Aug 26, 2014
This guest blog comes from Gregory Ambassador Kristin McLane (aka Siren), a northbound thru hiker on the Appalachian Trail in 2013. We first met at Trail Days in Damascus, VA; and through field testing and her many adventures, we came to ask Kristen to be part of the Gregory team. Below is a small excerpt of her fun travels on the A.T. Look out for her now, as she crushes the Colorado Trail.
The Trail Provides
Living on the trail pares life down to its most simple needs. Amidst the hiking, all I need to worry about is food, water, and shelter. There is much more time available to enjoy the journey through natural surroundings when you don't have to think too much about "real life" stresses and can just focus on the basics. Not only is it relaxing, it opens you up to people and experiences you might not normally be receptive to at home.
There's something hikers refer to as "trail magic". This is receiving something unexpectedly that is just what you need at the time. It can be from other people or it can be from the trail itself. Maybe a lot of rain keeps you from getting as far as you planned to go that day, and you end up in just the right place to catch the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen. Maybe you're feeling sick or blue and a day hiker gives you a soda, or even takes you home with them for the night to enjoy home cooking, a hot shower, and a bed (not to share).
Hiking northbound on the Appalachian Trail from a town stop once, we made it just three miles to a shelter. We intended to hike much further but there was another hiker with a weather radio at the shelter, letting everyone know that a storm of biblical proportions was on its way. We didn't think we could make it to the next shelter before the storm hit so we agreed it was best to stay, making little progress on the huge adventure we had set out for. While everyone started collecting firewood to settle in, I made an offhand remark that if I had known we were going to be hiking such a short day, I would have hiked out a bag of wine (only the finest when do when living in a tent). Lo and behold, two other hikers stumbled upon a grocery bag with a box of wine, a firestarter, and a giant candy bar in it. This bag wasn't on the trail itself, where you might expect a trail angel to leave something; it was in the middle of the woods. True trail magic!
After that I tried asking the trail very specifically for more treats but I was all too greedy. Like a prayer that goes unanswered, there must have been a reason. However, there was always just a little bit of magic when I needed it most. Lost a tent stake? One appeared at the next campsite. Water source dry? Gallon jugs of water sat at the next road crossing. Simply put, the trail provides.
That's just one of the many reasons I can't wait to get back out there and see what magic the trail can bring.
Aug 12, 2014
There it is: the summit: it’s only a few hours and a few miles away. It’s so close you almost taste it. But this summit will be hard earned and the culmination of many months of planning and preparation.
When you began planning several months ago, you knew this peak was the one you wanted. It would be hard to reach and require a long haul deep into the wilderness. With all the food, water, and gear needed you meticulously planned what you’d bring. You got in shape, made your plans, and when the time finally arrived, you hit the trail.
But now with the summit in reach, it’s time to go light and fast. You want to be as efficient as possible for the push to the top. No extra weight, nothing to hold you back. That’s why you’ve chosen the Verte pack from Gregory for summit day. You never noticed it on your trek into camp but now you unfurl it to reveal the ultimate tool to get the job done.
The Gregory Verte 25 and Verte 15 have removable foam framesheets and hipbelts and can stuff into itself for the ultimate in packability. The packs have dual ice axe loops and a daisy chain, a hydration port and sleeve. A custom aluminum hook closure provides single motion quick action access to the main bag.
So, grab the Verte that’s right for you and pick out that summit.
Jul 29, 2014
This guest blog comes from Gregory Ambassador Tyson Bradley, owner of Utah Mountain Adventures . This summer, he guided a group up Denali wih the Denali 100 pack from Gregory. This updated pack comes out in two weeks, but Tyson got his hands on a sample to test, something Gregory does wtih every pack we make. Find out more about Tyson and his company at http://www.utahmountainadventures.com/.
