Re-mixed: Can Ryan Vachon Repeat at the Ouray Ice Fest Comp?

2016 Ouray Ice Festival climbing competition winner Ryan Vachon stands atop the the podium at the awards ceremony.
Photo – Brian Threlkeld

 

For the 2016 Ouray Ice Festival Elite Mixed Climbing Competition winner, the secret to success was all in his head. We tapped him this week for training advice in the lead up to the 2017 event. What we ended up with was a peak into a philosophy that pays dividends in any outdoor pursuit.

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Utah Powder Packing With the Provo Bros

Provo Bros
Neil and Ian Provo have a good thing going. Just two years apart, they seem to have somehow managed to achieve the kind of sibling synergy more common in twins. One zigs, the other zags. Ian skis; Neil snowboards. Neil shoots video; Ian shoots stills.

Since moving to Utah in the early 2000s, they’ve put their uniquely comprehensive skillset to good use. Rarely pausing long enough for their gear to gather dust, they’ve progressed from committed powder hounds to fly fishing obsessives, bikepackers and serious wilderness explorers.

From time-to-time they’ll drop an edit, the kind of quick web clips that’ll make even the most committed office jockey spray coffee all over their cubicle. Pristine powder lines begging for tracks, gin-clear streams coursing with trout, veins of brown carpet single track cutting through obscenely beautiful  backcountry terrain—these are the currency of the Provo Bros’ trade.
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Learn to Ice Climb: The Startup Plan

Ambassador Matt Ritter in Hyalite Canyon, Montana | Photo: Brian Threlkeld

By Sam Magro, Owner & Chief Guide at Montana Alpine Guides

So you are intrigued by ice climbing, but it seems inherently “dangerous” and or way too expensive? It can be both of these things, however it can also be as safe as taking a Sunday stroll and not so expensive to try. There are several great ways to learn to ice climb, here’s how to get started.
Read the rest of the article here.

Ouray Ice Festival 2017: Ice Climbing Instruction at Its Best

It’s hard to believe, but the 2017 Ouray Ice Festival is coming right up. In just two short months, the world’s best ice climbers will descend on one of the world’s best ice climbing destinations for the weekend of January 19-22.

If you’ve been to Ouray before, you know the highlights: on-ice gear demos, the two-day contest, rubbing shoulders with pros from around the world and, of course, 100+ clinics for climbers of all levels taught by the best in the biz.

Ouray Ice Festival

For now, that last bit is the kicker—these are some of the most in-demand ice climbing instruction sessions out there and they fill up fast. Sign-ups kick off Thursday, November 17 at 8am Mountain Standard time. As always, Hyperlite Mountain Gear will be there en force with our ultralight ice climbing packs and a special series of clinics taught by our climbing and mountaineering ambassadors. Here’s a quick overview of what’s happening, when. Take care of your registration and get dreaming about all of that fresh, clean ice that awaits you.

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The Real Meaning of Success (It’s all about having fun)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and well-known ice and alpine climber Angela VanWiemeersch recently visited the Hayes Range, Alaska, in order to put up a couple new lines. (i.e. alpine climbing routes). During a trip to the area in 2014, she spied the two formations. “I was blown away by their beauty and steepness—blue ice drooling from the magnificent faces.” She decided then that she’d have to come back for these peaks. She and Anna Pfaff spent a month there, but got denied by snow and bad weather. But, as she says, a failed expedition is just another learning experience. We recently chatted with her about what she learned from her third big adventure up north.

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Tom Turiano’s *New* Teton Pass Backcountry Ski Guide

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Thomas Turiano on his new comprehensive backcountry ski book, Teton Pass Backcountry Guide.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and professional skier Thomas Turiano has been writing skiing guide books for 21 years, but his most recent is the first ever “guidebook for backcountry skiing on world-famous Teton Pass,” he says. Teton Pass Backcountry Guide boasts 130+ pages of maps, pictures and guides explaining how skiers can get the most out of their time in the Teton Pass backcountry. When not writing guidebooks, Turiano guides climbing and skiing trips in the Teton backcountry, and he plays guitar professionally. He also claims more than 400 ascents in the Greater Yellowstone mountains and packrafts throughout the area as a way to reach the most remote spots.

