Thursday, December 21, 2023

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/21/2023


--Backpacker is reporting that, "the United States Forest Service (USFS) formalized a comprehensive plan for the Pacific Northwest Trail last week, marking the end of a multi-year process to define the trail’s future. Under the plan, officials now have guidelines through which they can manage and develop the trail, as well as rally congressional support to help establish the still largely underdeveloped trail." To read more, click here.


--From the Sierra County Sheriff's Office: "On Saturday, December 9, 2023, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a Calpine resident who was bitten by a bear the previous night. The resident reported that on the preceding night, he had let his dog outside to go to the bathroom. The dog immediately took off, prompting him to go outside. While outside, a bear emerged from his neighbor’s yard and charged at him. Regrettably, the bear did not stop, and the Calpine resident sustained bites on his hand, wrist, and leg." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "if you’re planning to climb in Yosemite in 2024 during the busiest parts of the year, then you’ll need to book a reservation to enter Yosemite National Park. The National Parks Service (NPS) announced a reservation system is being introduced to counter the long wait times. 'Yosemite has been grappling with congestion − even gridlock − for decades,' says NPS. 'We want to build from the lessons learned from the last three summer of managed access. We are currently developing the Visitor Access Management Plan in order to design an approach that provides a great visitor experience while protecting Yosemite’s natural and cultural resources.'" To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

A climber on Caustic (5.11b) in Red Rock Canyon.
Photo: Caden Martin

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting on the strong numbers for outdoor recreation coming out of Las Vegas: "From rock climbing and hiking to skiing and ATV riding, outdoor recreation in Nevada contributed roughly $6.1 billion to the state’s economy in 2022, a 25.3 percent increase from the previous year, according to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s beyond any bump outdoor activity saw during the pandemic as Strip resorts shuttered and people moved outside for recreation." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Ski Magazine is reporting that, "Many ski areas have issued a statement that acknowledges that their booming businesses operate on stolen lands—then everyone gets on with their day. Colorado’s Winter Park Resort is taking that acknowledgment one step further. This year, the Front Range ski area, which operates on the ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute tribes, has launched a permanent art installation and a new snow stake designed by Indigenous artists. In addition, the resort is adding Arapaho language translations to their trail signs this season and installing historical markers that share the history of the land prior to 1940, the year the ski area opened." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--NBC Montana is reporting that, "The Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue rescued a ice climber on Saturday in Hyalite Canyon that had fallen about 40 feet and sustained a back injury." To read more, click here.

--A goat triggered an inbounds avalanche at Big Sky. According to Unofficial Networks, "this goat was carried the full length of the avalanche, over a distance of 1,000 feet and through rocky terrain. Remarkably, it emerged from this perilous journey unscathed.

--The hard reality of ski bumming in the mid-2020s.

--The North Face and VF Brands have succumbed to a cyber attack, which is making it difficult for them to fulfill orders. To read more, click here.

--HuffPost is reporting that, "The U.S. Forest Service, an agency with a long history of prioritizing timber production, has taken a first step toward protecting the nation’s most ancient forests from logging. The agency on Tuesday announced a proposal to amend management plans for all 128 national forests and grasslands across the country to better conserve carbon-rich 'old-growth' forests, typically defined as those at least 150 years old and largely undisturbed by human activity." To read more, click here.

--Ski is reporting that, "While the Utah and California mountains get pummeled by winter storms, East Coast ski resorts continue to endure warm temperatures, rain, and a downright sad lack of snow. It’s gotten so bad in part of Vermont that Mad River Glen has ceased lift operations this week." To read more, click here.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/14/2023


--Ski is reporting on a controversial project near Mt. Shasta: "New lifts, base lodges, dining options, and other skier amenities are all welcome additions at resorts across the country, but a towering tribute to the Virgin Mary? Not so much. Mt. Shasta Ski Park, a 635-acre ski area located in Northern California at the foot of the iconic fourteener, just shared plans to build a 20-foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of Douglas Butte, which is one of the resort’s four lift-served summits." To read more, click here.


--This video of a bear running past skiers in Heavenly has been making the rounds this week:

Colorado and Utah:

--The Daily has a report out about Vail's sales numbers: "Vail Resorts is reporting sales of its season passes are up for the 2023/2024 snow season. In its first quarter earnings report, the company said pass sales through Dec. 4 for the upcoming season increased about 4% in units and approximately 11% in dollars compared to the same period last year." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Here's a short list of the fee free days in the National Parks in 2024.

--Huffpost is reporting that, "Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Wednesday that the National Park Service is launching an initiative with Native American tribes to tell 'a more complete story of American history' at the country’s 428 national park sites." To read more, click here.

--The New York Times released an incredible story about a camera found melted from the ice in 2020 that reopened a series of questions about the deaths of two Americans on Aconcagua in 1973. Some believe that foul play was involved. To read the story, click here.

--From Backpacker: "When Apple introduced the ability to automatically call for help via satellite in 2022, critics feared it would encourage hikers to be reckless. But a year later, one of the United States’ busiest search and rescue outfits is praising it—and other new safety tech from the company—as a 'game changer.'" To read more, click here.

