Swiss Adventure: Canyoning and Hiking and Swinging, Oh My!

Pre-Summit Adventure No. 1 – Four amazing days in and around Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland.

Day 1 – High ropes course with ziplines and other balancing elements high in the trees.

Day 2 – Canyoning where we followed a creek into a canyon and jumped off 35′ waterfalls, rappelled off higher ones and slid on the shallower descents.

Day 3 – An awesome 6 hour hike through the Bernese Oberland (highlands) to Grindelwald.

Day 4 – Canyon Swing: Attached to a rope 300 feet above a roaring river we jumped, we fell, we swung on the rope.

Awesome. Video.

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:

Outdoor Retailer Show – Summer 2011

The North Face: Phoenix 3 TentI’m in Salt Lake City for the next few days checking out the latest and greatest of outdoor recreation gear that will be hitting the markets in the very near future.

The show started at Jordanelle Park where participants could try out many of the new paddleboards, kayaks and the various accessories that go along with them from sails to clothing to booties and more.

Next, we head to the Salt Palace convention center in downtown SLC where hundreds of outdoor brands have set up shop to display their goods. I’m tweeting about what I find as I go at @offyonder and below are the videos I’m producing for Elevation Outdoors magazine each day. I’ll also be doing a recap writup for Snowshoe Magazine.

Click on the title of the post, above, to check out the videos.

Maroon Bells Cycling Adventure

If you’re into cycling, Aspen is the place to be. We were under the care of the Little Nell Adventure Center in Aspen and they outfitted our merry band of bicyclists with top of the line Orbea and Colnago carbon frame bikes which were nothing but a pleasure to ride. Pro rider Scott Kasin led us up the 10 mile 4-5% grade climb. Remember that Aspen, where we started already sits at 7,900 feet and we climbed nearly 1,600 feet to 9,500 feet. Just short of the top, I passed a guy and asked him how he was doing and his reply was “Just trying to keep up with Lance!” I chuckled and replied “Aren’t we all!” Thinking he was speaking in cycling generalities. But low and behold, I pulled up to Scott chatting with a group of cyclists in the shade, and one of them was wearing a black jersey with a yellow LIVESTRONG stripe across his chest.

Kayak Fishing

After getting off the Kongakut, rest certainly was not an option! We’re in Alaska for crying out loud! So, after the 6 hour drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage, we unpacked the car, re-packed the car, loaded kayaks, dropped off rented bear barrels at REI and started the 4 hour drive to Homer.

With the summer solstice having just passed by only the overcast sky really made it seem dark, but we never needed flashlights, even while setting tents up in the rain about halfway to Homer. We must have pulled into the campground around 1am and slept until 9am.