Scaling Denali, North America’s highest and coldest expedition peak, and returning healthy, requires preparation, endurance, a lot of luck, and MANY wag bags (if you don’t know what this is, look it up). A giant pack is necessary, as you have to carry around twenty days worth of camping supplies, food, and cold weather gear. This time, I reached out to Gregory, because in the past, big expedition bags had always crippled me. Luckily, they had a sample of the new Denali 100 for me to test during the odyssey up the Alaska Range giant this May, and it proved to be the most comfort in a harsh alpine world.
I lashed 80 pounds of food, fuel, tents, and more to my sled and towed it with the pack, inside which I carried another 30 pounds of light, bulkier gear for the single-carry from the Kahiltna airstrip to 7,800 feet. It is all too obvious that the 110 pounds worth of gear will get old soon. Above here it gets steeper, so we climb each section twice, with half our load at a time, mostly on our back.
As we camp at 11,000 ft. and move up to 14 camp, wind rattles our tents and spindrift fills the air. On the first calm day, we jumar up the icy headwall to 16,000 feet and clip our ropes into pickets along the spectacular, exposed West Buttress ridge to 17,000 feet, the high camp. Tents tear, and building snowblock walls is our only defense against the massive gusts that cripple gear, climbers, and their faces. Snow pelts my face like a barrage of BB’s. I keep thinking to myself ‘this is fun, right?’.
Finally we nail the summit on our second attempt. A good weather window still means braving 40 mph winds on the knife-edge summit ridge. Little time is had on the top, with photos to prove our bravery, and stupidity of the whole situation. This is what makes you remember why you climb. Stressful navigating in a whiteout gets us down the summit plateau and “autobahn” traverse. Here, we helped rescue a fallen party from the night before. At times like this, you are glad that there are a few folks around on even the most remote parts of the earth.
This 16-hour summit push was the stormiest in my 10 years of guiding Denali, and it felt great to stumble into base camp 36 hours later and fly back to warm, sunny Talkeetna, knowing we’d fulfilled dreams and beaten the odds: the only guided team to summit in May 2014. Over warm fires and cold beers, we exchange stories. I just know I have to come back.
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 U.S. on the American Discovery Trail in 2013. Sure, I wear short shorts. Yes, I have a long beard. But I'm 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 soon I was gaining points like a pro (I even scored a police patch from Buffalo, Iowa).
One of my most memorable encounters was when an officer in Nebraska stopped me. Within a few minutes of hearing 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 hot, calorie-infused McDonald’s meal directly to my tent! It was completely unexpected and made me start all of my future police encounters with, "hey, one time a cop bought me an entire meal from McDonalds... you think you could, uh, maybe..."
I love old people. Especially 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 degrees, I took refuge under a tree, donning only my running shorts and shoes. It must have 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 didn't reciprocate. In less than one minute she was pulling back into her driveway and retreating indoors. Considering that I may have spooked her (what's unnatural about seeing an ALL-natural, hairy man lounging around on the side of the road?) I decided to move along. Within 5 minutes, a police officer waved me down and inquired as to what I was up to. Although inquisitive, he was extremely friendly and seemed to quickly realize that I was not "the serial killer type." At the end of our conversation, I asked him if it was the older lady who had reported me. He confirmed, and said that 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!
The trip was constantly filled with surprises. I was always happy to meet the next person and the majority of people I encountered were willing to lend a helping hand. You never know when “the man” in the old Crown Vic might help you out... or tell you that you look like a "sexy John Muir." Seriously... that happened.
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, a stick of butter, toilet paper 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 21, 2014This is the third and final post from Gregory Ambassador James Roh on his winter-long trip through the US and Canada. Uncertainty 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?
May 12, 2014
As I unzipped the fly, beads of water ran down and landed on my forehead as I came out of the tent. The dank air was filled with the musk of thru-hikers and the dampness that only the Appalachians can hold. This was my first Trail Days, and it will be seared into memory forever.
