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.

Patagonia CEO & President Casey Sheahan Talks Business, Conservation & Compassion

Patagonia CEO & President Casey Sheahan Talks Business, Conservation & CompassionPatagonia doesn’t need any help with marketing their products. In fact, the ad they placed in the New York Times on Black Friday last year said “Don’t Buy This Jacket”.  Don’t be fooled, they still want you to buy their product, but only when you really need it. What does that mean? This marketing conundrum and a number of other insightful ideas on how this company operates were shared by CEO & President Casey Sheahan at the Business of Outdoor Recreation Lecture Series presented by the Outdoor Industry Association and the Leeds School of Business at the Stadium Club on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

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.

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.

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.

Expedition Impossible Celebrates In Boulder

Team No Limits from Boulder hosted a huge party at the Lazy Dog Bar & Grill on Thursday night to watch the final episode of ABC’s Expedition Impossible TV competition show. No Limits was one of four teams to make it to the final episode as teams were eliminated over the previous few weeks. Also in attendance were The Gypsies the winners of the show.

Over 600 people purchased tickets to attend the event at The Lazy Dog and the proceeds, along with the silent auction, private donations and a percentage of beer sales, went to the two charities of choice, No Barriers USA and Free the Children.

Wine & Spirits – Beaver Creek

Don’t let the lack of snow fool you. Beaver Creek is not just for winter fun. The mountains are beautiful all year around. You may find it curious that as a teetotaler I attended the Wine & Spirits festival, but I wanted to see if even I, without a drop of alcohol, would enjoy it. I did, but how?

Check out the full story to hear about walking around the green summer ski slopes, eating gourmet food, watching others sample and discuss the nuance of tannins and other wine talk all in the first day! Then we ride the chair lift, go for a jeep ride, play disc golf and finish it all at the Walk Around tasting which seemed to me to have more gourmet food than wine & spirits! Also, there are two videos, one for each day in Beaver Creek. Check it out!

REVIEW: Marmot Zion Softshell Jacket


This is a technical jacket. The core specifications – Polartec’s new NeoShell fabric, taped seams, storm hood – are impressive. But most importantly it performs well. As with anything new, it’s a little stiff when you first put it on, but that concern quickly fades away as the totally bomber nature of the Zion is realized. While you’re still standing in the store trying it on, you are transported to icy crags and powder days.

This is a winter jacket. The insulative nature of the soft shell is such that during any sporty activity you will want to be in the near freezing/sub-freezing temperatures. The NeoShell fabric is totally windproof. I was impressed when bombing down ski slopes, dead into the wind, and though I felt the pressure of the wind against my body, the cold never seeped through.

The hood, with the jacket zipped all the way up, stayed on my head keeping my forehead warm – something I noticed as a concern earlier in the season before I had the Zion. Even in the wind, this jacket is quiet. While taking a phone call on my iPhone ear-buds, using the iPod port, the microphone tucked inside the jacket didn’t pick up any of the wind or rustling outside. The caller was impressed to know I was on a windy mountain slope and claimed it sounded as if I was inside somewhere.

GEAR: Portable Power – Solar Charging on the trail

Back in 1999, I traveled to Nepal to study mountain ecology in the Himalaya. Part of our trip was a 14-day trek in the Annapurna region. Digital cameras were far from popular then, but somehow I managed to get one loaned to me. Since this was the era before proprietary rechargeable batteries the camera took a whopping four AA’s. Not knowing how fast the camera would use up the batteries and not wanting to cary a bag of AA’s along with me, I looked into rechargeable batteries and a solar charger. Looking back at where the technology was then, I’m amazed that I found a solar charger that held 4 AA batteries. So, I brought 8 batteries – 4 for in the camera and 4 to get charged in the charger that I strapped on the top of my pack to absorb the sun while we were trekking. No shortage of sunshine and the system worked great.

For a number of reasons, one being that there haven’t been many electronic items that people would need to charge on the trail, the idea of harnessing solar power while on the go hasn’t come about until fairly recently. While at the 2011 Summer Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, it’s obvious that with all the little electronic gadgets made to go on our adventures with us (cameras, GPS, iPods, lights, etc.) saving weight on batteries (not to mention the waste) has driven a number of companies to invest in providing portable solar charging options. It should also be noted these devices are not recommended for use with something as large as a laptop, but exceptions and alternatives may exist. Here’s what I found: