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.

Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest

Enter our #UltralightTrailKit Photo Contest & Get The Chance To Win a Windrider, Echo II Shelter System, Stuff Sacks & more…

Boost your chances of winning by posting a photo on Instagram, our Facebook page or Twitter & hashtagging it with #UltralightTrailKit

Read the rules here.

America to America: Thru Hiking the Continent’s Longest “Trail”

Ambassador Bethany Hughes weighs in after 5 months of thru hiking the Americas

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Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes and Lauren “Neon” Reed thru hiking as far south as you can get in the Americas.

The scale at the international flight counter weighed each of our packs, full of everything except food and water, at 10 kilos (about 22 pounds). Planning to mostly thru hike the length of South America over the next three years, going lightweight is a must. Our route has taken us through National Parks and Preserves, and we have often marveled at the bulk of what many visitors carry. They shuffle and trudge, backs bowing under the weight of their packs as they frown at the dirt before their feet while giants such as the Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy and Cerro Norte tower above.

Bethany Hughes and Neon Reed are thru hiking from the south to the north tip of America.

Raised in a Scouting family, backpacking has long been a part of my narrative; lightweight, not so much. I’d never even heard of a baseweight until the night before starting the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. Hanging my pack from a scale for the first time I thought 58 lbs. wasn’t bad. By the end of that trail my full weight was around 35 lbs.

But going lightweight has been natural and necessary development in the transition from backpacking to thru hiking. For Neon and myself, it has become essential, and being out of reach of easy replacement gear, durability is also an important component. It is a question of balance and simplicity, and it’s something we think about every day. We hike light for the practical reason of sustaining 20-40 kilometers a day over years to come.

Continue reading.

Paddlequest 1500: John Connelly’s 75-Day Canoe & Kayak Epic Adventure

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners With Maine-Based Whitewater Athlete 

John Connelly's 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway. It’s remote, but also well managed with established sites that make camping very comfortable. My favorite spot is just on the river, where the water pools up above some rapids. I paddle in, accompanied only by the white noise of the river and of the bird songs. Temps are warm, even as evening approaches, and only the slightest breeze rustles the white pines. I pull my canoe on the shoreline, unload my gear and settle in where I can watch the water. I’m tired after a long, hard day of paddling, but I feel invigorated. I watch the brook trout sip mayflies from the surface of the river, and out of nowhere comes an Osprey. Taking a trout totally unawares, she makes a splash in the river and flies off just as quickly as she arrived. The sun sets, the colors of the rainbow playing over the surface of the Allagash. A rare and precious moment, I feel fully connected to nature. –John Connelly

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently partnered with former US Canoe & Kayak team member and Maine resident John Connelly to support his 1500-mile solo river/sea odyssey. Connelly has numerous first descents under his belt, along with decades of experience on whitewater. His 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes. The journey will be the first to link four major waterways: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Saint John River, Bay of Fundy and Maine Island Trail. We are providing Connelly with a 5400 Porter Pack from our soon-to-be-released Expedition Series, along with an Echo II Shelter System and Stuff Sacks.

Read on.

Ultralight Daypack Makes Nat Geo “Gear Of The Year”

Daybreak Ultralight Daypack: National Geographic Adventure’s “Gear of the Year”

National Geographic Adventure includes Daybreak ultralight daypack in it's 2016 "Gear of the Year" list.

National Geographic Adventure magazine included our technologically-advanced Daybreak ultralight daypack in their 2016 “Gear of the Year” round up, saying: “Hyperlite Mountain Gear has built the Daybreak out of Dyneema cloth, which is known for its extremely light weight, durability, and natural water resistance. Although it holds 17 liters, enough for a full day on the trail, it weighs just 19 ounces. But it isn’t flimsy: The Dyneema has a structure that helps hold its shape, which lets it sit upright on its own and makes it easier to organize or find your gear. Like we said, sophisticated.” Read the full review.

Buy the Daybreak.
See more photos of the Daybreak in action.

