Page 1

LR AOD IC E KS M A D M O U N TA I N

S C I E N T I ST S ADVENTURE U

SOUTHWEST

VA N L I F E

A D V E N T U R E P R O . U S

|

I S S U E

1 0

|

S P R I N G

2 0 1 9


Burning Quads & Side Stitches?

Sounds like a good day. We know a good run transcends “working out” and “burning calories.” It’s about finding something deeper within yourself, pushing your boundaries, and exploring new ones. Get outside with the best running footwear and apparel at Backcountry Experience. We’ll see you on the trail

These brands available at

1205 CAMINO DEL RIO - DURANGO, CO 81301 www.BCEXP.com • 970-247-5830


R A P T OR | R AV EN

Chasing your buds down singletrack r i b b o n s , t o s s i n g p o s t- r i d e g a i n e r s i n t o chilly mountain lakes and sleeping under the stars waiting to do it all again—we live for days like these, and w e buil t t he ne w R ap t or/ R a v en s er ie s to suppor t them. With an updated wing-shaped harness for stabilit y and comfor t , plus premium features like a tool roll organizer and an included 2 . 5 - l i t e r r e s e r v o i r, t h e R a p t o r / R a v e n series delivers ever y thing you need, for big rides and good times.


A DV E N T U R E P R O . u s

|

I S S U E

1 0

|

S P R I N G

2 0 1 9

CONTENTS

34 SKI TH E A L P S IN COLO RA D O

Keith Garvey has a new take on guiding in the San Juan Mountains.

ON THE

50 NAVA J O Y E S

How one group is breaking trail and changing lives on the Navajo Nation.

2 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

56 MAKING WAVE S I N TH E GRAND CANYO N Meet the first women to raft the Grand Canyon.

COVER

Award-winning mountain guide Lindsey Hamm has a simple motto she lives by, and it really is tattooed on her lip. “Send it.” In other words, go for it, do it, life is short, so live in the now. See page 10 to learn more about Hamm and other women doing incredible things outside. photo by Xander Bianchi

Desert survival skills. photo by Brandon Mathis

4 OPENING SHOT 6 FIRST LIGHT 8 CONTRIBUTORS 10 MOUNTAIN VITALS 15 GEAR BIN 20 POCKET ROCKET 24 SERENDIPITY 26 E-BIKES 30 MAD SCIENTISTS 34 PEAK MOUNTAIN GUIDES 40 ADVENTURE U 46 HIT LIST 48 GRAND JUNCTION 50 NAVAJO YES 54 HOT TO PACK 56 MAKING HISTORY IN THE GRAND CANYON 58 KILLER WEEKEND 60 VAN LIFE 62 VISTAS


DURANGO’S ONLY SPECIALTY RUNNING STORE FOR

TH E

ADVEN TURER

I N

A L L

OF

US

Locally owned and operated since 2015

EDITORIAL Brandon Mathis editor

ADVE RT IS ING David Habrat vice president of advertising

Amy Maestas executive editor

CONTRIBUTORS Margaret Hedderman

Colleen Donley Teressa Nelson Kelly Bulkley Liz Demko Amy Baird Emily Campana Tana Bowen Abby Feldman Heather Mobley

Morgan Sjogren Morgan Tilton

PROD UCT ION Ryan Brown production manager

CONTRIBUTING P HOTOGRAPHERS

MARKE T ING Jamie Opalenik marketing director

Terrance Siemon photographer & videographer Laurie Kain photographer & videographer Hunter Harrell copy editor

Xander Bianchi Bee Alaine Mathis Terrance Siemon Brandon Mathis Morgan Tilton Sarah Strum

Tiona Eversole digital marketing INT E RACT IVE Jace Reynolds web designer

DESIGN Tad Smith manager of creative services

Skylar Bolton web development manager

Christian Ridings designer

IVE CH IE F E XECUT OFFICE R Douglas Bennett

Gary Markstein designer

DIRECTOR OF FINANCE

Stop by and let our friendly, expert staff help you with all your running needs.

Carrie Cass

S U B S C R I B E Adventure Pro is now available wherever you roam.

ADVE N T UREPRO.

u s

/ADVENTUREPROMAG

@ADVENTUREPROMAG

@ADVENTUREPROMAGAZINE

ADVENTURE PRO MAGAZINE

© 2019 All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Published in the United States by Ballantine Communications, Inc. – 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Ballantine Communications uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special publications. Details are subject to change, so please check ahead. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of this guide. We welcome suggestions from readers. Please write to the editor at the address above.

473 E. College Dr. Durango, CO 81301 970-764-4366 durangorunning.com Mon-Sat 10am-6pm Sun 12pm-5pm S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 3


OPENING SHOT Mountain biking fertile soil in the Abajo Mountains outside Monticello, Utah. photo by

Terrance Siemon

FOR MORE MOUNTAIN BIKING VISIT

A DVE NTUR EP R O.u s

4 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 5


FIRST LIGHT

F

6 |

amed alpinist Conrad Anker once said early morning holds all the promise. That’s what spring is. The promise of a new day, a new year. A new cycle. The promise that anything is possible. To many it’s a favorite season. Trees grow leaves. The sun sits higher, and its light shines brighter. All of the sudden the days last forever. You feel naked in sandals. Weekends are endless, and dinner gets pushed back until bedtime. It’s an invigorating feeling. A fleeting feeling. It happens only once a year, and you don’t want to miss it. New days, new ideas, new horizons. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep changing. This issue of Adventure Pro we keep growing, changing and learning. We learn how things as simple as a trail can make a difference in people's lives and, sometimes, help save them. We learn that our phone is one of the most powerful

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

computers in the world, and it’s in our pocket. We learn the planets, the stars, the constellations and the mountains below them. We learn how to never get lost, or we learn exactly how we can. We learn that a new take on an old friend isn’t always bad, and that e-bikes are about as fun as fun can be. We learn how women are changing the outdoors for the better, and how guides and scientists are changing the way we can mix a love for adventure with a career. Most important, we learn that this place we call home is ever-changing. The colors, the sunsets, the way we live our lives. And that just when we thought another storm was coming, the sun burns through the clouds. So we think Anker is right. Early morning does hold all the promise. And spring is filled with it. Hope you enjoy this new issue of Adventure Pro Magazine, and we’ll see you on the trails.

The author embracing a spring filled with promise somewhere in Southeast Utah. photo by Brandon Mathis

FILLED WITH PROMISE


Why just grill when you can EXPERIENCE grilling? ALDER

APPLE

CHERRY

HICKORY

MAPLE

AVAILABLE WITH

F R E E A S S E M B LY & F R E E D E L I V E R Y*

MESQUITE

AT

OAK

8 TOWN PLAZA, DURANGO, CO 81301 (970) 247-0660 | KROEGERS.COM

PECAN

* S E E S T O R E F O R D E TA I L S S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 7


CONTRIBUTORS

MARGARET HEDDERMAN

likes playing outside and is rarely home in time for dinner — unless, of course, dinner is rehydrated in an insulated bag. She also enjoys writing about the outdoors, as well as history, science and travel. A Durangatang since 2011, Margaret also works in the outdoor industry, managing marketing and events at Backcountry Experience. When she isn’t writing or working, Margaret is in the mountains — running, climbing or splitboarding.

MORGAN (“MO”) SJOGREN runs wild

with words and a camera. Living most of the year out of her Jeep, in this issue Morgan chats with Four Corners local Vernan Kee about RezRoads and the Native perspective of Van Life. Morgan's own perception of "living the dream" remains on the edge: She woke up in Silverton on a -22 degree morning to ski into the mountains with the scientists taking snowpack water samples near the Gold King Mine to write and photograph "The Mad Ski Scientists Of Silverton." Her next book "Outlandish: Fuel Your Epic" will enter the wild this May.

MORGAN TILTON is an Adventure Journalist that writes about the outdoors with a focus in travel, industry news and human endurance. She is a recipient of multiple North American Travel Journalists Association awards, including a recent accolade for “Connecting with Tarahumara through Trail Running,” an essay about befriending the indigenous community of the Copper Canyon through shared experience. At the moment, she’s recovering from a remote jungle expedition — stay tuned for the upcoming story — and is stoked to go splitboarding or ice climbing in the Elks and San Juans, pronto. She works with close to 50 publications.

8 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


CUSTOM

Shoes Gear Advice

ROPE PLATFORMS — FOR —

E L E VAT E D

LIVING

Enjoy nature, art, and peace of mind in the comfort of your own backyard. Built in long-term environmentally friendly ways, TreeNet Willy’s platforms specialize in the highest level of net construction and rigging, providing a sturdy and clean finished product that will last for years to come. Great for all ages!

Contact Will today for a free quote!

970.403.2012 • treenetwillys@gmail.com www.treenetwillys.com View past & current projects at instagram and Facebook!

Find the Perfect Fit! Downtown Durango at 9th & Main

BUILDING A BETTER ADVENTURE

NEW!

NOW DOING CUSTOM CAMPERVAN BUILD-OUTS DIY campervan consulting · Campervan rentals Follow our current build on Instagram

NEW PROMASTER IN PROGRESS AND FOR SALE!

CONTACT US

VISIT US AT

(970) 903-9136

VANGODURANGO.COM S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 9


M O U N TA I N V I TA L S These women have rocked the boat in the outdoors, and they did it by just being themselves. From a soccer player turned cycling champion, a southern belle turned world renowned alpinist, a public lands advocate teaching a nation of outdoor leaders about the future of mountain guides everywhere, these ladies rock. Meet the women changing the face of the outdoors.

FOR MORE ABOUT WOMEN OUTSIDE VISIT

A DVE NTUR EP R O.u s

KITTY CALHOUN what Celebrated alpinist, co-owner of Chicks Climbing and Skiing where Castle Valley, Utah/Ouray, Colorado

Fresh out of the North Carolina Outward Bound School, Kitty Calhoun knew one thing: She loved climbing. At the University of Vermont when she was introduced to winter mountaineering and ice climbing, things escalated. “I finished school and I decided to drive out West,” she says. “I had a Subaru wagon and decided I was going to live out of my car.” It was 1982. Her plan was simple. January in Colorado, February in the Tetons in Wyoming, March in the Cascades of the Northwest and April in the Palisades of California. “I spent three winters alpine climbing, and I wanted to go visit mountain ranges all over the world. I figured each place had something different to teach me.” And so she learned, eventually becoming a guide with an international operation that would send her around the world. One she finally settled down and traded her Subaru wagon for a desert home in Moab, Utah’s Castle Valley, Calhoun was offered a position with the world’s first all women’s ice climbing program, now known as Chicks Climbing and Skiing. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she says. Today “Chicks” is a world-leading, women-in-the-outdoors program based in Ouray, Colorado, teaching women mountain savvy skills and creating a community of empowered females in a niche once dominated by men. “When I started climbing, I didn’t know any other women ice climbers or alpinists,” Calhoun says. “When I started working with Chicks Climbing and Skiing, I didn’t realize what I had missed out on. Now it’s opened up a whole new world for me, and I think it’s important because there’s now a better understanding that women can do anything that men can do; they just have a different way of going about it.” In addition to numerous first ascents around the world, Calhoun has also been awarded the American Alpine Club’s prestigious Robert and Miriam Underhill Award for her achievements and accomplishments in mountaineering. 10 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

SARAH STURM what Graphic designer, professional cyclist where Durango, Colorado

Sarah Sturm moved to Durango in 2008 to play soccer at Fort Lewis College, but the playing field in cycling was brimming with talent. Athletic by nature, Sturm enjoyed soccer but found a different calling and a new community on two wheels. Ten years later, she won her first national title. “A change of heart lead me to try something new and I joined the FLC cycling team,” Sturm says. “I started racing road and track cycling, then got into cyclocross and mountain biking where I found my stride. I raced on a local pro mountain bike team (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite) for two seasons and then the Ska/Zia MTB team before signing a pro contract with Specialized Bicycles. I just finished my first season of racing a full pro cyclocross calendar where I finished the season off by winning the single speed category at Nationals and placing eighth in the Elite women's race (at Nationals). Sturm isn’t your typical racer, and Durango isn’t your typical town. She says walking to the beat of a different drum has its advantages. “I like when things get a little messy, and I embrace the adverse conditions. The cycling and outdoor community (in Durango) are different from anywhere else. We are the weirdos who do really well when everyone else is freaking out, and boy did I utilize that to my advantage this season.”


SHELLEY SILBERT what Executive director, Great Old Broads for Wilderness where Durango, and across the country

Don’t let the name fool you. This nationwide organization stretches from Hawaii to Maine and every state in between, with 40 chapters of dedicated wilderness advocates working locally to protect public lands and wildlife. And Shelley Silbert orchestrates it from the home office in Durango, Colorado. “Our leaders come from all different backgrounds, all walks of life,” she says. “They’re retired forest service biologists or retired lawyers or retired doctors who understand the health impacts of environmental issues. And what makes our grassroots groups so powerful is that they are combining all of their skills with their passion for wilderness, and magnify the impact of our small organization.” The “Broads,” as they refer to themselves, work hard but play hard too. “We like to think of ourselves having fun doing serious work, Silbert says.” The Broads create Broad Bands, which are collected groups of stewardship advocates that set out to make a difference in their own territories. Every year they hold a training rendezvous called W.A.L.T.S.: wilderness advocacy leadership trainings sessions.

