Variant 37

March 17th 2011 - Written by: Kelsy

Gimps on Ice 2011

This past weekend, I attended Paradox Sports’ Gimps on Ice event in Ouray. Paradox Sports is an organization that provides inspiration, opportunities and equipment to the disabled community, helping them to continue to participate in outdoor sports despite the odds. I had heard many great things about this particular event from my friends involved, namely Osprey sponsored athlete, Timmy O’Neill. In that sense, I felt prepared to be inspired. Little did I know that I was going to have the most profoundly life changing experience of my life.

Recently, Osprey became an official corporate sponsor of Paradox, and I was proud to be in attendance to represent our company. I came equipped with a bit of schwag to better represent Osprey and also to help raise money and enthusiasm for Paradox. The evening after our first climbing day in the park, Timmy and I got together to determine how best to go about raffling the grand prize, a Variant 37. We decided that the best use of that prize would be to present it to the individual who most inspired all of us, Austin Bushnell.

Austin is a young man with a brain deterioration condition. He has a seemingly endless supply of enthusiasm and self-motivation. With the help of both Chris Folsom and Chad Butrick assisting him throughout the entire route with gear placement and tips, Austin successfully topped out a climb, repeating “I will not give up, I’m going to the top” every inch of the way. Most everyone stopped in their tracks to witness this remarkable event, and I think we were all made better having witnessed this truly inspiring effort.

Paradox continues to grow, and yet will never cease to need help from the community in order to resume providing support to those affected by disabilities. Please visit their website, http://www.paradoxsports.org for information as well as how to support them.

August 31st 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Mt.Baker-North Ridge Ski Descent

After many years of skiing on the North Shore mountains of British Columbia and looking across the border to the north face of Mt.Baker in the North Cascades, I knew one day I had to ski it. A lot of factors have to come into play to pull it off — weather, work, desire, motivation and fear.


August 26th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Glacier Peak Ski Deep In The North Cascades

Having wanted to ski the remote Glacier Peak in the North Cascades for a while now, my brother and I finally lucked out with promising weather and hit the road for three days. With a great late snow season we were confident there would be snow left to ski, even if it was almost August, and we were fueled by our inspiration to keep the “turns-all-year” spirit alive.


August 10th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Garibaldi Lake Ski Epic: Mt. Carr, Mt. Davidson and Castle Towers

Up at 3:30 a.m and out the door in an hour, I was excited for a big day out in Pemberton, B.C. to climb and ski the Aussie Couloir. Two minutes into my drive I got a speeding ticket going down the Mt Seymour Parkway in North Vancouver. As a kid in the 80’s I think we were clocked at higher speeds on our skateboards… But once through the formalities of the speeding ticket, I picked up my friend Sky and brother Andy. They quickly persuaded me into going to the Garibaldi area. And knowing these guys — we were in for an epic.

After 11,000 feet of climbing and almost 50 kilometers in 18 hours, we had climbed and skied the East Face of Mt. Carr, the West Ridge of Mt. Davidson and East Face of Castle Towers. Check out photos of our mini epic below!

Written by Mike Traslin. Photos and ski team: Andy Traslin, Sky Sjue and Mike Traslin.

July 7th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Mount Baker -10,781 Feet: Skiing Coleman Headwall and Western Lobe

It was just supposed to be a casual day: go for a short tour and get some photos. The weather was so unpredictable for May and June that we had to ignore the forecast and go for it. I was getting ready for a marathon bike race — The Squamish Test of Metal — the next day, and wanted to take it easy. We started our ski day hiking in a whiteout, but to our amazement when we got to the glacier it was a perfect bluebird day. “Let’s tour for 500 feet,” we said. But once we got going it turned into going another 5,000 feet to the summitt. The skies were clear, the wind was calm and the travel was fast, so we had to go for it.

Volcanoes have an appeal that even sharp peaks in the North Cascades can’t equal. They are massive! From their steep faces and crumbling icefalls, cracked glaciers and sloughing moraines to their encroaching forests, glassy lakes and gorging rivers, their grandeur is far-reaching. From Interstate 5 driving or on the back roads of Washington, you can see their snowcapped facades shimmering under beams of the sun or the moon.


January 10th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Favorite Images from the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival

July 2nd 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Melted snow = desert time!

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, brings you a quick post from Durango, CO.’s Jim Philpott. When we last checked in with Jim he was STILL skiing into May. He has finally put the boards away and is on to more “season appropriate” activities – hello desert!

