Mutant 38

November 25th 2014 - Written by: Joe Stock

Chugach Rock Climbing

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.


The Chugach is not famous for rock climbing. Probably the most fame it received was in a Rock & Ice article containing the Seward Highway among the five worst climbing areas in the United States. But the Chugach does have some solid rock. And if you don’t compare it to Colorado rock or California rock then you’ll have a great time.

The foothills of the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage have some of this solid rock. The problem is finding someone to adventure up there. I recruited my buddy Joshua Foreman to go exploring on O’Malley Peak. After hiking almost two hours we reached the base of a 500-foot buttress. As we climbed we found evidence from other parties, going back forty years: pitons, bongs, nuts, rotting slings. These  climbers had intense personal experiences on this cliffs. They told stories to a few buddies at the bar. The adventure became a faint memory in their lifetime of adventures. Without social media, the adventure was able to refresh itself for the next party.


Joshua following the first of four long pitches on the Deep Lake Buttress. He’s using the new Mutant 38–light and sleek! The solid Chugach rock has a weathered brown veneer.


Joshua leading pitch two. He pulled this second roof onto 60 feet of wet and runnout slabs. For an hour the rope inched up the rock as grunts and explicative floated down. Joshua also enjoys high-speed downhill biking and has competed as a speed skier in Alaska’s notorious Arctic Man. Leading a runout wet slab as his first rock climb in six months was perfect.


Joshua and I with the Deep Lake Buttress behind. Rock climbing in Alaska in mid-May. We are so lucky.

September 24th 2014 - Written by: Joe Stock

Aiguille du Peigne

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.


Half of the reason for coming to Chamonix is to climb with other guides. I’ve spent the last two weeks climbing with Andrew Wexler, an IFMGA guide from Canmore, Alberta. We’ve been buddies for 15 years and been on our greatest adventures together: the Ptarmigan Traverse in a day, the Eklutna Traverse in a day, full-length ski traverses of the Neacola and Tordrillo Mountains and a ski traverse from Anchorage to Valdez. These will probably remain the apex of our athletic careers. Since then we’ve become more work-focused, but that feels right.

Now Andrew and I get to guide and play together in Chamonix. This is one of our free days. We chose the Aiguille du Peigne in the Aiguilles du Chamonix. This is a moderate alpine rock route that starts with the classic Papillion Arete.

The lower altitude of Aiguille du Peigne seemed right for a forecast calling for afternoon thunder showers. Most of the route is easy fifth class like this.



Some places the rock kicked up to 5.8, with lots of exposure.



This is the crux pitch, a delicate traverse to a chimney with perfect finger and hand cracks in the back. The pitch was streaming with water, but the finger locks and hand jams were so solid it didn’t matter. Behind is the north face of the Aiguille du Midi.



Andrew’s beautiful photo of me leading moderate rock on the summit ridge. The new Osprey Mutant 38 worked perfect. Thanks Osprey! Chubby bolts made for four easy rappels, then we lost the rap route in the fog. We ended up slinging horns for rap anchors to get back to the normal descent route.  Thanks for a great day Andrew! See more of Andrew’s photos on his site globalalpine.com.

September 13th 2014 - Written by: Joe Stock

Inca Trail

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.

October 15th 2013 - Written by: Kelsy

What’s in Your Pack? Timmy O’Neill’s Mutant 38


So, you’ve got the perfect pack for your next adventure in hand. But this very fact has you wondering what the crucial items you need to carry might be. Fret no more! Our Osprey athlete  “What’s in Your Pack?” video series will give you the expert advice you need to be sure you’re dialed for that next adventure. In this month’s video, pro climber and executive director of Paradox Sports, Timmy O’Neill, shows off what’s in his Mutant 38.

Check out the first installment of this exciting series – and never be afraid to ask What’s in Your Pack?! We’ll have a new video each month to help you see what our Osprey athletes are packing.

