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We recently took a weekend to backpack through the Harris Wash, an area at the edges of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Backcountry Ambassador Zachary Lundgren came along with us, and recorded his impressions of this uniquely beautiful spot, one of our favorites in the state. We’ve transcribed the pages of his handwritten field journal here. Day 1 The rude sound of my alarm woke me up at 3:45 in the morning. Typical of most of my adventures that begin with a pre-dawn wake, my groggy mind immediately questioned my sanity and if the trip was worth this crazy wake-up [...]
Brian Tolbert spent 20 years as a self-proclaimed dirtbag, racing bikes and sleeping in trucks or stuffing six dudes into a hotel room. Camping, and life, has changed a bit since then. Brian, a Backcountry Ambassador, is now the father of four kids, ranging from six months to ten years old. Balancing family togetherness, time outside, and the creature comforts that keep the kids happy is a priority for Brian and his wife, Heather. During the week, Brian works for a software company, but he still spends his weekends racing. It used to be mountain bikes and triathlons, but now [...]
Pro skier Julian Carr never thought of himself as a runner, which is why it’s pretty surprising that he founded a series of running races that’s now receiving national attention. The summertime races of the Discrete Cirque Series take place at world-class ski resorts. They involve a mix of running and hiking to the top of a scenic peak and descending back down to the finish line and into a party scene full of live music, vendor tents, and camaraderie among racers ranging from beginning hikers to trail running pros. “I love bagging peaks,” says Carr, who used to live [...]
We go hiking and backpacking to escape, free from our “real life” responsibilities. But often this freedom doesn’t come for free. Whether you’re 25 or 52, hitting the trails on the weekend leads to sore bodies. Cue trekking poles. Once considered just for older folks, trekking poles have become increasingly popular among hikers, trekkers, and backpackers of all ages. The advantages of hiking with trekking poles are possibly endless. Reasons to pick up a pair of trekking poles: They increase your stability traveling with a heavy load and when you’re traversing sketchy terrain. Trekking poles reduce the impact on your [...]
We are all drawn the open trail, our gear on our back and map in hand, searching for some solitude next to a campfire far beyond the lights of the city. When you decide to leave the campground behind and make the leap to the backcountry, there is a lot to consider. My first backpack was a hand-me-down Gregory and it took me years to accumulate the necessary gear to support me in the wilderness as a bona fide backpacker. Loading up your pack, leaving the car far behind, and carrying everything you need on your back combine to raise [...]
Writing the opening line of an article about Tommy Caldwell is tough. Do you mention the tweet he got from President Obama congratulating him for his first ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, or do you talk about the seven-year process of making that dream ascent happen? Do you describe his completion of Patagonia’s legendary Fitz Roy Traverse, also a first, or do you mention his belief that losing a finger in an accident was a launching point for his professional climbing career? The obvious catchy first line has something to do with how he escaped terrorist kidnappers holding him [...]
If there’s one piece of climbing gear that gets overlooked all the time, it’s probably the harness. Everyone seems to know which shoes they want, what cam will be best for their project, and the exact weight of their Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiners, but few people think about the tech behind and the thought put into the gear that keeps their rope tied securely to their bodies. But it’s an important decision! As a Backcountry Gearhead I get a lot of questions about what gear you would use in which situation and why to purchase one particular piece of gear [...]
The Columbia Directors of Toughness came to Salt Lake, and we took a few hours to give them a taste of the best of what the city has to offer. Of course, for us that would be great access to the outdoors. Faith Briggs and Mark Chase are the Directors of Toughness, traveling around the world testing Columbia’s products in some pretty rough conditions. They’d just gotten back from a 60-mile run through the Andes, so they were more than ready to join me and Jimmy Elam, another Backcountry Gearhead and dedicated runner, for an early spring desert run—just miles [...]
