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Forcing Nature at the Whistler Bike Park

May 23rd, 2013

I usually try to avoid the opening weekend of the Whistler Bike Park. Some reasons for my refusal to participate in this annual event are paltry, being that there are just a few muddy trails open, huge lines and the fact that other Sea to Sky venues are in mint shape this time of year, including, well, everywhere else.

All of that aside, I went this year. I think the Whistler Corp would like to hear that it was because of their barrage of marketing prior to the lifts firing up. Not really, although I did enjoy the first Force of Nature Video released before opening, featuring their motley bunch of bike athletes. The video shows riders carving perfect corners and lofting sculpted lips in what looks like epic mid-season conditions. Pretty convincing stuff, but the deciding factor for me was some good ‘ol fashioned arm-twisting by a group of buddies. A deal was struck where we worked out a balance of park and pedal, in a few Sea to Sky locations, over this Canadian long weekend.

It was a good decision. The bike park was all-time. The trail crew put in their due diligence, preparing almost every lower mountain trail in time for the gates to drop. The dirt was tacky and the riding was heroic. We had a casual start to the day, nothing like the kids who waited in line from 3 a.m. in order to secure first chair. The casual start was no hindrance though, as we were greeted by mellow lift lines that grew progressively larger over the afternoon. The wait in line was welcome though, as I could rest my cramping hands and catch up with friends. “How was your winter?” and “Epic conditions, eh?” were refrains echoing through the queue.

I had my own “Force of Nature” Friday night after a questionable chicken burrito wreaked havoc on my guts for the next 36 hours. I almost pulled the plug and hightailed back to Vancouver to recuperate, but the weekend was heading into high gear, so I decided hang around to see if things would improve.

The next day dawned wet and rainy, and my guts were still churning something fierce, so we abandoned the “official” opening day of the Park for a pedal in Squamish. A lush rainforest met us there, along with some fun new trails that magically sprung up over the winter, not unlike the mass proliferation of green undergrowth that appears with the spring rain.

The weekend was a blur of riding, eating and sleeping. My food poisoning waned, so with renewed energy I sampled more bike park, usually riding the lifts in the morning until the lift line got too oppressive, and then trading bikes for a pedal in the Whistler Valley or Pemberton. An amazing way to spend this Victoria Day long weekend!

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Life & Bikes in Kabul

May 17th, 2013

Six years ago, Shannon Galpin walked away from her career as an athletic trainer and used her own limited funds to launch Mountain2Mountain and “be the change” she wished to see in the world. Today, Shannon and the M2M team, are just returning from their latest trip to Afghanistan where they launched the Streets of Afghanistan project and rode bicycles through Kabul to raise awareness of cultural barriers and empower women and girls in conflict regions.

As big supporters of Shannon and the M2M work she does, we’re happy to stay in touch with her and get period updates throughout her travels. That said, we’re also excited to share what she has to show and tell from those very journeys, the latest of which center around the Streets of Afghanistan project. Here’s the latest from Shannon both in words and in pictures. Enjoy!

“Yesterday we had the finale show of the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition at the Sound Central music festival — its up for four days throughout the incredible  four-day alternative music festival.  Yesterday was the women’s only day to kick off the festival, where young Afghan school girls attended the festival for slam poetry, a fashion show, Afghan rap duo, Afghan singer songwriter, Ariana Delwari, and White City — fronted by my long time friend, advisor, and founder of Sound Central, Travis Beard.  We brought three members of the cycling team to watch the concert and to help with the M2M Bike School.

All in all a full day. Streets exhibition set up and finale show at Sound Central Festival, M2M bike school and rock concert, finished with filming at Darul Aman Palace. Whitney, the co-director of Afghan cycles is leaving today, and then our crew is just a duo until we leave.  Whitney has been amazing, and creates a sense of community, friendship, and openness wherever we go, she interacts with the Afghans we meet with grace, humor, and authenticity that I have rarely seen.  Her infectious laugh combined with everyone’s exhaustion at the end of the long days makes for a slap-happy crew.

Exhaustion is starting to take hold, but perhaps that will just make the plane ride home go quicker as we sleep our way home.”

