3/1/17

Employee Spotlight: Merril Longmore

 

I grew up with the spirit of adventure. For as long as I can remember my parents fostered this spirit by taking our family to see and explore every chance they got. Every three day weekend we packed up the car and headed out to see all the local national and state parks, hiking and camping all over Utah and the surrounding states. This mentality has carried over into my adult life. Every chance I get to explore the world around me I take. I firmly believe there is always an adventure to be had no matter where you are living.

Besides backpacking, one of my biggest passions in life is fishing. I love fishing and combining backpacking with fishing. This has led me to the sport of Tenkara. Tenkara is Japanese fly fishing. I love it because it is fly fishing simplified. I take my Tenkara rod with me every time I go into the wilderness where I might run into water. I carried it across 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I have caught hundreds of fish, both big and small on my Tenkara rod. I would recommend Tenkara to anyone who is interested in learning to fly fish on rivers.

I love animals, especially fish. I volunteer at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium twice a month, educating people about the animals. I had the pleasure of explaining most of the exhibits to a few other employees after the Liberty Mountain Christmas party this year. While Hiking the AT, I picked up and played with most every animal that I could on the trail. Animals of all shapes and sizes are awesome.


I have had some major transformations in my life, leading me to a new lifestyle of health and fitness. I started running last year. I competed in my first races doing 2 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I have now been toying with the idea of running an ultra. I love being active in the outdoors, that’s why ultras and trail running have appealed to me as they combine running with hiking.


NameMerril Longmore
Number of years working for Liberty Mountain: One
Job title: Sales Channel Specialist
Short description of what you do at Liberty Mountain: Started in the warehouse, moved to returns in the outlet, and I now work in sales. (Minimum Advertised Price, New Customer Acquisitions, Customer Service, etc.)


What do you like most about your job? Being in the outdoor industry
Active in the following sports/activities/hobbies: Tenkara, Fly fishing, Running, Backpacking, Canyoneering, Climbing, Caving, Kites, Skipping Rocks, etc…
Favorite activity: Canyoneering
Favorite outdoor areas: Southern Utah
Piece of outdoor gear you most wish you had: Quality Snowshoes


Most interesting place ever lived: Out of my backpack on the Appalachian Trail
Least interesting place ever lived: Everywhere has something interesting to see or do
Top-five favorite movies: American Beauty, Fight Club, Last Samurai, Groundhogs Day, and Flight of the Concords
Top-five favorite books: A Song of Fire and Ice, Think and Grow rich, Myst: Book of Dn’I, Timeline, and The Client
Top-five favorite bands: Coheed and Cambria, AFI, Rise Against, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,  and Panic at the Disco


Inspirational Hero: Martin Luther King
Dream vacation: Local: carry an inflatable kayak to the bottom of coyote gulch and kayak out of lake Powell International: Backpacking across Asia
Cake or pie: Pie (key lime)
Dogs or Cats: Fish

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2/27/17

New Vaude Production Facility Focuses on Sustainability



VAUDE’s new specialized production facility at its company headquarters in southern Germany, VAUDE Manufaktur, doesn’t look like a typical industrial building with its warm-toned, blond wood façade.  The new 2-million euro production plant built by the outdoor outfitter began operation at the beginning of the year. The role that sustainability plays in the facility  – as in the surrounding buildings – is unmistakable. Plenty of natural wood and energy-efficient strategies ensure a comfortable, healthy working space. 42 employees have finally returned to the VAUDE Manufaktur at the company headquarters and are thrilled with the space. Due to a major fire in 2015, production had been temporarily moved to a rented production plant. Approximately 100,000 bike bags and backpacks are made in the 1,800 m2 factory – utilizing craftsmanship that meets highly technological standards. VAUDE will continue to expand its “Made in Germany” production, which is growing by about 20 percent annually.



