Monday, August 13, 2012

Weight Update

For those that are curious, I have lost some weight.  For those that don't know what I'm talking about, read this post:

I started out at 203lbs almost two months ago, and I am currently at about 183lbs.  So, I have lost approximately 20lbs, depending on what time of the day I weigh myself.  My goal is to get down to about 170-175lbs and approximately 6% body fat.  I haven't checked my body fat recently, but I'm definitely not to 6% yet.  I think I probably am hovering around 13-14%.  Long way to go still.  Still working on it.

Epic Weekend, Epic Fail

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine called me and asked me to run in a trail relay race with him.  It sounded like fun so I agreed, not realizing that it was the same weekend as a family camping trip I had committed to with my wife and her family.  My wife wasn't real thrilled with my lack of organization, but she quickly forgave me for my mistake.  I, on the other hand, was super bummed.  I really wanted to go camping with the fam.

My wife's plan for the weekend was to drive up to the top of Emigration Canyon (about 30 miles NE of Preston, ID) to meet up with her family on Friday afternoon, after she got done with work, then drive to Pocatello, Idaho on Saturday evening.  I was going carpool with my parents to Pocatello on Sunday morning where we would all meet up for my new nephew's baby blessing at church.

I was still bummed that I was missing out on the camping, but Kelsey and I agreed that driving two cars to Emigration Canyon, then to Pocatello, and back was too expensive.

And then, on Friday afternoon, just as Kelsey was about to leave, I had a stroke of genius.  You must understand, strokes of genius are a rare and very cherished thing for me.  About once a year, when I have one, they lead to some of the most memorable experiences of my life.   For example, when I was 16 I had a stroke of genius that landed me and a friend on top of a mountain in the middle of a blizzard, our feet in each other's armpits, trying to stave frostbite while we waited for the storm to pass.  Or there was the stroke of genius when I was 23 that had Phil and I skinning 20+ miles, each with 80 pounds of aid climbing and winter gear, into a peak that was too crumbly and brittle to climb during the summer, but "will probably freeze together hard enough to climb during the winter."  We did at least find some ice to climb that trip.

So, when this stroke of genius hit, I knew it was too good to pass up.  The idea was to run this relay race all night (it started at 6pm Friday and went until noon on Saturday) then jump on my bike and ride 100 miles to the top of Emigration canyon so I could eat dinner and spend a little time with the family before heading to Pocatello.  When I told my wife she said, "Really? . . .  Whatever."  She's been wowed by my genius many times before.  This was nothing new to her.  And it showed in her lack of enthusiasm.  "So, what are you going to do when you can't make it?  I mean, if you can't make it?"
"I'll be fine," I said.  "100 miles on a bike is no big deal."

So it was decided.  Kelsey took off to meet up with her family (and start making plans for my rescue), and I started getting ready for the "epic weekend." It was such a great idea.  How could it go wrong?

R-Scape, 18 Hours of Ogden

I showed up to R-Scape at about 4:30pm, excited about the race but now getting twinges of nervousness in my stomach.  You see, I like trail running, but I haven't been doing much of it this summer.  I was afraid that the indefinite procrastination of my training meant that I may completely bonk during this race.  

The format for the race was that each member of a relay team would run one 10k lap on the trails above Ogden before handing off to the next person to run their lap.  We would rotate through five people in our group.  The race was for 18 hours.  The group with the most total laps at the end was the winner.

My first lap started out slow as I started to warm up, but eventually I was able to pick up the pace a little.  An older lady passed me on the uphill.  I made some lame joke and excuse to her and then tried to stay on her heels.  About half way up the longest climb I started to pray that she would stop running and start walking so that I could walk too.  My male ego couldn't handle being beaten like this.  Then, as she started gaining on another guy up ahead, I found myself cheering for her.  "Go!  You can catch him!" I yelled in my head.  As she (we) caught the guy, I wanted to slow down and console him, let him know that I knew what he was going through, that I too had been beaten by this lady and it was nothing to be ashamed up.  I gave him an empathetic look.  He glared back, obviously annoyed.  I kept running.

Mile 4 rolled around and the beginning of the downhill.  I quickly caught back up to the lady, passed her, and then passed a couple more people.  My long legs started to turn over more and more quickly.  I passed a few more people.  This was fun!  Then I started to doubt my ability to stop.  The trail got rockier and gravity was in control.  I said another quick prayer, this time asking for forgiveness for wishing bad luck on my opponents and asking for help in slowing down.  Just then the trail made an  uphill turn.  I almost fell on my face when I hit the uphill but my speed was now under control again.  I looked back expecting the lady to be there, ready to pass me again.  She wasn't.  I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into my pace.

When I crossed the finish line and tagged my teammate, I turned around to cheer on the lady behind me.  She smiled as she finished, appreciative of the encouragement.  She then tagged her daughter who was probably older than I am.  I felt sheepish that I secretly was trying so hard to beat this lady (and barely doing so) and quickly walked back to my team's tents to rehydrate and eat some food.

Lap two went a little smoother.  This time my legs felt like they had a little more spring to them.  I ran up the hills a little faster and more effortlessly, though I did walk some of the steeper sections this time.  The cool night air felt a lot more comfortable and it seemed like the trail, illuminated only by the moon and my headlamp, quickly passed by.  About halfway up the long hill section my chest started to sting.  I thought for a minute that I had been bitten by a bug.  I quickly realized that I hadn't thought to put band aids on and my shirt was rubbing me raw (for all non-runners reading this, nipple chaffing is not something unique to me).  I pulled off my shirt, enjoyed the relief, and then promptly stubbed my toe, tripped, and scraped up my shoulder and arm.  "Perfect timing," I thought, "just when I take my shirt off . . . " and my thoughts trailed off in a G-rated rant.  30 seconds later some cross country high school runner cruised past me.  I was about to make excuses about tripping and other lame stuff when I realized he was jamming down the trail to the music on his iPod. 

I finished my second lap slightly faster than my first and feeling pretty good.  I figured, due to time, that I would only have to run one more lap.  I quickly drove home, took a shower, cleaned up my scrapes, and was back to the race, ready to get a little sleep.  

I tried to sleep, but with little luck.  I couldn't seem to let my mind relax long enough to fall asleep.  After an hour of trying, I gave up and started up a conversation with one of my teammates who was just about to leave for his leg.  I then talked to another teammate who was just waking up in preparation for her leg.

Finally, my third lap came around and I started running.  This time there was no spring in my step.  On the uphill my thighs and hamstrings felt sluggish.  I figured it would pass as I warmed up but it never did.  I pushed myself and finished just a minute or two slower than my other laps, but this one felt significantly more difficult.  I started to worry a little bit about my ability to bike 100 miles.  The sun had come up and the temperature was quickly rising.  I felt doubt creep into my mind.

I went back to our tents, started packing up my stuff, and started to say my goodbyes to my teammates.  On the way out I chatted with a friend of mine.  I was looking for any excuse to delay having to get on my bike.  An hour later, I was finally on my way home.  By 11am, I was leaving our apartment building on my bike.

Ogtoem (Ogden to Emigration)

As I left our apartment, the 90+ degree temperatures greeted me.  I turned north to start the long ride and was hit by a 5-10mph headwind that didn't let up the whole day.  As I started to climb the first short hill, my legs felt very sluggish and my heart rate rose quickly.  I had planned to average about 17mph on the ride, including hills, but at this point I was struggling to keep an 18mph pace on flat ground.  I knew it was going to be a long day.

At about mile 13 I really started to feel tired.  I found myself nodding off to sleep as I rode.  One time I fell asleep only to drift out onto a four-lane highway before I woke up again and realized what was going on.  The second time I dozed almost ended in me crashing on the side of the rode.  At mile 18 I stopped at a Maverick to get some food and fill my bottles again with gatorade.  I couldn't remember riding the last 5 miles.  I also couldn't believe how hungry I was.  Even though I had eaten a fairly big meal before I left, I was too calorie-depleted from the run to catch back up.  

