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I qualified for the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona the old-fashioned way: the train-‘til-you’ve-whittled-every-ounce-of fat-off-your-frame-so-you-can’t-help-but-be-fast way. Above Photo By: Ian Matteson I did seven races before I actually persuaded myself that I wanted Kona. I’m convinced the internal dialogue was the product of a few off-season nights spent bowling and drinking with my training partner, a pro. Regardless—shit got serious that year. Qualifying became an obsession. I missed out in Florida by two seconds. I missed in Malaysia by one spot. Five weeks after Malaysia I flew to China. Third time’s the charm, right? I got out of the swim, [...]
Back in Leh, Christie, Susan, Adam, and I are scheduled to fly to Dehradun, then taxi to Rishikesh to explore the Ganges River and its tributaries. Newscasts just three months prior reported heavy monsoons that caused massive flooding, landslides, and thousands of fatalities in this area. Our contacts report that no rafting groups are running trips. It is now August and the monsoon season is drawing to an end (hopefully), but before departing, our team discusses alternatives. We decide to gamble and continue as planned. Since we are nervous about traveling to Rishikesh with our kayaks, we sell our boats [...]
When you’re pumping out twenty feet above your last piece of gear, the last thing you want to do is fumble the clip. The video crew spent a day sport climbing with Backcountry writer Pace Measom to demonstrate two clipping techniques every climber should master before heading to the crag. Video Transcription Hey, Pace here with Backcountry.com. We are up here in American Fork Canyon doing a little bit of sport climbing. You know when you are trying a hard sport route clipping quickly and efficiently is critical for success. So today we just want to show you a couple [...]
The alarm goes off at 6 a.m., and it’s a powder day. Before you get out of bed, you repeat this to yourself three times: “I will do anything to get the shot.” You live and breathe this photography mantra—bruises and smashed gear attest to it—but it wouldn’t be possible without the right high-tech backpack. What, are you going to carry your gaggle of gear in your hands? You need a high-functioning DSLR camera bag that’ll organize and protect your equipment. Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Here are several things to consider when you’re purchasing a backcountry photography backpack, and [...]
As a female, my teenage years were consumed by numbers on the scale. Of course that never stopped me from eating sweet rolls with melted butter; I would follow that with four carrots as damage control. My mom was constantly on a diet. We were living in Hawaii when—mind you, she looked fantastic—she went on a diet of only carrots. Her hands turned orange, and she felt weak, but her eyesight improved. Above Photo: Dobber Price In 1974, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had just given birth to my little brother, Styles. She was at her [...]
You smell that? It’s a ski shop. My formative years were spent working in a Midwestern gear shop that serviced bikes in the summer and skis in the winter. Each season had its associative smells. Bike grease and Triflow in the summer. Ski wax and pine tar all winter. If you’ve ever walked into the back of a ski shop, you’ve smelled their waxing machine. While I liked to refer to myself as “the waxing machine” while holding a clothing iron with the heat cranked on turbo, billowing smoke and blackened with molten wax, this was not accurate. Wax machines [...]
The high Andes ski resort of Portillo was placed squarely on my radar as a small boy by my dad. As kids, my siblings and I used to sit around a roaring fire at our ski cabin in New Hampshire and listen to him spin fantastic and slightly embellished tales of a hotel that sat alone, high in the Andes Mountains. There was always 100 feet of snow in these stories, and it seemed easy to climb to 17,000ft in elevation and ski, which was hard for us to comprehend. There was always a story about a storm that blew like [...]
“Progression” is a word that gets tossed around a lot in snowboarding. Usually it refers to the riding itself, such as the explosion of double and, more recently, triple corks in slopestyle, the increased influence of skateboarding in urban riding, or the push to ride deeper and more remote terrain a la Jeremy Jones. But you can’t talk about the way snowboarding has progressed over the years without giving credit to the technology behind the riding. It’s easy to write off this new camber profile or that new space-age material as just hype and fluff, but don’t forget that there [...]
