VISIT OSPREYPACKS.COM

Archive

Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Long Start to the Journey: Help Osprey Ambassador Chris Gallaway share his Appalachian Trail story

January 24th, 2014
Chris Gallaway- before and after shots.

Chris Gallaway- Before the AT and after the AT.

 

Osprey Ambassador Chris Gallaway is seeking support through Kickstarter to make his a film, “The Long Start to the Journey” a reality. January 31st is the campaign deadline to support this compelling documentary about the Appalachian Trail and if the campaign does not meet its goal no funding will be collected and given to the movie.

In support of Chris’s Kickstarter campaign, we’re giving away an Exos 48 Superlight Backpack to the next donor to pledge $220. The Exos 48, our newest ultra-light technical backpack, is a masterful combination of ounce-shaving, durable materials and a feather-weight internal frame to keep you fast and comfortable on your next journey. Your pack will have a “The Long Start to the Journey” patch sewn on to commemorate your part in making this film possible. Note: We’ll need to get your unique sizing before fulfilling this reward and you must be a resident of the US to be eligible.

To support The Long Start to the Journey and learn more about the campaign, visit www.maketheATmovie.com.

To follow Chris’s journey on the trail last year, visit www.theATmovie.com.

 

Long Start To The Journey

 

A question I have often heard since completing my 7-month thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail is how the experience changed me. That’s a difficult one for me to answer, and it’s probably better addressed by people who know me well and have observed me from the outside. The images above were taken at the beginning and end of my hike (the third, cold morning in February on Blood Mountain Georgia and the last day in September as I walked down from Katahdin). While I know that these two self-portraits encompass a host of experiences and some of the most significant changes of my life, it’s difficult for me to articulate what’s different between them. Read more…

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, AT Trail, causes, Conservation, Ditch Your Car, Guest post, Hiking, Non-profits, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities, travel, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Transforming Recycled Bike Parts into Eco-Friendly Art

December 18th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 1.26.39 PM

When we read about an artist who’s creating life-size sculptures of man’s best friend out of repurposed bicycle parts, we decided pretty immediately that it was something we had to share with the world. Here’s how the magic happens:

The artist is a talented woman named Nirit Levav Packer, who collects bike parts from bike shops around Tel Aviv. Then, she solders bike parts that she collects from garages and bike shops all over Tel Aviv. According to The Telegraph article:

“The series, called HOW!WoW!, began by chance when Nirit examined some bicycle parts being thrown away at her son’s bike store, and instead of seeing them as rubbish she saw a potential to do something creative with them. Within a few months, she had left a successful career in wedding dress design for metal sculpture.”

Watch this video to understand how the Dachshund sculpture, “Sit,” came to be. Check out more of the dog artwork here and on Nirit Levav Parker’s website.

 

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Bike, Conservation, Osprey Culture, photos, video , , , , ,

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/

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

adventure, Advocacy, causes, Conservation, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life , , , , , ,

Climbing a Granite Big Wall, Discovering New Species for Science, and Starting a New Conservation Area. Aka, Going Camping.

October 24th, 2013

Tents_CIn seven days I will fly across the Atlantic, over the Sahara, toward Mozambique, and to the Lost Mountain. It has taken three years to get here—i.e. to be about to go there.

Right now I am supposed to tell you I am ready and that I know what I am doing. I’m neither.

Projects that matter take self-trickery to make happen. I never asked myself if it was really possible or a good idea to splice together climbing and science and conservation and Malawi and Mozambique and 14 individuals all trying to achieve a collective goal. I just set about doing it. Now it is happening. Which means now is when the panic of the reality sets in. Put another way, we’ve already climbed the high dive ladder, stood on the edge, and jumped off.  Now—when there is no way to go backwards—is therefore the first time when I am finally allowing myself to look at the giant body of water which I’m heading for at full speed. It’s just the way I like to do it.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 9.59.44 AMI’ve spent the majority of my life in and out of major expeditions. I was that kid who had her dolls and stuffed animals organized for imaginary camp with peanut rations and toilet paper sleeping bags. It stands to reason that I am now the adult who has the following decisions to make:

  • What percentage of the poisonous snakes which we will be around have fangs that are over ½ an inch long and thus make a case for the thicker high-top leather hiking boots versus low-tops?
  • Will deet from 2004 still work, and work well enough against malaria-carrying mosquitos? Chance it or change it?
  • Will 33 porters be obscene or accurate? And what size T-shirts do these porters wear/should we bring for gifts?
  • Is EtOH alcohol available for our scientists’ specimen vials in Blantyre, Malawi, or should they tuck it in their luggage here in the U.S. and act none the wiser?
  • If the rainy season starts early will it make any difference if I bring one rain jacket or two?