“The whole idea is that these Broad Bands are actually working to protect the lands where they live,” Silbert says. “We want them to know those lands — to get out into them. In the Four Corners, Broads might work to protect bighorn sheep or monitor pika, measuring changes in climate and what effects that may have on these animal populations. Regionally they join forces to address things like protecting national monument designations. “From our backyards to D.C., ” Silbert says “You name it, and there is probably a chapter involved.” Silbert says in addition to believing in the organization’s efforts, it’s the people who make the difference. “The women I have met who’ve gone all across the world, who’ve skied across Antarctica, who’ve done just the most remarkable things and yet, here they are every day, out there working to protect our public lands. It’s a beautiful thing.” Silbert says for some, just knowing is enough. “They’re not all big outdoors people; they just want to know that wilderness is out there, so they get involved.”

LINDSEY HAMM what Mountain guide/2016 Gore-Tex Scholarship recipient

American Mountain Guide Association where Ouray, Colorado; Asia; Bishop, California Lindsey Hamm is certifiably a one-to-watch on the alpine climbing scene these days. A recipient of the acclaimed Gore-Tex Scholarship with the American Mountain Guide Association, Hamm is driven, and you get the feeling she’s destined for great things. After attempting bold first ascents in India and guiding on Alaska’s 20,310-foot Denali — the highest and one of the most challenging mountains in the United States — Hamm returned to the lower 48 to tick off an impressive hit list of summits, guiding clients around the West from California’s Palisades to the Colorado Rockies to Cody, Wyoming. Hamm is climbing routes that would make a lifelong mountaineer proud. And she’s just getting started. “There are ups and downs for being an adventurous human,” Hamm says. “I miss weddings, family events and pass on relationships because I am choosing to focus on me. I have a lot to work on, which I am excited to do.” Hamm says it’s not about living life on the edge. She can see her lifestyle from a selfish angle, but in the end she just wants to push herself. “It’s a balance,” she says “Figuring it all out. It’s exciting. I don’t see myself as ‘badass.’ What I see is a woman wanting to find out what she is really made of. I write down goals and I have been executing them. Some get pushed back due to weather or life events, but I am making it a priority to attempt all of them. If I don’t, I have failed.” Any advice to the adventure seekers? She says take those dreams, those goals and lofty ambitions and write them down. “Train and go for it. Don’t listen to other's opinions. Go. For. It. Expect to fail. Expect to succeed. At the end of it, smile (I’m smiling right now). Send it!” S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 11


Adventure Awaits ...Book your’s today! Insert picture of your Adventure Here

BIKE Sales • Service • REntals FRIENDLY, KNOWLEDGEABLE, ROCKSTAR STAFF CONVENIENT DOWNTOWN LOCATION OFFERING PICKUP & DELIVERY & GREAT TRAIL ADVICE

RAFTING

WE RENT

TOWNIE BIKES MOUNTAIN BIKES ROAD BIKES E-BIKES FAT BIKES

Save 15%

on select activities Promo Code: Adpro15

23% OFF

Jeep Tours Jeep Rentals Zip Line Adventures Kids Adventure Race

A BIKE TUNE MUST PRESENT COUPON AT TIME OF PURCHASE

13% OFF

BIKE RENTAL ONLINE

BOOKING ONLY PROMO CODE: ADVPRO

970.903.1923

RZR RENTALS Book Online at:

www.coloradooutbackadventures.com

598B Main Ave. (CORNER OF COLLEGE & MAIN) • 970-259-6880 www.durangobikeshop.com

Ghost Walk Durango Take a walk through 140 years of haunted history in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Ghost Walk Durango is a guided walking tour starting at the Old Durango High School (201 East 12th Street) through the historic district of Durango, Colorado. Gun battles, including the Stockton Gang and the Simmons Gang feud, lynchings, and the Spanish Flu epidemic have all contributed to the folklore and legends that have been carefully preserved from generations of local storytellers. As educational as it is fun, Ghost Walk Durango is one of Durango’s most popular attractions and a sure bet for fun and thrills.

Perfect for families, couples and kids from 1-101.

Tickets $15 · Kids 10 & under FREE!!!

Are you ready for a supernatural adventure? book online @ ghostwalkdurango.com · (970) 759-9393 12 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


Pool & Spa

Beverage

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic • Road Race • Citizens Tour • Mountain Bike Race • Gravel Ride • Kids Ride • Festival • Vendors • Expo • Beer • Music

REGISTRATION STILL OPEN. May 24-26th 2019

Greenhouse FourCornersWelding.com

ironhorsebicycleclassic.com

Coffee is GREAT but even BETTER with a friend!

DURANGO, CO 187 Bodo Drive Durango, CO 81303 (970) 247-1854

CORTEZ, CO 101 N. Broadway Cortez, CO 81321 (970) 565-6547

GALLUP, NM 606 E. Hwy 66 Gallup, NM 87301 (505) 722-3845 202968

“Wait, what does poison ivy look like?!” Fast, friendly medical care for your adventure-related ailments

BUY ONE DRINK GET ONE 1/2 OFF

Two convenient locations in Durango:

of equal or lesser value. (not valid with any other coupon)

SPREAD ~THE~

LOVE. 1101 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301 · (970) 442-0858

Open daily 8:30am-7:00pm 450 S. Camino del Rio (Off Hwy 550; near Big 5 Sports and Zia Taqueria) 970-385-2388

24/7 Emergency Department 575 Rivergate Lane (Off Hwy 3; just minutes south of downtown Durango) 970-247-3537

www.animassurgical.com | Proudly physician-owned S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 13


PHOTO / TIM KEMPLE

Since 1976, Pine Needle Mountaineering has offered the top brands for all of your adventure needs. Whether you’re backcountry or alpine skiing, camping, backpacking, climbing, trail running or just stocking up on new gear and apparel, we have you covered.

835 Main Ave. Durango, CO

www.pineneedle.com

970-247-8728


WHAT YOU NEED TO GET OUT

GEAR BIN photos by Brandon Mathis

OS P R EY TR AN S P O R TER R O LLER D UF F EL Roll away the blues with the Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel 40 Liter

This classy carry-on travel piece can take a beating and go round and round with wherever your travels take you We don’t need much. We never fly first class, never pay for an upgrade from coach and never check a bag. But one thing we do like is to be able to take a load off — literally — and give our backs a break. When Osprey Packs unleashed what was destined to become a favorite, the thermoplastic polyurethane Transporter Duffel, we nabbed one and fell in love. We have tossed our Transporter in car trunks, dragged it through the desert loaded with climbing gear, slept on it on metro trains in the city and flown with it all over the country, delightfully stuffing it into overhead compartments with ease. We never thought we’d see it better. Until Osprey put wheels on it. OK, so it’s not exactly the same duffel, but it’s pretty close. According to Osprey, they simply built on to the Transporter Duffel by adding a lightweight frame, handle and wheels. It is made with the same bomber TPU coated 1000 denier nylon fabric that we know is sturdy. The oversized #10 zippers are armed with rain flaps to guard against the elements, and

everywhere you reach there is a nice big handle. While the Transporter Duffel morphed from backpack to duffel and back again, the Wheeled Duffel stays in character with a robust set of wheels built on the aluminum frame, and the stowaway handle is a game changer. Not only is it a relief to pull (not haul), it’s plenty burly for whatever you have in store for it. The term “off-road roller” comes to mind. They call it the High Road Chassis, and you can pull it down a dirt road, through ice and snow, toss it in the Uber and it still glides silently down the terminal. Inside the giant wide-mouth opening is a large 40-liter compartment, ideal for short trips and longer if you’re savvy with packing (See page 54). A large mesh pocket is good for quick-grab items or even packable shoes. Adjustable compression straps can hold everything in place. Outside there is a separate business card slot and an external zipper pocket. Some Osprey bags come with stow away backpack straps, and while it would be cool to see that on the Transporter Wheeled Duffel, the genuine beauty of this piece is that you don’t have to carry it on your back. Ever. For everything but camp and travel trailer life, especially anything with air travel and lots of walking, this is now our go-to travel piece.  WWW.OSPREY.COM

240

$

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 15


WHAT YOU NEED TO GET OUT

photos by Bee Alaine Mathis

O U T D O O R R E SEA R C H I N T E R STE L L A R JAC KET Among the stars with the Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket This minimal all-weather jacket sparks to life in unexpected conditions It was amazingly still at 3:30 a.m. in the Valley of the Gods outside Bluff, Utah. The stars dominated the night sky as dark sandstone spires towered above us. Somehow we were wide awake despite running a self-supported trail (really, almost a marathon) the day before. There was still Colorado mountain mud on our jacket sleeve from some wet and soppy alpine shenanigans a few days prior, and now we were fending off a sleepless clear night in the hatch of a Subaru. Giving up on rest, we ate chocolate chip cookies instead. The one thing that stuck out, other than how good those cookies were, was how awesome that coat was. There aren’t many four-season jackets you can climb ice in, sleep in and then run desert canyons in two days later. But this one, you can. The Interstellar Jacket is what Outdoor Research calls its “pinnacle piece,” sort of the flagship of their line. It’s not the most expensive, nor is it the least, but it’s an achievement of design and technology the company can be proud of. The jacket is chock full of features like dynamic underarm motion panels that allow for unencumbered movement. But the icing on the cake with the Interstellar is OR’s award-winning AscentShell fabric, the result of a savvy technology application that uses an electric force to draw charged micro-polyester threads to a grounded surface material

299

$ FOR MORE GEAR VISIT

ADVE NTUR EP R O.u s 16 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

called electrospun. It is a three-piece system with a shell, a membrane and a backer that protects the membrane. What you get is an actual waterproof, windproof and pliable jacket that has incredible ventilation. In many ways, the Interstellar offers a paradox of features for a lightweight package, and it had us baffled under the stars covered in chocolate chip cookie crumbs. It’s a hard shell, but it stretches. It’s a three-layer piece, but it’s only 11 ounces. It’s unquestionably waterproof (confirmed on pitch three of a Colorado classic ice climb that showered water on us for 35 feet on a late warm winter day), but it’s highly breathable so you don’t heat up when the going gets tough. Bridging the gap between high-tech and minimalism, the Interstellar Jacket has a selection of nice details like harnessfriendly pockets, a helmet-compatible hood, adjustable cuffs and waterproof zippers. Add the fact that it stashes into its own pocket with a carabiner loop for easy harness attachment and it all adds up to a jacket that performs far beyond its first impression. AscentShell works well, but there are more durable fabrics out there, even within OR’s lineup. If you plan to wrestle up rock chimneys, ski tight trees and crawl around on your elbows, you might look at those. But for alpine climbing, mountain biking, trail running and cookies under the stars, we found this to be just right. MEN’S AND WOMEN’S


DUER

Fashion meets function in these ready-foranything jeans Take your favorite pair of denim, give them some comforting stretch, a little moisture wicking ability and a sophisticated look and you’ve got a pair of pants almost too good to be true. Who does that? DUER does. When denim industry veteran Gary Lenett fell in love with cycling, he found that blue jeans weren’t made for life in the saddle. Then he teamed up with performance fabrics forerunner Abid Hafeez, and the two took the look and style of denim and paired it with natural features and a utilitarian function to create DUER. The idea caught on and people won’t take them off. “We wanted to bridge the gap between fashion and performance clothing,” Lenett says. “By combining premium, natural fiber-rich fabrics with technical fibers, DUER offers extreme comfort, breathability and maneuverability, so you can look good and get on with the good stuff.” This is a jean you could wear to a date-night dinner and then go climbing or hiking in the next day. They are also perfect for bicycle commuters or anyone who enjoys a comfy fit with all the perks of an outdoor-minded active pant. We’ve climbed, commuted, slept and road tripped in this practical pant, and we are hooked. With several lines of men and women’s jeans and other garments, they all have the DUER do-anything chops. Our test pair of Relaxed Fit Performance Denim came in a Heritage Rinse wash with triple stitching for durability, and a gusseted crotch that adds to their freedom of movement and eliminates the intersecting pain point encountered in most pants. Plus the COOLMAX interwoven fibers wicked sweat and kept us cool when things got tough.