From the AT to the PCT: The Journey to Ultralight

Fresh off the Appalachian Trail (AT), Grassroots Trail Ambassador Robin Standish Hits the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Robin Standish hits the PCT fresh off the AT.“At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper.” -New PCT Trail Ambassador, Robin Standish

My parents raised me to have a fearless approach to life and unintentionally instilled a deep-rooted, unsatisfiable need for extremes and adventure. Thus, I spent my youth mushing dog teams, exploring the Alaskan wilderness, snowshoeing for miles while breaking trails after winter storms, and staying alive during months of 40-, 50-, and even 60-below temperatures. Consequentially, a youth of la vida loca set me up to have unrealistically high expectations for all my future endeavors. I now frolic through Death Valley for fun, hike for weeks in the Himalayas, explore malaria-filled, Southeast Asian jungles dotted with land mines, and, most recently, I walked from Maine to Georgia (the Appalachian Trail) because I had nothing else to do. And now I’m heading out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the PCT).

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I DON’T PLAN, and slogging through the wealth of information via Whiteblaze.com, forums, books and blogs was more than enough to remind me of why. Despite being an outdoor enthusiast I felt dumb when it came to making choices. Silnylon vs Cuben Fiber? Aqua Mira vs Sawyer? Boots vs shoes? Tents vs hammock? And, of course, the endless arguments over the pounds, ounces and grams of every single item. At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper. I didn’t want this hike to be easy; I wanted to walk every step of the 2189.2 miles and feel like I earned it. I did just that, but I also earned countless infected blisters, missing toenails, a broken foot and the sour scent of ammonia seeping through my pores. I don’t know if by doing better research before the hike if I could have avoided any of that. I am a stubborn masochist that learns exceptionally through trial and a lot of error, and because of this, the first 700 miles hurt. Read the rest of the post.

Lightweight Appalachian Trail Gear: “Tenderfoot” Drops 9oz

It’s never too late to change your gear. Ambassador “Tenderfoot” alters his lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit one month in.

“Aches & Pains? I thought it was just walking on the AT?!”

Photos & text by Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins

AT 2016
Lays at the summit of Max Patch Mountain outside of Hot Springs, NC.

Over 100 miles in, and I already feel like I have 100 years worth of stories. We’ve met more than 100 people, and we have over 100 aches and pains. The trail has taught me more in the last 10 days than I’ve learned in all my research of it over the last couple years. Sure you can figure out who the first person to hike it was, or how many steps it takes to the end. However, it’s almost impossible to learn something like this so in depth without actually being there and living it. A couple days ago when we took our zero day (on my 24th birthday), I answered a few questions for my co-workers at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about my lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit, what I’ve changed, added and dropped. Here goes… Read More

Pods: The Better Way to Optimize Your Backpack

Pack Pods

Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. So when Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre decided to embark on 200 miles of one of the most difficult thru hikes in the country—the 600-mile traverse of the Grand Canyon below the rim—he refined his organizational tools by designing stackable, zippered Pods.

Because he needed to carry more food (and gear) than normal to go the eight or nine days from cache to cache, he had to optimize how he used the available volume of his pack. Fitted perfectly to the shape of his Southwest Pack, the new Pods left no space unfilled, no volume unused.

“I was looking for a better, more efficient way of storing ten days worth of food,” St. Pierre explains. “I love and have always used our CF8 and CF11 Stuff Sacks, but I found that putting ten days of food into them wasn’t working. When filled with my repackaged meals, they were like a bunch of footballs crammed in my pack. I was wasting 600 to 800 cubic inches. So it just made sense to design something that matched the internal shape of the pack. Once I figured that out, I was able to get what I put into a 55-liter pack into a 40-liter pack just by reorganizing how I laid out the food.” Read the rest of the post.

Married to The Trail, Part I: Moynihan Tries Calendar Triple Crown

Nearly Finished with the Appalachian Trail, Ambassador Mary “Speedstick” Moynihan Strives to be 1st Female to do the Calendar Triple Crown

CTC- Mary Moynihan
Mary Moynihan is carrying a 3400 Windrider on her Calendar Triple Crown attempt.

The American Long Distance Hiking Association has given 250 people the Triple Crown Award. These folks have hiked America’s three major long-distance trails—the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail—either in sections or doing each trail in one push. But only four people have actually achieved the Calendar Triple Crown (CTC), hiking all three of these trails in one year.

