“After 15 years in obscurity, Nolan’s 14, a hundred-mile traverse of 14 14,000-foot peaks in 60 hours, emerges as a new test piece for elite mountain runners.” –National Geographic Adventure
Yes, that’s correct — completing Nolan’s 14 entails traversing 14 summits, each over 14,000 ft (nearly 100 miles in distance!), in under 60 hours.
Ben shares what this particular group of 14 peaks means to him and how this traverse has shaped the last three years of his life:
In all my life, I have never been so prepared. But in all my life, I have never found the right sequence to complete this unending task, a three year commitment of endurance fitness topping 33 previous years of hard knocks and tussles with progress through the mountains. “Is this time different? Is it worth it?” I have to ask myself — this is the grandest journey on foot of my life — through them and through these years and it has taken longer than I ever thought. It has ground me down while building me up. It is so long, so enormous.
The last two summers I have “gone for it” 4 times on ultra marathon distance traverses over 10 mountains in central Colorado, on a route known as Nolan’s 14. In that two years I have seen my hopes of finishing crushed more than 75 of 93 miles into it twice.
Despite the setbacks along the way toward reaching an understanding of visiting all 14 of Nolan’s 14’s fourteen thousand foot summits in one push, its mystery and magnetism continue to compel me because I love the mountains and big days. I have made mistakes out there but had a satisfying and safe time pursuing this adventure and don’t want to give up on my original purpose for engaging with the line in it’s totality. It’s the biggest effort I can reach for these days and I feel like is suited to the most focused strengths I have trained for and within reason. Now that the time approaches for another long stretch, I’m happy to be exploring it on the best terms I can-those grounded on experience gained on the line and preparation refined each time.
My plan is to start at the north end of the trail and go in one long push from the Fish Hatchery in Leadville, Co. to the summit of Mount Shavano near Poncha Springs, Co. I’ll have no crew, but will have one pair of shoes, one pack (my Osprey Rev 12) and some pretty sweet food, enough gear to do all 14 of the fourteeners. I’m psyched about this. You might be wondering, how the hell is that possible if it took so much crew before to not finish? It will, after all, be me alone.
And this brings me back to the point of this journey, to answer my own questions, to staying committed to a purpose, to answering “is this time different?” No. This time is the same. I began my journey as a mountaineer in this same mountain range 16 years ago, before a decade committed to high altitude Himalayan exploration. In that time I lived many impressionable memories and shared moments with friends that indemnify a lifetime of happiness. It is worth it to know the mountains, and also their uncertain moments. I stopped taking physically consequential risks in the mountains when i became a father 3 years ago. I will always love the mountains and I wanted a safer way to explore them when pushing myself. Nolan’s 14 is for me, that path.
It is a return to my roots as a climber, I view it as the biggest climb in the world. It is minimal and asks for a high level of concentration and accountability during the experience. I will need to be present and own the outcome of every decision for days on end…and nights. I perform my best and truly enjoy the mountains when I have to do that. So many great friends helped me learn it is possible, only in the doing of this would we have known.
With 4 attempts already under my belt, the first 3 adhering to a set of pre existing conventions that led to 13 others completing sub 60 hour finishes on the line since 1999, and 6 since I first attempted it in 2013, I have learned a thing or two. Organized more like a competitive event than a mountain traverse, those rules can lead to success if the timing is good. But with so many opportunities to figure it out in that way specifically and still not completing it due to my own timing and logistical complications, I’ve had to forget those conventions and slowly develop my own personal style based on my experiences on it, what mountaineers would call our “fair means”. The means is a simpler version of things than what I had been doing or what might normally be done. Fewer things to line up means better chances, I believe, and still a whole lot of fun. I hope to flow over it now and to just “surf the chaos” as a good friend would say. I’m excited about the start rather than coordinating a party of people.
I will do my best with what knowledge I have to “finish” with as little time on my feet as possible and per the schedule below, which is still below the 60 hour goal I have had previously. This is not implied to be a “solo” journey as there are many people climbing fourteeners every day of the week and being alone out there any time other than night would be rare, it is just an unsupported trip alone and based around the most ideal weather window. I am heading out there to finish safely, under my own power with all my stuff on me and within a single push. There are no guarantees, but if history is any indicator and the X factor I have been missing is present then I believe it’ll go!!!!