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Advocacy, Bikes Around the World, International, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Life, Pedaling Change, photos , , , , , , , , ,

Adventure Cycling Association’s Best Tour Video: Northern Europe by Bike

April 3rd, 2013

Just a little over one year ago, Adventure Cycling Association teamed up with Blanche van der Meer and her WorldCycle Videos group on Vimeo and launched their first-ever Bicycle Travel Video Contest. The premise of the competition was simple: “to celebrate the booming trend in bike touring and travel documentaries.” The result, thanks to some fantastic volunteer judges, is several fantastic videos that capture the essence of cycling. There were three winning videos, including the above, which was considered the Best Long Distance Tour Video. Watch Northern Europe by Bike by Stefan Böhm of Germany and enjoy! All submitted films were also considered for the Bike Travel Spirit Award, and this film took the prize. Here’s what Adventure Cycling Association had to say about the film:

Only two and a half minutes long, it’s a powerful piece of work. According to one of our judges, it is a “creative, entertaining video that demonstrates you don’t need fancy graphics, effects, or a soundtrack to tell a good story. Unlike many other videos that were submitted, he included the locations, which we liked. He documents the good, the bad, and the ugly of bicycle touring, while including the bizarre and noteworthy encounters he experienced along his journey. Shooting and editing were great too.”

Stay tuned for the following two winning films, which we’ll publish in the coming two weeks!

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Bike Europe, Bikes Around the World, International, Pedaling Change, video , , , , , ,

Accelerate Ethiopia Kicks Off: An Interview With Majka Burhardt

February 12th, 2013

Photo: imagine1day

This month, fourteen committed runners will join elite athletes Scott Jurek, Gebre Gebremariam and Werknesh Kidane for the first ever trail race in the cradle of humanity, culminating a week of shared contribution to the eye health and educational strength of Ethiopia.

Osprey athlete, climber and writer, Majka Burhardt is producing the project, called Accelerate Ethiopia. The expedition sparked as an idea for a fundraising running event to benefit the Himalayan Cataract Project, an leader in providing high-quality, low-cost eye care optimized for the developing world. Majka pulled in another nonprofit, imagine1day, which is a charity educating the next generation of leaders in Ethiopia—and together they created Accelerate Ethiopia.

As Majka prepares to leave on her journey to Ethiopia we caught up with her for a few questions…

Read more…

causes, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, travel , , , , ,

Beauty and the Beast

January 25th, 2013

The spray of liquid magma burst into the night sky. Mt Etna was erupting, as she does once roughly every two months, and we were skiing under the orange glow of her latest paroxysm.

In early February 2012, a promising Italian snow forecast had us chasing a storm to Sicily, an island on the Mediterranean Sea. While much of the U.S. languished in a dry early winter, Europe was being blasted by heavy snowfall and Italy was deep in the weather pattern. With a lofty goal of ski exploration on Sicily’s notorious active volcano, Etna, our team thought it best to aim for winter-like conditions.

With the promise of powder, we booked tickets and landed two short days later in the coastal Sicilian city of Catania. Geographically, Sicily is the soccer ball to Italy’s boot. Assembled at the airport, we had a vague plan of action. On assignment for Salomon Freeski TV, filmmakers Nick Waggoner and Zac Ramras, photographer Grant Gunderson, and Salomon freeskiers Elyse Saugstad and I loaded into a white minivan and drove out of the city and up towards the volcano.

Reigning above numerous fragile, cozy old towns, Mt Etna basks in a sea breeze that wafts over its small, scattered cones, jagged igneous black-rock ridges, and wide, fluted flanks. Steep, rocky lines run down parts of her face along with miles of more benign terrain to descend. Topping out at almost 11,000 feet, Etna’s high position provides unobstructed views of the coastline, which blend seamlessly into the olive groves and vineyards dotting the landscape.

The quaint Sicilian town of Nicolosi was our home for the next 10 days. From the lower vantage point we admired the mountain, scoped our dream lines, and we waited. Each morning we were greeted with unpredictable weather and the repercussions of an eruption that included turbulent cloud cover, and low visibility for skiing on her relatively blank, high-alpine expanse. Café-bound, we sipped our espressos, snacked on arranchinas (popular rice cones & balls served hot with a variety of inner ingredients) and waited for sunshine and clear windows to explore the vast terrain and the best ski lines on the active volcano.