"We have deliberately chosen to strengthen production at our company headquarters and to invest in a new, highly specialized production facility which represents our values, our roots and our core competencies. We are proud of our "Made in Germany” products which are in high demand around the world," said Antje von Dewitz, VAUDE CEO. "We are also pleased that we can once again show the visitors on our company tours our own production facility as a highlight. Interest in the facility is enormous."
Since 1980, VAUDE has had its own production plant at its headquarters in southern Germany. Starting out with the production of backpacks, it now primarily manufactures waterproof panniers as well as urban bags and daypacks for the VAUDE segment, Packs ‘n Bags.  After the former production plant was severely damaged in 2015 due to a lightening strike, VAUDE decided to build a new, larger facility at the headquarters in the face of strong growth of its “Made in Germany” products.



"Made in Germany" - environmentally friendly and long-lasting
At its Tettnang headquarters, VAUDE manufactures high-quality, long-lasting products featuring 100-percent waterproofing using high frequency welding methods. Each product is handcrafted on special machines involving about 20 steps. The craftsmanship of these products can be seen in the smallest details throughout the process which involves cutting pattern pieces, HF welding, sewing, quality control and packaging. To leave the smallest possible ecological footprint, production is 100% climate neutral and EMAS eco-certified. VAUDE completely sustains from using environmentally harmful PVC that is found in conventional tarpaulin. Instead, the company uses alternative materials that are environmentally friendly and just as waterproof. In terms of sustainable product development, VAUDE already takes the product’s lifespan and minimization of material waste into account at the beginning of the design phase. Last year, VAUDE initiated a refugee project that used material waste to make shopping bags. This initiative was so popular that it is now responsible for an entire product line. Future upcycling projects are certain to be exciting.


A VAUDE Classic – the Aqua Series
At the same time that the VAUDE Manufaktur began operation, the Aqua pannier line is heading into the new season with a complete re-launch. "Made in Germany" quality is what this successful VAUDE classic stands for.  Aqua panniers made of durable, PVC-free, absolutely waterproof tarpaulin materials are reliable companions for any biking adventure, be it large or small.


Ecological wooden construction for well being
As with its recently remodeled headquarters, VAUDE has attached great importance to a comfortable working environment, excellent lighting and a cafeteria in the new production facility. To achieve its goals, VAUDE decided to build a wooden structure rather than a standard industrial building. "Vorarlberger Holzbaukunst," (Austrian wooden architecture) emphasized Erwin Gutensohn, Head of Finance at VAUDE. The building will soon feature a “green” roof contributing to biodiversity. LED lighting, triple glazing and high quality insulation all ensure high energy efficiency. "We are pleased that we can offer an exceptional working environment for our employees and that we are once again all reunited," said Antje von Dewitz.


VAUDE "Made in Germany"

1980    VAUDE begins production of backpacks and bags at its Tettnang location in southern Germany.

1990    VAUDE begins manufacturing 100% waterproof panniers and introduces high-frequency welding methods. 

1999    VAUDE launches the successful Aqua bike bag series to the market.

2015    Major fire in the VAUDE production facility

2017    The newly built VAUDE Manufaktur facility begins operation        


VAUDE Sustainability Report: http://csr-report.vaude.com/


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2/24/17

Trekkin Through Patagonia


Patagonia, the region at the southern tip of South America, had been on my travel wish list for a very long time. I wanted to go so badly in fact that upon finding a deal on flights, I had purchased a ticket within about 30 minutes. I found two friends who were interested in the adventure, and together we began to plan our trip.

The Plan

The trail that we wanted to backpack was in Torres del Paine national park, a place that I had stared at pictures of for years. The area is known for its erratic weather, unique animals, and incredibly diverse landscapes. While there is a fair amount of information about the park online, recent changes (as in the last couple months) to camping restrictions and campsite reservations made it hard to find current information on the park. Because of this, much of what we now know about the park is what we discovered once we were in Chile.


