Scarpa North America Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Adam U’s Summer at Sea

Oct. 30th 2012

SCARPA athlete Adam Ü seems to have found the perfect balance between work and play. A marine biologist by trade, he spent the summer touring around islands in the South Pacific doing marine mammal surveys. He arrived home to the Pacific Northwest just in time for some late season marine mammal surveys near Juan de Fuca Plate. Now that the weather is changing, he will put on his ski boots and spend the winter touring around the Cascades. Rough life, we know.

Adam Ü + summer = sea time.

Every spring I make a transformation from Adam Ü: professional skier to Adam Ü: marine biologist. This year the transformation was especially abrupt; in mid-April I bid my skis adieu and flew from snowy Mt. Baker to American Samoa to join a research expedition on the NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette.

There was plenty to see in the month it took us to sail from American Samoa to Hawaii. Here’s a Red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda.

Here is a nice group of Fraser’s dolphins Lagenodelphis hosei.

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Backpacker gives the lightweight Alien boot an Editor’s Choice Award

Oct. 26th 2012

The SCARPA Alien recently won the Editor’s Choice Snow Award from Backpacker Magazine, after the editors took the lightweight, tech-compatible boot on a five-day backcountry ski trip last spring. Though originally designed specifically for randonee racing, the Alien impressed the editors at Backpacker with its prowess as a backcountry-touring boot.

Extremely lightweight, the Alien has a very unique shell design and materials, including integration of the Boa closure system. From SCARPA’s perspective, a boot like the Alien is the result of completely rethinking how ski boots are designed from the ground up, and creating something that takes advantage not only of progressive design ideas, but the latest technology in materials to yield something that is surprisingly powerful for its incredibly light weight.

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Mugs Stump Award – Latok Trip Report 2012

Oct. 23rd 2012

SCARPA athlete, Josh Wharton, was a 2012 Mug Stump Award recipient for his planned expedition to Latok 1. Since 2007, climbing Latok 1 has been a personal dream of Wharton’s. He had been to the Choktoi four times and had invested a lot of time, energy and resources into completing Latok 1. Wharton wrote to us a few weeks ago to let us know that it was an unsuccessful trip – in terms of the climbing – plagued by illness and altitude sickness. But, like all great expeditions, there were small accomplishments woven into the big picture. As Wharton said, “I did succeed on an unclimbed rock spire and had some good times in the mountains with Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy.”

Nate Opp and I arrived at basecamp below Latok on July 11th, intent on trying the North Ridge/Northwest face of the mountain. We set about acclimatizing, using skis to reach a bivouac at 5,500 meters on our third day. After a few days of rest in poor weather, we attempted a 6,500 meters snow peak in the valley north of Choktoi Glacier. It was an enjoyable, classic mountaineering adventure, but we turned around at ~6,400 meters, just shy of the summit due to poor snow conditions.

After 10 days at basecamp, Nate started to express doubts about Latok. He was concerned with the objective hazards involved, and ultimately decided he wasn’t willing to accept the risks. On July 24th Nate left basecamp and headed home.

Although extremely upset with Nate’s decision, I was unwilling to just abandon the trip. This was my fourth Latok mission; I knew more about the mountain, and had allotted more time at basecamp then I ever had before. Going home felt tantamount to quitting, and in many ways my multi-year commitment to Latok has always been about never giving up, about staying optimistic and pushing forward even when success might seem unlikely. I knew that Hayden Kennedy and Kyle Dempster were set to arrive on the Choktoi glacier around August 10th, so I chose to stay, and hoped they would be willing to try Latok.

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October 2012 SCARPA Retailer: Pack Rat

Oct. 18th 2012

For anyone living out their dreams in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, Pack Rat Outdoor Shop has been the stronghold of gear and service for almost four decades. In 1973 Scott and Carolyn Crook didn’t have a resource for paddling gear, so they decided to start their own shop to provide quality goods to their area. Since then, they’ve grown to celebrate all sorts of adventure sports that live in the Arkansas hills and rivers. This coming spring Pack Rat will be commemorating its 40th anniversary.

The shop sees little turnover in staff. Many of the current employees have been working at Pack Rat for over a decade—no small affair given the natural recycling that’s associated with college towns throughout the American landscape. So, why Pack Rat?

“The Crooks are great people, and are a pleasure to work for,” says manager Rick Spicer, who’s been with them for thirteen years. “Plus, they’ve always allowed me to take off as much time as I could afford to take, which has been invaluable.”