GEAR BIN photos by Brandon Mathis

HA N D U P

Sometimes every cyclist needs a Hand Up These affordable low-profile cycling gloves hit a sweet spot with function and fun

At first we did a double take, but then we confirmed it: There’s a margarita on the index finger of these gloves. Where most glove manufacturers add some latex stripes or dots for tenacity on a brake lever, Hand Up added a taco and a cocktail. And that’s the vibe you get from this Tennessee-based cycling apparel company. They're in it for the fun. At less than 30 bucks a pop for a nice-fitting and relatively non-traditional looking pair of gloves, our “Taco’d Taco - Tuesday” pair felt just right, right out of the box. Described as bold and minimal, there’s not much to them. And that’s almost perfect. They may be bold for being minimal, but they are bolder still for the themes and designs they market: tacos, flags, palm trees, graffiti, rainbows and more. They make custom gloves also. What we love is the lack of padding. Hand Up uses a simple design with a lack of overkill. This is a sensitive glove that lets you feel everything — bumps included. If you like a mushy squeeze on the bars then keep shopping. There is a thin synthetic and tough material on the palm, a breathable mesh on the back of the hand and the quintessential soft-swipe thumb sweat and booger remover. For a price this nice and a fit this good, we have to hand it to Hand Up.

129

28

$

$

RITE IN T HE R A I N

Waterproof paper and nuke-proof pens that can take a beating From a spring drizzle to a mountain hailstorm, the makers of Rite in the Rain products know how to keep you working so your best ideas come to life. If you’ve ever had a field job, or any duties where prolonged work is done outdoors, then you know how hard it can be to handle the weather. From hand data entry to simply jotting down notes, the natural elements can take their toll when you’re trying to get the job done. Meet Jerry Darling. In 1916, Darling, a logger in Tacoma, Washington, decided he needed paper that could withstand the harsh conditions of the Pacific Northwest’s logging industry, paper that was stout and weatherproof. He and his wife developed a chemical treatment into which they dipped sheets of paper, rendering them 100 percent waterproof. This was the start of Rite in the Rain products. ALL WEATHER PEN

17

$

SIDE SPIRAL NOTEBOOK

8

$

Today — 100 years later — the company, still located in Tacoma, offers a variety of products designed to meet the challenges of wet weather. It has refined their practice and embraced the rigors of the outdoors. From copy paper, spiral, bound and stapled notebooks, index card holders to aesthetically pleasing journals, wallets, book covers and even writing implements, Rite in the Rain products are well-known for their undeniable and utilitarian functionality. Our notebook came with a grid-patterned paper great for measurements, blueprints, keeping to scale and details. The writing utensils are just as burly. The All Weather Clicker Pen we tested came with a pressurized ink cartridge good from -30 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus it writes upside down. From sweating over a journal in the desert to taking notes in a snowstorm, you can put pen to paper anywhere, anytime with these rugged, handy travel companions.

BOUND JOURNAL

20

$

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 17


WHAT YOU NEED TO GET OUT

GEAR BIN

photos by Brandon Mathis

PARACHU T E SHA KES

The meal shake mix that’s awesome for you

A Parachute Shake meal is more than a quick fix; it might be the healthiest thing you have all day It happens to all of us. We’re busy. We’re on the go, running around in between running around. Meetings, errands, work — you name it. Something comes up and the next thing you know, you’ve missed lunch — again. Maybe you missed breakfast too. When you do have time to hit the trails, you have nothing left for fun. It happened to Quin Patton so often that he did something about it. Patton didn’t invent the meal shake, he made it good for you. “Traditionally, meal replacement shakes have been designed to help people lose weight through calorie restriction, which is still a useful function for a majority of consumers,” Patton says. “But for those of us that have an active lifestyle and need our bodies fully charged for an alpine start or even a hectic day at the office, we need a fast and healthy option so we can perform at our best and unlock our awesome.” Parachute Shakes are made in Colorado. They contain no added sugar and have a 100 percent PDCAAS (protein digestibility

corrected amino acid score) plant-based protein with a complex profile of macro- and micro-nutrients. With 24 vitamins and minerals, they are also loaded with 50 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber and healthy fats. Surprisingly, there is only 1 gram of sugar in the 400-calories-per-serving shake. Not only are they a smart choice for when it looks like meals are out of the question, odds are they are a smart choice over some of the meals we eat. We’ve tested them two ways: that hectic office day where lunch wasn’t an option, and a weekend morning heading for the mountains. Whether we were getting crushed by spreadsheets or crushing vertical in the hills, we were doing fine with our Parachute. Don’t expect a French vanilla malt here, because a Parachute isn’t dessert. (Right now, the shakes come in only one flavor, but Patton says new flavors are on the way.) Parachute shakes catch you so don’t hit bottom, but they also provide a healthy alternative to what might have been for lunch.

AVAILABLE IN FIVE SERVING SIZES: 240, 320, 400, 500, 600 CALORIES EIGHT-PACK 400-CALORIE SIZE

30

$

PAKEMS VAIL MEN’S BOOT

A house shoe for out of the house

From snowstorms to spring skiing to desert campfires, this boot is a cozy slipper with a knack for adventure In 2011, Julie Adams was in pain. If only she could pull her ski boots off and give her feet a break without moping around the ski lodge in wet socks. Fast-forward to a few prototypes later and Adams had an idea: a lightweight, packable bootie to carry in her backpack, keep her feet toasty warm and provide comfort and relief from her ski boots. Denver-based Pakems was born. We tried what Adams created. After a cold — and we mean cold — day climbing in the San Juan Mountains, we couldn’t wait to pull off our boots. We weren’t even sure if our big toes were still there, not only because it was so cold but also because comfort often isn’t a design priority — no matter how expensive they are. We slipped into a pair of Pakems Vail men’s model and that’s all it took. Of course anything was better than rigid climbing boots, but that’s the point. Pakems let you get comfortable fast because they have a soft upper material but a flexible rubber sole. A foam, patterned foot bed sort of massages your feet. They are lined with insulation, so they’re warm. They have a drawstring pull-cord for tightening (which we have never used) and a secret stash pocket for credit cards, keys and cash. They are also waterproof. Sloshing around in melting snow and muck has proven no match. We were impressed. They even come with a little tote bag so that you can stash them in your pack. What is remarkable is they are great for getting you to and from the car after the slopes or for roaming around the lodge, but they are even better to wear around

town in all conditions. These boots are perfect for zombie market runs or other playfirst, be-responsible-later errands, and are a godsend for playing fetch with the dog in spring backyards. Plus, while it is early, it is safe to say we have found our go-to footwear for chilly-trailer life trips. Pakems are an outdoor slipper — like a house shoe with crampons — so don't let that comfort fool you. Pack them up to take them with you. You’ll be glad you did.

AVAILABLE IN FOUR MEN’S MODELS, SIX WOMEN’S MODELS AND TWO KID’S MODELS

60-$90

$ 18 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


SUBSCRIBE! ADVENTURE PRO IS AVAILABLE WHEREVER YOU ROAM.

RED

ALMPO U N T A I N INE LOD GE P O W

THE

H I G H WD E R AY CA

W OPTIVATING RLD OF

ICE

s . u R O E P U R N T V E A D

|

E S U I S

0 8

|

A D 1 8 V E N2 T0 L L U R F A

E P R O . U S

|

PA S P RG O S A ING S

I S S U E

0 9

FLAGS |

W I N T E R

TAFF

2 0 1 9

A DV E N T U R E P R O . u s / S U B S C R I B E

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 19


POCKET ROCKET

These mobile apps reveal a world outdoors like you’ve never been before STORY

BY

B RAN D O N

M AT H I S

That’s right, it is a tiny computer in your pocket, and it’s seriously pretty powerful – more powerful than all of NASA in its entirety in 1969, as a matter of fact. Are we landing people on the moon every time we check our phone? Nope. We’re spending our lives posting selfies and watching cats freak out at bananas. But we can put that pocket computer to some incredible use. Even when we’re outdoors and on adventures, it can bring amazing information to light. In fact, that might be some of the coolest stuff that your phone can do. So stop scrolling and start learning. These apps can change the way you see the world.

SKYVIEW SkyView provides endless hours of wonder and learning about things you never knew. It’s like PeakVisor, but for the night sky. It uses date, time, location and your camera to determine where you are in relation to the stars. Simply hold your phone up to the sky and SkyView will highlight what’s out there. Hover over the constellations and the app will magically connect the dots for you. Suddenly it will reveal how they are interpreted. SkyView Identifies planets as they are are emphasized, and it reveals horizon levels and even satellites positions.

Free

20 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


PEAKVISOR This app just wrapped up a million questions about a million mountains. PeakVisor is a mountain identification app that lets you upload data on mountain ranges around the world then provides you with information based on your location as soon as you open it. With a compass graphic that includes a 3D map of your location in the center, plus an altimeter tool installed and access to your phone’s camera, just hold your camera to the hills and PeakVisior

will trace a digital overlay of what’s on your screen with names and elevations of peaks, plus some topography details. It features local search functionality, map coverage, works offline and the 3D compass maps include trails. It also knows other landmarks, like waterfalls, and can predict the movement of the sun — a handy tool for photographers or for planning camps. With PeakVisor you get to know the world around you.

5

$ 99

RELIVE If you like popular activity trackers like Strava, you’ll love Relive. This app is compatible with several different activity trackers like Garmin, Strava, MapMyRide and Polar. Once installed, sit back and wait for the digital 3D flyover-style video that followed all of your tracked adventures to be emailed to your inbox. It’s free, automatic and share- and social-friendly; plus, your friends and family can easily

open it even if they don’t have the app.. It will even showcase the exact location of the photos you took along your journey. Relive has become a favorite for many app-obsessed phone owners (guilty as charged). It’s a personalized media event that’s all yours, and it’s a great way to see the landscape you just covered. Get the beta and a bird’s eye view, and bask in the glory of what you just accomplished.

Free

A N I M AT E D K N O T S B Y G R O G Every knot you could imagine and countless more are covered in this easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to tying knots. It’s beyond what most people will ever need, but that is what’s so impressive about it. Grog Knots categorizes knots by activities in which they are most used but also organizes them into sections by knot type. From nautical, fishing and arborist knots, to

climbing to decorative knots, and even neckties and household uses, this is the ultimate handy guide to tying it all together. Climbers can geek out over this, but it’s far more utilitarian. Practice with a shoestring at your desk and then save the day in real life with a trucker’s hitch, bottle sling, bowline or alpine butterfly.

4

$ 99

HIKING PROJECT This app from REI may be one of the best apps out there for location, tracking, staying on course and finding other nearby trails, and you don’t need a cell signal to use it. See that little blue dot? That’s you. Follow your path home, elevation and all. Hiking Project is a no brainer for anyone that likes to be outside and track their movement. We’ve been way off track before, including once on the fringe of Bears Ears National Monument. When we popped out of a canyon on a dirt road, we weren’t sure which way to go. We

checked our map but had a funny feeling it didn’t have all the roads on it; plus it was dark, cold and we were cooked. We pulled out our phone, turned it on and opened the Hiking Project app to get our bearings. Seven miles later we were eating chocolate chip cookies at our car. The app is not only free to download, but it is also free of advertising. REI’s selection of trail and climbing apps include Trail Project, Mountain Bike Project and Mountain Project, and they are all an asset to trail and climbing enthusiasts.

Free

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 21


POCKET ROCKET

LEAFSNAP Leafsnap is an electronic field guide of leaves developed with efforts from the University of Maryland, Columbia University and the Smithsonian Institute. For inquiring minds that are fascinated with the natural world around them, it’s pretty amazing. You can browse a list of plants for visual clues, create an account and log the specimens you have found and identified, and even form

a collection of what you have found. But what is really impressive is its use of your phone’s camera to actually identify plants; hence, the snap part of the name. Simply focus on the plant in question, snap it and Leafsnap will identify it. It’s an app good for budding naturalists. Plus, now you can tell the difference between wild garlic and the toxic Lily of the valley — two easily and commonly confused plants.

Free FIRST AID: AMERICAN RED CROSS This is an invaluable quick reference guide for how to respond to non-emergency and potential emergency situations. It has relatively basic, fundamental information but also has a good amount of insight to how to assess situations. For example, you can learn how to assess if someone is having a stroke or signs of hypothermia, how to recognize black widows or

brown recluse spiders, venomous snakes and their bites, how to recognize anaphylactic shock and what to do, how to handle broken bones and much more. This is a great app to peruse before you need it. Instead of posting a mood update on social media, you could be learning how to treat heat exhaustion or familiarize yourself with CPR.

Free H I P C A M P. C O M In 2012, Alyssa Ravasio couldn’t find a campsite to book online in Northern California for New Years Eve. What if she made it easier for people to find and book campsites? Two years later, Ravasio partnered with a popular backpacking personality and received $2 million in seed funding, and then Hipcamp gained serious ground. Think of this online website as VRBO but for camping. With 16,868 campgrounds and 352,009 campsites including private, public state and federal options, odds are if you find yourself on the road in need of a place to set up a tent for the night — or three — you‘ll find it on Hipcamp. Or, if you

have something in mind for a particular date, you just might be able to find it. Need a spot for four next Saturday with two dogs that's close to water in the desert? Done. Looking for that cabin in the woods close to town for Solstice? Got it. According to Hipcamp, it’s their mission to get more people outside, and access to the outdoors is the key. “We’re firm believers that people will protect only what they connect to and care about,” according to the company’s website. Hipcamp isn’t a mobile app yet, but it makes it easy for campers to find what they’re looking for and an easy place for camp hosts to list their campsites.

