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Chugach Rock Climbing

Osprey Packs Athlete Joe Stock is an internationally certified IFMGA mountain guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been climbing and skiing around the world for 25 years with extensive time in the mountains of Alaska, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the North Cascades of Washington and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Since 1995, Joe has been freelance writing for magazines starting with a feature article in Rock & Ice on climbing the Balfour Face on Mount Tasman in New Zealand. Since then, he’s published numerous articles on adventures and mountain technique in rags such as Climbing, Backcountry, Alaska, Climbing, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.

 

The Chugach is not famous for rock climbing. Probably the most fame it received was in a Rock & Ice article containing the Seward Highway among the five worst climbing areas in the United States. But the Chugach does have some solid rock. And if you don’t compare it to Colorado rock or California rock then you’ll have a great time.

The foothills of the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage have some of this solid rock. The problem is finding someone to adventure up there. I recruited my buddy Joshua Foreman to go exploring on O’Malley Peak. After hiking almost two hours we reached the base of a 500-foot buttress. As we climbed we found evidence from other parties, going back forty years: pitons, bongs, nuts, rotting slings. These  climbers had intense personal experiences on this cliffs. They told stories to a few buddies at the bar. The adventure became a faint memory in their lifetime of adventures. Without social media, the adventure was able to refresh itself for the next party.

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Joshua following the first of four long pitches on the Deep Lake Buttress. He’s using the new Mutant 38–light and sleek! The solid Chugach rock has a weathered brown veneer.

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Joshua leading pitch two. He pulled this second roof onto 60 feet of wet and runnout slabs. For an hour the rope inched up the rock as grunts and explicative floated down. Joshua also enjoys high-speed downhill biking and has competed as a speed skier in Alaska’s notorious Arctic Man. Leading a runout wet slab as his first rock climb in six months was perfect.

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Joshua and I with the Deep Lake Buttress behind. Rock climbing in Alaska in mid-May. We are so lucky.

Read more from: Blogs,On The Road

John Anderson Trip Report

Winter again

I received a text from a climbing partner “I have fond memories of fearing for my life and being unable to feel my toes last January. We should do that again.” I smile remembering that trip and look at the calendar to set up a date for the next one.

I’m a climbing flatlander. I live in Iowa but have a passion for climbing. So I travel as often and as much as I can while appeasing the goddess of equal time and spending. Winter months draw me west to Colorado ice and snow. It’s at least 10 hours of driving, 12 hours on a train or a 4 hour flight, just one way.  I plan weekend trips, gather partners and look at peaks that can be done.

To people who live there it’s a day trip in the mountains but for us it’s an expedition.   Road conditions can change in matter of minutes, dry highway speeds to a slushy crawl steals time from the climb. Cramped vehicle with smelly climbers only gets worse with poor weather. The hope and dreams of thin air and high mountains drives us on.

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Friends and partners make the experience better and sometimes worse. In a small tent with wind hollowing outside I learn a lot about a person. Helping melt snow and stomp out a tent platform build friendship, trusting them to belay with frozen fingers builds partners. The tent is small and cold, it is easy to lay there thinking of the warmth of home sacrificed, but also the fun of winter in the mountains.  Then the swing of the tools in the fresh ice makes the cold night worth it.

breaking trail

The snowy peak and steep ice make every trip a great experience. In January we arrived at the trailhead in the dark. The rush of the cold thin air greeted us as we sorted and shifted gear. The plan was to hike to high camp and access the conditions and climb as much as we could handle. We hiked into forest with light snow in middle of the night and it was beautiful.  The headlamp view of snow is soft and the flakes drift across your vision.

In the morning the evening snow has become a challenge, deep drifts of soft snow change the approach hike to approach swim. Post holing up to the waist drains our body reserves and a cloudy day does nothing to warm our bodies or raise our spirits. Then a joke is made and we smile as we gain another thousand feet.

winter ice

We planned and hoped for good weather but that doesn’t always happen.  Weather in the mountains is tricky and in the winter even worse. Limited time makes a person push the envelope and weather windows. The wind has picked up and snow is increasing. We can no longer see the mountain and our tracks are drifted in.

We decide to set up camp in some boulders and wait it out maybe it will be better in the morning. The attempt to build snow cave collapses but now we have a sunken platform to set small tent up in. A light dinner is made and snow is melted for water. The night is spent slowly as we listened to wind howl and blast the tent.

