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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The MSR Gear that Got Eric Larsen to the North Pole

By Eric Larsen On May 6th, my expedition partner Ryan Waters and I reached the geographic North Pole after 53 grueling days. To reach the North Pole from land is a journey of 480 miles in a straight line, but the route is anything but direct. With sea ice moving and shifting due to winds, tides and ocean currents, the surface is constantly in flux. Huge pans of ice collide and crack in a screeching chug, chug, chug sound. There is an overall drift to the ice, too. The entire mass moves slowly from the pole toward Canada, the U.S. and Greenland. In fact, waking up each morning, we were usually quite distraught after checking our GPS—losing up to 3 miles of forward progress while we slept.

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Flashback: The 1970 MSR Climbing Tower

We’ve been looking through the original Mountain Safety Research Newsletter archives (1969-1982) again, and wanted to share this gem from the May 1970 issue announcing the new climbing tower. MSR Founder and newsletter Editor Larry Penberthy—always meticulous about setting the standards of safety through testing—built a tower structure for product testing and made it available to the public. It was free for Mountain Rescue groups, and only $1 per person otherwise. To use it, climbers needed to bring their own ropes and safety equipment, and make sure to follow the safety rules. The May 22nd open house offered a chance to “see (and try) the new belaying techniques” and reservations were requested by phone, so enough “soda pop and cookies” could be provided. To see more of the Mountain Safety Research…

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Marilyn Moss’ New Book Explores the Creative Genius of Tent Pioneer of Bill Moss

The Bill Moss Story from Driftwater Productions on Vimeo. Modern camping tent designs owe much to the creative mind and technical ingenuity of 20th century fabric designer and artist Bill Moss. In 1955, Moss was frustrated with the bulky, smelly, hard-to-assemble camp tents of the day. Inspired by nature’s versatile and remarkably efficient designs, Moss fashioned the now-legendary dome “Pop Tent,” redefining tent architecture, and with it, life in the outdoors—gaining a cult following along the way.

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Fly Your Tent Down the Freeway

The original Mountain Safety Research Newsletter (1969-1982), written by MSR Founder Larry Penberthy, is always a fascinating read. The newsletters are filled with extensive and technical product testing and mountain safety information. However, Larry and his team were also known to have some fun. One of our favorite features in this vast newsletter archive is the makeshift “wind tunnel” testing report in Issue 7 (April 1973) for the new MSR Mountain Tent. Important performance features of the tent are profiled under the headings “More Room,” “Condensation,” “Doors,” “Ease of Erection,” “Wind Stability,” “Cookholes,” “Materials,” and “Weight.” Within the “Wind Stability” description, the reader is given this glimpse into MSR’s rigorous and fun DIY testing methods. It’s true that Larry was never satisfied until he personally put gear through the ultimate…

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