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Bros on Everest

BP tribe member goes for the Big E, and a shout-out for Montana shuttle drivers

Redrock and Utah penstemon; Capitol Reef on Tuesday. pic:

Backpacker buddy readying for Everest summit attempt
Friend and globe-trotting video cameraman Scott Simper - who's been on many editorial expeditions over the years and tested lots of gear for our reviews - is right now getting ready for a summit attempt on the Big E's classic South Col route. He and fellow Hanesbrands Expedition member Jamie Clarke are leaving base camp today (Friday), and should be at Camp III on the Lhotse Face by the 9th (Sunday). You can see footage from their expedition here.

Scott and Jamie will head for the top Monday or Tuesday, weather depending. The expedition is sponsored by Hanes (which also owns numerous other athletic clothing companies) to highlight their new performance base layers, and test a high altitude "supersuit" that's insulated with space age aerogel rather than goose down.

Aerogel, also known as 'frozen smoke', is a basically a gelatin of silicone, carbon, or various oxides and alcohol. After the components have been mixed, the liquid is slowly vacuumed out, leaving behind an ultralight matrix that's almost entirely air pockets. Aerogels have the highest insulation value and lightest weight of any known solid. Invented in the 1930's using a mixture of silicone and water, aerogels were revived by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for aerospace insulation. Recently aerogel insulation has appeared in outdoor sleeping pads and high altitude climbing boots, but this is one of the first real-world attempts at testing aerogels for ultra-warm clothing. Will it work? Check in at And good luck Scotty! Climb safe bro!

Wanted: Montana/Great Falls shuttle driver for July/August Bob Marshall thru-hike
Yo readers. A little networking help here, please. I'm prepping for a mid-July to mid-August thru-hike of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex in western Montana. Tentatively this will be a "high route" ridgeline walk 230 miles from Rogers Pass on MT 200 (between Missoula and Great Falls) to Marais Pass on US Hwy 2 (the southern border of Glacier National Park). For a highway map of the layout, look here. Yes, this is a stupid idea that will probably result in... Read Full Story...
Friday, May 07, 2010 in: Survival, News and events
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Chaos in Emergency First Aid

Video from my recent Wilderness First Responder course

Hey gang. I'm finally back on the blog train after three weeks of field time, guiding hikes in Zion and taking an intense 80-hour Wilderness First Responder course taught by the Wilderness Medicine Institute at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School in Boulder, Utah.

Both Zion and the "Woofer" course were grand, but together they formed a long string of 16-hour days, hence my skimpy blogging.

The Woofer seminar was nine days of full-tilt instruction - and very useful, even for an ex-EMT like myself who went into it with a smugly casual attitude. Above you'll see footage from one short field exercise that required traction splinting a femur and backboarding two patients. We'll post more First Aid videos in the future....and I'll try to stay more current on the dispatches from here forward. Stay tuned. --Steve Howe Read Full Story...
Monday, May 03, 2010 in: Survival, Skills and Tips
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Virtual Scramble: Angel's Landing, Zion

A quick video dispatch from the frontiers of overscheduling

Read Full Story...
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 in: Survival
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Quick Video: Finding a Southern Utah ruin

For something different, sharing a little weekend discovery

Hey readers. I'm off on a videography assignment in Idaho, so I've got movies on the brain. Hence I was carrying a video-capable point & shoot camera last night when Betty and i stumbled on this slickrock retreat while we were out cruising for sunsets. We've hiked, biked and driven past it hundreds of times, but never spotted it until Monday evening. It's actually modern, not Anasazi - built by a bunch of kids - but super cool nonetheless.

So here's a multimedia reminder: Read Full Story...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 in: Survival, Video, Ruins, Desert, Utah, Southern Utah
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Old Hipster - The Final Post

Last in a series of over-sharing dispatches on musculoskeletal health

Hey campers, here's a quick last update on my post-hip-surgery recovery for the half-handful of you who've been following along - and readers who may be facing a similar operation in the future.

Last Wednesday I had a three-week follow-up doctor's appointment. The X-ray (at right) shows the implant is aligned and calcifying into place. Cool! I was worried because, as I began to get more mobile after 11 days of bed rest, I could feel shifting in the joint. I was worried that the implants were breaking loose.

Apparently it was just the stretched tendons, ligaments and muscles that result from surgery. "No problem, that's normal," said Dr. Poole.  It'll all tighten up quickly if I rehab conscientiously. The main thing I've got to be careful of is dislocating the joint because of the loose ligaments. So the doc lifted most of my activity restrictions.
Read Full Story...
Sunday, March 21, 2010 in: Survival, Skills & tips
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Another Fallen

Portland hiker's body found Saturday, ending a 9-day search

Trailside cliffs on Table Mountain. Pic:

After a week and a half of intense searching by helicopter, canine, and ground teams, two ATV riders found the body of missing Portland hiker Katherine Heuther (24) on Saturday afternoon. She was discovered at the base of a cliff face on Table Mountain, north of the Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington. Our condolences go out to Huether's family and friends.

Table Mountain (3,417 feet) is a 15-mile round-trip hike with steep and exposed trail sections. From the PCT trailhead near Bonneville Dam, where Huether set out about 1 p.m. on March 4th, it is considered a stout day-long endeavor.

