Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Picture yourself: You are ripping it up on the ski slopes. The conditions are perfect, 10 inches of fresh powder, beautiful sunny day, no crowds and that cute guy or girl that smiled at you in the snack bar line-up keeps "running into you". Life could not be better, you are shedding the Gnar listening to your favorite tunes and thinking of how to turn the day's current flirting into something more romantic.

You find yourself with that same guy or girl that you have been trading googly eyes with on top of a nearby ridge when the Aurora Borealis starts it's magical light show. Your new found crush then leans in towards you and gently whispers "do you have a bottle opener?. They have a ice cold six pack of your favorite imported beer. Next thing both of you are trying your hardest to use whatever grade 11 physics left in your memory to pry, pop, heave, and dislodge a simple metal cap from a glass bottom.

If you don't want to be caught in this situation perhaps you need to swing by your local gear shop this fall and pick up a pair of Outdoor Research Blackpowder Gloves. These waxed goat leather gloves have a built-in bottle opener on the middle finger of the right glove. Now you can be the hero of the Apres Ski party with these fashionable, yet functional ski gloves.

At $75 these gloves can keep your hands warm during the day and assist in keeping your head a little fuzzy during the day.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Sit Skiing To The South Pole

“It's not about what I've done, it's about what I am going to do” - Grant Korgan

On January 17th, 2012 Grant Korgan reached the South pole after a 75 mile ski through some of Earth's harshest terrain and weather. What makes this trip incredible are the events leading up to the South Pole Push. Rewind to March 5th, 2010 Grant becomes paralyzed from the waist down after fracturing his L1 vertebrae performing a snowmobile jump for a video shoot. With a prognosis of never walking again Grant, with the help and support of his new wife Shawna, started a journey of rehabilitation that has been relentless and unwavering.

After the accident the couple quit their jobs, sold their cars and moved into a house that Shawna's parents owned. The new focus in their life wasn't kayaking, snowmobiling, skiing, or mountain biking all of which Grant was very accomplished at. No, their focus was getting Grant up on his feet and moving again. They came up with a plan using whatever resources they could find. Thankfully High Fives, "a Tahoe based non-profit organization that is dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community", came along to give support.

Grant made his way across the harsh landscape of Antarctica using a custom made sit ski. The KBG Artik Crosscountry Sit Ski made it possible for Grant to become the first adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole.
 The designer of this sit ski is Kevin Bramble of Kevin Bramble Goodz(KBG). A three time Paralympic champion Kevin is the leading innovator when it comes to sit skis. This new design is different than most sit skis that only have one ski. The Actik has two articulating skis enabling the skier to handle more rough terrain and carve turns easier. Made from carbon fiber and aluminum this 8 lbs. Artic ski collapses up for easy travel.

After nearly two years of rehab, training, sacrifice, and doctors telling Grant he should focus on living in a wheelchair. With temperatures in the -30's and winds of 20 to 30 knots Antarctica is not a hospitable place. The team estimates it would take about 250,000 thrusts with this ski poles moving the sit ski along the rough snowy terrain. About 100 feet from the flags marking the South Pole, Grant stopped and with the help of his teammates Doug Stoup and Tal Fletcher he got to his feet. They each gave up a ski and pole and Grant made it, with tears in his eyes, standing on his two paralyzed feet to the South Pole of the world. Thanking his friends that helped him on this incredible journey that culminated in such a emotional triumph he says "I only wish my wife was here". Shawna, the one person that wouldn't let Grant give up, the friend and companion that stood by his side during endless appointments, pool sessions, and therapy. Out of the crowd of onlookers consisting of scientists working at the Amundsen-Scott research station Shawna suddenly appeared and as she removed her mask said "welcome to the south pole". As Steven Siig, the director of the film crew documenting the trip says "This is a historic day in the name of recovery, technology, adventure and the human potential.” What does Grant Korgan say "It's not about what I've done, it's about what I am going to do.” 

