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…)
If there’s one thing you can count on during any photo or video shoot, it’s that you can’t count on anything. It was a simple enough plan: Get together with a couple of pro climbers, film them on one of the most exquisite routes in SW Colorado, have some good times, then head on home. Mission complete.
Don’t get me wrong, just like any other shoot, there was a ton of logistical planning involved. Multiple shotlists were written. Engineering obstacles on how to safely and effectively rig cameras on an overhanging 5.13+ finger crack were tackled. Assistants were hired. Groceries were bought. Sleeping accommodations were booked. Truck was packed full of camera gear, rigging equipment and a case of home-brew. All ducks were in a militant little row.
As I rolled into Grand Junction, I found myself driving straight into the inhospitable embrace of a winter storm, stoke level dropping faster than the mercury.
Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘Dan, during all of your careful planning, why didn’t you bother to check the weather report?’
Ahh, that’s a wonderful question. You see, while a blustery curtain of white obscured our view of the great sandstone splitters of Escalante Canyon, the current weather forecast insisted that we were standing under clear, sunny skies.
Knowing exactly what to do in situations like this, I opened up the tailgate, pushed the case of homebrew aside and reached for a flask of bourbon. It was time for Plan B.
The problem was, we had no ‘Plan B.’
Plan A= Amazing. Plan B=Not so much
The crew, consisting of Ben Rueck, Sam Feuerborn, Mayan Smith-Gobat and I, decided to head back to town with our tails between our legs. As the truck warmed up and took the chill from our bones, we moaned about the seeping and now unprotectable cracks that would take days to dry…even if the sun were shining. Options were few. Indian Creek would surely be in the same, sad condition. Likewise for Moab.
It was then that Mayan chimed in with her charming Kiwi accent, “It’ll be cold, but why not shoot the Puoux?” Of course! Among the overhanging limestone walls of Glenwood Springs, there was a gem of a climb called ‘Gutless Wonder.’ The route, which took two agonizing years of Ben’s life to complete, would offer just enough shelter from the roving mountain storm…probably. I could see the pain on Ben’s face as soon as it was mentioned. It was a route he thought was in the rearview, one which he had never expected to revisit this soon, if ever again. Having sent the route less than a year before, the wounds were still fresh in his mind.
We took refuge in a local coffee shop, closing the door on the thick clouds that loomed in the cold, dark sky. As Ben and I scribbled out a shot list, we faced the fact that this would be a run and gun mission. We’d be attempting to film a 5.14b route in single digit temps on the side of Colorado’s busiest & loudest highway. Because we were shooting on the Winter Solstice, the shortest of all days, we would only have a four hour window to film the entire piece. It would be rough, but we now had a plan B.
The wintery conditions were actually perfect. Well, maybe not for Ben – but definitely for the shoot. The thick buffer of clouds diffused the intense Colorado sun, providing us with soft, even light. As it turned out, this high mountain weather painfully echoed the same conditions Ben endured when he finally sent Gutless in 2014, so the agony you see in this video is quite authentic.
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.
Fracking Colorado? “Dear Governor Hickenlooper” Premieres at Mountainfilm: Watch a Screening Near You!
Osprey Athlete Alison Gannett is a World Champion Big Mountain FreeSkier, founder both The Save Our Snow Foundation and KEEN Rippin Chix Steep Skiing Camps and Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camps. As an accomplished ski mountaineer and Environmental Scientist, she utilizes her first descents and ski expeditions worldwide — India, Pakistan, Bolivia, Argentina, Bhutan, South Africa, Europe and North America — to document glacial recession. Alison has dedicated her life to making the world a better place, and has spent over half her life working on solutions to climate change.
Osprey makes me proud, and I’m honored to be an official ambassador. Recently they helped sponsor a new documentary film, Dear Governor Hickenlooper, which premiered at the renowned Mountainfilm in Telluride film festival. Dear Governor Hickenlooper is a collection of documentary films directed by a variety of Colorado filmmakers and provides a new perspectives on fracking and clean energy through the eyes of scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and families. Not only was I lucky enough to attend the film’s premiere, but I am also honored to be in the film. Fracking has been proposed in the 30,000 acres surrounding my Holy Terror Farm, and 200,000 acres of my water shed have already been leased for drilling.
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After winter finally showed its snowy face through most of February and March, a weather-window opened and we were eager to take advantage of it. It would be my first time up Mt. Baker in March, (although my 20th time summiting Baker and Andy’s 21st time) so I was keen to make the trip happen.
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Osprey Athlete Jasmin Caton owns and operates Valhalla Mountain Touring along with her husband, fellow Osprey Athlete Evan Stevens. Jasmin grew up in Hills B.C. and has been hooked on skiing ever since. She devotes most of her time to her passion for outdoor recreation, primarily rock climbing, alpine climbing and backcountry skiing. Some of her most memorable outdoor adventures are guiding her parents up Bugaboo Spire, hiking the Valhalla Range in 3 days with her sister, and topping out on War and Poetry, a 30 pitch route in Greenland in a raging storm. Jasmin is an ACMG assistant rock guide and works for Squamish Rock Guides during the summer.