First done by Brian “Flyin’ Brian” Robinson in 2001 as a section hike, this super thru hike covers a total of 7,900 miles, has more than one million feet of vertical gain and travels through 22 states. To put this in perspective, one would have to hike about 21.64 miles each day for 365 days. Three other people have completed this feat: Matthew “Squeaky” Hazley was the first to do the trails back-to-back in 240 days; Justin “Trauma” Lichter did the Triple Crown plus another 2100 miles in 356 days; and most recently Cam “Swami” Honan hiked it in just 236 days (as part of his 545-day, 14,342-mile “12 Long Walks” challenge). New Hyperlite Mountain Gear Trail Ambassador Mary “Speedstick” Moynihan is currently on the way to becoming the fifth person to complete the Calendar Triple Crown, and the first woman.

Triple Crown of Hiking Map

Moynihan is three-quarters of the way done with her northbound journey on the Appalachian Trail. She left in January, hiking through the snow and in freezing cold temperatures for most of the first few months. “Hiking in the winter is complex!” she says. “At the end of February I was hiking in snow, and so started my mornings hiking with all my layers on.” She wore a hat, neck gaiter, down vest, down parka, fleece, base layers, gloves, and she’d even wear her rain jacket just for that extra warmth. “It’s all about layering and making sure you have the layers designed for whatever conditions you might come across. I literally got rid of five pounds of gear once winter was over!”

Read the rest of the article here.

Ambassador Ashley Hill Takes on New Zealand’s Te Araroa Thru Hike

Desolate mountain scenery from New Zealand's Te Araroa thru hike.

A notoriously difficult thru hike, Te Araroa winds from deep wilderness to wild and scenic beaches, volcanoes and cities.

Most Americans know the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Northwest Trail, even if they’ve never set foot on either. But mention New Zealand’s Te Araroa thru hike, and you’re likely to get blank stares from your countrymen. Relatively new, the Te Araroa runs 1864-mile from Cape Reinga in the north of the country to Bluff in the very south. Opened late December 3, 2011 by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae, the hiking trail (or “tramping trail” if you are a Kiwi) is long and challenging, typically taking hikers three to six months to complete. It involves startlingly different types of terrain; one day you might find yourself walking along a road and then, the next day find yourself deep in the wilderness.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and happily obsessive thru hiker Ashley Hill recently completed the journey in three months and three days, saying it was one of her favorite trails ever. Read our Q&A with Hill. Post continues here…

Backcountry Recipes: How to Gain Weight On Even the Most Grueling Thru Hike

A photo of meals prepared using backcountry recipes developed by extreme hiking expert Chris Atwood.

Text & photos by Chris Atwood.

Chris Atwood did a 57-day thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with Ambassador Rich Rudow (Read “The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim“). During the trip numerous adventurers accompanied them, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. The length and severity of the hike meant that the group had to eat a lot of calories to have the energy to continue hiking. But with proper planning of his backcountry recipes, Atwood managed to gain around five pounds while still exerting himself to the limit every day and hiking a grand total of over 600 miles. In this post, he shares backcountry recipes he used as well as an example daily ration of food.

Gaining Weight on a Grueling Thru Hike? All it Takes is the Right Backcountry Recipes

Before the trip began, Rich Rudow jokingly said he wanted to be the first Grand Canyon thru hiker to gain weight. I thought it a lofty aspiration, considering the challenging food logistics of this fully self-supported trek. We all knew it would be tall order to fuel the two months of hard work required to walk from Lee’s to Pearce in one push. And although gaining weight was not my goal, staying completely full and charged, at all times, by nutritious and healthy food that I loved to eat was. And with an eye toward carrying the lightest load possible, I didn’t want any more food than would be necessary. My idea was ample daily eating with an extra ration or two to cover any delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Read More

Coming Soon… The Lightweight Ground Cloth

Ideal for the minimalist overnight adventurer.

