By: Stano Faban
As I am listening to Prince’s Fury followed by Purple Rain for the 100th time in three days it reinforces one truth – that there are times to play fast and there are times to play slow, in the mountains that is. In ski mountaineering, there are occasions that call for the best ultra-light gear and then there are trips where a pound of brie goes a long way J
Since the last race on the Canadian calendar, back in March, I kept talking to my friends about jumping on a challenging week-long ski traverse in the heart of British Columbia. The first time we discussed it was few years ago but this spring it looked like all will finally come together. At the end, we had to opt out again as the weather became questionable with the departure day approaching. But the packs were packed, the gear and food was ready, and we had a couple of days to kill. Then after Reiner couldn’t drive to the coast (originally we were supposed to drive north to his neighborhood) Peter and I decided for a more casual trip starting in Whistler.
When I was in first grade my family moved to a home next to a greenbelt with a lush canyon and “The Creek” at the bottom. This perennial stream with a small salmon run was the source of my first adventures in creeks and I loved it. It was an escape where hours exploring the canyon felt like minutes. I’ve always enjoyed the flow of water, particularly in the form of waterfalls, but I took a hiatus from exploring creeks for over a decade. In the last couple years I rediscovered this joy in the rugged and mystical canyons of Big Sur.
The Big Sur region has incredible topographical relief spanning over 5,000 vertical feet from the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean to the summits of the Santa Lucia Mountains. It should therefore come as no surprise that the rugged canyons draining the peaks hold many amazing waterfalls. In fact, almost every major stream and drainage contains a waterfall, or in some cases a handful! The falls range from delicate 15 ft falls to towering 200+ ft falls. The setting of the falls is equally varied including coastal falls onto the sand, lush redwood-filled canyons, rocky slopes with endemic Santa Lucia Firs and ephemeral falls in the drier chaparral zones. The waterfalls range from cataracts deep in the most remote and wild corners of the wilderness to the easily accessible falls near the highway. Other intricacies include varying degrees and type of mineral calcification, rock types, and the depth and size of plunge pools. Every waterfall is different!
My fascination with Big Sur waterfalls has evolved into a project to discover, document and catalog as many waterfalls in the Big Sur region as I can. So far, I’ve cataloged over one hundred waterfalls and there are likely several dozen more waterfalls to see (https://pantilat.wordpress.com/big-sur/waterfall-project/). The project only takes into account falls that I’ve subjectively determined to be worthy (there are dozens, if not hundreds, of truly ephemeral falls that only appear immediately after heavy rain, which I generally exclude).
Only a small subset of the falls are accessible by road or trail and the remainder lie in remote reaches of the wilderness, often entailing many miles of trail running followed by off-trail adventures. Many of the falls are within the immense Ventana Wilderness, which covers over 240,000 acres and is one of the greatest unspoiled coastal wilderness areas in existence. The Ventana has a long history pioneering and exploration, but the range has largely been overlooked in recent decades leaving many hidden treasures for the modern day adventurer to discover. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and naming many falls with no prior evidence of visitation by humans, which I call a first known sighting (FKS). I imagine many of the FKSs had been visited by Native Americans and early explorers, but the passage of time and the lack of documentation or evidence makes them modern day discoveries.
In order to find and locate potential falls, I use topographical maps and Google earth satellite imagery and then carefully plan my route to reach the destination as efficiently as possible. As good as the maps and satellite are these days, they only tell a small part of the story and I’m never quite sure what I will find until I’m there on the ground. Sometimes the waterfalls far exceed expectations while other times they are a bust. This is because the maps often do not pick up micro-features of the rugged canyons or the falls are shaded by relief or forest canopy. Off-trail travel in the Ventana is particularly arduous with the primary goal to avoid bushwhacking through dense chaparral that is virtually impenetrable and covers the vast majority of these mountains. In addition, one must contend with the “terrible five” of the Ventana – sharp yucca plants that can slice skin upon contact, biting flies, ticks, poison oak and rattlesnakes. Often times, the most efficient route is by wading in the creeks, but creekwalking can be arduous and technical with high water flow, deep pools, log jams and slick rock.