Step away from that discount costume aisle, and put down the felt scraps and crazy glue. Those roads will only lead to embarrassment and regret. Here are thirteen irreverent, scary, and even kinky costumes for the chronic Halloween procrastinator—all of them made from outdoor gear. Luchadores From rival families, “El Conejo Rosa” (“The Pink Bunny”) and “El Demonio Spandex” (“The Spandex Demon”) prepare to face off in a long-anticipated lucha de apuesta. The stakes are high, as the loser will be forced to shave the word “perdedor” into his chest hair and retire from wrestling forever. Gear: Spacecraft Road Kill [...]
Backcountry skier Adam Morrey has always loved his Voile shovel. But after an avalanche buried his wife in Millcreek Canyon, Utah, he and his shovel are now inseparable. Read Adam’s story below. In the years that I’ve been plodding out into the wintery world, I’ve cycled through many pieces of equipment: two beacons, three daypacks, five shell jackets (soiled and tattered beyond the standards held by transients), three pairs of pants (also excessively soiled), two probes, seven boots, countless gloves, goggles, and hats, five sets of climbing skins, and too many pairs of skis. Almost every item has been replaced or [...]
Some people are ‘mountain people,’ while others call themselves ‘ocean people.’ But why not have it all? We’ve assembled a smattering of trails—from overnight trips to adventures that take two to three months—so you can get your fill of high alpine peaks, rocky ridges, angelic waterfalls, and the sweet smell of saltwater. Transition from summits to the sea on these grand North American backpacking experiences. Mountains to Sea Trail: 962 miles, 2 to 3 months Beginning in the Appalachian Mountains and ending at the Atlantic Ocean, the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) is North Carolina’s epic 962-mile footpath that transitions from the [...]
Mike Ewanowski spends his summers fighting forest fires and his winters patrolling at the Canyons Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. In between those jobs, he finds time to climb, run rivers, and travel to foreign countries for a month at a time. We caught up with Mike to discuss the finer points of boot construction, the draw of emergency medicine, and the best haircut for firefighting. Can you give us the rundown on your jobs and how long you’ve been doing them? I’ve been with Unified Fire Authority’s Wildland Division for two summers, and this will be my fourth [...]
A dog is a necessity. I’ve always had a dog in my life: Ferdinand, Polo, Ruff, Buck, Maggie, Hanna, Major Tom, Hanna (apparently I really loved the name), the countless strays my mom fostered, the dog I took with me to college—Solo—and the dog after her, Otto. Dogs are essential to me. Without a dog around I feel lost, and this sentiment only gets stronger when I’m camping. A dog is there as a marker of safety and companionship. If no one is available to pack a bag and set out into the wild with you, you can always count on [...]
Hey folks! Wally again here, bringing you my update for the next two weeks. Since I’ll be doing this sort of things more often (every two weeks), I’ll be following a format in which I’ll dedicate a section to each US region and maybe save the end for something that interests me. Ready? Let’s begin: EAST I know I said in an earlier post that this winter was to bring a bit of a change for all our peeps near the Atlantic, but these next two to four weeks won’t support that. From the NCEP (Government’s shut down, but weather [...]
Above Photo: Re Wikstrom Many people devoted to seasonal sports fail to do preseason conditioning. Outside of structured programs, such as yoga or CrossFit classes or team sports like soccer or football, you’re on your own to get and stay in shape. Skiers and snowboarders are especially prone to eschew conditioning, with their simple “Go Fast, Shit Pants” aspirations. Sure, there are the disciplined athletes who start doing wall-sits in July, but there are also a ton of athletes (you know who you are) who opt for the liver workout until opening day. That conditioned riders are more prepped and [...]
This past year, my first in Jackson, WY, I skied 65 routes, over 40 of which were in Grand Teton National Park. These routes would not have been accomplished without the partnership of new local friends who became great ski companions. I had just left my long time home of Telluride, CO in search of adventure and exploration in new areas, and as a newcomer to Jackson, I quickly learned that it’s an ideal community in which to find outdoor partners. Thanks to a rotation of members within this new team, we enjoyed consistent outings in the Teton Range from [...]
