Osprey athlete Kim Havell has skied on all 7 continents, with 1st descents on 4, and adventured in over 50 countries. During her travels, she has climbed and skied big peaks in the Himalaya & the Karakorum, the highest mountains across the US, with 1st descents both at home and abroad including in the Arctic and Antarctic. Kim has numerous first female descents in Southwest Colorado, climbed and skied both the Grand Teton and Mt. Moran in a 2 day period, completed multiple ascents and ski descents of 13ers & 14ers, and cut lines on peaks in France, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Alaska, Russia, and Japan.
This October, Kim found herself seeking adventure in the Patagonia region of South America. On this trip, Kim’s goal is to enjoy life on the road while discovering big ski lines before the winter season ends in the mountains of our hemispheric counter-part. As a gear-hauling company focused on design and function, we thought this would to be the perfect opportunity for Kim to test new women’s-specific Osprey Packs gear to be released in 2016. As Osprey Product Coordinator Rosie Mansfield explains, “(Athlete Testing) enables us to provide insight to the unique fit, function and aesthetics of this new technical women’s ski line from the perspective of a professional athlete.”
At Osprey, a key philosophy in designing gear has been “To Inspire & Ease Your Journey.” To stay true to our commitment, it takes feedback at all stages of a pack’s development, from our consumers, professionals athletes like Kim and other Osprey athletes. Kim Havell has been a key player in the design, testing, development, fit and end-use of our women’s-specific pack offerings and will continue to assist us in pushing the envelope so that we can offer innovative, groundbreaking products that provide the best design and function for woman who get outdoors.
We caught up with Kim to ask her a few questions about her upcoming trip to Patagonia.
Stay tuned for more from Kim and her adventures while living on the road in South America.
Ultimate goal for this trip? What about little goals?
KH: Both are the same – ski some fun peaks and great lines and embrace the culture and flexibility of life on the road.
Have you been to South America before?
KH: I’ve been to Bariloche, Buenos Aires, and Mendoza – did a ski expedition on Aconcagua a few years ago.
What makes this trip so special? What are you doing different this time around?
KH: We’re picking up a fellow Ice Axe Expeditions guide’s van and driving and skiing down Ruta 40 from Bariloche to Patagonia. There’s a real freedom to this trip and it is an accessible option for those who love to backcountry ski and explore big mountains.
What do you typically eat on a trip like this?
KH: Well we’re going to meat country so we’ll shop and eat local. And, I’ll have a healthy supply of PROBARS for our ski days in the mountains.
Do you have any special rituals or traditions when you’re on the road for long periods of time?
KH: Check snow and weather every morning and evening. And, I’ll bring some lavender and eucalyptus so the van smells nice.
What are some of the things you’re most looking forward to about this trip?
KH: Seeing the lake districts and après with local vino.
How do you scout or research trips like this one to Patagonia?
KH: I am always watching weather and conditions in remote or interesting places. When certain opportunities pop up or things align, I make a spontaneous trip happen or plan for something down the road. Usually, I see, hear, or read something that is of interest and a trip grows and cultivates out of that.
In regards to what you pack, how was this trip different and what do you do when preparing for these types of trips?
KH: We are car camping so it is lighter packing than most expeditions but we have a great deal of gear to bring along. My ski companion, Jessica Baker, and I have compiled a comprehensive list of necessary items and we’ll pack off of that.
What do you do when you’re not skiing?
HV: I’m usually in the mountains – hiking, running, climbing, or with horses.
Anything else you’re currently psyched on for this year?
KH: My boyfriend, a 4th generation Outfitter in WY, and I just adopted 3 mustangs and 3 burros from the BLM wild horse program at the Honor Farm in Riverton, WY. So, I am excited to work with my 2-yr-old horse, Otter, over the coming months and learn how to train and work with him in the field.
Current favorite Osprey pack(s)?
Be sure to keep up with Kim as she plans for bigger and better in 2016:
In celebration of #MusicMondays, we’re going to jump back to one of our favorite moments of the summer — Floydfest 2015. If you haven’t yet had the privilege to attend Floydfest, then we should preface this account by saying that words can only capture a small fragment of the beauty and magic that’s present during this week-long festival in late July. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this festival is an epicenter of good vibes and great times — the music and passion generated by the Floydfest community seems to reverberate throughout the Appalachian Mountains. For those of you wondering what makes this festival a standout among so many other festivals across the nation, we’ll let you in on the secret.
