The Weekly Stoke: Sherpa evolution, protein for runners, avalanche season, a BASE jumping tragedy and Alex Honnold on video


Some of us are starting to come out of the thaw. Unfortunately, many of you are not. Cabin fever is setting in. You need an escape. So let me give you a little reading material to help you get through it. Let’s do the Weekly Stoke!

Scientists say new research shows that the Sherpa people of Nepal have evolved over the years to become the stout high-altitude climbers and hikers that we’ve all come to know and appreciate.

Are you getting enough protein? Everyone knows people trying to gain muscle mass need to up their protein intake. But even leaner athletes like runners need to seriously increase how much protein they take in per day. I can vouch for that personally.

This link takes you to some photos and a video about a guy’s project to build a wooden camper top on his truck. Seriously cool overland travel stuff here.

It’s been a rough winter in terms of avalanche deaths, and several have happened in recent days.

Another tragic note: A couple did a BASE jump together, but the woman’s chute didn’t open properly, causing her to fall to her death.

And finally, this amazing video of Alex Honnold doing what he does: Scaling ridiculously big walls with highly technical lines, and doing it free solo.

The Weekly Stoke: Road life in a pickup, health benefits of ultras, controversy at Alta, and how to pick up girls at the climbing gym

One couple's idea of a new home. ( photo)

One couple’s idea of a new home. ( photo)

We’ve got a jam-packed edition of the Weekly Stoke this week, so let’s not waste time and get down to it…

A Vancouver couple ditched their downtown condo in favor of a pickup with a campertop and put their life on the road. Here are some of their thoughts on why they did it and what they’ve experienced.

Ultramarathoner and blogger Ashley Walsh takes on the issue of health benefits that come with ultra-length races and training. You might be surprised by her take.

Speaking of ultra training and health, these runners give you some of their tips for recovery.

And then there’s this story about running and suffering through “the death race.”

Alta ski resort in Utah is getting sued by snowboarders who are contesting its skiers-only policy.

Brendan Leonard creates a chart on how to appeal to girls at the climbing gym.

And finally, some information about how being outside in a natural setting trumps being outside in more man-made places.

Have a great weekend!

The Weekly Stoke: Obstacle course races, Mount Everest news, tragedy on Mount Hood, ice climbing and the future of U.S. groundwater

For the younger set, August is the time when you’re gearing for school. The rest of us have been working anyway. And in between that, well, hopefully you’ve been doing something awesome. Speaking of awesome, you need to check out what I’ve got here for you on this edition of the Weekly Stoke!

This diagram from Outside Online should help you pick which obstacle course race you should do:

Outside Online

Outside Online

Authorities in Nepal, hoping to get a handle on the circus that has become the Everest spring climbing season, intend to regulate the mountain more.

A snowboarder’s body was recovered on Mount Hood.

Here is part satire, part truth, in terms of nutrition product reviews.

This report does not bode well for the future of U.S. groundwater supplies.

And finally, a pretty sweet ice climbing video. Enjoy!

The Weekly Stoke: Tales from the road, an avalanche report, cycling in schools and aerial glacier footage

( image)

( image)

We’re on time with the Weekly Stoke this time! With sweet links to boot. All of them are good reads with food for thought and discussion. Here’s what I found this week that caught my interest:

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center released its official report on an avalanche that killed five people last weekend near Loveland Pass. The technical information is interesting and that narrative of the slide is as detailed as it is heartbreaking. Be careful out there, folks.

Outside Magazine thinks mountain biking might be the next big thing in high school sports.

Want to know what’s ahead of someone who decides to drive across the world? The Adventure Journal does an interview with a guy who, with his wife, is doing just that. Fascinating read.

Speaking of road warriors, this blogger writes about some of her not-so-pleasant encounters while out on the highways. Being a free-spirited, adventurer-driven traveler has its downsides. A good read with a good question from Gina Begin.

In India, bull surfing is a thing. The photos of this are awesome.

And finally, watch this video showing an aerial view of Alaskan glaciers. Simply gorgeous.

PAUSE 4 from PAUSE on Vimeo.