Free GOOD TO KNOW: THE 411 ON 911 In the event of an emergency in a remote location, a call to 911 still can go through if any provider at all has service in the area. So if you use a cellular carrier that does not have good

22 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

service but another provider does, federal regulation requires the functioning carrier to allow the call to go through. Good to know.


l a t n e R e ANNUAL Bik

Lease Program Star ting at $160/year!

Bikes For Both Kids & Adults

Come In For A Test Ride Today!

970-247-1923 3533 Main Avenue Durango, CO 81301 www.skibarndurango.com

CHICKSWITHPICKS.NET

Bring Your Taste-Buds The Strater Experience is an adventure for your family and friends. Start your day with fantastic eggs Benedict or cinnamon pecan french toast when you have Breakfast At The Mahogany. And then join us for an authentic western saloon experience at The Diamond Belle; craft cocktails at The Office; and finish with steaks and seafood at The Mahogany Grille.

BREAKFAST • LUNCH • HAPPY HOUR • DINNER • LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Strater.com | 800.247.4431 | Durango, CO PLAY AND STAY: BOOK DIRECT FOR THE BEST RATES AND EXPERIENCE! S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 23


SERENDIPITY

24 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

Lily Lake; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

photo by Xander Bianchi


Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; Alamosa, Colorado

Santa Rita Whitewater Park; Durango, Colorado

Corona Arch; Moab, Utah

photo by Terrance Siemon

photo by Terrance Siemon

photo by Brandon Mathis

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 25


CHARGING

FUN UP THE

WITH

PHO TO CO URTESY O F YUBA BI KE S

Electric bikes are booming right now, but not everyone is rolling around laughing. We look at how e-bikes might be good for cycling, and how more people are finding ways to use two wheels instead of four. BY

B R A N D O N M AT H I S

26 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

Durango, Colorado is a cycling monster incubator, churning out champions like they grow on trees. If there is a town that is critical of cycling prowess, Durango is it. So you might think electric bikes get the snub, especially from those who believe the only way to crank your body up a hill or around town is with your own quad power. But you’d be wrong. You still get your blood pumping on an e-bike, a class of bikes that is growing in popularity. “It works just like a normal bike,” says Zach Graveson of 2nd Avenue Sports in Durango. “The only difference is the motor is doing the work your legs would do. You have to be pedaling (in most popular models) to be receiving assistance from the motor.”

E-BIKES COME IN THREE CLASSES. For

the growing market in the U.S., it pretty much comes down to class I pedal assist. CLASS I: Pedal assist, you have to pedal to have the motor kick in, up to 20 miles an hour. CLASS II: Pedal assist, but this time there’s a throttle. Twenty miles per hour is still all you get. CLASS III: Features pedal assist but they go up to 28 miles per hour. With or without a throttle. Think of it as a little extra pep in your step. Lean on the cranks, and there it is. But stronger utilitarian e-bikes are gaining traction too, largely for errand running, hauling kids and fun hawgs hauling other toys, as in canoes, kayaks or stand up paddle boards. Some are opening the world of outdoors in a way no one saw coming. So instead of e-bikes taking over cycling, it seems like they’re adding to it. The e-bike industry is about $70 million. From 2016 to 2017 it doubled, and shops around the nation are stocking more than ever. Still, some remain critical, but so often they’re easily converted. “Very few people that have ridden an e-bike are against it,” Graveson says. “When they actually ride one for themselves they realize, ‘Oh, it’s just like a bike, it’s just easier to ride.’” >>


S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 27


FUN E-BIKES

The motor case on a Yuba electric cargo bike.

Major manufacturers like Bosch, of power tool fame, are making incredibly efficient, long-lasting batteries and motors ideal for e-bikes.

28 |

And while some say it’s tarnishing cycling’s image, “This is hunting. We want to be quiet,” he says. others say it’s making the world a better place. True, QuietKat is also marketing an enduro high-end they’re not cheap; they range from $2,000 to $5,000. They mountain bike. E-bikes are making their way onto rely on a big ol’ battery for power, lasting from 30 to 100 the enduro scene, where riders shuttle themselves up miles. Like the modern car, most bikes mountains and then fly back down. From will need regular firmware updates. Your here, Spinks says people are finding mechanic will hook up your e-bike to an new applications, from bikepacking to app and wait for diagnostics. photography. The bikes also play a role in keeping Graveson, in Durango, says e-bikes I think when people out of traffic and out of polluting will soon be as common as any other people try it, cars. Imagine a mountain town where half bicycle. the population rode e-bikes instead of “Even if you’re the most fit person, it becomes a driving cars. That’s half the congestion, half it’s still nice to ride,” he says. “You don’t no-brainer. the emissions, and half the parking tickets. have to think about it. You can wear More people on “You could park your car eight or nine your normal clothes and cruise along to months out of the year,” says Mike Phillips work. It’s kind of nice.” bikes is always of Mountain Bike Specialists in Durango. In ski and mountain towns across the a good thing. “I think when people try it, it becomes a West, there are so many cyclists it’s hard no-brainer. More people on bikes is always a to decipher who’s on what. But does good thing.” it matter? If more people are riding, Phillips says most of their e-bike maybe that’s all that really counts. customers are commuter-minded, looking for ways to get more time in the saddle without gearing E-bikes have a growing commuter niche in the U.S., but mountain towns in up and getting dirty. the West are seeing rapid growth and popularity in utility- and cargo-style Diane Manuppella of Colorado E Bikes in Grand Junction, bikes, like this model from Yuba. Colorado says her customers aren’t looking for gritty exercise; they are looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors. “I find our clients are people looking for that extra activity,” she says. “Whether it’s golfing or motor-homing, they’re just looking for that extra outing. Maybe they weren’t into bikes because of a physical ailment or something like that. Biking is available now. They can do it.” In Eagle, Colorado, a company called QuietKat is taking e-bikes on the game trail. “Ours are built to be a high-powered utility piece,” says Ryan Spinks. “You carry your gear in and all of your game out.” QuietKats are powerful fatbiking e-bikes, designed to replace ATVs. It might be hard to envision a camouflaged hunter riding off into the woods with a rifle on their back, but Spinks says it’s perfect.

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 29


The official MSI Mobile Snow Office.

“

We combine the scientific skill sets to perform field measurements and sampling tasks in harsh conditions with ability to access remote locations (and) sites in the winter via backcountry skiing

FOR MORE FROM MORGAN SJOGREN VISIT

ADV ENTUR EP R O.u s

30 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

Loading up the snowmobile for a big day of work in the backcountry.


Locked and loaded for a day of work testing snow samples in considerable avi terrain

STRIKING THE

MEET THE MAD SKI SCIENTISTS

SAN JUANS’ LIQUID GOLD HOW TWO FORMER SKI BUMS USE MOUNTAIN SAVVY TO CLEAN UP OUR MINING HISTORY PHOTOS BY MORGAN SJOGREN

Nate Rock hops off a snowmobile and sets up his skis among several gallon jugs of antifreeze. In what looks and sounds like the sequel to “Breaking Bad,” we load up our packs with the brightly colored chemicals and prepare to skin up to a secret lab hidden in the pines. In his new life reincarnation as a research associate and field manager for Mountain Studies Institute based in Durango, Colorado, Rock now skis as much as ever for what can literally be explained only by science. “I was a recovering ski bum and needed something to do with my life besides wait tables,” Rock says. Rock works alongside MSI Research Director and Hydrologist Rory Cowie who, born and raised in Maine, learned to ski as soon as he could walk. Both fell in love with the San Juan Mountains and consider themselves fortunate to call this place home thanks to their multidimensional skills with frozen water. “We combine the scientific skill sets to perform field measurements and sampling tasks in harsh conditions with ability to access remote locations (and) sites in the winter via backcountry skiing,” Cowie says.

Beyond the obvious, he explains the essential details of their job description. “We have to have avalanche safety training and be fairly competent backcountry travelers/skiers to safely access sites and perform maintenance or repairs on instrumentation,” he says. I take sips of black coffee as I prepare to join these “fairly competent skiers” (quite the sandbag) in the backcountry to photograph and observe their day-to-day duties. My expectations immediately go out the window as I wrongly assume that we will be skinning the entire way up the mountain. With such a heavy load of gear and equipment, the guys take a snowmobile as far as safely possible most days of the week. They love traveling by human power, but given their workload they have to consider their physical durability as well. Fair enough. They instruct me to stand on the left side of the snowmobile, skis strapped to my back, as Rock drives and steers from the right and tows Cowie on his skis from the back. My first ever ride on a snowmobile is already one I will never forget. We don avalanche beacons and bright yellow safety vests, which I pull over my three layers of ski gear. It was -22 degrees when I woke up this morning.

“Don’t worry, it will be warmer up high!” Rock assures me. But warm, like everything about this day, is relative. I step into my beater telemark skis and brace myself for the day’s work. If these guys consider themselves competent skiers, I am merely a survivalist on sticks, and a writer stoked (and slightly stupid) enough to throw myself into situations like this chasing stories. Clearly the three of us are far from recovering from our lives as adrenaline-addicted ski (and in my case BY

MORGAN SJOGREN

running) bums — we’ve simply found a way to get paid for it, and maybe even do something good with it for a change. The avalanche danger today is considerable, so there is no time for any of us to rethink our career paths as we skin up the ridgeline to their lab. Nate assures me we are on mostly low risk terrain but casually points across the valley to a clear fracture line that slid yesterday on highrisk terrain. I divert my fear from the obvious and focus on the bootpack in the fresh snow and the surprising warmth of the sunlight on my face. >> S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 31


Try skiing with 30 pounds of anti-freeze in your pack.

SAN JUANS’ LIQUID

32 |

The wind picks up when we gain the ridgeline, as do our heartbeats high in the alpine world. We pause to GOLD catch our breath en route to their weather station just below tree line at 11,500 feet elevation on the western side of Bonita Peak and just east of the Silverton ski area. Here we look down on abandoned mines (including the Gold King Mine) that are listed under the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site. The MSI project is funded by the EPA to investigate elevated levels of heavy metals, including beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, silver and zinc. According to the "The ultimate goal is to EPA, mining-influenced water reduce pollution in the flowing from the mine portals in the investigation area has been form of metals levels in the measured as high as 1.5 million gallons a day, which not only affects Animas River watershed.” water quality for surrounding communities but is having a direct impact on wildlife, most notably, “eliminating all fish down to Elk Creek, 6 miles downstream from the Sunnyside Mine, and all cutthroat and rainbow trout down to Cascade Creek 19 miles downstream, where only a small community of brook trout and brown trout exist,” as stated in one EPA report. Today’s mission is servicing the weather station precipitation gauge, which measures the total amount of precipitation. We arrived on the heels of a massive snow dump just a few days before, so Rock and Cowie will also

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

drain and empty the collector-gauge to prevent it from overflowing. While our mode of transport is on the knife edge, it isn’t as straight-laced as two scientists checking snowpack, Cowie explains. “The ultimate goal is to reduce pollution in the form of metals levels in the Animas River watershed.” There are 48 listed mine sites within the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site that have been listed as having some amount of contribution to this pollution. Amid the fervent battles on our public lands, especially in the Southwest, the potential for mining and oil drilling in new areas sits at the height of everyone’s concerns. And yet, we are still cleaning up the messes of the holes our forefathers blasted into the earth in the last century (mining in this zone began around 1870). And, in fact, even cleaning them up is not without inherent risk. In 2015 the Gold King Mine, just below us on this ridge, spilled 3 million gallons of contaminated sludge into surrounding waterways during routine EPA clean up procedures. Cowie describes a tunnel that connects a nearby mountain with the town of Ouray along with the current system of using cement plugs to stop the spills. How long will they hold, I wonder? He shrugs his shoulders. “We are still waiting to find out,” he says. According to the EPA, the activity in the Bonita Peak district has impacted water quality by the mines for decades. The legacy of mining in the West remains heavy, deep and largely unknown.


Mad scientist Rock steers the crew on a wild path to the hidden lab.

