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Traverse Sans Retour at Les Calanques

May 1st, 2015

Osprey Packs Athlete Joe Stock is an internationally certified IFMGA mountain guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been climbing and skiing around the world for 25 years with extensive time in the mountains of Alaska, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the North Cascades of Washington and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Since 1995, Joe has been freelance writing for magazines starting with a feature article in Rock & Ice on climbing the Balfour Face on Mount Tasman in New Zealand. Since then, he’s published numerous articles on adventures and mountain technique in rags such as Climbing, Backcountry, Alaska, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.

To climbers, “Les Calanques” means sea cliff climbing on the Mediterranean Coast in Provence in south France. Where temperatures are warm, the food fresh and the wine the best in the world. My wife Cathy and I spent two weeks climbing in the Calanques. We rented a VRBO in the town of Cassis, which is 15 minutes from Marseille. Our favorite route of the trip was a linkup of Traverse Ramond and Traverse Sans Retour. This added up to 700 meters of sea cliff climbing with a crux of 6b (5.10+). Ten hours of climbing with an hour of walking on either side.

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At 8am, after an hour-long walk, we found the entrance to Traverse Ramond. It was shaped like a doorway. We rappelled from a thread (a sling through a natural rock anchor) in the roof of the doorway down the sea cliff. Traverse Ramond is an easy sea cliff traverse, but the wild location makes for a nice entrance route for the next route, Traverse Sans Retour. 

 

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Cathy at the point of no return on Traverse Sans Retour. We completed the most terrifying rappel of our lives. From a dangling rappel station we rapped sideways down the overhanging face above the raging water. To avoid swinging into space, we clipped bolts on the way down. When Cathy rapped, she unclipped the bolts and I pulled her into the wall. Sans Retour means “No Return.” In this photo we just pulled the ropes. There is no return.

 

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Cathy on the crux 5.10+ traverse of Sans Retour. Although warm, the wind was raging and sea foamy white below us.

 

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In addition to traversing, Sans Retour involved many rappels, straight up climbing and route finding. Route-finding was half the challenge of Sans Retour. The english guidebook was a joke. Climbers have been exploring these sea cliffs for 50 years, so bolts, pins, slings and abandoned ropes coat the wall making confusing route options.

 

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Cathy emerging from a belly crawl on a narrow shelf 100 feet above this cauldron of whitewater. Maybe mellow if you’re used to sea cliff climbing in Wales, but for us, WILD! We finished after 10 hours of climbing. We walked back to the road in the twilight holding hands. Then drove to Cassis and drank some wine.

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Earn Your Turns: 101 Months in a Row

March 1st, 2015

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From suncups to blower pow, huge peaks to bunny hills, North Vancouver brothers Mike and Andy Traslin have been consecutively earning their turns every month of the year for the past…wait for it… 101 months. They’re not alone in the endless pursuit of ‘turns all year,’ but they sure are passionate about it.

The quest for earning your backcountry ‘turns all year’ is especially popular with zealous skiers and riders in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and of course here at home in BC. With huge peaks holding snow year round, especially the Cascade Volcanoes, it almost makes you wonder why every skier doesn’t do it.

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Like Mike says — if you’re really jonesing for some ski turns in the fall, why wait? Just go do it!

In celebration of Mike & Andy’s 101th month (and hopefully hundreds more to come) here is a quick freeflow of thoughts from Mike, and some image highlights from the last 30 or so months: Read more…

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The Moto Diary – A Trip through Columbia by Motorcycle

January 12th, 2015

Osprey Packs Ambassador Matt Hayes is a resident of Boulder, Colorado as far as the postal service knows. Since graduating from the University of Colorado he’s actually lived in 3 different states and 5 countries. Matt learned the intricacies of broadcast production and still photography in college, how to twirl wrenches working in bike shops for a decade, and how to race mountain bikes by getting beaten all the time. His other skills include playing the saxophone, jumping off cliffs into powder fields, rocking a mohawk, and eating nachos with two hands while riding a bike. He is a certified EMT, is currently enjoying a budding “career,” and shortly will commence saving the world. 

Sunset

While Colorado is an amazing place to live, Autumn can be a bit boring as the bike trails get a blanket of snow but haven’t collected quite enough to start skiing. Consequently, I decided to spend a few months this Fall in South America guiding mountain bike trips and riding through Colombia on a 125cc two-stoke motorcycle.

I left my temporary home in San Gil, Colombia and headed north towards the coast. Honestly, I didn’t really expect my 1996 Yamaha DT to survive the trip. A favorite model of the drug-runners in the mid-90’s, my motorcycle had already had two gaskets leak, the clutch fail, and the throttle seize in the two months I had owned it.

