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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Best Camping Knot: How to Tie the Taut-Line Hitch Knot

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Whether you’re guying-out a tent, hanging a bear bag or tying a load to your pack, the Taut-Line Hitch is one of the handiest all-purpose knots for backpackers and campers. It’s so easy and versatile, in fact, that MSR Category Director Steve Grind wonders: “Why doesn’t every single outdoorsy person know and love this knot?”

Once set, the Taut-Line, a rolling hitch knot, can be adjusted to increase or slacken tension on an anchored line, and it holds fast and secure under load. Even astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery used this knot on their repair missions to Hubble Space Telescope.

Here are the four easy steps that will make you a pro at using this knot the backcountry.

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Step 1: Anchor and Coil

Pass the rope around an anchor point, and run the rope’s free end parallel to its standing line. Coil the free end around the standing line twice, each time looping back toward the anchor. Read More →

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GETTING THE SHOT: Behind the Scenes on the Hubba Hubba NX Photo Shoot

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MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent marketing campaign photo. Photo credit: Garrett Grove

MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent marketing campaign photo. Photo credit: Garrett Grove

By Ryan Hayter

At MSR, we strive to not only build great gear but to inspire others to get outside and experience what makes us so passionate about the mountains. Imagery that captures those real moments in the outdoors – whether it’s a breathtaking view, an incredible sunrise or a shared, though silent experience with friends – plays a big role in telling the MSR story and our reason for being.

iOs photo credit: Megan Bailey

iOs photo credit: Megan Bailey

Read More →

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Behind the Photo: Photographing the Milky Way

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By Jameson Savage

I vividly remember lying on the wet grass staring up at the Milky Way passing over Yellow Stone National Park as a child. I had never seen anything so thought-provoking or awe-inspiring before in my life, and I can’t safely say I’ve seen anything that compares to it since. This is an experience that I wouldn’t want anyone robbed of, but as our cities expand we lose our connection to the stars ever so gradually. The larger they grow the smaller our view into the universe becomes.

Over the course of the next five months I’m setting out to capture the Milky Way throughout the Western United States documenting the impact that our cities have on it’s visibility, and what we can do to curb this effect. I’d like to share the experience of this project with you by running through the planning and gear that you will need to capture Milky Way images such as these taken at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Crater Lake, Oregon.

Bonsai_Rock_MSR Read More →

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Fly Your Tent Down the Freeway

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The original Mountain Safety Research Newsletter (1969-1982), written by MSR Founder Larry Penberthy, is always a fascinating read. The newsletters are filled with extensive and technical product testing and mountain safety information. However, Larry and his team were also known to have some fun.

One of our favorite features in this vast newsletter archive is the makeshift “wind tunnel” testing report in Issue 7 (April 1973) for the new MSR Mountain Tent. Important performance features of the tent are profiled under the headings “More Room,” “Condensation,” “Doors,” “Ease of Erection,” “Wind Stability,” “Cookholes,” “Materials,” and “Weight.”

Within the “Wind Stability” description, the reader is given this glimpse into MSR’s rigorous and fun DIY testing methods. It’s true that Larry was never satisfied until he personally put gear through the ultimate paces.

Tent Testing April 1973 Read More →

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Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Inspires Big Adventure

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Photo Credit: Still from the film “Sea of Rock,” touring with the 2013/14 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Watch a preview here: http://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/worldtour/films/#sea_of_rock

Photo Credit: Still from the film “Sea of Rock,” touring with the 2013/14 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Watch a preview here.

By Ryan Hayter

Since 1986, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has brought the outdoor culture’s most creative, inspiring and adrenaline-inducing stories to a global audience. Every year, the tour reaches about 400,000 fans in 40-plus countries reaching from Antarctica to Wales, who get to experience a taste of the world’s most remote destinations and daring adventures.

The North American leg of the tour started in November and has already traveled through more than 50 states, provinces and territories drawing in crowds from 100 or so in outposts like Sitka, Alaska, to thousands in Montreal, Denver and Salt Lake City. It runs through this October, with 30 more stops in the U.S. and Canada, plus more in Australia, Brazil, England, Italy, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland.

Photo from the film “Off-width Outlaw,” touring with the 2013/14 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Photo Credit: Fredrick Marmsater

Photo from the film “Off-width Outlaw,” touring with the 2013/14 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Photo Credit: Fredrick Marmsater

The benefits of the tour reach beyond its immediate audience. Much of its proceeds go to local outdoor programs, community causes, or non-profits such as youth adventure and outdoor pursuit programs; search and rescue operations; climbing clubs; adaptive sport programs; conservation groups; and trail maintenance organizations. Those benefactors are diverse, ranging from Texas State Parks to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Wild. Read More →

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Anchor Replacement: For the Love of the Desert

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Mark and I were young college kids in search of gold in the Western Colorado red rock desert. Gold as a metaphor of course, but to us it was more valuable than gold: a first ascent, a chance to climb something that had never been done before.