Spartan and lightweight, minimalist shoes are quickly gaining popularity with both serious road and trail runners. If you’ve wondered if a minimalist shoe is the right choice for you, watch Backcountry writer and running expert Austin Holt run you through the basic benefits and considerations of a minimalist running shoe. Video Transcription Hi. I’m Austin from Backcountry.com. I’m going to talk to you a little bit about minimalist shoe design. Minimalist shoes are for the intermediate to the advanced runner who wants a shoe that’s lighter weight, more simple, and easier to carry between foot strides. Minimalist shoes are something [...]
I wake up with the sun on the bank of the river. I roll out of my bivy and wander to the water’s edge to rinse my face. Before me stands a surf wave with perfect eddy access, gone unnoticed the night before. No other team members are up yet. It’s time for a dawn patrol! I eagerly gear up, abbreviate a warm-up on the shore, and dive in. The wave is epic. Soon, several curious road laborers toting picks and shovels congregate along shore and across the prayer-flag adorned bridge overhead, and then gradually, several more. Personnel file from [...]
Fear is a funny thing. In its essence it’s a biological response designed to keep you alive, but in the modern age of recreational risk, it can really be a pain in the ass. Take right now for instance; my fear is making a precarious situation perilous. It’s wringing sweat from my hands when I most need my grip. I try to breathe the terror away, but my heart is pounding relentlessly, and it’s getting hard to make smart decisions. “How’s it look up there?” Lucho’s voice filters up into my tunnel-vision terror bubble. He’s out of view under a [...]
Above Photo: Backcountry.com Athlete Neil Provo A personal little ski lodge on wheels that you can park on mountain passes with skiing and skinning right out your backdoor, a warm fireplace to be stoked as soon as you finish your last turns, and cold beverages stored in your snow-bank refrigerator. If you’re intrigued by any of the above, then you might want a tiny house. While I can’t tell you how to build one (I don’t know anything about tiny-house plans or construction), I can tell you that you’ll figure it out. You’ll make it happen. That’s exactly what we did. Two [...]
If, in life, I were a divinely chosen spiritual revelator, I would consider a life of teaching and leave behind words of enlightened guidance. Like the Buddha and the Mahayana sutras, the philosophical advice offered to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, and the scriptures from Muhammad related in the Quran. However, I am not a revelator, and I don’t speak Arabic, and I definitely can’t read or write in Sanskrit. Instead, in this life, I am just a kayaker. And for this part, I’ve chosen to float through a vivid and rich culture in some northern regions of India, tucked in [...]
Every fall, a swath of the planet’s most talented ski athletes converge on Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the world premiere of the latest Teton Gravity Research ski flick. Aside from screening the Way of Life film, this infamous weekend includes a less than conventional golf tournament, unlimited recreating, and the multi-faceted “hall pass.” The video crew drove north to keep tabs on the Backcountry athletes in attendance and provide an insider’s look at this annual rite of passage. Check out the Way of Life trailer here.
Like everyone else, I’ve been losing sleep over the disturbing news out of North Korea. Is there new work at the contentious site? Will they be able to get the parts they need from abroad? Is this new dictator Kim Jong-un a madman?! I’m of course talking about the ski resort that North Korea is trying to build. Late in the summer they announced plans to build a mega resort, but were quickly stymied by an Austrian company that refused to install the $7.8 million chairlift system citing an international embargo on luxury goods. The world’s top ski lift maker, [...]
So it’s fall, and the mountains are dry as a bone. Or maybe the first coat of snow has just fallen and you’re so ready to get at it that you find yourself walking around the house in your ski boots. You know, just “to loosen up the linings.” Either way, there’s only one thing to do: head into the hills and start scouting lines. But what can you learn from a bare chute or a barely dusted ridgeline? Plenty, starting with how to get there. Route finding is a rarely discussed aspect of backcountry travel, mostly because it’s often [...]
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