Ouray is famous for ice climbing in the winter months, but during the late summer becomes home to many amazing waterfalls tucked away inside hidden canyons.
Filmed during the 2014 Ouray Canyon Festival, “Ouray” features some of the best Class C (flowing water) canyoneering that Colorado has to offer.
World Falling Away is an outdoor adventure series with a focus on canyoneering and kayaking in the Southwest U.S.
My name is Paul McDaniel, and I have been with Osprey Packs for over 2 years. Currently I am the Business Process Manager, where my focus is on continuous improvement for all of Osprey’s business processes.
I was born and raised in Arkansas, where I was reared on a steady diet of whitewater, climbing, and general outdoor shenanigans. After living in Florida, South Carolina, and Washington state (due to a 6 year stint in the Navy) I ended up in the Southwest US (Arizona & Colorado), where I was introduced to a relatively obscure sport: canyoneering.
Armed with a climbing background and overconfidence, I set out on my newfound passion, where following a couple of close calls and dumb luck, I quickly discovered about the only thing climbing and canyoneering have in common were the helmet and the harness.
Soon after however, I was able to find a training pipeline that allowed me to bring my technical skillset up to my level of ambition. At this point, I was introduced to some rather talented individuals, with amazing canyoneering expertise, and after introducing them to whitewater kayaking, World Falling Away was born.
With the help of my friends, I started World Falling Away as a way to showcase the unique experiences that culminate from mixing a rugged Southwest environment with the most basic of elements — water. Monsoon storms turn canyons that are normally dry into something else entirely once they flash flood, creating canyoneering experiences only for the brave at heart. Spring-filled creeks surrounded by desert provide year-round kayaking where there shouldn’t be any. Late summer alpine lakes become the headwaters for waterfalls so intense they not only test a person’s rope skills, but also how long that individual can hold their breath. World Falling Away is the about experiencing the moment, and letting everything else fade into obscurity.
I currently live in Cortez, Colorado, where I am also an avid mountain biker, trail runner, and ice climber.
“16 world-class teams will compete over seven stages that will take the riders across nearly 600 miles of epic terrain. Included amongst the competitors will be BMC Racing Team, Team Garmin-Sharp and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling. This year’s race begins in the legendary Bike Town USA, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and winds across the Rockies to what will certainly be a thrilling circuit finish in the state capital of Denver.”
Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge proved to be a challenging one right away with the ascent of Fremont Pass (11,318 feet). That steep climb proved to be just a warm-up as the real challenge for riders was ascending the upper slopes of Independence Pass and then heading down its breathtaking descent into Aspen, where some of the most memorable moments in Pro Challenge history have played out. Over half of Stage 3 of the 2015 USA Pro Cycling Challenge was above 10,000 feet — which makes for incredible views and seriously tired lungs.
- Check out the final results for Stage 3.
- Here is a recap video of Stage 3 for those of you who missed it.
Stage Three of @usaprochallenge in #Aspen! We're thrilled to once again be at the #ProChallenge AND to be the Official Backpack of this world class, 7-stage professional #cycling race taking place every day from 8/17 until 8/23 across our great home-state of #Colorado. Learn more: blog.ospreypacks.com
Onward to Stage 4 in the breathtaking city of Breckenridge, Colorado – which sits at just above 9,000 feet.
If you are in the area, we would love to see you at the Osprey Packs booth! Here’s just a sampling of what we’ve got going on at our booth for the 2015 Pro Cycle Challenge:
- Limited Edition FlapJack Pro Cycle Challenge Pack: Osprey is proud to be the Official Pack of the Pro Cycle Challenge! You can pick up one of our newly designed Fall 2015 FlapJack Packs which is co- branded with the Pro Cycle logo, a functional and memorable souvenir for years to come! In celebration of the Pro Cycle Challenge we doing a killer deal of $85 normally ($110 MSRP) and only while supplies last so don’t delay!