Turiano wants to help more people explore the backcountry, and he’s a big proponent of lightweight hiking. Carrying less weight, he says, allows him to suffer less and thus be able to focus more on helping his clients achieve their goals. Turiano transitioned early on in his guiding career to lightweight philosophies. While attempting to put up new routes in the Teton’s during the 90’s, he was forced to rappel down after a failed attempt. During the rappel, his heavy pack almost flipped him over backwards due to the sheer weight of it. It was at that moment that he realized that it was time to reduce the amount of gear he carried and streamline his kit.

In celebration of the release of his new book, we chatted with Turiano about what drives him to write and what it takes to write an comprehensive guidebook.

Click here for more.

Shifting Ice + Changing Tides: Kt Miller Fights Climate Change Thru Film

Ambassador Kt Miller discusses her ski/climate change documentary, available for your viewing pleasure.

Kt Miller
Photo courtesy of Kt Miller.

For two years Kt Miller was a helicopter skiing guide helping clients use the fuel-hungry machines to reach the top of mountains. After learning more about climate change and seeing the effect it had on the mountains around her, she quickly lost her fondness for the business and the obscene amounts of fuel the helicopters consumed. Miller made a choice. She cut back on travel that hurt the environment and focused on sustainable living. She now resides in a single-room 14-by-12 foot cabin in Cooke City, Montana, population 76. She tries to travel using sustainable methods wherever possible and hasn’t been on a helicopter since she left her job. Now she focuses on making awesome ski videos while bringing the plight of the climate into the public’s eye.

On one of her more recent expedition, she and four women embarked on a human- and wind-powered trip to the western coast of Greenland to document the effect climate change has had on the ice sheet in the area. They also skied multiple first descents along the coast to help motivate snow sport enthusiasts to get up and do their part to conserve winter landscapes. Now that the trip has finished and her documentary about the adventure is being shown across the world, we took some time to ask Kt Miller a few questions about her new documentary, “Shifting Ice + Changing Tides,” and the experience she had during the filming process.
Click here for the full Q&A.

What It Takes To Be A Pioneer: A New Route on Fitz Roy

Learn how Ambassador Quinn Brett and partners put up a 1st ascent in Patagonia

Quinn-Fitz-1It’s day three of our adventure, and we’re close to finishing a new rock climbing route straight up the 550m headwall in between two existing routes on the South Face of Cerro Fitz Roy, Patagonia. The sun shines, as Quinn Brett and I munch on Snickers Bars and dried mango. We gaze down at the endless glaciers, towering granite spires, our last camp at Paso Superior and the snow cornices hanging off of Aguja de La Silla. The town of Chalten where we are based looks small in the distance, 20 miles and 7000 feet down in elevation. All of a sudden, we hear, POP, and Mike is airborne. I grab at Quinn as she launches up into the belay; we need to avoid putting any upward stress on our anchor. And then it’s over. Quinn’s bicep is bruised, and Mike is upside down after falling 35+ feet. Shaken, he builds a belay, brings us up and passes the lead to Quinn.

First ascents of rock walls and mountains connect an old pioneer mentality with more tangible discoveries that can still be attained even in our heavily mapped and travelled world. But what does it take to go where others have never gone before? The frequency of opportunity appears very small and can be discouraging, and the dangers are real. Mike could have broken an arm, a leg or worse when he fell. And though relatively well-traveled,  a rescue thousands of feet off the ground and miles from the nearest town would still be difficult.

Most new routes are done in very remote, difficult to reach regions of the world, where the logistical difficulties of approaching keep all but the very committed and persistent away. In a sense, people who go to those wild places are some of the last pioneers. But, any aspiring climber can relate to the feeling of gazing over a rock face with naïve eyes, connecting existing features with one’s imagination, and ultimately tracing a desired path up a wall. Much like the artist’s paint stroke, establishing a new route is a climber’s way of leaving their impression, a demonstration of their style, and often times, insight into their very character. I wanted to trace my line up Fitz Roy, one of the most storied rock walls in the world. Read the rest of the article.