Pay the full tuition for one of the above listed courses by December 15th and get 20% off!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/7/ 2023


--Climbing is reporting on an older accident and what led to it: "Climber Whitney Clark suffered a 30-foot groundfall in Sequoia National Park on October 8, after a sling jammed into her lone progress capture device—a Petzl Micro Traxion—while she was ascending a fixed line. After tackling the 16-mile approach to Angel Wings on October 6, Clark and partner Luka Krajnc fixed the initial pitches of their objective, the 17-pitch ultra classic Valkyrie (IV 5.11+; 2,200ft), the following day. On the morning of October 8, Krajnc climbed the route’s first pitch, a 70-degree slab, top rope soloing with a GriGri. Clark followed him, using a Micro Traxion as her only ascension device." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--On November 29th, the House introduced the EXPLORE bill which combines several key pieces of outdoor legislation into one bill. This includes things like the SOAR Act which will make permitting easier for outdoor recreation companies, and the Protect America's Rock Climbing Act, that will ensure fixed anchors remain a legitimate use in Wilderness. To read more about the legislation, click here

--Pro climber Sasha DiGiulian testified before congress about the EXPLORE Act. 

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "Vail Resorts is facing a lawsuit over the death of Scott Lewis, a zipline guide at Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont. The lawsuit, which involves four other companies, alleges equipment failure and safety negligence." To read more, click here.

--In other snow related lawsuit news, Nike sent a cease and desist to Skiman LLC because the logo looks too similar to their Jordan logo. Seems kinda legit. Read more.

--Climbing is reporting that, "The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) and Access Fund are thrilled to announce the purchase and protection of the iconic Citadel Boulders in Alabama. The acquisition, which includes 58 acres of undeveloped land surrounding an incredible boulder field, was more than two decades in the making, and it marks another landmark victory for climbing and conservation in the Southeast." To read more, click here.

--Politico is warning that a portion of the Grand Teton National Park might be sold. "The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments figures it could raise millions of dollars for public schools just by selling one big chunk of trust land: 640-acres inside the eastern border of Grand Teton National Park. Reflecting prices in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation, the director of the state office on Friday recommended selling the land in a public auction for no less than $80 million, or $125,000 an acre. Many believe the plot would fetch an even larger price if the State Board of Land Commissioners approves the recommendation this week." To read more, click here.

--The Happiness Function is reporting that, "seven out of ten people who camp in the U.S. and Canada are planning to witness this spring’s anticipated celestial event dubbed the ‘Great North American Eclipse’ on a camping trip, and 18% have already booked their spots, according to Kampgrounds of America (KOA). The latest data from KOA reports a 13% increase in campers interested in witnessing the solar eclipse firsthand since their last poll in August 2023, indicating that people are getting increasingly excited about the event. It will be the last solar eclipse until 2044." To read more, click here.

--The Guardian is reporting on a little-known program that uses cyanide mechanisms to essentially explode on predators in order to kill them. "A campaign to end the use of so-called “cyanide bombs” within the United States has received a major boost after the country’s largest public land management agency banned the poison devices on hundreds of millions of acres across the nation. The move builds on decisions by states such as Oregon to fully or partially prohibit the use of cyanide bombs, also known as M-44s, within their jurisdictions. The US Department of Agriculture uses these devices to kill predators and other wildlife." To read more, click here.

--If you're Canadian and you're looking for expedition funding, click here.

Pay the full tuition for one of the above listed courses by December 15th and get 20% off!

Monday, December 4, 2023

Gear Review: Grass Sticks Bamboo Ski Poles

Last winter I had a blast skiing all over the Sierra Nevada (Mammoth Lakes and Tahoe) and in the Cascade Range with a trusty pair of Grass Sticks ski poles. The ski poles are simple, but sometimes for the equipment you rely on greatly to get up and down a mountain, simpler is better.

Most people probably know the Grass Sticks from their distinctive look. You can choose from a range of fun, bright colors for the grip and the powder baskets, and the natural look of the bamboo pole stands out in a sea of aluminum and carbon at the ski resort or on the skin track.

But where this pole stood out for me was the little details that added comfort. The grip is comfortable in gloved or mittened hands. It doesn’t have ridges for your individual fingers or for your forefinger, which was something that I appreciated after having a bad experience with the ridges on the Moment Freeride pole fitting my hand (I’m normally a HUGE Moment fan, especially for skis that work well in the Sierra, but was disappointed in this particular item). So the grip, like a lot of things on the Grass Sticks, was simple and just worked.

The author with a pair of Grass Sticks Ski Poles in Mammoth Lakes, California. Photo by Caitlin Brown.

I also liked the wrist strap. I chose to get it without a buckle, and found that I didn’t really miss it and appreciate having one less thing that can break on a piece of gear. When touring up Mt. Tumalo in the Oregon Cascades, or out at Red Cone Bowl on the Mammoth Crest, it was comfortable for going uphill as well as down without needing any adjustment.

For the pole itself, the benefits of bamboo as the material for the shaft go beyond aesthetics. Because bamboo has natural flex, it’s less likely to bend or break than your average aluminum pole. It may not be ski-mountaineering-racing light (they weigh about 18oz on average - depending on the length of your pole and accessories, of course). But I expect my pair to be a reliable workhorse. And - continuing in the theme of customizability - while the ski poles aren’t height-adjustable, you can order the exact length pole in centimeters that works for you.

I was fortunate enough to receive a pair of ski poles from Grass Sticks for this review. But if they were ever to break – which doesn’t seem likely – I’d buy another pair.
--Shelby Carpenter, AAI guide alum