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!
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.
Mar 7, 2013North Cascade Heli based in Mazama, Washington, operates one of the finest heli-ski and touring operations in the country. Their permit area encompasses 300,000 acres in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest with an amazing potpourri of open bowls, steep glades and excellent tree skiing. It’s no wonder the North Cascades of Washington are known as “The American Alps.” The Heli skiing is the primary focus at NCH. But they also manage the Barron Yurt for a more civilized experience in the backcountry. The Yurt was the destination of our mixed group of outdoor industry and agency professionals. We had one snowboarder, Aaron from Cascade Designs, two telemark skiers, Dave from Far Bank and Andy from Gregory, and five skiers, Laura from Backbone Media, Erin from Stanley, Chris from K2 Ski, Keith from Hammerquist Studios and our sponsor Fred from Hammerquist Studios – truly a solid group of strong skiers, riders and climbers. The program was pretty straight forward: drive 5 hours from Seattle, spend the night at the Mt Gardner Inn in Winthrop, wake up the next day for FAA and basic avy protocols, take the heli to the Yurt and tour with our two guides, Michelle and Josh, for four days. If you’ve never taken a ride in a helicopter, I highly recommend it. The weightless exhilaration and nimble maneuverability is amazing. We arrived at the Yurt in about 15 minutes, flying low through canyons and around the endless peaks. As we landed, our guide to to stay put in the bird, we were getting a “bump” to the top. Now that’s the way to start a long weekend of backcountry touring! The following three days were somewhat surreal. We’d wake around 7:00am to the smell of coffee and breakfast prepared by the guides and head out the door for a beacon check by 9:00. We had heavy snow the first day that tapered off to scattered clouds the final day. In all, I think we received over a foot of new snow. We skied all aspects with increasing steepness as our confidence increased. We’d take short breaks for snacks and lunch during the day and return to the yurt around 4:30 for cocktails and appetizers. Everyone would then change into dry clothes and hang up skins, gloves, boot liners, pants, jackets, hats, really anything that was damp to dry overnight. Dinner would be served followed by lazy conversation in front of the wood stove. Now being the pack company that we are, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how well the new Targhee backcountry winter pack faired the entire trip. It was the envy of the group with its comfortable carry, stellar organization and clean, low profile. It's no wonder the Targhee won the ISPO Award earlier this month. Our friends at Outside Magazine agree. The New Targhee pack series will be available in July, 2013. If you're looking for a unique backcountry ski experience, check out North Cascade Heli. You can’t go wrong.
Mar 5, 2013Editor's Note: As part of our commitment to the trail and the people that enjoy them, Gregory is proud to support parties who will be attempting thru-hikes of either the Appalachian Trail this year. We'll hear from them periodically during the journeys and today Jordana Weiss checks in with her thoughts about planning for this big adventure on the trail. Hello! My name is Jordana. I’ve lived and worked in the DC area for over five years, and after three years of evening classes, I recently finished my graduate degree. With an increasing sense of freedom and a rapidly approaching 30th birthday, I recently decided to attempt a northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hike beginning in March. The Appalachian Trail runs for just under 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. Each year 2,000+ people attempt to hike the length of the trail in one season, and less than 30% of those people finish. While success depends on some grit and quite a bit of luck (i.e. injuries abound), being prepared for whatever may come - physically, emotionally, mentally - will go a long way toward helping a hiker reach the final point on top of Mount Katahdin in Maine. I’ve spent the better part of six months planning - learning how to navigate the trail, readying myself for the challenges, finding the right gear. I decided that the Gregory Deva 60 pack was the best option for me and I couldn’t be more excited to start my trek now that I have the right gear - including the right pack! Planning an Appalachian Trail thru-hike has been one of the most stressful and exciting things I’ve done in a long time. Sure, there are life’s day-to-day anxieties that sometimes bog me down as well as the greater “What’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything?” thoughts (spoiler: it’s 42). But on August 30, 2012, I decided - out loud, to the whole blogging universe (or my one follower at the time, at least) - that I was going to hike along the Appalachian mountain chain from Georgia to Maine. Little did I know what I’d