So the snow is all gone down here in Southwest Colorado which means trips to the desert. My fiancée Erin and I just got back from an amazing little weekend backpack trip out in Utah.  We left Durango late Friday night and drove out to Cedar Mesa which is out past Blanding towards Lake Powell.  Saturday morning we checked in at the Kane Gulch Ranger station to get our permit and headed out to hike the Fish and Owl Creek loop.  The loop is about 17-18 miles and can be done in two days but should be done in three, due to the amount of great side hikes and scrambles along the trail.  We ended up doing the whole thing in two which wasn’t bad at all.

We chose to walk down Fish Creek and up Owl Creek but the hike can be done either way.  There was a good amount of water in both Fish and Owl Creek so we decided to pump water rather than haul a bunch.  All in all an amazing walk with a ton of Indian ruins and with a little research beforehand we were able to check out a number of different sites.

TRAIL NOTES: Fish Creek Canyon and Owl Creek Canyon offer excellent hiking through highly scenic canyons rich in Anasazi ruins. Although many of the ruins are in better condition than even those in nearby Grand Gulch, quite a few of them lie inaccessible in high alcoves, the steps to them long gone. Still, there’s plenty to see up close and personal. The first ruin stands not far from the trailhead, and several ruins can be seen up the south fork of Owl Creek. You should see several more ruins along the six or so miles of the main canyon before its meeting with Fish Creek, and you’ll pass huge and picturesque Nevills Arch. At the confluence with Fish Creek, turn north–but if you have time, you’ll find more ruins lower in Fish Creek Canyon and up its tributary McCloyd Canyon. This loop goes up Fish Creek about eight miles, through a lovely canyon with far less ruins than the section of Owl Creek you just hiked, and out of Fish Creek via a steep trail up the south wall. Then you’ll cross the mesa for about 1.5 miles back to the starting point. No trail exists, so carry an accurate map and compass. Fish Creek Canyon and its south fork extends much further north if you have the time and inclination to explore.

*trail info courtesy of Utah.com

Jim is currently testing the Argon 70 and Variant 37.

For more information about Jim click here.

June 22nd 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

The Bridge School Climbing Week

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 Erie, Colorado resident Joey Thompson. Besides being ski patrol at Boulder’s local hill Eldora and an AMGA Certified Rock Guide, Joe is teaming up this summer with local Boulder kids to introduce safe climbing and outdoor skills…

I had an intro to rock climbing comprehensive course for 4 days with the Bridge School of Boulder. We covered topics like knot craft, belaying/lowering, climbing movement and zip line traverses.

We started with movement right away to keep these “go getter”  kids engaged, with under clings and side pulls and crimps. Finally, we demoed high stepping and counter balance flagging.  They loved all of the crazy positions they would get themselves into.  As a group we had a discussion about the mechanics of top roped climbing and wow risk vs. reward fits in and the high level of seriousness required while climbing.  We then introduced belayed climbing with all of the participants taking a roll. There was a climber, belayer and a backup belayer.

The second day we had more time together and more ground to cover.  We decided to go to up to Boulder Canyon to escape the heat. We had climbs that were slab in nature with the main focus being our foot placement and technique “nose over toes”.  This area was a warm up session to get them all loosened up and relaxing and getting comfortable with our belaying/lowering techniques.  We then moved over to higher and more challenging climbs. 87 foot high climbs, climbs with overhanging roofs and finger crack at a stiff rating of 5.9 – no problem – they all wanted a piece of every rock climb that I set up. I really commend them on their motivation and drive.

On the third day the weather wasn’t cooperating with us, so we wanted a place where we would be able to make a mad dash to the van if we needed. We chose Flagstaff, an area with a huge history for the Boulder local climbing community. The kids started off with bouldering some warm up problems with their teacher. Meanwhile I scrambled up the back side of the Last Alamo.  I wanted to set up a climb with a mega swing if one were to pitch off during the crux (hard part) of the climb they would swing out about 25 feet into space about 55 feet off of the deck.  I think the common theme was “I need to try that again!”

The last day was spent on the Tyrolean traverse. I brought the kids over one at a time to me on the other side of the rushing spring melt.  We all then traveled to the base of the crag, I quickly set up a couple climbs so that they would be able to keep busy while I scrambled up and set up the Mega 184 foot Toped Rope climb. What an intimidating rock climb, we were barely able to see the top of the climb from the bottom so we needed a clear line of communication while lowering and passing the knot, which tied two ropes together, on the way down.   They all had an opportunity to try and many got to the top of the climb. We quickly reached our time plan for the day and had to pack up and move across the creek again to reach the van.  What an adventure for these guys and girls. Way to go Bridge School!

I packed the Osprey Variant 37 for all four of the rock days.  I was able to pack a 60m rope and a medium sized rack of gear up to 4 inch Cams, climbing chalk and shoes, harness, helmet, first aid kit, extra food and water and let’s not forget the 10 essentials.  There was still more room for other things, too.

