10/17/17

Riding the White Rim in a Day


A couple months ago I mentioned to Brayden, one of our Graphic Designers, that I was thinking of biking the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park. I figured that doing it in two days was probably the most realistic option, but quickly saw that most of the campsites along the trail were booked out months in advance. Brayden optimistically said “why don’t you just ride it in a day” and was soon committed to attempting the feat with me. 


Opting for more mental training (aka laziness) than physical in the weeks leading up to the ride, I told myself that I’d be able to push through it and finish the loop. A little more time on the bike would have definitely been helpful. The White Rim is a 100 mile loop that goes around the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands. It is almost all double track dirt road except for a few miles of paved highway riding that must be traveled in order to complete the loop. There really aren’t many technical aspects to the ride (unless you’re not comfortable riding through sand, in which case you’re in for a treat) and more than anything it’s a test of endurance. 

Our 6:00am start provided the full sunrise experience 

Looking down the Shafer Switchbacks

After reading a few blog posts and speaking with friends who have ridden the trail, we decided to start riding from the top of Mineral Bottom. This way we would start with a gradual 10ish mile climb to keep warm before the sun came up and then not have any more “major” climbs until the final two miles of the day. We started riding at 6:00 am and were on pace for our 10 hour goal and feeling pretty good for about the first 75 miles. 


The trail winds through some incredible desert scenery with formations different from those seen anywhere else in the area. We debated whether the ride should be done on a gravel bike, but were definitely happy to have some suspension after miles and miles of rocky, bumpy riding. Also, we don’t have gravel bikes. We did see one guy on a wide tire gravel bike, probably a quicker option if your body can handle the beating.

Maybe why it's called the White Rim? Also, Corn Nuts!

While the White Rim is a popular tourist destination, only a limited number of permits are given out each day for both overnight and day use riders. This gives a feeling of remoteness although you will almost certainly pass (or be passed by) other riders and their support vehicles. Even so, it’s best to be prepared with plenty of food, water, and tools/parts for any necessary repairs. Luckily we planned our food and water almost perfectly and had zero bike issues other than a clunky, sandy chain by the end of the ride. I took about 6 liters of water, 3 in a camelback reservoir in my backpack, 2.5 in a handlebar pack, and a water bottle on my bike frame that I filled with Gatorade powder. Foodwise I went with delicious, high calorie options, i.e. Honey Stinger waffles, Probar Bolt chews, Duke’s meat sticks, Corn Nuts, Pop-Tarts, nut butters, etc. Next time I would definitely bring something a bit more “mealy” as it’d be nice to load up on calories 50 or 60 miles in. I would also highly recommend some sort of frame, handlebar, or seat pack so as not to ride with a fully loaded backpack. 


Around mile 80 the trail rides alongside the Green River, creating an explosion of (you guessed it) green erupting from the otherwise red and rocky landscapes experienced for the majority of the ride. At this point we were starting to get pretty tired and a big climb at 90ish miles didn’t help much. After the climb, the trail drops back down and rides alongside the river for another 5-6 miles. Starting above the mineral bottom switchbacks provides the “opportunity” to finish the ride with a grueling climb from river level up to the top of the canyon in just a couple miles. By that point we were worn out to say the least and inched our way up the final climb, eagerly anticipating a big dinner and the chance to sit and relax during the 3 1/2 hour drive home. Total car to car time was about 11 1/2 hours. Longer than we had hoped, but not terrible considering our lack of time spent on a bike this summer.




Overall it was an awesome experience. We had perfect weather, enjoyed incredible scenery, and ate at Arby’s on the way home. Arby’s is really pretty good. I’m fairly certain that both Brayden and I will be back for another go at the loop soon, hopefully much faster now that we have the beta worked out and understand that you should be in decently good shape for this one.





Tyler Jones is a mediocre climber, terrible runner, self proclaimed campfire cook, advocate of playing outside, and Communications Specialist (whatever that means) at Liberty Mountain.







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10/16/17

THE CANYON - Poe Canyon Trip Report



Liberty Mountain business analyst, Christian Weaver, shares a trip report from his recent "stroll" through Poe Canyon in Southern Utah.

The canyon has been in the works for 4-5 years and is what I would consider to be a bucket list canyon. The canyon is often described as one of the more technical canyons in the Colorado Plateau and any descriptions that you can find of the canyon often come with a page full of cautions and warnings.

Last year in the late spring my buddies and I attempted the canyon but failed to even reach it. Accessing the canyon requires a 6-mile cross desert approach to a nearby creek where a basecamp can be established. From the basecamp it's another 2-hour approach to the entry point of the canyon.  Unfortunately, that week of the attempt we had an early heat wave with temperatures approaching triple digits coupled with a delayed mid-afternoon start due to a highway traffic jam causing a few members of the team to suffer heat exhaustion on the initial approach. Ultimately the decision was made to not do the canyon and to seek shade from the heat during the second day and retreat back to our cars in the cool of the evening. To make things even more interesting, my buddy gave birth to a lovely kidney stone on the hike out, making us grateful that we wisely chose to not attempt the canyon.