We ski through the trees to reach the station, and the guys immediately unload their packs and get to work. I hop off my skis and sink up to my knees in fresh powder and prepare myself to watch the mix masters begin. A tall, white PVP precipitation gauge collects all the snow in a vertical cylinder, protected by a wind screen that looks like a plastic chandelier. The snow is turned to water in the cylinder and a digital scale weighs the liquid to determine actual depth and amount of precipitation (measured in inches of water) that has fallen at that location. Cowie pulls out a massive pair of rubber beaver trapping gloves, grabs the first bottle of antifreeze and proceeds to finally explain what the hell is going on here. “Since there is no electricity to produce heat, we use propylene or ethylene glycol (antifreeze) to melt the snow and convert it to liquid water,” he says. “We also have a layer of motor oil on the surface of the liquid in the cylinder to prevent evaporation of water that has fallen into the cylinder as rain or snow. Each consecutive storm event adds more water to the cylinder.” I snap photos as their circus of digging pits, pouring antifreeze, collecting water and hooking up computers continues. In the frigid temps, we unanimously hope that the batteries in our electronics don’t freeze. I tuck my camera into my many jackets between shots. About an hour after we arrive, it’s time to pack up and ski back down. Now loaded with water samples and the remaining antifreeze, their packs weigh an awkward

Cowie prepares to go deep into the test station with a set of rubber beaver gloves.

30-ish pounds. I almost feel guilty about not pulling my weight, but then again, I look like a baby deer learning to walk, and I need to survive the descent and snap photos of these finely tuned lab rats in their element. Skinning back up to the peak of our journey, the guys stop and coach me on my technique. I’m mildly embarrassed until they tell me about a New York Times reporter who had to wait for them at the bottom. I pull my tail from between my skis and prepare to “drop in” to a slope far below the 45-degree standard. There’s nothing to report here, but as the mad scientists are about to enjoy what they consider the best part of their job, I yell for them to hold off, because my camera battery has succumbed to the cold. With frozen fingers, I swap it out and wave them on to proceed. They slip down the slope like butter across a warm pan and my fingers trigger the shutter just fast enough to score a few photos before the final and inevitable battery freeze. Back at our chariot, the guys note some mechanical issues and I opt to skin down the hill to stay warm. I make it all the way down and wait in the sun until I hear the buzz of the snowmobile. Both men emerge looking as free and happy as anyone in the mountains right now despite being on the clock. Rock takes the turns on the snowmobile with complete control and Cowie flies down the trees, landing a final jump off the snowy road precipice right into the parking lot. Their previous lives as ski bums clearly set them up to strike a new kind of gold — the kind where athleticism and science converge to help clean up a dirty mining past.

Skinning up to the lab with only a few essentials.

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 33


SKI ALPS THE

IN COLORADO’S SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS PHOTOS BY XANDER BIANCHI FOR MORE FROM MORGAN TILTON VISIT

ADV ENTUR EP R O.u s

International mountain guide Keith Garvey demonstrates how to set a precise, European-style skin track. Garvey cut his teeth working in the European Alps for 14 years.

34 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


the high-alpine of Southwest Colorado, Peak Mountain Guides is on a mission to emulate the iconic hut-to-hut routes of the European Alps.

The smell of simmering coffee rouses me at 7 a.m., and I’m immediately eased by the crackling fire: a song that reassures me of the hut’s warmth before I flip back the down comforter. The brew’s toasty scent rises to my loft through an indoor balcony. Aptly called the “bird’s nest” by our hut-keeper, the bedroom nook overlooks the granite kitchen island, woodslice dining table, retro furniture, and three walls of towering, floor-to-ceiling windows. I swing my legs off the queen-sized memory-foam mattress to the floor and step over the throw pillows. A foot of fresh snow blankets Mineral Basin, our den’s remote backyard bowl, near the summit of Red Mountain Pass. Over the past few winters, I’ve splitboarded to a handful of the Centennial State’s jewel dwellings included among the Never Summer Nordic Backcountry Yurt System, Gothic’s Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and BY M O R G A N T I LT O N the 10th Mountain Division Hut System. But our current off-grid escape, the Thelma Hut in Southwest Colorado, sets a new national bar for backcountry luxury. The abode is reminiscent of Europe’s refined high-alpine hut vacations, where a caretaker cooks, serves, cleans and tidies the space. From the Million Dollar Highway — 14 miles south of Ouray — we skinned a modest .5-mile and 250-foot ascent to reach the solar-powered, eight-person chalet. The cabin is relatively accessible yet hidden by a crescent of subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce trees. And the shelter’s views are an adventure alone: At an elevation of 11,300 feet, Thelma sits among abrupt ridgelines that rise another 2,000 vertical feet above us. The greatest challenge for explorers? The patchwork of surrounding slopes range from sub-30 degrees — which are generally not steep enough to slide, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center — to precipitous 50-degree faces and cliff bands.  >>

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 35


SKI ALPS THE

International mountain guide Keith Garvey rips the skins while leading our tour above the Thelma Hut in the San Juan Mountains.

Keith Garvey, co-owner of Peak Mountain Guides in Ouray, Colorado, is one of only 150 people in the U.S. with the international-level certification IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations). photo by Xander Bianchi.

“Visitors who are unfamiliar with the snowpack and than in the states. Now, he hopes to improve the topography, or have low abilities and experience levels industry standards by offering competitive rates. in backcountry travel, have limited terrain choices,” Professionals with an IFMGA license or American says hut-keeper Matt Guertin, who also operates the Mountain Guides Association credentials who lead Opus and High Camp huts. “The key is maneuvering trips in their scope of practice — be it up rock, on skis, your way through safe ground to reach great runs. or in icy, alpine terrain — can earn up to $450 per Hiring a mountain guide is crucial.” day. By comparison, most U.S. guide companies offer For Thelma’s inaugural season, Guertin’s guests have a maximum of $225 per day, Garvey says. arrived from across the country including New York, Garvey’s experience abroad inspired our trip today New Mexico, Durango and the Front and his vision of the “San Juan Range. Some folks opt to snowshoe Haute Route,” the country’s firstin and don’t ski at all, and others are ever guided hut-to-hut trips that constrained by an unfamiliarity with blend high-alpine terrain with topavalanche-prone areas. end lodging and enable adventurers Everyone takes “About one-third of our visitors to pack light. Garvey’s ideal highuse guides,” he says. “But it should route variation will include off-piste the same route be more. A guide provides confident, and in-bounds turns that link up and moguls safe terrain selection and people can the Opus, Observatory, Thelma scatter the runs. get a lot more skiing in.” and Hayden huts. The lattermost is Ski touring is our goal. My trio of being built in Richmond Basin, at Here? You see backcountry partners has completed the end of Camp Bird Road, gateway no one the recreational avalanche courses to 14,150-foot Mt Sneffels, and is designed by the American Institute scheduled to open next season. The for Avalanche Research and four-day journey will be EuropeanEducation. But this morning, the esque — but better. CAIC forecast for our region is high: the snowpack is “In Europe, you see 100 people waiting for fickle and extra dangerous. Fortunately, our team breakfast at a hut and standing nose-to-backside includes Peak Mountain Guides co-owner Keith Garvey, on the skin track,” Garvey says. “Everyone takes the who is licensed by the International Federation of same route and moguls scatter the runs. Here? You Mountain Guides Associations: the highest credential see no one.” for professional mountain guides worldwide. Only 150 After a mellow morning and homemade porridge, IFMGA-certified guides are from the U.S., out of 6,000 we venture into the freezing blizzard and up lowtotal. And per Garvey’s mission, PMG has employed 15 of angle contours. From our perch above tree line, there those experts this year alone. are no sounds, tracks or crowds in sight. As I drop Among his 22-year career, Garvey spent 14 seasons into our first run, I carve into the blank canvas and working in the Alps, where guide wages are higher I’m refreshed by the solitude.

High over Thelma Hut, which is perched near an elevation of 11,300 feet.

PLAN YOUR HIGH-ROUTE TRIP AT PEAKGUIDES.COM AND THELMAHUT.COM. RENT WINTER BACKCOUNTRY GEAR AT RIDGWAYADVENTURESPORTS.COM. 36 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

Adventure writer Morgan Tilton finds the goods — in safe, low-angle terrain — in the San Juans, her home mountains.

The Thelma Hut has three sleeping areas, all in modern-rustic style. Here, the bunk room is fully furnished with down comforters atop four comfortable beds.


OFF THE GRID DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN ON THE GROUND There’s a reason even the smallest RVs include a bed. Because you should never have to sacrifice a good night’s sleep, even on the most rugged of adventures.

TAKE YOUR TOYS WITH YOU Benefits Of a Garage, Convenience Of Mobility

YOUR FOUR CORNERS RV HEADQUARTERS 505.334.5500 www.CTRVaztec.com 4 miles west of Aztec, and 1.5 miles east of Flora Vista S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 37


OHV PARKING

38 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


CLASS D

I

S

M

I

S S

E

D

How one liberal arts school mixes adventure and academia Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, aims to use adventure, travel and challenge across the

F

globe to churn out graduates with a higher education

ort Lewis College sits on a mesa overlooking the town crowned to the west by the La Plata Mountains. Views follow the Animas River Valley 30 miles north to the skyline of the San Juan Mountains, and a web of trails wraps the campus. A ridge to the east juts up with more trails still, and on any given day runners, hikers and mountain bikers regularly emerge from

BY

B R A N D O N M AT H I S the sage and pinion pines that line the mesa. Small pelotons of cyclists whiz down roads. Skis, snowboards and kayaks rest on cars. It’s a fitting place for students who embrace the outdoors, but better yet a place primed to entice newcomers with the call of adventure.

Adventure education classes often take place in the wild. photo by Nate Decremer.

40 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

PURSUE THE OUTDOORS The Student Life Center is a campus gem. It’s a health club, plus a full service bike shop and headquarters of the college’s Outdoor Pursuits Program — a campus based guide service/outfitter. It’s part gear shack, part trip planner, all outdoors. Patrons of “OP” can do anything from a guided snowshoe hike, to learn avalanche skills, to ride nearby singletrack, to backpack into the wilderness or even summit some of the world’s tallest peaks. Not bad for a program that started 40 years ago with a few sleeping bags and backpacks. In 1977, FLC faculty member Dolph Kuss and student John Bird wanted to created a program to support the needs of students interested in the outdoors. Kuss was already instrumental in developing ski programs, working with the parks and recreation programs put on by the city of Durango, and Bird was an avid member of a young and growing climbing community. With modest funding and a few pieces of gear, Outdoor Pursuits was developed. In the following 40 years, OP would become a hub for aspiring outdoor-oriented students living and studying on Colorado’s so-called “campus in the sky.” “The whole deal is to get students outside to explore the Four Corners and broaden their world,” says Brett Davis, assistant director of recreational services at FLC. His office is stacked with guidebooks and maps. Skis fill the corner behind the door. The walls are layered with overlapped photographs of trips from around the world.

HOW IT WORKS “I think the programs works in a couple of ways,” he says. “Their first year students find us, we’re available for equipment for them to check out, and we’re here for trips. By the time they get in their sophomore and junior year, they’ve outgrown the trips because they’ve developed their own communities.” Just beyond Davis’ door is a constant stream of gear coming and going at the service desk. Backpacks, climbing shoes, ski gear, boots, bikes. It’s busy even with three full-time staff members and the 40 students who work there. OP also offers training and education, and it leads activities year round, like an impressive backpacking trip for incoming students. But what sets OP apart is the caliber of trips it offers, including whitewater river expeditions, backcountry skiing and mountain biking, and wilderness backpacking excursions to major mountains in Alaska, Central and South America and Asia. They can do it because staff members are professionally-trained guides. “We’re climbing Rainier,” Davis says. “We’re going to Japan to ski powder next winter break and then we’re going to Climb Mt. Bona up in Alaska in the Wrangles next June 2020. We’ve got the credentials behind it to demonstrate that we can operate at this high level in environments that are deemed really risky.” Davis came from the University of Tennessee, where the student body wouldn't always take advantage of an outdoor program. In Durango, things are different. “I made the move to come to a small place located in a small mountain town because it was unique, it was part of the fabric of the institution,” Davis says.  >>


Cataract Canyon; Colorado River, Utah. photo by Colt Fetters.

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 41


CLASS D

I

S

M

I

S

S

E

D

Mountain Belle Hut, Red Mountain Pass, Colorado. photo by Colt Fetters

Adventure education in slot canyons. photo by Nate Decremer.

Prospect Basin; Red Mountain Pass, Colorado. photo by Colt Fetters.

Castle Valley, Utah. photo by Brett Davis.

FULL CIRCLE Student Josh Kling was on a cross-country cycling trip when he discovered Durango and FLC. He returned to become a student, found OP and was set in motion. “I came through Durango on a bike and fell in love with it,” he says. “I went on all the trips I could with OP. My first trip to the Grand Canyon was through OP, my first high altitude trip was with OP.” Kling went on to establish Kling Mountain Guides and helped to develop college programs across the country. Ten years later, he returned to where it all began, and is now director of planning and permitting for FLC’s Outdoor Pursuits office. “I started a biz that was completely influenced from here,” he says. “I went on and built my own experiences, and so I came full circle.” While King’s story is unique, it fits the bill. Davis said he wants the program to make a difference in students hungry for the outdoors. “Hopefully they start building their passions and start pursuing them on their own.”

medicine, trained in emergency protocols and preparedness, have the ability to manage group dynamics and are conditioned to tackle technical backcountry environments.