Lightweight Ground Cloth

 

We built the ultimate, super lightweight Ground Cloth for minimalist overnight backpackers and thru hikers who like to sleep under the stars, but who still want foolproof protection for their gear from moisture, mud and dirt. Ideal for goal-oriented adventurers constantly on the move and in need of fast protection from inclement weather, it’s sizeable at 96” X 52” (8’ X 4’”) but weighs less than an iPhone. Pair it with our Flat Tarp, Echo II Tarp or UltaMids (if not using the respective inserts) for optimal ultralight multi-sport travel. Made of 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber), it serves as an excellent waterproof barrier between you and the ground. Use the reinforced loops to stake out the lightweight Ground Cloth so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

Weight: 0.12 lbs | 3.4 oz. | 96g

Dimensions: 96” x 52” (244cm x 132cm)

Material: Spruce Green CF8 Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber)

  • * Reinforced CF11 Corners
  • * Corner and center tie-outs made with 1/2” lightweight binding

Repair a Pack: How To Patch Your Ultralight Gear

Chris Atwood On How to Patch Holes In Your Gear While On An Extreme Thru Hike

Chris-Atwood-in-the-Grandj.Photo-by-Mike-St.-Pierre
Chris Atwood admiring the view during the Grand Canyon thru hike. Photo by Mike St. Pierre

Text & photos by Chris Atwood

Editor’s note: Hyperlite Mountain Gear also sells Dyneema® Repair Kits (formerly Cuben Fiber Repair Kits) which we recommend for patching a hole in a Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpack or tarp/shelter. By using the Dyneema® tape, you maintain the strength of the pack because you are using the same lightweight, ripstop and waterproof fabric as the pack itself. To properly use one of these kits to repair a pack or shelter, follow the same instructions as below, but don’t complete the third step. The powerful adhesive on the back of the tape means that the Seam Grip is not necessary, saving you a step and a sticky mess. If you do not have a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Repair Kit, we recommend that you follow the steps outlined by Chris Atwood.

After 57 days in the Grand Canyon backcountry, my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4400 still looks great. It saw the spectrum of conditions, literally every type of weather imaginable below the Canyon’s rim, yet never failed to protect my kit. It carried very well, proved elegantly functional with its minimalist design and came to Pearce Ferry in great structural condition.

However, the outback of Grand Canyon is tough on gear. Most routes, in addition to being choked with poking, clawing and slicing flora are themselves composed of carnivorous limestone, eager to nibble any exposed flesh or backpack side pocket that wanders into the kill zone. We sometimes willingly drag and scrape our packs along such routes, hauling precious drinking water from deep within slot canyons. With this type of abuse, a thru hiker is bound to get a few holes in her/his pack. Fortunately, repairs in the field can be easy if done right. Here’s how to repair a pack.  Read More

Baxter State Park Soon To Register A.T. Thru Hikers

An Increase in Number of Appalachian Trail Hikers Leads Baxter State Park To Implement Registration Cards. Plus, Other Things NOBO Hikers Should Know.

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Photo by 2015 A.T. thru hiker Austin “Boris” Clay.

 

A fitting end to one of the world’s most famous trails, Katahdin (5,267 feet) is Maine’s highest mountain and the centerpiece of Baxter State Park (BSP). Steep, tall and surrounded by forests, it’s also an icon for tens of thousands of aspiring Appalachian Trail (A.T.) thru hikers. It’s the northern-most 14 miles of the A.T. When NOBO or section hikers enter the Park at Abol Bridge, they’ve got just nine miles to the Katahdin Stream Campground, where a special campsite—the Birches—is set aside for up to 12 long-distance hikers (which happens to be the same number of hikers allowed to summit Katahdin at one time, as a group).

However, because of movies like “A Walk in the Woods” and “Wild” as well as increasing numbers of well-known athletes hiking the A.T., the number of thru and section hikers is growing fast, and the impact on Katahdin, the Park and its other users is being impacted, sometimes negatively. According to Tenny Webster,a trail information specialist at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 2016 could be a banner year in terms of numbers of people summiting Katahdin.

“We’re waiting to see what happens this year,” Webster says. “We typically see about 10% growth in the number of thru and section hikers who summit Katahdin each year. But this year may be an anomaly. We’re potentially looking at even greater numbers.”

So what’s a State Park, that’s already very carefully managed for use, to do? For starters, they’ll begin implementing a registration system for thru hikers this year.  Read the rest of the post.

A Woman With a Tarp

Ambassador Ashley Hill braves the mosquitoes, embraces the Flat Tarp

Each month Hyperlite Mountain Gear will feature one of its ambassadors. This month we’re highlighting Ashley Hill (trail name, Bloody Mary). A thru-hiker, lover of life and avid user of the Flat Tarp, Hill recently finished hiking the Te Araroa. Stay tuned this month for a blog post about what it takes to hike New Zealand’s most famous trail, plus a feature Q&A with Hill. This article reprinted from Hill’s blog.

