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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Tag Team: 2016 #hyperlitemountaingear Photos

Hyperlite Mountain Gear products went to some pretty interesting places all across the world in 2016. Need proof? Look no further than Instagram.

Thanks to everybody who shared their adventures and tagged us in photos. There’s some crazy beautiful stuff out there, so we decided we’d pull a selection of our favorites.

Enjoy! And get back out there in 2017–those trail miles aren’t going to burn themselves!

@ryan.nethery@ryan.nethery

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The Best of 2016

Best of 2016

And just like that, 2016 is almost over. It’s been another great, busy year here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear–one for the record books.

The good news is that it seems like the idea of doing more with less is really getting some legs. Like, big, burly I-just-yo-yo’d-the-PCT-legs. We put that notion to the test every day in our production and manufacturing, while our staff, ambassadors, friends and customers do the same on trails, crags, hills, mountains, rivers and trails across the continent and throughout the world.

Bottom line: some crazy stuff got done in 2016. We figured out how to make even more ultralight backpacks, shelters, tents and tarps per day, all without compromising our commitment to quality or our other core values–like producing everything here in our factory in Maine (in the good-old US of A).

That’s not it though. Some serious business happened in the field, too. So much so that we figured we’d compile a Best of 2016 list of things from the Hyperlite Mountain Gear blog, in case you missed anything.

Grab some left over egg nog (or don’t, maybe–how old is that stuff?), cozy up on the couch and prepare to get really excited about the year to come. 2016 was great, but 2017 is going to epic.

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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.

Ultralight Gifts for Backpackers Made Easy

A Gift-Buying Guide For People Who Love Gearheads

RePurpose Bottle

Whoever started calling the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year” obviously never spent much time on the top of a mountain at the height of summer. That’s ok though, here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear we like to say that there are only two types of people in the world: those who have yet to fall in love with life on the trail, and those of us who already have.

You probably have a few of the former in your life. You might overhear them say things like, “She/he is out in the garage messing with that scale again” or “He/she just disappears into the woods for weeks at a time with nothing but a backpack and comes home with a huge grin on his/her face.” Specifically, they may be uttering about, well… you.

If that’s the case, you might want to consider a complete re-working of your current Gift Idea Suggestion Strategy (GISS)–in the spirit of fostering maximal yuletide cheer, of course. After all, it could be all that stands between you and a veritable rainbow of ill-fitting new turtlenecks at the end of the month.

We get it: buying ultralight gifts for backpackers must be daunting. Ultralight gear is highly technical stuff by nature; simplicity, it turns out, is kind of complicated. That’s why we put together this gift-buying guide for gearheads, but tailored to non-gearheads. It’s cool: Just let us do the explaining for you, it’s our job.

All you have to do is paste this url into an email to mom/dad/grandpappy/bubbe/spouse/partner/sister/bro/friend, share it on their Facebook wall, link, tweet, etc. If we’ve done this right, you should be all set.

To kick things off, allow us to introduce the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Gift Ease Index (HMGGEI). It’s a numerical rating scale based on the relative ease of gift purchasing decision, from 1-10 with 10 being easiest and 1 being most difficult or complicated. We took into account things like price, awareness of the giftee/gearhead’s actual activities in the field, knowledge of current state of giftee/gearhead’s quiver and several quantitative overall radness measurements (ORMs) for the HMGGEI rating of each of our products. Here goes nothing!

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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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Essential Tarp Camping

Flat Tarp & Southwest 2400 pack | Sangre de Cristo mountains, CO, 2016.
Flat Tarp & 2400 Southwest pack | Sangre de Cristo mountains, CO, 2016.

Words & Photos by Cam Honan

Nine Reasons to Try Tarp Camping

The essence of going lighter in the woods is not so much about gear, as it is about the adoption of a simpler, less cluttered approach to one’s time backpacking. Insofar as this philosophy relates to shelters, tarp camping fits the bill both tangibly and intangibly.

In the following article I’ll examine the benefits of tarp camping, as well as share some tips and techniques to minimize the perceived negatives. I’ll end the piece with an overview of environments in which the hiker is better off leaving the tarp at home, and going with a tent.

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From the AT to the PCT: Shifting Gear

(Spoiler Alert) Both trails require the essentials.

Word & Photos by Robin Standish

Robin Standish | PCT 2016

I finished the Appalachian Trail (AT) in mid December, 2015. Hoarfrost glazed the landscape, icicles lined the slick, frosty trail, and a damp, east coast chill seeped through ever layer I wore. It was time to be done, though it wouldn’t be for long. A few months later, when the feeling in my toes had returned, and my hiker hobble lessened, I headed for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I was confident in the hiking part, but was uncertain about how my gear setup would have to be altered.

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Bikepacking & Packrafting the Lost Coast of Alaska: Part 2

An Alaskan coastal traverse between Cordova and Icy Bay, Alaska using fatbikes, packrafts, and inspiration from those whom came before.