ADVENTURES I N E D U C AT I O N

Somewhere in Utah; Outdoor Pursuits archives.

42 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

IT’S A THING For students who wish to take the rewards of adventure to the next level, FLC is one of 21 colleges nationwide that offer academic degrees in forms of Adventure Education. Think of it as hotel and resort management, but trade in the imported sheets for sleeping bags, and replace golf with mountaineering. For the swimming pool there are river expeditions, and for entertainment throw in some major risk factors. Now think of being a teacher. Along with methodology and facilitation, Adventure Education graduates are versed in wilderness

LESSONS LEARNED Adventure Education staff lecturer Eli Shostak has worked around the world as an outdoor educator. With degrees in anthropology and experiential education, he says an AE degree shapes leaders. “When you look at our graduates you see a really wide spectrum of pursuits,” Shotstak says. “And I think what we do transfers no matter where they land.” Graduates of FLC’s Adventure Education program have become international guides, trip leaders with exotic tour companies, work in national parks and wilderness therapy or have continued on to advanced teaching degrees. The AE department is housed in two small buildings a little off the beaten path from the rest of campus. Classrooms are arranged with circular seating, and a kitchen of sorts is stocked with vats of dry foods and appliances for food preparation. The walls are coated with river maps. A door leads to a gear garage loaded with skis and boats, personal flotation devices and climbing ropes. Outside, utility trailers wait to be loaded for the next trip. Sound like camping for credit? Guess again. AE is a rigorous four-year degree with intense academic focus and a demanding out-of-classroom curriculum. Part of the study emphasizes core values like professionalism, experiential learning, environmental ethics and stewardship, diversity, empathy and compassion, critical thinking and civic engagement. Students study hard and carry those values into the field.


“We believe being an effective adventure educator and leader is having a high level of emotional intelligence,” Shostak says. “A lot of the field work that we do brings us all really close together… We really do face life or death situations together. We manage risk, we have transformational experiences.” He says the challenging degree builds a sense of what is possible, for the individual and group. “It’s one thing to pass a test or write a good paper. But through field experiences from the opportunities that they have here, students are really discovering (themselves),” Shostak says. EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER Students are evaluated on six principles: from personal and communication skills, teaching, technical aspects of wilderness travel, administration and leadership. And with a staff with more than 100 cumulative years of experience in wild places and education, the AE department is well-suited to pass their skills on to the next generation of leaders and outdoor educators. “You can’t just read and stuff this and then be an effective faculty,” Shostack says. “You need extensive experience, you need certifications, you need time in the field. We try to balance our practical experience with our academic chops.” BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL Back at Outdoor Pursuits students — some from the Adventure Ed program — and staff are planning an upcoming trip to backcountry ski Washington’s Mt. Baker and to climb Mt Rainier. Some even slept outside in snow-covered tents to be the first ones to sign up, so their training has already begun — conditioning classes at the crack of dawn. It’s a good example of how FLC is blending adventure and academics in a way some may have thought not possible. Above all, these

programs are working, in part because of interest but also because of the unconventional and willing position of the college itself. “The students already have a mindset,” Davis says. “They want to be in the mountains. They may not want to climb this or that, they may just want to hike the nature trails, or mountain bike or go hammocking. We can cater to all of that. And the institution supports it.” Looks like it’s possible, after all. ADVENTURE EDUCATION TIMELINE 1941: Kurt Hahan and Lawrence Holt found Outward Bound to condition Navy sailors in the art of survival after combat. 1961: Outward Bound USA forms, facilitating establishment of the Peace Corps. Today Outward Bound operates in 33 countries. 1965: In Lander, Wyoming, the National Outdoor Leadership School is founded by a member of the Tenth Mountain Division, a military training division specializing in mountain warfare. Today NOLS operates on six continents, and has trained almost 300,000 students in wilderness, leadership and technical outdoor skills. ADVENTURE EDUCATION Hahn is considered a pioneer of adventure education. The concept was simultaneously developed in schools and institutions around Europe during World War II. Today there are 21 schools in U.S. that offer academic degrees in Adventure Education.

San Juan River, Utah. photo by Brett Davis.

When you look at our graduates you see a really wide spectrum of pursuit and I think what we do transfers no matter where they land.

Cataract Canyon; Colorado River, Utah. photo by Colt Fetters.

Sneffels; Northern San Juan Mountains, Colorado. photo by Brett Davis. S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 43


DURANGO’S PREMIERE CLIMBING GYM OFFERS YOUTH PROGRAMS

YOUTH PROGRAMS (year round) Young Guns: (4-7 years old) Monday 2 - 3:30 pm Climbing Club: (7 and older) Monday/Wednesday 4 - 6 pm Climbing Team: (9-18 upon approval) Tuesday/Thursday 4 - 6 pm

SUMMER CAMP (for all ages) Details: June 3-Aug 9, 2018 Location: 111 E 30th St Drop off: 8:00 am Pick up for half day: 1:00 pm Pick up for full day: 4:30 pm

970-764-4505 111 E 30th St Durango, CO 81301 See website for more details ›› www.rockloungeclimbing.com

DROP

Friday, April 19th - 2:30 - 8:30pm

SWAP

Saturday, April 20th - 7:30am - 2:30 pm

PICKUP

Saturday, April 20th - 3:00 - 6:30pm

WHERE

At the Chapman Hill Ice Rink and Pavillion

DONATIONS WELCOME // 20% of all sales go to DEVO

Visit: durangodevo.com/bike-swap/

44 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

Drop off your own gear for sale on Friday, and pick up something new on Saturday! It's a great time to clear out your garage of all that extra bike stuff, and bring in some fresh swag!


Colorado Lodging

REDEFINED

Get Back to Basics.

SETTING THE STANDARD FOR SILVERTON LODGING For the discerning guest looking for the ultimate place to stay in Silverton, The Benson delivers with a newly renovated facility, modern technology, and all the amenities you would find at home and then some. Among our designer living quarters and suites we also offer Wi-Fi, HDTV’s, Spa-Like Amenities, and a State of the Art Business Center. For the ultimate experience in Southwest Colorado, book yourself a suite at The Benson.

Innovative canvas tents and bedrolls for down-to-Earth kind of people. Go pitch a tent. elliscanvastents.com

1210 Greene Street | TheBesonLodge.com | 970.387.9891

COMING THIS SPRING! OFF ROAD TRAILERS MANUFACTURED IN DURANGO. TEARDROP AND OVERLAND STYLES.

burly

durango, colorado

Overland Camping gear at: https://moto-burly.myshopify.com Facebook at Moto Burly

Phone: 970-779-9004

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 45


HIT LIST

A R I Z O N A APRIL 13 Whisky Basin Trail Runs PRESCOTT www.aravaiparunning.com APRIL 20 Sinister Night Runs QUEEN CREEK www.aravaiparunning.com APRIL 26-28 Whisky Off Road Mountain Bike race PRESCOTT www.epicrides.com M AY 4 , 5 Hotfoot Hamster Run BUCKEYE www.aravaiparunning.com M AY 1 7 - 1 9 Overland Expo West FLAGSTAFF www.overlandexpo.com JUNE 15 Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon GRAND CANYON www.vacationraces.com

C O L O R A D O APRIL 13, 14 Gemini Adventures Trail running Festival FRUITA www.geminiadventures.com APRIL 12, 13, 14 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown DURANGO www.durangomeltdown.com M AY 1 1 Rabbit Valley Half Marathon RABBIT VALLEY www.geminiadventures.com M AY 1 9 Taste of Durango DURANGO www.tasteofdurango.com M AY 2 5 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic DURANGO AND SILVERTON www.ironhorsebicycleclassic.com M AY 2 6 Narrow Gauge 10-mile Run DURANGO www.durangorunningclub.org JUNE 1 Animas River Days DURANGO www.animasriverdays.com

46 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


U T A H APRIL 12, 13 Zion Ultra Marathon ZION NATIONAL PARK www.vacationraces.com APRIL 13- 21 Easter Jeep Safari Week MOAB www.rr4w.com APRIL 28 Amasa Back Trail Run MOAB www.grassrootsevents.net M AY 1 1 - 1 2 Back of Beyond Stand Up Paddle Board Race MOAB www.backofbeyondsup.com M AY 1 9 - 2 4 Gone Moab Off Road Festival MOAB www.gonemoab.com M AY 2 7 Moab Arts Festival MOAB www.moabartsfestival.org

N E W M E X I C O APRIL 13 12 Hours of the Old West Mountain Bike Race RUIDOSO www.ziarides.com APRIL 13 Albuquerque Half Marathon ALBUQUERQUE www.irunfit.org APRIL 25-27 Gathering of Nations ALBUQUERQUE www.gatheringofnations.com APRIL 27 Cedro Peak Marathon ALBUQUERQUE www.cedropeaktrailevent.com M AY 4 Alien Run Mountain Bike Race AZTEC www.alienrun.com M AY 2 5 Jemez Mountain Trail Runs LOS ALAMOS www.jemezmountaintrailruns.org JUNE 8 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest GALLUP www.ziarides.com

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 47


KILLER WEEKEND A G R A N D AWA K E N I N G I N T H E

GRAND VALLEY T

Grand Junction’s got a new angle on Colorado’s Western Slope.

48 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

wenty years ago, there were rumors that the mountain biking around Grand Junction was pretty good. Today, the Grand Valley ranks with world class destinations, and it’s not just the mountain biking. Trail runners, road riders, hikers and backpackers, climbers and river runners make their way to the biggest city on Colorado’s Western Slope for fun. Instead of just passing through, take a day or three to check out life in the Grand.


COFFEE:

The Kiln Coffee Bar

Twin brothers, David and Jonathan Foster, love coffee and it shows in their commitment to featuring the finer coffees from around the state. Think along the lines of a Colorado microbrewery but for coffee roasters. With a variety of brewing methods, the coffee aficionados at the Kiln know how important a good cup of Joe really is.

P L AY :

Everywhere

Yes, that is the Colorado River that runs right by the edge of town, and it flows on through to a canyon country so stunning you won’t believe it’s still Colorado. Trail heads, look to the Lunch loops, where you can spin around buff singletrack or drop into some incredible white-knuckle terrain. Get warmed up on Miramonte, have some fun on Pete-Kes and get ready for the Holy Cross. This well-marked and contained trail system has it all. For the ripper in your crew, note how signs on Free Lunch are numbered for helicopter rescue. Head west to Fruita to hit the North Fruita Desert on 18 Road. Keep going and check out Rabbit Valley. Rock climbers can venture into the Colorado National Monument, or duck into Unaweep Canyon, where a galaxy of splitter crack climbing and open spaces await.

E AT A N D D R I N K : The Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery

This is that cool spot you saw downtown and wanted to check out later. Now is your chance. With 20 years of brewing and a selection of craft beer to meet anyone’s taste, the Rockslide is the place to hit after being out and about all day. There’s even a Mug Club for regulars. Don’t miss the Fish and Chips Tuesday nights. FOR MORE KILLER WEEKENDS VISIT

A DV E N T U R EPRO.u s

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 49


IS THE ANSWER

On the Navajo

BY

B R A N D O N M AT H I S

Nation, one

O

group is building trails and using trail-based

n a cold March morning, some 450 runners are trickling toward activities to trail a loose collection of canvas tents, promote health, fire bins and a few traditional Navajo huts called hogans on the family, youth edge of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. To the east, the iconic empowerment buttes known as the Mittens rise out of the desert valley. A man and a love of the in a black cowboy hat holding a microphone is welcoming the outdoors. And, crowd in Navajo and English. “Good morning,” the man yes, it’s working. says. “We are glad you are here on this beautiful day.” It’s Larry Holiday, a Navajo tour guide who grew up not far from where he is standing. The runners, adolescents to 60-somethings and beyond, wait for their start times by warming up at the fires or inside a hogan. Some will run 13 miles, others 32 and even 50 miles through parts of the Diné Bikéyah, Navajo sacred lands, on the park’s dirt roads and little-known trails. It’s all made possible by Navajo YES, The Youth Empowerment Services of the Diné Bikéyah. >>

Lemix Benally shares his excitement after his half marathon finish in Monument Valley in March. photo by Brandon Mathis.

50 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


A runner heads out into the sacred lands of the Navajo, the DinĂŠ BikĂŠyah, during an ultra-run in Monument Valley. photo by Brandon Mathis. S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 51


IS THE ANSWER

NAVAJO YES

Tom Riggenbach, the race director and executive director of Navajo YES, can’t make it 20 feet without someone grabbing his attention. He briskly darts from tent to tent, meeting with officials, runners and runner’s family members, plus a few stops at his car to grab a mouthful of food. The run is just one component of an organization that Riggenbach and others founded in 1994 to promote health and wellness on the Navajo Nation. A teacher who landed on the nation in 1988, Riggenbach fell in love with the landscape and the people who lived there. “Originally we were mainly youth programs — backpacking, and biking with kids, which we still do a lot of,” he says. “But now we expanded to include the race series and big trail projects in communities across the rez.” Their mission is clear: to use the outdoors to create a path to healthy lifestyle choices and activities for about 350,000 Navajo Nation members. Socio-economic and health hurdles persist on the reservation, and the way Riggenbach sees it is simple.