Hiking around Glacier Grey

Travel Logistics

My friends and I met up in Washington D.C. and from there had flights scheduled to Panama, Santiago and then to Punta Arenas in Southern Chile. Our Panama flight was delayed because of a fuel leak, meaning a hotel in Panama for the night and a 24-hour delay to all our plans. The rest of the flights were uneventful. After arriving in Punta Arenas, we took a 3-hour bus ride to the town of Puerto Natales. Natales is the gateway town to Torres del Paine and is loaded with backpacker hostels, gear shops, and amazing street food. Here we were able to stock up on any last minute items needed for the trek (stove fuel, cookies, etc.) I chose to bring most of my food for the days that I’d be backpacking with me from home rather than mess with finding everything I wanted in small town shops.


These folks gave us a ride, saving us from a few extra hours walking
While very remote, the park is fairly easy to access by both bus and hitchhiking. The ride is about 2 hours to the park entrance and then another 15 – 45 minutes depending on where you are going inside the park. We soon learned that there isn’t a reliable bus system in the park, so without a car one is forced into hitching rides or waiting for one of about two buses that pass throughout the day.

The Trek

Because the weather in Patagonia is so unpredictable, one visitor’s day might be completely different than someone else's only a few miles away. That being said, we lucked out and had excellent weather for almost an entire week. There were still days when I would go from 4 layers to a t-shirt and back to 4 layers in about a 20-minute period, but no major storms.


Since the newly implemented campsite reservation system requires all reservations in advance, I wasn’t able to hike the complete Torres del Paine circuit as I had hoped. I still enjoyed five solid days cruising through some of the most amazing landscapes that I’ve ever seen and was able to hike the entire W trail.

Day one in the park we took a bus, then walked, and finally hitched a ride with a nice Chilean couple in a van to a campground called Pehoe. Once at camp, the clouds briefly parted and we got our first glimpse of the jagged peaks Patagonia is known for. We spent the evening climbing around on the lakeside cliffs, scouting out the local wildlife, and sharing stories with other campers until the rain encouraged us to call it an early night.

Los Cuernos peeking out over Lake Pehoe

Josh and Sarah exploring the cliffs near Glacier Grey

Day two we planned to hike to Las Torres, probably the most iconic landmark in the park. Since we were miles from the trailhead and buses weren’t an option until 2:00 pm, we decided to give traveling “al dedo” another shot. We got picked up by a great group of folks from China who were luckily going to the towers as well and took us all the way to the trailhead. The hike up to Mirador Las Torres is fairly mellow and only gets steepish towards the very end. The weather was pretty foggy on the ascent, but cleared up nicely once we got to the top, probably just to show off. I mean, look at those things... 

Mirador Las Torres
On day three in the park we finally had campsite reservations along the trail. We took a catamaran over to Paine Grande on the other side of the park and started hiking towards Glacier Grey.  This trail was a few miles of gentle uphill followed by a steep descent to the valley that this giant glacier calls home. The trail (by far the windiest area I encountered) offered spectacular views of mountain lakes on one side and massive peaks on the other. We got to camp fairly early and had plenty of time to relax, make a good meal, and enjoy the scenery.

Lakes on the left and this guy on the right as we hiked up to Glacier Grey
One of many icebergs floating around near Glacier Grey
Day four was our rest day. We slept in, got camp cleaned up, and then went to see what all the hype was about surrounding Glacier Grey. It’s pretty rad, but only if you’re into cool things. The icebergs surrounding it weren’t bad either. After an hour or so or staring and taking pictures, we headed back to camp, grabbed our packs, and took off to our next campsite…Paine Grande.


The view from our campsite at Paine Grande
Day five in the park was by far my favorite of the whole trip. I woke up around 6:00, broke camp, and was on the trail by 6:30. My friends decided earlier on that they wanted to go to Argentina rather than finish hiking the full W with me, so it became a solo-hiking day. I rallied down the trail for about 4 hours and only saw two other people. By 10:00 I had arrived at the Mirador Britanico and had the whole place to myself thanks to the early start. The views here were unreal cool with snaggle tooth peaks surrounding nearly the entire valley; easily one of the raddest places I’ve ever been.

