Jul 22, 2014
This guest blog comes from Gregory Ambassador Matt Swartz. Matt started the PCT this spring, and had lots of time to reflect on the greater things in life. Below is his story.
The goal is nothing without the journey.
I've been off the trail now for more than two weeks. Gone are the days of eating Oreos covered in peanut butter while lying in my sleeping bag at 5 o'clock in the morning. Absent are the dirty, super-fit vagabonds who I've seen eat skittles found on the side of the trail, covered in dirt, shouting with enthusiasm, 'Yes! A red one!'. I fully intended to thru-hike the PCT this year, but circumstances change.
What I've come to realize though, is that I'm totally fine with only making it 800 miles. Sure, I miss my filthy brothers and sisters, still out there, forging their way North, but it's OK. I'm happy they're still out there putting in the miles towards making their dreams a reality.
Ultimately, hiking the PCT, even less than half, was a beautiful and amazing experience. I lived the trail life for two months. I have experienced trail magic. I once put in 98 miles in 72 hours and would regularly eat 5000 calories in a day. It's cliché to say, but it was the journey, not the destination.
I learned a valuable lesson about having a goal and not achieving it. It's about being thankful for experiences in which we can grow and learn as individuals. Obviously setting foot in Canada wouldn't make or break the result of hiking on a trail for five months. I lived fully in the moment and loved every minute of my journey.
So learn from my experience. Take a chance, even if you're not sure that you'll achieve what you set out to accomplish. Who knows what you're capable of? Even if you don't reach your ultimate goal, putting your full effort into the journey is something you'll never regret.
Jul 15, 2014What happens when you combine cancer survivors, their family, a tough mountain objective, and a team of top-notch guides? Survivor Summit was a trip to Kilimanjaro in 2012 and a partnership between Livestrong, Survivor Summit and Earth Treks. Check out the video below to learn more about the incredible trip and the emotion that elicited among the team.
Jul 8, 2014
This guest blog comes from Gregory Ambassador Josh Seehorn. This Spring,he finished the American Discovery Trail, walking and running over 4800 miles across the U.S. in 360 days. Find out more about Josh and his story at http://www.outdoorjosh.com/
I’m not a lawbreaker. But it seemed that way while I was hiking and running across the US on the American Discovery Trail in 2013. Sure, I wear short shorts. Yes, I have a long beard. But I am not Forrest Gump looking to rifle through your things in search of a petty theft opportunity… I got “pulled over” by nearly 18 police officers that were all just checking up on the crazy looking guy running across their town with only a backpack or baby-jogger. By the time I reached Colorado, I actually started a game of collecting all their business cards, and I was winning.
One of my most memorable encounters was when an officer in Nebraska stopped me. The oddity of my glamorous legs and slick facial hair had him intrigued. Within a few minutes of my story, he told me of a great place to camp off the side of the road along the ADT. I had been walking well into the night and was bedding down around one o’clock in the morning when he delivered a greasy McDonald’s meal directly to my tent! It was the greatest trail magic I had ever experienced! Unfortunately for me, the gut bomb made even more magic the next day.
I love old people. Even the ones in the neighborhood watch. After a night of having a volunteer firefighter host me in his home, he delivered me back to the trail the following day. At temps already reaching 90 degress, I took refuge under a tree, donning only my running shorts and shoes. It must of looked odd with my baby-jogger cart overflowing with all of my gear. As I was journaling and preparing to start my trek that morning, an older woman pulled out of her driveway about 50 feet away. I waved to say hello, but she did not reciprocate. In less than one minute she was pulling back into her driveway and retreating indoors. Considering that I may have spooked her (I have that affect on some women) I decided to move along. Within 5 minutes, a police officer waved me down and inquired exactly what it was I was up to. Although inquisitive, he was extremely friendly and helpful with directions. At the end of our conversation, I asked him if it was the older lady who had reported me. He confirmed. She had reported that there was a man sitting outside of her house with an empty baby stroller and that he was only wearing his UNDERWEAR! I noted the sense of relief on the officer’s face when he didn’t have to tackle a lunatic running around in whitey tighties with his baby stroller!
Though the journey was filled with tribulations, I was always happy to meet the next person willing to lend a helping hand. You never know when “the man” in the old Crown Vic might just help you out.
Jul 1, 2014We recently attended our fourth annual Gregory An American Original (GAO) event in Japan. Co-sponsored by China Outdoor Retailer Association (CORA), who distributes Gregory, Patagonia and Keen in China, this year’s GAO event was based on an art contest where our Chinese customers and enthusiasts submitted original artwork designs that could be placed on our new Offshore Day Pack. Previous contest winner events were held in Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Joining us this year were Zhao Mo and Lin Nan, who collaborated on one of our grand prize winning designs, and Ms. Sun Yali, our other grand prize winner. The journalists joining us included – Mr. Cai Yingyuan, chief editor of SINA Outdoor, which is a leading internet media company providing information and service to the outdoor community in China and globally; Mr. Wu Dibao, chief editor of SIZE magazine, which focuses on outdoor trends and lifestyle, similar in focus to GO OUT in Japan and Korea; and Mr. Li Zhe, editor of Yoho!, the first trend magazine in China for the demographic aged 16-30. Upon arrival in Japan we hosted an award ceremony at the Gregory Flagship Store for the GAO contest winners where we signed autographs, took pictures and had great evening. The next day we visited interesting sites in Tokyo such as the Tokyo fish market, and well as various Tokyo retail stores, galleries and boutiques. We visited our Gregory offices in Yokohama for a special presentation on the evolution of Gregory with staff, customers, and journalists. One of the highlights for our journalists was the meeting with Mr. Takeshita, founding editor of GO OUT magazine, one of the most influential magazines for outdoor enthusiasts in Japan. Mr. Takeshita explained that the inspiration for GO OUT was to help spread a love of outdoors to more people living in the city and help show them how to integrate more outdoor activities and style into their lives. One of the key activities they have organized to bring people together is GO OUT Outdoor, a multi-day camping and music festival that draws 7,000 each summer. On our fourth day we headed south to Kamakura, a beautiful small city on the coast that was at one time the de-facto capital of Japan. During a more than 300-year period the various Shogun rulers built an incredible number of shrines, temples, and monuments, which make it one of the richest historical areas in Japan. We visited three of the five great Zen Temples of Kamakura and had a somewhat unique experience of seeing a very traditional wedding ceremony being performed on the temple grounds! Today Kamakura is a center for history and a relaxing resort for tourists and surfers. Our group really enjoyed this chance to see a little bit of the Japan that lies outside of the bright lights of Tokyo. Overall, our fourth GAO winner’s trip was a resounding success with everyone expressing how much fun they had. We’ll have to get even more creative next year in order to keep upping the ante!
Jun 24, 2014
Keeping the right people on your side is always necessary. Never is that more evident than when trying to preserve wilderness and the trails that go through it. Gregory has been a strong advocate for each of the three main National Scenic Trails across the US, and we have partnered with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to keep the Appalachian Trail alive.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s ( ATC ) mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. They are the only non-profit organization solely dedicated to preserving and managing all 2,180 miles of the world famous Appalachian Trail. To accomplish this, the ATC relies on agency partners and 31 trail maintaining clubs comprised of approximately 6,000 volunteers. Of course, significant resources are required to support this work. Corporate partners such as Gregory provide the much needed resources to fill in budgetary needs and as a result the ATC is able to fulfill its mission.
Funding from Gregory contributes directly to a number of ongoing projects. These include infrastructure restoration activities such as trail relocations, creation and maintenance of waterbars, and shelter and bridge repair. In addition, these funds support key educational programs such as the Trail to Every Classroom, A.T. Community™, and RidgeRunner; all of which build awareness about the value of the Appalachian Trail. Corporate donations also allow the ATC to support military rehabilitation with the Warrior Hike: “Walk Off The War”. This program is designed to support combat veterans in their transition from military service by organizing thru-hikes along America’s National Scenic Trails.
In addition to the obvious benefits of financial support from Gregory, the ATC receive invaluable support in other ways. We work together to showcase our partnership in each way possible, with gear give-a-ways at events, social media mentions, publications and more. As result, we increase awareness not only of Gregory and ATC but of the Appalachian Trail and all the beauty and benefits of the outdoors. By increasing awareness we hope to broaden our relevancy and attract a more diverse and younger audience to the outdoors and as we move into the coming years.
By working together, the ATC and Gregory are able to accomplish the goals set forth for bringing awareness, access, and stewardship of the Appalachian Trail so that the Trail can deliver its blessings for all who seek it in the decades to come.
Jun 19, 2014
High-end shops and fancy eateries lined the street. But that isn’t what the crowd was here for. Far from the regulars that passed through with large wallets and hefty bellies to show for it, this clan of folks was here to enjoy what Vail had to offer before the après. Alive with sounds of rushing water after a good year of snow, and filled to the brim with spectators and athletes, the Vail Mountain Games were in full swing with biking, kayaking, dog jumping, trail racing, climbing, stand up paddle boarding, disc golf, live music, and even slacklining. From being there the previous year, I thought I knew what to expect, but there was always something new around each corner. And Gregory was there at the Games to partake in it all.