Osprey Packs Ambassadors, Ms. Tess and the Talkbacks rocked the main stage!
Osprey has attended Floydfest for 4 consecutive years — not only because of a stellar musical line-up that somehow manages to outdo itself year after year, but because of the tangible sense of community created at Floydfest. Although the music may be the initial magnet that draws attendees to the festival, once on the ground in Virginia it’s immediately apparent that this festival offers so many other experiences outside the live performances, each of which focus on and allow for personal growth and the expansion of a community. Beyond the musical performances at multiple stages for responsive and fun audiences, Floydfest expands the festival experience and offers multiple workshops to attendees, including instrumental clinics and outdoor orientated excursions. The festival takes advantage of the beautiful environment of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers mountain bike demos, a 5k and guided nature hikes for anyone interested, taking an incredible natural backdrop and turning it into an experience that is shared. Instead of this festival being about consumption and observation, this blending of music, the outdoors and festival attendee participation lends itself to a uniquely collaborative festival.
We were able to capture all of this (and more!) in this short video, filmed & edited by Osprey’s own Dan Holz.
After fondly remembering this summer’s adventures at Floydfest, we’re even more excited for next year in the Appalachian hills.
I feel the chill in the air this week, watching the leaves turn, and suddenly everyone starts to talk about skiing/snowboarding. We can’t help ourselves — powder is just too addictive. Here at our homestead, Holy Terror Farm, we can ski and bike out our door AND still manage to grow and raise almost 100% of our own food.
At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be “training” as hard here in Paonia as I was living in Crested Butte. Little did I know how hard farming was! We joke daily about starting a new fitness trend – “CROP-fit” – hauling water, food, animals (weights!), weeding (yoga), herding dogs/animals (cardio). Farming like Little House on the Prairie involves using every muscle in the body, in a fantabulously comprehensive way. Ever tried lifting a 400 pound pumpkin?
Worried that you don’t have a farm for your training? Stay with me and I’ll give you my favorite ski/snowboard trick below.
Right now, we are harvesting about 2000 pounds of winter squashes.
I pick about 100 pounds of tomatoes a day, seed and core them, solar-cook them down to paste and then can them.
For winter preservation of zillions of peppers, I ferment them, dry them, or roast them.
Last week, our Scottish Highland cows met their maker and are now in the freezer, along with their much coveted fat which we use everyday – for cooking, chicken/dog feed, candles and soaps.
I’ve learned firsthand how our ancestors kept fit — and it didn’t involve a gym or any fitness gimmicks. Fitness was an inherent part of survival and life. Incredibly, now when I ski, bike or surf, I find myself even more all-over fit than when I was “training” in a less farm-focused manner and with no injuries.
But asked what my favorite quick way to get in shape for ski season, I will always resort to running in the mountains — preferably bounding downhill with a loaded pack (Osprey of course!). That simulates those muscles that contract when you are riding your board/boards and the extra weight make those muscles respond more vigorously.
You will know that you have achieved your plyometric training when you find it difficult to sit down or go downstairs. Voila – your first days of skiing/boarding will be a piece of cake now.
ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, pro mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant, and founder of the multiple non-profits. In addition to her busy careers as an athlete, athlete ambassador and keynote speaking, she runs her KEEN Rippin Chix Camps – women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe, featuring Osprey Packs. She has starred in many movies, TV shows, and magazines receiving many awards for her work including National Geographic’s Woman Adventurer of the Year, Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of theYear” next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Always an advocate of walking the talk, she has reduced her carbon footprint in half and has also spent half a lifetime working to make the world a better place. In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, beginning the next chapter of personal health and self-sustainability.
For everyone at Osprey, our commitment to the environment doesn’t end with the support of various nonprofit partners who dedicate themselves to conservation, sustainability, environmental awareness and continuous efforts to preserve the great outdoors.