We quickly realized we had to accept Mt Etna at her best and her worst. She threw out strong winds, thick fog, serpent-like clouds, and serious eruptions. She rumbled, coughed, spit, and spewed volcanic bits, with lava flow and liquid magma sliding down her slopes. We inhaled and skied ash debris but also enjoyed a few short sunny, clear stretches with a steady refresh of white snow from the constant storm cycle.

With slow access via an ancient gondola, creaky chairlifts, and struggling pomas, we got a gradual boost up 740 meters of hillside. Passionate locals joined us in gondola line each morning with their short carving skis and big smiles. Pouring out of the cabins, we warmed-up with the Sicilians on a few of the groomed options at one of Etna’s two ski resorts.

After sampling the mellow in-bounds terrain, our team headed into the backcountry. Though there is easy access to ski tour and explore the many additional acres of more challenging off-resort offerings, there is absolute solitude. We had any line we chose all to ourselves.

As we ventured across Etna’s broad landscape, we crossed high ridgelines that protected hidden valleys of rocky couloirs, mini-volcano cones, and small amphitheatres with mini-golf-like terrain. Dropping off one sastrugi-ridden ridge to the West, we skied wind-buffed corridors and then toured back up and skied corn back to the resort. Checking out the Volcano cones, we set a hard edge on each icy turn on the windward slopes and then skied packed powder on the leeward. Skiing into the craters was almost always soft as the sun reflected heat into the white belly of their inner bowls. We got a taste of everything.


One evening as the setting sun cast luminous colors over the horizon and the volcano erupted behind us, Nick turned to us and asked, “Should we hike up and get some ski shots next to the lava?”

Elyse and I looked at each other, then looked at Nick, and said, “No, thanks.”

Though there were many cultural highlights, we were there to ski. When the visibility was poor up high, due to Etna’s unusually deep snowpack during our visit, we were able to find good alternative options. We ducked into heavily wooded hillsides off the winding road up to the resort. From a skier perspective, the forests needed some pruning, but we found tight alleyways and fun, smooth powder skiing under the protected canopy of the towering trees.

The tempestuous visit was a beautiful and healthy reminder that nature is very, very close. Etna was in charge and we were on her agenda. After ten days of patience, waiting, and unusual skiing adventures on Etna’s flanks, our U.S. team “Magma” was provided with a couple of lessons: don’t book a ticket to Etna for a storm, and Sicily is beautiful but Etna can be a tricky beast.

adventure, Osprey Athletes , , , , , ,

Imagine1day Brings New Packs to High School Students in Ethiopia

November 12th, 2012

imagine1day is a growing, global community of people making passionate contributions to ensure every child in Ethiopia receives a quality education.

Last month, representatives from imagine1day presented brand new Osprey Packs to their Class 2016 Graduate Fund students. The fund is designed to support high performing students from poor and disadvantaged households in rural Ethiopia in completing a full course of high school education (grades 9-12) and in developing as future leaders of Ethiopia. The packs were brought to the students by the Imagine Ethiopia 2012 crew, who traveled to Ethiopia’s Oromiya Region after raising $100,000 to fund the cost of a primary school project for the remote rural community.

Learn more about what you can do to help by visiting imagine1day.org.

causes, Osprey Culture, travel , , , ,

Mountain2Mountain Takes ‘Streets of Afghanistan’ Back to Afghanistan

October 23rd, 2012

Annual Panjshir Tour-Durango group ride at Twin Buttes to celebrate Mountain 2 Mountain's Shannon Galpin becoming the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan in October of 2009. It brought together a group of new friends the same weekend that 'Streets of Afghanistan' Cultural Exhibition leaves for Kabul. Read about that trip here. http://bit.ly/TCAieK

We’re always proud to support the work of Mountain2Mountain and Shannon Galpin, who founded the non-profit in 2006. M2M “believes in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action,” and has touched the lives of many men, women and children since its inception. In its latest project, Streets of Afghanistan, M2M utilizes the power of photography as the voice of change.