Gregory has been going to Trail Days in Damascus, VA for over twenty years and we are as excited as ever to be part of this tight-knit hiking community. From thru-hikers to weekend warriors, we are there to foster, fit, bond, and become part of the brotherhood. This year, we will be there to repair packs, show off our latest offerings, and give out lots of FREE GEAR. We have added an additional booth in the Town Park for those not willing to enter the stench of the thru-hiking area. We will bring along our founder Wayne “Papa” Gregory for you to meet and take selfies with, and will be handing out free swag to those willing to facebook, Tweet, or Instagram about your experience with us. Please stop by, share a story, and let us know how the trail speaks to you.
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 29, 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 15, 2014
Most of us carry a bag every single day. Whether it’s a fashionable purse, a backpack with the day’s essentials, or a laptop bag to tote along a bevy of electronics, very few of us make it out the door without a bag in tow. Here at Gregory, we’re biased towards backpacks but we know there’s a whole range of options for everyone’s individual tastes.
For Spring 2014, we aimed to combine two of the most common bags into one versatile bag that could be used for the everyday commute or the quick weekend getaway. We coined the saying, “pack it like a duffel, carry it like a pack” and the Compass 40 and 30 were born.
Built from burly nylon and ballistic materials, the all-new Compass 40L and 30L are crossover bags with a unique duffel functionality and backpack carry. The Compass has an external padded laptop compartment, large luggage-style access and a bottom compartment to separate shoes in the 40L version. The bag can be splayed open on a flat surface for easy flat packing, and zipped up to be carried like a backpack. With classic Gregory fit, you can rest assured that the bag carries exceptionally well when on the user’s back.
So, the next time you’re in a jam and can’t decide whether a duffel for the weekend’s adventures or a laptop bag to cover the day’s essentials is the right choice for the job, reach for the new Gregory Compass and be on your way.
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!
Apr 1, 2014
A few weeks ago, our founder Wayne Gregory and our Director of International Sales Dion Goldsworthy traveled to Beijing, China, to attend the annual ISPO China show and support several events sponsored by CORA, our distributor in China.
Ten years ago, Gregory was one of the first companies to sign up for the ISPO China tradeshow. Back then, there was no real outdoor industry in China and almost every exhibitor and manufacturer was from the West. This year, there was a huge contingent of Asian brands and retailers present, a sure sign that the outdoor market in China is growing. We saw the writing on the wall years ago and today Gregory maintains a completely separate line of lifestyle packs in Asia that has proven to be very successful.
Gregory was recognized by the ISPO Show as the first company to sign up for the Show ten years ago. We also received a nice award from 8264.com, which recognized brands that were voted as “Best Brands” by the online portal’s more than 4 million active members. Needless to say, we’re proud that both the trade and consumers are rewarding our presence in Asia throughout the years.
The show was also a chance for us to connect with some old friends from China, including past winners of the “Gregory: An American Original” (GAO) tour events, who we have hiked and camped with in places like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. In the past, our GAO online contest has invited outdoor enthusiasts to submit their favorite photos and stories for a chance to win a trip to visit the greatest outdoor sites in America. This year, we are inviting our customers in China to submit original graphic artwork that can be applied to two Gregory Sunbird pack models. The winners will win a trip to Japan with Gregory to tour this art-rich country and sample the trend-setting fashion and culture. We are looking forward to seeing the submissions!
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 17, 2014
Here in the West, you can feel it. The morning cold doesn’t have quite the same bite. The birds are singing just a little bit louder. The streams are starting to move just a little bit faster. With the clocks changing, the days are longer and the sun is inching higher in the sky. While it’s slow to come, all signs point to spring. Before we know it, snow, skiing, and ice climbing will turn to flowers blooming, warming temperatures and dry trails. At Gregory spring is our favorite time of year, so full of promise and potential.
This year, we’ve revisited some old favorites and rolled out a new lineup of Z and J packs that we think you’ll love. Recognized for their trampoline suspension that keeps hikers cool even when the temperatures soar, the new Z and J are back and better than ever before. Our designers overhauled the lightweight design to incorporate a much more breathable backpanel, shoulder harness and hipbelt as well as a more sculpted, modern profile. The pack materials have been updated with lightweight durable fabrics so each pack is up to 30 percent lighter than the previous generation. All Z and J packs feature Gregory’s proprietary CrossFlo™ Suspension that auto-balances flexibility and stiffness as the load increases.