- Osprey Packs Cowbell — all proceeds benefitting IMBA: Earn some good karma points while cheering on the pros by picking up a customized Osprey Packs cowbell! All proceeds from the sale of your ProChallenge cowbell will benefit Osprey Packs’ non-profit partner, International Mountain Bicycling Association, which supports great rides nationwide by providing trail project grants and funding access issues.
- Pack Fitting by the Experts: In the market for a new pack but still need to figure out some of the details? Not to worry, our Pro Cycle team are pack-fit gurus and can find the pack that fits your specific needs and style! Stop by to get professionally fitted or just to chat about the options we have.
- 20% off at Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge: We have teamed up with our local retailer, Mountain Outfitters to bring you 20% off all Osprey Packs in their store! If you are attending the Breckenridge stage of the challenge, stop by to take advantage of this great deal!
If you weren’t able to make it out to Colorado this year, then check out the livestream of each stage or the Official Tour Tracker to keep up with the racers! Be sure to follow this year’s races on social media with the Official USA Pro Cycle Challenge social sites:
Follow Osprey Packs on social media to keep up with the race throughout the week:
As many of you may have noticed, SW Colorado has been unseasonably wet for the past couple of months. And I’m not talking a nice and gentle Seattle-like drizzle. I mean full on thunder-hail, monsoon, wrath of the gods type of weather. Needless to say, I’ve been chased from the mountains as lightning ripped through savage clouds with my tail between my legs more than a few times this season.
It’s not like I’m not checking the weather reports before heading out on assignment. In fact, I’ve been studying over weather forecasts like it was my job. Well, because it kinda is I suppose. But at the end of the day, you just can’t predict mountain weather. So if they’re calling for 60% chance of thunderstorms, that’s a 40% chance to catch some amazingly dynamic light.
That’s exactly what Ben Clark, Sam Feuerborn and I were facing when we went out to shoot a video of the Osprey Packs Anti-Gravity™ series in the Telluride backcountry last week. As soon as we rolled into town, we found ourselves at the local dive bar, waiting for a glimmer of sunshine to pierce the gray curtain. Hunkered down by the plate glass window of The Buck, we watched our day’s plans wash down Main Street in the daily deluge.
‘Yet, another shutdown brought to you by Mother Nature’, I thought. Feeling obligated to be at least somewhat productive, I suggested that we head up to Imogene Pass and scout a little. We loaded up the truck, put it in four-wheel drive and headed up hill.
It did not take me long to discover that Imogene was not a path for the faint of heart. Imagine a very technical and frighteningly narrow road strewn with melon-sized boulders which occasionally fall from the crumbling San Juan cliff side. On your right is an unguarded 1500 foot drop to oblivion. On your left, cascading waterfalls crashing over your hood. White-knuckled, but grinning ear to ear, we continued on. And so did the rain.
At nearly 11,000 feet, we rolled into the ghost town of Tomboy. And within moments, the storm that had shrouded us in defeat began a hasty retreat. We all looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders and without a word, donned our gear.
We knew our window would be a brief one, so we focused on the task at hand and knocked out six scenes in less than an hour. When the rain clouds rushed back in, we charged back to the truck, loaded the gear and reveled on the fact on how lucky we were to have that window.
Closing the tailgate and about to head home, the clouds decided to part for us one last time. As they did, we found ourselves wrapped in the some of the most incredibly beautiful, golden light we had ever seen. Diving headfirst into the truck, Sam soon emerged with an Atmos AG pack. I grabbed my MKIII, locked on a 70-200mm lens and we sprinted up to an overlook, racing the light with every step. When we reached the top, we had just enough time to snap this frame before the magic was gone forever.
Right place, right people, right time.
