Showing posts with label Ice Climbing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ice Climbing. Show all posts

Men's Journal Suggests Six Winter Adventures to Take Advantage of the Cold

If you live in the U.S. right now, chances are you're experiencing the "polar vortex" that has brought cold conditions to just about every part of the country. Winter is still technically a week away, but temperatures have dipped well below freezing, and in some place are even dangerously frigid right now. But, as any dedicated outdoor enthusiast will tell you, the winter is just another season to play outside, provide you have the proper gear and the right motivation. To that end, Men's Journal has shared a list of six adventures that make the most out of the cold.

Some of the suggestions – like visit Yosemite in the winter and Fat Biking in Sun Valley, Idaho– are specific to certain locations, but most of them are things you can do just about anywhere there is a bit of snow. Those options include learning to ice climb, cross-country skiing under the stars, go backcountry skiing, and learn to dog sled. MJ has some good suggestions on where to do all of those things as well, but those adventures are a bit more flexible, with opportunities to embark on those winter escapes in many different places.

Of course, none of these activities are going to be especially enjoyable if you don't have proper gear to keep you warm. Make sure you have a good layering system, as well as boots, a hat, and a good pair of gloves. If you're well equipped, winter can be just as enjoyable as any other season to be outdoors, and often times it is even more rewarding. There is nothing quite like hitting the backcountry and finding you have the place all to yourself.

One of my all-time favorite trips was a winter excursion to Yellowstone National Park a few years back. The place is utterly spectacular – and completely deserted – in the winter months. And yes, it was indeed cold, with temperatures dropping well below 0ºF (-17ºC), it was still an amazing place to be. If you haven't done that adventure, definitely put it on your list. You won't be disappointed.

Stay warm, stay active, and enjoy the season. It has a lot to offer.

Video: Ice Climbing Helmcken Falls in Canada

At 140 meters (459 feet) in height, Helmcken Falls is the fourth tallest waterfall in Canada. During the winter, it doesn't freeze solid, but it creates enough of a spray to freeze the cliffs that surround it. In this video, we follow climber Klemen Premrl as he attempts to go up the ice walls along a route known as "Interstellar Spice." Along the way, he'll find out why this is considered one of the toughest mixed routes in the entire world.

Video: Unclimbed Reaching the Summit in the Himalaya (Episode 2)

Yesterday I posted the first video in a new series that follows mountaineers Gabriel Filippi, Elia Saikaly, and Pasang Kaji Sherpa as they prepare to take on two unclimbed peaks (Tenzing and Hillary Peaks) in Nepal. Today, we have the second video of the series, this time we head out with the team as they go ice climbing as part of their process of getting ready for the challenges ahead. If you've ever wondered about the training that goes into prepping for the Himalaya, this video will give you an idea.

If you're a fan of mountaineering or climbing in the big mountains, you'll very much enjoy this series. We'll also be following Gabriel, Elia, and Pasang Kaji as they go for these two first ascents this fall.

Gear Closet: Osprey Mutant 38 Backpack

Looking for a great lightweight, versatile backpack for your winter adventures? Than look no further than the new Mutant 38 from Osprey, a pack specifically designed for ice climbing, snowshoeing, and ski mountaineering that offers everything you need and nothing you don't.

I recently carried the Mutant 38 with me on my trip to Canada, where I got the chance to put it through its paces while dogsledding and snowshoeing in subzero conditions. Before I set out I knew that my visit to Quebec would be an active one, and I wanted a pack that would offer plenty of capacity to carry the various gear, extra clothing, and supplies that I'd need for a busy day in the backcountry. The Mutant met that description nicely, and ended up exceeding the expectations I placed on it.

As the name implies, this pack has 38 liters of capacity, most of which is found in its spacious main compartment. I poured all kinds of gear – including camera and lenses, extra layers, food, and more – into it, and it still never felt like it was close to running out of space. That brought a nice level of confidence as we'd head out for the day, as I knew that I had all of the things I needed, and a pack that could carry it all quite comfortably.