Words & Photos by Mike Curiak

Day Four:

(Continued from Part 1)

Waking to the sound of rain wasn’t what I’d dreamed about.  Although honestly, at first, I wasn’t sure that was even what it was.  The optimist in my drybag hoped that it was Doom, just outside, slinging handfuls of sand at our tent while taking a selfie and mouthing ‘perf!’ at the camera.  Once I scraped the crusted sand from my eyes and focused, I could see a million+ droplets beaded up on the outer skin of our ‘mid, a few hundred of them sliding earthward.  Going to be a wet one.

The Lost Coast: Day 4

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Ultralight + Ultra-tough = The “Ultamid” Pyramid Tent

Ultamid Ultralight Pyramid Tent
Photo by The Provo Bros | Alaska 2016

For the past three years, our Ultamid 2 and 4-person ultralight pyramid shelters have been quietly winning hearts and minds out in the field. 2016 was no exception–the ‘Mid movement is gaining steam.

In additions to endorsements from some of the most hardcore, mile-bagging, wilderness-dwelling customers out there, the Ultamid got some outstanding official recognition from a few exceptional media outlets as well.

Just in case you’re on the fence about joining the club, we thought we’d see if maybe this little nudge would help. We get it: our pyramid tents are a major investment. But without getting all sales-y, we wouldn’t make them if they didn’t represent the best damn balance of lightweight performance with exceptional durability out there. “Set it (up) and forget it” applies to things in the backcountry, too–and in the case of an Ultamid, you’ll be doing exactly that for years and years to come.

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Gates of the Arctic Backpacking Traverse

Words, Photos and Video by Luc Mehl

The Brooks Range has always intimidated me as a logistical challenge: expensive, remote, cold in the winter and buggy in the summer. But it is the largest swath of Alaska I haven’t seen, and with a lot of planning, we were able to do a long and remote Gates of the Arctic backpacking trip within my budget. We had to have the route, logistics, and pace, dialed-in to pull off this ambitious trip. Our route evolved to be: fly to Anaktuvuk, float southwest on the John River, hike west to the Alatna River, float southeast on the Alatna to access the Arrigetch, cross the Arrigetch, float northwest on the Noatak River, hike southwest to the Ambler River, and float west to Ambler.

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Double Duty: Lightening Your Backpacking Load with Multi-Purpose Gear

“If you can’t ride two horses at once you shouldn’t be in the circus.” – James Maxton (1885­-1946)

Text by Cam Honan


One of many ways in which a hiker can lower his or her pack weight is by using multi-purpose gear. A standard backpacking kit is literally full of such items.

Before heading out into the wilderness on your next big trip, try the following exercise. Clear the living room floor and spread out all of your stuff. Examine each and every article and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I really need it?
  2. What will happen if I don’t have it?
  3. Am I already packing something that would do the same job?
CamHonan Umbrella
Umbrellas provide protection from both the sun and rain. The wind? Not so much | Death Valley, Lowest to Highest Route, CA, 2014

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The Lite State of Mind: Click Checks in from the Pacific Crest Trail

Photos & text by Nicholas “Click” Reichard

SNAP! The sound of a baseball bat hitting my shins was a pain I will never forget. Except there was no baseball bat, I was a month into my Appalachian Trail thru hike and dealing with shin splints that made every step a nightmare. I remember it so well because it was the week of my 26th birthday, and my only wish was for the pain to go away. 

To set the story straight I know the problem was my pack weight, which was largely due to my camera gear. I was quite new to backpacking and surely wasn’t the type of guy to brag about my knowledge when it came to the great outdoors. I was determined to keep going and willing to do anything to help ease the pain I had put my body through, but was I ready to take the steps to become an UL hiker? 

Find out.

Bushcraft: Making A Heavy Adventure Sport Ultralight

Bushcrafters Love “Classic” (aka Heavy) Gear: Brian Trubshaw Wants To Change That

“Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials and rope and twine-making, among others.” --Wikipedia
“Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials and rope and twine-making, among others.” –Wikipedia

Text and photos by Brian Trubshaw

I started my outdoor life with Bushcraft. A naturalist at heart, I don’t just enjoy being in nature; I believe in being one with nature. Bushcraft is the art of being able to spend time outdoors with very few items because you have a better understanding of the natural world. In other words, you have excellent “wilderness skills.” Englishman Ray Mears popularized the term “Bushcraft” here in the United Kingdom in his TV show, “Wild Tracks.” His show brought his survival research across the world to the big screen and left a lasting impression on my seven-year-old self.

Like Mears, when I walk in my woodlands, I don’t just see trees and plants, I see food I can eat and resources that I can use to do tasks. For example I very rarely carry tent stakes with me, as I know that I can just use branches with a carved point on the end. However, I also have a set of tent takes I have carved out of Hazel straights for when I’m in mossy areas. Wood work, fire lighting, shelter building—with the right knowledge the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about ultralight bushcraft.

New Zealand: How to Backpack “Downunder”

Most people don’t know New Zealand for its backpacking. Native New Zealander Greig Caigou explains how to make the most out of your time visiting.

Text & Photos by Greig Caigou

Far flung from Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s home in Maine, my Southwest 3400 pack travelled via CB postage (cabin baggage) to the land ‘Downunder’, to the bottom of the world . . . to New Zealand!