While many of the falls require quite a bit of effort and planning to reach, the waterfall project has become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable endeavors I’ve pursued. In this in this day and age of sophisticated technology and infrastructure it’s not easy to find places that have not been domesticated or mapped so I treasure the opportunities for true adventure and a sense of pioneering that I’ve found in the canyons of Big Sur. At the same time, I’m also cognizant of preserving the wild and unspoiled nature of these canyons so those that follow can enjoy the same sense of adventure and exploration.
April 1, 2016
For Immediate Release
Boulder, CO –
Katniss, a Tribute from District 12, is the Winner of the 74th Hunger Games, plus an entire civil war, and is well known for her extreme endurance, toughness, and problem-solving, in addition to archery skills.
“The Girl on Fire is the perfect addition to our Ambassador Team”, says Buzz Burrell, UD Brand Leader. “Along with Krissy Moehl, Nikki Kimball, Devon Yanko, Michele Yates, and others, we unquestionably field the strongest women’s team ever in the sport.”
“I really look forward to running with Katniss”, says Krissy, who along with Kilian Jornet is the only winner of both the Hardrock 100 and the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. “I’m a little faster than she is, which I know is hard to believe, but she has backcountry skills that will really help me on my upcoming trips to the Sierra’s and Peru.”
“Roasted Squirrel is the next energy food”.
Scott Jurek, 7-time winner of the Western States 100 and supported FKT holder on the Appalachian Trail was more measured in his welcome. “While I admit red berries are not the ideal snack, due to complications stemming from certain and excruciating death, a more plant-based diet could probably enable The Mockingjay to achieve her true potential.”
Brian Metzler, Editor of Competitor Magazine and Founder of various other projects we can’t yet mention, believes the timing is perfect. “The Hunger Games have joined the IAAF, where their unparalleled record of horrific graft and profiteering were welcomed with open arms, and have petitioned for inclusion as an official Olympic Sport. Having a vicious fight to the death among young teenagers would be a lovely way to close out the Olympics, as it would bring the crucial Millennials demographic back in front of the TV, and be far more interesting than some boring road Marathon.”
“I look forward to doing a 3 minute video interview of her”, said Bryon Powell, co-owner of iRunFar.com, “as soon as she finishes in the top 3 of some race in Europe no one has heard of or can pronounce.”
“I’m not sure if she qualifies for ‘Ultra Runner of the Year’ voting”, noted Karl Hoagland, owner of Ultrarunning Magazine. “Her results seem to all have taken place in Panem, while we only include those from the United States”. Realizing this will set off the usual fire-storm of protests from ultra runners with too much time on their hands, Karl added, “But our committee of really old people who used to run will take a careful look and see what we can do. Or not.”
Despite the flurry of speculation taking place on social media forums, Ultimate Direction is declining to confirm when the new “KE Survival Vest” will hit the market, because as all their other product introductions have been late, they don’t want to catch more flak when this one probably arrives late as well.
Who are the silent badass athletes in the outdoor arena? Ultimate Direction Ambassador Jared Campbell comes to mind. Most outdoor enthusiasts have never heard of Jared (unless they have watched the new Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix!)
So, who is Jared Campbell, and why has he done more adventures than anyone you’ve never heard of?
UPDATE: On April 4, Jared became the first 3-time Finisher of the infamous Barkley Marathons …
When I did a Longs Peak Triathlon last summer, I remember thinking it was only logical to apply the same tactics in the calendar winter season. Maybe unsurprisingly, there simply didn’t seem to be many attempts at such a thing, let alone actual completions of the task. To be sure, even in the age of the Internet, we don’t always know what exciting things people have been up to, but the only completions I could find were by Justin Simoni (a constant inspiration when it comes to bikes and mountains) and Tina Lewis, both in the 18-19hr range. Maybe I’m weak for wanting to wait for at least decent conditions—call me crazy, but this seems to be an important part of the tradition of mountaineering—but I couldn’t figure out how it should take quite that long. And riding dark roads at night doesn’t hold a huge amount of appeal for me. So I waited for good conditions.
