Friday, September 26, 2014

Name: David Steele

Hometown: Kalispell, Montana

Spirit Animal: I find myself wanting to be a wolverine, but the truth is that I’m not that fast, so it’s probably a mountain goat. You can’t project your wishes when choosing a spirit animal, because it’s an honest reflection—not what you want to be. 


What are you all about? How'd you find yourself so deep in ski mountaineering?


Anytime you can best your own expectations or safely push your boundaries, in whatever arena, you have to re-estimate yourself. In the mountains, I constantly find that I can go a little further and do a little more than what I thought—and if my own estimation is wrong, then what else could I do? That feels like freedom to me. 

There’s so many facets to the mountain life. So many things to learn. Snowpack analysis, placing protection, route selection—it’s a really deep vein to mine. Ski mountaineering offers all the joys of winter camping and faster access without the walking back downhill. 



"Skinning with Bear Spray" is your blog. Do you actually skin with bear spray? Any chance encounters?


The shoulder seasons in Montana are always bizarre. As early as mid-April, a day can start on a dry trail, transition through frozen corn, and then find boot deep wind buff up high. Fall brings high snows that take a few miles of walking before you can put on your ski boots. The bears are still out, so I end up skinning with bear spray, which felt strange enough to name a blog after the experience. 

Once, some guests at a backcountry hotel saw a bear pass perhaps fifteen feet behind me on a trail while I was walking the other direction. Didn’t even see it, and when I came back, they told me the story with dinner plate eyes. But it’s important to remember that the places I like to play are their home. I’m just a visitor. 


Best adventures of last season?


Oh geeze. So many things to improve on. I think one of the best was skiing the south face of Mt. Stimson . Rampant creek crossings, a finicky stove, and huge vert made for a pretty epic time. I went out for some alpine rock this summer, and that was a super neat thing to get into. 


Plans for adventures this season?


I’ll be headed to the UK for a few weeks in November, and I’m excited to explore around there. Hoping to do a lot more snow camping once winter kicks into action here at home, and we’re working on some hut trips here in Montana and the Rogers Pass area. Skiing Rainier is high on my list for the spring, amongst some other objectives. 


You reached out to Julbo- what prompted your interest?


It’s simple: Julbo makes great sunglasses as well as goggles, and I need both for the terrain I frequent. They’ve taken photochromic lenses further than anyone else I’ve seen. This yields a real difference when skiing or climbing in variable weather. Also, it’s really nice to work with a company that’s so rooted in the mountain world. There’s a focus on things that really work well and look good, and those priorities align with my own. 

Anything else to add?

It’s an honor to be on the team.

I came to get down--David Steele Season 2014 from David Powder Steele on Vimeo.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Caroline Ware George takes on Colton-Macintyre


Could you give a little background on your life for readers (like me) who might not be familiar? Who are you? What do you do?

I am an IFMGA certified guide, alpinist and mother of a little Olivia (2.5 years old). I am Swiss, French and American and currently reside in Chamonix, France. I started climbin
at a young age with my parents but didn’t take to it until later in life. Then, it became my life. I competed in ice climbing world cup event in the early 2000s. Then turned to the bigger alpine climbs, completing the 3 great north faces of the Alps (Eiger,Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses) in a few months in 2003. Ice climbing is a medium I love, whether on big alpine faces or pure ice climbs. I have put up new ice climbing routes in Canada, Norway and Iceland and love to travel for ice climbing. I guide in the Alps mostly, but have guided in the US and in Antarctica as well. In 2012, my little girl Olivia came into our lives, making me a way better person :-)

 

This is a stout route. Can you talk about the prep leading up to it and the trip itself? What was the experience like? Did the weather cooperate? Any harrowing moments?