By this point I was looking for any out I could find.  I knew that my wife didn't have cell phone service where they were camping, but occasionally she could receive texts.  I pulled out my phone and texted, "This was a really bad idea.  I'm so tired.  I'm falling asleep as I ride my bike."  I was hoping that somehow she would get this text and magically show up to drive me the rest of the way.  I waited for about five minutes for her to show up.  She didn't.  I got back on my bike.

After a short break and some jumping jacks to wake back up, I started the 10-mile climb to the top of Sardine Canyon.  The temperature had risen a bit over the last hour and the wind blowing in the canyon was even stronger than I had previously dealt with.  I shifted down into my granny gear and started the long, monotonous climb.  I would normally ride this canyon at between 10 and 12mph.  Today I was struggling to keep the pace at 6mph.

Half way up the climb I started to notice a lot of grasshoppers on the road in front of me.  This was annoying at first, but turned out to be a blessing because I kept trying to run them over and, in the process, kept moving further up the canyon.

I made it up and over the top of the canyon in about 100 minutes and started the descent.  As I cruised down the canyon at about 40mph, the grasshoppers got their revenge with well-timed jumps and splats against my shins and an occasional body shot.

I stopped at a gas station at the bottom of the canyon to rehydrate, eat, and fill up my bottles.  Not only was I tired, hungry, muscularly exhausted, and dehydrated, but now the lower half of me was covered in grasshopper guts.  I don't think I have ever felt so bad in my life.  I ate a bag of doritos, a king-sized nut roll, a liter of water, and was off again.  I had gone about 40 miles.  Only 60 more to go.

About a mile from the gas station, the wind picked up again.  My legs were tired riding 15mph on flat ground.  A second rant began, dropping most every g-rated euphemism my mind could come up with for about a minute.  Once that was over, I was ready to start riding again.  I rode about 10 miles before I started to pout and doubt myself again.  I was halfway through the ride and couldn't imagine going any further.  I puttered along at 10mph for another 5 miles and then saw another gas station.  I rehydrated again, ate more junk food, refilled with gatorade, and found a shady tree to lay under.  I called my parents, hoping that sharing my misery would make me feel better.  It didn't.  They laughed a little at my naivety once I assured them that I really wasn't dying.  Then I got a call from my wife!  Thank goodness!

I tried to sound as miserable as I could as I told her about my plight.  I exaggerated the wind, I told her about my near-death experiences, about how hot it was, and about the grasshoppers attacking me.  The grasshoppers convinced her and she said they would come pick me up.  Unfortunately they were about an hour away and I felt bad about making them drive to me, so I got back on my bike and tried to ride a little more.

About 45 minutes and 10 miles later I started to fall asleep again.  This time had me almost crashing into a ditch.  I decided I'd better stop and eat before I killed myself.  While resting in some shade, hunched over my bike, I started to doze again.  This time it wasn't an impending crash that woke me up, but a concerned police officer.  He asked if I was ok.  Mumbling, I said, "yeah, I'm good."  He didn't look convinced.  He asked if I wanted a sports drink.  I think I said that I had some.  Trying to say something coherent to convince him I was fine but failing miserably made him get out of his car.  I assured him that my wife would be here soon and that I was just tired, but he wasn't giving up.  Just then my wife, father-in-law, and brother-in-law pulled up with some consolation chocolate milk and an air-conditioned truck.  The police officer seemed content, wished me luck, and drove off.  It took a couple hours of sitting, some dinner, a sponge bath, a lot of water, and an outhouse to feel better, and by then I was able to walk in a straight line again.