My nine-year-old niece Miranda called me yesterday evening to talk about camping. She was just back from a family trip in Northern Minnesota

“How was it?” I asked her.

“Camping is cool,” she said. I laughed and agreed.

We talked about her favorite part (waterfalls) the scariest thing (the sound the rain made on the tent) and yuckiest thing (sleeping next to her brother). Once we covered the highlights I asked her if she would do it again. “Well, yeah” she said. I think she would have said “Duh, yeah” had her mother not been listening.

“You know, Miranda,” I said, “I sort of camp for a living.”

She giggled. Usually she tells me I am silly for pretty much everything I say. This time she said “You’re lucky, Auntie Majka.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 10.09.38 AMAfter Miranda and I hung up I went upstairs and looked at the pile of climbing gear with pieces for every possible situation known and unknown, stacks of maps and research and logistics papers, rain coats and rain pants, bug nets, gaiters, sat phones, energy bars and more. This is the highest high dive off of which I’ve ever jumped. But at a certain level, it’s also camping—something I have been doing my whole life. And if camping is cool to Miranda, it’s also cool to me. After all, the thing I’m also most worried about is too much rain on the outside of the tent.

By Majka Burhardt, Lost Mountain Project director and Osprey Athlete

#LostMountain begins October 27th; Follow along at thelostmountainfilm.com

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, causes, Conservation, Events, Osprey Athletes, travel , , , , , ,

Osprey Takes on Boulder’s Backyard Collective

October 8th, 2013

Gareth–Shannon–MychalLast Thursday evening, a group of Osprey volunteers hopped into our silver Dodge mini van, loaded down with gear and clothing for what was to be a wet, snowy weekend just outside Boulder, CO, and departed for an event called The Backyard Collective.

The BYC is an effort of The Conservation Alliance, which brings together member company employees (in this case, Osprey, La Sportiva, etc.) and local grantees for a day of environmental action. Projects include trail work, invasive species removal and other opportunities for us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards.

At this event in particular, there were a few new volunteers (myself included), and we were all anxious to arrive, layer up, get our boots muddy and do our part to help the Boulder community that’s very much in need.

During the more than seven-hour drive from our Cortez headquarters, I thought quite a bit about what trail work really means — and what it would mean for me at this event. The first image that came up was of myself swinging a pickaxe on some dry single track with a weathered pair of leather gloves, sun shining on the hillside with an epic view of early high-altitude snowfall, and a deep blue sky filled with puffy clouds that seem close enough to run across. Then, I imagined, I’d break for a morning Clif bar and refill my green tin cup with a few more ounces of hot John Wayne-style coffee. Oh, I imagined, it’d sure be glorious and rewarding. That’s the definition of trail work right?

We awoke Friday to a rain-snow mix and temps in the low 30s. We sorted our way through a light morning commute toward Broomfield, made a quick stop for coffee and finally arrived at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm. After an initial meet-and-greet and a disbursement of tools, we received our group assignment and grabbed the wheelbarrows to head down the path.

Working hard

The expected turnout of 20 people was a sure underestimation of our group’s commitment to help The Conservation Alliance. I took a quick count of about 50 people dressed in Gore-Tex rain shells, with hats pulled over their ears and smiles on their faces as they huddled around the free hot chocolate.

The trails here at the farm have been closed for some time, and after our work, nearly 125,000 people will regain access to them. We worked seamlessly with great instruction — and nearly four hours later, noticed that we had created one thousand feet of new path for the locals to enjoy. Six hundred more feet was our initial task. We crushed it. My hands were sore, my back a little tight, but I didn’t quite feel exhausted or fulfilled like I had originally anticipated the week before. Hmm…

Mychal thinking hard

For myself, I think there were a few greater questions and lessons that I took away from the morning. I certainly contemplated my self-interests in the volunteer day. Why did I really sign up to help? To feel good? To get out of work for a day? It’s cliché to say ‘to help those in need’, but maybe it was just as simple as that?

