One Punch Higher: Ski Mountaineering on Mexico’s Volcanoes

Story by Holly Walker / Photos by Zebulon Blais Maderno was flooded with ghouls, vampires and comic book characters.  It isn’t unusual for this pedestrian street to be bustling, but this strange cast had packed themselves into the street like sardines for the Saturday before Dia de Muertos (a Mexican holiday celebrating passed family and friends). I was in the thick of Mexican culture. Known for surfing, spicy food, tequila and Mariachi music, Mexico is an unlikely destination for a ski adventure. But, where there is snow, there can be skiing, and Mexico is home to some very high, snow-capped volcanoes. Still, as I took in the scene of one of the biggest cities in the world, I wondered how I had gotten here. A month earlier, I was having…

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Roping Up

Story and photos by Keenan Murray A brotherhood of devotion. Sinuously dangling in the breeze, it is the last connection and the vehicle of strength from one friend to another. Out of respect for the thin line of life, I cherish it — take care of it, for I know that it will guard against more than an unexpected meeting with the stone cold ground. The words of Royal Robbins run through my head: “Climbing is a great game — great not in spite of the demands it makes, but because of them. Great because it will not let us give half of ourselves — it demands all of us. It demands our best.” Not only is the team physically bound together by the rope; it is the mental, emotional,…

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A Beginner’s Guide to Packrafting

Story by Heather Balogh Prior to arriving in Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, my packrafting expertise solely relied on a 45-minute escapade at a neighboring lake back home in Colorado. Sure, floating around the pond gave me a sense of confidence in the buoyancy of the rafts, but that was about all I walked away with in terms of packrafting knowledge. Since packrafting is an up-and-coming sport, I’d like to save other beginners from the trouble we encountered while becoming familiarized with the boats on the Alatna River. Not everyone should suffer as we did! What is packrafting? In short, a packraft is an inflatable individual raft that can pack down to such a small size that it can fit inside a pack while backpacking. Once hikers…

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Alpine Climbing in Afghanistan

Click Photo To Open Gallery Story and photos by Dylan Taylor Afghanistan. This central Asian country is well-known for drone strikes, Taliban, poverty, drugs, corruption, and… alpine climbing? Indeed, since the fall of Taliban leadership in 2002 climbers have been returning to the Hindu Kush and Pamir ranges of Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. The Wakhan is a narrow 300km-long finger of northeast Afghanistan, separating Tajikistan to the North from Pakistan to the south by a narrow band of river, road, and rugged mountain only a few dozen km wide at its narrowest point. For those captivated by tales of the Great Game – the intrigue and espionage era that pitted the British empire against the Russians in the 1800’s, you’re advised to read up on it the Wakhan corridor features prominently. Most…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Speck Pasta

Story and Photos By Tara Alan A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were cycling through Europe. After pedaling up the Alps through expensive-but-gorgeous Switzerland, we coasted down the mountains and entered a paradise for hungry, food-loving touring cyclists like us: Italy. Besides taking breaks each day for gelato and cappuccinos, we often stopped at the market, where we picked out groceries to cook for supper. One afternoon, during a long, gorgeous ride through the regal Italian lake district, we stopped at a discount supermarket and bought a bag of spinach and ricotta-filled pasta, a few kinds of meat and cheese we’d never heard of, and a bottle of cheap red wine. Just a few miles down the road, we grew hungry, and were unable to resist our curiosity about…

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Revelations: Revealing the Angel

Story By Graham Zimmerman Southwest of Denali, deep in the nederlands of the Alaska Range rises a valley of giant granite walls. They are known as the Revelations and have a reputation for beautiful hard climbing and terrible weather. In June of 2013 Scott Bennett and myself visited these mountains in search of new rock routes on beautiful peaks. We arrived in Talkeetna just as a legendary high pressure spell was coming to a sharp close. The clouds were closed in and we spent five days waiting in town until we were able to fly into the range. Luckily for us, many successful teams were flying out after sending the west buttress of Denali and we had a constant stream of friends both old and new arriving in town. It…

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Reinventing the MSR® Hubba Hubba™ NX Tent – MSR Shelter

For over 10 years the MSR Hubba Hubba tent has been a bestselling backpacking tent, so when we decided to create a new version, we first asked a question that guides all of our design work: “what’s the problem we’re trying to solve?” Ultimately, we wanted to make the tent even lighter and more livable, which meant going beyond simple updates or even major ones, like the changes to the Hubba Hubba™ HP. Here’s a brief look into our process of reinventing the Hubba Hubba. Problem-solving design At MSR, we actually build possible design solutions and test them ourselves, whether it means designing different pole configurations, moving guy points around or sewing in various types of vents to see how they affect the tensioning on the rainfly. Then we test…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 1

Story and Photos By Laurel Miller Shoulder season may be over, but whatever outdoor pursuits you’re currently enjoying, you still need to eat. There’s nothing wrong with traditional trail/slope snacks: I love jerky, GORP, and energy bars just as much as the next person. But sometimes, when you’re really busting your butt out there, it’s nice to up the ante a little bit and treat yourself- and others- to something special.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Romanian Stir Fry

Story and Photos By Tara Alan  A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were bicycle touring in Romania. We’d just pedaled through the gypsy village of Glod when we decided to free-camp for the night, stopping to set up our tent in an idyllic, secluded forest on a hilltop high above the town. Tall trees towered above us as we made our home for the night. Tyler got a fire going, while I set about making a tasty supper to satisfy our ravenous appetites. Despite the fact that we were deep in the heart of Eastern Europe and I should have been craving cabbage rolls and hearty Romanian soups, all I wanted was food like I’d find in a Chinese restaurant back home. And thus, I decided to concoct…

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