Spanish Explorer Ceci Buil Becomes Ambassador, Presents in Portland Feb 2

Ceci Buil Slide & Video Presentation on Ice & Big Wall Climbing @ the Salt Pump Climbing Gym, Scarborough, Maine, Tuesday, Feb. 2

Ceci-ice-climbing
It’s a cold winter morning in the Cajon del Maipo Valley, and Cecilia Buil and her partner, Anna Toretta, are on their way to do what will be the first ascent of the ice climb, La Gioconda. The sun rises, the sky turns from orange to blue, and the only noise they hear is the sliding of their skis over the snow. Buil remembers this moment perfectly. It, and others like it, drive her to put up new routes on rock, snow and ice in the wildest high places in the world, and they inspire her to always give everything she’s got. “If I go climbing, the summit is not the only thing that makes me feel good; it’s the entire experience, to have made an effort and to given it my all,” she says. “The same applies to the rest of my life—to be in the moment and to live everything deeply.”

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently invited well-known Spanish explorer Cecilia Buil to join its ambassador team. A world-renowned big wall and ice climber, Buil has put up first ascents (sometimes by herself!) of walls in Pakistan, Mexico and Greenland that are thousands of feet high, along with ice climbs from South America to Europe. Buil will be visiting the Northeast for three weeks to guide for Hyperlite Mountain Gear at the 2016 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest from February 5-7. She will also be giving a slide & video presentation at the Salt Pump Climbing Company on February 2nd at 7:30p.m. Buil will show various videos, including one of her ascent of La Gioconda, a 500-foot route on Cerro Marmolego (20,039′) that she tried five times before accomplishing it with Italian climber, Anna Toretta. You can read more about the ascent here, or come to her show on February 2!

 

UltaMid 4 & Dyneema® 2400 Ice Pack Win Alpinist “Mountain Standards” Award

The prestigious climbing and mountaineering publication, The Alpinist, has awarded the 2400 Dyneema® Ice Pack and Ultamid 4 their “Mountain Standards” Award, which highlights a high-quality piece of gear that earns five stars from reviewers. Check out the reviews below.

 

2400 Dyneema® Ice Pack Review:

“This was the first time that I climbed with Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack. As I unpacked my dry tent and clothes, it was not the first time I was thankful to use the Ice Pack. Its 40L capacity carried camping and climbing gear for my three-day alpine trip through forest, over moraines and glaciers and in the high-elevation tempest.” — Andrew Councell

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Ultamid 4 Review:

“The Ultamid 4 shelter proved to be a crucial piece of gear during a four-week climbing and pack-rafting expedition in Alaska’s Aleutian Range. The Ultamid 4 provided a spacious shelter where we could stand up and cook during the storm, and the pyramid-style tent is light enough that we carried it with us on multiday climbs.” — Drew Thayer

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2016 Ouray Ice Festival Preview

Angela Van Wiemeersch competing in the 2015 Ouray Ice Fest comp.
 A competitor at the 2015 Ouray Ice Fest comp. “Van Stein” uses our 2400 Dyneema® Ice Pack.

The Ouray Ice Festival in Ouray, Colo, starts this week (January 14 to 17). The focus of the 21st annual festival will be women in ice climbing, with an all female lineup of presenters including Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Angela VanWiemeersch. During the day at the Ouray Ice Park there are comps, clinics and seminars hosted by top tier climbers, plus gear expos, slide shows, dancing, food and lots of beer drinking (after climbing, of course). This festival is the largest of it’s kind in North America, and we’re proud to be attending for our second year. Keep your eye out for our tent, and be sure to swing by to demo some of our gear (make sure you get your gear card). Also, sign up for clinics with our ambassadors: Jayson Simons-Jones, Ryan Vachon, Scott Adamson and Janette Heung. Click <a href=

Beau Fredlund Backcountry Ski Photos, Cooke City, Mont.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Beau Fredlund takes spectacular photos from his home turf, the backcountry around Cooke City, Mont. Beau ski tours extensively (often using his favorite backpack, the 4400 Porter Pack). 

Photos by Beau Fredlund

Outside Cooke City, Mont. with skis and the Porter Pack. 
The mountains of Montana.

