Winter’s Last Gasp: Glory and Defeat in Alaska

As we bid another busy week adieu here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear HQ, we thought we’d pass along another absolute banger from The Provo Bros. Why, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that this particular video set off an eye-bulging, forehead-slapping, jaw-dropping jealousy chain reaction around the office (seriously, there were echoes)—sometimes it’s just really nice to watch people give the gear we make “what-for.”
Read More

Four Reasons Your Old Ski Touring Gear List Just Isn’t Cutting It This Season

Beau Fredlund skiing in the Yellowstone backcountry | Photo by KT Miller

Sometimes it’s the things that go unsaid that are the most telling. For instance, when people say that they’re into the outdoors, they’re also most likely not big fans of crowds. Sure, we might maintain that we’re just looking for a little peace and quiet, maybe some solitude, some unspoiled vistas, or fresh tracks— but no matter how you package your passions, “getting away from it all” is pretty much code for avoiding your fellow human beings.

Whether your taste for company runs more towards “prefers small groups” or full-on agoraphobia, if you’re a backcountry skier, untapped stashes devoid of the hoots and hollers of other powder harvesters are getting harder to find. In 2015, something like 3.2 million skiers and snowboarders slapped on a set of skins or snowshoes and got after it in the mountains under their own steam. That year saw an eight-percent increase in the sales of alpine touring gear, and the delta on that data can only have increased even more since then.

That means that increasingly, getting out into the good stuff means going further, faster. Suffice it to say, the kitchen sink approach—that pillar of the average ski touring gear list you’ll find on most sites—isn’t going to get you there (at least not like that).

Read More

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.

Read More

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.
Read More

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

Read More

Gates of the Arctic Traverse

19 days and 400 Miles thru Alaska’s Brooks Range.

Words, Photos and Video by Luc Mehl


The Brooks Range has always intimidated me as a logistic 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 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. 400 miles in 19 days.

Read 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

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.

Read More

2016 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic

Hyperlite Mountain Gear is proud to be an unofficial sponsor of the unofficial Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.

Words by Luc Mehl
22 competitors | 115 miles of Alaskan Wilderness | Photo: Luc Mehl

The Mountain Wilderness Classic is Alaska’s premier wilderness challenge, a grassroots event where participants push to their exertion and exhaustion limits. Ultralight is the name of the game, so it is no surprise that the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter is the pack of choice.

The 2016 course started at Galbraith Lake and ended in Wiseman, completing a north-south traverse of the Brooks Range, Alaska’s northernmost mountain range. The course was short by Classic standards, a minimum of 110 miles, half of which was floatable. This was a welcome change from the 2015 300-mile route in the Alaska Range, which was only finished by four of the thirty participants.

The short Brooks Range course and 24-hour daylight allowed participants to cut even more gear from their packs, with many participants expecting to go without sleep. Sleeping bags, shelter systems, and extra clothing were all left behind. One participant even opted to leave his packraft behind, starting with a 13 pound pack (this ended up being a bad decision).
Read more about the Classic, and check out a sweet video.

Adventure Adaptability: The Key To Succeeding on Your Thru Hikes

Adaptability is one of the most important skills for a hiker to learn. Find out how it affects all stages of your hike.

Bethany Hughes

By Bethany Hughes

The only thing you have control over is yourself, your perspective and your actions. The elements couldn’t care less about your first ascent, your time record or your worthy cause. In thru hiking, as with all adventure sports, adaptability can determine whether you live or die. It means backtracking when you fought hard to get there. It means swallowing your ego.

Adventure athletes are a bull headed breed. We are out there to whet our mettle, pushing forward into new territory, testing limits–this all takes determination. Yet sometimes we have to turn around 300 feet from the summit. It means not dropping in if the snowpack is weak. It means not shooting that sick Go Pro video. Because before all else, Mother Nature demands humility.

Have I made the point about baseline safety, yet? Okay, now let’s talk about how adaptability comes into play at every stage, from planning to after-action review.
Find out more about adaptability

Drop Everything & Thru Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Nick Click Riechard

The Appalachian Trail under his belt, photographer Nicholas Reichard is on round #2– thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

From the Appalachian Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Nicholas “Click” Reichard didn’t grow up hiking or exploring in the woods. He had a passion filmmaking, and wanted to be one of the best. So he attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he obtained a BFA in filmmaking. But despite his skill and talent, he found his options limited. So he sought a change–a new perspective on life. And what better way to do it than hike the “big three” long-distance trails in the United States. He planned to become a Triple Crowner, hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. It didn’t matter that he had little backpacking experience, he would photograph his adventure with a film camera. So in 2015 he got some gear together and began thru hiking the AT. Six months and 150 rolls of film later he completed the first leg of his journey, and he was hungry for more. Currently Click is partway through the PCT. We caught up with him on a day he had phone reception and asked him a few questions about how he balances ultralight with photography.

How did you discover thru hiking?

So the funny thing is I never wanted to hike the AT, or even enjoyed going on day hikes. But I knew undertaking such an epic adventure would change who I am as a person and as an artist. Boy was I right. Now I sleep better outside than I do at home. I think the challenge of covering so much ground over the span of a few months is also really appealing to me.

How do you plan for a trip like the Pacific Crest Trail?

I’m not sure there is a right answer for this. I’d say it’s fun to plan the trip but I’m more of a figure it out as I go which seems to make things happen more naturally. Read the rest of the Q&A.

Tom Turiano’s New Teton Pass Backcountry Skiing Guide Book

WEB-EDIT-IMG_6597-1

Ambassador Tom Turiano’s Wrote the Book on Teton Pass Backcountry Skiing.

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 ultralight backpacking. 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.

Prepping For a Grand Canyon Thru Hike (a guide to multi-sport expedition planning)

Stripped Down Grand Canyon Thru Hiker Beta, Logistics & Route Finding, By Mike St. Pierre

Grand Canyon Route Finding & Logistics

By Mike St. Pierre, Photos by Mike St. Pierre & Clay Wadman

Planning and prepping for any major backcountry adventure, whether the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or a section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon, is logistically challenging. And unless you’re the first thru hiker, canyoneer or climber to map and explore the route, you must rely on information gathered from numerous sources, from Google Earth to the people who first explored the area. I prefer more remote trips as the lack of information makes them more adventurous. Plus, the fewer the resources you have to depend on, the more careful you have to be and the more you have to rely on your own experience to accomplish the feat (so you’d better have a lot of experience for bigger adventures). However, the popularity or the remoteness of your trip is relative; you’ll have a greater chance of success if you know what you’re getting into. You’ll also more likely succeed if you travel simply, use gear wisely and constantly refine and lighten your systems. This thru hiker approach is applicable whether you’re a long-distance backpacker or a climber, packrafter, skier, or passionate backcountry adventurer of any kind.

The Way of the Thru Hiker 

Experienced thru hikers have walking dialed. They know exactly what they need to be efficient and conserve energy because they walk all day long. I took a thru hiker’s approach in very carefully planning the second leg of my section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. I made sure to have exactly what I needed and nothing more. I dialed in my knowledge of the terrain, weather, water sources and resupply points by doing extensive research. And I reached out to more experienced Grand Canyon thru hikers, rangers and other experts.

Subsequently, when I embarked on my 200+-mile thru hike/canyoneering adventure this March, I felt ready to go bigger and further, increasing my mileage and distance. I had already done the first section over two weeks in the fall of 2015 with Rich Rudow, whose decades of experience make him one of the foremost experts of America’s biggest canyon. He spent a full year plotting his path, the gear and his caches for his 57-day, 700-mile thru hike below the rim (Read more). I joined him for his first two weeks. Despite the gnarliest terrain and harshest conditions I had every experienced (or maybe because of them), I caught the bug and immediately started planning the second leg of my journey. I also trusted my own 15 years of experience in ultralight backpacking techniques.

So how did I do it? Of course, I can’t download my life’s experience with ultralight backcountry travel and gear in one article, but here’s an overview of how I planned my trip. It’s not comprehensive, and you shouldn’t assume you can thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon based off what you learn from these articles. But in this three-part series of posts, I’ll share the most valuable things I’ve learned from my backcountry experiences. They culminated in this section hike, which was definitely the most difficult and challenging adventure I’ve embarked on to date. Read the rest of the article and check out photos.

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.

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

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.

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!

 

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!

 
Page 1 of 212