The Z packs range from 65 liters for extended multi-day backpacking trips to 25 liters, ideal for day hikes. One of our personal favorites is the Z 40. Landing somewhere between a daypack and a full weekender, the Z 40 seems to be just the right tool for a lot of trips. Side and bottom compression keeps smaller loads locked down for shorter outings while providing ample storage for foul weather or overnight gear when expanded to its full reach.
On the ladies side of things, the J packs start at 63 liters and scales to 23 liters. The J 28 receives high marks because it provides just enough volume to carry along food, water, layers, and a few extras, but stays streamlined enough to be noticed when carried. It’s lightweight and capable of doing the job for an all-day adventure without any extra bulk.
So, as spring starts to show in your neck of the woods, and your daydreams switch to warmer days on the trail, don’t hesitate to consider the new Z and J as your tool of choice.
Photo Credit: Emily Polar
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.
Mar 3, 2014
Helping to get young people out on the trail is something we’ve always been passionate about at Gregory. Our founder, Wayne Gregory, designed his first pack at age 14 as part of a Boy Scout project. Of course, not everyone has easy access to the outdoors. That’s why we’re proud to support Big City Mountaineers (BCM).
BCM transforms the lives of under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. They partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential and experience the passion that drives all of us to be outdoors. BCM serves roughly 1,000 annually and has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with an increased likeliness to stay in school and avoid violence and drug use.
BCM’s flagship program and top fundraising tool is Summit for Someone where every year hundreds of climbers join together to ascend some of the world’s most iconic mountains. Climbers choose from 33 separate climbs on 20 classic peaks including the Grand Teton, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro or they can create their own challenge. By raising money through pledges for their own climb and being paired up with a professional guide who has donated their services, climbers enjoy an incredible wilderness experience with the satisfaction of enabling someone else to do the same.
2014 marks the 10th anniversary season of Summit for Someone. Since the program’s inception, 1,740 climbers have raised over 5 million dollars. In 2014, high altitude mountaineer, best-selling author and BCM board member Ed Viesturs plans to climb Mt. Hood and Mont Blanc to raise $200,000 for BCM youth.If you’ve ever dreamt of climbing one of the world’s iconic peaks and need a kick in the butt to make it actually happen, why not do it through Summit for Someone and enable a deserving young adult to benefit from the same rejuvenation and perspective that you already know that the wilderness can provide? Click here to learn more.
Feb 25, 2014
We know that board rooms and design timelines don’t make the best packs. Getting outside to use the product and testing with real-world users does.
Since Gregory began making packs over 35 years ago, we’ve always started our design process with the end user in mind. We begin by asking lots of questions. Who is this pack for? What needs do they have that have not been met by other designs? What features are really necessary and what can we do without? What sort of suspension is most appropriate? These are just a few.
We take field testing seriously. So much so, that our I.T. team developed an in-house application for testers to provide feedback. The app allows testers to go in the field with only a pack and a phone, take pictures, make notes, draw suggestions on their photos, and suggest design changes. Our designers get the feedback in virtual real-time and can respond to each concern with deliberate and meaningful design changes. This allows for faster updates to meet tighter timelines, more responsiveness, and allows for multiple rounds of prototyping.
Our field test team consists of 120+ users from all around the world with backgrounds ranging from IFMGA guides to thru- hikers, day hikers, ski patrollers, climbers, weekend warriors, and fast-packers. All of them have a voice in our design process and we can measure their feedback quantitatively. With both meticulous data collection and organic feedback from immersion field days with designers and testers together, we can address necessary changes quickly. We can easily say “3 of 10 testers want a different trekking pole attachment” instead of anecdotal comments that cannot be backed by real world data. We also sit down with field testers, developers, and designers to discuss testing and changes at length, insuring each detail has been checked, tested, and the feedback loop has been completed.