New for the Vail Mountain Games, we were not only fitting packs, but selling our full line of packs to the general public. We talked camping, biking, commuting, skiing, and even about fanny packs. With a full line of packs to show, we had no shortage of people to talk to. All wanted to tell stories like their last 14’er and their run for cover under lightning’s oppressive force. Flannel shirts and cowboy boots had turned to tech tees and yoga pants. These folks were users, those that get outside at each opportunity, hoping the surrounding Colorado wilderness will give them peace in a hectic world. As always, it felt good to feel part of the community. A community of Gregory users, and a community of fellow adrenaline junkies.
Jun 17, 2014It’s 5:00am. The alarm rings and you don’t like it. It’s still dark outside but you know that first light is not far away. Fortunately, it’s warm as the temperatures never really cooled off last night. You stumble out of bed knowing that this morning’s early miles will pay off eventually. You get some coffee down and out the door you go. You pull on your hydration pack because you’ll need water today. You’ve got 12 miles ahead of you to knock out before work. But more importantly, you’ve got the most important race of the summer coming up in just a few weeks. You knew signing up for your first 50K seemed foolish at the time, but you’re committed now and the training miles are adding up. For runners like you, who are serious about the trail, the right hydration system is an important part of the equation and we’ve got the gear for you. Whether you prefer a simple handheld, a lumbar pack, a more traditional pack or some combination thereof, Gregory has worked with top trail runners and ultrarunning champions to provide the best options for you. The Tempo for men and the Pace for women comprise a comprehensive system of gear and water carry for trail runners. Gregory’s patented Wraptor™ harness and composite load stabilizer helps the pack hug the human shape and eliminate performance-zapping bounce. It also eliminates the need for a waist belt or belly band, which can constrict natural breathing for runners. The Pace line is specifically designed to fit the female body with the pack harness shape cut above the bust line and the lumbar pack waist belt set at a steeper angle for optimized comfort and performance. The complete Tempo & Pace line includes backpacks in 8L, 5L and 3L volumes, lumbar packs in horizontal and diagonal configurations, and a minimalist handheld model. The backpacks feature 2-liter Hyrdrapak® Shape-Shift reservoirs with an internal baffle to reduce barreling and water slosh, a Z-Pole storage pocket for runners seeking the added benefits of trekking poles, an interior silicone security pocket to keep valuables dry, and reflective graphics for on-trail visibility. A Hydrapak® DualBot 24-ounce bottle with two options for water flow is included with the lumbar and handheld models. The 1.5L lumbar pack holds the bottle diagonally for easy access on the run, while the 1L lumbar pack holds water bottles horizontally, allowing for ambidextrous access and more balanced weight placement. The handheld bottle holder features minimalist construction and room for storage of gel packs and a car key for quick runs, or it can also be paired with a pack to create a versatile system for longer hours on the trail. So, the next time that 5:00am alarm rings, it will still be early but you can rest assured that there’s one less thing to worry about. Your hydration system is dialed in so you can focus on the miles and not the gear.
Jun 10, 2014April 1, 2013, was my wedding day to Jami – a wonderful day filled with friends, family and cupcakes. We weren’t able to go anywhere exotic or tropical for our honeymoon due to the fact that five days after our wedding day I was on a plane to Germany for work. Instead, we spent a short but fun-filled weekend in Vegas. It’s now one year later, and I was scheduled to go to Rome for a work, so Jami joined me, turning this work trip into a second, but slightly more legitimate honeymoon. Sounds cool, right? After a cancelled flight, two delays, a night in a dive hotel in Houston, a flight to New York LaGuardia, a cab ride to JFK, an eventual flight to Rome, lost luggage for half the trip, a broken tripod and a train station mugging later, we had an amazing trip. We saw the architecture and art of Rome, and ate everything in sight. All in all we had a great trip that created lots of memories. Enjoy the video that chronicles four days in Rome, all in three minutes.
Jun 3, 2014
Here at Gregory, we know we need to get outside, now even more than ever. We recognize that we are continually drawn to the couch or desk to stare at screens and pass away the hours. We know that we must help preserve our trail systems for the use and enjoyment of a more healthy society. As Edward Abbey said, “the idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders”. At Gregory, we know we need to be defenders. Defenders of the trail, defenders of the wilderness, and defenders of the last bit of what is wild in America. In the pursuit of this defense, we have partnered with the American Hiking Society to encourage people to get away from the screen, up off the couch, and get outside. Gregory and American Hiking Society know that the trail speaks. Now is our time to listen.
For more than 35 years, American Hiking Society (AHS) has been the national voice for America’s hikers, protecting the nation’s trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience for us and for future generations. AHS strives to inspire Americans to get outdoors, volunteer, and protect trails. Sustainable hiking trails and trail systems bring people together, connect them with our natural and cultural heritage, promote healthy lifestyles, and serve an integral role in conservation.
American Hiking Society hosts National Trails Day® the first Saturday of every June and this year’s event will take place Saturday, June 7, 2014. The biggest celebration of trails across the country, National Trails Day® is responsible for getting more than 150,000 Americans outside to discover and enjoy trails as well as complete thousands of miles of trail maintenance and construction.
Gregory Mountain Products has been a generous sponsor of National Trails Day® and helping to maintain the event’s national success. Gregory’s support of both cash and packs motivates people to get outdoors while furthering our mission of protecting the places you love to hike.
American Hiking Society is the leading national hiking organization with a network of tens of thousands of diverse members and partners, like Gregory Mountain Products, who strongly advocate for healthy living and recreation through the use, stewardship, and enjoyment of trails and urban pathways. We are working together to keep your trails ready for your next adventure through policy and advocacy, volunteerism and stewardship, and outreach and education.
AHS works with Congress, federal land agencies, and conservation and recreation organizations on policy issues and legislation to ensure funding for trails. In addition to National Trails Day®, our Volunteer Vacation program annually sends more than 500 volunteers into America’s parks and forests for weeklong trips to build and revitalize trails. AHS helps hundreds of grassroots organizations acquire the resources needed to protect America’s hiking trails through National Trails Fund.
This month we encourage you to get out, take a hike, clean up that overgrown path in your backyard, and listen to how the trail speaks to you.
May 27, 2014
It was obvious that these guys had lots of time on their hands. Most of the hikers had packed up and left, the vendors were gone, and the sleepy town of Damascus, VA was quiet once again. When we walked up, the group was sitting in a circle talking about what things they had seen, the vendors they had met, and talking about what trailhead they were hitching a ride to the next day. The ring of hikers quickly accepted us and welcomed the left-over food we had in our hands. They quickly raised their hands as we offered up fresh meat, cheese, bread, almond butter, and even sour cream. It had become obvious that the things you keep in your refrigerator every day at home were no longer readily accessible when on the trail. Even the cheap beer was being served warm.
Shortly thereafter, the group turned to playing “thumper.” Mostly there to pass time, the game was a way for the group to foster community. Little was known about each person’s background, but that wasn’t important. What was important was how each one of them would spend the next four months, as this experience of thru-hiking would help define who they were to become. Most were 466 miles into their 2,181 mile trek across the Appalachians. Now that the hikers had a fresh haircut, shower, and shave, they were looking their best in two months. Wooing over the women on the trail or in town was never their intention, as the musk of the last week’s hiking in the rain always lingered where they hung out. Even through the odor of the trail, Gregory was there to help them along the way.
It was our 20th year at Trail Days and this was our strongest presence ever. Not only were we doing sewing repairs for the hole a mouse had chewed in a pack at a shelter in the Smokies, we were also there to give away fresh fruit, serve the community that thru-hikers had created, and share stories of trials along the trail. They had stories of losing packs in the back of a car that just given them a ride to the next trailhead, tales of walking into camp from off trail and through the bush, and reports of “trail angels” giving food, support, a clean bed, and showers to hikers along the way. They all just wanted someone to listen, someone to comprehend the magnitude of the journey they were undertaking, and someone to give aid when most needed. Gregory was there to do just a little bit of trail magic.
It felt good to give out a spork to someone that had just lost theirs, or to mend the pocket that had held their M&Ms along the way. It was nice to see the common bond that we all share as outdoor enthusiasts. I may not be on a 2000 mile journey, but I was on one of life’s treks nonetheless. We each had a story to share, and a friendship to foster. As we formed these relationships at Trail Days, they will be ones that will last a lifetime. There were those I had seen from two years before, and they remembered the small token of appreciation we had given. Hopefully, the guy that won the watermelon during this year’s pack raffle will forever remember how that one piece of fruit “changed his life forever” as he proclaimed.
Carry on, class of 2014. Carry on.
May 6, 2014
Editor’s Note: In our semi-regular series from Seth and Tana Yates, they check in from Peru. For the other posts in their series, please see here.
We’ve only been here 24 hrs and we’re already in love. After a 3 day delay trying to exit la ballena blanca (our Daewoo station wagon) from Chile, good luck struck and we were able to enter into our 3rd country on our South American adventure. Because of the trouble and delay our car caused, we wondered if it was worth it to even drive in Peru, or just take a series of buses to where we wanted to go. Our first day here silenced any of those previous doubts.
After crossing the border and a quick stop in Tacna, we headed towards Moquegua. Moquegua sits in the middle of the desert, with a river running through it. After driving for hours in the desert, it definitely appeared like an oasis. We stayed the night here and were definitely way off the gringo trail. We were the only foreigners in the entire town and got a bunch of looks, though the people were very friendly. Phone apps and guidebooks didn’t mention a peep about this rather large town, so we knew we were in for a treat. We had dinner at the market, bought Pisco in unmarked bottles from the local bodegas, and drank our very first Inca Colas.
Still less than 24 hours into Peru, we took off in the morning towards lake Titicaca along the scenic route. There is a more direct route, but we were in the spirit of adventure. Most of our drive was above 13,000 feet, with high points reaching nearly 16,000 feet. To put that in perspective, for a good portion of our drive, we were higher than Mt. Rainier in Washington state. Stepping outside the vehicle and walking 10 feet to take a picture was quite the chore. It took a good minute to regain our breath to continue onward driving.
The Altiplano (high plain) was absolutely stunning. We kept rising out of the desert into large sections of flat lands surrounded by dry mountain peaks. Lakes and streams were abundant and usually accompanied by Alpacas quietly grazing. We even saw a steaming volcano off in the distance!
Eventually we grabbed some food and passed through a hectic border town that Peru shares with Bolivia on Lake Titicaca. We drove a short way out of town and pulled our car a bit off the road where we would camp for the night. It gets dark here around 5:30pm, so we lose a couple hours of driving in the evening. We knew we loved Peru already, but we didn’t know we would become so well acquainted with the Policia Nacional that evening.
Sleeping at altitude is tough. We were above 12,000 feet and tossed and turned for a few hours before catching a bit of shut eye. That is, until we received a knock on our window at 1:30 in the morning. It was the Nacional Police of Peru. They were very nice, polite, and completely fine with us sleeping in our car, but they said the place we chose was not very safe. We weren’t sure why it wasn’t safe, but if they took the time to find us (we were not easy to spot from the road) then we figured we better heed their advice. They told us to drive to Puno and park there for the evening. The only problem was that Puno was 2 hours away - they assured us driving at night was safer than remaining parked at our current location.
With a fresh dose of adrenaline pumping through his veins, Seth figured staying awake for 2 hours behind the wheel would be no problem. We took off towards Puno and had a good stroke of luck, running into the Policia Nacional a second time after only 20 minutes of driving! The road felt good and safe, especially since we were the only car out, when 3 red beams illuminated out of nowhere directing us to stop and pull off the side of the road. We definitely were not going to stop unless it was the police, and as we approached, we could tell they were official.
We explained our situation and told them how the previous police asked us to move to a more secure location. They agreed that the place we were camping was probably not very secure, and let us park our car a bit down the road close to the checkpoint in which they stopped us. We slept pretty well in this location, knowing we were within yelling distance of 6 armed officers. The Policia Nacional on both occasions were very nice and genuinely seemed concerned with our safety and security.
We couldn’t anticipate such a beautifully hectic welcome to this new country, but we already know we’re going to love it here.
Apr 28, 2014
Weekends are a time to recoup from the week of work, let all life's stresses pass away, but may be the only time for the working class to fully live their passion. The time is short, the thrills are big, and the days not enough. Because when the week ends, real life begins.
Apr 22, 2014For nearly thirty years I lived out of a duffel bag or backpack: leading Outward Bound trips, guiding in the Andes, Africa and Himalaya, dirt bagging it from Joshua Tree to the Gunks. Then came marriage, a cute kid, a house in the suburbs and a mortgage. In the “old days” that meant listening to your dad and ditching the nomad lifestyle. But somewhere along the way, strange opportunities popped up. Climbing became a business. Climbing paid the bills. Climbing came to the suburbs. And for those of us dedicated to the climbing lifestyle, this unexpected evolution makes us grin. When I started, only hoods were taken into the woods: my first climbing experience was with a parole officer. Back then dads had good reasons for keeping their daughters away from climbers! Today our daughters are climbers. Today good kids climb ice, compete internationally, sign climbing contracts and are smart enough to go to college. Yes, they still eat burritos with chalked and scabby hands, but they say things like “please” and “excuse me”, while making sure they have a napkin on their lap. Climbing is no longer a fringe sport. With it becoming a big business I had to change a few things. I still have a basement full of backpacks (each with a rich history), but now I have a Gregory “rollie” and three generations of Gregory briefcases. I still insist on having the right piece of gear for the right adventure. For the last 12 years I’ve carried a Gregory backpack or brief case nearly every day. In fact I can’t remember the last time I didn’t carry one. In the last few weeks, I’ve carried packs on climbs throughout Colorado and I’ve carried my Border 25 from board room to conference center. I’ve pulled my Cache 22 rollie through a dozen airports, hotel lobbies and along city streets. Today, I make a living operating some of the nation’s largest climbing gyms (Earth Treks), guiding cancer survivors on Kilimanjaro and bankers to Everest Base Camp, and teaching leadership to Google execs, MBA Candidates (Wharton) and covert ops teams. And everywhere I go, I am carrying or living out of my Gregory gear. I love the road. When I started the journey, I just never guessed that it could lead so many of us so far. But now that I’ve seen the horizon from the summits of Everest and K2, I can tell you that the road stretches far beyond the curvature of the earth. It stretches deep into the unknown. You just need a well-built pack to keep you moving.
Apr 21, 2014Uncertainty hung in the air as we paced back and forth on the ridge, looking at our possible lines. An ever-changing fog rolled in and out, obscuring our view of the north facing chutes beneath our feet. "I'm pretty sure it goes," I said to myself, sounding more like a question than a statement. I better double check, I thought, and bootpacked up a steep knife edge ridge to get a better look at the chute. The vantage point filled me with excitement as I could see that the line emptied itself into a wide couloir. It was our second day at Turnagain Pass outside of Girdwood, Alaska. The snowpack indicated stable avalanche conditions and untracked powder but the obvious rocks screamed thin coverage. My partners had their eye on a chute parallel to mine. Spenser went first and kicked up powder clouds before straightlining it to the flats. Joey followed and had equally excellent riding conditions. From the top, a wave of relief washed over me as I saw the two fist bump. My turn. I eased into the steep upper section of the chute and cautiously made my way down, looking for the choke. It wasn't my most graceful riding but with a line so steep that my hands dragged on the face just by standing toe edge on the wall, a fall would be hard to stop. The crux -- a narrow four-foot gap between two large boulders-- appeared and once past it, I let loose and made large, arching turns down the powdery apron. From the very beginning of our trip, we had heard numerous reports that Alaska was having a bad year. A very bad year. So bad, in fact, that a rain event caused a huge avalanche to close off access to Valdez for several weeks. Locals wrote us emails urging us to save the money and stay south. It couldn't be THAT bad we thought and continued with our plans. In late March we rolled through Thompson Pass near Valdez and it was blindingly white, just as it should be. During our three-week stay, a blocking high pressure parked itself over the area causing the snow on solar aspects to get a healthy dose of Alaskan sun and preventing the snowpack from catching up to normal levels. But what the pass lacked in new snow, it made up for in long sunny bluebird days in the mountain with very stable conditions. That sure beats stormy, low visibility, high danger days, I kept reminding myself. Besides, if you knew where to look, the high Chugach still held untracked consolidated powder snow. Storms eventually made their way to the mountains and provided us with fresh paint. Although our Alaskan experience may have been during a "bad" year, we still sniffed out great snow and the gnarly terrain that this place is known for. I think it's safe to say that in an average year, my mid-couloir choke would have been buried deep in snow. But then again, who doesn't love a little extra spice to their couloirs?
Apr 8, 2014
Since Gregory’s inception over 35 years ago, we have done everything we can to preserve the areas we all love to recreate in. This has included the giving of time, cold hard cash, and free merchandise to foster the preservation of mountain environments. One such conservation team that we have supported for the last seven years has been The Conservation Alliance. Through our support, we hope to make wild places more accessible to anyone that wants to get outside and find how the trail speaks to them.
The Conservation Alliance is an organization of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas throughout North America.
Gregory Mountain Products as been an outstanding member and corporate partner of The Conservation Alliance since 1997. Each year, Gregory contributes to a funding pool that is distributed to conservation organizations across North America working to protect our last wild places. Together, the Alliance will disperse $1.7 million dollars in 2014.
Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed close to $13 million to grassroots conservation groups throughout North America. The results of our funding have been remarkable. Alliance funding has helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,825 miles of rivers; stop or remove 26 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase nine climbing areas. Click here for a list of our grantees.
Gregory Mountain Products, in partnership with the Conservation Alliance, is proud to be part of the effort to protect the wild places you love!
Mar 24, 2014
Powder Pilgrimage: Part 2
This is Part 2 of a guest post from Gregory Ambassador James Roh. Check out part 1 at: http://gregorypacks.com/life-show?fid=on-the-trail&cid=powder-pilgramage-quit-you-job-now&lang=default
"Come on, let's go have some fun," Harald said simplyhis voice trailing off as he traversed right and then quickly dropped a pillow into fluffy British Columbian powder. After a dry January, the Kootenay Mountains were reaping the benefits of a near constant series of Pacific storms that provided fresh paint for skiers each morning. Smiling, it was now my turn to drop. I opted for the line directly in front of me with enough pillows of pow to cause a wave of white that momentarily blinded me. Joey said the only thing he could see was the distinct yellow of the Alpinisto pack showing through the cold smoke. This was exactly what we had come for.