As a ski guide and ski touring lodge owner, winter always passes in a blur. A day of sitting on my butt in front of the computer is the exception not the rule, and time seems to slow during these days as I get caught up on my inside jobs. I revel in this time — I can almost hear my leg muscles say “ahhhhhhhh” as they sink into the couch and my normally ski-boot clad feet say “thank goodness” as my toes spread into the furry depths of my slippers. It’s nice to have a bit of time for hang-boarding, yoga, and feels great to achieve that feeling of caught-upness that comes when I tackle my to-do list.
But as I look outside, at the winter sun reflecting off the snow I know that I won’t make it a whole day. Afterall, my dog needs his walk so I’ll use him as an excuse and get out for a run or two. Hopefully I’ll finish this little post first! (more…)
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I don’t think I could be a mountaineer without traveling the world, and vice versa. For me the freedom to roam in the mountains in any way I want feels natural, like a “given.” I don’t mean to say that I can do anything I want physically, I’m referring to the opportunity to explore anywhere within reason or without one at all! I am grateful to be an American and to have the privilege of that freedom. If there is a mountain somewhere I want to climb — I can probably at least try it — almost anywhere in the world. So I travel.
One of the lessons I learned traveling was that in other countries, the U.S. stands out, and not just because of our extensive national park system. There were people out there who were so psyched on the U.S. that they would volunteer to die for it — no questions asked. I will always recognize that in our homeland, one of my best friends is one of those people and we grew up near Ft. Campbell, Ky.
My friend Don is a steady badass, and has been since we were 13. He is a helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard and an engineer in Atlanta, Ga. He’s a classic alpinist basing out of the hinterlands of mountain hope in the South and clawing up ice climbs in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia during the winter. After growing up together in Tennessee, Don and I were “all in” on the mountains for a few solid years and notched many adventures in our 20s in Colorado and one sleepless Mexican volcano trip. Two college dropouts — from architecture school and aeronautical engineering — we marched steady toward our dreams.
Climbing peaks sometimes requires a soldier-like mentality; those who cope with fear are generally successful as long as they have tactical skills and luck. Many times when we were younger we talked about the balance between death and “getting the most out of life.” Six months after becoming a Dad, I sent Don an article contemplating some legitimate concerns regarding risks and the types of environments I was negotiating in 2012, Don got it and deadpanned:
“I will always love mountains, even in light of their ability to strike down the sturdiest of souls. I enjoy exercising my body in an environment that is set to the scale of my mind. Living and climbing in Colorado during my early 20s fueled my ability to pursue academic and professional accomplishments that I once thought were unattainable.
Four years ago I took an oath which affirmed that I would put myself in harm’s way for the greater good of our Nation. I would not have been able to take that oath had I not previously put myself in harm’s way for my own self-validation and pure enjoyment. In my own mind, from now on it might as well mean something.”
Don would go to war and die so we could visit the mountains if he had to. I’m not sure how I feel about war or death, but I know how Don feels about our country and I appreciate him even more because of it.
We are here today enjoying what we do because of sacrifices others have made. Ultimately it is up to us all to move ourselves forward remembering that sometimes others gave their lives and that we are the product of the freedom they are protecting. I did the edit on the video below and hope that you will take a moment to learn about Wear Blue: Run to Remember for those who serve our country and protect freedoms as innocent as being able to go outside. Remember those who protect our freedom, they are risking something for us that we should forever be grateful for.
It was supposed to be an epic tour, but it turned into more of a epic base camp tour, just like the Tour de France that was happening at the same time. Our goal was to ski as many kilometers and climb as many vertical feet as we could in three weeks. The vertical was a little more difficult as our home was around 8,000 feet and the mountains go up to 17,000 in the High Andes, requiring a lot more distance to gain any altitude.
We were given an amazing opportunity to ski in Chile. The original plan was to bus to Argentina, but sometimes is just ain’t meant to be. Our flight was late and we missed our bus-taxi connection. So with little knowledge of the language or currency, we got trapped into taking a taxi to nowhere, and had to return to a hostel in Santiago with nothing gained.
Luckily we had a local contact at Valle Nevado/El Colorado/La Parva and made good use of it, staying in a little snowy undisclosed hideaway for the remainder of our trip. It might have been a rough few weeks for the locals staying at the hut, because touring a minimum of four hours for 20 straight days wasn’t exactly good for foot odor!
Jumping back to the first day on the hill, we scored a classic side country lap of Santa Teresa. It was great to connect with the G3 engineers and be shown some local stashes, namely a 45-minute tour for a 2,000′ run. Then we could hitchhike back for another lap or ski tour back to the hut, over and over. Hitching back up to Valle Nevado was a safe bet, but be warned, you don’t how fast the driver will go! Hold on.
