Off Belay: La Cueva del Aguila – Guatemala

Exploration in a pure sense is an elusive quarry.  Men such as Shackleton , Cousteau, Norgay and Hillary picked some of the biggest and brightest fruits on the proverbial exploration tree in efforts that were hardly free from struggle or pain.  This begs the question: Does the twenty first century still offer new exploration for the willing and able to make their mark? The answer is yes.  Enter rural Northern Guatemala and a pair of adventurers stocked with climbing gear on our way south to Patagonia.  With our faithful Land Cruiser taking a relentless beating, we made it to the town of Lanquin near the beautiful waterfalls of Semuc Champey.  One ridge from the town there is a village situated along a flowing, jade-hued river shrouded by thick jungle on…

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Anchor Replacement: For the Love of the Desert

Mark and I were young college kids in search of gold in the Western Colorado red rock desert. Gold as a metaphor of course, but to us it was more valuable than gold: a first ascent, a chance to climb something that had never been done before. We did our first-first ascent together the week before in Escalante Canyon, a haunted place that was the host to sheep wars in the Old West days, and is reminiscent of a scrappy, chossy version of Indian Creek. Now, we were back, hungry for more. What we found was a climb called Oh Shit, well, that’s at least what we called it. Mark said, “Oh, shit” moments before taking a 30 foot headfirst whipper onto a red alien, landing just a few feet…

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The Lunchroom: An Interview with Chris Parkhurst, MSR Vice President

So what does one do as the VP of MSR? Herd cats. No, really, it’s about providing structure and guidance. We have a very talented team and my job is to make a platform for everyone to be successful. On the MSR team you have a really nice balance of engineering geeks, pure users and people who like to tinker. And you have very diverse backgrounds. They all have interesting perspectives of how a product should work. You get some hardcore engineering expertise and hardcore user knowledge, and I think when that comes together it can be pretty cool. How did you get your start in the outdoor industry? I got my start with K2 snowboarding. I joined them when they’d just started doing some sourcing overseas, so I did…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Building Your Backcountry Kitchen

Story and photos by Laurel Miller Even if you’re content to subsist primarily on reconstituted meals in the backcountry, there’s always room for improvement (it’s amazing what a dash of soy sauce or dollop of peanut butter can do, for example). If you genuinely enjoy the challenge of creating healthy, delicious fare while out in the back of beyond, having a well-stocked portable kitchen will serve you well. The first consideration, of course, is keeping your kitchen kit lightweight and compact. I’m a fan of stashing things in labeled Tupperware containers, which necessitates organization and renders your supplies durable and (mostly) waterproof. If you’re going to be on the river or in a clime with high humidity or rainfall, stashing your kit in a dry bag is a good extra…

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Snowy Mountain Lodge & The Strait Couloir

By Riley Leboe The first week of February I met up with 3 Armada Skis teammates: JP Auclair, Ian Provo and Kalen Thorien, Salt Lake City-based photographer Jim Harris and Powderwhores Productions filmer Noah Howell for a weeklong ski touring trip to Snowy Mounain Alpine Tours. On assignment for Backcountry Magazine, we made the journey to Blue River, BC, Snowy Mountain’s Caribbo Range location. Our guide for the week was Steve Ludwig, lodge owner and one of the most experienced guides in Canada. Steve has over 31 years of experience; with his knowledge of the area we had exactly the man to lead the group. Steve and partner Dana have poured their hearts into this lodge. They truly love ski touring, mountaineering, guiding and showing new groups around the terrain…

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Off Belay: High-Altitude Mexico

After nearly three weeks of sun and surf south of the border, we were itching for some elevation and knew just where to find it. To the surprise of many, North America’s third tallest peak does not lie in one of Alaska’s formidable ranges, but instead 250km to the west of Mexico City. Pico de Orizaba is a standalone volcano with a staggering amount of prominence. The mountain dominates the surrounding countryside, and simply needed to be climbed. Our siege of the mountain began with a pitstop in the small town of Tlachichuca to gather supplies and a bit of beta from the reputable Señor Reyes, proprietor of Servimont, the classic European-style climber hostel in the heart of downtown. After collecting our intel, we embarked on a roller-coaster two-hour drive…

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Eric Larsen: Thoughts on Staying Warm in the Most Extreme Cold

By Eric Larsen People assume that because I spend much of my time in polar regions that I must enjoy being cold. The truth couldn’t be any further from the fact. I like being warm, just like everyone else. The only difference: I like being warm in really cold places. But there’s also a catch, I don’t like being hot in cold places either. I’m kind of like the polar version of Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. To achieve the perfect arctic equilibrium while traveling is no easy task and it requires careful diligence and following a few simple rules. 1. Be the onion.  Back in the day, we would throw on a huge down jacket, go outside and call it good. Sure we were…

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Off-Belay: Beating the Early Winter Blues on Mt. Lemmon

Climate change has likely altered previous conceptions of the winter season timeline. If you’re from the Pacific Northwest as we are, you have learned to be patient because winter will come, but chances are it’s not going to be on time.” Regardless of where you’re from, all winter freeriders have been granted a couple of extra dry months absent of white, fluffy precipitation. So, what’s a mountain brother or sister supposed to do while their skis or boards sit waxed, tuned and ready to go? Our trick for survival during the early winter season blues is to head south.  Enter Mount Lemmon, an elevated craggy oasis perched high above the city of Tucson, Arizona.  Ascending from the desert floor takes one through five distinct biomes ranging from giant Saguaro Cactus…

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Eric Larsen Heads for North Pole on ‘Last North’ Expedition

On Saturday, polar explorer Eric Larsen departed Northern Ellesmere Island and began skiing across Arctic ice on what could be the world’s last unsupported ground expedition to the geographic North Pole. Eric and expedition partner, Ryan Waters, are attempting to break the 2006 expedition speed record. To do so, they’ll need to cover 500 miles of ice in less than 49 days, traversing by skis, snowshoes, and at times swimming through semi-frozen slush. Because they’re not receiving outside help, the pair is pulling all of their food and equipment—nearly 350 lbs—in sleds, which also serve as rafts. They’ll have to eat an incredible amount of calories per day, avoid polar bears and navigate dangerous shifting ice. Eric is a veteran to extreme expeditions. In 2010, he became the first person in history to…

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