This commitment is something that we also work to embody as a group. Each year, Osprey Packs has a tradition of acting on this commitment with our “Adopt-A-Highway” program with CDOT. Come fall, when the leaves in Southwest Colorado begin to change and the warmer temperatures begin to drop, we offer the opportunity to all Osprey employees to join our 3 hour annual cleanup along Highway 145. This particular stretch of road takes you from the Osprey HQ in Cortez, CO to Dolores, CO — which is home to many Osprey employees — and up to our beloved winter playground of Telluride, CO. As Osprey employees, participation in this group effort stems not only from our a commitment to doing our part to take care of Mother Nature, but also because of the sentimental value attached to this annual tradition. This year we had a great turnout with 14 Osprey employees participating! Osprey’s Diane Wren, passionate advocate for the environment (be sure to read her op-ed on Public Lands), co-owner of Osprey Packs and wife of our own Mike Pfotenhauer explains why this program is important to her on a personal level and talks about the 2015 Hwy Cleanup.
How many years has Osprey Packs been doing the Hwy clean-up?
DW: Osprey Packs has been a part of the CDOT “Adopt A Highway” program for almost 15 consecutive years. We adopted a section of highway right outside the small town of Dolores which was home to the original Osprey factory and now home to many of our employees.
What motivated Osprey Packs to take on this community service?
DW: I don’t really remember, but it is a stretch of road we all pass en route to the mountains that needed clean-up support. The mountains are part of our outdoor natural community and so is the road!
How long have you been participating in the Hwy clean-up and why is it so special to you?
DW: For me there is something satisfying about tidying up almost anything! It’s fun to be outside in the beautiful autumn weather with your co-workers (teammates) ambling along looking for interesting and not-so-interesting trash while cleaning up our roads and forests. It really is another form of hiking!
What are some interesting items you have found during the clean-up?
DW: Today Michael H. found a fishing rod, also found were boxers, panties and lots of alcohol bottles! Susan found a box of unused ear plugs. Last year I found an old tape recorder with a tape jammed in it…too bad we couldn’t get it out so we could listen to it. The usual items are beer bottles/cans and of course skoal.
Why would you encourage others to get involved in this type of program?
DW: Team building, fun exercise, clean up our environment and give back to our community.
About Diane Wren – Co-Owner of Osprey Packs
I’ve been with Osprey since 1985 and have been of “Jill of all trades” CS, finance and shipping in the early days.… I have always been and still am involved in Leadership – deciding the course
of the company. I am also a member of the HR Department. I do
support Mike of course but I take my roles seriously in the company. I am still an avid day hiker and love hiking the canyons of CO and Utah as well as exploring urban landscapes.
Chamonix is the world center for climbing. The Envers Refuge is where climbers and guides go on vacation. It’s a mellow scene, but the rock routes are huge. This year Cathy and I came to Chamonix prepared for the Envers with a double rack, twin ropes and our Osprey Mutant packs. Between weather and work, we squeezed in a day and a half of climbing at the Envers. Lucky us!
The Refuge de l’Envers is perched above the Mer de Glace Glacier, on a buttress of rock that splits seas of granite.
It’s a three-hour approach to the Envers after taking the Montenvers Railway from Chamonix. From the Montenvers we dropped down ladders, cables and moraine to the withering Mer de Glace Glacier. Each year the glacier drops, exposing more teetering moraine. We hiked a mile up the Mer de Glace, then climbed ladders to the Envers Refuge. Typical of the Alps, route finding was a no-brainer.
After the approach, Cathy and I dropped our packs and climbed La Piege. Two hundred meters of 6a+ granite crack climbing just five minutes from the refuge.
The next day we climbed Amazonia, a 370-meter 6a+ on the First Point of the Nantillions. Here’s Cathy leading a polished slab on the second pitch. For us the route was 13 pitches of clean granite climbing. It’s not the orange granite like above the Vallee Blanche on the Midi or Capucin, but it’s still really good.
Cathy near the summit of Amazonia. It took eight quick rappels to get down. We’ll be back for more!
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, Climbing, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.
Osprey is excited to be returning to Dayton, Ohio — the “Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest”– for the 10th annual Midwest Outdoor Experience, Friday October 2nd & Saturday October 3rd. With more than than 15,500 acres of land, 270 miles of river corridor and 160 miles of managed trails for hiking, cycling, mountain biking and horseback riding, Five Rivers Metro Parks is the place for outdoor adventure in Ohio and is the ideal location to be hosting this extravaganza.