Unlike at the strict resorts in North America, we were pleasantly surprised that we could tour on the rope line up to the tops of the lifts in La Parva, El Colorado and Valle Nevado and not get hassled. Just stay out of the way.
The skiers we met were classic, but dare I forget my favorite tours with the local wild dogs. Pedro followed us up Tres Peuntes and summitted a 12,000′ peak, even breaking trail for us in the new snow. Zudnik toured with us from Valle Nevado to La Parva and scared every single skier along the way.
Once we got in the groove and acclimatized, we were able to step up and ski some of the higher peaks, Cerro Parva and Pintor. They yielded endless ski lines on all aspects, including some mandatory ice sheet ski lines for good measure. That, and with the low snow levels and spring like weather, rock sharks were lurking all over the place, and they bite. Helmets highly recommended.
The highlight of the trip was a much-needed dump of light, dry snow that we milked for five days with bluebird sunny skies.
250 km of ski travel
55,000 feet ascended on skis
80,000 feet descended on skis
I would like to thank some sponsors and people who made the trip possible: G3 Genune Guide Gear, Eddie Bauer/First Ascent, Osprey Packs, Ryder’s Eyewear, Intuition liners, Innate bottles, Suunto watches and Dissent Lab compression socks. Another big thanks to the G3 crew, Ben Dill, Martine, and the drivers in Chile for the rides up to Valle Nevado.
Story by Andy Traslin
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For a while now, Owls couloir has been the objective but Mt.Cook has been blocking it. I’ve been wanting to ski this line since I did the Wedge to Currie traverse from parking lot to Pemberton in under 22 hours with my brother and a couple of elite mountain bike racers back in the 90s.
It’s close, but far as day trips go. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Wedge area from the introduction to mountaineer days. Neck belays, grovelling on the south side of Wedge up the boulder fields and cornice drops on the NE arete.
So it seems interesting to come back years later to feed my couloir addiction. Surprisingly you can have some cool adventure skiing so close to Vancouver. And there’s a good bet you won’t run into many people on these couloirs.
Thanks to the weather blocking the access in the morning and afternoons, we were able to ski some fun lines on the over looked peak of Mt. Cook on the north and south side on two seperate day trips.
If you’re interested, go for it; just be prepared to do the 5,000-foot stair master approach with a pair of two-by-fours on your back.
Photographers: Alex Gibbs, Cameron Coatta, Mathew Koziell, Sam Yeaman.
Story: Andy Traslin
The Sea Otter Classic proved to be bigger than ever this year as the 22-year-old event brought together racers, fans and bike companies from around the globe to start the spring season with four days of festivities, races and all things bike. The attendance was staggering this year; it’s grown exponentially since 1991, when only about half a thousand gathered around the course, to nearly 65,000 people attending, all in the name of love for our two-wheeled friend, the bicycle.
This year, there were a variety of races from road races to downhill mountain biking. Sea Otter serves as the first race to kick off the season as top pros in North America and from around the world flock to Sea Otter. However, all of the events are also open to amateurs so if you want to race your bike, you have the chance!
One of the greatest things about Sea Otter is that it is open to the general public, which allows everyone to check out and demo different bike product for the upcoming season from a wide range of vendors. Osprey teamed up with Cambria Bike shop for a four-day sale of Osprey Hydration packs and demos.
Osprey mascot Talon also made an appearance at the event as he cheered on our Osprey athlete Macky Franklin and even had a photo shoot with the Sea Otter himself!
Start planning your trip here for next year as everyone is welcome!
Photo via Alex Strickland
You may have already heard the news. Regardless, we’re proud to shout it out! Veteran Osprey Athletes Alison Gannett and Timmy O’Neill were both given the honor of being nominated Best Outdoor Personalities by Elevation Outdoors in its annual Best of Colorado poll.
The Colorado-based magazine Elevation Outdoors serves as the area’s guide to outdoor recreation. What’s more, it celebrates what’s best in outdoor sports and gear and who’s doing the most amazing things in the world of outdoor adventure. Here’s what Elevation Outdoors had to say about our very own Alison and Timmy:
Best Colorado Outdoor (female) Personality winner Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Free Skier, an accomplished mountain biker, surfer and inspirational speaker. An Osprey athlete since the late 90’s, Gannett is a global cooling consultant helping companies and individuals find cost-effective and meaningful solutions to reduce climate change impacts.
Longtime Osprey Athlete Timmy O’Neill was named Best Colorado Outdoor (male) Personality. O’Neill’s resume includes climber, comedian, slackliner, lecturer, drummer and coffee drinker. This year, O’Neil was named executive director of Paradox Sports, an organization helping disabled individuals enjoy life to the fullest through climbing, biking, surfing and paddling.
“It is fantastic to see Elevation Outdoors and its readers recognize Alison and Timmy,” said Osprey’s Director of Marketing Gareth Martins. “We are huge fans of Alison and Timmy with great respect for them as both athletes and activists. We can’t wait to see where this season will take them!”
You can read the entire Elevation Outdoors Best of Colorado 2012 list here!