25. September 2012 20:55
Starting out on this trip I was feeling a little nervous and excited. I think what I felt is normal for most people when they are about to try something new. I didn’t know how my body would handle kayaking everyday but was looking forward to a challenge, I had never been camping in the backcountry, but was ready to step out of my comfort zone, and I was worried about how the dynamics of the group would work. [More]
21. May 2012 23:27
After returning from 11 days of climbing, backpacking and kayaking, I needed a couple of down days to recharge the batteries. Now that I am fully recharged, and have a little down time, I can tell you all about this amazing Outdoor Recreation Center led adventure.
The first few days of the trip we did some water preparation and climbing. Since we were all starting from ground zero and building skills within a curriculum, the ORC staff had us learn some basic safety procedures and water rescue scenarios in the Gibb Pool on campus. Conducting this training in a pool setting allowed for us students to get comfortable with the skills in a safe environment. After we completed a number of ways to right and enter a kayak or canoe in open water, we made our way to the climbing wall to learn some basic climbing skills and how to set-up a climbing area properly when leading a trip. The instructors were great at explaining not only how to get an area ready for climbing and the proper way to wear equipment, but they gave us reasons why this way is important for safety and uniformity within ORC trips. Each of our trainers taught these tasks a little differently and in their own unique way, while maintaining the basic principles. This type of continuity and cohesion from the staff gave us students a vision of how we should be working in the future.
The following morning we gathered at the ORC, packed our gear and headed out to Granite Point for some outdoor rock climbing. While on the way, roughly a 40-min drive, the instructors didn’t waste time, they gave us information regarding what to do during emergencies at Granite Point and showed us a couple of different launch points for kayaking trips the ORC leads throughout the year. Once we arrived at Granite Point, we gathered the gear and made our way up to the climbing location. A helmet area was designated first to ensure safety while the top ropes wer... [More]
18. April 2012 21:49
What is a portable stove? – Portable stoves are small, compact, burner assemblies used during hiking or backpacking trips when normal cooking utilities are not available. While many different variations of portable stoves are available, this article will focus on non-self-pressurizing tanks and free-standing burners. This type of step-up allows for a minimal amount of items to carry in your pack and eliminates the need for pressurized bottles.
How do they work? – Typical portable stoves consist of a few different parts that, when combined, provide a powerful and easy to use stove in just about any environmental conditions. The main parts of the portable stove are the fuel bottle, pressurization pump, connection tube and burner. The fuel bottle contains a liquid fuel source in accordance with the burner, typically kerosene, gasoline, diesel or alcohol. Pressurization pumps allows for the user to pressurize the bottle for stove use. The connection tube provides a sealed connection between the pressurized fuel source and the burner assembly. Once these four parts are connected and properly primed, the stove is ready for use. Pressurized fuel is fed to the burner via the connection tube. Upon ignition, the assembly will burn the fuel, thus providing a gas stove for cooking. Many companies have unique fittings for the bottle, pump, tube and stove, so ensure you get matching equipment and test the equipment before taking it on a trip. Also, follow the instructions for the particular burner as steps may vary depending on individual burners.
When should you use them? – These portable units are great for camping, hiking and mountaineering. The set-up and tear-down for portable stoves is relatively quick and effortless. When hiking and mountaineering, size and weight are vital. These stoves allow for hours of use while minimizing the space used and weight added t... [More]
30. March 2012 17:41
What are Trekking Poles? – Trekking Poles are poles specifically designed for hiking, walking and traversing. They resemble ski poles in their design, but have some unique differences. For example, they are typically made to collapse down to a size that is easy to strap to the outside of a pack when not in use.
How do they work? – Trekking poles are a very intuitive thing to use. You will naturally fall into a rhythm once you begin to use them. For more detail I have posted a video below. This video can help you ensure that your poles are the right height for you.
When should you use them? – When you know you will be facing a tough or rough terrain, trekking poles may be a great addition to your balance and rhythm. Poles are not typically used on flat paths, but it is up to the user to determine if they are needed or not. Some hikers or walkers love the element of rhythm that trekking poles add. Another great reason to use trekking poles is for those outdoor enthusiasts with bad knees or ankles. Trekking poles do a great job of taking some of the stress off your joints, especially when descending.
23. March 2012 15:38
Living here in Pullman since February of 2000, I have had my fair share of outdoor experiences in and around the Pullman area. One place I really enjoy is Moscow Mountain-just across the border in Idaho. Some of my friends at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) introduced me to a group of mountain bikers in the area who traverse the trails of Moscow Mountain on the regular. Being the adventurous gnome that I am, I quickly gathered a group of friends to check out the trails of Moscow Mountain. To my surprise, there are a bunch of interconnected trails all over Moscow Mountain. After my first trip to Moscow Mountain, I was hooked and have been going back often throughout the year for the past 10 years.
The great part about Moscow Mountain is the diversity. With a bunch of different trails weaving in and out of other interconnecting trails, the options are almost limitless. There are trail lengths and difficulties ranging across the spectrum, Moscow Mountain is a perfect place to learn the sport of mountain biking or to challenge your biking expertise. My first trip out there was more of a feeler, trying to get used to the terrain and ensuring I knew where I was and where I was going. Now, I hit the ground pedaling and don’t look back, it’s truly a great place to bike!