gotten myself into. I thought, “I’ll just figure out how it works, buy a bunch of gear, and start walking.” It seemed simple enough. I’d gone hiking in the woods many times. And I have plenty of experience car camping. It couldn’t be that different, right? What I didn’t realize at the time is that I had just started my journey. By academic measures, I have always been a fine student, at least by current standards. If a teacher tells me a hard fact or a rule that governs, I can memorize it and spit it back. That’s pretty much what the SATs measure, right? Calculations, multiple choice, even essays - they all generally test a student’s ability to convey - either information, a process, or a way of thinking. Got it. No problem. So reflecting on the past six months, I’d have to admit that I was ready to walk into an outdoor store or search online and have someone give me step-by-step instructions on how to hike the A.T. Obviously I’m being farcical, but every step of the way, with every decision, I’ve thought, “Do I need this piece of gear or not? Why won’t someone tell me?!” “Should I do mail drops? Ah! So many conflicting opinions!” “What’s the right answer? I just want to know the right answer!” And I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve flip flopped on decisions big and small. I’m cutting off all my hair. No, I’m not! I’m not bringing a stove. OK, actually yes, I am. I’m selling all my furniture. Or maybe I’ll store it at my mom’s house. Oh no, these hiking boots aren’t waterproof. Wait, waterproof boots don’t dry as quickly once they get wet? I need to lighten my load. Wait, this Deva 60 feels like the Cadillac of packs. And the list goes on. I feel like with many aspects of life, one can get on the train. You may not know the destination, but at least you know the train’s riding on a fairly steady track. When I went to college, deep down I knew that I would graduate. Yeah, OK, I took a year off to serve in AmeriCorps, but I knew the general path. When I started working (after serving a second year in AmeriCorps), it didn’t take long to get the general gist either. Go to an office for eight hours a day, five days a week; get a paycheck every couple of weeks; repeat. More or less predictable. Preparing for my A.T. thru-hike has been anything but predictable. I’ve been awash in a sea of research (the internet is a wonderful and terrible thing), underwater and at times not knowing which way is up. Sustaining the focus and enthusiasm for so many months has been exhausting. And, ya know what? I haven’t been so excited to do anything in my entire adult life. I have no idea where I’ll be on Day 92 of my trek, nonetheless on Day 7, and I couldn’t be happier to find out. I’ve already faced the fear of leaving my job, signing away the lease to my apartment, getting off the train. What’s there left to fear? Hours upon hours of solitude (or conversely really getting to know fellow hikers)? Aggressive bears? Thunderstorms? Yeah, those things may eventually become frightening, but they’re also part of what makes hiking the A.T. so alluring, so appealing, so exhilarating! With a little bit of luck I’ll make it to Mount Katahdin in Maine, but I truly believe that my journey can’t begin the day I step foot on Springer Mountain. Instead, it already started on August 30, 2012 when I announced that I’m going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. In reality, I’m already halfway to my goal. Meandering on, Jordana
Feb 24, 2013Fit is our mantra. We offer multiple sizes in every one of our men’s and women’s packs so that every torso size can be accommodated and everyone can wear a pack that fits properly. We’ve also never built a pack with an adjustable suspension because according to Wayne, “one size fits nobody!” That is, we’ve never created an adjustable suspension backpack…until now! The Gregory Wander is our first full-featured pack offering for youth and it utilizes the brand new Versafit™ adjustable suspension to cover the full range of youth torsos from 13 to 20 inches, as well as an adjustable waistbelt that starts as small as 24 inches. Perfect for ages 10 and up, this suspension provides a great fit for youth so that they’ll enjoy wearing the pack and have an enjoyable start to what we hope is a lifetime of backpacking, rather than carrying an ill-fitting pack that will sour them to the sport for years to come. The Wander is available in 50 and 70-liter volumes and is designed to carry up to 35 pounds. A huge U-Zip front panel allows complete access to the main compartment, while many other pockets round out the design: a large zippered front pocket for quick-access storage, a side stash pocket for on-trail access, a security pocket under the top lid, and a hydration reservoir sleeve with pass-through port. The Wander pack is available in Chlorophyll Green and Navy Blue. The Wander is available now at REI and at your local outdoor specialty retailer so drop in with your young ones and have them check it out. We’re confident it will be on this year’s birthday and holiday wish lists!