There was no prep. Basically, I saw on Facebook it was in condition, but since I had climbed the Walker Spur, I didn’t think I would ever want to climb this north face again. Yet, my friend Nicole Berthod-Grange sent me a message asking: “huh, by any chance, any interest on the Colton-Macintyre?” My inlaws were in town for a month to help with Olivia, so I had time to go, the weather was perfect, there was availability at the hut, so I said yes - kind of like it was meant to happen. We talked briefly on the phone to sort out the gear and met in Chamonix ready to go. We debated taking bivouac gear, and opted to take it… just in case. I suggested to my husband (he had already done the route so wasn’t frustrated not to go) to take his parents for pizza in Italy and simultaneously drop a car off. So that way we could drive home at night. So it all really just happened at the last minute, which is always better as there is no time to stress about what’s coming. Right before leaving, I read a things about the route and said: “wow, it looks actually hard!”. So off we went. The Leschaux hut was quite busy. The hut keeper has a Facebook page for the hut and posts condition updates, which in turn attracts people to come. And sure enough, it was busy and a lot of people were going for the route. Which is always a bit unnerving on an ice route. We woke up atmidnight, had a quick breakfast and headed down the ladders below the hut to access the glacier. The bergschrund was impressive and offered a very steep ice pitch. A good way to wake up in the morning. We then climbed another bergschrund and after that, up the small runnel to get to the 400m ice face, we were getting hit by ice. Since I haven’t done many north faces since I’ve had Olivia, other than Beyond Good and Evil, it was hard for me not to think of Olivia and what I was doing here. We briefly talked about going down but I led on up the 400m ice slope to the base of the difficulties, where the ice fall somehow didn’t seem as bad. From hereon out, the route was a mix of steep ice and more moderate ice fields. The crux was a 60m long pitch covering a vertical slab, offering a mix of unconsolidated snow and ice. I couldn’t find many, if any, descent screw placement. It was quite heady and run out, finishing on consolidated sugary snow to overcome the ice bulge. But at least the anchor was on good ice. 250m of snow and ice led us to the base of the headwall. There, you can either head way left to the Walker spur, or climb a beautiful mixed line called Extreme Dream (VI 6, 1200m) that takes you to the Walker Spur as well, by climbing 4 thin mixed pitches. We then made quick work of the last 130m to the top of the Walker Spur. I had bad enough memories of the descent from when I had done it in 2003 that I was not looking forward to doing this descent again. 2003 had been a really dry year so conditions were very different from what we encountered on the descent this time. We made good enough time that we decided to descend all the way back down to the car that awaited us in Planpincieux, Italy. The previous day, Adam had kindly taken his parents to have pizza in Italy and dropped off my car there for us to have if we arrived after bus hours. 

 

You organize your life around adventures in the mountains. Can you talk a little about that, the ways you make family / life / mountaineering work in balance?

That is a constant challenge. It’s not as easy as I had predicted it would be. Living amongst the mountains makes it easier to get something done almost on a daily basis. But sometimes, that can be hard too because as a parent, you can’t just pick up and go when conditions are perfect and the weather is perfect. But Adam’s parents have come twice a year to help out for 2week to a month and that makes it possible to get out and climb longer and bigger routes. My parents were climbers too, so they are very understanding and if I really want to go do something, they are more than happy to watch Olivia for me. But the biggest difference from being a parent to not being a parent is spontaneity. “Pick up and go” is an expression that disappears all together from your daily life. So it takes a little more planning and flexibility. That said, we have a great day care system here in France, so we can get a lot done just between those hours. Parenthood teaches you also to reach out to others for help. When there is a will, there is a way.  For me though, the crux is the guilt I feel when I go take risks for my own pleasure now that I am a mom. It can be hard to justify. But as a friend just said to me: accidents usually happen on easy terrain. which is usually true. And driving a car is dangerous and we accept that risk. Biking down a road a full speed and have very high consequences and yet, that is acceptable. But somehow, taking risks in the mountains is socially perceived as reckless. What I learnt from this last climb though is that it is important to decide to do something and to do it well, to focus on the task at hand and not let your mind wander to what could be or what people may think because accidents often happen when your mind is not on the task at hand. Being in the present, focusing on what you are doing right here, right now, and knowing you’re doing the best you can (as an alpinist, as a parent), is what matters the most. Climbing is part of who I am and I need that for my balance and being balanced makes me a good parent. But also I am mountain guide, I need to stay in shape and on top of my game to be a good guide, so I train accordingly as well. Balancing it all out can be challenging, so this summer, I took on a little less work to feel more rested to climb more for myself and to be more available for Olivia. I have accepted that I can’t do it all without paying the price somehow and I am ok with that. 