When designing the Mutant 38, Osprey was looking to go as light as possible without compromising comfort or durability. Out of the box, the pack weighs about 2.5 pounds, but it gives the wearer the option to shed items they might not need in an effort to cut ounces. For instance, the pack's lid can be removed completely, as can attachment and side straps, aluminum stays, the helmet carry, and framesheet.


With all of that out of the way, the Mutant transforms into an ultralight minimalist pack that weighs next to nothing. Surprisingly though, it is sill capable of comfortably carrying lots of gear for those quick dashes to the summit or fast hiking on a trail. This level of versatility also allows you to dial in exactly what features you need, and do away with the ones that you don't.

At first glance, the Mutant looks like it might not be all that comfortable, particularly when you fill it to its 50 pound (22 kg) capacity. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are thin and lightly padded, and look like they wouldn't provide a lot of support. That is misleading however, as once you have the pack on, it feels great, even with a heavy load. The fact that Osprey has managed to pull off this minimalist approach to design, while still delivering a very high level of performance, is impressive indeed.

Other nice features of the Mutant 38 include two handy bungie tie-offs for keeping your ice tools close at hand, reinforced ski carry loops, crampon attachment loops, and compression straps for maintaining a well balanced load. The hipbeilt is also designed to wrap away from the body so as to not interfere with a climbing harness, while an integrated hydration sleeve can accept reservoirs up to 3 liters in size, and doubles as an adequate laptop sleeve when used for travel.

It is important to point out that the Mutant isn't loaded with a lot of pockets or organizational stashes. The removable top-lid does have two other zippered pockets built into it, but other than that the design of the pack would best be described as spartan. This isn't a knock on the backpack at all, but something to be aware of. If you're looking for a bag that has lots of places to store small items and keep your gear organized, this probably isn't going to work for you. On the other hand, if you know this going in, and organize your gear accordingly, the Mutant will work very well for you.

While putting this pack to use in the Canadian backcountry, I was extremely pleased with how it performed. It was comfortable enough to wear all day long, with the ventilated backpanel helping to keep the air flowing, which was useful even in the cold conditions. The Mutant allowed me to carry everything I needed for a full day of adventure, without even really noticing that it was on my back, and since it is designed for use in the winter, everything inside was well protected from moisture and cold.

I'd be remiss in my review if I didn't mention that this pack is also backed by Osprey's awesome All Mighty Guarantee. That means that the company will fix or replace the pack if it becomes damaged for as long as you own it. It's tough to beat that kind of service, and it is just one of the reasons I happen to love their packs.

The Mutant 38 is just $160, which strikes me as a great price for a technical pack of this quality. It is a very comfortable and versatile bag that has a lot of nice touches that winter warriors will definitely love. That said, it is so well designed, you'll be able to use this pack all year long, no matter what the season.

Outside's Top 10 Adventures of 2015

Our end of the year review and wrap-up continues today, this time with a list from Outside magazine of the 10 most badass adventures of 2015. As you can tell from the title, the list is made up of some of the most daring and audacious expeditions from the past 12 months, some of which you may have forgotten about, or slipped under your radar altogether.

The first entry should come as no surprise to anyone. It is Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's ascent of the Dawn Wall, which tops my list of the best adventures of 2015 for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was an incredible climb up one of the hardest routes on the planet, but going beyond that it also managed to captivate an audience that went well beyond the normal climbing crowd. It will be difficult for anyone to match this climb in 2016, or for years to come.

Other expeditions that got the nod from Outside include an attempt at the first ski descent of Makalu, Lonnie Dupre's solo summit of Denali in January, and Will Gadd's climb of the frozen Niagara Falls, which was also a first.

I won't spoil the entire list, as obviously part of the fun is finding out what Outside deemed worthy of sharing, as well as being reminded of the interesting adventures from the year that has passed. But it is safe to say however, that each of the entries in the article are certainly deserving of the "badass" label, and will inspire you to think about some of your own adventures for 2016.

Start the slideshow by clicking here.