5 killed in Colorado avalanche identified

The sites of Saturday's avalanche near Loveland Pass, Colo. Reports indicate that some blocks of snow were the size of golf carts, and that the avalanche was up to 8 feet deep. ( image)

The site of Saturday’s avalanche near Loveland Pass, Colo. Reports indicate that some blocks of snow were the size of golf carts, and that the avalanche was up to 8 feet deep. ( image)

Some truly horrible news out of Colorado Saturday night, where an avalanche near Loveland Pass killed four snowboarders and one skier.

A report from CBS News says the slide was 200 yards wide and 8 feet deep. CBS identified those killed as 32-year-old Christopher Peters, of Lakewood; 32-year-old Joseph Timlin, of Gypsum; 33-year-old Ryan Novack, of Boulder; 36-year-old Ian Lanphere, of Crested Butte; and 33-year-old Rick Gaukel, of Estes Park. One person survived and was able to dig out to report the incident to authorities.

The Adventure Journal reports that Timlin was the sales manager for a number of snowboard industry brands. Lamphere, a skier, was the owner of Gecko Climbing Skins and the co-founder of Backcountry TV and the Stowe Mountain Film Festival.

A lot of snow had fallen in the area, and the report says the Colorado Avalanche Information Center had warned of risky avalanche conditions.

The avalanche occurred in a backcountry area near the Loveland Ski Area, but was not inside the boundaries of the resort.

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding has become increasingly popular in recent years, mostly because of the promise of no crowds, fresh snow and the added challenge. Not to mention, the appeal of not having to buy increasingly pricey lift tickets.

The Adventure Journal posted this graphic of increasing avalanche deaths from the CAIC:


Improved technology in terms of safety equipment has also given more people the drive to try their hand at backcountry skiing and boarding.

The CBS report notes that all members of the group were wearing avalanche beacons. Other reports note that the group was experienced in the backcountry.

The site of Saturday's avalanche at Loveland Pass. ( image)

The site of Saturday’s avalanche at Loveland Pass. ( image)

The Denver Post has done some thorough reporting on this, noting that it’s the deadliest avalanche to hit Colorado since a 1962 slide killed seven people. The Post also quotes one expert as saying that current conditions — recent snowfall, snowpack instability and high winds — makes it much less like April (when the snowpack tends to consolidate and stabilize) and more like February, when conditions are normally more unstable and dangerous.

The following video gives additional reporting, though they do not ID the victims.

Weekly Stoke: Surviving in a snow cave, avalanche tragedy, lost hikers found and a different kind of bike ride

Something I’ve thought about doing for some time is posting some things in the news that I’ve seen that might interest folks like you and me. So I’m going to set aside a weekly space for some of the stories that caught my attention, and might also stoke yours. Thus is born the Weekly Stoke!

Here goes…

Mount Hood. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Mount Hood. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

A hiker in Oregon got herself in a bit of trouble on Mount Hood, slipping and falling and injuring her leg. She was able to dig out a snow cave where she rode it out six days before being rescued. Check out the full story and a video here.

A less uplifting story out of Colorado. Some backcountry skiers got caught in a large avalanche, and not all of them survived to tell the tale. An excellent write-up from the Denver Post can be found here.

A day hike in Southern California turned out to be a much more serious ordeal for a group of young hikers this week. This story ends well, however.

And finally, a final tip of the hat to winter on one of the more interesting bike rides you will ever see. Watch the video:

Video: ‘The Joy of Air’

Just providing a public service with this mid-day video distraction of awesomeness. Put on the headphones, watch cyclists, boarders, skiers and more catch big air, and enjoy a pretty sweet narrative.

Sometimes to feel free, you have to catch some air. Enjoy. — Bob

The Joy of Air from ARC’TERYX on Vimeo.

New York Times goes deep on the Tunnel Creek avalanche at Stevens Pass


Usually I don’t plug an article or a series of articles in this space. I save that for Twitter. But this one deserves a little extra mention.

On Feb. 18, a group of expert backcountry skiers and snowboarders went to an out-of-bounds area near the Stevens Pass ski area in Washington state, setting out to take advantage of mounds of fresh powder that had fallen there.

