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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 [...]
Judging by the Provo river access lots on an average weekday, and my Facebook and Instagram feeds flooded daily with fish porn, I’d say that fly fishing is getting popular. Over a decade ago when my brother and I started as youngsters, we were the only ones under 30 in our fly-tying class, YouTube hadn’t popped off yet, and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Now the secret’s out, and fly fishing is one of the best summertime activities for all types of people, especially those living in mountain towns where shredding pow and slinging trout are one [...]
Above Photo By: Dynafit Specifically geared towards hard-charging Backcountry skiers, the new Dynafit Beast 16 Binding combines the lightweight touring tech Dynafit is known for with a high release value and burly design. Available in a limited quantity for the 2013/14 season, Backcountry is proud to announce that we will be the exclusive online retailer of the Beast 16 in North America. Last spring in the Wasatch, merchandise manager Hud Knight gave the video crew a sneak peek of this groundbreaking binding in action. LEARN MORE
This past winter, I didn’t start off with the intention of entering TGR’s Co-Lab Contest. Probably like the rest of you, I had my doubts that TGR was really going to give $100K to the person with the best ski edit. We’ve never seen a prize like that in the ski world. To top it off, the word on the street was that TGR film athletes like Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Dana Flahr were going to enter. I’m a confident skier, but dang, as if I’d really have a chance against them. As the season went on and I started to [...]
2271.5 miles, six national parks, two provinces, four states, 20 passes, 30,000 vertical feet, some bears, some new buddies, six flats, one hat left in the park in Parma, Idaho, so much peanut butter, two snowstorms, six hailstorms, 37 days, 34 world-class naps, one almost-didn’t-make-it road in Idaho, and a whole pile of fish. Day 1: SLC Airport, UT, 4:27 PM Bike is in the box and on a baggage cart, can see it from the window near the boarding gate. Hope the packing job holds up. Day 2: South of Jasper, AB, Canada, 10:11 AM Good lord, just rode past a black bear stuffing its face with bearberries 25ft off [...]
For any rock climber who was or is also a backpacker, the urge to bring the skills you’ve acquired on your local crags to the bigger mountains is no doubt a strong one. The Rockies, the Tetons, the Sierras—many of the same ranges that hold the best hiking trails are also home to soaring rock climbs of surprisingly moderate grades and amazing quality. The transition to alpine rock climbing, very loosely defined as climbing in more remote, high-altitude areas on less-developed routes, can seem daunting. But with good gear and smart preparation, you’ll soon find yourself signing the summit register. [...]
With a smattering of new shapes added each year, the Burton Family Tree collection is where innovative freeride snowboards make their debut. The Backcountry video crew met up with Senior Business Unit Director Chris Cunningham at the Burton factory in Vermont to get a firsthand look at this slick new line-up. For deep backcountry powder, you’re going to want to keep it all in the family. Want to learn all about how Burton’s boards are made? Check out The Birth of a Snowboard: Inside Burton’s HQ
Aside from the ego-boost you’ll get from beating all your friends back down to the lift, tuning your skis to perfection can be meditative and rewarding on its own. From sharpening edges to brushing out the final coat of wax, ski buyer Eli Littenberg walked us through all the steps and gear you’ll need to give your skis a first-rate tune in this eight part video series. Part 1: Edge-Sharpening Overview Part 2: Detuning Contact Points Part 3: P-Tex Repairs Part 4: Wax Brushes Part 5: Hot Waxing Part 6: The Final Wax Part 7: Summer Storage Part 8: Tools [...]
From the sheer face of a 1500-foot wall in Yosemite to the spires of the Bugaboos, our Gearheads have climbed an impressive roster of granite routes in North America. They’ve tackled Squamish, the City of Rocks, the Buttermilks in Bishop, California, the Incredible Hulk in the Sierra Nevadas, and Little Cottonwood Canyon in our own backyard. Having hit upon so many iconic climbing destinations, three of our Gearheads gathered on August 28th to host a Google Hangout and share their stories. Diana, Arthur, and Greg swapped tales about their travels, shared photos, and answered questions submitted by the audience viewing [...]
Above Photo By: Tommy Chandler On a road bike, suffering takes many forms. There’s the obvious physical anguish that accompanies a climb, but there’s also an emotional and mental taxation that’s associated with cycling in general. Fortunately (yes, I said fortunately), the past month has hit me hard on all of the above. And while I’ve rapidly experienced the destruction of two amazing bikes, rode well outside of my limits, and was left with the clear headspace to confront a personal life that’s gone completely pear-shaped, the ride is still as beautiful as ever. Beyond better judgment, I’m left longing [...]