I slept all the way to Pocatello, slept 9 hours that night and I was feeling great again, albeit sore and hungry.  The weekend was definitely a humbling experience.  I ran 18.6 trail miles and biked about 65 miles with about 2500ft of elevation gain and hadn't slept for 36 hours, but to finish the ride I would have had to climb an additional 3000 vertical feet and ride 35 more miles.  With a little more running training and a little more sleep I think it would've been possible, but as it stands right now, I've got some room for improvement.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cool new Mountain Running Gear from Outdoor Retailer

A friend of mine signed me up for a trail relay run.  This is the first official trail race that I have done in a couple years, so I'm not really sure what to expect.  As I've been trail running a little more to get in shape for it, my desire to speed summit bag/mountain run has increased.  Now I occasionally find myself struggling to get to sleep at nights because I am thinking about the cool runs, scrambles, link-ups, etc. that Ogden has to offer that I would like to do.

With this in mind, when I showed up to the OR Show last week, I was on the lookout for new clothing, shoes, and equipment that might aid me a little in these efforts.  Most of the clothing and equipment that really impressed me is not new, just somewhat new to me.  Because most of the racing I have done in the last couple years has been on the bike, I have been a little out of the loop as far as mountain running gear is concerned.  So, forgive me if some of this stuff is old news for many of you, but hopefully some of this will be helpful.


Everybody seems to be offering trail/mountain running clothing these days.  Because I haven't tried all the different shorts and shirts, I am inclined to guess that they're all very similar (though I'm sure the various company reps may disagree).  That is a totally uneducated guess, however, because I haven't spent hours reading about all the technical features of the various fabrics and I haven't used most of the clothing on the market.  There are a two pieces, however, that I am excited to try out.  These two pieces aren't necessarily extremely different than some of the other offerings, but they are different enough to peak my interest.

The first piece is the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket.  The Helium has been around for a long time and has been one of my favorite ultralight pieces.  I really like it because, at 6oz, I don't notice it in my pack (where it stays most of the time).  When I do need it, it is waterproof, breathes pretty well, is quite durable, and I don't have to worry about tearing the jacket because of OR's incredible warranty.  Now, take this jacket, make it slightly lighter, slightly more durable, and more breathable, equally waterproof, and slightly more packable.  I think we have a winner.  Other companies offer similar jackets, but none of them offer such a killer warranty (something I really like in ultralight gear).

The second piece that I really like is the CAMP Magic Jacket.  This jacket has been around for a while, but I still think it is cutting edge.  CAMP is generally known among climbers/ski mountaineers to make the lightest clothing and equipment.  The Magic Jacket is a 4oz hooded windshell that is very water resistant and very breathable (or so I'm told).  This jacket has no water-resistant coating and no waterproof membrane to impede breathability.  It gets it's wind- and water-resistance from its extremely tightly woven material.  The material is 20 denier nylon ripstop that is 33% stronger and only 10% heavier than 15 denier ripstop.  This jacket packs down smaller than almost any other I've seen and is all you'd need for a wind and snow shell in fast and light winter pursuits and for wind and rain for 95% of summer assaults (in Utah, anyway).


I think it has become fairly apparent that I have a bias toward Altra shoes.  They have, after all, allowed me to enjoy running again without the knee/foot pain I've experienced in other shoes.  I have loved my Instincts, I love the Lone Peaks (best for trail running, not necessarily scrambling), and I am super excited about a new trail offering that was introduced to me at OR; the Altra Superior.  The Superior is a lighter, faster, less protective trail runner than the Lone Peak.  It shares the same foot-shaped, zero-drop last, but the midsole is just a bit softer and has a removable stone guard.  The stone guard looks like a very thin insole that fits under the main insole and is very flexible but quite hard to protect the foot against rocks.  It can be removed if running less rocky trails or you simply like to feel the trail a little more.  I see the Lone Peak becoming my main trail training shoe and ultra shoe (30+ mile runs) and the Superior will most likely become my go to shoe for shorter trail races or local peak time trials.

Gray insole is the rock protection insert.

These two photos stolen from  Please check out his blog so he doesn't get mad at me.

Check out Sam's blog here:


Hydration has come a long way in the last few years as far as mountain running is concerned.  If I was to do a run that was about 10 miles or less, I would simply hydrate well before the run and then rehydrate after and not carry anything with me.  If I went on a run longer than that, I would take my Osprey Raptor 6.  It seemed to carry pretty well, though there was a lot of sloshing.  I think this is a great pack for mountain biking and really not bad for running, but I would still avoid carrying it whenever possible.  There were two hydration pack companies, however, that really impressed me with their offerings.

