Showing posts from December, 2010

Snow Camping in Antarctica

Can you really sleep in a snow cave?

The US Antarctic program recognizes most people who journey to this frozen continent are not as comfortable in snow as they need to be to survive an emergency situation. Therefore, anyone who will be going into the field is required to spend 48 hours in "happy camper" or snow school.

We were told to report to the Science Support Center at 0900 hours dressed in all of our warmest clothing. We were to bring a water bottle and a change of clothes - all other necessary equipment and food would be supplied.

For snow shelters we created a quinsy hut - a low-tech version of an igloo. We piled our duffel bags in a heap and on command from the instructors, covered them with a couple of feet of snow. We left this mound to sinter, or freeze solid, in the sunlight and went off to get even more up close with the snow.

Next we created a screen to protect our tents from the intense Antarctic winds. Our instructors emerged with snow saws and shovels and w…

My LOWAs Survived a War

I am a United States Marine who has just returned from Kuwait with a pair of your boots and I would like to personally thank you. I first heard about the LOWA Tanarks in a Men's Fitness article and I bought them during all the talk, when war with Iraq seemed inevitable.

In the months leading up to the war, my unit, 1st Recon Battalion of the 1st Marine Division, went from military base to military base — getting in as much diverse climate training as possible.

I wore my Lowa Tanarks from mountain training in Tahoe, California, to desert training in Palm Springs. These boots were on my feet from departure to Kuwait on the 1st night of the war to the end of our post-war peace keeping efforts. They walked through almost every major city from Al Nasiriyah, to Al Hay, to Al Kut, to Baghdad, to Ba Gubah, and then back down south to the Kuwaiti International Airport.

My Tanarks took a beating, survived a war, and got me home blister-free. I would like to personally thank you for making …

Campo Imperatore, Abruzzi, Italy

Campo Imperatore, the Abruzzi Mountains, Italy
Rent a bike to explore Italy's best kept secret. Here, the Italian lifestyle has not changed for centuries. On your way to the Campo Imperatore, you'll find ancient beechwood forests inhabited by wolves and bears. Century-old pathways are still used by colorfully-attired shepherds, herding their flocks.

Ominous castles stand alone, now, guarding desolate stretches of wilderness where the only sign of life might be a soaring eagle or a shy family of mountain goats.

Limited traffic, rare for Italy, makes this region ideal for cycling. Rolling hills are perfect for the casual pedaler. Steep routes of the Campo Imperatore and Maielletta are gruelling, though well worth the effort. Mountain bike lovers find their thrills on single tracks in Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Sirente-Velino and the Campo Imperatore plateau.

Set between towering peaks and a golden coastline, Abruzzo contains diverse and breathtaking beauty. Most visitors reach th…

Val Verzasca, Ticino, Switzerland

Val Verzasca, Ticino, Switzerland
Pack a loaf of bread, a bottle of Ticino Merlot and head to the Verzasca River.

So beautiful, so dangerous. Warning signs are posted all along the shore, though locals swim here everyday. Join them for a picnic on these implausible rocks.

Looking for cheap thrills? The gigantic Verzasca Dam is one of the world’s highest bungee-jumps, a 722-foot heart-stopping plunge. Hey, if James Bond (Golden Eye) can do it, what are you worried about?

Ticino is the southern-most canton (state) bordering Italy. It is here where you'd begin the 'Trekking dei Fiori,' a wonderous seven-day trip that begins in the palm trees of the Brissago Islands and winds up in a remote mountain hotel at the snowfields of the Basodino Glacier. Trek through vineyards and chestnut groves, zigzag into Italy, re-enter Switzerland at Bochetta, in the Valle Maggia.

If you're looking to lose yourself, this is the place. Just remember that Ticino locals feel they wound up on S…

Rosengarten, Italy

Laurin Pass, Rosengarten, Italy
The Rosengarten is a magnificent area in the Dolomites, famed for its lustrous pink glow at dawn and dusk. Sheer-rock faces, pinnacles and towers, plus endless unclimbed routes, draw mountaineers from all corners of the globe.

If you are more of a walker than a climber, explore the wonders of the Rosengarten by way of the 'Via Ferrata.' The Italian Alpine Club has laid out hundreds of easy to difficult routes along the most scenic mountain paths.

Laurin Pass takes it’s name from mythical King Laurino, who laid a curse on roses, turning them to stone. Rosengarten means Rose Garden in German – aptly named since the trails are crowded with German tourists during the summer hiking season. (Don’t panic if they nod at you and say, “Gruss Gott.” It’s just their way of saying hi.)

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Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Ecochallenge, here we come.

In July, we were officially initiated into the grand world of canyoneering. My LOWA's took a licking and kept on kicking, wading rivers, climbing rocks, rappelling over waterfalls, and squelching in Utah mud.

Summary: in a whirlwind trip, we flew and drove to accomplish a week's worth of Zion NP play in just three and a half days, including two world famous canyoneer hikes — the Narrows (partway) and the Subway.

Thursday night, our posse of six flew to Vegas, where we picked up rental cars and hit the road. By Friday morning, we had crossed the Nevada/Arizona border and the Arizona/Utah border within an hour, and were entering Zion.

The weather was gorgeous and fairly clear, although the faintest clouds threaten thunderstorms in the Southwest. Our first hike was to Emerald pools, an easy, 5 mile hike to see pools and waterfalls. A professional-looking photographer was working hard, ankle-deep in muck, at the upper pools. He had LOWAs too!

The next…

From the Earth to the Moon

Many walking enthusiasts will take a four-mile daily constitutional for exercise or to observe the scenery, but Bert Simon, who covers over 25 miles per day on his trek around the world, serves a higher purpose. Simon, 30, is on a one-man mission, wandering the Earth to raise awareness for the welfare of children. He's highlighting the work of YMCA clubs across the globe and their efforts to support kids and the communities they live in.

Simon has a lofty goal in mind to get his point across — he wants to walk 226,000 miles, the approximate distance from the Earth to the moon. Which is why he has named his campaign "Walk to the Moon for the Earth's Children."

Simon got the inspiration to walk the earth when he was visiting a YMCA in the Philippines. The horrible conditions and all of the sick children he saw living and eating out of cardboard boxes struck him. Thinking about what he could do to better the situation, the 24-year-old noticed a map of the area when he wa…

Berner Oberland, Switzerland

Schreckhorn, Finsteraarhorn, Berner Oberland, Switzerland
Straight ahead... Terror Peak, one of the most difficult of the 4000 metre Alps to climb. Have you been there? Send us a story!

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We'd like to publish it. Click HERE to send us stories and pictures.