Harald, along with his Danish counterpart Emil, came from Norway to experience the ski bum lifestyle by living in an RV in the Whitewater Ski Resort parking lot outside of Nelson, British Columbia. We met the two Scandinavians a little more than a month into our own journey and quickly converged the two trips into a temporary team effort by sharing booze, making dinner together, and planning adventures in the surrounding mountains.
Conversations with the Euros had me thinking about what it means to drop everything and hit the road in search of a vague objective. As any backcountry traveler knows, the skin track lends itself to a healthy amount of time to think and reflect. Although it feels unique to us, the simple premise of our trip is far from original. We are making a conscious effort to fully immerse ourselves in the mountain environment with as few distractions as possible. We're not out to tick off first descents or compete with the newest TGR video. Rather, we're aiming to take full advantage of a time in our lives where living in a truck for months at a time and infrequent showers are enthusiastically acceptable.
I'd like to think most people have a passion worth pursuing, regardless if it falls into the dirtbag category or not. Quite frankly, it just takes dedication and a decent amount of sacrifice. At one point or another you'll come to realize that all the stresses of preparing for the trip were worth it. Mine just happened to be in a snowbank on the side of Teton Pass a few weeks ago.
Follow along at www.thepowderpilgrimage.com and feel free to get in touch if you want to tour, grab a beer, or lend us your couch.
Mar 11, 2014
A guest post by Gregory ambassador James Roh
At the bottom of the run, I collapsed in the snow and laughed to myself. Off to my side, Joey yelled in disbelief. At that point, we had been on our trip for less than a week but we had already found what we were looking for; a moisture-laden storm had just dumped close to four feet of snow in the Tetons and we were grateful to be around to sample the goods. With any luck, the rest of our journey would be equally as deep, with ladies flocking in to hang out in the camper with us, too.
Dubbed as the Powder Pilgrimage, Joey and I left Salt Lake City in early January to begin our winter-long journey that has us driving from Utah to Alaska with stops in different mountain towns along the way to splitboard, explore new ranges, and meet the locals. In our minds, Alaska represented the end of the road in our search for ideal North American ski mountaineering lines.
We made a gentleman’s agreement and shook on the plan in September of 2012, settling on the departure date for the following season. This time frame would give us over a year to save money, tie up loose ends, and quit our jobs. Joey worked as a graphic designer for a firm in Salt Lake City and I was a staff photographer at the newspaper in Provo. But of course it wasn't until we bought the truck camper this past summer that the plan actually started to become reality, knowing that the small box of cash under the bed would be our only means of survival. That, and maybe Joey’s good looks might score us a real bed for a night along the way.
We knew we were going to need a rig that could endure winter's brutal cold and gnarly driving conditions while allowing us to be completely self-reliant, so we bought a used camper to slap on the back of my old F-250. With little room to even turn around inside, it gave us a living space that had a stove, a bed, plenty of gear storage, a heater, and a table for après ski beers. Nothing says classy like ‘want to hang out in the camper?’.....
Check back as we will post Part 2 soon.
Oct 24, 2013
October 25, 2013 (Salt Lake City, Utah) – On October 17, news broke that Gregory sponsored climber Joe Kinder was accused of cutting down two juniper trees at a climbing area near Tahoe, CA where he had been developing new routes. On Kinder’s blog posted October 21st, Joe took responsibility for his actions and cited his intent as one of safety and his deep regret for his actions.
Gregory was exceptionally disappointed to learn of the incident and has been thorough and disciplined in evaluating this situation. Gregory holds a high standard for all people affiliated with the brand and is actively involved with groups such as the Conservation Alliance, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the American Mountain Guides Association, Big City Mountaineers and the American Hiking Society. All of these organizations reflect Gregory’s commitment to protecting and preserving the natural environment as a resource and for recreational value.
Joe reached out to Gregory after the incident to acknowledge his actions and to apologize. He has expressed genuine remorse and regret toward the mistake and the backlash it created. While we think highly of Joe, Gregory does not condone such actions and is disappointed he made a mistake of this magnitude.
That said, Joe’s intent to make good from this adversity is why Gregory will continue to support him as an ambassador. In addition to paying a fine to the Forest Service, Joe has decided to donate $1,000 to the Sierra Nevada Alliance, whose mission is to protect and restore the natural resources of the Sierra Nevada for future generations while promoting sustainable communities. Kinder will plan to donate a week of his time to community service in the Tahoe region and work with Gregory and the Access Fund on an educational platform and video on ethics and responsibilities while climbing in respect to the natural environment.
The situation is well summarized by Brady Robinson, Executive Director of the Access Fund, “Joe made a big mistake. What he did was illegal and wrong. Nothing will bring back the trees but I believe some good will come out of this. I have spoken to Joe, we discussed ideas around education and using this incident, and the media surrounding it to draw attention to climber impacts, climber behavior and best practices. Best case, this could be a touchstone event that helps to remind a new generation of climbers that the outdoors is not an extension of the gym, that there are laws and ethical standards we as climbers must uphold.”
Oct 5, 2013
Gregory partnered with Clearskies Expedition & Trekking, http://www.clearskies.at/, for a ski expedition to Manaslu. Congratulations to the team on their summit success. The skiing looks amazing. The latest video update from the peak can be viewed HERE.
Himalayan Adventure: Expedition Team from Gregory Sponsoring Partner Clearskies On Their Way to Manaslu Peak
A 4 person team from Austrian tour and expedition operator, Clearskies (www.clearskies.at) and Gregory as a sponsoring partner underwent a ski expedition to Manaslu peak (8.163m), eigth-highest peak on earth, in the Himalayas.
The team, consisting of Clearskies CEO Hannes Groebner, Sepp Hechenberger, Markus Amon, and Georg Leithner, has successfully reached the basecamp (4.930m) on September 14th. They plan to attempt the peak "by fair means" without using supplementary oxygen or high altitude porters, and to descend on ski. One of the team members, Markus Amon, plans to try a solo speed ascent and ski descent (up and down in one day) if conditions allow.
As the team comprises only German-speaking team members, their daily reports are available only in German. But with many photos and in addition, GPS live tracking, the following websites still provide lots of interesting information even for non-German-speakers.
Congratulations to the Clearskies team!
Jul 2, 2013Over 20 folks representing Gregory distributors in six different countries traveled to the vibrant and culturally rich city of Seoul, South Korea. Known as the “Special City”, this was the perfect venue to host the 2014 Gregory Asia Pacific Sales Meeting. The greater Seoul metropolitan area is home to almost half of all Koreans, with a population of more than 25 million. It is also a major tourist destination, having been rated the number one desired destination by tourists from Japan, China and Thailand for the third consecutive year. The event was hosted and held at our distributor partner Echoroba’s R&D Center in Yong-in. Conducting the meeting for Gregory were Dion Goldsworthy, Director of International Sales and Katie Hawkins, International Account Manager. The focal point of the meeting was the introduction of the new Technical and Lifestyle collections for Spring 2014. The new products continue to build on the ethos of the Gregory brand by offering innovative technology, progressive style, and a continuation of our heritage of exceptional fit. The distributor group was unbelievably excited for the new designs, bright colorways, and ready to start presenting in their respective markets. The meeting also included visits to five Gregory branded stores throughout Seoul and neighboring cities. This was a great opportunity for our partners to see different locations and unique merchandising styles in Korea. One of the locations that we visited was the Dobong Mountain store that is located in the northeast corner of Mt. Bukhansan National Park. Just a 45 minute subway ride from downtown Seoul, outdoor gear shops line the streets to the trailhead of the mountain, a must see destination for any outdoor enthusiast traveling the area. Overall the meeting was a success on many levels. Our partners walked away excited about the new collections and also saw great ideas to take back and leverage in their own markets. A special thank you to Mr. Cho, President of Echoroba and the entire Echoroba team for being exceptional hosts.
