Staff Picks: Our Favorite Gifts for Gear Junkies

Choosing the perfect gift for a gear head can be tough. Fortunately MSR employees are experts on gear—and gear giving. So we tapped a few to find out which products they think make the smartest gifts for everyone from backpackers to backcountry skiers—and why. Steve Grind, category director Cook & Shelter: The Alpine Deluxe Kitchen Set

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MSR Dromedary Bags: My Guardian Angels For More Than 50 Expeditions

Story By Mike Libecki MSR Dromedary Bags have become my guardian angels, providing me life––yes, literally providing life––on more than 50 expeditions around the world to complete major athletic goals. From first desert crossings in China to climbing huge first ascents on vertical rock walls in Greenland, on every continent and beyond, they have kept me alive. Let me explain: Water. It is the sweet giver of life. This transparent fluid forms the world’s streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of living things. We are water and water is life. And, of course life is sweet.

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Timelapse of a Glacier: A Climbing Ranger’s Perspective of Mt Baker

Photos and story by Leif Whittaker Every weekend when I arrive at a trailhead that I have been to a hundred times before I wonder if I should get a new job. Most climbers would find it monotonous to visit the same ridges, valleys, glaciers, and summits over and over throughout the summer. Admittedly, I often look at the first few steps of a familiar trail and have trouble getting motivated. But after three years on Mount Baker I have learned to appreciate the tiniest details of the seasonal cycle and I believe the mountain is always telling a new story. 

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Behind the Curtains of Hell: 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

A report from the 9th annual 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell endurance climbing competition.   by Andrew Chasteen The shotgun blasts, and 280 climbers scatter like buckshot in all directions.  Most are running—some are walking briskly up the steep approaches to the crags that make up the borders of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.  Ten minutes ago the full crowd of 700-plus was lost in a trance of psyche and adrenaline as Jeremy Collins and Kris “Odub” Hampton put on a show (as usual) for the famed Climbers Creed to “I got 99 problems but 100 pitches ain’t one.”  But now minds are focused and fixed on the next 24 hours of pain.

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Alpine Mentors: Aspirations Fueled by Experience

Alpine Mentors is a relatively new non-profit program for young alpinists that promotes clean, lightweight, and low-impact climbing. Co-founded in 2012 by alpinist, guide and author Steve House and his wife Eva, Alpine Mentors connects seasoned alpinists with technically proficient young climbers who aspire the climb the world’s greatest mountains. Joining the program as a mentee is no small commitment. Over the period of two years the group spends 14 weeks traveling all over the world. While the mentees don’t pay tuition, they do cover their own travel expenses. The first four young climbers to participate in the program are finishing up their two-year cycle this year, just as a new regional chapter begins in the Pacific Northwest. We caught up with Steve and one of the first program participants,…

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SnowSchool Turns Students into Snow Scientists

By Kerry McClay, National SnowSchool Director for Winter Wildlands Alliance “So the snowpack is only about 20% water?!”  It’s a bluebird day at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area in the Boise National Forest, and a group of students from the local high school are standing in a 5 ft deep snow trench they’ve dug themselves. Marching out into the forest on snowshoes they’ve used depth probes, density cutters and spring scales to measure snow-water equivalent (the estimated water content of the snowpack), and are discussing their findings with a snow science graduate student from the nearby university. The low water content of the snowpack is coming as a surprise to a few of them. Later these students will analyze snow crystals with macroscopes, cut snow blocks to make an igloo,…

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Colorado’s 10th Mountain Huts: A brief history and how-to guide

Photos and story by Laurel Miller Although I’m a native Californian, I grew up skiing Colorado. This is because my parents met while students at Colorado A & M (now CSU) in the mid-50s, and they were avid skiers. My dad was finishing up veterinary school, and my mom was on the barrel racing team. Although they chose to move West to open my dad’s large animal practice, Colorado to this day retains a stronghold on their hearts—something that was passed on to my brother and me in utero (I can only presume). My dad’s obsession with the Rockies began when he was pre-med and trying to obtain residency for vet school, courtesy of the GI Bill. A World War II veteran and Arizona native, he moved to Colorado and…

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What the Wilderness Teaches Us: Mentoring Urban Youth with the Big City Mountaineers

Anyone who has spent time in the backcountry knows how transformative a wilderness experience can be. For over 20 years, the Big City Mountaineers have used wilderness mentoring expeditions to transform the lives of underserved urban youth, instilling critical life skills through backcountry experiences. In July, MSR category director Chris Barchet took some time off work to volunteer as a mentor and guide, and share his passion for the outdoors with those who wouldn’t have access to it otherwise. For some youth, the five-day backpacking trips are their first glimpse into the backcountry. “They want to be there,” says Chris, “but they have to learn to commit to the responsibilities of it all.

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Behind the Photo: Photographing the Milky Way

Originally Published on May 14th, 2014 By Jameson Savage I vividly remember lying on the wet grass staring up at the Milky Way passing over Yellow Stone National Park as a child. I had never seen anything so thought-provoking or awe-inspiring before in my life, and I can’t safely say I’ve seen anything that compares to it since. This is an experience that I wouldn’t want anyone robbed of, but as our cities expand we lose our connection to the stars ever so gradually. The larger they grow the smaller our view into the universe becomes. Over the course of the next five months I’m setting out to capture the Milky Way throughout the Western United States documenting the impact that our cities have on it’s visibility, and what we…

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