The first pack that was super impressive to me (and quite expensive; $200) is the Salomon Advanced Skin S-lab 5.  This pack is designed to ride high on the back and does not extend to the lower back.  The pack extends to about the bottom of the rib cage.  It has a great feature set with plenty of easy to access pockets for gels, bottles, etc.  It also has features to hold poles, phone, a really light jacket, etc.  The pack comes with a 1.5 liter bladder plus a water bottle or two making it the ideal size for organized ultras with aid stations every 20-30 miles.  For longer day outings a 12 liter version is available.  The bladder on this version is still only 1.5 liters, but the pack is large enough for a light insulating layer and windshell, more food, etc.  This pack also offers on-the-fly compression to keep everything close to the body.  

Advanced Skin S-Lab vest

Another hydration innovation from Salomon that I'm excited about is the Sense Hydro S-Lab Set, which is a new flask handheld.  Instead of sloshy handhelds, it is a soft flask.  Salomon offers a couple sized in their flasks; 148ml, 237ml, and 500ml.  The flask is held in place by a couple elastic mesh straps which also pressurize the flask to easily spray water into your mouth, face, etc.  Also, as the flask starts to get low on water, you can fold the flask in half under the strap to keep the water from sloshing and keep it pressurized.  The flask can be held on the front or back of the hand, allowing one to also use poles at the same time as the hand held.  In my opinion, these are probably the best offering for handheld running hydration currently on the market (that I know of).  The Set comes with two gloves and one flask for $40 with additional flask costing $18 (for 148ml and 237ml sizes) and $20 (for $500ml size).

The other brand of hydration that impressed me is Ultraspire.  I'd been told about Ultraspire from some avid ultrarunner friends, but this was the first chance to get a good look at the full line.  Many non-sponsored friends swear by Ultraspire products, and many Ultraspire-sponsored athletes swear by them too.  I'm really excited to get my hands on a few of their packs and belts to try them out this fall.  There wasn't one particular item that really impressed me, it was really the innovations throughout their whole line.  Check out

As trail and mountain running grows in popularity, so will the technology.  The not-too-distant future looks very promising for this sport.  There's probably a whole bunch of other sweet stuff that I missed mentioning, but I have to get back to work.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool New Climbing Stuff from Outdoor Retailer

Summer Outdoor Retailer has now come and gone.  In the process of meeting with vendors to buy for GEAR:30, I came across a few pieces of kit that I think are worth a mention.  Because I am strongly biased in my interests toward alpine climbing, most of the items that I found really cool are items for alpine climbing.  Occasionally I came across other items as well that are super cool that are not directly related to alpine climbing, but are still worth looking into.

I apologize that I won't have many photos.  Because I am a "retailer" at the show and not technically "media", I wasn't supposed to take pictures.

Cool New Clothing

As I met with various companies, I tried to take notes on what items were innovative, what colors I liked, what features were unique, and the overall impression the item made on me.  Only two apparel items the whole show excited me enough that I wrote "SICK!" next to the item.  That is not to say that they are the only two items that would get me that excited, but they are the only two that I saw.  Unfortunately, I was in meetings almost all day everyday and I didn't have a lot of extra time to browse other booths that I didn't have specific meetings with so my view of what is new and cool is a bit narrow.