Each product goes through multiple rounds of testing, in all environmental conditions. This usually starts two to three years before it hits retail shelves, and includes three to four rounds of prototyping before we land on something all can agree on. A lot of pack designs never see the light of day, but we learn something with each prototype iteration. In the end, the final pack you see on the shelf has been thoroughly vetted by a team of experts that have put it through the paces.
While we may not make all our packs for everyone, we make a pack just for you. If you don’t like all the features, let us know. Maybe you will make the cut and be our next field tester.
Feb 17, 2014
Editor’s Note: Seth and Tana Yates left their home in Seattle and set off to South America to explore for the winter with nothing more than a Gregory Contour and Cairn on their backs... We’ll periodically feature their adventures here.
The Valdivieso loop is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it was probably the hardest hike Tana and I have ever completed. This 48km trek included 5 mountain passes, weather that changed on a dime, no markings or any indication of a trail, and absolutely stunning views.
Nestled in the mountains behind the city of Ushuaia there lies a mountain range full of many beauties like back home: alpine lakes, spiky peaks, green forests, rocky passes, and stunning glaciers. But, these mountains have something no mountains have back home… turbal.
Turbal (tour-ball) is Spanish for peat-bog. After only an hour into day one, Seth already referred to it as the Turbal mal (bad). Walking on the Turbal is kind of fun at first. It’s like walking through a foam pit that’s sitting on top of a very wet trampoline. The Turbal takes your foot (not like quicksand) and makes you work a little harder to go for the next step. It’s beautiful at first with many different colors. Later, we learned different colors meant different levels of wetness and effort for our steps.
The start of the trek set our expectations off a bit. It took a few hours to get to this incredible refugio (shelter) complete with a sleeping loft, mini-kitchen, and wood fired stove. Along with Kevin and Ana (our Buenos Aires friends) we ran into two other groups of Canadians. After sharing wine (yes the Canucks were crazy enough to hike that in), chocolate, apples, and candy inside a warm and cozy shelter we couldn’t wait for the rest of the hike.
The next day, we trekked a few more km’s through the Turbal and reached a valley laden with Beaver activity. It made route finding nearly impossible, as we had to zig zag for the rest of the morning. After going up one pass too early, we headed up a steep grade and caught incredible views of small glaciers clinging to the mountain tops. We went up one pass, traversed, went up another pass, and finally started making our way down a different valley. We wanted to camp at a particular lake, but the beaver activity made it next to impossible to find our way up. So, we made dinner in the woods while waiting for the rain to subside to set up our tents and go to bed as light fell around 11pm.
The next morning we headed up another pass (too late) then scurried back down to Laguna Azul. This lake was completely reminiscent of Alpine Lakes Wilderness back in Washington State. We said our goodbyes to Kevin and Ana, because we wanted to get back into town the next day to make our way North. Normally, you need 5 nights to complete this trek. We were crazy enough to attempt it in 3.
We carried on over one pass, down to what we thought was a lake (was really a HUGE beaver pond) and course corrected after meeting a Belgian couple who also happened to be staying at our hostel. We left food and provisions with them because they had also planned on doing the hike in 3 nights, but would need at least 2 more. If you haven’t deduced yet from this post, the topo maps are pretty much useless and inaccurate. The guide book description is also pretty out of date and doesn’t account for any beaver activity.
We made it up our final pass in inclement weather and came down to probably one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever seen. This area was known as the 5 lagoons, and contained Alpine lakes with different colored water in each pool. We were absolutely blown away by our creative God as we made our way back down into the forest/Turbal where we camped for our final night.
There was nothing glamorous about the last day: we covered the most ground on 7 straight hours of Turbal and beaver activity. Seth’s feet were sopping wet and he switched to Chacos early in the day, giving up on any chance of dryness. We met a dog on the trail with about 2 hours left, and he followed us out to the highway where we caught a bus that was luckily full of hot tea and pastries! The lady driving was seriously our Angel. Could you imagine a bus like that in Seattle?
