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I think all kids are athletic in some way, and I was no different. Growing up, I would hike and ski with my dad, hunt frogs on camping trips, and climb trees with zero thought to my own peril. In adolescence and adulthood, however, I never thought of myself as athletic. I dabbled in various physical activities: belly dancing, hiking, and—my favorite—dancing at clubs. My body was this sturdy, curvy thing I rather liked, even if I thought it a little too soft and a little too round. Above Photo: Brendan Nicholson In college (which I attended in my ’30s), [...]
Leif Whittaker is an author, an athlete, an environmentalist, and a general mountain badass. He currently resides in Bellingham, WA, in the shadow of Mt. Baker, but his adventures have taken him all over the world, from the islands of the South Pacific to the frozen top of Mt. Everest. I caught up with Leif in between excursions and exchanged a few words. Leif Whittaker. Photo Credit: Freya Fenwood You‘re the son of Jim Whittaker, one of the most famous American mountaineers of all time. How influential was he in your initiation into the sport? And do you think you [...]
If you’re the type of person who refuses to sacrifice hard earned ski habits in the name of a full time job, there’s a good chance you’re fully aware of the virtues of the dawn patrol. If not, watch backcountry veteran Andrew McLean run through the gear you’ll need to earn a few good turns before slumping into your desk for the day. Andrew McLean’s Dawn Patrol Checklist: 15-20L Ski Pack Avalanche Beacon Shovel Probe Down Jacket Food 1 Liter Water Ski Repair First Aid Kit Headlamp Related Car Duffel Essentials Day Tour Essentials Shop Shop Alpine Touring Gear & [...]
As soon as snow starts falling in my backyard Wasatch Range, I begin to check the Utah Avalanche Center website religiously. It’s helpful to get a handle on how the snowpack is forming and get myself thinking about avalanches in general. A couple weeks ago I saw something on their website that made me (and the forecasters) cringe. Several companies have come out with apps that are supposed to make your smart phone act like an avalanche beacon. My first thought was, “This is going to get people killed.” Above Photo: Backcountry Athlete Greg Hill touring in Rogers Pass, British [...]
Cross training is important. It’s more than important—it might rise to the level of vital. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. Why should I expect to get better as a runner if all I ever do is the same thing? I know I’m not alone—runners and cyclists think only with their legs and their hearts, the two parts that keep ‘em going. What I tend to forget is that cross training won’t transform me into a triathlete (I don’t have fond thoughts of road biking), nor will it [...]
Fly fishing clear water in the pristine jungles of Bolivia for golden dorado has been at the top of my to-do list for over 10 years, and now I know it will stay there. After two hours of flying in a single-engine Cessna above the Amazonian canopy, I knew this trip was going to be crazier than anything we had done before. I looked out the window, and all I saw was jungle, the kind of impenetrable stuff I’d seen in my parents’ National Geographics as a kid. I couldn’t help but think about Alaska, where my brother Neil and [...]
Rob Shaul’s Mountain Athlete Gym in Jackson, Wyoming, is where backcountry.com athletes like Kim Havell, Griffin Post, and Pip Hunt develop the strength and endurance required for high-stakes mountain sports. The Backcountry video crew dropped in to witness a fast-paced training session and capture the essence of the Mountain Athlete approach to fitness. The video below focuses on the history and training philosophy of the Mountain Athlete Gym. The Mountain Chassis To forge a direct correlation between gym training and performance in the mountains, Rob likes to build workouts focused on what he calls the “mountain chassis.” Below, Rob and [...]
The concrete jungle of Santa Cruz, our temporary home, a world away from the distant Tsimané territory where, only 24 hours before, the greatest fishing experience of our lives came to a close. Navigating the inner rings of the city, in and out of the maze of markets with our new friend Tiko, we dodged the erratic drivers and street meats while embracing the relentless culture shock. Two days go by in the city, and I can’t stop thinking about getting back into the real jungle somehow. Even as the idea of climbing into the mountains lingered, we still had time, and [...]