Anyway, the first item that really impressed me and got me excited is the new Marmot Nabu Jacket.  Everybody is probably pretty familiar with the Marmot Zion Jacket by now.  I really like the Zion Jacket.  Its moisture management and thermal regulation abilities in cold weather are outstanding.  But, the jacket is fairly heavy and kind of bulky.  Phil used that jacket all winter while I mostly used my Arc'teryx Acto Hoody.  While I was jealous of his Zion, he was jealous that my Acto was lighter and simpler than his Zion.  Enter the Marmot Nabu Jacket.  The Nabu is Marmot's newest Neoshell Softshell jacket.  It is lighter and simpler than the Zion.  The fabric on the Zion weighs 8.0 oz/yd and the fabric on the Nabu weighs 6.5 oz/yd.  The fleece backer is much lighter and gridded (a much lighter gridded fleece than the R1, even a bit lighter than the NWA Black Spider Light Hoody's fleece) and therefore not as warm as the Zion, but probably a little better suited for active pursuits in warmer temperatures.  I think this jacket will be ideal in colder temperatures as well.  Though the Zion Jacket was listed to weigh 18oz, a size large weighed closer to 30oz on my scale.  This jacket (the Nabu) is listed as 22oz, and I think that weight is probably pretty accurate.  In putting the jacket on, it is obvious that the Nabu is quite a bit lighter than the Zion.  There is no reinforcement on the shoulders of the Nabu like on the Zion.  The Nabu has similar pockets to the Zion; two handwarmer pockets, one chest pocket, and one internal zip pocket.  There is no pocket on the sleeve like on the Zion.  The Nabu's back length is also one inch longer than the Zion. 

The only complaints I or Phil had with the Zion jacket was that the jacket would pull out of a harness when climbing (and therefore Phil had to sacrifice fit and go up a size to keep that from happening), that the jacket had too many pockets, the hood could be a little better with a helmet, and that the jacket was too heavy.  Well, I think Marmot has fixed those things (not sure about the hood) with the Nabu jacket.  I can't wait to get my hands on one to try it out.  I think it will be the ideal softshell for Alpine Climbing in cold temps and with the lighter fabric, I think it will be more versatile in warmer temperatures.  The price will be $325 and should be available at the beginning of 2013.

The second piece that I was really excited about is the Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket.  This is also a softshell jacket that, though not as weatherproof as Neoshell, is very weather resistant, breathable, and has incredible stretch (which is always great for climbing applications).  The Enchainment uses a durable softshell material in the shoulders, hood, front of the jacket, and most of the back.  But, under the arms and by the elbows, around the shoulders, and around the mouth is a very stretchy, extremely breathable Schoeller fabric with nanosphere technology to ensure extreme water repellence without impeding breathability.  I think this jacket is going to be the ideal softshell for moving fast during the colder months, especially in nasty weather, but I think it will also be light enough and breathable enough to use during the summer months in higher altitudes.  It should allow plenty of breathability and stretch and durability for alpine rock and ice climbing.  I can't wait to test one of these too!  One of the best parts about this jacket is that it will retail for $200, which I think is a pretty decent price considering some other similar jackets go for $250-$350.  It weighs 18oz, according to their catalog.


Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack

There is a fairly new company (new to me) that I got to talk to a little at the show called Hyperlite Mountain Gear.  They specialize in ultralight backpacks and tents made of cubenfiber.  There is one pack in particular, designed for alpine climbing, that I was particularly interested in, called the Ice Pack.   This pack is 40 liters, has a roll-top closure, a couple compression straps, a crampon patch and tool-carrying system, and not much else.  The pack is made of a Cubenfiber/Polyester combo material to give good tear- and abrasion-resistance.  The pack and the pack's stitching is reinforced in high-stress and high-wear areas.  The hipbelt is removable and you can buy either a hipbelt with gear loops and ice clipper slots or you can buy a hipbelt with zippered pockets.  The hipbelt with zippered pockets may be nice for the approach and then you'd simply remove the hipbelt so you can get to your harness gear loops.  The pack's suspension uses two removable aluminum stays which, I've heard and read, comfortably carries heavy loads.  At $260, this Cubenfiber pack is about half the price of many other similarly-sized Cubenfiber/Dyneema climbing packs.  It's a cool pack and well worth consideration.  A couple good review of this pack can be found here: and

Sleeping Bags

There are a lot of changes in sleeping bags because the price of down is going up so much this year.  Many companies are going to duck down in some of their sleeping bags to keep the price of their bags from going through the roof.  One of these companies is Big Agnes, but they are using a Downtek treatment to the down to make it water resistant.  This additional treatment does not increase the price of the bag.  So, for those interested in down compressibility and longevity with the water-resistant performance of a synthetic at an affordable price, definitely take a look at Big Agnes for 2013.  