This year we decided to change up the calendar and attempt the canyon in the fall. Hoping for cooler temps, we chose the second weekend of October. This time we were blessed with perfect weather and no traffic. We started the approach late in the morning and got to the basecamp by late afternoon, half the time it took us the previous year.


A look at the sandstone slopes in which the slot canyon resides
Entering the main creek on the initial approach to the basecamp.
The next morning, we woke up at 5am and started the 2-hour approach to the entry point of the canyon. We hoped to enter the canyon right at sunrise so as to maximize our daylight. Even though the canyon is only a mile long we knew it would take us most of the day to get through. We made the first rappel into the canyon at 7am and immediately began to navigate through the labyrinth of obstacles.


Alpine Start
Massive features of the canyon
One of the major obstacles of the canyon is fact that there are not many bolts in the canyon, and placing new bolts is prohibited due to its geographic location. Without fixed anchors you have to get creative with what you rappel off of. For this canyon we utilized a special anchor called a sand trap (a releasable anchor that is filled with sand from the canyon itself). The procedure for using the sand trap is to send the heaviest team members first with a backup tied to another individual. As you observe the heavier canyoneers descend the rappel you can make the determination of whether or not there is enough sand in the anchor. If the anchor moves then you need to add more sand, if it does not move than you probably have enough sand in the anchor for the last (and lightest) person to rappel off of without the anchor being backed up. Once everyone is down the release cord is pulled which dumps the sand out of the trap and allows the anchor to pull over the edge of the cliff.


Matt starts his rappel with the sand trap in place
The anchor starts moving while Mike is on rappel and everyone jumps on the backup (Brady) to prevent the anchor and him from going over the edge. We need more sand…
Brady rappels off of a sand trap in to the arch room
The water level determines the difficulty of the canyon. When the water is high you swim over many obstacles without any issues. When the water is low, keeper potholes (potholes that can be difficult to climb out of without proper equipment and know how) emerge, upping the difficulty of the canyon. When we descend the canyon there was very little to no water in the canyon itself putting it in what we call “Full-Keeper-Mode.”

The canyon is known for its massive keeper potholes, the largest of these potholes is about 40 feet deep and 20 feet wide. This gigantic pothole has been known to take some teams most of a day to escape and has caused a few overnight bivies. We started off by throwing potshots (small canvas bags filled with sand from the canyon) across the pothole trying to wedge them back behind the lip of a “V” shaped slot 40+ feet away. If a potshot did not land in the right position we would have to pull the potshot back and try again. Sometimes it would take 8-10 attempts to get one potshot positioned just where we thought it needed to be in order to hold a climber. Just the process of throwing the potshots ate up an hour and a half of precious daylight. Once the potshots were in place, I rappelled into the pothole and attempted to climb out using the bundled-up strands of 6mm cord attached to the potshots. Unfortunately, not all the potshots had landed in the correct position and they failed to support my weight as I climbed, forcing me to retreat and ascend back up the rappel line that I had descended.

A look at the big keeper pothole
Video of the big keeper pothole:

I spent almost 25 minutes treading water in the ice-cold pothole. The cold water had gotten to me and I had no desire to re-enter the pot to try again. Plan B was to attempt to bypass the pothole by hooking aid style through a series of small removable bolt holes that have been drilled 30 feet above the bottom of the canyon and then using a stick clip to reach a set of bolts from which you could then pendulum swing to the other side of the pothole from. 3 hours later we finally had everyone safely across.

Mike being assisted across the pothole
With a 6-man team, progress is slow while waiting for everyone to rappel, so we split up into 2 teams and used two working ropes in the canyon. The first team sets up the rappels, rappels off and then takes the second rope and proceeds to the next rappel. The second team takes down the rope and then passes on that rope to the first team so they can continue to progress down the canyon. 

Matt using the cord from a thrown potshot to climb out of another keeper pothole
All together, we ended up spending 10-hours in the canyon, exiting right as the sun started to set. 13-hours from basecamp to basecamp. The canyon was the full experience and had a little bit of everything. Definitely worthy as a line item on my bucket list.

Mike working his way out of a keeper pothole
Phil on rappel to by-pass the below keeper pot.
Once we got back to our basecamp, we filtered some fresh water and hiked the long slog back to the car, arriving at the parking spot around 2:30am.


Final rappel out of the canyon just as the sun starts to set. 