Our desire to travel to Bolivia has always been fueled by the fly-fishing potential in the exotic jungle rivers of the Amazon. As we found out over the course of three weeks, the legendary tales of carnivorous fish and breathtaking scenery were all true, and they exceeded our wildest dreams. The month of August seemed like the best time to go; the prime time for fishing and climbing overlapped, giving us the perfect chance to pursue our two greatest addictions in one trip. We couldn’t travel all the way down to Bolivia, the highest country in South America, without experiencing [...]
The sound is unmistakable. A loud rumble accompanied by the sensation of having the rug pulled out from under you. In seconds you’re rushing downslope, tumbling, caught in a washing machine of snow, rock, and wood. The sky fades in and out and you gasp for air as you’re force-fed thick, suffocating snow. Moving at 60 miles an hour, you’re helpless to stop the cascade. You reach for the small handle located on your shoulder, and a sudden “whoosh” fills your ears. Large sacs of air deploy around you and you start to rise to the surface. After a minute, [...]
Park City, Utah, which happens to be the home of backcountry.com’s headquarters, was recently named “The Best Town in America” by Outside Magazine. The article cites “small-town friendliness, absurdly easy access, and five-star culture” as among the reasons Park City deserves the award for best active town. Sounds good, right? Lots of people agree with you. With a median home price of $765,600, though, Park City is a challenging place to live for some of us. So before you pack your U-Haul and head to Utah, there are some things you need to know. I’ve lived in Park City for seven [...]
Finding your ideal suspension setup is key to getting the most out of your ride, and spring rate is arguably the most important piece of that equation. In this video, FOX RACING SHOX’s Outside Technician Louis Angeley shows you how to set your sag to achieve your ideal spring rate. Tips Start with 25% sag front and rear. You should achieve full travel at least once a ride. If you aren’t getting full travel, decrease the pressure in your air spring. If your fork is bottoming out excessively, increase pressure. Make adjustments in 5-10 PSI increments. Video Transcription Hi I’m [...]
July was the hottest month on record in Utah, and August sweltered as well. The desert sun blazed, and our departure date loomed closer. For we were heading south to Argentina to ski the pow. It isn’t just a vacation, however. It’s a vocation. Ski patrolling and guiding in the Rockies has been the career of choice for my business partner, Justin Lozier, and I for the better part of a decade. Lozier hails from the Midwest, but found his calling as a skier in the mountains of Vail. I rode in on the wind from the hills of Tennessee. [...]
Andrew McLean has a reputation for packing light and moving fast (very fast) when he sets out on a backcountry ski tour. The video crew caught up with Andrew and had him run through the gear he packs for a full day of backcountry touring. Andrew McLean’s Day Tour Checklist: 20-35L Ski Pack Avalanche Beacon Shovel Probe Down Jacket Food Goggles 1 Liter Water Electrolyte Mix First Aid Kit Headlamp Want to explore what else is in Andrew McLean’s Pack? Car Duffel Essentials Dawn Patrol Essentials
“Beater: A term used at Utah ski areas (Alta, Snowbird) to describe a tourist of inferior skiing ability. This noun was coined due to the distinctive sound made by a skier, tangled in their own equipment, tumbling down a steep ski slope.” – Urban Dictionary Above Photo: The Beaters at the ‘Bird Photo Credit: Jim Harris, Perpetual Weekend So, you’ve only gone skiing or snowboarding a few times, and your friends have invited you to go riding at Snowbird, in the heart of Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, UT. You meet up at the Park-n-Ride at 7 a.m. to [...]
Scientific research isn’t always your friend. The evidence can be conflicting, backed by financially interested parties, or simply not applicable to your particular brand of sport. You’re the athlete, and if you listen, your body will likely tell you what’s up. However, there are some trusted schools of thought behind hydration and rehydration. Daily Hydration In researching this article, I found a sweet chart depicting urine color as it corresponds to hydration levels. A nice, light yellow for a well-hydrated body gradually increasing to something the color of pea soup as dehydration sets in. (Pretty sure the pea-soup fella has [...]