With Stephanie Ehret and Peter Bakwin
“I think we met while drinking whisky out of a bottle and wrestling on the couch. I accidentally poured some in Peters eye.”
That was in the 10th grade – 37 years ago – and this ultra couple has been together ever since, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this last December.
Peter Bakwin is of course, the signature on the award-winning “PB Adventure Vest”. But he’s not on Facebook, ignores all social media, and never speaks of himself. So who is PB??
Matt Trappe’s World Premier of his running film, Kissing the Rock is kicking off in BOULDER COLORADO! Join us for drinks and light snacks while you watch this inspiring film followed by a Q and A with Matt and some local Hardrock competitors. Watch the Trailer Now!
FILM TOUR SCHEDULE
- March 24 – Flatirons Running Company – Boulder, CO
- April 2 – Twin Cities Running Company – Minneapolis, MN
- April 3 – Alamo Drafthouse – Denver, CO
- April 8 – Second Sole – Rocky River, OH
- April 8 – Gulbenkian – Canterbury, England
- April 9 – Marathon Sports – Plymouth, MA (benefiting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
- April 13 – Henry Strater Theater – Durango, CO (Durango Running Company)
- April 15 – US National Whitewater Center – Charlotte, NC
- April 21 – iRun – Phoenix, AZ
- April 21 – Deckers/Santa Barbara Running Company – Goleta, CA
- April 22 – San Francisco Running Company – Mill Valley, CA
- April 23 – Seven Hills Running Shop – Seattle, WA
- April 28 – Road Runner Sports – Falls Church, VA
- May 13 – Evolution Healthcare & Fitness – Portland, OR
- July 13 – Hardrock 100 – Silverton, CO
The hardrock miners of Colorado experienced adversity on another level through the hardships they faced in the San Juan Mountains. When the mines closed and the jobs dried up the town of Silverton was in search of a new identity.
The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run epitomizes the community aspect of mountain running perhaps due to the grueling nature of the course and the adversity the runners face. The mentality of everyone vs. the mountain exists especially at Hardrock. Friends and runners gather each July in Silverton and a town is reborn.
A production by Matt Trappe Photo & Film
In association with Louder than 11
Edited by Matt Trappe Louder than 11
Additional Editing by Jess Carfield
Score by Fizzix Productions
Post Produced by Louder than 11
Produced and Directed by Matt Trappe
Film made possible with support from Ultimate Direction, Hoka One One, Clif Bar, Feetures! and Competitor Magazine.
Well, that was worthwhile.
It’s not like I’m realizing anything ground-breaking here—in fact, mountain and ultrarunners crossing over to skimo in the winter months is treading perilously close to the tipping point of being cliche—but holy shit, what an absolutely fantastic sport! If you like moving quickly and efficiently* in the mountains, this style and format of activity is the only one that makes sense in the winter. *(I prefer the “efficiently” adverb, because I believe it is one’s mindset and intent—not absolute velocity—that positively or negatively shapes the experience.)
Of course, the Euros have known this for a long time; they have a deep, intense pool of athletes over there who have been going at this for decades. Backcountry skiing or alpine touring in general is certainly nothing new here in the States, but it is definitely a growing sector, and with big advances in lightweight gear, runners (and others) with a bent for the mountains are increasingly being attracted to the sport’s extreme light-n-fast sector—skimo racing. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Ultimate Direction is making the logical cross-over, too. Garment-like hydration vests/packs with front carrying capacity have become the norm in running; why not apply the same design principles to skimo-specific packs? I’ve certainly been enjoying testing the new products.