Approaching the Mirador Britanico

One of my favorite views of the trip was this river running through the incredible valley

Proof that I was actually there

The incredibly peaceful Lago Nordenskjöld

Massive granite walls along the trail to the Los Cuernos campground
The rest of the day was pretty cruiser and I rolled into camp after a twenty-something mile day by about 5:00. Dinner was a mountain house meal, then another mountain house meal, then a plate of pasta from some new friends, and then a sleeve of cookies…good eatin after a great day on the trail. That night was the first (and only) major rainstorm of the trip. I spent a few hours playing cards and adventure chatting in a cramped tent with some other campers, then headed to my own and dozed off to the sounds of a Patagonian downpour.

Fun Patagonia fact (that might be obvious to folks who think about these things more than I do) - Because the region is soo far south, during the summer it is light outside until well after 10:00pm and then light again before 6:00am. Kind of convenient for playing outside. Another nighttime feature that I found cool is that the stars at night seemed to be moving super fast (like almost airplane speeds), I’m assuming because of the earth’s rotation. Don’t quote me on that science, but it was cool to watch.

The rest of my time in South America was spent in Argentina enjoying the blue beauty of the Perito Moreno glacier, taste testing alfajores in El Calafate, and checking out the seafood scene at the bottom of the world in Punta Arenas.

A huge chunk of the Perito Moreno glacier breaking off and splashing into the water below. Photo - Josh Spurlock

Stoked on snow...and not showering in days

The glacier was incredibly and insanely massive

Making friends on the docks of Punta Arenas

My disappointed face when what we thought were penguins actually weren't penguins


Gear


Peregrine Altai 20 Sleeping Bag
I chose to take this bag from Peregrine because its fill is a Primaloft down blend, meaning the best of both the down and synthetic worlds. The bag compresses really small (I fit it in a 5L stuff sack), but was still warm enough and had enough loft to keep me toasty in nighttime temps right around freezing. I generally slept in only a base layer and never had problems being cold. The bag also seemed to breath well and never felt clammy. The zippered pocket was great for keeping track of my earplugs (a must have for hostels, group campsites, and tent mates who snore) and the drawcord hood sealed in the extra bit of heat that I needed on a couple of the chillier nights.


Outdoor Designs Diablo Tech Gloves
Patagonia is known for its hurricane force winds that will wrestle you any and all hours of the day. These gloves did an excellent job of blocking out that wind, but still breath well enough that I didn’t have to worry about overheating while hiking. Thick enough to protect, but thin enough that I could still adjust settings on my camera without taking them off…the perfect soft-shell glove.

Peregrine Ultralight Stuff Sacks
Because I opted for an ultralight pack that offered very few organization options, these stuff sacks were crucial in keeping my gear separated. I had 4 different sizes and used them to store clothing, food, cooking supplies, and other random essentials. The colors made it easy to grab exactly the bag I was looking for in my pack without having to remove anything.

Olicamp Ion Stove
I chose the Ion stove because of its size and weight. Coming in at only 1.5 oz. it’s barely noticeable weight-wise, but definitely packs a punch. I only used the stove to heat water for dehydrated meals and oatmeal, and each time my water was boiling in just a couple minutes. The Ion is definitely a head turner when cooking in hostels and camp kitchens. I watched other camper’s eyes widen as they looked at the size of the Ion compared to their own stoves. Paired with the space saver mug, this is now my go to for ultralight trips where I can cook everything by heating up water.


Despite our lack of planning, delayed flights, not hiking everything I wanted to, and being sick the last few days of the trip, Patagonia was still one of the best adventures I have ever experienced. While I’ve been a lot of cool places, I’ve never seen another area with so many incredible landscapes all packed together so closely. This region is both barren and blooming with life, perfectly peaceful and overwhelmingly amazing. It's a place that I dreamed about for years, and will continue to dream about for years to come.






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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2/23/17

Running the Wasatch 100


My Wasatch 100 training began late June. I wanted to train hard and see what I could do in the Wasatch. I had a good base from running the Boston marathon in the spring, so I sat down and planned out a schedule. SInce I knew I was going to be putting in some long runs, I incorporated two cycling days to hopefully not burn out. My schedule was Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday – Running. I would run twice on Wednesdays and do my long runs on saturdays. Tuesday and Thursday I would bike for a cross train/recovery day. Training went well. I was able to run all of the race course during training and my longest run maxed out at 34 miles. It was mostly early morning runs with a few late night runs. Because of the timing I was training mostly by myself during the week. I could usually find someone to run with Saturdays for part or all of my run. I was hitting my weekly mileage goals and was lucky I didn’t have to deal with any injuries interrupting my training. 