“If you’re a young person growing up in a community where there are trails and events going on and there’s going to be all kinds of positive things surrounding you, you’re much more apt to adopt that healthy lifestyle,” he says. “If you’re growing up in a community where there isn’t much going on, no trails or parks or healthy choices or role models for those types of things, it’s harder.” Today, with the help of staff and a network of volunteers, Navajo YES hosts several events — 16 so far for 2019 across more than 27,400 square miles of tribal land — as well as support efforts like the Navajo Trails Initiative, a grand plan to build and maintain trails and trailheads throughout the Navajo Nation. Based on community needs, some trails will be far-reaching backcountry networks and others will be tourism-based economic drivers. Some will simply be a safer route to school for children. “We’ve got this huge trail project going for all of the different communities, and we have events just trying to get people active,” Riggenbach says. “With the race series, part of it is to allow people from outside or wherever

At the start and finish line, before each race Holiday recites a prayer in Navajo. He says events put on by Navajo YES are ways for visitors to learn about Navajo culture.

Jason Bagody sets his pace for his 50-kilometer (32 miles) run throughout Monument Valley, just one of 16 events Navajo YES will host in 2019. photo by Brandon Mathis.

52 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


Tom Riggenbach came to the Navajo Nation in 1988, and is now executive director of Navajo YES. While the organization was founded on youth empowerment, it’s growing to include all ages. “Look at this,” he says, “You’ve got kids cheering on their parents, grandparents. Everyone comes out for this.” photo by Brandon Mathis.

More than 300,000 people live on the Navajo Nation, which spans Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Places like Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park on the Arizona/Utah border, have tremendous cultural significance. photo by Brandon Mathis. John Kinsel, Sr., a Navajo Code Talker, H&S Company, 9th Marine 3rd Marine Division 1942-45, greets Christian Gering recognition of his podium finish at a Navajo YES race in Monument Valley in March. photo by Brandon Mathis.

that want to experience the rez to see places that maybe they wouldn’t see, but it’s also to get local families and community members out and maybe to hang out with other folks from other communities, and to just get out and enjoy the country.” Riggenbach said it’s also a way for young people to appreciate where they live. “We talk to kids in Tuba City,” he says. “Where do you go hiking? ‘Flagstaff.’ Talk to kids in Teec Nos Pos: Where do you like to go? ‘Durango.’ It’s always somewhere else. We’re trying to show people there’s a lot of great stuff right under our nose, right in our own backyard. Go out and experience that.”

PLANTING SEEDS

Competitive runner Christian Gering has matured from a rambunctious youth to elite athlete traveling the world, all because of running. He says a health movement is something important for the tribe as a whole. “I think it’s a good thing what Navajo YES is doing because in some way it’s expressing that tribal sovereignty, and at the same time, it’s promoting health and wellness,” Gering says. “Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, has always been adamant on running and he wants to get more of his community members out here.”

Gering, too, believes providing recreational options can be used to counteract many of the modern challenges on the reservation. He supports Nez’s strategy to fight them. While Gering was on the trail, his partner, Andrea Stanley of Santa Fe, stood near. To her, anything to get young people outdoors is good measure. “I think youth in general, Native or non-Native, need more things to do outside,” she says. “With technology, we’re so influenced to stay indoors and be on our phones, so the more opportunities we can give to provide access to the outdoors... I think that (means) more people who are going to be able to go outside.” Like Riggenbach, Stanley says the outdoors are for everyone. “That’s important,” she says. “Not everyone is just going to be into trail running or mountain biking, but if you give that variety then people can find what they’re into.” Beyond giving Navajo Nation members an opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyles, Holiday says Navajo YES events help visitors learn about his culture. At the start and finish line at each race, Holiday recites a prayer in Navajo. “We want them to see our traditions,” he says. “We have all these activities and celebrations. We enjoy it. We like to see more, see new people. New faces. People like you.” S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 53


H O W

T O

PA C K

F O R

ANYTHING A G U Y ’ S G U I D E TO PAC K I N G R I G H T A N D L I G H T F O R A F E W G O O D D AY S O F T R AV E L . photos by Brandon Mathis

BY

B R A N D O N M AT H I S

OK guys, we’ve learned a thing or two from the trail. Light is right. Ditch the over-pack-and-forget-everything method. Whether it’s quick holiday travel, a short business trip or just a casual weekend away, when it comes to how to pack for short trips, it's an art. We can help. FOR MORE HOW TO VISIT

ADV ENTUR EP R O.us 54 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

GET ORGANIZED

Just like on the trail, light and right doesn’t mean being unprepared. It means being efficient. Think of where you are going and why. Be selective of what you want and what you need.

LIST IT

Forget everything? Make a list. We don’t go anywhere without an Anker Power Core 1000 and our Aftershox Treks Titanium headphones. Smart watch? Don’t forget the power cord. And don’t be the guy shopping last minute for a pair of swim trunks after you’ve been invited to the hot springs.

CARRY-ON, MY WAYWARD SON

Forget checking baggage for a short trip. A carry-on is all you need. It really is the only way to fly. According to United Airlines, the maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, and that means wheels, handles, straps — everything. Of course you get a personal item too, like the size of a messenger bag or small duffle in the ballpark of 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches. That’s perfect for a laptop, book, a device, water bottle, headphones and a notebook (the kind you actually write in) and inflatable pillow. Once you have your items set, here’s an effective strategy for packing and better organization, plus tips for airport security.


When it comes to how to pack, even if it's the night before an early flight, catching a ride at the break of dawn or just heading south for the weekend, following these suggestions should have you better prepared and on your way. Don’t forget to bring back a souvenir.

acking for short trips doesn’t have to be stressful. Make it a skill instead of a 01 Pscramble and never check a bag again — at least for trips of three to five days. C arry-ons are not only self-assuring, they’re cheap too. And while lost luggage is 02 declining (about six lost pieces for every 1,000 passengers according to SITA, an air travel information organization), in 2016 airlines in America collected over $4 billion in luggage fees. Skip the expense and carry it on.

olling your articles of clothing will help you save space and pack 03 Rmore efficiently. to protect that laptop investment? Thule Sweden, a long-trusted maker of gear 04 Wandantbicycle carriers, have entered the luggage space and also make laptop bags and cases that can hold all of your electronics.

live a life on the road, or at the gate, packable footwear is great for traveling 05 Iandf youcomfort.

SLOW YOUR ROLL

PACK YOUR SHOES

On a recent trip to Denver’s Outdoor Retailer show, we knew we’d need some double-duty clothes to look nice and to endure brisk walks around the city, but we’d also need room on the return trip. For any efficient packing, the key is to roll. You’ll be astonished at how rolling, not folding your items, will maximize capacity. When you're packing for short trips, think of it as if you were lining your luggage with your things, not just placing them in there.

Think of shoes as little containers that can hold stuff and stuff them accordingly. Some footwear travels better than others. Companies like Lems and Sanuk make minimalist shoes that pack well and hold up out on the town or in the boardroom.

SOLUTION SOLUTION

Remember your glasses case, and put some packing tape on your contact solution lid so it doesn’t squirt all over your toothbrush.

SIT UPRIGHT

If you’re using a wheeled roller like the Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel (our favorite carry-on), heavy stuff like shoes and pants go on the bottom and lighter stuff goes up top. This will keep it sitting up right no matter what and make pulling it a breeze. With nonwheeled duffel style bags, strive for balanced weight.

WIRED

HYDRATE OR GO BROKE THE ROAD KIT

We all have a nice travel kit that holds our manly stuff. On short trips, leave it at home. A small pouch or even a ziplock baggie works just fine.

Here's a clever tip: Keep all of your electronics together in your personal bag through airport security. That means laptops and cameras, power packs and lithium batteries and smaller items like watches and chargers. Afterwards, gizmos and accessories you don’t need to access while flying can get packed in your carry-on. Sometimes you’ll need to pull out batteries from devices.

JACKET PACKET

BE PRACTICAL

BE BRIEF

Three days means three shirts and two pair of pants at most, plus a pair of thin sweats for the VRBO.

Make that a shacket. They look nice, but we just think of them as a button-up sweatshirt with a collar.

WORK IT OUT

When you're thinking of how to pack, consider if a run and/or working out is likely. If so, then a plastic bag for your sweaty clothes is a good move. Even if you only have one outfit, a fresh set of boxers and a clean pair of socks can make a new man.

An empty soft flask water bottle like the Hydropak 500 ml is a great traveling convenience, especially once you get through security at the airport. Instead of forking over $3 for 12 ounces of water on a layover, refill your flask at the fountain.

TAG IT

When flying, even though you’re (ideally) not checking bags and dealing with baggage claim, it’s good to be able to differentiate your stuff from the rest of the world’s. A piece of string, a label, or some kind of unique identification will help.

YOU TIME

Plan when and where to get your run, ride or workout in — be it the hotel gym access, closest trail system or destinations you can walk to from your accommodations. Remember, as little as 30 minutes of exercise can do wonders for your head. S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 55


M

A

K

I

N

G

WAVES The first women to raft the Grand Canyon were badass botanists

BY

MARGARET HEDDERMAN

Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah. > Utah Photograph Collection, P0077 Green River, p0077n01_13_80. This photo has been altered from its original.

56 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


The Grand Canyon is gray. Muddy black and white water crashes and surges. A handmade wooden boat jitters through the rapids at 18 frames per second. On board is a small, shorthaired woman in a cork helmet clutching the stern line. The newsmen describe her as a bespectacled “schoolma’am,” yet Dr. Elzada Clover is an accomplished botanist who has explored much of the Southwest. It’s the summer of 1938 and she will soon become the first woman to raft the Colorado River. The expedition was one of many firsts. With the entrepreneurial river rat Norm Nevills as its guide, the venture became the first commercial river trip on the Colorado. It was also the first botanical survey of the Grand Canyon along the river. Launching from Green River, Utah, the party floated over 600 dramatic miles to Lake Mead. Joining the expedition were two graduate students — Lois Jotter, an athletic and outdoorsy young woman, and Gene Atkinson, who had some experience with canoes. Nevills invited a photographer named Bill Gibson to document the journey, and LaPhene “Don” Harris, a surveyor with the United States Geological Survey. Whitewater rafting had yet become a recreational activity, and Nevills’ only criteria seemed to be a sense of adventure and strong arms.

A GRAND ADVENTURE

Today, over 20,000 people raft the Grand Canyon each year. Tourists pay up to $4,000 to be guided on a two-week trip, while non-commercial parties can wait years for a permit by lottery. But in 1938, fewer than 60 people ever had successfully completed the journey. There was no guidebook. No two-way radios. No money-back guarantee if you drowned. As such, the Nevills Expedition attracted the attention of the national media. When the “Wen, the Mexican Hat” and the “Botany” launched

on June 20 of that year, the press followed them downriver until they drifted out of sight. “I know we will be cut off from any hope of getting out in case of accident, illness or fright,” Clover wrote. “Am really anticipating the thrill but know I’ll be petrified.” Adventures are hard work, but the prospect of portaging boats in the scorching heat didn’t concern her. Clover knew adversity. Born on a small Nebraska farm, she pursued the improbable path of earning a doctorate degree. As the only woman in the University of Michigan’s Botany Department, she was continually denied a faculty position. And it wasn’t just her academic peers who discriminated against her. When a colleague recommended Clover for a position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an official responded, “I would prefer a man.” For four days, the expedition followed the Green River through a twisting canyonscape of sheer red walls. At Mile 216, the Green River converges with the Colorado at a horseshoe bend. Nevills hopped onto the forward deck of the Wen and shouted, “There she is! She’s a big ’un and she’s a bad ’un!” The Colorado River was a different beast back then. That summer it was in “full flood,” according to Nevills, running at 50,000 cubic feet per second. Their little boats plunged into the surging rapids, leaping over walls of water. One day, a mushroom wave flipped the Botany and sent it rollicking downriver. Clover and Atkinson caught up with it and ran eight rapids while towing the capsized boat. Another accident left Jotter stranded alone overnight, listening to animals yowl in the dark. The river beat and bloodied their bodies, but its greatest toll was upon their nerves. A rift formed between the crew and its leaders. They called themselves The Gripers and spent their evenings whispering and whining about Clover and Nevills. Nevills wrote in his diary, “Except for Elzada, the rest act like a bunch of kids, whispering amongst

themselves and trying to work up a good excuse to quit at Lees Ferry.” In the end, Jotter stayed, but Atkinson and Harris left the expedition. Nevills replaced them with two local men – Lorin Bell and Del Reed. The change in morale was palpable. After their first day together, Nevills wrote, “This is a swell gang and we’re going to town!” Nevills often erred on the side of caution, choosing to avoid more dangerous rapids, but as the walls of the Grand Canyon grew steeper, whitewater was the only option. Clover and her companions ran many of the river’s most notable rapids. They arrived at Lake Mead on August 1 and were met by a crowd of onlookers hoping to ascertain what sort of women could do such a thing. It’s tempting to view Clover and Jotter through a modern lens and forget they were still bound by the constraints of the time. In addition to their work collecting plant specimens, the women cooked nearly every meal. Clover once wrote, “We have spoiled them completely.” Clover and Jotter were often photographed powdering their noses, as if to indicate they could still be feminine. And the worst — perhaps more so for Jotter than Clover — was Nevills’ reluctance to let them handle a boat in whitewater.

