Here in Colorado the snow has been hit or miss, with heavy storms in December and basically non-existent snowfall in January for much of the west. As a result of the poor to mediocre skiing a dialogue began between myself and a couple co-workers. We began discussing couloir skiing and how reasonable it is for the time of year and how we might make it even better. Naturally ski blades were introduced into the conversation. If you’re not familiar with ski blades, simply imagine a pair of skis that instead of making it to your nose, barely make it to your hip.
A few days later the ski blades were on order and plans were made to pull touring bindings off of an old pair of skis to mount on the blades upon their arrival. All the while, heated discussions were had regarding the pros and cons of ski blades. Sure they’ll be more maneuverable in tight couloirs where jump turns will be made easy, but how will they do in powder, mixed snow conditions, how well balanced will they be for touring, will the bindings rip out? After chatting with another co-worker that happens to shoot professionally we decided it would be only reasonable to made a sweet short film about the future of backcountry touring and mountaineering.
After the ski blades arrival we quickly got to work on grinding down screws so they wouldn’t go through the base when mounting new bindings, figuring out where on the ski to place the bindings (ended up mounting them 1cm back from center) as well as adjusting some kicker skins to fit the new setup. After a couple hours of work I was ready to set off on a three-day hut trip outside of Aspen, CO.
Three days later after dozens of miles of touring and skiing slopes up to 50 degrees psyche was higher than ever. Slapping the blades on my Kode ABS Compatible pack and boot packing up ridges was a breeze. Sure I fell many more times than I usually do, it took a bit more work to figure out the powder turns…but once I did I got twice as many as my friends. And don’t even get me started on the tours to and from the hut, those puppies weigh next to nothing and are not afraid to go fast.
My name is Sam Feuerborn, and I have spent the last three years living in various vans in order to pursue my passions on my own schedule. Having grown up traveling and spending much of my formative years with my family outside hiking, camping and skiing it has been a natural transition to embrace the dirtbag lifestyle.With many of my adventures fueled my coffee and stoke, I like to keep the van well stocked. With this addictive I have spent months at a time climbing in the desert, hitchhiking through Africa, mountain biking through the San Juans, backcountry skiing in the Elks, climbing in Yosemite as well as countless games of Settlers of Catan around the world. I have been lucky enough to embrace this lifestyle and make it work thanks to the support of countless friends and strangers alike, encouraging me to think outside the box and play as often as possible.
Taking place August 18-24, 2014, the 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. Led by UCI ProTeams BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Team Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing, the race will include some of the top talent in the sport. Taking riders on a heart-pounding journey through the Colorado Rockies, the seven-day stage race will travel 550 miles from Aspen to Denver, making stops in cities known for their cycling culture and history such as Vail and Boulder.
This year marks our 3rd consecutive year as the official backpack of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and we are amped to be following the tour across our home-state! This year, we want to provide you with a couple more ways to win Osprey gear if you plan on attending one of the 7 stages so listen up and stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! (more…)
In addition to lots of fun activities at the event, I was asked to be a member of a pro-athlete panel for the closing event Adventure Saves the World.
At first I was put off by the title, as I am always mortified by the carbon footprint of even my human-powered expeditions. Then I received an outline, from moderator Mike Roberts, executive editor of the Outside — and to my surprise and delight, this guy wanted to dig deep! He had quotes from Will Gadd, spouting about the BS of many expeditions with a cause, to the polar opposite — powerful athletes really making a difference, like Jake Norton, fighting for clean drinking water. Were we going to have to put on boxing gloves and fight it out? Were many people just using expeditions to raise money for their hedonistic activities under the fake umbrella of a cause?
Turns out, all the world champion athletes at this symposium were all in favor of philanthropy, but all had some key points that charity givers should note…
Polar Explorer Eric Larsen talked up the benefits of bringing nature’s gifts into the classroom with social media, and noted that donated money should go to the cause — not to fund an expedition’s travel expenses.
Willie Kern responded eloquently regarding how effective we were in reaching millions, saying that if even one person was inspired or changed, that made it all worthwhile. Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug mentioned that he is flooded with emails from organ donation recipients like himself, inspired to do even more with their new lives.
How do we recognize if an expedition is doing the right thing? Of course you can check if corporate sponsors are funding expenses and donation money is going directly to causes, and check to see the validity and rating of a nonprofit, but there really is more. At the end of the forum, I had an epiphany regarding the issue… maybe what it boils down to is authenticity: in the days of Google, one can really check to see if an cause-driven expedition is really true to that person’s heart and soul. Based upon the passion I saw and heard at this symposium, I was inspired to keep saving the world, one snowflake at a time!
Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Freeskier, founder of The Save Our Snow Foundation and an award-winning global cooling consultant who has spent her life dedicated to solutions for climate change.
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures brings you Durango native Jim Philpott’s first entry recounting his participation in the recent Crested Butte-to-Aspen “Grand Traverse” ski race. Enjoy the read…
The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry touring race from Crested Butte, CO through the Gunnison National Forest over to Aspen. The race starts at midnight in the town of Crested Butte and finishes with a scary long groomer (because we were on Nordic gear) down Aspen Mountain to the finish at the base of the Gondola.
The week before the race this year the course received about 30″ of new snow and was getting hammered with high winds so the conditions were expected to be extremely variable. On race day though the weather cleared and with the exception of single digit temperatures and high winds in the early morning the weather was perfect! We even got a little powder skiing in off the back side of Star Pass.
The race is a team event with two people per team; this is mostly for safety reasons as there aren’t many rescue options once the race is underway. Other than endurance, a few screws loose “upstairs,” and a good strong team mate (mine being long time friend and Durango native Todd McGrath), gear selection is the most important aspect.
For my pack I chose my Variant 37 because I could fit whatever gear I needed and whatever gear was required without compromising comfort and versatility…I couldn’t be happier with the Variant for the purposes I’ve tested it with so far (primarily backcountry skiing trips). For skis and boots I chose to run nordic skis and skate boots with some small “kicker” skins for the big hills…of which there are a ton!
We ended up coming in 67th out of 149 racers, not bad for our first go-round, and we had a blast. You can find the rest of the race results here. Enjoy the photos and leave me a comment if you’ve ever done this race and what your experience was like. I’d love to hear other perspectives on the Grand Traverse!
For more information check out Jim’s bio page here.