While the majority of the land is private, the Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA), a group out of Idaho, maintains 39 mountain biking trails. This non-profit organization conducts trail restoration events throughout the year. Their website requires a donation to access the most detailed information about the trails, but the free access to the site is sufficient for most (bikemoscow.org). Additionally, some information about mountain biking trails can be found on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce website (moscowchamber.com) and Trails.com website.
Having such an amazing place to go mountain biking just down the roa... [More]
2. March 2012 22:31
Get to Know Your Gear’s weekly update will get you familiar with 0°F Sleeping Bags & Liners.
What is a 0° Sleeping Bag & Liner? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are, as their name’s imply, very cold weather sleeping bags and liners to keep an outdoor enthusiast safe and warm when camping in frigid winter conditions. These sleeping bags are made of different materials depending on the needs of the camper, varying from heavy to ultra-light. Liners specifically are used to line the inside of the sleeping bag as another layer of insulation.
How do they work? – 0° sleeping bags can vary in type and material, but they work to keep body heat in and the cold air out. The outer shell of the sleeping bag is typically made of nylon, which is used to protect the outside of the bag from the environment. Inner shells are often made or nylon also, but can be a type of polyester blend. Both the inner shell and outer shell are both good at keeping air from penetrating their exterior. The inside of bags (fill) is often filled with down, polyester blends, or synthetic materials made to insulate the bag. This combination of fill, inner, and outer layers keeps body heat within the bag while protecting the user from the cold outer air. Liners are often a fleece or microfiber material used to add an additional layer of insulation within the sleeping bag. While liners are not made to deflect air, they are an insulator within the bag, retaining body heat keeping the user warmer. I personally have a bag with nylon exterior and interior shells with 800-fill goose down insulation and a fleece liner. They keep me nice and toasty at night during my winter hiking and camping adventures.
When should you use them? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are designed to be used in extreme winter weather conditions. Some sleeping bags are rated even colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit,... [More]
22. February 2012 20:01
Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.
15. February 2012 22:04
This week’s Get to Know Your Gear segment will focus on Climbing Skins.
What are Climbing Skins? – Climbing skins, also known as ski skins, are cross country skiing accessories which attach to cross country skis to restrict backward sliding of the skis.
How do they work? – When the skins are attached to the skis, the fibers in contact with the snow lay flat when moving forward allowing for unrestricted forward movement. Alternatively, when sliding backwards, the snow pushes against the grain of the fibers causing the skins to dig into the snow and hold the skis, and skier, in place.
When should you use them? – Typically, climbing skins are only needed when venturing into areas with hills, switchbacks, or any type of ascent where momentum will not carry the skier to the top of the next hill. While they are not always necessary to have on the skis, carrying climbing skins in a pack when cross country skiing is always advised.
Now that you know what climbing skins are, when to use them, and how they work, you are ready to get outside and try some cross country skiing! Remember, climbing skins for Tele Skis or Randonnee (Alpine Touring) are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center. Enjoy the great outdoors!
10. February 2012 16:57
This week’s Get to Know Your Gear will look into the adventures of Telemark Skiing.
What is Telemark Skiing – Telemark skiing is a type of skiing that is done with the heel of your ski boot unattached to the ski, see video below. So the ski binding attaches to the boot at the toe. What really makes Telemark skiing unique is the type of turn that you execute. The turn is done with your knees bent and one ski is pushed ahead of the other.
How do you use them – Learning how to Telemark ski is something that will take some time. It is best to talk with an experienced Telemark skier for tips. You can look at some step by step instructions online to give you an idea before you get on the mountain or check out the video below to see some skiers learning how to Telemark.
When should you use Telemark Skis – If you are already an existing skier and want to try a new challenge, this style of skiing might be right for you. Many skiers say they love the sense of freedom and control that Telemark skiing gives them. Anyone can try Telemark skiing, however it is easiest and fastest to learn when you are already comfortable on parallel skis.
1. February 2012 23:22
Don’t let the snow covered ground (which is quickly melting) keep you from enjoying all of the hiking trails scattered around the area. This week’s Getting to Know Your Gear blog will show you how to enjoy hiking regardless how much snow we get this winter by using snowshoes and trekking poles.
Snowshoeing has been thought to be around for roughly 10,000 years. The basic principle of snowshoes is the ability to distribute body weight over a larger surface area allowing people two walk across snow covered ground with greater ease. In the past, snowshoes were used in snowy areas so hunters/trappers could continue to provide for their family during the winter months (and to escape the ever lurking Yeti). Now, snowshoes are more of recreation accessories so outdoor enthusiasts can hike in deep snow.
While there are a few different types of snowshoes available, the most common is the recreational/trekking type. Other styles include backcountry/mountaineering and aerobic/running snowshoes. Running snowshoes are usually shorter and less wide than both recreation and backcountry. Additionally, for the same size person, mountaineering are going to be a little longer and wider for more difficult terrain. Each of these types of snowshoe have either fixed/limited-rotation or full/pivot-rotation bindings. Racing snowshoes usually have fixed-rotation bindings which do not allow the toe to pivot below the bottom plane of the shoe. Unfortunately, fixed bindings have a tendency to kick snow up the back of the user’s legs. Full-rotation bindings are normally preferred for traditional and mountaineering snowshoes because they allow for greater traction and mobility.
One of the best accessories for recreational or mountaineering snowshoeing are trekking poles. Poles help hikers maintain balance on most types of terrain, can help with knee pain and often increase the speed of the hike.&... [More]