Feb 14, 2013We get a lot … a lot a lot … of individuals that inquire about sponsorships, donations, and other philanthropic opportunities. We are unable to fulfill all these requests, and it’s tough deciding who we give support to vs. who we are unable to. There is no scientific method or mathematical equation that we are able to follow to meet everyone’s needs. That being said, I introduce to you Jordana Weiss, our newest Gregory Trail Ambassador, as she is planning her first Appalachian Trail thru hike beginning March 2013. Why Jordana? I can’t easily answer that question, but her persistence definitely paid off. Mostly, we like that she is outside the ‘norm’ (if there is such a thing) from our average scope of customers, and even of who we see on the trail. Most of all though, I really was impressed with her blog, the way it’s written, her honest, yet humble approach to her writing style, and the fact that she seems sincerely eager yet nervous all at the same time. Though perhaps not a novice, by no means does she seem an expert in the field. At the same time, we feel that more people will be able to relate to Jordana‘s experiences and tribulations. We look forward to her updates as we follow her along her daunting adventure. We do truly hope she’s able to planning to visit us at TrailDays in Damascus, VA. Attempting a long thru hike, such as the AT is no daunting task. Considering that 70% of those that seek to make the 2,180 mile trek do not make it to the end, simply completing is a task all in of itself. Jordana has been prepping for the AT, literally, for months at this point. We've decided to donate a Deva60 for her trek, and you can read about her decision making here. Getting your gear lined up for a few months on the trail is a task in and of itself, then you need to plan the logistics for the trip, food drops, any hostel/hotel layovers, and training to be sure you are in some kind of shape. I can't imagine the amount of time that goes simply into the preparation of a thru hike. I wonder how many people don't even make it through the preparation stage, never mind the actual task of hiking the trail?! We're glad to be able to get Jordana a Deva60 and hope it provides her with the comfort and peace of mind that allows her to truly appreciate the companionship that 'The Trail' is able to provide. HAPPY HIKING!!!
Feb 6, 2013We test our packs, extensively. When we're unable to put the abuse we are looking for on them, we reach to our R&D team that has an extensive list of athletes and professionals that are more than happy to put our packs to the test...literally. Martha Burley is one of those lucky enough to be on the list. Anyone that knows her can attest to her qualifications; she is a freeskier, athlete, competitor, filmmaker, and truly a good friend. Martha has been rocking a Cairn58 for quite some time now, note the hodgepodge of colors, and has been using this pack for way more than it's specifically designed for. These are her words: 58 liter Cairn Backpack Product review – Burnt Mashed Potatoes Winter camping in British Columbia's coast mountains – what do you need to bring? About 1000 puffy jackets, lots of food, tent, stove , sleeping mat, and all the usual ski gear/rope/crampons etc. As an experiment, and to make the up skiing part easier – we agreed to save on weight and have a week of all dehydrated food. I’ve always avoided the dehydrated food experience – I am the one you see slogging up the mountains with steaks and wine in my pack because I want to eat well – but in the interests of curiosity I decided to give it a go. Day 1 our dinner was dehydrated mashed potatoes mixed with tinned salmon and a big blob of butter…somehow the mashed potatoes burnt to the bottom of the pot leaving a taste I can’t possibly describe…and as that was the same pot we were using to melt our drinking water from snow- and the burnt potato crust would not scrub off - we all had the chance to relive that taste in every sip of water for the rest of the week! – ew…lesson learned – I hope. Every night involved freezing to death listening to the howling wind outside our tent and hoping we wouldn’t get blown away…we built a fort of snow around the tent for protection – and it would be mostly eroded by morning.. BUT …every day involved the most amazing skiing on some of the most beautiful mountains I have been to. Our focus - aside from skiing nice lines - was practicing safe glacier travel, so we did a lot of rope-work – throwing ourselves off cornices and pulling ourselves back up as if it was one big crevasse. And purposefully picking safe routes between crevasses – I have been pretty sheltered in my skiing life from glacier travel – so the purpose of this trip was to learn as much as possible. My buddies Holly and Jameson were planning a trip up Denali in the spring so for them this was also nice easy going practice at being freezing on the top of mountains and trying not to get blown away! My Cairn 58 backpack fit everything I needed and was comfy to ski in even with the big load – its so important not to have a pack flopping about behind you as that’s the first thing to put you off balance when skiing or hiking. The best part though was once the tent was out and I could cinch it down to day pack zone. The different sections were pretty sweet as I could isolate my avalanche rescue gear (shovel, probe) in an easily accessible pocket, and my helmet and goggles also fit well in the outside flap so I could grab it when I needed. Lunch was in the top zippered pocket…and the inside zipper held maps and band aidy stuff.