The reality of the work and location was nothing like the perfect Colorado day I had imagined when I signed up and stepped away from my desk. It frankly reminded me of the days growing up in Michigan and having to help a relative with chores around their acreage. It was flat, grey and damp. Turns out, it didn’t matter.

Fueling for work

As the weekend continued in the hustle of downtown Denver, I looked around watching other’s interactions in the city, and it seemed as though our efforts began to sink in on another level. We all love nature for different reasons. Whether we’re taking a personal break from our jobs, on a vacation we’ve filled the money jar with for a few months or simply heading out of town with a group of friends to have great stories to share on Monday morning: it’s all the same.

I realized it doesn’t matter where the trail leads or what the view is. It’s a trail, which means it’s an opportunity to be outside: and it’s that simple. It’s a way to improve someone’s day whether it is used on a lunch break walk or the start of a multi-week adventure of not regularly washing your hair. Whatever the function, we took time out of our lives, our weekends, our days, to help something and someone else. Each of us is capable of, if we so choose, taking advantage of these small opportunities to positively impact the places that we love. And more importantly, help places that other people love.

Tim Calkins / Senior Graphic Designer Osprey Packs

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Advocacy, Conservation, Events, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rain

August 14th, 2013

It’s just a box of rain

I don’t know who put it there

Believe it if you need it

or leave it if you dare

Down here in southwest Colorado we have been suffering through a severe drought. In the arid west, this presents a seemingly endless cycle of cause and effect.   Ski seasons start late and end early, the low snowpack results in an early and short runoff, farmers that depend on run off and rain water cannot grow as many crops, rivers run or are drained near dry in an early and hot summer, fires rage across once fertile mountainsides burning hundreds of thousands of acres. Then fall settles in and the snow comes late and short  – and it starts all over again.

Beyond the ever-mounting and distressing environmental consequences, this cycle has a profound human and economic effect. Shortened ski seasons hurt our ski resorts and towns, contribute to poor backcountry conditions, and threaten our drinking water. Brief and low river runoffs kill the river recreation economy depended on by raft guides, outfitters and by communities through which recreational boaters provide a spark to local business. Farmers plant one less crop, hire one less hand, produce even less food for us all. And firefighters risk their lives trying to save towns who see no tourism dollars after tourists see the news of smoke, blackened hillsides and toothpick trees.

But for the past few weeks all of that has changed. It has been raining and it continues to rain. Not just an afternoon monsoon, but full days and early mornings of rain. Yesterday morning as I drove to work in a downpour, the DJ played “Box of Rain” by the Dead – no coincidence.  That set me to thinking about my relationship with rain. I grew up in Colorado where even under the best of seasons it does not rain near as much as compared to other parts of the world. 300 days of sunshine?  I’ll take it!

I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a decade where there are 20 or more terms for the different types of the stuff. I never got used to the incessant rain or its sudden and total absence in the summer months when you actually want it. I’ve spent summer months in deluge downpours in the brutal humidity of the Mid-Atlantic States. And I’ve traveled through the elderly mountains of the northeast where the rain fed forest grows so thick sunglasses are moot, even on the sunniest of days.

So as I drove through the Colorado rain I thought, it is here where I cherish the rain the most. It is a blessed event. The rain is the intermission in the three non-snow seasons (in truth, all seasons see snow here) that makes the unique attributes of spring, summer and fall so special. Finally, a monsoon season like we are supposed to have. A rain season where the San Juan Mountains vibrate when you look at them because they are so green, where the columbines look like they are on steroids, where mountain streams rage and where valley rivers turn brown with sediment from landslides. Even the high desert mesas retain their life – mesa verde, literally.

Every drop is valued. I did not feel this way in the Pacific Northwest where a week without rain produces comments bordering on panic. Or in the cold mists of Northern California. Or in the damp humid deluges of the mid Atlantic. Or within the thick Northeast forests where my eyes strain to see the sky.