February 11th 2010 - Written by: Joe Stock

Off To France & Italy

Joe Stock is an Alaskan adventurer, AAI guide, photographer, writer and has worked as an Osprey pack tester for many years (ala Osprey Athlete). We love Joe.

I’m nervous. Normally, mountains are just mountains. Some are huge and glaciated while others are just rocky. Add a frenzy of foreigners, a network of telepheriques, a 300-year old guiding history and the mountains suddenly become daunting to me. These are the French Alps around Chamonix. Tomorrow we’re going there.

Guiding in France is a rite of passage for IFMGA guides. Chamonix is the birthplace of mountain guiding and still sets the international standard for guides. My wife Cathy and I will base in Chamonix for the next month, taking the lifts to mountain summits for day touring, then spending two weeks hut-based in the area. I’ll take any odd work from guide friends in the area, but focus on learning the system, writing, and shooting.

The world’s finest ski tour is the second portion of our trip—the Ortler traverse in the Italian Alps. This will be a recon before I guide five customers across the Ortler for Sierra Mountain Guides.

Cathy and I are taking Mutant 38s as our main ski packs since ice axes go inside the pack while riding the telepherique. On lighter days, we’ll use the Kode 30. We have the Flap Jack and Flap Jill Mini as our townie bags.


The Osprey quiver!


Mowzers perusing the trip literature. Her favorite book is Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges – a guide for skiers by Anselme Baud. The steep skiing history has her wiskers twitching.


Cathy running at Bethany Beach, Delaware where her parents live. The east coast called this the Blizzard of 2010.  Reagan International was shut down for four days from 30 inches of snow, but it looks like we’re flying out tomorrow.

January 10th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Favorite Images from the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival

October 7th 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Chamonix Exploits and the Osprey AMGA Scholarship in Action

I struggled to keep up as my “client” raced down the icy arete.  Falling to our left would have sent us careening down thousands of meters of icy granite, falling right would have deposited us into a bus-sized crevasse. We continued sprinting across the glacier to the base of the 9-pitch Rebuffat route on the still snow and ice chocked, south face of the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France. I frantically racked up as my “client” calmly removed a yellow notebook from his coat pocket and began to write.

The Aiguille du Midi

The Aiguille du Midi

This was day one of the American Mountain Guides Association’s Advanced Alpine Guide Course/Aspirant Exam and my “client” (complete with yellow exam notebook) was an experienced and uber-fit IFMGA mountain guide and examiner. At this point I had seriously begun to question whether traveling this far from home in Crested Butte, CO to spend the summer guiding season in the French Alps, was really the right decision. As the route unfolded with pitch after pitch of golden granite I soon found my groove and all my apprehension melted away.

Mike Bromberg climbing Chamonix Granite

Mike Bromberg climbing Chamonix Granite

Chamonix needs little introduction with regards to it’s terrain and ease of access. What you may not know is that Cham is really the birthplace of mountain guiding and is host to the largest number of active mountain guides worldwide. With several courses and exams still left in my progression before becoming a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, Chamonix was the natural choice to help me develop my high alpine guiding skills. After countless hours of emailing and phone conversations, I had somehow convinced two of my American peers to make the pilgrimage with me to the Alps and take our course and exam in this intimidating venue.

THE Venue

THE Venue

Throughout the twelve day course we were thoroughly challenged by the varied terrain, complex glaciers and spectacular routes, all the while musing about how much more approaching we would have had to endure, had the course been held in the states.

Regardless of the intimidation factor and the intricacies of Euro-style guiding, I completed the course and passed the thorough examination. Upon completion, I was granted IFMGA Aspirant status and was therefore able to continue my learning through summer work under the supervision of a full IFMGA mountain guide.

Classic Alpine Terrain

Classic Alpine Terrain

The process of becoming a fully certified mountain guide through the American Mountain Guides Association is a rewarding though sometimes stressful process, and requires substantial financial investment.