Gear Used


CANYON ROPE 9.1MM X 200' ED  Tough, durable and the Everdry coating makes a huge difference in weight you have to carry once it get wet.
KONG OKA MULTI DESCENDER With the ability to add friction on the fly when rappelling on skinny cords, this is my go-to descender.
3/2MM WETSUIT MENS BLU/BLK MD  and 160258 2MM SHORTY MENS BLU/BLK MD I wore 2 wetsuits to stay warm as the canyon does not see daylight.
SEIRUS NEOSOCK M 6-8.5 This sock keeps your feet warm and prevents blisters in sandy environments.
TECNU SKIN CLEANSER SINGLES We ran into poison ivy at the bottom of the canyon and needed these to keep us from getting a rash.  Life saver!
FIVE TEN GUIDE TENNIE My preferred canyon shoe.  Lightweight and supportive for hiking but handles well on wet rock.  No blisters, no lost toe nails.
BEAL HYDRO BAG Used this bag for the first time and I loved it.  The PVC material did not get heavy when it got wet and was surprising comfortable for the approach into the canyon.
GRAVITYWORKS 4L FILTER SYSTEM My buddy brought this for the trip and I am sold.  It filtered water quick and with little hassle.  I will no longer pump my water.
LM EMERGENCY BLANKET A great emergency blanket for cold, wet canyons.
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10/3/17

TRIP REPORT- Zermatt, Rifflehorn and Chamonix


Jonny Wilson, a product designer at Liberty Mountain, shares some photos and stories from his recent trip to Italy and Switzerland.

My girlfriend Rosemary watches for cheap flights religiously and last spring $460 roundtrip flights to Milan popped up for September. We weren’t too sure what we would do out there but we weren’t about to let the opportunity pass, so we bought our tickets and procrastinated planning until the month before. Neither one of us was too psyched on Milan, but the Swiss and French Alps were in striking distance so Milan seemed like a good launch pad. We originally had some plans to climb a peak in western Switzerland and then head over into Chamonix, but had to change plans on the fly due to weather. Zermatt had the only good weather for the first 3 days so we drove up (and then drove back down to Tasch since Zermatt is a no drive zone, whoops) and found a place to crash on Airbnb. Zermatt is a beautiful mountain town situated near the base of the Matterhorn. It looks a lot like how you might expect Europe to be. Beautiful old huts, green hills, jagged exaggerated peaks, with the Matterhorn ruling the skyline high above any of it’s neighbors. If you can, get a place with a kitchen and save yourself $40 or $50 a day on eating out. 


The matterhorn was usually hidden behind clouds, but we got a couple of good views throughout the next 3 days.

We found some climbs on the Rifflehorn and set out to do them. The Rifflehorn really isn’t that spectacular looking in comparison to it’s neighbors but it’s accessible (20 or 30 minutes of easy hiking to the base of the climb from the train station), offers some great views of the area, and has some spectacular quality rock on it.




This isn’t the actual approach, we hiked up this canyon with a glacier at the bottom after the climb. The approach comes from the right side and circles around the left side to the base of the climbing.


Looks like we’re going the right way.


We did the thermometer Couloir mostly 5.4-5.6 with a brief 5.8 crux. The top had some 9 or 10 pitches on it, but I quickly realized that I could link two at a time with some 10 or 15 meters of my 70 meter rope to spare. The higher up the climb we got, the better the climbing was. The last 2 pitches shoot up an easy crack system in a dihedral. Good stuff.


Some hoofed little buddies on the wall above me.


Climbing through the 5.8 crux. 

This is a pretty tame climb. Perfect for a beginner or if you’re just looking for an Alp warmup climb. Given that the topo I had showed some 9 or 10 pitches, I was expecting the route to take 6 hours or so. We ended up finishing it in under 3. Weather was perfect and we didn’t see any other climbers the whole time. I was sure there would be a crowd given the weather and proximity to town. I guess most climbers probably go to Zermatt for one of the bigger alpine/mountaineering goals and not so much for these easy multi-pitches.


Rose’s selfie with the Matterhorn.


Walking over to the true summit marked by a 7 ft tall cross.


Mmmmm, European dirtbag lunch. My favorite.

Descent was pretty easy. You can usually down climb around the rappels if desired. We did two rappels and down climbed another one.





A few shots from our time in Chamonix:











GEAR
Beal Opera 8.5mm 70 meter Rope: I love this rope. Super smooth to belay with, a lot lighter and less drag on those long pitches than the 9.7mm I usually use. This is my go to for alpine climbing.

Grivel Zen 30L: Good burly bag, a bit big for the Rifflehorn, better in true alpine environments where you may need space for boots and extra layers.

Singing Rock Onyx Harness: Works but the right side gear loop is too far back, I may have sized it too tight.