After taking our Belgian friends’ reservation (they told us to take it knowing there’d be no room in town) we made two dinners, because one just wasn’t enough. We then crashed for the evening and slept for the next 10-11 hours.
We learned several valuable insights on this trek: route finding is a very admirable skill, perseverance is sometimes necessary to experience extreme beauty, and God’s creativity in nature will never cease to amaze. Oh yeah, and that powdered milk is a crucial camp kitchen ingredient we will be enjoying from now on (especially when coupled with Nesquik powder!)
Feb 11, 2014In 1989 I traveled to the Himalaya for the first time. We didn’t go straight to Nepal and the Khumbu, instead we traveled up the Ganges River to its source, the Garwhal Himalaya. Where the waters surge from the glacier, Hindu’s seek their blessing. That very place is called Gaumukh (cow’s mouth). Even holier is the very source of that snow and ice, the peaks of Meru (the center of the universe) and Shivling (the god Shiva, protector and destroyer). On that trip we climbed a new route, alpine style, on Shivling. We barely survived a two day blizzard in an open bivy, and on the descent I fell 450 feet through the air (bouncing another 50 feet), when the rappel anchor failed. My memories of the Indian Himalaya are intense: from the intense fear of that fall, to the intense pride of climbing a new route, to the intensity of the culture and history of India. For some reason, it took me 23 years to revisit India. I was distracted by 8000 meter peaks, the friendliness of Nepal and the excitement of Pakistan. But I always looked for an excuse to return to the less traveled parts of Northern India. A few months ago, a unique opportunity popped up, and I leapt at the chance. I was guiding a group of investment advisors and brokers to Everest Base Camp. I hadn’t been in the Khumbu in nearly 10 years. Of course things had changed, but the views were as amazing as ever. What changed was the infrastructure: the paved runway at Lukla, cell phone coverage on the trail, internet in tea houses, and nicer and nicer lodging along the route. It was fun walking past the peaks and reminiscing about past climbs (pioneering a route on the West Face of Ama Dablam in winter, guiding clients to the summit of Everest, Cho Oyu my first 8000 meter summit, climbing Lhotse in a 9 day dash from Kathmandu). And of course sharing the Khumbu with people who had dreamt of a chance to just trek to base camp, was amazing. All that emotion inspired me, and two old climbing buddies, to go where we’ve never been before. After that trip we hopped on a small plane, flying from Kathmandu to the border of India. A sweltering, 7 hour car ride took us from the Ganges plane back into the Himalayan foothills. And like traveling back in time, we wound our way to the hilltop city of Darjeeling. Darjeeling was the summer capital of the English, when they controlled India. Rickety Victorian homes, built 100 years ago, line the narrow streets. Today the city is renowned for its tea plantations, which is a brilliant marketing ploy. If travelers only knew that the infrastructure is over-loaded and aging, and the icy Himalayas were so distant, few would travel here. But despite the heat and distance, the city’s second fame is as a mountaineering center (in particular the Darjeeling Mountaineering Center and Museum, the home of the late Tenzing Norgay and jumping off place for trips into the mountains of Sikkim). Our old friend Jamling Norgay (son of Tenzing, star of the IMAX Everest movie and past New Jersey outdoor educator) lives in his father’s Darjeeling house, surrounded by all their collective trophies and memorabilia. Jamling was organizing our trip and we couldn’t be in better hands. We traveled into the heart of Sikkim, first trekking to the Goecha La, where we would stood below the South Face of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third tallest peak. There is nothing like the beauty of a 10,000 foot face of ice and snow to get a mountaineer to day dream. Kanchenjunga has been climbed from the South, twice. But it is closed to non-Indian teams because Sikkimese believe the mountain to be sacred. As a result, all other ascents are made from the Nepali side. Never-the-less, it was fun to gaze upon that face and let our imaginations craft a complex line to the summit. Our next objective was Frey Peak, which gets its name from George Frey, who died on an early attempt. He wouldn’t listen to his guide Tenzing Norgay’s advice about wearing crampons. And when he slipped, he slid a few hundred feet to his death. Until a few years ago, Frey was climbed via a set of snowy gullies and sweeping snowed over ridges, much like a classic route in the Alps. But global warming and last year’s earthquake have turned Frey Peak into a pile of loose rock. The lower gullies were totally dry, with loose sand and boulders on every ledge. Closer to the summit, a bit of snow led to a cocks-combed ridge. Every block of rock and two-toned spire shook with a light touch. The snow and ice which once plastered these rocks together had melted away and the earthquake had shifted them all into an ever more precarious house of cards. We could see the summit from our high point. It was probably 200 feet away, but traversing that ridge was too deadly for us. After all, we weren’t in Sikkim for glory, we were here to goof off. And we accomplished our goal: partnerships trump accomplishments. It took an hour to find a solid anchor. And a dozen rappels later, we found flat ground. A few nights ago our team got back together for pizza and beer in Denver. We were veterans of Denali and Everest, K2 and Kilimanjaro, and we all wished for more trips, like our little adventure in Sikkim. ~Chris Warner
