Scarpa North America Blog

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Born into it: Paul Kimbrough all but left the womb wearing skis and a harness

Dec. 28th 2011

Paul Kimbrough got a leg up early in life. Growing up between Utah and Wyoming he learned how to ski and climb at a young age. The SCARPA athlete just returned from Whistler, but is back to Pemberton, BC this coming week. We had him for a moment to get a snapshot of his upbringing, and his taste for all things Telemark.

How long have you been skiing? How did you first get into it?
I’ve been skiing for as long as I’ve been walking, about 23 years. My parents put me on skis and lowered me down the neighborhood sledding slope in Salt Lake City when I was two.

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Sneak Peek: Ouray Ice Festival, January 5-8

Dec. 20th 2011

The world’s first ice climbing park is celebrating its 15th anniversary this coming January. Ouray, Colorado was once a booming mining town, but now ice is the gold standard. With over 200 ice and mixed climbs, the Ouray Ice Park is one of the largest ice climbing meccas in North America. And this coming January 5-8th, climbers of all abilities will make their pilgrimage to southwestern Colorado in search of ice, camaraderie and glory.

Photo by Jack Brauer:

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The Bozeman Ice Festival: A recap by Gord McArthur

Dec. 15th 2011

Gord McArthur, SCARPA athlete and ice climber extraordinaire, just returned from spending a week in Montana, climbing in Hyalite Canyon and teaching clinics at the Bozeman Ice Festival. He has an infectious love for ice climbing and a passion for teaching. McArthur recounts a few moments from the week and talks about why he’ll be going back for many years to come.

Gordon McArthur on NW Passage, M10 Hyalite Canyon MontanaThe Bozeman Ice Festival is different from any other event I’ve ever been to. So much that it’s hard to put into words the impact it had on me. Soulful, majestic, full-hearted, committed, meaningful, driven, historical and futuristic…and sure, these words are all great and will do for now, but even still…they don’t do justice to what I experienced over the past week.

Arriving in Bozeman a week before the festival, we (myself and a few other friends – Jason Nelson, Kendra and Carter Stritch) were super energized to “get after it” in Hyalite Canyon. Hyalite Canyon is host to a sea of ice climbs from beginner to totally scary hard, so there was to be no limit to how many climbs we could fit in prior to the anticipated ice festival. Before coming I had heard about a cave up in Hyalite that hosted a hard mixed climb, Inglorious Bastards, M12, so…in hearing that, it became a priority of mine to jump on that rig and try to climb it.

Walking into Hyalite Canyon simply takes your breath away. Despite the cliché, I’m serious. Hyalite is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever climbed. Period. And standing inside the cave high up on the Unnamed Wall, there were certainly moments when I forgot all about climbing and found myself drifting off into the scenic wonderland.

Day 1 was a workday. Jason Nelson and I spent a bit of time getting used to the style of rock and sorting through the moves on Inglorious Bastards. When looking at the route from outside the cave, it didn’t seem that big or long. However when hanging horizontally close up and personal to the roof of that cave…it’s a haul and a half. I want to give thanks to Conrad Anker and Pete Tapley for putting up that route, and also a “nice work” to Sam Elias for nabbing the first ascent. On day 2, my third try I was able to repeat Inglorious Bastards, M12. (Thanks to Jason for bein’ there on the other end of my rope). I was psyched about this. Side note: It was cool and inspiring that this particular style of route was natural (nothing was drilled to enhance the route). Some may think that routes at this level don’t exist any more without “manufacturing” them.

Gordon McArthur on NW Passage, M10 Hyalite Canyon MontanaMid week, after a few days of climbing we found ourselves, amongst many others, in the Emmerson Hall (in Bozeman), mingling, giving high fives, and simply sharing the excitement about the Bozeman Ice Festival starting. Vendors and sponsors were busy handing out demo gear to all the enthusiasts, people from all over the country buzzing about clinics that they had signed up for. The hype and animation from all who were involved and participating…just standing back…for even a moment, witnessing what was going on all around me…you could just tell there was something different…something deep and inspiring.