 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassadors are the team of elite athletes, guides and adventurers who help test and refine our gear.  They also send us some spectacular pics and stories from their expeditions and adventures with our gear.  And they remind us that outside it the place to be, and light and fast is the way to attack it!

 

How to Prepare a Lightweight Backcounty Ski Repair Kit

full_IMG_1616Photos & Text by Ambassador Luc Mehl

Hyperlite Mountain Gear ambassador Luc Mehl is an Alaskan native who is no stranger to the snow and skiing. His infatuation with the backcountry started at a young age as he grew up in a remote Alaskan town surrounded by raw wilderness. Years later he was on track for a PhD at MIT, but ended up leaving with a masters in order to further pursue adventure back in Alaska. Mehl has completed month-long wilderness trips in America’s most northern state each year for five years, ranging from 150 to 370 miles, as well as six Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classics, ranging from 120 to 200 miles. During these extreme events he has had many boots, skis, bindings and poles all fail. So in keeping with his ultralight philosophies, Mehl developed a system for creating a lightweight backcountry ski repair kit. In this post, he explains how he balances the weight and thoroughness of his kit.

At the end of an unsupported 180-mile ski traverse in Alaska’s rugged Brooks Range, Rob Kehrer showed me his repair kit. Rob and I worked from different ends of the spectrum, I cut too many corners to save weight (“Can we carry just share one crampon between us?”), and he carried too many extras (down booties, beer). Rob had a crooked grin on his face as he pulled out the repair kit… the standard stuff, duct tape, wire, but also spark plugs and wrenches. He’d brought the wrong repair kit, leftover from a snowmachine trip.

I’ve benefited from learning from Rob’s and my own mistakes, and have been especially fortunate to have mechanical engineers and a ski builder in my core group of partners. This guide is my effort to pass on repair kit strategies, tried and true, while keeping weight to a minimum. Read More

How To Lightweight Adventure in Antarctica

Seth Timpano in Antarctica
Seth Timpano (wearing the 2400 Ice Pack) heading home after an Antarctic guiding adventure.

Imagine a desolate desert of snow and ice as far as you can see, devoid of all vegetation and with only a few living creatures–penguins, seals and seabirds. Antarctica still seems a vast white landscape untouched by humans. But while Antarctica may seem like some unreachable and unfathomable place, adventuring in the continent is becoming increasingly popular. More than 37,000 tourists visited Antarctica in 2009. Most people hire experienced guides. However, non-guided adventures and experiences are still possible, but extreme precautions need to be taken. We talked to Seth Timpano, a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador as well as an Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions Travel Safety Manager, to learn about how to prepare for an Antarctic adventure.

What are different sorts of things that people have to think about when they’re organizing expeditions to Antarctica compared to trips they might organize to Alaska or Pakistan?
Antarctica is the most remote continent on the planet and the costs are high and logistics of simply getting to Antarctica complicated. Thorough planning for an expedition to Antarctica is a must, and the most successful expeditions are the ones with the best planning and logistics.

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We’re Going: The Bozeman Ice Festival

Bozeman Ice Festival
Bozeman Ice Festival

For 19 years, ice climbers at all levels and from all over the world have come together at the Bozeman Ice Festival to climb, eat and check out gear. This year’s festival runs from December 9th to 13th and will feature a myriad of climbing-related events and parties, including the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup. And we’ll be there for our fourth year, along with a few of our athlete ambassadors (see below in the “Clinics” section for details).

“This is one of my favorite ice climbing festivals anywhere,” says Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. “The ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon and surrounding areas is excellent. And the event itself offers both newcomers to the sport and more advanced climbers some great opportunity to learn from the best ice climbers in the world and to see the most cutting-edge gear made in the industry.”

If you are at the festival, feel free to swing by our booth to visit with Mike or our ambassadors and check out our new gear or demo an 2400 Ice Pack. Below is a quick overview of the event schedule. To learn more about the festival check out the website. Read More

Seth Timpano & The Cotter-Bebie Route

By Seth Timpano, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador

The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash.
The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Leavenworth, Wash.