Here, our normal non-drought, monsoon rainfall cycle is the bridge between the end and beginning of winter when the snow piles up and supplies the majority of our water. It is perfect. This is the place where rain and I exist together in true synchronicity.

Written by Gareth Martins, Director of Marketing, Osprey Packs

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

causes, Conservation, Osprey Culture, Southwest Colorado , , ,

Summer Outdoor Retailer Recap

August 7th, 2013

If you’ve ever gone home from OR to a partner or roommate who’s never been, it can be tough to explain just why you’re so exhausted when you return. But if you’ve ever experienced the madness, fun and fluorescent lights of this show yourself, you know that it takes about a week’s time to recover fully from the happy hours, meetings and never-ending events. Maybe you’re in the recovery phase right now; maybe you missed the show and want to know what happened. Either way, here’s just a bit of what went down at this year’s epic Outdoor Retailer show!

The Infamous Stringdusters play for the 2013 American Rivers Tour Wednesday night.

Day One capped off with a performance from The Infamous Stringdusters at SLC’s Depot, which kicked off their American Rivers Tour, “an epic summer music adventure stopping through, and winding down, some of American’s wildest and most beloved rivers and surrounding communities.”

Osprey Stands up for the Colorado River!

Osprey’s Marketing Manager Gareth Martins shows support for the Colorado River, which supports 250,000 sustainable recreation industry jobs across the southwest. Day two’s Conservation Alliance Breakfast with Pete McBride taught us that” in 2013, American Rivers named the Colorado River the nation’s #1 most endangered river due to drought, over-allocation and climate change.” Visit www.StandUpForCoRiver.com to learn more about the campaign to save the Colorado.

Osprey Happy Hour prizes, giveaways and fun.

We had a great giveaway session of Rev packs at the Sheep Mountain Alliance Booth Party day one, and sold out on all special sales of Rev 6s to supportMountain Project throughout the show!

As always, the end of Summer OR can only mean one thing: it’s time to start the countdown to Winter OR. Ready, go!

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

causes, Conservation, Events, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Product, Retail Promotions , , , , ,

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2013: Osprey’s List of Events + Promos

July 17th, 2013

We know, we know; How did it get to be this time of year again? We’re wondering the same thing. Alas, it’s Summer OR time, and as always, we’ve all got a lot to look forward to. Here’s our list of events…

OSPREY PACKS/TELLURIDE SKI RESORT BOOTH PARTY TO BENEFIT THE SHEEP MOUNTAIN ALLIANCE

When: Thursday, August 1 — 4 to 6:30PM

Where: Osprey Packs booth #5010

Sheep Mountain Alliance is a grassroots citizen organization dedicated to the preservation of the natural environment in the Telluride Region and Southwest Colorado. They’re currently a key advocate in the effort to pass the San Juan Wilderness Bill and stopping the Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill in Paradox, CO. Drop by the Osprey Booth and purchase a Klean Kanteen cup for $10 to fill it with a tasty beer and enter for a chance to win an Osprey Pack while supporting Sheep Mountain Alliance. Drop your business card for your chance to win our all-expenses-paid summer trip giveaway to Telluride, which will include: a tour of Osprey’s Cortez headquarters before heading to Telluride for two nights’ lodging and two days of skiing for two people or two rounds of golf for two people, as well as an Osprey travel wheels pack and a ski or day pack to get you there. Stick around — the winner will be announced at the end of the party — and while you’re mingling you can learn about the Sheep Mountain Alliance as well as Osprey and Telluride’s efforts to source green power to run their operations.

PACK SALE TO BENEFIT THE LOST MOUNTAIN PROJECT

When: While supplies last, get ‘em while they’re hot!