Here are some fun things happening at MOX this weekend – don’t miss out:
Something to do for everyone: Check out the schedule for this year’s Midwest Outdoor Experience — there are activities ranging from being on the river, taking clinics, and hearing live music!
Five Rivers MetroParks strives to make Dayton, Ohio a more vibrant place to live by growing the outdoor community through facility development, programs, activities and events.
So come out, show your support and stop by to say “Hi!” at the Osprey booth October 2nd and 3rd!
Here’s what will be happening at our booth:
Our Anti-Gravity Fit Station: Revolutionary, innovative & maybe a little bit magic: our award-winning Anti-Gravity™ Suspension system provides seamless comfort that contours the body allowing a trail experience like no other. Combined with custom capability and a full feature set, the Atmos AG™ sets a new standard in ventilated backpacking. Interested in finding out what all the fuss is about and checking out for yourself what this award-winning pack feels like? Stop by our booth to try AG™ out at our Anti-Gravity Fit Station. Also, the Osprey Packs team will be on-site to answer all of your questions, chat packs with you and provide you with the exact fit you need for your next Osprey purchase.
How to Pack and Repair Your Pack Clinics: Know before you go! We will be hosting a clinic that reviews all the essential information relating to pack repairs which is invaluable on and off the trail! The first 15 people to sign up for one of these clinics will receive a Osprey Packs Repair Kit and custom Osprey hat – make sure you sign up! Our pack repair clinic is October 5th from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Sign up at the Osprey booth.
20% off Osprey Packs- We’ve teamed up with Great Miami Outfitters to bring you a phenomenal discount of 20% off select Osprey packs in celebration of the Midwest Outdoor Experience! You can get this 20% off in both the Great Miami booth as well as the Osprey Packs booth. Great Miami Outfitters will have all larger model packs (perfect for for multi-day trips) and the Osprey booth will have an assortment of hydration, trail, and day packs.
Talon Guest Appearance on the Osprey Stage- BIRD IS THE WORD! Meet our mascot, Talon, before he takes off for the winter. He will be making a special experience in between sets at the Osprey-sponsored MOX Music Stage. He also brought some treats to throw out to the crowd, so don’t miss out!
Ultimate Swag Giveaway- Looking for chapstick? How about a coozie for your tasty beverage? We have got you covered with some of the “Best Swag You Eva Had” at the Osprey booth: we’ll have stickers, hats, chapsticks, eco-coolie coozies, and much more to give away to anyone visiting our booth. Swing by for high-fives and good times!
At Osprey Packs, we value the experiences that being outdoors allows us to have — there is something truly transcendent about being outside, carrying only the belongings in your pack and being able to step back from the daily grind and the inherent distractions of the everyday hustle. Whether it’s a multi-day backpacking trip, international travel, treks to mountainous peaks, a weekend warrior camping trip, a dayhike or the simple enjoyment of the fresh air on a daily bike commute — the act of disconnecting (a.k.a. actually turning your phone all-the-way-off) and taking a break from daily responsibilities (a.k.a. “Grown-Upisms”) is important and far too often, fleeting. Being able to make time to really be in the present and not concern yourself with anything else but your immediate surroundings and well…yourself – it’s rare and beautiful. The outdoors are one such way to get back to what is sacred, that’s why we so fiercely advocate for their protection and conservation.
There are very few experiences in this world that allow for transcendent breaks the way that nature does but listening to music is definitely one of them. For years the Osprey family has bonded over our collective love of music. Our main connection to music stems, first and foremost from being fans but we’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with talented artists who are themselves fans of Osprey – there’s definitely a mutual respect on both sides relating to our respective commitment to craftsmanship.
We’re proud to have teamed up with some of our favorite musicians to make their travels and adventures on the road easier by providing them with some of our best gear-hauling luggage and packs.
To show their appreciation, some of these musicians have reached out to see how they can provide a similar “ease” by sharing their tunes for our daily adventures. We can’t keep all the good vibes to ourselves and so we’re excited to be sharing #MusicMondays with all of our fans!