The weather in most of the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Intermountain Regions had been atypical this past winter and late spring. For many skiers and ice climbers the warm temperatures made for less than ideal conditions most of the season, but for some of us this abnormal weather patterns made incredible alpine climbing conditions. In March, several climbing partners along with myself were fortunate enough to establish three quality melt freeze mixed climbs in the remote backcountry of Montana and Wyoming. Not wanting to hang up my tools just yet for the season; I was fortunate to get a call from my friend Lee who lives in Bellingham, Wash. The alpine climbing conditions in the Cascades were shaping up nicely and the weather looked promising. We decided on the Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash. The route is 2000 feet of beautiful alpine ice and mixed runnels through stellar granite rock.

The peak had seen quite a bit of action throughout the winter and early spring, but we found the north face empty the days we spent in the wilderness. We setup a quick camp on the frozen Colchuck Lake and tucked in early for the night, intending on pre-dawn start. Read the rest of the article!

Ambassador Spotlight: Bayard Russell

Bayard Russell, Mugs Stump winner to climb Mt. Deborah, Hayes Range, AlaskaPhoto by Anne Skidmore Russell

New Hampshire’s mountains may be small compared to Western ranges, but they offer some ferocious terrain and hearty individuals. We recently chatted with hunter, climber and adventurer Bayard Russell. As we write this, he’s on his way to the Hayes Range, Alaska with partners Elliot Gaddy and Michael Wejchert to make their second attempt on the unclimbed south face of Mt. Deborah (12,540′). The threesome won the prestigious Mugs Stump Award.

Their plan: to climb a giant (i.e. 4500-foot) face, traverse a 1.5-mile ridge “across a classic, horrifying, double-corniced traverse,” to the summit of the mountain, and then descend to the other side of the mountain, and climb a pass and hike “six to ten miles” to get back to basecamp.

“It’s a big new age wall objective with an old-school Alaska mountaineering objective,” Russell explained. “The guys selectively provided me with information to get me psyched,” he added with a laugh. Read the rest of the article!

Himalaya Ice Climbing

Bud Martin slogging upslope in the Himalayas.

By Bud Martin

It started something like this: I was lounging on a rainy day in Yosemite about a year ago when I somewhat sarcastically said to my buddy Nick, “Hey, we should go ice climbing in Nepal someday.” His response took me off guard as he immediately responded with, “Sounds great! How about next January?” And that’s how it began. We saved some cash, bought two plane tickets and gathered up our gear.

We flew into Kathmandu and neither of us had any experience with the logistics or the planning pertaining to climbing in such a remote place for an extended period of time, but we figured we’d just wing it. We didn’t bring enough food. We got off the bus in the wrong city (along with our 330 pounds of equipment). And for the first week, nothing went as planned. But as is often the case when traveling in this part of the world, it wasn’t so bad as you remember to forget the expectations and just go with the flow. Next thing we knew we were in a Nepalese valley full of frozen waterfalls capped with big peaks. Yippie…we arrived and we were ready for some Himalaya ice climbing! Read the rest of the article.

72 Hrs: Angela VanWiemeersch Climbs Mount Hayes

Mt_Hayes_hikers

Mount Hayes is the highest mountain in the eastern Alaska Range and one of the largest peaks in the United States in terms of its rise. The Northeast Face rises 8,000 feet in approximately two miles.  The mountain was first ascended in 1941, but it’s infrequently climbed due to its remoteness and the resulting difficulty of accessing the mountain.  Check out Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Angela VanWiemeersch’s report on her team’s 72-hour ascent of their first ascent. Read the rest of the article!

Skiing the Grand

funhogging_in_the_tetonsPhotos & text by Beau Fredlund

This week things aligned for some exceptionally good ski mountaineering in the Tetons.  A nice spring storm had come in warm, bonding well to the old snow surfaces, and finishing cold and dry.  Perfect for skiing and avalanche stability.  Our week included some excellent adventures with bicycle access in Grand Teton National Park (on a road closed to auto traffic), and was punctuated by a ski descent of the highly coveted Grand Teton.  Possibly the most iconic mountain in the lower 48, and a challenging ski mountaineering objective by any route.

Read the rest of the article!

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