Getting the Shot: Behind the Scenes on the MSR Snow Tools Photoshoot

Photos and words by Scott Rinckenberger This spring, I had the pleasure of shooting the photography that will be used by MSR in the marketing materials for their new Snow Tools line of products. In an impressive effort to round out their hardware offerings to support backcountry travel, MSR’s new Shovels, Probes and Snow Saws are smartly designed and intended for professional use. In order to reinforce this commitment to professional quality in the new products, it was important to MSR that we photograph the gear being put through the paces of an actual practice use scenario. To that end, they recruited long time collaborator, ski patroller, ski guide and NWAC field observer Jeff Hambelton to lead myself and a couple of Baker pros on a mission to take field observations…

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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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Eric Larsen’s North Pole Expedition Through Photos

By Eric Larsen On May 6th 2014, I reached the Geographic North Pole after what I can only describe as the most difficult 53 days of my life. Sitting in my chair now, with the perspective of time and distance, I am amazed that I was able to persevere long enough to be successful. After all, no one had completed a North Pole expedition since 2010 and comparatively few over the span of polar history. In 1995, Reinhold Messner, easily the most accomplished mountaineer of all time, called his unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole, the horizontal Everest. While over 6,000 people have summited Everest only 250 people have traversed the Arctic Ocean from land to the Geographic North Pole—less than 50 of those traveling unaided and un-resupplied (meaning…

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Gear Archives: Trusted Source—The Evolution of the MiniWorks EX Microfilter

In 1991, MSR took the plunge into water products to answer the needs of backcountry travelers for more user-friendly and trustworthy solutions to gathering safe drinking water. One of these initial offerings was the MSR Dromedary™ Beverage Bag, a rugged, collapsible bag to tote your water as you roamed. The other was the now-legendary WaterWorks Total Filtration System—a highly engineered pump filter that was more effective and so easy to use it changed how people filtered water. Today, the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter is its evolutionary descendent and remains the world’s favorite backcountry filter for its plain and simple workhorse reliability.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Summer Desserts

Story and photos by Laurel Miller A creek-chilled beer (or beverage of your choice) is a just reward at the end of a long day on the trail, but what to do when you’re craving something sweet that doesn’t come from a bottle (and no, Gummi Bears don’t count)? Summer and early fall are the best times to bust out a backcountry dessert because at no other time is the array and diversity of seasonal fruits so abundant and appealing. Depending upon climate, space, and other logistical considerations, trail desserts can be as simple as fresh berries with store-bought biscotti, to grilled stonefruit with vanilla syrup, and mascarpone. In previous posts, I’ve provided details on how to curate and stock your backcountry kitchen, but the beauty of dessert is that…

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A Commitment to Safety: Inside MSR’s World-Class Water Research Lab

Behind every MSR water treatment and hydration product is a team of scientists dedicated to researching, developing and testing the latest in water treatment solutions. Established in 1997, our on-site microbiology lab is crucial to MSR’s water program and the safety and reliability of our products. Initially founded to ensure quality control, today the lab’s world-class efforts stretch into research of new technologies, testing and development for the U.S. military, and contracts with nonprofit organizations working in developing nations. The lab is located at our Seattle headquarters, in close proximity to our production lines, and is staffed by five scientists with advanced degrees in chemical engineering, biochemistry, microbiology, environmental science and cellular and molecular biology. The world inside this small space is fascinating, with an incredible amount of scientific knowledge….

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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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Skiing and Climbing Alaska’s Remarkable Ruth Gorge

By Scott Rinckenberger When I was invited on a mission to spend two weeks climbing and skiing the Ruth Gorge in Denali National Park, I knew I’d have to bring some pretty serious equipment. Fortunately MSR was willing to help outfit the expedition. I’m exceedingly thankful for the gear, but that’s not all I picked up from the MSR HQ before my departure. I also ran into a long time friend, and while I was being told to “be safe” by nearly everyone who heard the plan, it was the words from my friend Diane which put me on the right track for the trip – “Listen to the mountains.” Our plans included climbing lofty alpine walls in the Ruth Gorge, and climbing summits from their less-technical sides for some…

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