We did our first-first ascent together the week before in Escalante Canyon, a haunted place that was the host to sheep wars in the Old West days, and is reminiscent of a scrappy, chossy version of Indian Creek.

Now, we were back, hungry for more. What we found was a climb called Oh Shit, well, that’s at least what we called it. Mark said, “Oh, shit” moments before taking a 30 foot headfirst whipper onto a red alien, landing just a few feet above the ground. After the whipper, he sent me up the perfect, but dirty dihedral, and I cleaned the crack off, aiding my way up and finally reaching the top of the line.

But, alas, despair, there was already an anchor. This was not a first ascent. Maybe a second ascent, but who cares about a second ascent? Worse yet the “anchor” was a small block wrapped with webbing that was older than we were. Reluctantly, we began our careers in anchor replacement, and placed a proper two-bolt anchor next to the sketchy relic from the 1970s. Read More →

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Leif Whittaker on the Privilege of Climbing Mountains

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Leif and Jim Whittaker on the trail to Mount Everest Base Camp.

Photos and story by Leif Whittaker

The view from the barren promontory above Namche Bazaar in Nepal looked out on a windswept hunk of the Himalaya where the sunrise struck, bathing the world’s highest mountain in flattering gold light. Dad and Mom stood next to me, their breath white in the frigid morning. The alpine air was redolent with juniper. We talked about climbing, a favorite subject of the guides, Sherpa, and photographers who clustered around us. I listened intently to Dad’s stories about his ascent of Mount Everest in 1963 and Mom’s stories about the 1978 K2 expedition. Though they spoke of daring, superhuman feats—like descending from 29,035 feet half blind and without bottled oxygen—I heard a conspicuous tone of humility in their voices, as if they acknowledged how lucky they had been. It was a tone that is far too rare in today’s extreme vernacular, one that declared a genuine reverence for the landscape and a visceral understanding of the fact that climbing has almost nothing to do with conquering mountains. Read More →

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Roping Up

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Click on the Photo to Open Gallery

Story and photos by Keenan Murray

A brotherhood of devotion. Sinuously dangling in the breeze, it is the last connection and the vehicle of strength from one friend to another. Out of respect for the thin line of life, I cherish it — take care of it, for I know that it will guard against more than an unexpected meeting with the stone cold ground. The words of Royal Robbins run through my head: “Climbing is a great game — great not in spite of the demands it makes, but because of them. Great because it will not let us give half of ourselves — it demands all of us. It demands our best.” Not only is the team physically bound together by the rope; it is the mental, emotional, and almost spiritual connection to one another that can be a saving grace. The steadfast presence when mother nature wants you all to herself, and an unfailingly reliable extension of the will to be alive. The façade of life in a mediocre world is ripped away and what is left other than the climbers? The stark black and white reality of life and death, the last real, slim connection to it and the reminder of how wonderful and fragile it is on the edge. It is a sobering reminder that we must return to earthly confinement, and a hopeful thought that we can return to this place where time no longer exists, only breaths. Only clinging to the idea that with this companion we can make it back to this altered, genuinely human, state of being.

 

 

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 Keenan Murray works as MSR’s Dealer Rep for the Pacific Rim and International territories. His love of alpine climbing was sparked by a NOLS course to Canada’s Waddington Range in 2011. Two instructional courses with the American Alpine Institute in the summer of 2012 opened his eyes to Washington’s potential. Shortly after, he escaped the dangerously hot summers and disastrously cold winters of Oklahoma for climbing and ultra running in Washington State.

 

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The Lunchroom: An Interview with Jim Meyers, Senior Copywriter

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Jim Meyers seeking some inspiration for writing in Hyalite Canyon, MT. (photo by Molly Ravits)

By Ryan Hayter

The Lunch Room (TLR): You don’t hear of too many brands having dedicated in-house copywriters. What exactly do you do?

JM: We now have three full-time copywriters and basically, if it’s got words on it, one of us wrote it.

Up front, a considerable amount of time goes into planning and strategy. We work with the division directors and marketing team to determine where products fit into the line and ensure we develop messages that convey what the engineers had in mind when they created the product. We even sit-in on line-planning sessions, talking about products that are still just a glimmer in an engineer’s eye. We’re all “users” too, so we can all offer feedback that helps shape the products we create.

On the other end of the spectrum, we crank-out a lot of web copy, instructions, packaging, etc. Being in-house, you get really familiar with a brand and you can do things intuitively that an outside writer might take two or three tries to nail, so there’s efficiency there. Read More →

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