I was able to participate in this program through the 2009 full tuition scholarship from Osprey. I am proud to have had the support of Osprey and want to sincerely express my appreciation for this scholarship. Osprey’s support of the guiding profession in the United States and most specifically their help in assisting aspiring guides achieve their goals, is what sets them apart from other manufacturers. This opportunity certainly improved my guiding skills in Alpine terrain and as I look forward to future exams, I am endlessly grateful for having been granted this opportunity.

Thanks Osprey!

Thanks Osprey!

Mike Bromberg

AMGA Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide/ IFMGA Aspirant Guide

September 28th 2009 - Written by: Joe Stock

Training for the Rock Guide Exam—Red Rocks, Nevada

South Las Vegas. One house. Fourteen guides. Heaps of cams and packs in the garage. Stacks of guidebooks on the kitchen table. The air is thick with beta. “Don’t do anything on the Black Velvet wall. Too straightforward. Too many bolts to be on the exam.”

“How’d you avoid that jammed block rap on the Frigid Air?”

We’ve been training for two weeks and have another week before the exam starts. Each day we venture out to climb exam routes—those with complicated guiding problems—where safely protecting two clients involves an extra four steps compared to climbing with your buddies. Take the notorious Community Pillar descent, where just getting to the main raps involves short roping, short-pitching, intermediate anchors, a pre-rig rappel and avoiding a tempting anchor known as No Pass Tree. No Pass Tree is a big tree, wrapped with trucker slings, but surrounded by loose blocks. If you rap off No Pass Tree then you No Pass Exam.

The focus of  our training for the American Mountain Guide Association exam–and guiding in general–is safety. Climbing the 5.10+ standard while wearing a pack and pulling two ropes seems insignificant compared to learning hundreds of safety tricks. For example, yesterday we realized that if you clove-off your client to the master point between the autolocker and their knot, then they are basically off belay for a split second—the autolocker won’t catch as you are tying the client’s clove-hitch. Instead, tie-off the brake strand before clove-hitching the client into the anchor master point. Anal, but if guiding is your career, then you’ll learn to stack the odds in your favor, or you’ll get weeded out.

Osprey has been training with me the whole time. I haul the rack and ropes into the routes with my beloved Mutant 38. Then I climb with a Solo, the ultimate summer climbing pack. The hard plastic ribs on the outside of the Solo take the abuse while grinding up chimneys and the sleek, low volume make the pack almost imperceptible when climbing.


Mark Allen belaying Mike Bromberg on pitch 5 of 12 on Initiwantan (IV 5.10c), Mount Wilson, Red Rocks, Nevada.



Mark Smiley leading  the old-school 5.9 chimneys on pitch 5 of 18. Epinephrine, Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rocks, Nevada.

September 9th 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Keep Quiet Everyone

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, introduces new team member Joseph Bradbury. Joseph is a Salt Lake City resident, bike commuter, and frequent traveler. Joseph will be testing the Waypoint 85 pack from the new Osprey travel collection as well the bike commuting beauty, the “Flapjack.” Joseph will soon embark for Ecuador but for now, he’s been taking his Mutant 38 to big walls while racking up vert…

I recently had a friend, Maegan, come in town from New York. She is starting her graduate program at NYU in a couple weeks so she was eager to get into the mountains while she was in town; I, as always, was more than happy to oblige. I haven’t climbed many sport routes in Little Cottonwood so I asked a friend of mine named Jim to accompany us.

We set out for Little Cottonwood Canyon, just outside of Salt Lake City, at eight in the morning. The air was still cool enough to chill us as Maegan and I sat quiet on my front porch drinking coffee. Jim pulled up and after brief introductions we headed for the crag. On the way, Jim was pointing at random peaks and slabs of rock just off the I-215 belt route; his excitement grew the closer we got to the mouth of the canyon. In the back seat Maegan peered up at the granite cliffs.