The two local four-wheelers, a father and son who were intimately familiar with the area, went out specifically to look for Huether because they felt the most probable mishap site, a rugged region bordering an ancient landslide, had not been combed extensively. According to Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox, they "parked their 4 wheelers and...hiked some distance before finding Ms. Huether wedged behind rocks at the base of an over-800-foot cliff." She was clad in dark blue clothing and difficult to spot even at close range. Read Full Story...
Sunday, March 14, 2010 in: Survival, News & events, Tips & skills
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Late homework hand-in blog

Tough women, tender burgers and old hippies

Photo: Vertical Limit publicity still. Sony Pictures Corp.

Greetings campers! It's 10 days since my hip surgery (see below). I no longer have any homework excuses, so here's a catch-all blog of several random highlights from the outdoor world.

Female winter Denali climber has left the building
20,320-foot Mt. Mckinley is one cold berg. But in winter, it's interstellar cold, triple-digit cold, Minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit cold. And damn dark too. While about 750 people climb Denali every year, only 16 people have ever pulled it off in winter. Four aspirants died trying. Two summiters died descending. That makes your average 8,000 meter peak sound like a sure bet. Now, Frenchwoman turned Alaskan Christine Feret is holed up in a snowcave at 10,000 feet, waiting for a break in the weather. Go girl. Super tough. And better you than me.

Hiker still missing after four nights in Oregon mountains
Hiker Katherine Heuthner, 24, has now spent four nights missing in the Table Mountain/ Bonneville Dam area near Portland, Oregon. On Thursday afternoon, March 4th, she texted friends that she was setting out on the Pacific Crest Trail and would be back by 8 p.m. that night. Read Full Story...
Monday, March 08, 2010 in: Survival, News & events
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Photo School: The ClikElite Bodylink Telephoto Pack

A "hallelujah!" solution to telephoto stills and video pans on the run.

Greetings from my  recovery bed, readers! While I've got zero pain after my recent hip resurfacing, I'm ordered to lie flat (not sitting up) for the next 9 days. So life sucks, but self-pity is boring, so instead I'll pass along this gear tip to all you fellow photo-holics.

One of the biggest challenges to being a real trail photographer/videographer is how to carry your gear at the ready, and minimize camera deployment and tripod hassles, while still getting sharp shots and steady footage. Even if you're a nature shooter who concentrates on landscapes and wildlife, cumbersome photo equipment (virtually all of it designed for street and studio shooters) can make you miss fast-changing light and brief wildife encounters. It's an unfortunate truth that most great images are taken in spite of the gear, not because of it.

And then there's video, a whole new medium that's never been more appropriate for backcountry image capture. Unfortunately, video can bring a whole new hassle level, especially when shooting telephoto sequences that are impossible to handhold. Setting up a video tripod  level enough for flat, smooth pans on uneven terrain makes the most exacting still photogrphy seem simple. And if you get a video tripod with a "leveling ball" for the head, it'll weigh5 to 6 lbs minimum.

Fortunately, photo and video gear is just now beginning to catch up to the fast-changing language of action imagery, Read Full Story...
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 in: Survival, Tips & skills
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They Have Rebuilt Him

A report from Steve's hospital room

          Steve Howe? Steve Austin? Coincidence? 

Guest blogger Jennifer Howe here, giving the peeps an update. For his hip surgery, Steve chose a surgeon that practices in Boise, Idaho, a short 600-mile drive each way from Torrey town. On the evening before we were to leave, at 5:45 pm, the surgeon’s nurse Renee called to say that the health insurance provider, Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utah, had still not approved the surgery - in spite of approving all their own premium increases in an extremely timely manner over the years, and in spite of the fact that the pre-approval process had begun in October. The next morning, as we were due to begin driving north, for surgery the following morning, Steve learned that the claim had been denied. He got on the phone and began appealing the denial.


To make a long story short, Renee advised us to begin driving, with the hope that Dr. Colin Poole would be able to convince them of the need for surgery while were enroute to the hospital. We had been in the car four hours when we got a cell phone call that the procedure had finally been approved.  Unfortunately, we were in the middle of nowhere with 4 hours to go and no place to celebrate. Nonetheless, it was a huge relief.

Read Full Story...
Thursday, February 25, 2010 in: Survival, Weird and Funny
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Totally hip survival advice

First-person lessons on long-term health in the age of lemming sports

Intimate photos of my left hip. pic:

Hey readers. This may seem incongruous while we’re all watching the Olympics and wishing we were hurtling down luge runs or throwing triple-back-twisting-quad-layouts, but I’m here to talk about caution, and how it relates to having a long career in sports.

There’s a phenomenon that rescue rangers in the Tetons call YMIS, young men’s immortality syndrome. (This is a gender-equal term since women are quickly catching up in athletic performance - and injury, and rescue statistics.) To put it simply, YMIS is really cool these days. Just watch any ski or mountain bike film if you don't believe me.  And when everybody’s out getting’ radical, raging downhill mountain bike courses and sketching up 40-foot-high boulder problems, it’s easy to get pulled along by the lycra sportster frenzy. It’s like drafting the leader in a me-too race, earning your place on the Facebook adulation party circuit.

But there’s a downside to X-Games risk and weekend one-upsmanship, and that is injury. Oh sure, you can stump around in a cast and recover later. After all, plaster on your leg is a sign of authenticity these days. But here’s the rub: In the end, no injury is temporary. They all come back to haunt you. Read Full Story...
Sunday, February 21, 2010 in: Survival, Tips & skills
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