Backcountry Ski Hut

As a last push to find some measure of winter (defined by me as including skiable snow, not just being cold out), Jordan and I pushed out to the new Opus Hut tucked in the southern end of the San Juan Mountains. We had invited a number of other folks, but by the virtue that we scheduled our trip mid week, most of the working world wasn’t able to comply. So Jordan and I set out on this trip on our own. This was her first ski hut trip (though, she did get herself up to Gray Knob a few years ago) and she said it pushed her a bit more than she would have liked.

REVIEW: Eddie Bauer/First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hoodie

I love this jacket. It has been my go-to piece since getting it and I suspect it will continue to serve well for those cool spring mornings and evenings as well as on camping trips into the mountains. As one reviewer on the Eddie Bauer website commented “Super light, at times don’t even realize I’m wearing it.” So true. And with that, super warm and windproof.

As the product page will tell you, the MicroTherm is designed to be a snug/athletic fit and mine is just that. The hood has just the right cut to cup your head and keep it warm. And it is more of a cupping hood, not one that can just be worn loosely and for that sometimes it’s hard to hear beyond the sound of your ears or skullcap rubbing against the interior nylon. Be sure to check out the great fit comparison video on the Eddie Bauer/First Ascent product page.

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 Videos

After putting some videos together at the Summer OR show in 2011 on a whim, Elevation Outdoors Magazine was able to pick up a sponsorship from Verde PR & Consulting to make them happen for the Winter Market OR show. A huge thanks to Verde and here are the videos, each posted by the end of the day each day of the show. Click “Full Story” below or the title above to view the videos.

Review: Vasque Rift Approach Shoe

Vasque Rift Approach ShoeSpring climbing calls for an approach shoe that is comfortable and light. The Vasque Rift comes in bold and subtle color options to suit every personality. This multisport shoe sports the ultra sticky Vibram Spider outsole with Idrogrip Compound reaching from above the toe all the way back and up the heal to stab those tricky approach routes.

Soft and comfortable, wearing the Rift is like wearing tough slippers. Soft laces tie easily and stay tied. After hitting a few trails in them, my feet are always happy with the experience and I’m never itching to get these shoes off.

Hiking the Grand

It doesn’t matter how you access the Grand Canyon, so long as you actually get down into it. Sure, the views are impressive from the rim looking down into and along the big red gash in the earth, but it’s too big to fathom just from above. By boat or by foot, you’ve got to get into it.

Matt, Agnes and I, planned on a four day backpacking trip descending from the North Rim along the Bill Hall Trail and into Deer Creek Canyon for the first night. Well, technically our first night out was car camping on the North Rim which offered the aforementioned amazing though limited view from above. The morning sun crept down along the walls, displacing the dark pooled in the canyon as we packed up our car camp and got on the rocky trail taking us down.

GEAR: Ibex Zepher Wind Boxer Brief

Ibex Zepher Wind Boxer Brief

Some of the best skiing is when the weather is the worst. That’s when the powder is falling, the wind is blowing and the temperature takes a dive. Be it at a resort or in the backcountry, bluebird days bring out the masses and foul weather keeps the slopes clear for those willing to brave the elements.

Ibex has stepped up the game and it may just add a few more folks, maybe you, to the slopes when the weather is being obnoxious. With a poly microdenier windstop front added to the already toasty and super soft 18.5 micron Zepher fabric, these boxer briefs will help you take on the most brutal of windy onslaughts and keep the vitals warm and cozy no matter what you’re doing out there.

Keep toasty, my friends.

Opening Day at Breckenridge

Attending a ski resort’s opening day is not for those looking to avoid crowds. It’s about being a part of history in the making, meeting new friends and sharing in the passions. This year was particularly poignant with Breckenridge Ski Resort kicking off it’s 50th year on the auspicious date of 11/11/11.

As you stepped off the gondola, the first 1,111 guests received a breakfast cupcake with the Breck logo in the icing. Once you picked up a coffee or something to wash that cupcake down with, it was time to get in line for the Colorado Super Chair, the first to open. Folks had started to line up as early as 8am waiting an hour for the first lift up.

Review: CamelBak Antidote Hydration

CamelBak Antidote 100ozI am totally impressed with CamelBak’s new Antidote hydration bladder. I’ve been though a few rough times with bags of water and their various shortcomings and even very soggy disasters. Sometimes, we tolerate some inconveniences to make something else more convenient. The Antidote eliminates the troubles from hydration bladders of the past and makes it easy to make drinking convenient. Click through to read about the features I love:

REVIEW: LifeProof – Waterproof iPhone Case

LifeProof iPhone CaseThis water/dirt/snow/shock-proof case is designed to go on your phone and stay there. For the protection it offers, the slim design makes it practical to leave this case on your phone for full time protection, not just when you want to get out in the elements. As the instructions suggested, I first tested the case empty as the waterproofness is not intuitively apparent. But once that past the test I inserted my phone and haven’t taken it out since. Until something that does everything this LifeProof case does and resolves some of the issues I mention below, this will continue to be how I protect my iPhone.

NOLS Pro & Deuter Packs Trip

If you have been on a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip of any sort, you know the value it provides participants with technical outdoors skills as well as the “Expedition Behavior” skills to not only get along with the members of your group but to make the trip, or expedition a resounding success. NOLS has been offering their “Pro” (short for Professional) program for a few years but are ready to ramp it up. NOLS Pro will set up a course for any professional team looking to build group dynamics, leadership, risk management and/or outdoor skills anywhere you like.

Our group was lead by two NOLS Pro instructors, Marcio Paes Barreto and Brian Fabel, who took us into the Wind River Range in Wyoming for a few days and they shared the NOLS Pro program with us. Another component included Deuter Packs as NOLS uses Deuter Packs as their robust pack rental fleet. Built to suit the rugged nature of NOLS trips, these packs are out in the field a lot and get many lifetimes of use as compared to how often a privately owned backpack gets out into the field.

Click the title above for more photos.