Jan 14, 2013That being said, I fell in love with the sport in 2009 and am excited to talk about how it changed my life for the better. I was 22 years old, living in Georgia and wasn't quite sure who I was or what I was meant to do in life. For some reason that I am still very confused about, I had an incredibly overwhelming urge to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. I asked my boyfriend at the time if he would like to join me but he only had 2 years left in school and wanted to finish (and I didn't blame him). I decided that I just had to go. I packed my bags into my tiny little Saab and off we went (and by we, I mean me and my little dog too). Luckily, when I got to the Bay I stumbled upon a brand new climbing gym that I was eventually hired at; and that's where slackline and I met. We fell in love immediately and I couldn't seem to spend much time away from it. I became obsessed with mastering my balance which turned out to be no easy task. I started on a 20 foot long line very low to the ground and as difficult as it was, I just kept trying. During my off time at the gym, I would run over to the slacklines and practice. For some reason I did NOT want to walk away from the challenge. It always felt just out of reach. The first time I walked that line I felt completely elated. I had worked so hard to make it all the way across and I couldn't believe that I had finally done it. But, now what? I was a little disappointed that I had completed my goal, similar to the feeling of finishing a really good book that you just don't want to end. I decided it was time to try and turn around at the end of the line and walk back to the start. I had seen the owner of the gym, Damian, do this and I figured it was the logical next step. This process went on for quite some time, me finding a new goal that I just had to complete. It was turning into my motivator, my purpose, my stress relief and even my friend. Eventually I started to get into highlining which added a completely new element into the game: fear. Now, not only was I challenging myself physically but also mentally. I not only had to walk the line but I had to allow myself to! Stepping off of solid ground onto a 1 inch wide piece of webbing is quite possibly the most terrifying thing I had ever done but still, highlining became my obsession. There was something about being utterly frozen in fear but stepping out into the abyss anyway. I felt so full of strength and just knew that I could do anything. All my life I have been into athletics (thanks Dad for introducing me to them!). But, nothing has affected me as much as this bizarre little sport called slacklining. Since discovering it, being about 4 years later, I feel like a completely different person than I was at age 22. Slacklining taught me how to set goals for myself and work to reach them, no matter how small those goals might be. It taught me that even though things can be extremely difficult, just keep going and eventually, you will get there. There's no better feeling than reaching a goal after a lot of sweat and tears. It taught me that the harder something is, the stronger you will be on the other side of it. Slacklining, for me, has been the perfect metaphor for life. When I'm walking, I try so hard not to fall and not to give up because I know that I'm not just fighting to stay balanced but I'm fighting to be stronger. It's not just a sport for me, it's a challenge that I've been given to strengthen myself as a person. Now, whenever I am dealing with tough times in life I just imagine myself on the line and what it feels like to fight and make it to the other side. I am so grateful to have found the sport and feel so strong because of it. Coming from someone who found that "something special", it's out there! You just have to listen to your gut and go find it. For more on me, check out my website: www.emilysukiennik.com
Jan 9, 2013Editor's Note: Andrea Meerholz coordinates Gregory's efforts in Europe. Just before the holidays, we caught up with her to learn a bit more about how the pack market differs in Europe. Full Name: Andrea Meerholz How long have you worked at Gregory and in what role(s)? 2 years as Brand Director for Europe How well is the Gregory brand known among European consumers compared to some of the other more traditional pack brands? Gregory is well-known within the specialists but not within the broad customer group. So far we’re a 100% niche brand. How does the European pack market differ from the United States? Europe is very diverse and has many regional differences that are important to consider. -Scandinavia/Northern Germany/Benelux are most similar to the US market. Big packs are well received while traditional colors and strong materials tend to be more important than fashion driven design. -In Central Europe (Germany/France/Italy/Austria/Alps) smaller packs are key. There is no need for packs larger than 50L. Designs are very fashion driven and colorful. Retailers ask for lots of technical details. Weight is very important too. These countries are also highly competitive markets with established brands like Osprey, Deuter, and Lowe Alpine all having a presence. I see the biggest potential for Gregory here but also the biggest challenges. -Southern Europe (South Italy/Spain/Portugal) are mainly fashion driven and not really technical markets. Low buying power and the economic recession have made us step back from these markets a bit. -Eastern Europe (Czech Republic/Poland/Slovenia/Ukraine etc) are growing markets but are very price sensitive and for top end brands still very small. Their benchmark is Germany so those markets will grow once Germany is growing again. Are there technical features, colors, or designs that Europeans seek out in packs? It seems that Europe needs more bright colors for packs – especially for smaller sizes. Europe is more design driven and packs need to look cool, light and sexy. Top end brands in packs must be different and very technical as otherwise Europeans always tend to buy local brands like Deuter (Germany), Lowe Alpine (UK), Millet (France), Bergans (Norway). People tend not to understand why packs have so many straps. Europeans try to avoid “strappy packs” and prefer clean design. What is your favorite Gregory product and why? I love the Alpinisto 35 because of its clean design, the bright color and multi-use functionality. I’ll also certainly go for the Cairn 48 in hibiscus for my next trip to the Arabic region as this is a great combination of lightweight and comfort with enough volume to carry what I need. What’s Gregory strongest brand attribute in your mind? For Europe it’s clearly comfort and fit.