Video: Ice Climbing in Colorado with Will Gadd

In this video we travel to the Fang Amphitheater in East Vail, Colorado to go ice climbing with Will Gadd. The clip follows Will as he goes up a couple of impressive lines, showing us that even though it has been 17 years since he climbed in this area, his skills are still incredibly sharp. The video is a bit rough around the edges, but still fantastic to watch. Fellow climber and filmmaker Will Mayo says that he rushed it out to get it online as soon as possible, as the climbing only took place a few days ago. I think you'll be impressed none the less.

Gadd's Still Got It: "The Mustang P-51" (M14-), The Fang Amphitheater, East Vail, Colorado from Will Mayo on Vimeo.

Video: Ice Climbing in Montana with Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson

One of the more beautiful and thoughtful climbing videos I've seen in sometime, this short film takes us to the backcountry of Montana where Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson attempt to complete a new route called Nutcracker in the Hyalite Canyon region near Bozeman. The winter ascent follows a path that is mixed rock and ice along a beautiful line amongst stunning scenery. The 12-minute video follows the team as they climb, with some good insights and introspection thrown in along the way. Definitely a great piece of work, and well worth a bit of your time today.

Always Above Us from The North Face on Vimeo.

Video: What it Looks Like to Climb Niagara Falls

Last week, renowned ice climber Will Gadd and his climbing partner Sarah Hueniken become the first people to climb Niagara Falls. On that epic ascent, Gadd wore a GoPro camera to capture a first-person perspective of the climb. This video features some of that footage, giving us all an idea of the conditions he faced while going up the falls. As noted in a post-climb interview, the ice was very different from a typical waterfall since it forms from the sides and not top-down. You'll see how that impacts the ascent in this clip, as the ice is definitely irregularly shaped as a result. Either way, it's an impressive climb to be sure.

Will Gadd Makes First Ascent of Niagara Falls

Last week, acclaimed climber Will Gadd, along with Sarah Hueniken, made a daring first ascent of Niagara Falls, the massive waterfall that sits on the border of the U.S. and Canada in upstate New York. Gadd has hoped to keep his project secret and to reveal the accomplishment this week instead, but an inquisitive reporter spotted him scouting the route and broke the story early. The result has been a bit of a media frenzy over the accomplishment, which was no doubt spurred on by public interest in Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's Dawn Wall ascent.

In an interview posted at National Geographic Adventure, Gadd says that while he has accomplished thousands of great ice climbs in his career, this one was special. While he did have the permission of the New York parks department to attempt the climb, Niagara has been off limits for a long time. That gave it a bit of a "forbidden fruit" element that he couldn't resist.

Gadd goes on to say that the idea for climbing the massive falls 51 meter (167 ft) falls came a year ago when the so-called "polar vortex" put much of the U.S. and Canada into a deep-freeze. The falls were frozen solid at that point, but knowing that it was illegal to make the climb, he decided to wait and go through the proper channels. Red Bull also approached him to sponsor the climb as well, which helped to open the doors.

In terms of the ice that he dealt with on the ascent, Gadd says that it was unlike anything else he'd every gone up before. Most of the time ice forms on a waterfall from the top down, but on Niagara it forms from the side. This is due to the amount of mist and spray that is generated from water plummeting over the top. The result of this unusual phenomenon is an uneven and irregular climbing surface that is very different from other ice climbs.

According to Gadd, Niagara offers "world-class ice climbing" but says he felt more pressure in getting the climb right in terms of doing it legally and safely than he did in actually completing the ascent. He sees this as an opportunity to potentially open the Niagara area for future climbs as well, and felt it was important to get it right for the climbing community.

The interview touches on a number of other topics as well, including the special gear that Will created to assist in the climb, why he is compelled to do "extreme" things, and why he isn't an adrenaline junkie. It is definitely a good read all around.

Congratulations to Will and Sarah on this impressive climb.


Video: Climbing Icebergs in Greenland

Since the release of the Hero4 camera last month, GoPro has been sharing videos that demonstrate its use in the field. This is another one of those clips, this time showing pro climbers Klemen Premrl and Aljaz Anderle as they tackle some icebergs near Greenland. The mood of the video is set in the first minute, when they are ascending a wall of ice, only to find that it is starting to crumble around them. The rest of the short documentary shows more of their adventure, and the beautiful landscapes that they operate in.