Jun 30, 2013My first alpine experience was this summer with The Incredible Hulk in the Sierra Nevadas, California. I’m honestly not sure why this had to be my first run at this practice of rock climbing other than the fact it seemed to be a serious way to “cut my teeth”. I come primarily from sport climbing, but I usually try to vary up my climbing world with a little tease of bouldering, gym climbing, and even a comp (which I am awful at). I can usually hang and enjoy the experience, but I always some how resort back to the good ol’ discipline of clipping bolts on hard routes. This is what I love. I love hard moves, strategizing, the process of completion, and all of the frustration in betweens. I get lost in the moment a lot and relish in the projecting mode that seems to be the most important thing in the world at the time. I have a tiny bit of trad climbing experience, but hardly enough to say I am confident. While in Spain last season my friend Adam (Brams) Long was hanging out and I learned that he was primarily climbing trad routes and way more into the adventure side of climbing which bouldering and sport climbing lack. We had just watched the Reel Rock video with Lisa Rands and Peter Croft up in the mountains climbing the Hulk and it just looked STUNNING to me. Summer can be a hard time for good conditions and hard sport climbing so I figured this summer of 2013 I should take it upon myself and try something new, drop the levels a little bit, and stop the painful search for cool conditions and sport climbing (which doesn’t really exist in the summer). This was the first year EVER I have decided not to bang my head into the inevitable failing search for good conditions. I claimed I would “get fat and go trad climbing this summer” and that is partially working out. Hehehe…. I asked Brams if he would take me under his wing and climb the Hulk with me. His face showed confusion and I remember him shrugging with doubt as to if I were actually serious. I told him I would LOVE to go with him because he had done it before. I told him I had a base so he wouldn’t be baby-sitting me, but I also emphasized I would be fish-outta-water and way out of my element. As usual I get pretty obsessed about a climbing endeavor and this was something I talked and thought about for months. We were going to climb the HULK!!!!!!! The Hulk is at 11,000 feet and requires a 3-4 hour hike in. Most folks go in and camp for the duration of their stay. he rock is immaculate white, grey, and orange granite and weathered perfectly and the place is considered one of the best for alpine climbing. The summer came, we made our plans and I drove to Tuolumne Meadows to meet Brams. He was stoked on this whole endeavor and so was I so we kicked it off with a 5.9 in the twilight. This was a lot of fun and a way for us to form a partnership and degree of trust. The next day we drove in, loaded our gear up, and hiked. The hike is serious and I was pretty impressed as to how far it actually was. We were taking our time, having a good time, joking and not taking anything too seriously. We made it in 4+ hours. You camp right below the wall and it lures you all day and night. It is the only thing you see and it makes you feel small. You can watch other climbers as well. Other parties in their camps simply stare at the wall as if it were a broadway show or something else amazing to glare at. Everyone’s looks are of awe. I was taking it all in, noticing the way the trad climbers speak about routes and what is considered “splitter” or high quality climbing. I tried to explain to a few people that this was new to me and they just kinda smiled this sort of apathetic smile. I was into something way more involved than I knew. But that was what I wanted… something extreme, but I wasn’t going to die… hopefully anyway. When you are in the mountains everything is a little more serious. The consequences are a lot more real and everything is heightened to a degree that you keep a conservative approach on the things you do. I mean we were up there climbing and that is risky enough, but when you are climbing and a serious fall or anything that could injure you is present… life and health are very clear. You want to keep them intact and safe and I believe this is a human instinct that we are playing with out there in the mountains. That is the one thing that you will undeniably have in common. We got lucky and scored the best bivy up there which is a solid rock cave enclosed with other stones built up by climbers. The hut sleeps two very well and was solid. The place is known for its wind and this was perfect during those windy hours of the morning or night when it’s utterly exhausting. The first day of climbing we sprang up stoked for the wall. We chose to climb Sunspot, which is a 5.11b. Now normally a 5.11b is isn’t even enough to warm me up for the day trying hard routes. I usually choose to warm up on 5.12’s and multiple of them to try a hard project in the 5.14 or 5.15 range. I figured this route would be no problem to bang out and we could even bang out two in a day or just kill this one and then the next day go for the hardest route on the wall which is 13a. I had nothing to compare it all to. This was just going to be a first step. It’s scary going into the unknown and not at all something that you can just automatically have confidence in. I was sure the climbing would be NO problem, but the experience as a whole… hmmm????… I just wasn’t sure how it would all add up I guess. We got climbing around noon and the second pitch was mine. It was probably 10a or so with chunks of kitty-litter granite and odd facing cracks that I really didn’t know what to do with. I learned quickly that my crack climbing skills were garbage. I wore my normal sport climbing shoes as well, which are literally the tightest size I can get on my foot and refused to cam my toes into any crack due to the sheer pain and hideous physicality of it all. Hand jams always turned into sidepulls or pinches and I would layback EVERYTHING. Brams met me at the belay and I could see he was a little disappointed. By the way I was moving this route was going to take us ALL dang day. I was moving very conservatively and not taking any risks. I didn’t want to fall and I wasn’t comfortable on this sort of climbing style. Brams picked up the pace by leading the next two pitches, which I was so happy about considering how epic they were and how wild the route-finding was. He seemed so confident and it looked so easy for him. I would follow up the pitch cleaning gear, and realizing what it would have felt like leading it. NUTS! I realized I was in over my head for sure and if I were there with someone on my same level we would have suffered, bailed, or gotten seriously hurt. There were a total of 7 pitches. I lead the last two and felt pretty good about it. They were the crux pitches and scary! I held it down with Brams’ confidence and encouragement and I really appreciated it. I got lost on the last pitch and had to do some serious Daniel Woods gaston moves to get back on track and I surely almost fell and ate it. The thing about trad grades are they really don’t calculate up very well to sport climbing grades what-so-ever. Old school 5.9’s feel like 5.12 (sport) and modern trad 5.12 feels like 5.13 (sport)… I really haven’t figured this all out yet, but I do know they do NOT match up. We topped out the route and rapped down. The climbing was fun, but more fun when it was all over. I realized how bad we wanted to get back to the ground even though being up there was so rad and exhilarating. We blasted down the rappels. I hate rappelling. When we got to the ground it all set in. There was such a satisfaction of going up that giant piece of stone. Not just the moves, or the features, or the air below us or the intense wind… it was the fact we got up it. A route in my mind is a pathway up a wall. That pathway consists of moves, problem solving, strength, a mental challenge, and is a satisfaction that can only come from this sort of endeavor. This is what I have learned the past couple of weeks climbing trad routes in the Hulk and at the Needles, CA. Bouldering is akin to the minute moves and perfect execution. Sport climbing is about movement and execution in sections. Trad climbing is about the movement up features and a very broad goal. This is a generalization for sure, but in my experience this is what I have gathered. I don’t know if I will become a mountain-man climbing in Patagonia, but this is a huge eye-opener for me personally as a rock climber of 18 years. I am learning again and that is huge. I have dropped my ego and accepted the fact that I can be a student and progress again and I really like this. Brams and I did one more route the next day, which was a blustery morning with weather moving in. We decided to bang out one more route and it was primarily me suggesting the motive. I figured we were up there so why not? We were tired, and worked over from the past 2 nights up there, but it just made sense. We decided the Red Dihedral would be fit for the occasion. The route is a classic and goes a 10b… in sport climbing terms 10b is something I usually don’t even bother with so I assumed this would be a walk in the park? I wasn’t feeling very confident that day, the wind was scaring the hell out of me, we were rushing to beat the weather, and I was also wearing Brams’ shoes because they were a little bigger and less painful than my wicked tight Miura VS’s. We got up 3 pitches with the wind blasting on us. I led the crux pitch as it was only appropriate considering I held it down on the 5.11’s the day before. The pitch is a giant open-book feature with a hand crack in the middle… PERFECT. I was sketching and groveling my skinny ass up the thing and got way up above a piece of gear in the middle of the pitch. I was adjusting my body so that I could switch feet in the crack and get a nice piece of gear in and continue on. Before I knew it I slipped out of the polished crack and was FLYING down the wall sideways. It happened so fast I still don’t know what exactly happened. When the rope came taught I slammed the wall with my side and hit a giant flake. All I could think about was broken bones poking out of my legs and arms and how detrimental this was. I checked my body for any injuries or anything odd. I was in pain on my leg, but that was just a bruise from slamming the wall. I looked at Brams and his eyes were popping out of his head from shock. He lowered me to the belay where I freaked out for 5 minutes or so with the wind still blasting us. I just kept saying “I suck, I suck, I suck”… We contemplated bailing and just calling it as we were both pretty freaked out. But NO WAY. We finished the route, rapped down, hiked to the camp, got our stuff, and walked out before the weather came. The burgers and beer that night never tasted so good and the new education I gained sunk in just a tad. There is a world of knowledge and experience to be gained in this amazing sport of rock climbing and I will never in my life get bored with it. You can be a master in one aspect but an utter baby in another practice and I think that is one of the most stimulating thoughts ever. I love rock climbing and it takes me places I would never think to go other-wise. It makes me happier than anything and is never easy. It’s important to put yourself in those uncomfortable situations and make do… sometimes you win and sometimes you suck as bad as me. Either way you will gain something that will go a lot further than you think it will. Be safe everyone. -Joe Editor's Note: All photos credit Adam Long and Vitaliy M.
Jun 23, 2013The North American Gregory Sales Meeting went off without a hitch. The new product was well received and everyone seemed psyched about the direction of the brand. The meetings were held at The Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City Utah - an ideal location with close proximity to the airport and stunning views of the Wasatch Mountains in the distance. Part of the presentations was to honor those reps that have been with Gregory for 10, 15 and 20 years as well as award the Rep Agency of the Year to Egan & Associates, LLC – an impressive group of dedicated individuals. Dinner for the night was at a local brew pub, Squatters, where everyone could relax and reconnect. But the real business happened far from downtown in the Silver Island Mountains in Utah’s west desert. The Gregory team set up base camp and were able to try out firsthand some of the new packs for a variety of excursions. For some, the most memorable part was walking on the miles of salt flats left over from the release of Lake Bonneville thousands of years ago. Here’s to a successful year and many more years of fun on the trail.