Streets of Afghanistan is, as stated on its blog, is “a touring cultural exhibit of life-size photographs that depict life in Afghanistan, as Afghans see it.” For it, a combination of Western and Afghan photographers collaborated to transport viewers to the streets of Kabul, showcase the landscapes of Afghanistan and portray the images of the people who live there.

After having toured the U.S., Streets of Afghanistan‘s collection of 40 life-size images will now make its way full circle by way of several public showings in Kabul itself, and will enable the people of Afghanistan to not only see these captivating photographs, but to comment, discuss and interact with them as well.

Mountain2Mountain founder Shannon Galpin says it best in a recent Streets of Afghanistan post:

“Photography transcends language and challenges stereotypes and bringing showing this exhibition publicly in Afghanistan challenges what we think is capable in a country like this. Art has the power to inspire, to spark conversation, and to bring joy – showcasing these images in public areas where Afghans can enjoy art for art’s sake, and be proud of the beauty and spirit of their country.”

To learn more about the Streets of Afghanistan project and view some of the photos from it, check out the M2M Field Notes blog here. For updates and info, follow Mountain to Mountain on Facebook.

Photos Courtesy Chris Horton and Streets of Afghanistan’s Facebook Page

causes, Osprey Culture, photos, travel , , , , , ,

Sean Busby’s Peak Diaries: The Travel Queen Trailer

October 18th, 2012

Sometimes you just need to take a road trip… Snowboarder Sean Busby and his friends converted and gutted a 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motor home into a fully functional alternatively-fueled vehicle that utilizes vegetable fuel and solar power and hit the road. Driving 6,000+ miles from Utah to Alaska, the crew explored new territory—backcountry skiing, snowboarding, climbing and documenting the entire journey. The following trailer is a grip of the stories from their trip. Enjoy!

Peak Diaries: The Travel Queen (trailer) from PowderLines.Com on Vimeo.

Sean Busby is a professional snowboarder, living with type 1 diabetes. Learn more about Sean and his work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports on his website.

adventure, Osprey Athletes, travel, video , , , , , , ,

How to Get Paid to Have Fun!

September 27th, 2012

Moon over Rio Grande Pyramid

Because I am a sponsored athlete and adventurer, people often ask me: “How do you get paid to have fun?” Well, the answer is simple: I just don’t agree with not having fun so if I’m going to get paid to do anything, it’s going to be something I like — a lot. Now, that’s just the fundamental philosophy behind why I do what I do, but the real “answer” per se is more complex and hard to fit into a box… I invest myself, my resources and a team of people that I work with into things I think others will like and that I like. So, believe it or not, it’s you (the reader) who inspires me to do this far more than my own adventures. It’s you who I hear and you who I want to hear from. That often means that I have to like things others may not like at all that are unrelated to the conventional definition of having fun, like finance, litigation and collections. So be it. Without making sacrifices or doing things that aren’t fun, I could never “get paid to have fun.” I will admit those less than fun details can be frustrating. I’ll admit that often I personally won’t stand to collect a single dollar for my efforts, that I just like accomplishing things and in doing so watching a team succeed and profit around me as a reward. I accept that what I do won’t make me rich, but I am able to settle for being proud to be a part of something, to contribute, to lead.

Case in point, just before Labor Day, I visited New York City on the beginning of what would be considered a vacation to me despite having a lot of business thrown in. As many people might assume a well-backed mountaineer’s visit to NYC would include, I wasn’t actually there on some cool lecture circuit to talk endlessly about myself or how my process for exploring mountains is going to save the corporate world faster than all the governments out there. I was just there as a working man in a suit (yes, like a black one that was ironed that forced me to ride in cabs because the matching shoes sucked and give me blisters). Just another dude in a suit in New York, I was there as a business person with hope that after I got through the security guards of a few ad agencies, I would be able to stand up for adventure-based broadcast television programming for our generation and not just be shown the door in 10 minutes. Not exactly a situation where you may think you’re going to find someone who not three months ago pulled off a first ski descent in the Himalayas and was rappelling off of three tiny pieces of gear to get home. Believe it or not, it was my second time in a month on a sales trip to NYC, but at least this time I had the early morning to run the big loop in Central Park before my meetings. Overall, it’s a beautiful park, I like the city… and it’s much easier to navigate than Kathmandu.