One bag that I'm excited about is the Brooks Range Elephant's Foot.  The Elephant's foot has been around for a while in the Brooks Range line but they have made it a little better for 2013.  Brooks Range has increased the size of the footbox to better accommodate boot liners or down booties and they are also using Downtek-treated down for better water resistance, but are still using premium 850+ fill European Goose Down.

Climbing Ropes

News about some cool new technology from Mammut has been getting around the industry, but equally cool technology is making news from Edelrid with their new Flycatcher 6.9mm twin rope.  This twin is the skinniest and lightest twin on the market.  Edelrid took two separate cores and wrapped a sheath around them to give the rope the necessary strength and safety for big falls.  It's nice to know that if you knick one core with a crampon point or damage one on a sharp rock, you still have three cores to protect you.  These ropes are so skinny that the only belay device that should be used with it is the new Edelrid Micro Jul.  It's an incredible bit of kit, but it will take some time to get used to climbing on.

Other Cool Stuff

There is a lot of other cool stuff out, but I don't have time to cover them all right now.  Other people have already covered these items, so I will mention them with a link to more information.

The coolest new boot I saw is the new Scarpa Rebel Ultra.  I held this boot for the first time in June and fell in love.  I can't wait to either use one myself or read other's reviews of it.  Check out for more info.  

Other items I like to mention (that are also found on Cold Thistle) are Black Diamond's and Petzl's new helmets.  BD's Vapour helmet is 187g and the Petzl Sirocco is 165g and has incredible resilience against impacts.  The BD Vapour helmet looks awesome and is super light and expensive, the Petzl Sirocco is butt ugly and even lighter and less expensive.  I often climb with a hood under which would hide the ugly helmet, so I can get over the look.

Petzl's Nao headlamp is pretty incredible.  I know this was new at Winter OR 2012, but this was the first time I got to get a good look at it.  The Nao headlamp is fully customizable with how many lumens each setting will put out from between 7 and 350 lumens, if I remember right.  There is also a light sensor that reads how much light is out and adjusts the brightness of the headlamp accordingly.  For example, if it's pitch black and you're looking far into the distance, it will send out 350 lumens (I think), if it's sunny, the light will turn off.  If you are jogging at night under a full moon, it may shine 50 lumens until you run into some trees and then it may automatically brighten to 150 lumens, etc.  It also has a USB rechargeable battery pack that can be swapped out for regular batteries in an emergency.  This video will explain it much clearer than I have.

Well, that's all for now.  There are some other items that I would like to mention that don't have as much to do with climbing, so I will mention those on another post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lessons learned while Backpacking with the Boy Scouts

I just got back from a backpacking trip into the Uinta Mountains with the Boy Scouts.  I recently became an assistant Scout Leader for a group of varsity and explorer scouts (14-18yrs old).  Each summer we spend a week or so either going to a high adventure scout camp or coming up with a camp of our own.  This year the boys decided that a trip to King's Peak was what they wanted to do.  I had been up there once before (a few weeks ago with my wife) and knew what sort of terrain, weather, and mileage to expect.  The boys, on the other hand, hadn't.  In fact, this was the first time many of them had backpacked.  This, of course, made for some pretty entertaining (read frustrating) experiences.

We had been preparing all spring and summer for this trip, hiking progressively longer and harder trails every couple weeks until everybody proved that they could make the top of King's Peak.  We had also been preparing by making a menu, assigning the boys to eating/sleeping groups, assigning and dividing up gear between group members, and teaching the boys about proper backcountry etiquette.  We thought we had prepared the boys, until:

Experience 1:

We started hiking from the Henry's Fork trailhead at about 7am.  At about 7:03am the first boy started to complain, and he didn't stop complaining for almost 9 miles until we made it to camp.  Some of the leaders tried to ignore him and some of the leaders were confused because this boy had done pretty well on our training hikes.  Some of the faster boys waited for over 90 minutes for him to catch up so they could hike the last two miles.  When we got to camp and took off our packs the boy instantly had a ton of energy and started to brag that he had a bunch of gatorade.  I asked him how much gatorade he brought.