If you’ve ever seen Keller Williams perform, then there’s no need for you to read — you’re already familiar with the vibrant energy and exuberant personality that Keller Williams possesses. Keller is one of our favorite artists for those reasons and the undeniable fact that he is one of the most talented guitarists to hit the scene. Furthermore, with Keller you get exactly what you see — a riveting passion for playing music that results in kinetic energy shared by Keller and the audience. That level of authenticity rings true for us at Osprey and we love that Keller’s talent and personality have been responsible for bringing together some incredible musicians for projects like Grateful Grass, Grateful Gospel, Keller and the Keels and many other collaborations. His various Bands projects can lead to some of the greatest live performances of your life, and that same vibrant creative energy, sincerity and skill is ever-present in Keller’s new studio album “Vape”.
When he offered us an exclusive to stream “Vape” on the Osprey Packs website for 24 hours, we jumped at the opportunity to share the creative talent of Keller Williams with you all.
Last but not least, enter to win your own copy of “Vape” (signed by Keller himself) as well as an Osprey Packs FlapJack or FlapJill!
Interested in what Keller carries on tour?
On Friday September 25th at approximately 6:00 am MST Osprey Athlete, mountaineer, filmmaker and ultra-runner Ben Clark kicked off his 6th attempt to complete Nolan’s 14. Nolan’s 14 is a challenging traverse that links 14 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot summits, one that covers nearly 100 miles of some of the Sawatch Range’s toughest terrain, one that must be completed in less than 60 hours.
Osprey employee Scott Robertson pretty much sums up everyone at Osprey’s awe and appreciation for Ben’s efforts and accomplishments with the following reflection: (more…)
Every year I find myself in the same place; ending the previous season, taking some time off to rock climb, and then back into training for the next year’s round (of competitions and winter climbing). It’s a cycle I’ve been following for a few years now-train, climb, compete, repeat. It’s been awesome and I’ve seen a certain level of success that I thought never to be possible. I’ve worked really hard to have been given the opportunity to travel the world and do what I love doing most…to climb. But It hasn’t been an easy road; the sacrifice of time, juggling my climbing career and my family all the while trying to find the balance in my sanity. And let me tell you…it’s been of great effort to hold it all together. Near on every day filled with “To-Do’s” of all sorts, demanding time and energy, commitment at the highest rate. Go ahead, just ask me how many cans of Red Bull I drink to make it all possible.
A couple of months ago, when i Began “this year’s training”, during a session, a coach I work with attached a tag line to a picture he took of me, “Take the ferocity, take the focus, and pour it into this…every day.” I read a lot of motivational content, study mental toughness books, and even work with a sports psychologist, but that quote, the ferocity, it rung so loud in my head, that it did something strange…it changed something, even broke something. Saying it over and over in my head, to pour “it” into this every day. What was “it”, what did that quote really mean to me, in fact…the better question…what was it doing to me?
Mentally I felt like someone had just removed the shackles from my repetitive cycle that I was caught in. A routine that had carried me through the last several years had been overtaken by a deeper willingness, a deeper passion, and more drive than I had ever experienced before. A collaboration between coaches (physical and mental), my family, friends, we all had a new attitude that had reached a heightened awareness of what was actually attainable. Last year I experienced the most success in my climbing journey: I won the North American championships, placed 4th in a world cup, and climbed my hardest route (outside) to-date. Wow. Total success. Or was it?
Recently I posed the question on Facebook, “What does ‘Success’ mean to you?” The answers came from every direction with all sorts of ideas. Everything from “winning” to “being happy”. Both equally right in there own sense, and for me…both applicable to my own personal definition of success. But recently that word has transformed into a more personal meaning. Success to me is it’s own form of winning, it’s own form of a podium. Would I feel successful standing on top of a podium? Yes, and I have felt that. But the podium, or “winning” isn’t the success, where as the success for me is the process. Winning is just the by-product. I’ve come to realize that my success is the ultimate effort. Not to be confused with the ultimate sacrifice. These to facets are different. My ultimate effort is full-heatedly believing that I poured every ounce of energy into a task at hand, and then some. Doing that, and knowing you did it, that’s the end of the rainbow…that’s the pot of gold.
Hearing that quote, “Take the ferocity….”, it’s like it opened a door within me that gave way to untapped energy. A resource I knew not of, but that was waiting for the right time to be channeled towards a specific direction or goal. Yes, as I said, last year was successful…to an extent, but deep down I knew there was more, more I could do, more I could try, more I could give. I knew deep down I hadn’t given it “my all”, the ultimate if you will. I could feel that there was still reserve energy but didn’t know how to get to it, how to channel it. Until now.