"Trail Running" in Central Park, NYC

As you do when you meet with the world’s decision makers on what makes it to TV and what doesn’t, I had a digitized and unflattering photo snapped at the security desk, stuck to my suit jacket and I was sent upstairs in buildings that seem higher than El Cap. In both meetings I was shown the door in 30 minutes, and like any other person out on the streets of New York, I was back at it again with the usual, “We’ll be calling you” response rolling around my head with all the other stresses of result production on the cue in a strained, risk-averse economy where we are hoping to pioneer some inspiring programs. You see, I don’t get paid to have fun, as a CEO and Founder of the company I represent in these meetings, I only get paid if I work hard enough to get the story of inspiring adventures (including my own) out there for you and for me and to convince people that adventurers are doing things of value that others want to see. I admit, it is a tough sell when it is easier to just exploit people as the current model of many networks so effortlessly eases along doing, but although the ad world would prefer you and me to sit on a couch and escape reality by eating yogurt, using soap or applying deodorant, they realize that there is something happening out there. A whole generation of us is on the move and experiencing life for ourselves and making headway in the world — we just aren’t on TV yet. That’s where I come in. I want the world to be inspired; I want the world to communicate; I want all of us who are out there living for the experience to be heard; I want to put that suit away sometimes and so I do… you inspire me to and so does broadcast television. I do this because I believe that every now and then when one of those people really does call on us, the team of people I work with will knock it out of the park and you the viewer will benefit. I do it because I am as unafraid of what challenges I will find on my way to the top floor of the skyscraper as I am approaching the summit of a Himalayan mountain.

Mount Washington Summit

Following those meetings, the next day I found myself in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, at the base of Mt. Washington — the beginning of a two day vacation. See, I hitched a ride with some friends to NYC and then we found ourselves tagging this sweet and storied East Coast summit as they continued an ongoing business summit to New hamsphire. That is how I keep my sanity, knowing folks who are driven like me but more successful and able to fit in goals I admire. One of my friends is a high pointer (people who climb all 50 of the United States’ highest points) and Mt. Washington’s 6,288 summit was #49 for him. He is a high level broadcast executive who works hard and travels a lot and who has found a way to “get paid to have fun” too and keep others happy around him. This rounds out a life filled with a lot of pressure to produce big business results. People like that are bigger inspirations to me than the next guy who wants to climb Trango Tower and base jump off of it. It seems like there are a lot of us out there who want to see the world from a lot of places, but it is the few who may not have soloed the Eiger but have achieved a balance that I am now learning from, people who came to climbing after starting careers and have made it to their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and are still full of goals despite having completed long-standing goals like the 54 fourteeners, 50 state high points and 7 summits. Without these friends driving me, how else would I be able to claim in the same year that I did my first-ever 50 mile ultra marathon, that I stood on the point on Earth closest to the sun (20,561′ Chimborazo), the site of the highest recorded wind speed in north America (6288′ Mt Washington), bagged a fist ski descent in the Himalayas (21,509 Chulu West), Heli skied in Haines, Alaska and then spent Labor Day on the summit of Rio Grande Pyramid in the San Jauns.

Wait, what was that last one? Rio Grande Pyramid. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? It is about as cool as a peak ascent can get and it is a far cry from NYC!  The bottom line is, I don’t get paid to have fun, I work hard, I knock on every door and I am as curious about how things work as I am about how to get up mountains. Somehow, finance became a tool in that process, but certainly not a driver alone. So if you want to get paid to have fun, well, I can only suggest you do something you believe in and that you don’t give up. Only you can answer what that is and how long you will have to try at it to succeed. The only advice I have on that is that I hope you pick the right partners in your fun endeavor because it is pretty awesome to watch a team reach the top and know you were part of something bigger than an individual’s vision or a solitary moment on a summit, the process is the fun and the process to me is priceless.

adventure, Osprey Athletes, travel , , , , , ,

Friday Roundup: Finding Sun in Spain

July 13th, 2012

We love this shot from Zarautz, Pais Vasco, Spain that Facebook user Lo Wren posted on our wall this week. Sun, wide open space and wandering on your own two feet. It just doesn’t get much better than that. Happy Friday!

Friday Round-up, travel , , , ,

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