THE TAKE OUT

Jotter went on to earn her PhD, raise a family and teach at the University of North Carolina. Nevills started a successful river guiding business and led several more trips through the Grand Canyon. He became known as the “the world’s number one fast water man” but his career was cut short in 1949. During takeoff, his single-engine monoplane lost power and crashed outside of Mexican Hat, Utah, killing both him and his wife. Clover and Jotter published a paper on their findings in the Grand Canyon. It was the only botanical survey completed before the Glen Canyon Dam permanently altered much of the plant life. After a few more trips out West, she turned her attention south of the border. She traveled to Guatemala, Mexico and Haiti. When she retired, she moved to South Texas and died in 1983 at the age of 80.

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 57


TELLURIDE THE MOST COLORADO PLACE ON EARTH.

photo courtesy of Visit Telluride.

TELLURIDE, COLORADO, is tucked in a picturesque box canyon with one way in and one way out as far as a paved route is concerned. The former mining camp found its second payload in snow, and the first chairs began turning in 1972. Today the ski resort is regularly considered the best in the West, according to ski vacationers the world over. The town of Mountain Village, actually on the mountain, was founded in 1995. It developed around the slopes, and many businesses and residences have sprouted among them. An impressive and free gondola system links the town of Telluride to Mountain Village well beyond the ski season. In reality, the tram system is just as much public transportation as it is ski lift.

photo courtesy of The Hotel Telluride photo courtesy of The Hotel Telluride

58 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


SEDONA OUT OF THIS WORLD.

KILLER WEEKEND

photo by Brandon Mathis

photo by Brandon Mathis

photo by Brandon Mathis

SEDONA, ARIZONA, just might be the most metaphysical place on Earth. Next to the pizza parlor in town you can get your palm read or your aura photographed. It seems there is a psychic on every other corner. It is also said to be home to several energy vortexes where the Earth’s magnetic forces can have powerful healing effects on the psyche. What’s really amazing in Sedona are the red rock canyons, mesas and buttes that surround this colorful town. Trails like the Hangover Trail, the Highline, Bell Rock and many more spin out in every direction, and the riding, hiking and running on them can be done just about year-round.

photo by Brandon Mathis

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 59


WILD VOICES

THE

#VANLIFE Everyone is living the van life to travel, but veteran Vernan Kee is going back to where he came.

60 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s

TOOK ME HOME


#

#VanLife. It’s now so ubiquitous and cliché that mentioning it is more frequently preceded by an eye roll and a giggle rather than intrigue. Yes, that once counterculture vagabondfor-adventure dream of living in your vehicle and traveling the country is bordering dangerously on mainstream, certainly in affluent outdoor circles. And yet to many, the reality is not a choice but still all too often a last-ditch effort to survive when shit hits the fan. For this reason among many, both older generations and certain cultural groups — and especially those unfettered by mainstream media — still look upon this lifestyle with utter confusion. And then someone like this guy comes along. Meet Vernan Kee, a freelance graphic designer who has been living in his van around the Four Corners for the last year, particularly touring the almost 30,000-square-mile Navajo Nation. Needless to say, the van life hasn’t hit everywhere. Kee beautifully illustrates the fun in showcasing his lifestyle, especially among his peers. “I enjoy explaining what ‘van life’ is to the community on the reservation,” he said. “ Most people on the reservation don’t have cable TV or even electricity, so keeping up with what’s going on in the world is limited.” Kee shared one of his favorite stories from the juxtaposition of cultures. Kee’s Instagram account, @RezRoads, pulls these two cultures together in a beautiful and captivating way, aiming to educate himself and others about the sacred lands he roams. Today he lives with his girlfriend and their dogs in their 2018 Ford Transit Van named “Big Bruce.” “When I went to visit my grandma and help her with chores, she would get calls from the community asking if she is OK,” he says. “They would say, ‘We see the ambulance at your house,’ or ‘Can you have the medics come over after taking care of you.’

Then she would explain in Navajo that the van was my home.” “The inside now has walls, a roof fan and a bed/storage I built,” he says. “I plan to redo the inside sometime in the future, but it works for now.” His voyage into van life began far from the place he calls home. “It was all after a trip with Sierra Club Military Outdoors that I decided that this is what I wanted to do every day,” he says. “Living outdoors with Mother Nature. I kept hearing about people buying vans and building them out, so that’s what I did. Since then I haven’t missed a sunset or sunrise and most of the time wake up to coyotes singing in the distance.” You can hitch a ride Time in the Marines shaped his current path. with Kee by following “I enlisted in the United States Marines Corps in his travels on Instagram 2006 after a failed attempt at college,” Kee says. @vernankee and “I didn't know what to do and had no guidance or @rezroads_sw. mentor to look to. I followed my best friend who See his work at also enlisted and decided this was the right path for me. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, a part of www.vernankee.com. Operation Enduring Freedom, and returned in 2010 to attend The Art Institute of California.” Today, Kee designs logos for Military Outdoors and the Sierra Club, while currently working to become an outdoor guide on the Navajo Nation and Four Corners. Even when he is not at work, he spends his time delving into the pursuit of his passions. “I enjoy being outdoors with my dogs and roaming free on the land I grew up on. When not designing in the van, I am practicing my hand lettering or finding new places to explore,” he says. So far, Kee considers the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness his favorite spot. “Watching the thunderstorm move across the landscape,” he says. “And lightning hitting the ground in the distance.”

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 61


V I S TA S

A bird's-eye view of the highline at Twin Buttes. photo by Alex Fuller.

THE LINE

BETWEEN G When the world goes

TWO BUTTES

quiet: A highliner’s

reat highliners have vision. In their world, geography takes on a whole new potential. They’re always looking for the next one — the next Colorado, landmarks improbable project that just might be possible. They’re looking for the one that hasn’t been done. When it came to rigging a highline (think a tightrope but 1-inch tubular between two natural objects) between Twin Buttes north of U.S. Highway 160 just west of Durango, Colorado, that vision was years in the making. Marshell Thompson envisioned the BY highline three years ago when the WESTON BROCK highlining community in Durango was beginning to gain ground. Thompson knew it was going to be big. Doing something that has never been done before always is big. The San Juan Riggers is a group of highliners that has developed various “lines” over the last four years, honing their skills around the mountain community, setting up lines at the climbing areas and A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s 62 |

journey across Durango,

canyons. Their goal is to push the limits for what is possible. Different from slacklining, highlining is done far above the ground where a ground fall would be fatal, or at least catastrophic. Most wear a harness, tethered for safety. To set up an objective like Twin Buttes requires an extensive anchor system and a team to properly secure, tension and position the webbing in place, so the San Juan Riggers get to work.

DIZZY WITH THE VISION

Thompson said whenever he drove by Twin Buttes, he imagined the highline. Three years ago he installed bolts for the anchors only to have the objective unfulfilled. The group’s first attempt was abandoned when the weather was unfavorable. The next attempt, there weren’t enough people to properly rig the line. Some lost sight of the challenge. Years passed. Thompson rekindled his vision with positive visualization. Then in November 2018, the pieces finally came together. To rig a 170-meter line requires two lengths of webbing that will span that distance. One is the primary line that will be walked on, and the


Highliner Sean Englund prepares to cross a 500-foot gap between Twin Buttes outside Durango, Colorado. photo by Weston Brock.

second is a backup. Two people each with one of these lengths of line had to come together, along with a team of six other people to get the gear to the top and rig the line in a day. Cliff Moser brought one piece of webbing to match Thompson’s. Then a four-hour taping party at Sean Englund’s house was held to prepare the webbing and all the gear. Early the next morning, Thompson, Moser, Englund, Eli Roberts, Chris Mendoza and myself took off with our loads and headed for the buttes.

ON THE LINE ALONE

Early on a Saturday morning, just as the wind eased up, Englund got on the line. Slowly he started to walk. His confidence was clear. He said he loves highlining because it is where his mind completely turns off. “It’s kind of like a forced meditation,” he said. “And I’m the kind of person who is always moving at full speed. But when I’m on a highline, UP ROPE everything slows down.” With a team on each butte, we started by walking As Englund walked the line, slow and a strong nylon thick string called paracord from one steady, everyone fell silent, their eyes butte to the other. Then a much heavier static rope was watching his continuous counterbalance, It’s like attached to the paracord and pulled across. The team their ears listening to his music on repeat. the whole would hold this rope like a deadly tug of war from one When Englund’s shadow and his body external butte to the other. Communication and focus are key in started to get closer to the other side, it world goes these moments. Finally, the two lengths of webbing are was becoming real. The ground rose to quiet,” he attached to the static rope and pulled across, elevating meet his body in the air. He sent the line said, “and all $1,600 worth of webbing that can’t be dropped into and walked off. there is to do the brush below for fear of damaging it. Even though The moment his feet left the webbing is walk. this special webbing is designed for highlining can and landed upon the top of the west butte, everyone let hold thousands of pounds, if it is damaged, it’s no loose with their excitement. Englund was alone on the longer safe. With the webbing in place, the primary other side, with tears of joy in his eyes. As Englund took and secondary lengths of webbing were individually it all in Thompson yelled, “I love you.” With the La Plata anchored to the rock. Mountains in the background, lightly covered with snow, It was Nov. 9 when the line was officially up. The wind picked up at Englund became the first person to send the Twin Buttes highline. that time and a storm was in the forecast. Efforts were bold, but no one Highlining is an activity that requires a team. But when a person is walked the line. The weather pushed the team back home. on the line, they are all alone. With their eyes trained off in the distance, There were two days left. Word had spread that the Riggers were set on a and their feet on a strip of webbing hundreds of feet above the ground, a project, and it drew a crowd. Highliner or not, the community came out. highliner has to embrace the moment and focus.

“ ”

Sean Englund highlines across Twin Buttes. photo by Weston Brock.

S P R I N G 2 0 1 9

| 63


Roof top dining · Inquire about private parties Award-winning wine list · Delicious local cuisine

Runner Up Best Fine Dining

2018

Runner Up Best Restaurant Runner Up Best Romantic Diner Honorable Mention Best Steak

& LA PLATA CO.

From farm to table and from vine to wine, Eolus Bar & Dining offers something for everyone. The local bounty shines through as the restaurant features an array of local products from farms, ranches, vineyards and breweries around southwest Colorado. Our covered rooftop patio is a distinct place to enjoy the cuisine, providing ample protection from the elements while offering premium views of the surrounding mountains. Our elegant dining room provides a choice of tables or booths to relax and sample creative concoctions from the bar. Happy Hour 5pm-6pm Nightly 919 Main Ave, Durango CO | www.eolusdurango.com | (970) 259-2898 Open 5pm–9pm | Reservations recommended

PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS AND TOURS HALF-DAY PHOTO TOUR

DESTINATION WORKSHOPS

PRIVATE & CUSTOMIZABLE NOVICE TO EXPERT LEARN NEW SKILLS SHOOT WITH A PRO FUN & INSPIRATIONAL

SMALL GROUPS MAKE BETTER PHOTOGRAPHS FOUR CORNERS AND BEYOND NOVICE TO EXPERT DIGITAL POST PROCESSING

$50 OFF WITH THIS AD

$100 OFF WITH THIS AD

708 Main Ave, Durango • https://scenicaperture.com 64 |

A D V E N T U R E P R O . u s


Douglas

Vernon Aviation SERVING MORE DESTINATIONS

Las Vegas Los Angeles San Diego

Salt Lake City

Grand Junction

Denver Colorado Durango Springs

Chinle Window Rock Gallup Santa Fe Albuquerque Phoenix Tucson Las Cruces El Paso

Oklahoma City Lubbock

Dallas

Midland Austin Houston

Where you need to go. When you need to be there.

Less travel time. More vacation time!

CONVENIENT

Pets ride FREE in the cabin.

ACCOMMODATING

No additional charge to bring your bike.

COMFORTABLE

CALL FOR A QUOTE (505) 564-9464 Book Online: https://vernonaviation.com/book-a-flight


Profile for Ballantine Communications

Adventure Pro Magazine Spring 2019  

Adventure Pro Magazine Spring 2019