Each spring as the snow on the ski slopes turns to slush, idiots across the globe dress in neon and make fools of themselves. I’ve been one of them. Images courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort The spring fling, the beach party, the carnival weekend—these ski resort rites of passage go by many names and host many events—the garden hose race, the cardboard classic, and so on. But if you truly want to be queen or king of the mountain, your focus will be on just one event: the pond skim, the granddaddy of them all. For the uninitiated, it [...]
Hero Dirt: when the earth has the ideal moisture content for enhanced traction, and mountain bike tires grip the ground with extra ferocity. These perfect conditions—not wet and sloppy, not dry and dusty—allow you to angle your bike through any corner, climb any slope, and fly down a trail at unmatched speeds. Like skiers chase storms for powder, mountain bikers wait for the right forecast to transform their trails to velvet. I was fortunate enough to encounter “hero dirt” on my recent road trip to California in Montaña de Oro State Park. After four straight days of rain we found [...]
What is a Gearhead? The word can mean a lot of different things, but here at Backcountry, a “Gearhead” is a customer service rep–but with a very big difference. We’re experts that go above and beyond to make outdoor experiences a part of every Backcountry customer’s life. A Gearhead’s resume might include things like a Pacific Crest Trail through-hike, a year as an Outward Bound guide, a cross-country bike tour, or several years as a pro skier or snowboard instructor. As a result, we know exactly what you need to follow your own passions. We have a saying at Backcountry, [...]
A crew of Backcountry Gearheads and their customers check out the new Burton Step On binding system, along with hot new boards for 2018, including the Deep Thinker and Free Thinker.
I have been rock climbing since I was about 10 years old (I’m 31 now) and am absolutely addicted to the sport. However, up until a couple years ago, I limited myself to rock because, well, ice scared the crap out of me. All the crazy variables—the cold, the foreign surface, odd equipment, and who knows what else—always kept me away. Fortunately, I have friends who pointed out the error in my logic; all those things are what make ice climbing awesome! Seriously, the cold is alleviated by wearing the right clothing, the ice surface is really freaking neat, and [...]
Originally, snowshoeing provided means for me to get started on my quest of summiting the 48 4000-footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire during the winter. Now that I reside in Utah, exploring the Wasatch-Uinta-Cache National Forest is far easier and more fun thanks to my trusty snowshoes. If you’ve always wanted to get out into the outdoors in the middle of winter, a pair of snowshoes may be your ticket to getting away from it all. Here’s a guide for choosing the snowshoes that are right for you. Working on the same general principle as skis, snowshoes spread [...]
Calculating how to layer on clothing for maximum comfort while venturing outside can be a tricky equation—and I hate math. There are lots of variables, like unknown or changing weather conditions and activity levels that can range on a given day from strenuous boot-packing or snowshoeing to long sedentary chairlift rides or winter camping. Everybody’s different, too, with different comfort and exertion levels, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the layering question. Lucky for us, we can leave our Number 2 pencils at home, because this is a trial-and-error sort of thing. Once you figure out the layering options that [...]
If you’re like me, you live for mornings of digging out cars, of cheering when the lifties open the mountain, and of getting off the first chair of the day with excited ferocity. And, of course, you live for mornings full of face shots. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few of these increasingly elusive days a season. You’d better make the most of them. First Off, Get There Early Arriving at the parking lot at ten might as well be getting there at two in the afternoon. For me, waking up ass early is only acceptable when I’m hunting [...]
We’ve all been there: it’s cold outside and the local bouldering spots, if not covered in snow and ice, might give your fingers frostbite. But you’re just plain tired of climbing on plastic and 4×4 drills lose their luster after a month or two. Don’t lose your momentum, though. When you desperately need to keep ticking boulder problems, you can find plenty of amazing boulders exist all over the warmer parts of the US. Here’s the beta for six different options, from classics to lesser-known gems. Just don’t forget the crash pads. Above Photo: Derrick Krause Bishop, California Photo: Derrick [...]
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