As we approached a narrow switchback on the canyon road, one I was previously familiar with, Jim asked us not to speak around “Silent Rock”. Not being a very superstitious person I thought it was somewhat hokey but never the less I complied. Jim insisted that he heard it was bad luck to talk around the turn and when we were to be participating in an activity that consisted of us dangling a few dozen meters above the rocky ground, he’d take every advantage for safety he could. This both pleased and comforted Maegan who was getting nervous for her first climb in the back seat.

Soon after Silent Rock we pulled into a dirt packing lot, and gathered the gear. Jim put on his harness at the car, clicked a string of draws onto his belt and slung a rope over his shoulder. “Hey, that’s pretty slick,” he said. I liked that word, slick. “This?” I motioned to my pack, the Mutant 38, “It keeps all your stuff in one place.”

We made our way to the base of the climb where Maegan and I scrambled up a couple 5.8’s and a 5.10. On a high 5.8 Maegan stayed at the bolts for a while before coming down. I was half way up the wall when I noticed her stalling. I thought for a moment she panicked and wouldn’t come down. I made my way up to the chains on my route, about fifteen feet to the side of hers. I saw Maegan standing on a large ledge, her back to the wall. “Everything okay?” I asked her. “Yeah, I’m great. I just wanted to stay up here for a bit. Everything looks different from up here.” I turned and looked out with her for a minute before repelling down.

As we left the canyon our hands all matched, white cuticles and shredded fingertips from the unforgiving granite. We passed Silent Rock, Jim didn’t ask but no one spoke. When we emerged from Little Cottonwood Canyon into the city, everything looked a little different.

mutant38About the Mutant 38: For Alpine endeavors. The results of extensive testing and feedback from the vertical world, the Mutant 38 provides a simple, strong, lightweight solution for short alpine adventures or multi-day mountain trips. Key Fabrics: Armourlite 420D and Armourguard 900D. Stripped Weights:

  • Small: 0.94 kg
  • Medium: 0.95 kg
  • Large: 0.96 kg

More information on the Mutant 38 can be found here.

July 31st 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

It was time to escape the desert…

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 in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Philip Swiny from Las Vegas. As you can imagine LV has been HOT and Philip had to flee to cooler climes in the northwest…

Las Vegas is a great winter climbing venue but as the summer rolls around, the temperatures rise and it is time to escape to cooler locals. This year my summer exploration is going to take me to a new part of the country, some where I have never explored before, and I have heard has only a short window of dry weather… the pacific northwest.

The trek from Vegas to Seattle is not an overly long one, but it is easy to take it nice and slow because there is so much to see and do along the way. I planned on taking about a week to make the drive. Bob a fellow guide in Vegas was also heading up to the Northwest for a while so we figured why not convoy. This would enable us to climb and explore on the way north. At the last minute, he had to stay in town a couple extra days so I started off alone.

My first stop was the East side of the Sierras. Just a beautiful 5 hour drive northwest of Vegas one arrives at the outdoor play ground of Bishop, CA. Bishop has is all, world class bouldering, overlooked sport climbing, and numerous life times of alpine granite all within minutes of town.

I met up with my friends Dave, Trish and discussed our options for the next day. It was decided that the priorities were a leisurely breakfast, home in time for a dinner, a short approach, a beautiful setting and a classic climb.  The choice was easy, the West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle. Only 20 miles out of town, but numerous degrees cooler due to elevation gain, it is one of the area classics. This 4 pitch crack climb ranges from fingers to off width, with a few exposed face moves thrown in for good measure.

We could not have asked for a more perfect day. Clear skies, good eats, and the only other party on the route were friends of ours from Vegas. We all swapped leads, took our time and just enjoying the day. In no time at all we were sitting at the last belay, enjoying the view of the endless sea of granite spires and towers stretching off to the north.

After what was truly a dinner feast Dave and Trish had to head back to the upcoming work week, I instead set up for a day of bouldering, with plans to meet Bob in new terrain for us both… Donner Summit, CA.

Philip is currently testing the Osprey “Mutant 38” – read more about the pack here.

For more information check out Philip’s bio page here.


Whether your pack was purchased in 1974 or yesterday, Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge.