Behind the Curtains of Hell: 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

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A report from the 9th annual 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell endurance climbing competition.  

by Andrew Chasteen


The shotgun blasts, and 280 climbers scatter like buckshot in all directions.  Most are running—some are walking briskly up the steep approaches to the crags that make up the borders of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.  Ten minutes ago the full crowd of 700-plus was lost in a trance of psyche and adrenaline as Jeremy Collins and Kris “Odub” Hampton put on a show (as usual) for the famed Climbers Creed to “I got 99 problems but 100 pitches ain’t one.”  But now minds are focused and fixed on the next 24 hours of pain. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Make Ahead Mac-N-Cheese

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Story and Photos by Tara Alan

Where I live, in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the first yellow, orange, and russet leaves are beginning to appear scattered upon the ground. Nights are becoming cool enough to wear a jacket, and the scent of wood smoke is apparent on the breeze. It’s clear that autumn is just around the corner!


What better way to spend these glorious end-of-summer days than in the woods? And what better way to end them than with an evening of camping? On chill nights like these, I want a supper that’s warm and cheesy, quick and easy: macaroni and cheese.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a spectrum of macaroni and cheese. On one end are those blue boxes containing a handful of elbow noodles and an accompanying “cheese” packet. The resulting dish is neon-orange, and of dubious nutritional value. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s pasta with an unctuous cream sauce and pockets of oozing melted cheese under a burnished top. Think four cheeses melted together with bacon, chili flakes, and caramelized onions. Or how about mozzarella and ricotta with chunks of fresh tomato?

So, what do we do when we want the cozy, comforting dish of mac and cheese while on the trail? When we want the simplest of dinners, but we want it to have ingredients we recognize? When we want that delicious, cozy treat, but we don’t want to pack a ton of items to make it? We make it ahead of time and carry it along, of course!

Below, you’ll find my recipe for a version of macaroni and cheese that falls somewhere between the two extremes of the spectrum, closer to the ease of blue-box side. It’s a cinch to assemble and pack for the trail, and it’s quick to cook once you’re out there. It also makes a great base for improvisation. See my suggestions below the recipe for ways to jazz up your mac. Read More →

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Gear Overview: New Revo™ Explore Snowshoes

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Revo Explore, orange

New for 2014, our Revo series snowshoes combine the confidence-inspiring grip of MSR’s perimeter traction with the unrivaled durability and torsional flex of our proven plastic decks. Together, they offer a light, rugged snowshoe built for surefooted stability through any conditions you find beyond the packed trails. The Revo Explore model features our new HyperLink Binding, which provides exceptional comfort and ease of use, making long days in the backcountry even better. In this video, we explain the key features and technologies of the Revo Explore—and how it maintains the legendary versatility that have defined our performance plastic decks. Read More →

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Stove Systems 101: 5 Reasons Your Backcountry Stove Should Be A Stove System

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If you are wondering how to choose a backpacking stove that’s right for you, you can always start with a comparison of canister stoves vs. liquid fuel stoves to learn the general options available to you. But you also might want to consider a stove system, which offers some compelling advantages that transcend both categories.

All stove systems are in fact canister systems, which means they feature a fuel canister that threads directly onto the stove. However, unlike a conventional, top-mounted canister stove, a stove system is integrated with a specially designed cooking pot to create a compact and efficient unit. Certain stove systems offer additional benefits that traditionally could only be achieved by liquid fuel stoves, including better fuel efficiency, and superior performance in cold and windy weather and at high altitudes. Read More →

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Alpine Mentors: Aspirations Fueled by Experience

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Alpine Mentee Buster Jesik going farther in the Alps, Mont Blanc

Alpine Mentors is a relatively new non-profit program for young alpinists that promotes clean, lightweight, and low-impact climbing. Co-founded in 2012 by alpinist, guide and author Steve House and his wife Eva, Alpine Mentors connects seasoned alpinists with technically proficient young climbers who aspire the climb the world’s greatest mountains.

Joining the program as a mentee is no small commitment. Over the period of two years the group spends 14 weeks traveling all over the world. While the mentees don’t pay tuition, they do cover their own travel expenses.

The first four young climbers to participate in the program are finishing up their two-year cycle this year, just as a new regional chapter begins in the Pacific Northwest. We caught up with Steve and one of the first program participants, Colin Simon, to hear about how the program got started and how it’s been going so far. Read More →

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Water 101: Clean Water Solutions to Prepare for Any Emergency

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Road flooding caused by a hurricane

Water is our most important resource, but you never know when a disaster could compromise your local water supply. Whether you live in the city or in a more remote area, having a way to get clean water is crucial to keeping you safe from additional harm. In honor of emergency preparedness month, we’ve put together the information you need to ensure you have access to water that’s safe to drink.

Clean water threats

When drinking water is contaminated in municipal or developed areas, the immediate threat to human health is the introduction of waterborne pathogens—microscopic disease-causing bugs. These include bacteria, protozoa and viruses, all of which are normally removed by the city treatment center long before water ever flows out of your tap.

In a disaster situation, contamination of the existing municipal water supply can happen quickly. For example, a sewer line can break, intermixing sewage with your clean water supply, and introducing those pathogenic agents. Read More →

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Backpacking to British Columbia’s Garibaldi Lake

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Photos and story by Riley Leboe

I’m lucky enough to travel the world doing what I love. Chasing powder snow as a professional skier has brought me to many amazing places around the globe. Still, I often find it difficult to leave the west coast of British Columbia, where I call home. With the Sea to Sky corridor offering so much in the way of activities, I’ve left much unexplored in my own backyard. Read More →

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Getting the Shot: Behinds the Scenes on the MSR Snow Tools Photoshoot

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Photos and words by Scott Rinckenberger

This spring, I had the pleasure of shooting the photography that will be used by MSR in the marketing materials for their new Snow Tools line of products. In an impressive effort to round out their hardware offerings to support backcountry travel, MSR’s new Shovels, Probes and Snow Saws are smartly designed and intended for professional use.

In order to reinforce this commitment to professional quality in the new products, it was important to MSR that we photograph the gear being put through the paces of an actual practice use scenario. To that end, they recruited long time collaborator, ski patroller, ski guide and NWAC field observer Jeff Hambelton to lead myself and a couple of Baker pros on a mission to take field observations and run a simulated avalanche rescue.

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SnowSchool Turns Students into Snow Scientists

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By Kerry McClay, National SnowSchool Director for Winter Wildlands Alliance

“So the snowpack is only about 20% water?!”  It’s a bluebird day at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area in the Boise National Forest, and a group of students from the local high school are standing in a 5 ft deep snow trench they’ve dug themselves. Marching out into the forest on snowshoes they’ve used depth probes, density cutters and spring scales to measure snow-water equivalent (the estimated water content of the snowpack), and are discussing their findings with a snow science graduate student from the nearby university. The low water content of the snowpack is coming as a surprise to a few of them. Later these students will analyze snow crystals with macroscopes, cut snow blocks to make an igloo, and eventually take their findings back to the classroom to compare it with historical snowpack data. This is SnowSchool and through this program 28,000 K-12 students are annually introduced to the wonders of winter!

highschool snowpit

Remember your high school snow science class? Right, didn’t think so. Though mountain snow supplies up to 80% of the water in many communities in the western United States, it remains an understudied topic among scientists and the general K-12 population. To fill this void Winter Wildlands Alliance has been developing the SnowSchool program for nearly 10 years.  Historically most of the participants at SnowSchool’s 45 sites have been fifth graders, but Winter Wildlands Alliance has recently piloted a new experience for middle and high school science students.  Thus a program that was originally conceived as a simple snowshoe field trip for elementary school kids has evolved into a hands-on learning experience based on space-age science. Read More →

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Colorado’s 10th Mountain Huts: A brief history and how-to guide

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Photos and story by Laurel Miller

Although I’m a native Californian, I grew up skiing Colorado. This is because my parents met while students at Colorado A & M (now CSU) in the mid-50s, and they were avid skiers. My dad was finishing up veterinary school, and my mom was on the barrel racing team. Although they chose to move West to open my dad’s large animal practice, Colorado to this day retains a stronghold on their hearts—something that was passed on to my brother and me in utero (I can only presume).

My dad’s obsession with the Rockies began when he was pre-med and trying to obtain residency for vet school, courtesy of the GI Bill. A World War II veteran and Arizona native, he moved to Colorado and worked summers as a wrangler on various ranches, which was a convenient way to indulge his combined loves of horses and the high country. The U.S. Ski Patrol visited Dad’s high school when he was a senior, looking for recruits for the 10th Mountain Division. At that point in the war (1944), the Army was no longer looking for experienced skiers; rather, they wanted to train their own. Camp Hale, the Army training facility, was located between Leadville and what is now Vail, on the Tennessee Pass. Read More →

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