Multi-day Ski Mountaineering: Tips from New Zealand

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photo: Nick Webb

Story by Kate Hourihan

In early October, American skiers Nick Webb and Beau Fredlund met up in Christchurch to catch the tail end of the New Zealand winter. Arriving just after the ski resorts closed, and the flocks of winter tourists departed, they aimed to take advantage of the milder weather, longer days and more stable snow of the New Zealand spring. While the snow was still plentiful at high elevations, it was not easy to reach. And while they made several long day tours, Nick and Beau focused on multi-day trips to take advantage of the terrain above the long, tiring approaches. Their longest trip, totaling ten days, was spent exploring the upper Tasman Saddle in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. After walking two full days up the Tasman Glacier, they established a base-camp in a remote alpine area. In hearing their account, I was reminded of the organization required in preparing for such a trek. Here, they share with me some tips for planning and preparing for long ski mountaineering trips, whether in New Zealand or in your local mountain range. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Rotisserie Chicken Fingers

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Story and Photos by Tara Alan

As much as I love the invigorating excitement of trying new flavors as I travel, sometimes what I really want are the familiar and comforting dishes of home.  It doesn’t matter where I am, or how long I’ve been on the road, I’m bound to get homesick for good ol’ American food once in a while. When my husband Tyler and I were cycling through France, three months into a two-year bicycle tour, we experienced just that.


Nevermind the fact that we were in one of the most gourmet countries in the world, home to escargot and fois gras and a dizzyingly delicious array of artisanal charcuterie.  Nevermind the fact we could eat crusty loaves of bread any time we wished, could gorge ourselves on delicious smelly cheeses, and could delight in the sheer bliss of a buttery, shatteringly flaky croissant. Read More →

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Video: MSR Snowshoe Traction

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In this video we explore the superior traction technology that sets MSR snowshoes apart from the competition. Engineering 360-degree traction around the snowshoe’s edges, while maintaining lightweight performance, offers better grip and stability on traverses and steep climbs. Learn more about MSR snowshoe technology and the distinctions between our snowshoe models here.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Easy Appetizers for the Exhausted

Posted by & filed under Soul.


Story and Photos by Laurel Miller

American gastronomy has been responsible for some memorably mediocre finger foods (or canapés, hors d’ouevres, or appetizers, if you’re so inclined). Despite this, we’re all familiar with the ubiquitous cheese ball, spinach dip (served in a hollowed out loaf of sourdough) pigs in a blanket, and, if you’re of a certain age, rumaki.

Having inhaled my share of spinach dip in this life, I’m not trying to be an asshole. But it is possible, even in the backcountry, to create starters that are easy, on-trend, and free of processed ingredients. The point of appetizers, as the name suggests, is to stimulate the appetite. Providing a balance of flavors and textures is the key to making them work, as are good-quality ingredients (which don’t require much in the way of prep to make an impact). Read More →

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One Punch Higher: Ski Mountaineering on Mexico’s Volcanoes

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Q Mexico city and Dia de Muertos

Story by Holly Walker / Photos by Zebulon Blais

Maderno was flooded with ghouls, vampires and comic book characters.  It isn’t unusual for this pedestrian street to be bustling, but this strange cast had packed themselves into the street like sardines for the Saturday before Dia de Muertos (a Mexican holiday celebrating passed family and friends). I was in the thick of Mexican culture. Known for surfing, spicy food, tequila and Mariachi music, Mexico is an unlikely destination for a ski adventure. But, where there is snow, there can be skiing, and Mexico is home to some very high, snow-capped volcanoes.