Have you ever been to Chile? I would have said no to that question a few weeks ago, but now I can say yes with a big smile on my face as I look back on my time there. The notion of flying to Chile in the middle of the summer to ski began with an email chain between photographer Greg Von Doersten, Tim Durtchi, Matt Phillipi, TGR filmer Nick Kalisz, and me. It ended with a cold plunge into a lake half covered with ice and surrounded by the stunning snow-covered peaks of Portillo. The time between was perfect—full [...]
An Interview With Sweetgrass Productions Above Photo: Garrett Grove Sweetgrass Productions makes ski movies that are unlike others you’ve seen. Their last film, Solitaire, took two years to make and features exotic South American locales (including the Amazon jungle), stunning cinematography, and meditative takes of clouds moving across the sky. It also has a conspicuous few number of landings and a subtitled narration adapted from A Heart of Darkness. Snowboarder Forrest Shearer filmed with them in Argentina and for their new film Valhalla in Alaska. Shearer says that as Sweetgrass gets better and better with the action—using their unique style [...]
Behind all the action, the glorious heart-pounding shots, and the gritty locales, our video hides a story within a story. Shot by shot, This is Backcountry came together over the course of a year at the hands of multiple film crews and countless athletes. At times, it was smooth sailing, but more often than not it was a bumpy, unpredictable rumble into the unknown. Lift the curtain and take a peek into the moments that fell to the cutting room floor. This is where the story unfolds.
After years of exploring Alaska’s mountains with helicopters, skier Pep Fujas sets out on foot, out of a remote basecamp, to explore the Tordrillo Mountains. Despite bitter cold temperatures, 3 a.m. starts, and long walks through massive, glaciated terrain, Pep shows why he’s one of the best skiers of this generation by laying his style and grace down on exposed spines and massive crevasse gaps. Shot and edited by Sweetgrass Productions. Check out the teaser for Sweetgrass’s newest film brought to you by Patagonia: VALHALLA: A TEASER OF SWEETGRASS PRODUCTIONS’ LATEST FILM
To most, the desert is the last place you’d ever want to be. It symbolizes death and struggle with its unsustainable conditions for most forms of life. During the day, it’s brutally hot. At night, it becomes a frigid wasteland. Despite these hindrances, there’s an adventure-based community thriving in Southern Utah. BASE jumping has shown me places of Moab and the surrounding region that I would have never discovered had I not been involved in this beautiful sport. Red rock paths, secret slot canyons, ancient cryptobiotic fields, and beautiful rock structures are just some of the amazing things I’ve stumbled [...]
Backcountry hammocking isn’t for everyone. It’s mainly just people who like comfort, hate heavy backpacks, and want to experience the singular feeling of being rocked to sleep by Mother Nature herself. If that doesn’t make your arm hairs tingle, well, I don’t know how to help you. Backcountry hammocking is not only easier than ever, it’s more comfortable, too. And thanks to the once ingenious, now ubiquitous repurposing of parachute silk as the main material, it’s lighter than ever as well. These days, with the continuously swelling (and, some say, completely swollen) market for outdoor gear, there are more options [...]
Above Photo: Backcountry Employees Kipp Schorr and Ashley Tucker Photo By: Re Wikstrom In relationships, it’s often our differences that make us appreciate each other. He may appreciate your gregarious personality while you appreciate his cool, calm collectedness. When it comes to serious recreating and outdoor passions, however, sometimes those differences can cause tension or resentment. You may both love to ski, but while you want to hike up, he’d rather ride a lift. You may both rock climb, but he may be climbing 5.13 and you’d be stoked to conquer 5.9. The gap can present itself in a hundred different ways, [...]
Valhalla. Ruled by Odin, the foremost god in the Norse Pantheon, and mythologized as a place where slain Viking warriors go to feast and prepare for the events of Ragnarok. It’s a name rooted deep in history and uttered in reverence. It’s also the name of Sweetgrass’ latest ski film, which breaks the steep, deep, face-shot mold in favor of storytelling, aesthetic, and the auteurism of Nick Waggoner. Valhalla premiers in Denver on September 13, 2013, and it’ll be available on iTunes on the 23rd. Waggoner and his crew are editing nonstop, set up in a hilltop chalet. Lucky for you, [...]
McKenna Peterson and I stood on the train, heaving. Our ski bags and roller duffels were precariously stacked in the narrow corridor between trains. The Swiss may be known for incredible scheduling and timeliness, but this six-minute hustle between trains was brutal. Stop, throw our gear out of the train, sprint down stairs and underneath multiple tracks, then lug our bags back up to the platform and start the whole process over again. We collapsed on each train sweaty and disheveled as commuters finishing their work days traveled home. Man, I love skiing, but I really hope I didn’t forget [...]
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