Feb 11, 2014
We’re passionate about the trail, whether it’s our backyard trails in the foothills of the Wasatch where we head for dawn patrol ski tours, lunch break trail runs, after work bike rides or iconic thru-hikes further afield. We love supporting those that keep the trails alive and well. One of our favorites is the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from the Mexico border more than 2,600 miles to the Canadian border and we’re proud to support the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the leading organization caring for the trail.
At the most recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show, the industry’s twice a year gathering in Salt Lake City, we held a happy hour fundraiser to benefit the PCTA and their initiatives in 2014. By selling reusable Klean Kanteen stainless steel pint cups, providing free beer, and raffling off some great outdoor gear from industry partners, we raised over $1,800 by raising a few pints. Even more important than the money, everyone who attended felt the support for the mission of the PCTA.
According to Angie Williamson, Director of Development for the PCTA, “we were delighted to partner with Gregory for a great fundraiser at OR Winter Market. With over $1,800 raised in under two hours, the energy was high and we enjoyed the spotlight that Gregory helped us create with the trade, retail, and consumer audiences. These funds will help us achieve our objectives in 2014 and now we hope everyone that attended will come hike this trail this year.”
One of the highlights of the fundraising event at OR was the presence of a PCTA trail register. For as long as anyone can remember, informal trail registers have existed at trailheads, on peak summits, in coffee shops and fast food joints. The registers are a way for friends on the trail to find each other, for thru-hikers to document their progress, and for anybody to leave behind stories of their time on the trail.
For the last 10 years, the trail registers have been in a state of disarray as nobody has kept track of or maintained them. So the PCTA is reintroducing them for this coming season on the trail and attendees of our event got a sneak preview that they could sign if they had hiked some or all of the trail.
Additionally, the funds raised at OR will go to support the PCTA’s other initiatives in 2014 including protecting the remaining miles of the trail that face development. By working with local land trusts and other supportive groups, the PCTA aims to further solidify the future of the trail through conservation easements, land purchases and other preservation tools.
So, whether it’s a trail in your own backyard or a section of the PCTA, please join us in supporting the organizations that protect those trails for generations to come.
Feb 4, 2014Lindsey's concerns are honest and humble, while at the same time she makes sacrifices to live the life.
Jan 28, 2014For all of you loyal Gregory Fans, you’ve undoubtedly come across our popular Miwok and Maya packs at some point. While they were loved we also saw a few ways that they could be improved. So, we took to it and our brans new 2014 Miwok and Maya packs are available now! Exceptional ventilation, proprietary BioSync suspension, and a clean design aesthetic make the Active Trail Series of packs ideal for fast-and-light travel in any environment. Purpose-built for highly aerobic hiking, trail running, mountain biking and fastpacking, the men’s Miwok and women’s Maya packs carry everything you need without getting in the way or slowing you down. The updated Miwok and Maya packs have new, streamlined designs with an active Biosync suspension that hugs the body and remains stable for hiking, cycling and multi-use day excursions. The packs all have easy hydration access, a moisture-wicking harness, hipbelt and backpanel and multi-use features. High-quality touches include expandable storage, sunglasses stash, safety light lash, quick hook closures, side compression, helmet carry and jacket bungee. The Miwok is offered in a 44, 34, 24, 18, 12 and 6-liter versions. The Maya comes in 42L, 32L, 22L, 16L, 10L and 5L. The Miwok is available in Mistral Blue, Tropic Orange, and Storm Black while the Maya is available in Breeze Blue, Fresh Pink, and Fog Gray. So, the next time that you have a day trip planned, whether on foot, on a bike, or high into the mountains, consider the new Miwok and Maya packs as the tool for the job!