Jun 20, 2013Sales meetings are an important part of kicking off new product launches as getting the entire team excited about where Gregory is heading. We try to make each one unique and memorable as a way to inspire and motivate our teams. Here's what happened at the recent Europe Sales Meeting. To learn about the new products for Spring 2014, the Gregory Europe sales team held its sales meeting at a very unique place: the small island of Neuwerk, which is situated several miles off the German coast in the middle of the Wadden Sea and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As it is very quiet on the island, the participants’ focus on the new products was 100% guaranteed. And it was worth it: Gregory director of product development John Sears, who had traveled all the way from the U.S., presented three exciting new or completely redesigned product lines. All of them with sophisticated feature sets and a well-balanced mixture of bright, eye-catching colors, along with traditional colors. So participants’ feedback was entirely positive, and everybody is looking forward to presenting the new products to dealers at the upcoming trade show. The social program had exciting activities to offer. For the seven mile trip from the mainland to the island, the group was carried by horse carriage over the mudflats during low tide, enjoying a wonderful sunset along the way. On the way back two days later, wet feet were a necessity! The participants crossed the mudflats on foot, passing through tidal creeks, learning about the abundant hidden wildlife in the mudflats and even tasting fresh oysters on the way. Definitely an experience not to be missed! Updates for North America and Asia sales meetings will be posted soon...
May 29, 2013As we've mentioned before, we're big fans of all the organizations and people that work so hard to preserve and protect the trails that we all love. Whether it's local trail clubs or national organizations, we're proud to support everyone who make our experience on the trail just that much sweeter. In 2013, we're proud to support the following great organizations. Please check them out and say thanks in whatever way makes sense to you!
- The Pacific Crest Trail Association (http://www.pcta.org) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the PCT. The Trail extends for 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada and visits varied terrain from low lying desert to high alpine lakes.
- The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/) provides cooperative management of the AT, on-the-ground stewardship, trail maintenance efforts, relocation initiatives for this iconic trail that runs from Georgia to Maine.
- Big City Mountaineers (http://www.bigcitymountaineers.org/) mentors urban youth through outdoor experience. A love for the outdoors starts at a young age and the BCM knows the rehabilitative power discovered through the simple freedom of being outside.
- American Hiking Society (http://www.americanhiking.org/) is at the forefront of protecting the nation's trails and the hiking experience. Gregory is the National Trails Day official sponsor. Find your local event for this Saturday, June 1 and lend a hand to this great organization.
May 20, 2013Editor's Note: At our core, we're hikers. Yes, we mountain bike, trail run, rock climb, and ski but we always come back to hiking. It's just so easy to grab a pack, throw some provisions in it and head out with family or friends for a hike. To that end, we always are excited to support other hikers and organizations that benefit them. One great one is the American Hiking Society. On June 1, 2013 they are putting on their annual National Trails Day with events in all 50 states. Now, that's an event that we can get behind! Check out the full press release below for more information about how we're getting involved and to find an event near you, click here. American Hiking Society is proud to announce a new partnership with Gregory, which has been developing innovative backpacks that enhance the outdoor experience for more than 30 years. In its new role as a sponsor of National Trails Day®, Gregory joins other leading outdoor manufacturers and retailers in supporting AHS’ efforts to promote and protect America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience. “By signing on as a sponsor of National Trails Day®, Gregory has clearly demonstrated that the company understands the importance of protecting the special places where its customers enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor sports. In supporting National Trails Day®, Gregory is helping to encourage Americans of all ages to get outside and join the 21st annual countrywide celebration of stewardship, recreation, and exploration on America’s trails,” commented Greg Miller, American Hiking Society’s President. “Gregory is proud to support American Hiking Society and National Trails Day®. A primary focus of our product development is to enhance outdoor experiences and this more often than not, begins on a Trail. Gregory believes strongly in the mission of AHS and the need to preserve our natural resources for outdoor recreation,” stated Bill Kulczycki, Gregory Brand President. National Trails Day® events are organized and hosted across the country by hiking clubs, trail organizations, businesses, community groups, and government agencies. National Trails Day® events can involve a broad array of activities, including hiking, backpacking, bike riding, trail maintenance, birding, wildlife photography, geocaching, paddle trips, trail running, trail dedications, health-focused programs, children’s activities, and more. “National Trails Day provides an excellent opportunity for us to remind all hikers about the importance of being appropriately prepared so that they can safely enjoy their outdoor adventures, and part of the message involves taking along a well-stocked daypack or backpack that contains essential items such as food, water, and safety gear. We are happy to have a corporate partner who can supply this important item to our members,” said Miller. About American Hiking Society Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas and the hiking experience. To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, visit http://www.americanhiking.org or call (301) 565-6704.
May 13, 2013Caroline, www.carolinegleich.com, continues her mountaineering education and training at the Exum Mountain Guides Live to Ski camp, http://www.exumguides.com/?page_id=6&progId=24. We went up in the Tetons with a big objective on our minds. We packed in gear for an overnighter so we could get the summit early. Even when my Gregory pack was loaded with tent, sleeping bag, skis and other gear, it carried amazingly well which is why I love their packs so much. They are so versatile. In the morning, we ascended Buck Mountain, http://www.summitpost.org/buck-mountain/151386, via the East Ridge in beautiful sunrise light. For me, the sunrises and sunsets in the mountains are part of the thrill and appeal. We skied down the east face of Buck in almost perfect corn.
May 12, 2013Trail Days 2013, in Damascus, VA, is right around the corner. It runs from May 17 through 19 and we’ll be there as always along with some 20,000 other AT enthusiasts. It’s a celebration of the Appalachian Trail (The AT) and if you are unfamiliar, check out the website for an idea of what goes on therehttp://traildays.us/. Damascus is a small rural town along the Appalachian Trail of about 1,000 residents (toted by many as the friendliest town along the AT) that swells closer to the 20,000 or more mark for the weekend (it sure feels that way). You can imagine what the vibe is like: current thru-hikers recharging their batteries, area locals getting a taste of the trail life, and past hikers who come back as a reunion of sorts. This event is what we call a ‘support’ event. We are not there to sell or even really show products, but rather to provide support for those hiking the trail (and not just Gregory pack owners – and not just packs either). We are also able to gather some valuable market research by talking with hikers and finding out what they like and don’t like about their gear. We can then use tis valuable information to improve our product offering We set up shop near tent city and bring Irma, our master sewer, along with the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Wayne Gregory himself to provide all sorts of repairs. We fix seams, zippers, patches, and even provide a couple of on the trail custom repairs and rebuilds. In the past we’ve mended some clothes (your welcome Officer Lloyd) and built some sort of hammock quilt out of a yard-sale sleeping bag (that guy was STOKED!). Throughout the event, we meet a ton of people from all walks of life, all areas of the country, and all around the world. We truly make some lifelong friends every year we attend this event. Every event we attend will have its own share of giveaways and contests. The Get-Out-More, Backpacker Magazine crew gave away about $50,000 worth of donated gear (including some Gregory packs). This year we’ll hold our ‘Guess the Weight’ contest where hikers test their pack weighing skills with the closest to the actual weight winning the pack – we put a fair amount of random itmes in there to throw everyone off. We’ll also hold Fit clinics to make sure everyone is properly sized for their backpack – Get Fit, Get a Prize. The town of Damascus provides showers, entertainment, food, and music for any in need. Trail Days is not short on fun, libations, and even drum circles, bonfires and dancing. Last year we witnessed an on-the-trail wedding between two hikers! They met the year before at Trail Days, finished the AT together and were engaged on the top of Mt. Katahdin. Congratualtions! Here’s a look at some of the folks we met last year. https://vimeo.com/44043313 If you’re there, do stop by and say hi!
May 9, 2013Caroline, www.carolinegleich.com, continues her mountaineering education and training at the Exum Mountain Guides Live to Ski camp, http://www.exumguides.com/?page_id=6&progId=24. Headed up in Grand Teton National Park to ski Mt. Albright, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albright_Peak. A long, hot approach in the sun, but breathtaking scenery. At the top, we roped up for some cornice cuts, rappelled in over a big cornice and skied the steep exposed northeast couloir on belay. Such great skills to have! Once we descended, we did an afternoon session focusing on knots and rope management. I can now tie a clove hitch and munter knot with my eyes closed. Tomorrow we head into the woods for an overnight in pursuit of a big objective. More soon!