I’m a NZ’er by birth – 60 years young, and an outdoor educator by profession and a wilderness hunter by passion.

The author climbs above the Te Araroa trail.
The author climbs above the Te Araroa trail.

Named after our iconic native bird, we ‘Kiwis’ (New Zealanders) are an adventurous lot, with many like myself having had a rural or ‘outdoorsy’ upbringing. As such, we’ve prided ourselves on a rugged lifestyle birthed by pioneering forefathers who just 175 years ago travelled tenaciously half-way round the globe to settle amongst the impressive and varied landscapes of these islands at 41 degrees South.

That not-so-old legacy of past pioneers meant I grew up with a bold spirit, always keen for expeditions into the wild unknown, well beyond the back fence. In addition it meant I was raised on country fare . . . home grown vegetables matched with wild meats hunted from the local hills, and resided in a generous community where such produce could occasionally be exchanged for a fat mutton (sheepmeat) or some homebrew with a kick!

My new pack has been an integral part of my recent adventures, helping me stay ‘ultralight’ during my work and in my Kiwi-style hunting. Maintaining that simpler and stripped down approach resonates better with a wild experience for me, in touch with the rhythms of nature, but which has been somewhat counter–culture for many who take on the rigors of traversing the backcountry of New Zealand.

There are thousands of kilometers of formed trails here, many more established ‘routes’ and perhaps unquestionably the best network of public accommodation ‘trampers’ huts in the world. Let’s say you are planning on heading to this country with your very own Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack and hoping to walk one of our Great Walks or the ‘Long Pathway’ – Te Araroa (TA).

So what are some tips for the trail and how could you add some extra pizzaz and design your adventure for something differently wild and uniquely ‘Kiwi’?

Keep reading to learn more.

Bethany Hughes: Thru Hiking 20,000 Miles For a Cause

Ambassador Bethany Hughes Raises Awareness for Women’s Issues on major America-to-America Thru Hike

Bethany Hughes - Her Odyssey

When the rainy/winter season came, the two-woman hiking team of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Bethany Hughes (aka “Fidgit”) and Lauren Reed (aka “Neon”) completed the first stretch of a 20,000-mile hike from the tip of South America to the top of Alaska. They finished the hiking season in Bariloche, Argentina after walking an estimated 1553 miles from November 23, 2015 to April 19, 2016, covering 13 degrees of latitude since starting in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Bethany "Fidgit" Hughes (Left) & Lauren "Neon" Reed (Right)
Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes (Left) & Lauren “Neon” Reed (Right)

“Taking a break will give us a chance to structure the next leg of our journey, which will run longer as we should, by next winter, be far enough north to hike through the winter season,” Hughes says. “Plus, it means I can put more time and effort into writing.”

As they hike, the duo has documented their journey on their blog, www.her-odyssey.org, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/her-odyssey.

“We are particularly interested in highlighting the abilities and accomplishments of women we meet by featuring their stories,” Hughes explained. As well, she stated, with domestic violence recently becoming a more prominent topic of conversation in South America, their trek offers the opportunity for fostering discussion.

“Taboos are being broken just by having these conversations, especially with an outsider,” Hughes added.

Hughes began planning this trek, dubbed “Her Odyssey,” five years ago after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and subsequently learning that it formed part of the longest contiguous chain of mountains in the world. Reed, a “Triple Crowner,” is accompanying her on the South American portion of the journey.

Learn more about Bethany Hughes.EDIT-P1010240

Packrafts: 3 Reasons To Use Them in Zion’s Narrows

Light, Flexible, Easy to Fix Packrafts: The Perfect Vehicle to Navigate the Narrows

Text & photos by Dan Ransom

This Trailhead is a Total Yard Sale: Packrafts, Paddles and Drysuits Hanging Out to Dry. A couple tents looked haphazardly pitched, and the trucks are caked in thick mud. Our arrival is probably not a very welcome alarm clock.

Kind of an odd scene I thought, when a voice calls out from one of the tents: “You guys running the narrows?”

This is the start of Utah’s Zion Narrows, one of the most beautiful canyons on the entire Colorado Plateau. It’s an incredibly popular destination, one I’ve descended all or in-part nearly a dozen times either as a backpacking trip or an exit to a nearby technical descent. But today we aren’t here to hike it, we’re here to float. And I’m using a packraft.

The guys we are waking up–they paddled this stretch yesterday. It’s an incredible trip they say, one of the best ever. But the approach. It’s miserable. There isn’t enough water. Takes way longer than anticipated. Beats the hell out of the boat. And by the time they got off the river and rallied back up the hill to snag their shuttle vehicle a quick moving thunderstorm blasted through the area and turned the road to complete shit. Hence, this morning’s yard sale.

And now, a little bleary-eyed and sleep deprived, they are looking curiously at our small packs, and wondering if we aren’t about to make some poor decisions ourselves.

“Those packrafts aren’t durable enough…. Right?”
Read the rest of the article & see the awesome photos here.

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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