Still, as I took in the scene of one of the biggest cities in the world, I wondered how I had gotten here. A month earlier, I was having dinner on a sunny patio in Pemberton when my ski buddy Jasmin Dobson told me there was snow in Mexico. “Snow?” I said. “That means skiing, right?” We laughed and finished our burgers watching the sunset over Mount Currie. I had only ever dreamed of surfing the Pacific Coast of Mexico let alone ski there. After dinner, research ensued and I found justifiable evidence that it existed – high up on volcanoes over 17,000 ft. I sent an email to Zebulon Blais, a ski mountaineer that I had met up on Denali. “That sounds ridiculous… when are you thinking?” he asked. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew

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One of my favorite things about cooking on the road is collecting spices from each place I travel. New flavors and aromas add excitement to my daily meals, and I love always being on the lookout for things I’ve never seen or tasted in marketplaces.


What’s even better than buying fun new ingredients? Being given them by new friends!

When my husband Tyler and I were in Athens, I was gifted a bag of spices by our couch surfing host, Miwa, who knew how much I love to cook. It wasn’t a Greek spice mix, nor one of Japanese descent like our host herself, but rather one that smelled of India. Miwa didn’t know exactly what it was called, but she said it was one of her favorites. I was honored to receive such a gift. Read More →

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.




 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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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 2 – The Parking Lot

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Story and Photos by Laurel Miller

Some of us eat to live, others live to eat (admittedly, it’s a First World luxury to be able to make such a distinction). If you’re of the latter persuasion, it’s hard to dispute the psychological and satiety benefits of high-fat/protein/complex carbohydrate post-exercise snacks that go the extra mile.

Want to ensure a surplus of stoke at the end of your next outing? Take some inspiration from the below list, and make the traditional parking lot scarf-session just as memorable as the rest of your trip. Obviously, you’ll need to menu-plan and store or pack accordingly, depending upon climate and duration of trip. If you’re feeling especially motivated, fire up a grill if there’s one available at the trailhead, or use your camp stove.

  • Toss freshly made or packaged popcorn with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, smoked paprika, and sea salt. Tip: Hot popcorn is also wonderful with a sweet-salty mix; try combining salt with Muscovado sugar, which will get slightly melty.
  • Serve sliced apples with honeycomb, aged Cheddar, and cured ham or prosciutto. Pair with an apple brandy like Calvados or Reisetbauer, or a great domestic version like Clear Creek Distillery’s.  Read More →

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A Beginner’s Guide to Packrafting

Posted by & filed under Tech, Trip.


P: Will Rochfort

Story by Heather Balogh

Prior to arriving in Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, my packrafting expertise solely relied on a 45-minute escapade at a neighboring lake back home in Colorado. Sure, floating around the pond gave me a sense of confidence in the buoyancy of the rafts, but that was about all I walked away with in terms of packrafting knowledge. Since packrafting is an up-and-coming sport, I’d like to save other beginners from the trouble we encountered while becoming familiarized with the boats on the Alatna River. Not everyone should suffer as we did!

What is packrafting?
In short, a packraft is an inflatable individual raft that can pack down to such a small size that it can fit inside a pack while backpacking. Once hikers reach a river, they can remove the raft from their pack, blow it up with the included inflation system, and let the adventure continue on the water. The boats do add some weight to backpacks since the raft, spray deck, paddles, and PFDs weigh roughly 8.5 pounds, but it is worth it. Hiking and rafting allow adventurers to see more terrain and cover more mileage while still traveling under their own power. Read More →

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MSR Field Reports: 2013 International Snow Science Workshop – Grenoble, France

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by Jane Mauser

In October I represented Mountain Safety Research at the 2013 International Snow Science Workshop in Grenoble, France. MSR has been a contributing sponsor of the ISSW for the past two years. A handful of MSR employees attend the workshop to learn more about snow science, share products relevant to snow travel and rescue, and build on our relationships in the snow safety community.

This year’s event brought an impressive turn-out of snow science professionals from all over the world. There are seems to be new avalanche forecast and education centers popping up around the globe and many of them were represented at ISSW. My personal interest is in communication and education of snow safety, so I gravitated toward those posters, abstracts and presentations. It was great to see so many presentations promoting education and communication through a more practical application of snow science. I also attended a couple presentations on managing snow and the impact of climate change. Read More →

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