Off Yonder – Adventure Travel Stories - Seeing the world for what it is

Review: Crispi XP Telemark Boots
United States

After trying various Garmont and Scarpa tele boots I found Crispi, an Italian brand that fits my feet perfectly: wide and high volume. I ordered the XP’s as they were described to have the broadest versatility, especially for a relatively new telemark skier. Medium weight to help punch through any crud snow and plenty stiff for tight response. These boots have served me well in all conditions from crusey groomers to earning turns in the backcountry. Most importantly they are very comfortable and my feet are totally secure in them. My heel stays in place and I’ve never had any issues of rubbing, blistering or cramping. I skied on them for a full season before I baked the thermal liners. After molding the liners to my feet I found a whole new level of comfort and control. The boots are also plenty warm which is very important when on a backcountry lunch break between climbs and runs sitting around in the snow. I have yet to take these boots on a multi-day tour to see what it’s like to put them on after sitting out overnight in the cold, but hopefully that will come soon.

The Crispi XP’s soft rubber Skywalk sole grips the snow well when walking around on compact snow and the duckbill is strong and stiff enough to punch enough of a lip to step on when booting it up sections too steep to make it worth while to skin up.

My few concerns stem from how easily the tongue under each of the upper buckles sometimes mesh the wrong way. I usually catch this when it becomes ridiculously difficult to lock the buckle down and after catching this the first time I know to keep an eye out for this. Also, the power strap is way too long. It makes me wonder how fat of a leg it can accommodate. Maybe it’s that long to work as a shoulder strap when strapping the boots together to carry them, but I’m not sure as I have a boot bag for them. Another little annoyance is having to flip up the D-ring where the leash attaches. I don’t really have a well thought out solution in mind, but if the D-ring could somehow stick out some and not just rest right up against the boot, it would make it easier to attach the ski leash.

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Ghost Town Visit
Arkansas River Valley, St. Elmo, Colorado, United States

After a wonderful few days of diving into the Gospel of John, Adventure Unlimited offered a few trips off camp for the boys. One group went to Leadville to check out the mining museum and I took a group to St. Elmo. Just half an hour from camp up a side canyon this little town has mostly been abandoned. Many old buildings still stand, and it does say that folks are welcome to wander down the road, but asked not to poke around in the buildings and someone does actually own them still.

The town didn’t keep the interest of the group much, but a nice hike further into the mountains was perfect after sitting and studying the bible for 3 days. Here’s a few of the shots I got. Click on any of the images to see the rest of the gallery:



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Antarctic Questions from Mrs. Higdon’s Preschool class
United States

Mrs.Higdon's Preschool classThis morning I got to answer questions over Skype from Mrs.Higdon’s Preschool class. Mrs. Higdon and I went to college together and now she teaches in northern Indiana. The kids always have great questions and are so curious. These kids, because they live in a cold climate could understand some of the cold concepts better than the kids I’ve done this sort of stuff with in California. While I was in Antarctica I corresponded with Ms. Hernholm’s fourth grade class. One of their in-class assignments was to learn about books. The parts of a book, the cover, the title page, the back cover, reviews and the such. Through the emails the kids were asking me about my favorites and such and they discovered that my great grandmother gave me a little stuffed Curious George doll when I was born. Well, Curious George has traveled all over with me including when we lived in Europe, when I moved to Australia and Japan and he even came down to the Antarctic with me. So, growing up, I was a huge fan of the Curious George books and his adventures. Somehow, Ms. Hernholm’s whole class decided they wanted to make “Curious George goes to Antarctica/South Pole” books!

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Five Fingers Time Lapse
Adventure Unlimited Ranches, Buena Vista, Colorado, United States

While at Christmas camp, I set up my camera to take 30 second exposures for as long as the battery would last. Then I put another battery in and kept going. You’ll see the frame shift now and then, that’s probably a new battery going in. It’s not the most exciting video you’ve seen, but then again, this is my experimentation laboratory. Welcome to it. I’ll try to get a better one another time. Stay tuned.