While researching and writing this post I am humbled and inspired. It is so easy to say "I'll go hiking tomorrow" or "maybe we'll do that trip next year". The problem is if you keep saying those things eventually you end up old and unmotivated with many regrets and not many stories of adventures. The Korgan's story has taught me to take nothing for granted and really appreciate every opportunity that comes my way.

Thank you to the South Pole Push for their info and pictures. Please check out the High Fives organization to learn more about adaptive athletes and how you can help support their return to great adventures.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

MyChacos: design your own sandals

Picture yourself: You are bushwhacking through the hot, humid jungles of central Bolivia in search for the endangered Bolivian Gray Titi Monkey. The Mosquitoes are thick and the Titi sightings are few. Walking through a shallow swamp the bottom mud has the consistency a mixture of baby food, both before and after digestion. Wearing your favorite sandals you go to take a step. Lifting your foot up out of the primordial ooze the strain of the gooey mud fights the pull from your weakened bug bitten legs. Your leg muscles fight the viscous nature of the mud. Then a unnerving feeling occurs when your foot suddenly is released from the clenches of the unsavoury darkness below. Then you realize what has happened. The strap on your favorite pair of sport sandals has detached from the sole. This unfortunate series of events has rendered your sandals as useful as that herbal bug repellent you doused yourself in before your departure.

I have had a similar experience with my sandals. Instead of the depths of a South American country it was retreating from a chilly lake in Northern Ontario after a post trail-sauna dip. Then I heard about this sandal that actually has the webbing run through the sole of the sandal and up and over your foot. Ingenious I thought, "what are these sandals called" I asked. Chacos was the answer.

Now Chacos has come up with MyChacos, a design your own sandal program. Now anyone can design their own custom pair of Chaco sandals.

You pick the style Z1, ZX1 Z2, ZX2. After that decide on your footbed, sole, and webbing colours. You can even make straps longer or shorter then depending on your preference. With 200 colours
of webbing you can feel confident you will be the only person rocking a Tidal blue webbing with a Vibram Unaweep sole under a brown footbed on a Z2 sandal.
Unaweep Vibram sole

Tidal Blue

What does Captain America wear on a casual Saturday hanging at the cottage?

Some of the webbing options
There are a seemingly endless assortment of different options available and for $125 US plus shipping, well worth the investment, in my opinion. Sorry to all my Canadian friends but to order these custom Chacos you must have a US credit card as well as a US shipping address. So call in a favour to your aunt Lucy who spends her winters down in Florida and get her to order you a pair.

A big thanks to Chacos for the use of their photos and some examples of sandals created using the MyChacos program.

And you thought I was being cheeky with the Bolivian Gray Titi Monkey


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My summit attempt up K2, sorry I mean Mt. Bessey

It is February 1st and I think I am ready. I am set up at base camp packing my lunch for my second summit attempt up Mt. Bessey. We are checking our gear, and cross referencing different weather patterns that could affect our bid to make the summit. My team consists of Corey Brown whose enthusiasm makes up for his lack of experience. Our support crew that will be monitoring our progress consists of  Mason, Theron, and Tucker. I'm afraid they don't have the attention span to keep us out of trouble. It looks like we will be on our own, no oxygen, very little support and some serious vertical to overcome.

I'll post pictures of our hopefull successful summit, if we make it back. In the meantime check out this this video from Ursus films documenting the 2009 expedition to K2 by alpinist Fabrizio Zangrilli and his crew. They attempt to climb the famous mountain in Pakistan on the 100th anniversary of the Duke of Abruzzi's trip up K2.
One stat that that is frighting about this mountain; 1 in 4 climbers that attempt to summit K2 don't survive.

If you like what you see you can watch the second part on You Tube. If this type of video inspires you please go to Ursus Films and help support their venture of bringing these stories from the top of the world to you.

Wish me luck.