As we all emerge from our post-Halloween sugar comas, we turn from jack-o-lanterns and sticky candy wrappers to what’s coming next: winter and the forecast. Our brains might still be a bit foggy from late-night costume parties, but the forecast, at least, is getting clearer than it was recently. Let’s run down what we’ll see short term, then focus on a more broad time range. EAST Big swings are in focus for the next couple of weeks. A normal temperature pattern will give way to a large high pressure ridge near the end of the next two weeks. We’ll most [...]
This July I ventured into Washington’s North Cascades for a spontaneous summer funk pond-skimming contest. With my mind bankrupt of skiing memories and far-flung into the warmth of summer, my first glimpse of Mt. Shuksan bombarded my core. I have so often traveled highway 542, followed this length of winding mountainous road, to find Mt. Shuksan—my pot of gold, the place that has filled my heart with boundless wealth. As I looked at the mountain, one clear memory flooded my soul. Above Photo: Mt. Shuksan, WA Shot By: Re Wikstrom It was the last day of December. A new year [...]
In my Midwestern town it’s expected that following high school or college you’ll pack up your car and drive west to work at a ski resort for a winter, where you’ll finally put to use all that techy gear you’ve been wearing around campus the last four years. My own trip came together when a friend working in Utah offered me the use of his couch for as long as I wanted, provided I could pay $150 a month and didn’t mind peeing into a Gatorade bottle late at night since the only bathroom was off his bedroom. I landed [...]
Few skiers have logged more hours in the skin track than Backcountry athlete Andrew McLean, and from all that experience, Andrew knows exactly what he needs to have in the trunk to be prepared for just about anything old man winter throws his way. The video crew caught up with Andrew in Little Cottonwood Canyon and had him run through the contents of the gear duffel he never leaves home without. Want to explore what else is in Andrew McLean’s Pack? Day Tour Essentials Dawn Patrol Essentials
You’re ready to try backcountry touring. You’ve heard “shovel, beacon, probe (and how to use them)” a million times, but nobody’s ever mentioned how to carry them. Here’s how. Above Photo: Backcountry Athlete Angel Collinson touring Alta backcountry, UT Shot By: Re Wikstrom Winter vs. Summer Construction You’re going to be putting your bag through the wringer in freezing cold and wet weather. A backcountry touring bag has to put up with high-speed rock encounters, sharp ski and board edges, shovel blades, tree branches, you name it. It also has to keep the contents dry while you ride through blizzards [...]
Above Photo By: 4FRNT Skis In a low brick building on Salt Lake City’s west side, innovation and passion rise above the smog of industry, and at the heart of the enclave of creativity that is 4FRNT Skis’ corporate headquarters, there’s a dedicated team with a drive to build something special. Led by the stoic Matt Sterbenz, the growing company has become a hallmark of ski design. 4FRNT Skis was born of a desire to craft skis that athletes actually wanted to ride. Sterbenz believed it didn’t have to be about mega-corps form Europe controlling the tide of production. He [...]
FOX RACING SHOX‘s CTD damper can be found on their 32 and 34 line of mountain bike forks along with the FLOAT rear shock. It is intended to take the pain out of finding your ideal suspension setup with a simple 3-way adjustment. Climb, Trail, Descend. CTD. Climb Climb mode firms up the feel, but stops short of acting as a true lockout, given that the blow off valve allows your suspension to move under unexpected hard hits. Trail Click the damper into the Trail mode, and you’ll find that there’s ample low-speed compression to keep the fork riding high [...]
Wearing their ski boots, Andreas Fransson, Chris Rubens, and Backcountry.com athlete Greg Hill step off a century-old fishing boat and onto the glistening slopes of the Sunnmøre Alps in Western Norway, raising the bar for ski footage as well as for their own experiences. Prepare to bliss out on Fjord: Norway from Salomon Freeski TV.
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