EDIT-Ashley-Hill_PNWT-DSC_2310

Text & photos by Ashley Hill

I remember it vividly, the moment I saw her, a solo female hiker named Mountain Spice. She was sheltered beneath a flat tarp at a mosquito infested lake on the PCT. I thought to myself, “Wow… I want to be like her one day. A woman with a tarp. She’s extreme. She’s bad ass. She’s doing it like one should.” How romantic, only using a small square piece of material for protection from the wilderness.

Now, I rarely sleep in a shelter, even when it rains. There’s nothing I love more than closing my eyes under the shooting stars, when you’re alone in the open… Vulnerable… Cowboy camping… Like a fresh little baby drinking it’s first breath of air. I know, it is more than necessary to have something to protect yourself from the elements. My little hypothermia scare taught me that. Even if I camp in a sleeping bag on the dirt, I’ve always carried my tent, just in case.

For my Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) trip, I decided to be “that women with a tarp.” Now, this hike is not comparable to the Pacific Crest Trail. I skirt a constant latitude similar to that of the Nordic climate, (at least it is in my mind): rain falls daily, if only for an hour or two, mosquitoes swarm in the millions, creek and river fords are a common occurrence, and I’m always on watch for the wild animals. Perhaps a tarp isn’t the ideal gear choice, but I don’t care, I want to be her, and after making it 400 plus miles, I think I can say that I am.

Ashley-Hill_PNWT

 

I’m using a 10 ounce 8.6′ x 8.6′ cuben fiber tarp for my shelter, crafted by my friends at Hyperlite Mountain Gear… and by golly, I love it. It takes time and experience to learn how to set up this kind of ultralight system, but once you’ve got it down, you’re gold. Tents might be easier to rig and protect you better from the bugs and rain, but when you wake up and start hiking, everyone is on the exact same page… The only difference is that I’m lighter and I’m cooler… I’m that bad ass women with a tarp.

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Our Ultralight Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Gear List

Ultralight gear for the Appalachian Trail. Everything Tenderfoot is bringing.

 

Text & illustrations by Tyson Perkins

Two Hyperlite Mountain Gear Employees Share their Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Gear List Planning & Prep

Early summer 2014, my girlfriend, Kendra Ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikes.Jackson, and I took on our second 5000-footer together—Mount Katahdin. Soon after waking up the day of our ascent we met a 20-something New York City-based mountain guide, Peter. A veteran thru-hiker, he had a wealth of knowledge about backcountry travel and the Appalachian Trail. He taught us about shelters that set up with trekking poles instead of your common tent poles, trail names, “Trail Magic,” “Zero Days,” “Nero Days,” “Hiker Hobble” and cleaning yourself with baby wipes. We immediately got overly enamored and stoked on this magically ridiculous world and decided to hike the “AT.” Fast travel to the summer of 2015, and Kendra and I began taking on adventures such as the Mahoosuc Range between New Hampshire and Maine in a weekend and returning to work on Monday.

On our first forays into the wilderness, we took awkward thrift store backpacks and a beaten-down double sleeping bag. We cooked dinner on a heavy propane stove right near our Walmart dome tent. Needless to say we had a ton of fun using terrible gear, but knew there had to be better options out there. Through my job as a tent maker at Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I gleaned a ton of ultralight knowledge from the owner, Mike St. Pierre. The more I learned, the easier our trips became. And, more importantly, we enjoyed our backcountry adventures even more. And now’s the time. We’re taking all that we have learned since 2014 and heading out for our Appalachian Trail thru hike. In this blog post I detail our planning, preparation and gear.

Read More

Blister Gear Reviews Expedition Duffel Bag & UltaMid

BlisterGearReview.com recently gave rave reviews to our Dyneema Expedition Duffel Bag and UltaMid 2.Considered one of the most influential gear review sites by Outside Magazine, BlisterGearReview.com does comprehensive reviews of outdoor products. They recently published excellent reviews of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema® Expedition Duffel Bag and our UltaMid 2 Pyramid Tent. What they said…

The Dyneema® Duffel

“If your objectives entail hauling a lot of gear far into the wilderness, and you put a premium on low weight and durability, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema® Duffel should be on your short list. It’s a high-performance bag designed for objectives where excess weight is anathema and durability and weatherproofing are vital. For those looking for top-tier performance, it’s a great option.”

