Backcountry Cafe: DIY Mashed Potatoes with All the Fixings

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Photos and Story by Laura Lancaster

We had just turned the corner on the final ridge of the day when my husband stopped.

“You’re sure there’s a lake?”

I checked the map again. It was a scorching day in late summer, and we were both hot and tired after a full day of backpacking in Northern California’s Russian Wilderness. We’d been skirting an impressive granite peak for the last hour, switchbacking around ridges and crossing steep talus fields. For the last five miles I’d been eyeing deep blue mountain lakes hundreds of feet below the trail. I desperately wanted to jump in, glacial melt be damned, but I had my eye on Paynes Lake. The map showed it 300 yards in front of us, and right on the trail. But the trail in front of us was continuing to edge around a steep slope, with nary a lake in sight. I was beginning to doubt Paynes existed at all.

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A Reconnaissance Mission in Patagonia

Posted by & filed under Trip Reports.

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By Eric Larsen

The crew from MSR sent me a quick note asking if I would share details from my recent reconnaissance trip to Patagonia. They were specifically wondering about my gear, if I achieved my goals and how might this trip be different from last year’s North Pole expedition. Legit questions for sure, but the last one made me smile. Read More →

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Perfecting Your Snowshoe Binding Fit

Posted by & filed under Technology.

Photo by Scott Rinckenberger

Photo by Scott Rinckenberger

A great day of snowshoeing can hinge on a good set of comfortable, well-fitting bindings. Last month, we discussed how to pick the right snowshoe. Now we’ll look closer at MSR binding designs and how you can ensure the best fit possible for your choice of winter footwear.

First, it’s important to seek out snowshoes with bindings that suit your needs. Do you prioritize comfort or security in a binding? If your snowshoe trips tend to be all-day adventures through less aggressive terrain, you’ll probably prefer maximum comfort. Conversely, if you pursue mountaineering objectives, you’ll want bindings with ultimate foot security. The best bindings deliver on both, are easy to use and are durable. Read More →

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Behind the Shot: Photog Scott Rinckenberger Talks Light, Shadows and Snowshoeing

Posted by & filed under Culture.

My assignment was to shoot the new MSR Revo Explore snowshoes in their element: long distance treks without a defined trail, without getting into the realm of technical terrain. I pulled together a group of outdoor athletes with some serious snowshoe experience, and booked a yurt in the Oregon backcountry to make the most of a late spring snowpack. Read More →

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New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail: Tramping vs. Hiking

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looking down from the 42 Traverse onto the Whanganui River.

Looking down from the 42 Traverse onto the Whanganui River.

Perhaps it was the face plant into ankle deep mud, my feet ensnared in slippery roots and grasping vines, my pack pressing me deeper into the sludge. Or maybe it was bushwhacking through a tunnel of needle-prick gorse, my arms and face cut by a thousand tiny, green swords. Or, no, it could have been the time an electric fence was stretched directly across the trail—when I realized New Zealand’s famed Te Araroa might not quite be what I was expecting. Read More →

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Radical Reels: The Best Action-Packed Mountain Sports Films

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© Sebastien Montaz-Rosset | Petit Bus Rouge

© Sebastien Montaz-Rosset | Petit Bus Rouge

By Ali Carr Troxell

Picture this: a bunch of svelte mountain athletes rabbiting between slack-lining, base-jumping, paragliding, and free-soloing…wearing clown shoes. All at a frenetic pace set to music that’s better suited to a big top than an outdoor film. This mash up of skilled athletes and acrobatic circus performers is the premise behind the French film, Petit Bus Rouge (or Little Red Bus, as it translates). It’s a sure audience-pleaser scheduled for this year’s Radical Reels tour. Read More →

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Backcountry Basics: Recognizing and Assessing Avalanche Terrain

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Photo: Dale Atkins.

By Dale Atkins

“We didn’t think we were in an avalanche path.”

These were the sorrow-filled words told to me by a couple whose friend was buried and killed in very small Colorado avalanche back in 2000. The problem of not recognizing avalanche terrain is not new. Avalanche survivors have likely uttered similar words for centuries, and even today the message is still heard after some accidents.

Avalanche terrain can be a broad and complicated topic. But here, I’ll introduce some ideas and key points about avalanche terrain that you may not have heard before. I hope this will encourage you to seek out information. Recognizing avalanche terrain is key to staying alive and having fun in the backcountry. You can’t control the weather or the snow conditions but you can control when you go—and where. Read More →

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Backcountry Basics: How To Use Your Avalanche Probe, Shovel, and Snow Saw

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Photo by: Scott Rinckenberger

Photo by: Scott Rinckenberger

Written by Jeff Hambelton

Working in the backcountry during the winter for the Northwest Avalanche Center, I investigate the current snowpack, track the avalanche hazard, and perform all manner of experiments in the name of snow science. If you ask me what’s in my pack, you may get varied answers, depending on the mission. You might find overnight gear, maybe a science toolkit, sometimes a picnic lunch. But you will always find my shovel, probe and snow saw—the basic tools for snow science and companion rescue. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Apple & Sage Stuffing

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Recipe and photos by Tara Alan

If you’re anything like me, you never grow tired of the dressing (or stuffing!) your family makes at every winter holiday meal. Whether it’s concocted with cornbread or mushrooms, oysters or dried cranberries; whether it’s stuffed inside a bird or baked in a pan, it’s your favorite side dish, and you secretly wish you could have it more often. So why not tuck into a whole bowl of stuffing, and eschew the cranberry sauce and green beans? Well, now’s your chance!

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A Day in the Life of an NWAC Avalanche Observer

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Story By Kate Hourihan

After a couple of hours behind the wheel just before dawn, I arrived at the home of Jeff Hambelton, a professional observer for the Northwest Avalanche Center. My goal for the day was to tag along with Jeff, and experience a typical day of observation from start to finish. I wanted to know more about Jeff and his work with Washington state’s Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC), but also what he’s thinking about when he is out, and how he translates his findings back to the Avalanche Center. Read More →

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