Training came and went and it was finally race day. I was feeling well rested and ready to run. During training I had tried different nutrition and hydration options to make sure what I fueled with wasn’t going to upset my stomach during the race. The race nutrition plan to carry with me ended up being ProBar meal bars and energy chews, beef jerky,  CarboPro and Skratch labs hydration mix. I ran the race in Hoka challengers with 2XU compression socks. I carried nutrition, fluids, salt tablets, lip balm, small first aid kit, ect. in a Grivel Mountain Runner pack. Other equipment used: BD Storm headlamp, Real Gear extreme cooling collar, DriDucks Chilly bean cooling cap, Outdoor Designs stretch wool touch gloves, Hydrapack soft flasks, Camelback Antidote reservoir.

Race day morning temps were cool but the forecast for the race fell in the ideal ranges. The race starts north of Farmington on the road for a mile before you hit the trail up Bair canyon. I was feeling good and excited for the miles ahead. From the start to the Bountiful B it was 16 miles. Getting up Bair canyon and along the ridgeline felt good. The sun was starting to rise above the horizon and I could see runners dotting the trail both in front and behind me. Legs were feeling good and during the climb up to the Bountiful B station I caught up to a big group of runners. I quickly got water at the aid station and headed on my way. The aid station helped spread the runners out again and I continued on my way to the Sessions Lift Off (20mi), Swallow Rocks (27mi) and Big Mountain pass (31mi). 


I had been hydrating and taking salt tablets on schedule and just after Swallow Rocks it started to get warm.  When I got to Big mountain pass the nerves were gone and I was settled in. I picked up my first pacer here. The legs were still feeling good, no hotspots in the shoe or pack areas. I refilled water, hydration mix and nutrition and continued on my way. I was eating a Probar and it was getting hard to eat. I held on to it for a couple miles and tried to get it down but I didn’t want to push it. My stomach was starting to get slightly uneasy and the temps were getting warmer. Worrying that I wasn’t going to stay hydrated in the heat I continued to hydrate and salt but I think this was contributing to my uneasy stomach. Continuing to eat on an uneasy stomach hadn’t worked out for me in past endurance races so, I decided to stop eating solid calories and see if I could just drink my calories. I had pre-mixed my CarboPro and hydration mix together in baggies so when I refilled my water I could easily add it in without thinking. Foolishly, I didn’t think that I might not want one or the other during the race. Rookie mistake!


I got to Alexander Ridge (39mi), felt the same and continued on to Lambs Canyon (45mi). My second pacer for the rest of the race met me here. He was asking how I was feeling and what I needed. I realized by this point that I could be jeopardizing my chances of finishing if I didn’t keep up with my calorie intake. I refilled my water and headed out with some chews in hand to try and get down.  My pacer helped me to keep pushing up Lambs, reminding me to drink and eat and distracting me from my stomach. Heading to Upper Big Water(53mi) my legs were feeling good but my energy level felt just ok. The upset stomach definitely slowed me down. It felt like my energy was shifting focus to the uneasy stomach and not my legs! Continuing with my uneasy stomach I hit the Desolation lake (58mi), Scotts Peak (62mi) stations but didn’t stop for long and got to Brighton (67mi). 