The storm hasn’t let up with the raise of the sun. Spin drift and frost has covered everything in the tent. It’s hard to leave my warm Marmot sleeping bag and start the stove. I know it’s time to retreat to safer and warmer conditions. But the mountain doesn’t give an easy escape; it pushes and hammers our small group all the way to the tree line. Strong winds make walking on the trail difficult and crossing steep snow fields truly hazardous. As we approached the snow covered car, the weather breaks and reveals the summit to us.

group in winter

However we are out of time and have to leave now to get to work on Monday. The long drive home, we plot and plan for next time we can escape to the mountains. Some trips we get amazing views from the summit of snow covered mountain. Some trips are just taking the tools out for a long walk.

John Anderson

Read more from: On The Road

The Collective Effort at the Backyard Collective

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It’s not often that we can collectively give back to the one thing in our lives that fuels our passion and provides us an escape from reality, Nature. Let’s face the facts, between all of our daily obligations and our personal pursuits, time is stretched thin and we’re just grateful for any spare moments we can spend making memories in the outdoors. As an individual, you can figure out small and unique ways to give your thanks to mother-nature for all that she has provided you, yet joined by hundreds to provide that same gratitude can be remarkable.

The Backyard Collective is an event, organized by The Conservation Alliance, at which those who have dedicated their lives to outdoor stewardship and those who love the outdoor pursuits can come together for the same reason. We at Osprey value this event because although we help others pursue outdoors by providing them highly innovative gear; this is our chance to return our appreciation to the outdoors for all that it has taught us and provided us.

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Founded in 1989 by outdoor industry businesses including REI & Patagonia, The Conservation Alliance began with the mission to increase outdoor industry support for conservation efforts. In other words, the businesses making gear and apparel for use in the outdoors by outdoor enthusiasts committed to protecting the wild places enjoyed by their customers. The Conservation Alliance today is made up of 185 outdoor industry companies (Osprey Packs is a proud member!) that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations, specifically community-based campaigns focused protecting on threatened wild habitat — preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Since inception in 1989, Conservation Alliance funding has helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,825 miles of rivers; stop or remove 26 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase nine climbing areas. In 2014 to-date, The Conservation Alliance has awarded a record $1.55 million in grants.

The Conservation Alliance’s Backyard Collective events further connect members of the alliance with the outdoors by bringing together member company employees and local grantees for a day of environmental action. via The Conservation Alliance:

These events allow us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty; doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards…The BYC program brings together members of the Conservation Alliance community and illustrates firsthand the benefits of conservation efforts and the larger work of The Conservation Alliance.

The Conservation Alliance organized seven Backyard Collectives in 2014, bringing together over 1,000 member company employees, 39 member companies and 36 nonprofits,  to accomplish an amazing amount of work including trail building and maintenance, tree planting, invasive species removal, habitat restoration, and flood debris removal. Each event included a volunteer fair, allowing volunteers to learn more about local nonprofit organizations and projects they can get involved with in their local community.

On September 19th, we were joined by almost 200 people at the 2014 Backyard Collective in Boulder to reconstruct trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park that were drastically affected by the mud-slides of 2013. The year of 2013 was a rough one for the front-range of Colorado. Record-breaking mudslides and fires took their toll on our State and National parks, depDSC03346ositing debris in small streams and channels that have altered countless trails.

Our team of 7 volunteers drove a total of 16 hours from Southwest Colorado so that we could partake in this event. To hear about an environmental tragedy in the local news and to see the results of it are two entirely different experiences. To listen to the State Park Ranger explain the effects of what these mudslides did to the trails, such as diverging streams and bringing down trees, was a point in which I realized that we as a community, as a collective effort, were responsible for the reviving the trails and areas that we are so fortunate to enjoy.

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That day, 175   volunteers showed up with the same idea and enthusiasm. The collective energy of these outdoor enthusiasts was contagious and inspiring. We all went to work, reviving 4-6 large areas of the State park. We worked side-by-side, complete strangers, yet all with the same commitment.

I am personally honored that my company and our employees, have always valued the outdoor experience above all. The Conservation Alliance provided a unique experience for both our 7 volunteers and the 164 others that joined us that day. Although our individual actions may have been small such as clearing steams and trail work, our collective effort will provide outdoor memories for those to come.

If you would like to be a part of collective effort to protect and conserve our outdoors, be sure to check out the campaigns and grassroots organizations funded by the Conservation Alliance or any of the other non-profit organizations that participated in the Boulder Backyard Collective, including:

Volunteer for Outdoor Colorado

The Access Fund

1% of the Planet

Conservation Colorado

Read more from: Blogs,On The Road

Stool Pigeon pics

Top two from Doug Hemken
Bottom from Caliebe

Read more from: On The Road

Stool Pigeon pics

Top two from Doug Hemken
Bottom from Caliebe

Read more from: On The Road