We took the time to understand. Breaking down the previous cycle of how; the program for preparation‑things needed to be changed, re-invented, and thought through very carefully to how the “absolute” could be attained. My coaches and I analyzed previous years, broke down the errors, weaknesses, and reasonings behind falling short of certain goals. Many were clear, some still unknown, but what was apparent…change was of the utmost. And change? That was associated with me, especially geared towards my “ultimate” (willingness). How bad did I “really” want it? How hard was i truly willing to push (physically and mentally)? Did I have that? The push?
It meant starting earlier; more focus on strength, dynamic technical climbing, more time route setting (focusing on every movement possible), it meant tempo (learning how to climb fast- technically with precision), not necessarily more time per say, but utilizing my time with a new focus, and new effort‑”the ferocity”. It meant “taking the ferocity, the focus, and pouring it into this…every day.” For me to reach my ultimate success, I need to believe in a level of energy that’s beyond my horizon. But that’s what it takes (for me anyways). For me to be successful I need to believe in the impossible. I need to believe that I’m capable of the impossible. There’s a lot on my plate for this coming winter, with competitions and personal climbing goals. To get through it all, I need to go beyond what I thought was my ultimate, and rise to a new level of “try hard”.
It’s a new season, there’s a new focus.
(#risetotheabsolute is a hashtag i created that’s linked to my push for “ultimate success”. You can use the hashtag on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook)
Climbing has become part of my daily routine. Whether training, climbing, or competing, with every hour–physically or mentally, climbing plays a role. I was once asked, “Why do you love climbing?” And the only response i could come up with was, “because without it, I feel short of breath”.
My focus is mixed climbing competitions. I travel the world every winter competing for Canada on the World Cup Ice Climbing Tour. I prepare months in advance in becoming ready to climb at my best. Throughout the “off season” I love to rock climb, spending most nights at my local crag or traveling to amazing places like Wyoming, Las Vegas, Kentucky, and my favourite: The Bow Valley (Canmore, AB).
Over the years I’ve found that in order to be fitted with readiness, you must train…and train a lot. From that I’ve built “the machine” in my backyard. Back there; it’s my fortress of solitude…where i learn, re-group, and try real hard. The backyard is outfitted with a 30ft Arch, bouldering walls/cave, and many training apparatuses.
What I do, where I go, all of it wouldn’t be possible without the support of my amazing family, and sponsors–those who believe in my dream and encourage me daily to keep going after it.
Osprey Athlete, mountaineer, filmmaker and ultra-runner Ben Clark has attempted the formidable challenge of completing Nolan’s 14 multiple times in the past — and he’s getting ready for his next attempt, this weekend. Ben has been candid about the difficulties, the uncertainties and the unrelenting commitment to add his name to the very short list of individuals who have completed Nolan’s 14.
What exactly is Nolan’s 14 and what is its allure to the most elite ultrarunners? Nolan’s 14 is a run — a traverse unlike any other — one without clear markers or even trails at some points, linking fourteen of Colorado’s 14,000-foot summits, one that covers nearly 100 miles of some of the Sawatch Range’s toughest terrain, one that must be completed in less than 60 hours.
Ben’s determination — fed and fueled by moments of elation, disappointment, triumph and patience — has led him to doggedly attempt this physically-demanding, emotionally-challenging route that is undoubtedly one of the hardest in ultrarunning’s history. Join us as we cheer Ben on this weekend as he laces up his shoes, pulls on his pack and sets out on his final attempt this summer to achieve this incredible, daunting feat.
We caught up with Ben recently to better understand some of the mental and physical preparation for Nolan’s 14 and to get a sense of what it’s like to answer the mountains when they call.
Osprey Packs: This will be your sixth attempt at breaking the 60 hour mark; what about Nolan’s has its claws in you?
Ben Clark: Nolan’s makes me miss the Himalayas. Not a day goes by that an image or memory doesn’t haunt me from there. So I’d say the mountains, in my experience, are the essence of “infectious” to me.