May 8, 2013Caroline Gleich, www.carolinegleich.com, is quite the established athlete and a long time friend of Gregory. She’s helped us as a tester for product development and as a model for several photo shoots. Her skiing ambitions are impressive and she charges every endeavor with a positive attitude and determination. When she started talking about a new “Live to Ski” ski mountaineering camp established by Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson, WY (http://www.exumguides.com/?page_id=6&progId=24), we jumped at the chance to get on board and track her progress. Here’s her update from Day 1: Update from Live to Ski ski mountaineering camp day 1. Long approach into Grand Teton National Park to ski Hourglass Couloir on Nez Perce Mountain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nez_Perce_Peak Beautiful sunrise, looks like the bears are out to play too. Spent the afternoon working on snow and rock anchors and belayed skiing techniques. Life saving knowledge in an amazing place with a rad crew! So stoked to be up in the Tetons - and my Gregory pack made all those transitions so easy! Stay tuned for more updates…
May 1, 2013Editor's Note: The following trip report was filed by Alex Gavic. This season was my first spending any significant time in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Early in the season, a buddy of mine at Snowbird told me something about the Y Couloir. Once I caught a glimpse of it, I put it on my list of "things to do." The Y Couloir is 3200 vertical feet, and a sustained 45-degree pitch from top to bottom. It is a thing of beauty. It was the middle of January, and the Wasatch was having a decent snow year. For the past two months, my crew and I had been doing a lot of filming in and out of Grizzly Gulch. On the way home, I finally saw a set of tracks in the Y. I looked at my buddy Shane with great emphasis saying, "No way! Someone hit it. Look, look. Tracks down the Y!" He was astonished. Next snow storm, I wanted those tracks. The next week it had snowed about 10 inches or so. I was all over the Utah Avalanche Center's website, waiting and watching stability. The Y Couloir is one that you only dare to ascend while avalanche conditions are stable. One slough from above will take you on a ride. Not a pleasant ride for that matter. Once they gave the green light, Shane Hillyard, James Buehler and myself prepared to go get it. We set out from Park City at 4am. Shane, a good friend, comes along on all of our crazy adventures to document the ride. As James and I set out with headlamps into the woods, Shane hiked the adjacent wall to set up a film angle. 10 minutes through the woods, over the Little Cottonwood Stream, and to the base of the Y, it was evident that we were in for the adventure of the season (and quite possibly our lives) so far. Rocks, that implied "don't mess up or I will ruin your day" littered the bottom of the couloir. We pushed forward, setting the boot pack. Zig zagging through these rocks on the little bit of snow that there was, with a 45 degree pitch was inevitably a "puckering" experience. With100-foot rock walls on either side of us, and dark skies, we were given a quick reality check from this beast of a line. Powder, wind buff, and ice were the conditions we dealt with up the first half of the couloir. Right about half way, James and I ran into a mandatory rock shelf that we had to climb over. The combo of a tight choke in the chute, and ice forced the endorphins to rush through our veins. Step after step, we climbed our way to the peak. With the upper half of the couloir being boot deep powder, we set the trail to the top. 5 hours later, we were there. A couple photos, some water and snacks, and it was time to drop. James insisted that this was my crazy idea, and that I drop first. The first thousand vertical feet were some very pleasant powder turns. After racing down the upper half with my slough river, I headed into the choke of the couloir for another thousand feet or so, which created a wind tunnel from the top, causing the great snow to turn into a wind buff alleyway. This is where I hit the mandatory air and the chute that goes down to as little as 4 feet wide. A loss of control here would be a dangerous and most definitely a painful experience. The first half of the bottom was decent snow. Another boot deep powder section allowed for some nice powder turns before turning into a shark tank. Once I hit this rocky zone, I was carefully picking my way down the boot pack. In one of these rocky corridors, I almost found myself falling backwards 15 feet into the jagged rocks below. A few more billy goat sections, and a crab walk over 10 feet of dirt and rock got me to the bottom. How great it was to be down in one piece. I radioed to James and Shane letting them know I was down, and I waited for James to meet me at the bottom. Once he made it down we bushwhacked back through the forest, over the stream and hiked back up to the road. A few high fives and stories of our runs later and we were back in the car, headed back to Park City by noon. It was a very humbling experience that none of us will ever forget. The Y Couloir has a powerful aura, instilled in the hearts of those that have ascended and descended, that is not to be taken lightly. For a video that shows the action live, check out: http://vimeo.com/59108290.
Apr 25, 2013Ever since our Border travel pack debuted last fall, most of us at Gregory have lugged it everywhere. It just works. For keeping electronics, papers, water bottles, and workout clothes organized and for traveling through airports, there’s nothing better. It’s become not only our travel backpack, but also our everyday; lug your stuff around, backpack. It’s become so ubiquitous around the office that we often mix them up for each other’s packs. So, after using the backpack for several months, we opened the new Outside Buyer’s Guide today to find an awesome, full-page picture of the Border 35 on page 119! It’s a beautiful image and it’s to announce that the pack has been award Gear of the Year from the magazine! We’ve always known that the Border is a sweet backpack but we’re even more psyched that the gear testers and editors at Outside agree! This award is especially sweet because the award adds to the haul of accolades that Gregory has already collected in 2013, including an ISPO award for the Targhee™ 32 and “best luggage” for the Alpaca™ 28 as part of Outside’s Active Travel Awards. Loyal readers of this blog will know that In addition to the 35L model, the Border is available in 18 and 25 liters. All models feature an innovative “butterfly” opening that is TSA compatible to allow the bag to go through security screenings without the hassle and delay of removing electronics. The 25L and the 35L versions comfortably carry 15-inch and 17-inch laptops respectively. The back panel easily integrates with the existing Gregory wide handled luggage to create a fully integrated system for the savvy traveler. Additional compartments and interior organizing pockets make the backpack extremely versatile for anything from a coffee shop run to an international business trip. The Outside Buyer’s Guide not only highlights the very best in adventure gear, from sports equipment, tools, and gadgets to footwear, outerwear, and sunglasses, but also calls out the best values in each class. This year’s summer edition contains over two dozen ‘Killer Values’ — as well as 170 products under $150—in everything from mountain-bike shoes to waterproof cameras. Now in its 18th year, the annual summer Buyer’s Guide reaches over 1.3 million readers and will be on newsstands all summer, from April 26th through July 22 and at Outside Online. So, grab a copy and get out there!
Apr 11, 2013It’s awards season and Gregory keeps on chugging along, adding even more recognition to our haul. This time it’s Outside, which honored the Alpaca 22 with “Best Luggage” as part of the magazine’s Active Travel Awards. The honor was presented in the April issue. To select this year’s awards, Outside tapped its global network of correspondents, who spent months on the road traveling from the Philippines to Switzerland to Namibia and then some, to report a definitive roundup of the best new adventures, secret paradises, mountain epics, stunning beaches, airline deals, gorgeous islands, and more. The result is an excited read that will definitely leave you wanting to bust out from behind your computer screen and get on with an adventure. For you loyal readers, you already know that the 22-inch, 55-liter Alpaca 22 Roller Duffle is a burly, no-frills gear and clothing hauler suited for any travel adventure you have in mind. Constructed from bomber TPU fabric that is both abrasion and water resistant, this carry-on sized bag offers the protection you need when faced with the unexpected. It features the Gregory Custom Chassis with wide handle design to maximize interior space and deliver stable rolling. This design moves the handle frame that typically cuts through the middle of wheeled suitcases to the exterior of the bag, so that the bottom of the bag is flat. The wide bag-width handle design provides greater stability when rolling the bag, along with more hand positions for greater maneuverability. The handle also provides a generous and stable platform to support additional bags. The Alpaca's oversized custom injection molded ball bearing wheels are designed to roll just about anywhere, but when faced with a steep staircase or other obstacles, the bag's deployable padded strap allows you to sling the bag over your shoulder, or wear it as a backpack. So, what are you waiting for? Grab the April issue of Outside, an Alpaca 22 and get out the door!
Apr 3, 2013Eliminate Bounce. Eliminate Slosh. For the past few years, we’ve been pestered by some local friends who run the Wasatch 100 ultra marathon to build them a hydration pack with those characteristics. They were tired of carrying water for their long runs and having it irritate them after long hours on the trail by bouncing around. Water is heavy to carry but also essential for long miles on the trail so a properly designed carrying system is critical. While Gregory had long made general use hydration packs such as the Miwok and the Maya, specific trail running packs weren’t something we considered until recently. Enter the Tempo and Pace, which are brand new for Spring 2013 and are available now at a retailer near you. The Tempo for men and the Pace for women comprise a comprehensive system of gear and water carry for trail runners. Gregory’s patented Wraptor™ harness and composite load stabilizer helps the pack hug the human shape and eliminate performance-zapping bounce. It also eliminates the need for a waist belt or belly band, which can constrict natural breathing for runners. All models are made with premium Cocona® fabrics, used for the first time in a pack line, comprised of natural fibers with activated carbon for superior moisture management and anti-odor properties. The complete Tempo & Pace line includes backpacks in 8L, 5L and 3L volumes, lumbar packs in horizontal and diagonal configurations, and a minimalist handheld model. The backpacks feature 2-liter Hydrapak® Shape-Shift reservoirs with an internal baffle to reduce barreling and water slosh, a Black Diamond Z-Pole™ storage pocket for runners seeking the added benefits of trekking poles, an interior silicone security pocket to keep valuables dry, and reflective graphics for on-trail visibility. A Hydrapak® DualBot 24-ounce bottle with two options for water flow is included with the lumbar and handheld models. The Pace line is specifically designed to fit the female body with the pack harness shape cut above the bust line and the lumbar pack waist belt set at a steeper angle for optimized comfort and performance. The Pace series will be available in Storm White & Shock Pink, while the Tempo line for men comes in Lightning Gray & Blade Silver. The early feedback to the packs has been incredible. According to fitness, “The Gregory Pace running pack gets everything right.” TrailRunner added, “The chest-strap design is comfortable, fitting almost vest-like and reducing excess bounce.” Women’s Adventure was even more complimentary saying, “The Gregory Pace trail running pack is the no-chafe, minimalist solution to staying hydrated, prepared, and most crucially, comfortable, while on trail.” Even explore jumped on board by claiming, “Most importantly, it carries very nicely.” So, if you’re a runner – either a weekend 5K warrior or an ultra runner who pounds out the miles – let the Tempo and Pace provide a solution that works for you. Head to your local retailer before the next time you hit the trail and get yourself all set up.