By this point I hadn’t had many calories. I was staying hydrated and felt that was sufficient, but couldn’t get my stomach to settle enough to get some good calories in me. The race was turning into a nutrition failure! I changed socks at Brighton and took bites of nutrition to see what I could get down. I was able to get just CarboPro in my water so at least I knew I was getting some sort of calories. My legs were feeling tired by this point but I felt great standing and at this point of the race all I could do was just keep going. I kept pushing myself, trying to hike fast and run where I could. I hit Ant Knolls (71mi) and Pole Line Pass (74mi). I tried drinking ginger tea to maybe help settle my stomach but to no avail, I resorted to choking down some energy gels. The temperature was cooling down but still in a good range. The trail drops down to a stream valley at Pot Hollow (84mi) and the temperatures dropped significantly. There was a warm fire and chairs at the aid station it to sit down in and get warm while they filled up my water. I could have stayed there for hours. Though not what I wanted to hear, my pacer told me that we needed to leave. By this point the exhaustion of the race and being up for so long was getting to me. I knew he was right and if I didn’t get up I could easily spend too much time there. Leaving the fire the cold woke me up and got me out of my daze. We headed to Stanton (89mi). I was so tired by this point I remember taking long blinks and being surprised that I was still on my feet! I was just waiting to blink too long and being woken up by hitting the ground. It was a struggle for 5 miles to stay alert. I was trying to talk with my pacer, sing songs, pinch myself, anything to wake me up. 


It was starting to get light and it brought some renewed energy. I knew I was close to the finish and it made it easier to keep going. I didn’t even want to stop at the last aid station, Decker canyon (93mi). I was too close to stop. I finished the last miles running down to and along Deer Creek reservoir. The trail would go in and out of these small coves along the lake and it was deceiving as to where it was going to end. I hit the pavement and I could see the finish. I crossed the finish line exhausted, hungry, sleepy, sore, but happy. Hind site is 20/20 and there are things I would do differently but it was a great race and a great experience!

In addition to being a runner, cyclist, husband, and father, Brayden Iwasaki is a Graphic Designer at Liberty Mountain.


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2/14/17

OD Products: The Ski Patrol Test


A 4:00 am call from a new rookie patroller wakes me up…“Morning Monty! Full control punch in at 5:45.” My sleep was already light as I was anticipating the call, so going back to bed is out of the question. After some breakfast, I look at the weather to see what it was up to overnight. I then head off to my part time job at Sundance Ski resort to help mitigate avalanche danger, before heading off to my full time job as a Sales Rep at Liberty Mountain. 
                  
I have been working at Liberty Mountain for 7 months now and have been a Ski Patroller at Sundance for about 5 years.  It’s been great working for companies in the same industry that have the flexibility and understanding to allow me to work both jobs.



Having these two jobs also gives me a unique opportunity to use what I sell. In other words I can put the gear to the test in the morning and then be a walking testimonial that same afternoon! This season in particular I have been using the Denali line of gloves and the Power Wool Beanie from Outdoor Designs.

For day to day work, my go to glove is the Denali Worker. This glove is the work horse of the lineup. It is easy to put on and take off quickly, which is something I end up doing a lot when dealing with medical calls and the paper work that inevitably comes with them. It is a full leather, no frills, get the job done glove that will stand up to the rigorous tasks of patrolling (ie. pulling rope lines and hauling bamboo around the mountain)


The Denali glove is a great cold weather glove and is the one I normally pull out when doing avalanche control work. The leather is supple enough to allow me to perform tasks that require some finer manipulation while still keeping my gloves on. There has been more than one instance while prepping a bomb for deployment in frigid wind that I have been grateful for the gloves' dexterity! The one handed gauntlet closure on the wrists is also very handy and I found I can wear it over or under my hard shells as needed. 


Lastly the Power Wool Beanie is great when I need an extra kick of heat under my helmet, or for something a little lighter on the hike up. Anyone who has hiked or worked in ski clothing knows you do not keep your googles on while you hike. If you do they will be fogged up for the rest of the day and you won’t see a thing! Having the Power wool Beanie is like having a soft shell to hike up in. Once you get to the top, you can cool down for a second and then throw on your helmet and goggles right over it!


So far Outdoor Designs products have not failed to impress me and I look forward to continue testing them. Whether it is hoofing it up a hike in a foot of fresh snow or pulling an unfortunate skier off the mountain in a toboggan, OD products are getting the job done!    


Eric Montandon works on Ski Patrol at Sundance Mountain Resort and is a Sales Rep at Liberty Mountain.
  
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