"I drank one already, so I have 11 bottles left," he said.
"Are they all 1-liter bottles?," I asked.
"Yeah!," he bragged.
"You brought 12 liters of gatorade?!"
"You brought three gallons of gatorade?!"
"Yeah." he said, now a little less enthusiastic.
"That's 24 pounds of gatorade!"

About an hour later the boy said that he was hungry and was going to eat a couple burritos.

"Burritos?," I asked. "We didn't bring burritos."
"Well, I was hungry and didn't think our food would be enough, so I brought some burritos."
"How many burritos did you bring?"
"15," he said, as he pulled out a big bag full of burritos.  These were big burritos.  This big bag of burritos weighed at least seven pounds.
"Is that all the food you brought?"
"No.  I brought two packages of hotdogs too."
"Don't you remember we told you not to bring food that has to be cooked over a fire?"
"I forgot," he said.
"Did you bring any other food?"
"Just the other food we were supposed to bring."

So, to summarize, on top of the approximately 10 pounds of food we gave to the boys for four days of hiking, this boy brought over 30 pounds of extra food or gatorade!  Because he had 40 pounds of food and gatorade, he didn't bring a whole lot of anything else and was constantly asking the leaders to cook his food, filter water for him, and carry his food and water during our day hikes because he didn't have anything to carry it in.

The lesson learned (by the scout, in this case):  Don't go backpacking with know-it-all scout leaders who constantly give you a hard time about how heavy your pack is but are secretly jealous that they didn't get to eat burritos and gatorade each night for dinner.

Experience 2:

One of our boys loved ramen noodles.  He brought four packages of ramen noodles to eat and then traded most of his other food with the other boys for more ramen noodles.  Pretty soon he had about 10 packages of ramen noodles.  He ate five packages each night (that's right, 5 packages for dinner!), and then started to complain on the third day when he was all out of food.  We let him suffer for a little while, before some of the leaders pulled out some extra, "just in case" food to get him through the last day.

Lesson learned:  As the scout explained on the drive home, "Why carry enough food for the whole week all the way up to our camp when I can bring half the food and the leaders will bail me out with the food they carried.  Suckers!"

Experience 3:

On Friday we decided to hike a few miles to a remote lake to do a little fishing.  About two miles into the hike one boy said to the other scout leader, "Hey, uh, do you have some toilet paper?"
"Where's yours?" the leader replied.
"I left it at camp.  Can I borrow yours?  I gotta take a dump!"
"Sure, you can use mine," he said, handing the boy a whole roll of toilet paper.  A few hours later the boy disappeared into the talus on one side of the lake where we were fishing, announcing, "Be right back, I gotta go take another dump."
When the boy returned to the lake, the other leader asked, "Do you have my toilet paper?  Now I have to go."
"Uh, it's all gone."
"What do you mean 'it's all gone'?" the leader replied, a little annoyed.
"I used it."
"The whole roll?!"
"I had to take two dumps," the boy replied.
"You used the whole roll on two dumps?!" the leader said in frustration and disbelief.
"They were big dumps! You should have seen them!"
"Seriously?  I can't believe this!  Does anybody else have any toilet paper?" the other leader asked.  We all shook are heads, trying not to laugh.  He shook his head in disbelief for a few more minutes before he finally strolled off to look for some leaves that might work.  Unfortunately, soft, broad-leafed bushes don't grow above tree line so that leader was a bit uncomfortable the rest of the afternoon until we made it back to camp.

Lesson learned:  Never share your toilet paper (or any other valuable commodity) with a 14-year-old boy scout.

The trip ended up being really fun.  It was definitely frustrating at times, but it was well worth it.  All the boys had a good time too, I think.  Though most of the boys were complaining on day one that they were on the trip, by the end they all admitted that they had a good time and were really glad they went.