Any other big routes or other mountain adventures planned for 2014?

We are in the midst of planning our Fall. But much like with the Grandes Jorasses, I like things to just happen instead of planning them too much because then, it creates frustration and disappointment. There are a few other routes I would like to do, so hopefully the stars will align, like they did this week. 



Julbo related question - favorite product? 
           For the mountains, the Monte Rossa. For lifestyle, the Kaiser or the Bora Bora.














Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Running on Columbian Time: Josh Ferenc

Josh Ference is a Julbo sponsored mountain runner from Vermont. This month the high energy runner took on competition in the wilds of Columbia racing up an active Volcano. We've collected his vides, posts and thoughts here from his impressive run and this #mountainvision adventure. Watch the build up and strong finish (2nd overall!)for Josh at the Ultra Trail Parque Los Nevados, a 41 mile race in Manizales, Columbia: 



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the Run: Julbo + The Mountain Running Scene





“I've got 3 more big weeks of running in the French alps before UTMB.   I will do some running with Timmy Olson and Mike Foote (North Face guys) who are here all August.   (I’ve been running with the) Trail, the lightest best race glasses ever.“


Julbo athlete and trail runner, Jason Schlarb sent over word yesterday of another trail running win at a 50k in Switzerland, this time a prep event for the well known Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB).

You’ve likely noticed that as a brand we’re popular with trail and mountain runners. That’s no accident. For the better part of a decade, we’ve sought to develop product that meets the needs of runners in the high country, harriers who eschew easy pavement plods for more rarified air. Additionally, we support events around the globe from the newly minted Catamount Ultra near our US head quarters to the hotly contested UTMB high in the Alps. #Mountainvision is a way of life and aside from our core environment in climbing, mountaineering and skiing, trail runs are a fine way to get there.

So in the summer solstice months, we’re fat with stories of running goodness and insights from Julbo athletes that are fleet of foot. We’re also proud. Proud of Larisa Dannis for her impressive run at Western States, proud to see Amber Reece-Young help the US to a mountain running title in Mexico, proud to see the US Skyrunner Series kick off and proud to watch still more great performances from the likes of IanSharman, Denise Bourassa, Joe Gray and Dylan Bowman.

That pride, that connection to the greater running community feeds us back here. It’s what pushes our product development and helps determine the events we offer our brand support. Mountain peaks are scenery to some, a backdrop for a far off view. At Julbo, whether climbing, skiing, riding or, particularly in the last few months, running, the mountains are a place to consistently find and improve our vision.


Monday, July 28, 2014

The Julbo Groovy is in Good Company

A Style of Sport pick for summer cycling, we always knew the Groovy was style correct:

Friday, June 27, 2014

WSER: Meet the Julbo Athletes

As the most prestigious endurance running event of the US calendar and the focal point for a number of Julbo- sponsored athletes, the Western States Endurance Run takes a big spot on the mountain running calendar. Here are just a few folks to keep an eye on when the race kicks off tomorrow in Squaw Valley.


Ian Sharman


The Ultra running superstar, coach and race director (of the Julbo-sponsored Skyrunner series) is always a threat in a long run. "Fitness is 50% of the battle on race day," Sharman wrote in advance of WSER. The mental game is something that comes with experience, of which he has no shortage.




Dylan Bowman



Follow Bowman on Strava (which is easier to do than running behind him), you'll see that he's posted over 316,000 feet of climbing and over 1800 miles on the year. Big numbers. The Aspen-based heavy hitter is light on his feet in high altitude, a necessary expectation for winning WSER.


Denise Bourassa



Taking on WSER as a part of the Ultra Grand Slam, Denise Bourassa is unafraid of big challenges. The Bend, Oregon based runner describes her motivation simply, "I explore where only few can go, I follow my feet and open my mind to the beauty of running." 


Beginner's luck is only as good as the person employing it. Fortunately for Larisa Dannis, the first-time Western States runner has some skills to back up the feel good of the first time. Keep an eye on this up-and-comer from New Hampshire.


Gina Lucrezi



Based in Colorado, Gina Lucrezi has a reputation for being a tough competitor and a kind sportsperson. The collegiate winner turned ultra runner took home top honors at the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in Iceland, her second ultra.