been monitoring the situation extremely closely. Following the news on Sunday morning, and in light of the rising unrest and expectations of continued escalation heading into the upcoming elections on November 20th, we made the very difficult decision to postpone the project until May/June 2014. Our cinematographer Q was at the airport check-in counter when we made the call. All of the other U.S.-based members of our team were within 4-6 hours of take off.

James Q Martin, Lost Mountain Cinematographer, Ready to go… back home for now.

Coordinating a 14-person international team is never easy. But deciding that the safety of that team comes first is very easy. In the week since our decision, tensions have continued to rise with new incidents daily, including several in the towns that our Conservation Team LUPA would be traveling through en route to join us from Maputo. We — and the majority or Mozambique and the world — hope that the people of Mozambique keep the peace they have worked so hard to maintain. Most expectations point to a resolution in the time following the upcoming elections. We have chosen to postpone until May/June as that will be at the end of the rainy season and during a time when our science team can do its best work — i.e. find the maximum number of bugs and other creepy crawly things. We will continue to monitor the situation in the meantime and are in daily contact with partners and advisors in Mozambique.

It’s now been just over a week since we didn’t start our trip. It’s been just long enough to go from the shock of the decision to the excitement about what we can create with a touch more time to plan: additional scientific specialties, new collaborations and more connections and possibilities discovered every day. It’s also been just enough time to have unpacked my bags, and repacked them. 75% of what was in them is unique to the Lost Mountain. They are ready and waiting in my basement for spring.

Keep up with #LostMountain at http://www.thelostmountainfilm.com/

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