I was a little surprised and completely overjoyed when I pulled into the Costeño Beach hostel outside of Santa Marta. After a few days frolicking on the beach I set off towards Riohacha.Beach Moto

The highway hugged the coast line and every hill crested led to a beautiful beachfront view. It was gorgeous and I eventually had to force myself to stop taking pictures for fear I wouldn’t actually complete any mileage.

I shouldn’t have worried so much – about an hour later the road turned flat, straight, and hot. I cruised to the city of Riohacha, got some lunch, and took a dirt road out of town that led straight into an impassible river. Negotiating a different route out of the city, I saw a sign for The Beaches of Mayapo. I remembered seeing a map of a small road that wound along the beach ending up in Quatro Vias which I wanted to check out so I followed the sign.

The road surface was one of the best I had encountered in Colombia so I figured it was a main road, which was good because I knew I was low on gas. The long sweeping corners with nothing to obstruct the view allowed me to push the little 125 as fast as it would go. I was having a blast until the road suddenly, without warning, turned to a network of spidering dirt trails.

Roadside3This was completely outside my frame of reference. How does a main road disintegrate to unmarked trails within a meter? There was no town, no turn around point, no road signs. All I could do was shrug and go back the way I came.

As the sun set I flirted with the idea of camping for the night but ultimately decided to find a cheap hotel. The road was just as fun on the way back and I was feeling euphoric until the bike sputtered and died as it ran out of gas. Exasperation set in.

I started pushing the bike until I found two security guards chatting by a school. I told them I needed gas and they answered in the most accent-riddled Spanish I have ever heard. I couldn’t even understand the word for “10.” Luckily they understood me fine and eventually we worked out that one of them would walk about 2km with me to a cluster of homes where some guy had some gas.

One of the main features I like on the Osprey Farpoint is the removable daypack. It’s perfectly sized to hold my valuables without being bulky, and it can stow inside the main pack if there’s room which is how I had been traveling. I grabbed the small pack and we started walking down sand footpaths into the dark. I was sure I was going to get gas or get robbed, but I had no idea which one.

After several random turns we arrived at a trailer where a disheveled man showed us to a locked shed. He opened it, and as his flashlight darted around I saw 10 or 15 five-gallon containers all presumably filled with gasoline. He sold us a few gallons which I lugged back.

With new gas the bike fired right up and, after thanking the guards profusely, I backtracked towards Riohacha yet again.

I was exhausted, sick, anxious, and even a bit scared as I followed the deserted road but the stars overhead were mesmerizing. I stopped, turned off the bike, and starred at them for a few minutes. I felt like I was on a big journey but I was only venturing arouRoadside1nd one part of one country on one planet. I felt far from home, but my DT125 topped out around 70kmh and I had only been riding for a few days. The star light had been traveling at a billion kmh for 100’s or 1000’s of years to get to the same spot. Granted – light doesn’t have to deal with running out of gas, getting directions, mechanical failures, or FARC kidnappings, but it still made me feel infinitesimally small and my problems even smaller.

I stopped at the first hotel I found, and with thoughts of all the problems that day juxtaposing the immensity of the universe I climbed into bed excited for the next day’s adventure.

Active Lifestyle, adventure, photos, travel, Travel , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inca Trail

September 13th, 2014

The Inca Trail in Peru is perhaps the world’s most famous trek. This four-day camping trip follows a 500-year old stone path that ends at Machu Picchu, an ancient city reclaimed from the jungle. I hiked the Inca Trail with my Dad, my sister Kate and her girlfriend Kim. We started and finished the trip in Cusco.

Cusco, Peru.

A mushroom cloud of smoke from hundreds of barbecues rises from Inti Raymi celebrations in Cusco. Inti Raymi is the biggest festival of the season. This party is taking place at Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “Sexy Woman”), a location famous for 100-ton stones fitted together so tight that a toothpick can not be fitted in.

Cusco, Peru

While city center Cusco is tidy and historic for tourists, the surrounding streets are real Peru. This woman is selling chopped up snakes in a soda bottle. Other bottles contain the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus juice and various  potions for what ails you.

 

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

The Inca Trail is lined with ruins. Here’s Kate exploring the Phuyupatamarka ruins.  The fascinating thing about all these Inca ruins is that nobody really knows what happened. There was no written language before the Spanish arrived. And all of the written accounts have a Spanish Conquistador twist. This results in each Inca history buff having their own theory of what happened. Historical spiels by tour guide’s often start with “I believe….”

Inca Trail, Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru.

Dad eleven hours into the second day. What is a comparable trek in the US? Rim-to-rim on the Grand Canyon? The Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier?

Dead Woman Pass on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Porters resting at the high point of the trip at Dead Woman Pass at 13,829 feet. Porters carry 20 kilos of group gear plus their personal gear. We carried our sleeping bag, pad and hiking stuff in 35-liter Mutant 38s.

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#OspreyAt40: Our 40th Anniversary Celebration Continues!