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The first ascent of Hispar Sar in Pakistan via SW couloir

Dec. 14th 2011

Steve Su, Bruce Miller and Doug Chabot just returned from Asia after having complete the first ascent of Hispar Sar (6400 m) via the SW Couloir in Karakoram, Pakistan in August. The three climbers were winners of the Mugs Stump Alpine Climbing Award which supported their expedition. They used the SCARPA Phantom 6000 and Omega boots. Su provides the following account of their adventure.

Hispar Sar SW Couloir right of center, bivy site marked. Ridge in foreground blocks bottom of route.

Big expeditions are notorious for their low success rates. Some of the usual culprits include bad weather, partner breakdowns and sickness. Our expedition very nearly had the unusual end of being flushed into the Hispar River and out into the Indian Ocean.

Halfway between Karimabad and Hispar, the tractor carriage, in which all our gear was loaded, threatened to topple over the edge of a steep crumbling dirt embankment and into the raging torrent. The tractor driver, a borderline psychopath, was violently bucking the machine back and forth in his efforts to get up the road’s rutted ten percent grade. The wheels were jumping in and out of the rut every time he bucked the machine such that he nearly bucked the carriage right over the deep end. Bruce and Doug shouted for him to stop and demanded that the carriage be emptied to reduce the load on the tractor. Eight of us then pulled the tractor with a rope and unbelievably got the whole rig up the hill. After a few more snafus along the way, we made it to the village of Hispar and eventually to base camp.

Bivy site for two

Here, my partners, Doug Chabot and Bruce Miller, and I settled in and prepared for an attempt on Hispar Sar (6400m). It was an unclimbed peak with huge steep ridge lines and beautiful steep faces. I had first seen this peak on a 2007 expedition while attempting nearby Pumari Chhish East (6900m) which was our original goal (serac activity prevented an attempt). Hispar Sar stood out amongst its neighbors with its huge throne-like North Face. It was definitely on the to-do list.

In the past 20 years Hispar Sar has had a handful of attempts, two times by well-known British climber Simon Yates. Our route took the South West Couloir which is the same line Yates attempted. The line was a striking 1,100m couloir which split the SW Face and terminated at the South Ridge. From there, the route continued up another 300m of airy climbing to the summit for a total of 1,400m vertical gain. The couloir was completely bounded by steep rock on both sides and pinched down in spots similar in nature to that of the Super Couloir on Fitz Roy.

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Of Ice and Men: Will Gadd on his fascination with frozen water, fatherhood, and feeling like a kid.

Dec. 8th 2011

PHOTO: Christian Pondella/ Craters News

Another season of freezing water has pro ice climber and SCARPA athlete Will Gadd in a good mood. The Canmore-based Gadd is still marveling on his most recent muse, Helmcken Falls, and his latest opus, Spray On. He’s been currently climbing for Hollywood, taking note on his daughter’s new “bouldering” problems, and yearns to think like a kid again, so long as he doesn’t destroy any more furniture in the process.

How is the ice coming in your neck of the woods? How do you like to embrace each new season of climbing frozen water?
Lots of ice here as usual, and I’m fired up. But I spent the last week being a stunt double for the new Jason Bourne flick, “Marcher.” Did some hard dry tooling up high in the mountains; I love commuting to work in a helicopter, always fun.

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Getting the Free Heel Feel. Early Season Tips

Dec. 7th 2011

By Leslie Ross:

BABES telemark clinicAfter 20 years of free heel skiing, I am still working on perfecting my tele technique. The Babes annual instructor refresher clinic was just the ticket to get my feet moving in the right direction. Sporting our new stealth bomber Flylow Jackets, G3 Skis, and Scarpa Women’s T1s 10 Babes instructors braved the morning chill at Arapahoe Basin last Saturday. Starting off with yoga, we got centered and balanced for our on hill portion of the day.

Here are some thoughts from the day to get you to get into the free heel Groove.

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Early Season Hazards for Skiers and Snowboarders

Dec. 5th 2011

There’s nothing like the buildup of the coming ski season. The hope for a deep snowpack, lots of powder, and distant peaks to climb and ski, readily pulse through our brain’s synapses. In some ways the anticipation of turns is reward in itself. The prep of getting back into shape, reorganizing gear, waxing skis, obtaining new equipment, all these aspects of preparing for the ski season are the irreducible part of being a skier. So, it’s a total bummer when we get injured in early season because we are too amped about getting onto the snow that we forget how early season hazards can wreak havoc on our equipment and our bodies.

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