Where: Osprey Packs booth #5010

Purchase an Osprey Rev 6 for $35 and support The Lost Mountain Project, a collaboration between an international cadre of scientists, conservationists, global adventurers and filmmakers featuring Osprey athlete Majka Burhardt. Put this OR event on your calendar and we will see you there!

http://www.vimeo.com/38544697

AMERICAN RIVERS TOUR

When: Wednesday, July 31 — doors at 7, Show at 8

Where: The Depot Salt Lake City

Grammy-nominated bluegrass outfit The Infamous Stringdusters are kicking off their  2013 American Rivers Tour, an epic summer music adventure stopping through, and winding down, some of America’s wildest and most beloved rivers and surrounding communities at Outdoor Retailer with a live concert at The Depot in SLC! We’re proud sponsors of this event and will be there to help the Stringdusters celebrate their partnership with the nation’s leading river conservation organization, American Rivers, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. Come by to help celebrate, raise money and awareness for the organization and its mission to protect and restore rivers and clean water nationwide.

FOURTH ANNUAL GREEN GURU CRUISER BIKE RIDE
When: Thursday, August 1 — 6:30 – 8:30pm

Where: Meet at the Park N Pedal Booth outsideSouth Entrance of Salt Palace

A casual scenic bike ride around downtown Salt Lake City. Plan for an easy social ride that features a fun stop at Liberty Park where we will have snacks, refreshments, games and giveaways. Ends back at the Palace.


OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ALL-STAR JAM TO BENEFIT NATUREBRIDGE AND PARADOX SPORTS
When:
Friday, August 2 — 9:30pm

Where: Club Elevate @ 155 W. 200 S.

Think Battle of the Bands + OR + Beer… oh and dancing your face off. It’s that good. Witness industry veterans rocking the legendary All Star Industry Jam. Added bonus: Your $10 cover goes to benefit Naturebridge and Paradox Sports, so you can feel even better about dancing the night away.

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

causes, Conservation, Events, Osprey Culture, Product, travel , , , , , , ,

Gregg Treinish, A MoveShake Story

June 6th, 2013

Today marks the online release of a film that showcases an incredible story of courage, passion and action for change. Produced by RED REEL and very well-received at its world premiere at Mountainfilm, the fourth MoveShake series presents ‘Gregg Treinish, A MoveShake Story’, which takes us on Gregg’s journey as the founder of the non-profit Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC).

At its core, ASC bases everything on the natural connection between adventure and science. It operates by asking adventure athletes who are traveling the globe to collect scientific data, which is then collected and presented to researchers. In essence, ASC uses the adventurer as the middle man, who willingly performs the task of, as ASC puts it on their website, “getting expensive, time consuming, and difficult to reach information from the remote corners of the globe.”

As this MoveShake film so readily presents, Gregg has dedicated himself to this organization that’s experiencing rapid growth and support. But the film delves deeper, revealing “the reality of day to day life.” From the Vimeo film description:

“In this story we hear how Gregg struggles to balance the responsibility he feels toward the environment with the relationship he holds dear. We’ll follow Gregg during one difficult expedition where he realizes that relationships are what give us the courage to make change in the first place.”

Want to support ASC? The organization is currently raising money to support adventure science expeditions for young students. Donate to the cause and contribute to the experience of a lifetime for some seriously lucky kids.

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

adventure, causes, Conservation, film festivals, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, video , , , , , , , , , ,

Dust Buster

May 22nd, 2013

Wind. Without it we wouldn’t have storms and without storms we wouldn’t have snow. I get it, but in recent years the wind has brought little to the San Juan Mountains each spring but dust. I’m not talking about a few rogue particulates that have blown in from the desert. I’m talking about dust storms that make me think Apocalypse.

I’ve been skiing in the San Juan’s for the better part of two decades, but the dust storm phenomenon has only been plaguing our spring snowpack for the last five years. Local backcountry skiers now know the dust is coming each spring, it is just a matter of when it will come. To add insult to injury, the dust storms of the last two springs have coated an extremely thin snowpack. Scientist are saying that the dust is contributing to about 45 fewer days of snow cover in the San Juan’s each season than a decade ago. The dust storms flare up when we get a stiff and steady wind from the southern side of the compass. This year the first major event hit April 7th the following week. By late April the snowpack looked to be a color best described as somewhere between an off-brown and adobe. Regardless of where the dust comes from, it’s here, so I can either hang up the skis or suck it up and get out while there is still snow to ski.