Jan 21, 2014
The more things change:
If there is one constant in life, it is change. People pursue life and migrate to new towns. Make new friends and go on adventures. MySpace leads to Facebook and now Instagram. How people recreate changes from multi-day backpacking to done-in-a-day fast-packing and ultra trail running. A distant summit of a peak that is initially seen as a goal, once attained becomes just another step along the progression of life’s trail.
The more things stay the same:
At Gregory, we are constantly refining our product to reflect the changes in users expectation, performance and comfort. Keystone Gregory packs like the Denali Pro™, Alpinisto™ and Targhee™ go through timely redesign to deliver the same result – consistent and effortless performance even as expectations change. Why? Because ultimately, the shared experience with friends hiking, trail running or backcountry skiing is the foundation of all products we build.
If you’ve followed Gregory for years, like many of you have, the Gregory Targhee is a pack that represents both the change and the same. The recent Targhee redesign better suits the needs of modern skiers and riders delivering modern feature sets while retaining the trust users look for when heading into the backcountry.
Ambassador Caroline Gleich sums it up this way, “The Targhee is my go-to pack when I ski out-of-bounds or tour because it handles everything I need in an easy-to-manage and graceful way. Whenever I step out of the area I am prepared with avalanche safety tools, helmet, food and water, extra layers and most importantly good, thoughtful partners who I trust. The Targhee carries all my gear and lets me go skiing and focus on the experience.”
The new Targhee is built around a new Vertflex™ suspension system created to provide a stable and comfortable load transfer while maintaining the flexibility necessary to accommodate skiing and riding. Skis can be carried in an A-frame configuration or diagonally with a stowable carry system that provides total gear security. The Targhee also can carry a snowboard or snowshoes with reinforced webbing and compression straps to ensure a durable and secure fit.
In 2013, the new Targhee debuted at the ISPO tradeshow in Munich, and was awarded the renowned ISPO AWARD in the Ski segment, Backpack category. Additionally, the Targhee won critical acclaim in Outside, Backpacker, and Powder magazines.
In addition to the 32L model, the Targhee™ is available in 18, 26, and 45 liter versions to suit the needs of backcountry and multi-day hut skiers and riders. The Targhee includes a dual ice axe carry system for efficient carry of axes and tools when the way up gets more technical. From a safety gear standpoint, the Targhee offers quick access to a dedicated avalanche safety gear pocket that fits a shovel, probe, snow saw and more, no matter how equipment is configured on the outside. Stowable helmet carry, an insulated hydration sleeve and full zip rear panel access to the main compartment all make the pack easy to use. The Targhee is available now with prices ranging from $119 to $199 depending on size.
Jan 6, 2014The conversation is being had and as climbers we are all a part of it. The knowledge of outdoor etiquette and ethics has been passed down from our elders and mentors but today it's a different story. With the population of gyms and the growth in new climbers there's a strong need to educate these people on the rules and expectations in the natural world. The Access Fund held a summit in New Paltz, NY to discuss and brainstorm ways to help inform those without the knowledge of our fast growing sport. Check out this new video from Joe Kinder about how the conversation is taking place: https://vimeo.com/82159959
Dec 18, 2013Joe Kinder has produced a great series about "The Climber's Culture." Here's the next video is the series about Primo and his climbing in Northern Spain.
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!