My colleagues and clients made many comments on the pack, how they needed a bigger backpack for rock climbing they saw the benefits while working with me during these four fun filled days.

For more information please see Joey’s bio page here.

April 7th 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Jim races the Grand Traverse from CB to Aspen

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures brings you Durango native Jim Philpott’s first entry recounting his participation in the recent Crested Butte-to-Aspen “Grand Traverse” ski race. Enjoy the read…

courtesy of grandtraverse.org

The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry touring race from Crested Butte, CO through the Gunnison National Forest over to Aspen.  The race starts at midnight in the town of Crested Butte and finishes with a scary long groomer (because we were on Nordic gear) down Aspen Mountain to the finish at the base of the Gondola.

The week before the race this year the course received about 30″ of new snow and was getting hammered with high winds so the conditions were expected to be extremely variable.   On race day though the weather cleared and with the exception of single digit temperatures and high winds in the early morning the weather was perfect!  We even got a little powder skiing in off the back side of Star Pass.

The race is a team event with two people per team; this is mostly for safety reasons as there aren’t many rescue options once the race is underway.  Other than endurance, a few screws loose “upstairs,” and a good strong team mate (mine being long time friend and Durango native Todd McGrath), gear selection is the most important aspect.

For my pack I chose my Variant 37 because I could fit whatever gear I needed and whatever gear was required without compromising comfort and versatility…I couldn’t be happier with the Variant for the purposes I’ve tested it with so far (primarily backcountry skiing trips). For skis and boots I chose to run nordic skis and skate boots with some small “kicker” skins for the big hills…of which there are a ton!

We ended up coming in 67th out of 149 racers, not bad for our first go-round, and we had a blast.  You can find the rest of the race results here. Enjoy the photos and leave me a comment if you’ve ever done this race and what your experience was like. I’d love to hear other perspectives on the Grand Traverse!

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

March 10th 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Osprey brand team’er Joey T. drops knowledge on avi’s in AK

Osprey brand team ambassador Joey Thompson recently returned from an avalanche education course and ski touring in and around Valdez, Alaska. Joey took part in the The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education’s (AIARE) level 1 avalanche instructor training course. AIARE is a non-profit organization whose goal is to “provide avalanche instructors with the tools to educate students about the knowledge and decision making skills necessary to travel in avalanche terrain.” With a pedigree in the outdoors to rival even the most experienced mountaineers, Joey is the perfect guy to test Osprey gear in the backcountry. He came to Alaska equipped with an Osprey Variant 37 and had this to say about the training:

The Variant 37 is the perfect size to carry all that I needed. For light touring days I was able to get by with a bit less. When on the avi course I was able to load a bit more. What I really liked for the touring days was the crampon pouch, I stored my skins in the pouch to cut down on transition time. I also liked the finger zippers to get in and out of the lids where I stored goggles and snacks. The ski carrying capabilities were another big benefit easy on easy off with good weight distribution.
Valdez, Alaksa

The port in Valdez, Alaksa

AIARE put on a level 1 instructor course for people like me to be able to provide high level education to outdoor minded people. It is a course that has taught me to better relate to my students and relay the information to them in a more recycled/refined way. The avalanche course is wrapped around decision making skills in the backcountry going from the ground up and then managing from the top down. We provide a decision making framework, field observations check list, tour planning and preparation that is to be used by the student. We start every morning in the classroom and finish the afternoon in the field. The “field” included the rugged terrain of Valdez, AK. Situated at the head of a deep, stillwater fjord in the northeast section of Prince William Sound, Valdez is surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. They are the most heavily glaciated mountains in the Northwest.

Joey T. on a mountain in Valdez

Me on 27 Mile Glacier, Valdez, Alaska

Our training and skiing was around 27 Mile Glacier and The Odyssey on Thompson Pass up the road from Valdez. This is where the majority of the skiing happens in Valdez. I also skied Sugarloaf Mountain. As a town, Valdez is remote. Being from Colorado, I thought that some of our small towns were remote, but Valdez is on a whole other level. With a town size of full time residences at 4800 people and with one small grocery store this makes a perfect escape of all the hustle and bustle of the lower 48. Valdez is the northernmost ice-free port in North America and the town covers 274 square miles.
Joey in Valdez

Me and the Variant 37 in Valdez

I met a couple of guides from from Valdez Heli-Ski Guides who were also in my training class and while I’d love to try it one day, my skiing on this trip consisted of skinning up the mountain and then skiing down, by my own devices. The price of these heli tours is $1000/day based on how many feet down the clients want to ride or ski. The guides are really hard working and show their clients a great time.


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