Mar 27, 20134 pounds. For years, it was this magical, mythical number. Pack makers from the world around tried to create a pack for overnight excursions that weighed 4 pounds or less. With a fully featured suspension capable of carrying 35+ pounds and a pack that fit like a glove, 4 pounds was no easy task. Gregory’s workhorse, the Baltoro, provided years of enjoyment for many people, but even it never hit that 4 pound mark, despite years of continual improvement. Well, the wait is over and Gregory has finally cracked the code for a 4 pound pack. Brand new for Spring 2013, the Contour and Cairn are the centerpieces of our line. Weighing in at 4 pounds thanks to some innovative features, the new packs are sure to provide enjoyment for years to come. The Contour for men and Cairn for women both feature the Response LT™ suspension, a lightweight wishbone wire frame that will comfortably support up to 45 pounds. Gregory’s new MonoBond Architecture™ in the harness provides stable and comfortable load carrying in a thin, lightweight package. The Contour will be available in three volumes ranging from 50 to 70 liters and the Cairn will be available in three volumes ranging from 48 to 68 liters. All packs feature a highly water resistant top pocket with waterproof zipper and sealed seams, an external hydration sleeve for easy access, a side stash security pocket, quick draw access to the main compartment, a large front shove pocket, twin oversize side pockets, and dual waist belt pockets. The Contour will be available in Graphite Gray, Reflex Blue, and Electric Yellow, while the Cairn will be available in Magnetic Gray, Teal Green, and Hibiscus Pink. Check out the following video to see the packs in action: And lest you think that we’re just tooting our own horn about this pack, here’s what the fine folks at Backpacker had to say about it:
Mar 21, 2013Full Name: Matt Connors How long have you worked at Gregory and in what role(s)? 1yr -2 months - as a product developer. What are your favorite activities outside of work? I’m usually skiing, Fly-fishing, or hanging out playing Nintendo. What is your favorite Gregory product and why? I’m really stoked on the new Aspect Series coming up for fall 2013. I’ve been using a few of the packs for almost a year now and I like the style and functionality for everyday use. The Sketch 25 is my favorite. What is one thing that someone would never guess about you? I was a High School All-American lacrosse player. What is Gregory’s strongest brand attribute in your mind? The construction of the packs is never compromised. We build things the way we do so that the stuff can last. What’s your favorite trail? I moved to Salt Lake from Portland, Oregon, so I’ve spent more time on the trail in the northwest. The one that stands out is the Oneonta Gorge in the Columbia River Gorge. Great hike for the hottest days in the summer. Central Oregon has some amazing trails as well. What’s your favorite “Wayneism”? If you’re on top of something or you’ve got the right idea – “You’re in the money.”
Mar 11, 2013Hidden within the heart of the Patagonian Andes lies a monolithic valley with many secrets to be discovered. Cochamó Valley, a jungle-like environment with steep bamboo laden hillsides that crest to massive granite domes, is considered “the Yosemite of South America.” That is, Yosemite without the onslaught of mini-vans and ice cream cones. The faint and weak of heart are quickly weeded out in the rugged eight-mile hike to access the valley floor. My husband, Jordan, and I stumbled on a YouTube clip of Valle Cochamó last February searching for a location to satiate our wanderlust for climbing adventures and international travel. Nine months later, we stand at the trailhead eager to reach our long-awaited destination. Three planes, two taxis, and three days of travel bring us to the coastal town of Cochamó from our snowy cabin in the Central Cascades of Washington. The moment is surreal as Cochéla, a native Mapuche huaso (cowboy), loads a packhorse with 60 kilos of climbing gear, camping gear, and gourmet backpacking food. We saddle up as well, our packs stuffed with camera equipment, Spanish/English dictionaries and phrase books, a couple boxes of wine, plus everything else the horse cannot carry. Careful loading of the horses is important for safe river crossings and grueling rocky ascents. Deep ruts and thick green landscape signify the copious amounts of annual precipitation. Each twist and turn of the trail brings stunning views of cascading ribbons flowing from unseen heights above. The swampy grooves give way to expansive pampas where we catch our first glimpse of the granite domes, like ramparts, encircling the valley below. Drenched and muddy, we reach the grassy meadow that would be our home for the next ten days. The dripping rain transitions to a mystifying fog over the valley floor. Cochéla excitedly signals for us to follow him. I catch a few words, something about crossing the river. We follow him through a grove of trees and reach the bank of Rio La Junta where two ropes span to the other side, holding a wooden cart. He hoists the bottom rope until the cart is in hand, smiles broadly, and explains with big motions that the refugio is across the river. Refugio Cochamó is a rustic bed and breakfast ran by Argentinean climbers, Daniel and Sylvina. The couple also own Camping La Junta, the more economical choice for dirt bag climbers like us. The refugio is home to the one and only guidebook for the valley, a collection of hand-drawn sketches and written descriptions in four beefy portfolios. Every afternoon our homework consists of Jordan tediously drawing replications of the sketches and I haphazardly decode approach, route, and descent descriptions. The most painstaking description we pour ourselves into is for the 9-pitch Cinco Estrella, 5.10d, located in the Anfiteatro. To reach the base of the route is a four-hour vertical hike out of the valley floor. Details were immensely important to document, as we would be entering a swirl of granite with thousands of misleading cracks and lines. Hours later we emerge from the refugio, exhausted with details. “Beeeep,” the alarm rings. It’s 6:00 a.m., time to get going. Sleeping bags are shoved into packs and breakfast is quick oats and instant coffee. Instant coffee is not by choice; it is the Chilean standard. The air is frosty with morning dew, great for beginning the vertical ascent. The trail switches back and forth across the mountain, climbing gently past waterfalls. The landscape distracts from the heavy load in my pack, consisting of: a harness, climbing shoes, helmet, sleeping bag and pad, extra clothes, three days of food, stove, cookware, and fuel, complete with the twin rope on top. Every 2,685 cubic inches of my size small Gregory Alpinisto 50 is being put to use. My hips, neck, and shoulders are grateful to the lightweight design with comfortable hip padding and shoulder support. Free from the quirky agitation caused from my older climbing pack, I was able to ascend much quicker without being tempted to throw anything, including myself, off a high precipice. At 10:00 a.m., we reach the sign for Los Banos. Sweet, we may squeeze in an extra climb today. From the sign, a faint climber’s trail supposedly leads to a bivvy underneath a massive boulder. There is no sign of said bivvy. We continue up the main trail, searching a la derecha, a la izquierda. Maybe I mistranslated? So we hike back down to the sign, blazing through immovable thickets of dense bamboo. Still nothing. My stomach rumbles and a faint throbbing pulses in my head. Finally, we locate the dry creek bed and notice a whisper of a trail to the left, leading us to the Fogon Selknam, a Swiss family Robinson-style bivvy site. Tucked behind the camouflaged boulder, the site is invisible to the main trail. Inside, there is a maze of activity. The sleeping quarters are underneath the boulder as described. Wooden slats are spread across stones for benches and tables. Scraps of wood are nailed onto a tree, beckoning climbers to gain the 40-foot summit to catch the view of the Anfiteatro. In fashion with the rest of the trip, we conquer one micro challenge at a time, moving steadily forward. We blew our chances of harnessing up for the day, so we spend the afternoon exploring the remaining approach to the climb. The trail is the creek bed, water levels fluctuating with snowmelt. Hopping from one rock to the next, we feel rejuvenated. Our voices are the only ones echoing against the sheer granite walls. 5:00 a.m. New day, spirits are high. Our feet dance across the stones, thankful for recognition in the darkness before dawn. At the base of the climb, details are impossible to decipher. Our picture and sketches of the route description does not match any of the detail on the actual rock in front of us. Reluctant to begin off course, we pace up and down the talus field looking for the route. Time slips away, as we agree on a starting point. Jordan winds up the wall, traversing to a patch of rotten flakes. Deep breaths and concentration steady him upwards. I follow his path, wide-eyed that he came through this junk. Doubt floods my mind as I try to picture the sketch of the route from the refugio. Nothing feels right. Pitch two is cleaner rock and a better line on top of a dihedral. The route description we have in hand does not match our climb until the top of pitch 4. Relief is short lived. Pitch 5 is a puckered 30-foot unprotected 5.10C on facey slab, leading to the 5.10d crux on pitch 6. I don’t breathe normally again until we cruise up the last two pitches and stand smitten by the beauty of creation on the top of the Anfiteatro. We bask in the sunshine and gulp down the views, hoping to retain the details of the moment. Racing the clock, we begin our rappel down Excelente mi Teniente at 6:00 p.m. calculating to be finished by the cloak of 10:00 darkness. Ratty anchors and rusty lockers clench us to another series of prayers and thanksgivings as we descend 500 m from the top. Utterly exhausted, famished, and thirsty, we slink back to bivvy paradise where a cozy bed, Ramen extravaganza, and streams of water await. The next morning we rise with a song of contentedness in our hearts. All the pieces that we sought—exposed climbing, unparalleled vistas, solitude, and connectedness—culminate in the stillness after the storm. Unlocking secrets from the Valle Cochamó is not an easy undertaking, but the challenges make the journey sweeter.