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Christmas Camp at the Ranches
Adventure Unlimited Ranches, Buena Vista, Colorado, United States

Christmas this year was a blast. I was up at the Adventure Unlimited Ranches in Buena Vista, Colorado with my mom. My primary job was to drive ski vans to Monarch and other ski areas as necessary, but I was also asked to put the “end of camp slideshow” together. Guests submitted their photos and Andy helped me sort through them (though, we asked the submitters to do a bit of editing themselves – this helped heaps). I took little video clips throughout the week and put it all together in iMovie.

In looking for a good soundtrack, I texted my friend Alex Cook and asked if I could feature songs from his recently released “Tree of Life” album and he was all for it. Better yet, he was cool with me posting the whole thing to YouTube. Since YouTube limits videos to 10 minutes, the slideshow is in two parts, both are below. Enjoy!


PART 1

PART 2

More videos at: http://www.youtube.com/offyonder

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Backcountry Skiing
Old Monarch Pass, Colorado, United States

At Christmas Camp in Buena Vista, CO we offered something new this year: backcountry skiing. We only had one camp guest sign up, but that was just fine as seven staff (including myself) went on this trip. The slopes were gentle and the weather was perfect. See it all in the video below. I originally had Tegan and Sarah’s “Take Me Anywhere” as the sound track, but YouTube has a soundtrack copyright checker and disabled the audio. I think that’s pretty neat that they can check for that sort of stuff now, but it forced me to choose one of their “approved” audio tracks which was just a touch longer than the video so it gets cut off and I can’t fade it down for when I ask Daryl (our one guest) what he thinks of backcountry skiing. Fortunately, I had already added subtitles to the most important part of his response. Enjoy:

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100 Mile White Mountain Ski Tour
White Mountains, Alaska, United States

Although the calendar said it was the end of winter and the start of spring, Alaska clearly wasn’t paying attention. Nathaniel and I got a later than expected start (which we will find will actually become our norm) and we had to ski through a windy and dark -40F to make it to our first cabin. We only dared stop for mere moments to sip hot tea from a thermos (our water bottles, though insulated, had frozen solid) and split a large chocolate muffin. Yes, it was wicked cold at times and the wind was often howling, but it was beautiful. The photos (see more by clicking on this photo) and the video will never do that beautiful landscape justice (click “Full Story” below or the title above to see the video). But, come have a look and make this journey with us as best as we can share it.

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Sunny Snowy Ridge Finale
Gray Knob, White Mountains, New Hampshire, United States

I just wrapped my two months at Gray Knob cabin and I’m already looking forward to returning for another stint in the White Mountains (if the RMC will have me). I hope to experience each of the seasons in their entirety although I suspect autumn will always reign supreme in my view.

I almost didn’t come down before this last stint. When I woke on the morning of my day off, thick clouds surrounded the cabin and I thought nothing of it as I recorded the weather and suited up to head down. Just as I started on the trail a gap formed in the clouds revealing a glowing golden morning sun and blue skies scrubbed by a just-passed storm. Pink and purple halo hues lined the edges of the clouds and reflected in the soft fresh snow. I paused and debated returning to the cabin to get my camera but continued on, expecting it was just a sucker hole and the clouds would reclaim the view by the time I climbed back up. But it persisted. I stopped again but thought if I turned around I wouldn’t get out that day. Mike and Bill were scheduled to fill in and I opted to not rattle the plan.

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Snow Storm
Gray Knob Cabin, White Mountains, New Hampshire

This website may be the death of me. After seven or eight days of thick fog, stormy winds and continuous snowfall, restlessness was starting to set in and I realized I hardly had any photos or tales of new adventures to post for this, my second to last Gray Knob update. The environment around the […]

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Snow Country
Gray Knob Cabin, White Mountains, New Hampshire

The metamorphosis is nearly complete. The first substantial snows of the season silently marched in overnight as I slept transforming the green boughs of fir, the fading yellow grasses and the dark brown soils of the trail all to a white bliss. The giddy joy usually reserved for childhood filled my heart and soul as […]

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