Here’s the first video featuring our award-winning, innovative 2015 Anti-Gravity series:
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My name is Dan Holz, and I have the good fortune of being the staff photographer for Osprey Packs. Photography has been a passion of mine since grade school and I’ve used it as a vehicle to take me everywhere from my backyard in Colorado to the lush jungles of Borneo and the glaciated landscapes of Patagonia. People often ask if I have a ‘specialty.’ It’s kind of a tough question, because while I specialize in active lifestyle and mountain sport photography, I find myself chasing the magic light more than anything else. If the face of a Nepali farmer is suddenly cast in the beautiful shadow of contrast, I become a portrait photographer in that moment. Or if a setting sun embraces a rice paddy outside of Chiang Mai, for an instant I’m a landscape photographer. As a photographer, I am always exploring self-expression and pushing the limits of what I – and my camera – can do. It’s a passion, it’s a job, it’s a lifestyle all wrapped up in a single package. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
10 Questions with Osprey Athlete Ben Rueck
1. What place inspires you?
The place that inspires me the most is Africa. It is the one continent that offers the most diversity in culture and climbing. Guaranteed if I travel to Africa I am going experience a life changing event.
2. What one item do you always have in your pack?
3. Who do you most admire?
This is a complicated question for me. I think that I admire a person that pursues their full potential– no matter how scared they are. To expand outside your comfort zone is something that is difficult and takes commitment. If I had to narrow it to a person that would be negating many influential people in my life that live this kind of way. So I admire those who try.
4. What is your favorite food?
Mom’s homemade tacos.
5. Which Osprey pack are you using right now? What is your favorite feature about your pack?
Right now I am using the Variant. My favorite feature about the pack is that it can handle all of my climbing gear and still feel comfortable on long approaches.
6. Do you have a favorite quote? What is it? (more…)
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Ready for 4 days of celebrating outdoor sports, dogs, art, mountains and live music against the stunningly beautiful backdrop of Vail, Colorado? We sure are – Osprey Packs will be returning yet again to the nation’s largest celebration of outdoor sports!
Summer 2015 GoPro Mountain Games events include steep, freestyle, sprint and full contact kayaking, rafting, mountain and road biking, World Cup Bouldering, amateur climbing, fly fishing, stand up paddling, slackline and trail, mud and long distance running……wow, that was a mouthful. Oh yeah, we hope you like the multiple free concerts, adventure flix, eye candy and Gear Town!
See you at the 2015 GoPro Mountain Games!
Check out the complete schedule for a full listing of of events
Why should you meet us in Vail at the GoPro Mountain Games?
Here are a few reasons:
The Games: Professional and amateur athletes from around the world converge upon the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in t for more than $110,000 in prize money – make sure to register here to compete among the best.
Live FREE Music: Nothing can top off your day outdoors than the live music that leads us into the night – check out the artists who will be performing!
Thursday, June 4th:
Friday, June 5th:
6:30pm – Natty Vibes
7:45pm – Iration
Saturday, June 6th:
6:30pm – The Silent Comedy
7:45pm – G. Love & Special Sauce
Following the IFSC Bouldering World Cup Finals
We saved the best for last! Here’s what will be going on at our booth and why you should stop by the Osprey booth, while you are in Gerber Gear Town:
- 20% off Packs at Osprey Booth — We’ll be bringing a select number of our innovative hydration and daypacks with us to Vail. Stop by the booth to see what packs we have on hand for you to try on — we will be offering 20% off all packs in celebration of the games!
- Professional Pack Fitting – We want you to find your pack AND your fit. Share good times, talk gear and get fitted by the friendly Osprey Packs event crew — in addition to being fun, they are the Pack Fit Gurus of Colorado! If you are looking for the perfect fit for you and have yet to visit an Osprey Retailer, then stop by our booth with all of your Pack questions and we will point you to the one right for you!
- 20% off at Ptarmigan Sports – If you can’t find what you are looking for at our booth, visit Osprey retailer Ptarmigian Sports (located in Edwards, CO) for a broader selection of our larger backpacks with the same special 20% off deal! Ptarmigan is located at 137 Main Street, Edwards, CO & they’ll be offering 20% until June 12th!
- Feel it to believe it – try out our revolutionary Anti-Gravity Fit: 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. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Interested in what this innovative suspension system feels like? Getting ready for an epic summer backpacking trip? Stop by our booth to try AG for yourself at our Anti-Gravity Fit Station.