I learned that there are safe ways for me to venture deep into the mountains, and my own soul for that matter, that if I am truly reaching I will not need the fear of deadly consequence to attain my goal. I used to need that fear, as much as I might deny back then I didn’t. The motivation of having the knowledge of what it is like to execute something like Nolan’s 14 in the way I want — safely but with no distraction — is a nice motivator for me to keep seeing what I can do.
60 hours is a long time to immerse into the heart of a range of 14ers. But you can walk away from the mountains if they gets too rowdy, so that means I have to really want it in my heart, to be willing to keep trying until I’ve experienced it. I feel like maintaining the health and fitness to do so is a lifelong reward as well.
OP: After spending countless hours on the Nolan’s “course” — both training and during the main event — what has gone well?
BC: I think being prepared for anything is probably the best evidence I can offer of anything going well. It has been exhilarating at times, but always safe, thanks mostly to the crews that supported the early attempts.
OP: On that note, what hasn’t gone particularly well in the past? Is there anything you are planning to change significantly this time?
BC: I feel sometimes when people fail to meet their expectations in the mountains they will say that the mountains are humbling. I don’t think that. I think the mountains are “mountainy.”
If I start my expectation equal to their conditions then I’m never humbled — schooled sometimes, yes, because rather than scale them down to me I accept them for how much more beyond my control and scale they are and I like that about them. That has led to an appreciation of their many moods and an attitude of embracing them to have an understanding of this or any mountain line.
This line’s lack of consequence has completely transformed me physically and mentally, it has innovated everything about what I think I need to move along on a big day and what I don’t. This time I’ll be carrying just an 18 L pack, with a better and more substantial sleeping/shelter kit.
OP: Endurance athletes can be incredibly particular about food and fueling, are you a supplement/gel/salt-tab scientist or more of a cheeseburger/candy/whatever-I-can-find fueler; what’s your strategy?
BC: I eat a mix of things — some that I make myself, mostly a higher fat concentration during sustained endurance efforts. Of packaged food, Clif Bar products keep me well-fueled and allow me to change it up both flavor- and calorie-wise if/when I’m “over” my other food. McDonald’s plain double cheeseburgers also happen keep well.
OP: What puts your mind at ease the day/night leading up to the main event? Do you have any pre-run traditions?
BC: I’m as at ease with any event, including this one, as I can be. I travel half the month and I am a Dad. Even though I have all the commitments that come with that, I have very few things that are as much a pillar to my daily routine as my training as I balance a career as a filmmaker and athlete. It’s all in the numbers when it comes to training and as long as I restrain enough to avoid injury and I’ve put in the time and miles, I look forward to the release I feel the moment I hit the trail. It is all fun to me, to just go and do it.
OP: Gear choice is critical on something this demanding, which Osprey pack do you bring and what’s critical about that piece of gear? What else is on your gear list?
BC: The Rev 18 pack is as light and small as I can go but substantial enough to handle the weight of 3 days food and all my gear, roughly 25 pounds. Because it fits more like an article of clothing than a traditional pack suspension, the Rev stays snug and compact while I move quickly and doesn’t snag as I bushwhack through dark forests or bounce while I quickly trot downhill through loose terrain! My Rev has been modified to include a Stow-On-The-Go™ system for my trekking poles when I need my hands free and has an in-line water filtering system so I don’t have to pump water.
My gear list includes:
3 peanut butter cookies
10 kits organic Clif Bars
12 Clif gels
6 Clif organics pouches
12 salt tablets
5 via lattes
9 Clif electrolyte drink mixes
3 litre reservoir
Sawyer inline water filter
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro
Superfeet Carbon Pro insole
2 Smartwool compression sock
2XU calf sleeve
Patagonia Strider short
Patagonia fleece tights
Patagonia Forerunner L/S Shirt
Patagonia Fleece vest
Patagonia Leashless jacket
Patagonia Super Cell pants
Patagonia Nano Air hoody
Patagonia Ultra Light down Sweater
Patagonia Duck Bill Hat
Osprey Packs beanie
4 pairs of gloves
Esbit fuel cell stove
8 fuel cells
Montbell 10oz summer seeping bag
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy Sack
Sol 96″ x 54″ emergency blanket
Stainless steel cup
Med kit with bandages
3 spare batteries
Goal Zero Venture 30 Charger
1100 Lumen compact Flashlight
Delorme InReach Explorer
Suunto Ambit 2