–Cy Whiting, BlisterGearReview.com

Read the full review.

UltaMid 2

“For years I’ve been searching for a superlight four-season shelter that I can use year round for human powered adventures, and now I seem to have found it. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 is the best performing, most versatile shelter I’ve ever used. There is little doubt in mind that it will continue to be my top choice for shelter any time I’m thinking of spending the night outside.”

–Paul Forward, BlisterGearReview.com

Read the full review. 

The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim

Chris Atwood eyes a fast moving storm from the moonscape near Fishtail Mesa. Photo: Rich Rudow
Chris Atwood eyes a fast moving storm from the moonscape near Fishtail Mesa.

Stories and photos by Rich Rudow

How 2012 Outside Mag “Adventurer of the Year,” Rich Rudow, achieved one of his greatest objectives–a rarely done thru hike of the full length of the Grand Canyon.

More than four thousand people have summited Mt. Everest. Two hundred and fifty people have walked 7,900 miles to complete the triple crown of hiking (walking the PCT, CDT and AT). Twenty-four astronauts left the Earth’s orbit for the moon. But only 12 people have ever walked the length of Grand Canyon in one continuous push. Why? There are no towns for resupply, no base camps for logistics support, and in fact, no trails for the vast majority of the 700 miles. Traversing Grand Canyon is like walking a complex three-dimensional maze with delicate routes that include hundreds of thousands of vertical feet of scrambling and climbing up to low class five terrain. There isn’t a guidebook, and beta is sparse. To most people, this thru hike seems impossible. Fortunately, Dave Nally and Chris Atwood, my hiking partners on this journey, weren’t like most people. They had thousands of Grand Canyon off-trail miles under their belts too, and most importantly, we had hiked together many times on difficult Grand Canyon expeditions. I could count on their judgment, strength and fortitude.

But, I wondered, “Could I do it?” Would my 50-year-old body hold up to the rigors of a thru hike on some of the most difficult terrain on the planet for 57 continuous days? I made sure to cover my bases. We spent a year planning the expedition. We defined a highly detailed day-by-day route, identifying water sources and bailout options. We placed eight caches throughout the length of the Grand to resupply along the way. They contained food, extra approach shoes and hiking poles, first aid supplies, clothes for the changing seasons, a warmer sleeping bag for late Fall, maps for each leg of the route, technical climbing gear, and of course, tequila, coffee and peanut M&M’s. Selecting the right gear was paramount for success. A pack failure would end the trip. A shelter failure could be life threatening. Read on… the Expedition Begins!

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.

Committed to America’s Big Trails

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners with the Pacific Crest Trail Association & the Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Photo courtesy of @ilubbgatos

This February, we partnered with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC), key organizations that support two of the “Big Three” thru hiking/backpacking trails. Why? Because we are committed to getting you—the passionate outdoor adventurer—into the mountains and onto the trails where you can achieve your most optimal self. Our goal with these partnerships is to ensure these iconic and inspirational trails are preserved, protected and enjoyed by all types of hikers for decades to come.

PCTA-logoWith 11,000+ members and donors, the PCTA empowers more than 1800 volunteers to work 96,500 hours on hundreds of projects. A major partner of the US Forest Service, this nonprofit advocates for hikers, thru hikers and backpackers, responds to and manages wildfires and other closures, responds to threats on the trail (logging, illegal trespass and development proposals), and acquires land and easements to further enhance the trail. Discover the trail.

updated_CDTCThough smaller and newer, the CDTC fills an important niche, empowering those who love the Continental Divide Trail through community engagement, stewardship and trail outreach and education. With a goal to build strong community of volunteers, enthusiasts and supporters who want to see the CDT completed and protected, they’ve constructed 9.3 miles of new trail and mobilized 194 volunteers to work nearly 15,000 hours. Join the CDTC.

Together, these two organizations successfully mobilize tens of thousands of donors, members and volunteers to protect and preserve two of America’s most iconic trail systems. But creating better, strong trail systems requires teamwork, partnerships and collaboration. We hope that by joining their communities that we can help raise awareness of the important work they do.

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