Update 1:20 pm: Unfortunately do to some above average temperatures, rain and a support team(my 3 cats) that all went for a nap our expedition up the hill in my backyard has been postponed until next week.
Remember no adventure is too small.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ninja Suit long underwear

Picture yourself: You are invited to a formal slumber party at a friends house. They keep the thermostat set at a nipple hardening 15 degrees(celsius). You want to be stealthy just in case that little run-in with the mob back a few years ago catches up with you. What do you wear? Perhaps you need the Ninja suit long underwear from Airblaster.
From the Airblaster website here are 7 reasons why you should get the ninja suit
1)One piece design seals out drafts and snow.
2)Seven-panel stretch hood for temperature regulation.
3)4-way stretch fabric is comfy.
4)Wicking is awesome.
5)Ninjas are awesome.
6)The poop shoot rules.
7)Read #5 and 6 again.

It is hard to argue with that logic. This one piece reminds me of my red one piece pajamas I used to rock when I was a kid.

With both men's and women's suits available in a variety of colours and designs these suits are possibly the coolest looking long underwear I've ever seen.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The future is so bright I have to wear video shades

Point of View(POV) videos of people's outdoor adventures has grown through the roof in the last few years with High Definition video technology becoming smaller and more affordable. Now I'm not talking about the POV videos your college roommate used to watch late at night, although I'm sure if you are so inclined...
No what I'm talking about is all those people on the ski hill or trail with their Hero Cam straped to their bucket hoping to catch proof of their 1080 backside Goomba Stale Fish. Now any aspiring Spielberg can take High Quality action shots so they can show their grandchildren just how cool they were "back in the day".

I stumbled across a product from Vsun that integrates the camera with the goggles or sunglasses that you wear. Now way you can still catch all the action and still look stylish.

The Vsun goggle has a  720p high definition camera and a remote control to catch all the superfly moves you may think you can pull off. That is until you wake up in a uncomfortable bed with multiple limbs in casts, at least you will be able to re-live the event.

The sunglasses have the same 720 p camera but all packed into a useful pair of shades.

The ladies are going to dig you in these?

Maybe I should start wearing these so I can replay the video to find out where I leave my coffee cup, or the remote, or my gloves or....


Friday, January 27, 2012

Life of an adventurer(and the crappy days along the way)

Picture yourself: Day 87 of an estimated 150 day expedition from a reasonably civilized starting point to the far reaches of nowhere. You are hungry, cranky, and tired of your tent mate's snoring and occasional intimate relations with themselves. You think back to those nights sitting around the kitchen table. Maps, visa applications, transportation logistics, and shopping lists are spread out before. They are presenting a battlefield of formidable enemies, and this is the easy part. You daydream of mountains being conquered, miles of hard trail laying in waste behind you. The magazine articles and speaking engagements where you describe the hardships you endured, and overcame, will surely be coming after this trip. Then back to reality, you're sitting in a shit hole town where you have been stuck for a week and a half. You are battling a stomach bug, out of money, and unable to properly communicate with the local authorities that are prohibiting your progression on your epic adventure.

This past Tuesday, Cheryl(my lovely wife) and I went to the local screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This festival showcases films about mountain culture. If you are thinking it's all about ski porn and Nepalese Sherpa's raising prayer flags you are only partially right. Kayaking, skiing, climbing, mountaineering, and all kinds of other great outdoor activities are presented in wide variety of formats. My favorite part is the intro seen below. If this doesn't get you pumped up and want to take on any challenge check your pulse.

For full effect crank up the volume and make sure the bass is pumping.

This brings me to the point of this post. Why do people even attempt these seemingly ridiculous trips? Great question. Once a week I will present you with an adventurer or group of adventurers, their journey, and hopefully find out the motive behind the trip. I hope you will enjoy these adventurous stories and they will inspire you as much as they do me. Inspire you to push your limits, get out of your comfort zone, get off your ass and try new and exciting things.