In late April we get a minor reprieve with half a foot of snow. The dust lurks beneath the surface but for a day I have a small window to get some turns in snow that is relatively free of visible dirt. The objective is a tight couloir off the eastern side of South Lookout Peak near Ophir Pass in southwest Colorado. I have been looking at this line for more than a decade, trying to find a time when coverage is sufficient and the couloir and run out are free of debris. From highway 550 I look at the line through my binoculars and it looks good to go. I drive a few miles up the Ophir Pass road find a small pull-out and put things in motion.

South Lookout Peak (El. 13,370) and the couloir from Ophir Pass Road.

The last storm cleared out less than 24 hours earlier, but as I start to skin, I notice shades of brown starting to poke through the brighter snow. As I gain elevation, the depth of the new snow increases and the visible dust dissipates. I traverse a large alpine basin and climb until the pitch exceeds the grip of my skins. I toss the skis on my pack, latch on the crampons and continue to head higher. The couloir narrows and the pitch steepens. I glance down at my bootpack and notice two distinct dust layers within the cross section of snow exposed with each footprint. The dust layers are separated from each other by an inch of snow and from the top by less than three inches. With today’s brilliant blue sky, I know that by tomorrow this white snow I climb will look like a chute of soot.

The pitch intensifies and gets my attention. It is steep enough now that my helmet grazes the surface with each step. This is the only time I ever feel truly exposed when skiing dicey terrain. The fear of sliding backwards, chest down, on a cliff-lined 45-degree pitch keeps me focused, which is probably good given the consequences of a fall.

After the crux, the climb mellows to a more comfortable 45 degrees.

After a period of sphincter-tightening steps, the couloir widens and mellows enough to allow me to take more relaxed steps to the top. The top of the couloir is a narrow notch in the rocks that provides exceptional views of the Wilson range to the west. From my perch I can see that the Wilsons took the brunt of the last dust storm. Being the first major mountains east of the desert has made the Wilsons a geological catcher’s mitt for massive amounts of dust. In terms of coverage, the snowpack looks like it should in early June, but the tone of the surface is sickening.

View west toward the Wilson Range from the top of South Lookout Peak showing dust on the snowpack.

Lunch is consumed, gear is stowed and it is time to drop in. Skiing couloirs is a methodical but detailed process where each turn needs to be executed with precision to avoid putting a disastrous chain of events in motion. I get my game face on and feel the pull of gravity as I aim downward. The goal to skiing couloirs efficiently is to work with gravity, not fight it.

Letting gravity do the work in the couloir.

Rhythm is the key, and within a couple of turns, I have found mine. I stay focused a couple turns ahead and try to keep my speed up fast enough to not let my sluff catch me. I approach the narrow section and swivel a couple turns to dump speed as the slot is too narrow to allow my skis to turn perpendicular to the slope. After I pass the choke I cut right, make a wide turn, and let the sluff pass on my left side. The crux is over and now this is simple high-angle fun. The couloir widens and I gain speed quickly. The last of the cliff walls disappear and I find myself on huge well-sloped apron, where I dump a hundred vertical feet with each arcing turn. The entire run has taken a couple minutes but is well worth the multi-hour effort.

I soak up the San Juan sunshine while waiting for the rest of the crew to join me in the basin. Once we are all back together we start laying out a plan for our next ascent and select some possible lines. The north-facing slope above us still looks to hold some powder from the last storm. The last few turns we made have left white marks on the brown snow.

Art and snow. Interesting but reason for concern as this isn’t what snow should look like in late April.

While it looks interesting, it is another sign that our spring snowpack will likely be gone earlier than ever. Not knowing how much longer our San Juan snowpack will last this spring, we decide that there is no better time than the present to get after it. Skins come out, water goes down and more sunscreen goes on. This is the cycle of my life, and life is good.

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

adventure, Conservation, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities , , , , , , , , ,

Watch Opsrey on YouTubeCheck out Osprey Photos on FlickrLike Osprey on FacebookFollow Osprey on TwitterOsprey on Instagram

OSPREY BlogMEDIA Spot
Osprey Packs   115 Progress Circle Cortez CO 81321 USA  telephone +1 970-564-5900
Toll-Free: Customer Service +1 866-284-7830   Warranty/Returns +1 866-314-3130
VISIT OSPREYPACKS.COM

© 2014 Osprey Packs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.