April 2nd, 2014

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When we launched our #OspreyAt40 photo contest earlier this year, we knew we’d see some amazing photos of your many adventures, travels and treks — but we were blown away by the number of phenomenal photos submitted by so many loyal Osprey fans. Thank you for sharing your memories with us — we’re honored to have been part of your hikes, backpacking trips, MTB rides, snow days, city walks, summits, sojourns and every other adventure you’ve had with an Osprey Pack on your back.

We’re going to continue to celebrate our 40th Anniversary throughout the year — so please stay tuned for other fun contests and prizes. In May, we’ll be premiering the full-length documentary “Osprey Packs: 40 Years in the Making.” In the meantime, below are the final winners selected by our internal judges for Round 4 of #OspreyAt40. (Or visit our gallery of all of the 40 winning #OspreyAt40 photos here.)

Thank you again for sharing your photos with us and for celebrating our 40th Anniversary!

Read more…

adventure, Backpacking, contest, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities, photos, travel , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rockin’ Red Rock Rendezvous: What’s in store for you!

March 28th, 2014

Spring is in the air and that can only mean one thing: Red Rock Rendezvous is here!
Whether you are on road tripping through the Southwest for spring break or taking a break from the lights of Las Vegas for the weekend, there is something for everyone to participate in.

Who’s going to be there, you might ask? Well certainly, top outdoor brands, climbers, athletes, and anyone and everyone who has an interest in climbing, biking and trail running. This will be Osprey’s 4th consecutive year attending Red Rock and there are plenty of reasons why we keep coming back for more. Osprey’s booth will be packing some heat this year with incredible demos, prizes and smokin’ deals, not to mention clinics put on by some of the best athletes in the industry! Let me fill you in on the rest:20130404_mg_rrr-14-M

  • 20% off packs in celebration of Red Rock Rendezvous- This is the best deal you will get on our selection as we bring a variety of our hydration, climbing, and running packs discounted at 20% off just this weekend, so get one while the gettin’ is good!
  • Not sure what pack you want? No problem! We’ve got your back and will have our demo fleet of bike, climbing, and running packs available all weekend! Stop by the booth and talk with our team of expert pack fitters and outdoor enthusiasts who can help you make the best selection for your needs. You can even purchase the pack at our booth and take it out to the trails or crag that very day!
  • Clinics with the experts- Yeah, the good times don’t stop rolling, and you can improve your skills (or learns some new ones) because clinics from some of the best athletes in the world will be offered this weekend. Whether you want to learn how to climb multi-pitch routes, mountain bike diverse terrain, or want to get certified in wilderness medicine, Red Rock Rendezvous is your one-stop shop (in the form of an incredibly fun event) where all of those opportunities are available…and then some! Check out a full list of clinics here.
  • We’re thrilled that our very own Krista Park, pro mountain biker racer, will be leading a variety of clinics for all skill sets. Here is Krista’s perspective on coaching clinics:reflect2.phpdd

 

“My goal is to make myself available to anyone, at any level, to share tips, skills, encouragement, resources, or anything that will allow racers, riders, or potential riders to fall in love with the sport of cycling as I have.”

  • On the climbing front we will have Majka Burhard, long-time Osprey Packs athlete, film-maker, and climbing enthusiast reflect2.phpwho has attended Red Rocks for the past few years. Majka’s enthusiasm is contagious, which makes her a damn good climbing coach and fun to be around.

 

 

 

Read more…

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50 Shades of Osprey

March 2nd, 2014

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Osprey Athlete Payge McMahon is an adventure athlete, ‘rockin’ yogi’ and journalist who travels the world inspiring others to get outdoors, try new things and start checking off that bucket list.

In 2007, at the age of 33, my life changed forever. I bought my first Osprey Pack, an orange Stratos 24.  I loved it. It took me to places I never imagined. Read more…

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Backpacking, Bike, Hiking, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities, Product, Snowsports, travel, Travel , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Didn’t Know Where We Were Going, Knew We Wouldn’t Be Back Anytime Soon

February 27th, 2014

Osprey Packs Ambassador and guest blogger Cari Ann Siemens is an architect by trade, currently working outside of the box. Although she still does freelance design work, the majority of her time is spent as a Producer/Editor for Jordan Siemens Photography. She and her husband are currently traveling the western US in their Cricket Trailer. They hike, bike, backpack, climb, surf, ski our way from one destination to the next. As Cari puts it, “At this point in our lives, our main objective is exploration.”

 

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After leaving the comfort of our home and steady jobs in Portland, Oregon, we hit the road, seeking new adventures that didn’t require raincoats and waterproof everything. We didn’t know exactly where we were going. We just knew that we wouldn’t be back anytime soon. Read more…

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Okanagan Stashes

February 20th, 2014

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…

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