The group had 16 people in it. Some time after noon that day, they headed down the back side of Cowboy Mountain, known to locals as Tunnel Creek.

An avalanche broke free during their descent, killing three.

The New York Times interviewed many members of the group who were there as well as loved ones of those who died. This is a multi-part story and it’s pretty long, but worth the read. The website also includes video interviews of the subjects, audio files of emergency calls made to first responders and multimedia presentations illustrating the avalanche and how it swept three top-notch skiers to their deaths. It’s also available in an e-book called “Snow Fall.”

Take some time to read it — it’s worth it. With apologies to Outside magazine, this is some of the best outdoors reporting and writing you will see. It’s also an excellent lesson to anyone who wants to take part in wintertime backcountry adventures.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

Do you know where you’re going without your GPS?

How heavily do you depend on one of these?

I have some friends who do not like to run trails by themselves. Or more specifically, they don’t like to do it at my city’s urban wilderness area.

It’s not really a question of being in danger or anything like that. It’s a question of getting lost.

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness has a pretty extensive network of trails, and it’s easy to get off track.

Heck, I get off track almost every time I go there. I can count the number of times I’ve actually stayed on track on my hands, and I’ve been running there for quite a while now.

Not that I’m worried. Because I know which direction is south. And south will always get me back to the trailhead.

More specifically, I know enough about the topography of the area (Turkey Mountain is a north-south ridge) and the position of the sun to determine which direction I’m headed. If I ever get “lost,” even in the depths of the trees, I know which way leads me back to the trailhead.

I’m not bragging here, because this is no great skill. But notice what’s missing. When I’m out on the trail, I don’t look down at an electronic device to tell me where I am or where I’m going.

There are a few reasons for this. I don’t like carrying a lot of stuff with me when I run or hike. But I also think that it’s important to be knowledgeable about where you are and where you’re going before you actually get out there.

A great place to be, but doing a little homework about this kind of area is a sure-fire way to steer clear of trouble, especially if the batteries in your GPS die.

GPS devices and other gadgets designed to assist in these tasks and bolster safety are great. There are probably thousands of stories of people who got lost, consulted a device on their wrist, then got re-oriented and back home safely.

But there is a danger to becoming too reliant on a mini-circuit board with an LED screen telling you what to do.

Batteries run out. They break. Sometimes they don’t give you accurate information.

Case in point: A Canadian man and his wife traveling in Nevada got stranded in their car after their GPS got them off track. He left to find help, still using that GPS, and died about six miles from a nearby town. His remains were found earlier this month by hunters, 18 months after he got lost. His wife stayed in the van, stranded for 48 days, and survived.

I wonder if a paper map might have worked out a little better.

There are other stories of people who drive to a cliff’s edge by slavishly following their GPS. One guy even died after driving his car into the ocean.

And these are drivers!

On the trail, I can remember numerous instances where a GPS told us a mountain was in one direction when we could clearly see it somewhere completely different.

And then there are the emergency locator devices. These are invaluable tools for those who are going into remote areas, backcountry ski locales, etc., where a mishap can be deadly if rescue can’t come quickly enough.

A great safety tool, but they’ve been abused to the point where some search and rescue personnel call them “Yuppie 911.”

Unfortunately, some people abuse these tools. A few years ago, I wrote about “Yuppie 911,” cases where people went into the backcountry, got tired, thirsty, wet or just weren’t having fun anymore, and hit the button on their SPOT beacon. Others, seeing the beacon as a safety net, will try things they wouldn’t ordinarily try. Like maybe a tougher hike, scramble or climb, one in which they’d hope for rescue if they got stuck or hurt.

Electronics are great. They can be helpful tools. But I would think that they should be something used alongside the knowledge you already possess about the places where you’re going. Unfortunately, they’re becoming an electronic crutch.

How reliant are you on things like GPS devices, locator beacons and other electronics? Are they an integral part of your trail running, hiking and backpacking plans? Or do they take a lesser role? And do you prefer more Old School methods of orienteering?

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088