Follow the action with GoPro Mountain Game’s official tags and platforms:
Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating, inspiring and motivating audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving, adventures worth pursuing and conversations worth sustaining.
Telluride Mountainfilm: The Festival
Started in 1979, Telluride Mountainfilm is one of America’s longest-running film festivals. Through the years, in and out of trends and fads, the festival has always been best described by one unchanging word: inspiring. Far more than any other adjective, that’s how festival audiences describe their experience.
In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, outdoor programs, a book-signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony.
Osprey Packs is proud to be an Official Sponsor of Telluride Mountainfilm, taking place May 22-25, 2015.
The 37th annual Telluride Mountainfilm festival brings together a community of filmmakers, authors, adventurers, musicians, activists and artists for a weekend of incredible, inspiring events.
“Public Lands: Valuable to Our Bottom Line and Way of Life,” written by Osprey Packs co-founder & co-owner Diane Wren, originally appeared in the Montrose Press.
Twenty five years ago, my husband Mike and I moved from the coastal redwoods of California to the edge of sandstone canyon country in the San Juan Mountains in the hopes of building a headquarters for our homegrown company – Osprey Packs – that would allow us to test our handmade gear in the most inspiring and rugged of places. After settling in Cortez, Osprey quickly became an international force in the outdoor industry, and we’ve been proud to grow our classic American dream in southwestern Colorado. We now employ over 80 people in Cortez and are still growing. Like many other international outdoor businesses across Colorado, we chose to build a business here because access to public lands makes this the perfect spot for our employees to settle down, for us to try out our next idea in the field, and because so many in our community share our love for getting outside and exploring our wild West.
The same incredible landscapes that drew us to Colorado, though, are now facing a serious threat. Out-of-state special interests like the American Lands Council are pushing legislators across the Rockies to try to seize our national public lands and transfer them into state control, which could bankrupt our states and lead to massive access closures. Colorado is lucky enough to have 24 million acres of federal public lands within our borders, but the state managing them would cost Coloradans over $300 million a year, and a single wildfire could add tens of millions of dollars to the bill. Our state is constitutionally bound to balance its budget – this additional financial burden would likely force the state to prioritize extractive uses or sell off our lands to the highest bidder for private development. (more…)
#KeepItPublic, #OurLand, Canyon of the Ancients, Chimney Rock, Colorado, Conservation, Cortez, Diane Wren, Dolores River Canyon, Osprey Culture, Phil's World, public lands, San Juan Citizens Alliance, san juan mountains, the conservation alliance, the new york times, Uncompahgre National Forest, Western Colorado Congress, Will Rogers
“My Favorite Places to Ski, Part 2” was to be the subject of this post.The weather has been so strange this year (I’ll save that rant forlater), that I pondered writing my favorite places to mountain bike instead. Then is started snowing again! So instead I’ll write about where I’ve skied and biked recently. Quite a year it is when you can do both in the same day!
Whistler, BC, Canada has long been a favorite place for me. Big alpine lines, impressive backcountry access, beyond-stellar views, big big big…the list goes on and on.
Since I’m a small town girl, I adore staying in Pemberton, BC instead of in the fancy Whistler resort. Only a half hour away, Pemberton’s lush valley is surrounded by animal, veggie and berry farms, with mountains like Mt. Curry rising 8,000 feet above. For food, don’t miss Mile One – burgers with local Pemby Beef that are to die for, especially with toppings like handmade goat cheese.
The Whistler/Blackcomb resort is so massive that finding a local guide is essential to link the goods together. They do offer free guided tours (check the map/grooming report/big boards for info) or just post on Facebook before heading there and find a friend or friend of friend to guide you. Unless you want to spend a lot of time on lifts or looking at vistas, choose either Whistler or Blackcomb to ski for any given day.
The backcountry is vast, and often requires a sled, but I’ve found plenty great stuff via skins as well. The Duffy is one of the local classic places to go tour. This video below is of Alaska, but it reminds me of the alpine terrain in that area: (more…)
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.