Set of Ceres II alpine draws: Love these draws, good for reducing rope drag.

Cypher Huevos: I think I place my Huevos more than cams on these types or routes.

BD Camalots: you don’t need a lot on this route since the Euros put bolts everywhere, even next to cracks. You could bring a set of .75-3 cams and be totally set on this climb.

BD Vapor Helmet: Damn thing cracked in transit and now I have to replace it. It’s light, but too fragile for my liking, will have a more durable helmet in the future.

Swiss dried salami: Mind your nutrition.
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10/2/17

Employee Spotlight: Chelsey Whyte



Half of my life I grew up on the beach and the other half in the mountains. From California to Idaho, and now Utah, I have always loved to be outside. I graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in Recreation, exploring new outdoor adventures along the way. My last year of college I worked at a ropes course and rental shop exposing myself to working and fixing gear. After college I headed to Alaska to work for a glacier guiding company where trips included ice climbing, trekking, exploring, and zip lining. Alaska got really cold so I moved to Utah for the great access, awesome mountains, and new adventures. I had been a Liberty Mountain customer working for previous employers, when I noticed that Liberty was hiring I jumped for the opportunity.

Name: Chelsey Whyte

Time working for Liberty Mountain: 9 months

Job title: Sales Representative


Short description of what you do at Liberty Mountain: Work with Brick and Mortar shops in Colorado and the Midwest. Process ASAP and preseason orders, represent our house and exclusive brands, chat directly with our customers, answer all the questions I can, and provide outstanding customer service.

What do you like most about your job?
The people I work with both in and out of the office, constantly learning about new products, and being in the outdoor industry.

Active in the following sports/activities/hobbies: Hiking, camping, fishing, snowboarding, climbing, paddle boarding, wake boarding, dirt biking, and snorkeling when available.

Favorite activity: Snowboarding and snorkeling.

Favorite outdoor areas: Prince William Sound



Piece of outdoor gear you most wish you had: Inflatable SUP

Most interesting place ever lived: Glacier View, Alaska

Top-five favorite movies: Blue Crush, Point Break (old and new), The Grinch, Star Wars, and Grease

Top-five favorite books: Meditation on the Mat, The Alchemist, Let My People Go Surfing, The Iliad, and The Odyssey.


First memory spending time Outdoors: My first memory was swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I grew up in Orange County, CA so the beach was my playground. I would body board (boogie board) all day until the waves threw me around enough to call it quits. I never learned how to surf though; it’s on my list of to dos!

Inspirational Hero: My grandfather

Dream vacation: Being a beach bum in Costa Rica

Favorite food to eat outside: Coffee

Cake or pie: Cookies

Dogs or Cats: Dogs, especially the extra fluffy ones.

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9/12/17

Mt Moran Trip Report




Liberty Mountain employee Paul Larkin shares some shots and a gear list from his Teton trip earlier this month.

My good friend Jentry Miskin and I sought out an adventure involving paddling, backpacking, and rock climbing. We found it all in climbing Mt Moran.



Mt Moran is located in Grand Teton National Park and the climb is most easily accessed by paddling a boat through String Lake, a 0.25 mile portage of boat and gear, and then paddling through Leigh Lake to the base of Mt Moran. That is where you start the ~3,000’ vertical hike to the CMC camp at around 9,700’. That was day one.



Day two, summit day, is a steep hike/scramble to the top of Drizzlepuss where you down climb and rappel into the notch between Drizzlepuss and Mt Moran. Then you start the picturesque climb above Falling Glacier overlooking the East and West horns with a view of the Grand Teton to the south.  After reaching the summit at 12,605’, you down climb ~1,000’ feet to the notch, climb up Drizzlepuss, and then hike down to the CMC camp. We took a leisurely approach to the day, got a few naps in, and it took us 14 hours.



Day three is the steep hike down to the lake, paddling, and a portage.

It was such amazing scenery and fun climbing!

Video of summit day from Relive: https://www.relive.cc/view/1133337689
Mt Moran CMC Route on Mountain Project: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/cmc-route/105823529



Paddling Gear: 



Climbing Gear:

Cypher Logic Approach Shoes 
Cypher Sentinel Climbing Shoes 
Grivel 30 L Zen Backpack 
Singing Rock Penta Helmet 

Backpacking Gear:

Petzl Reactik + Headlamp 
Camelbak Crux 3 L Reservoir 
Swiftwick Pursuit Four Socks 
Mega Cap Jungle Boonie Hat with Snap Brim Hat 
Terramar Men's Pro Mesh Jersey Boxer Briefs 
Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Z-Poles 
Aloe Gator Lotion Sunblock 
TomTom Adventurer Cardio+ Watch 
Garmin Vivoactive GPS Watch 


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