Pack Rat has made a practice of teaching its employees how to sell something, but more importantly, why to sell a particular product to a specific customer. It’s not just about moving product. “We want to sell good experiences,” says Spicer. Creating relationships and selling products that they can get behind makes the experience better for everyone. Luckily, it’s no stretch to get employees to gush about products they love—and get to use on a regular basis.

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Rocktoberfest 2012 Recap: Final check written for PMRP acquisition

Oct. 16th 2012

Last week SCARPA was a proud sponsor of one of the most important Rocktoberfests in recent memory. This year marked the final payment for the PMRP, a very popular destination in the Red River Gorge. The final giant sized check was handed over and The 23 String Band played all night to dance away whatever energy was left from a long day of climbing on Saturday night. But before all this went down, there was an amazing dinner served, a crate stacking contest and an arm wrestling contest to boot! It was a busy evening for all involved.

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The Life Unbound: Shaun Raskin and Weston D share their passion for skiing and community

Oct. 11th 2012

SCARPA has signed on as the presenting sponsor for 2012-2013 season of The Life Unbound, a webisode collaboration of two of SCARPA’s telemark athletes, Weston Deutschlander and Shaun Raskin.

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More than a paint job: Scarpa’s Maestrale gets some body work.

Oct. 9th 2012

SCARPA didn’t have to do much to better the Maestrale, a proven balance of uphill ergonomics and downhill capability; its dependable performance has made it the most popular AT boot in SCARPA history. Instead, they took a design that works and gave it a couple simple tweaks. Think of it this way—the new Maestrale RS is essentially the same vehicle as the original, only it has a little more under the hood.

The RS means “Renn Sport” in German, or racing sport. It’s a way of saying they charge on the downhill. The new paint job separates it for sure, but the body of the boot is comprised of Polyamide instead of Pebax, which has a slightly higher strength to weight ratio, giving the RS a 120 flex index (20% advantage) over the original Maestrale’s intitial 100 flex; yet it only adds 1.4oz (40g) in additional weight—about as much as a gel pack.

Two slight alterations in the RS include the Zeus buckles, which help to increase power and cuff closure, and the Predator RS instep heel retention, which provides maximum heel hold and augments the tongue stiffness. Like its predecessor, the RS’s progressive flex provides both sensitivity and power transmission to the ski edges in situations when precision turns are paramount. Because backcountry conditions include the worst as much as the best in snow quality, the additional security of the RS is a welcome addition when you’re staring down a 1000-foot couloir of blower pow—or boilerplate.

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Pushing the Limits of Tennis Shoes in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains

Oct. 4th 2012

Sherrie making progress toward Chitna Creek confluence with Caribou Creek, on of the day's major milestones

SCARPA athlete, Kellie Okonek, discovered her calling in life when she moved to Alaska and began exploring the mountains there. She has since climbed and skied in remote places all over the world. She recently took advantage of the last moments of warm weather up north to backpack and raft in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains.

When I started looking closer at the maps and seeing the big storms in the weather forecast for Southcentral Alaska, the doubts over our trip started creeping in. Sherrie and I planned to hike from the Eureka Roadhouse on the Glenn Highway, 60 miles overland to the headwaters of the Talkeetna River. From the small roadside town, we’d take 2.5 days to hike 60 miles mostly off-trail, over two passes (4800′ and 6000’), then raft 40 miles of the Talkeetna River. At the confluence with Prairie Creek, we would meet friends who planned to fly in with a cataraft and run the famous class IV Talkeetna River canyon (“the longest stretch of continuous whitewater in Alaska” and one of the state’s most classic river trips) to the town of Talkeenta.

Caribou Creek shrinking as we neared the headwaters

I really started thinking about the logistics and thoughts of all that could go wrong rushed in with a vengeance. I haven’t been nervous for a trip in a while; I have to admit in many ways it felt good to try something I wasn’t sure I could do. We made contingency bailout plans for the inability to cross high passes due to weather, packed a little extra food in case we had to hike out without the cataraft to travel the high-volume canyon, and left a good communication plan in case we didn’t make it out.

Fortunately, our first full day of hiking up Caribou Creek was graced with sunshine. Given the multiple thigh-deep river crossings of this glacial stream, and blessed with peak fall colors, the bright skies made our day super enjoyable as we covered ground.

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Man with a Plan: Chris Davenport Chases Powder and Parenthood.

Oct. 2nd 2012

The laws of time and space don’t give preferential treatment to anyone—not even Chris Davenport. For well over a decade Davenport has forged onward as a professional ski mountaineer and ambassador, earning him one of the most enviable ski mountaineering tick lists that spans the globe. He’s been in over 30 ski films, has a decorated career in ski racing and extreme competitions; he’s often a ski commentator for various television networks, works corporate events, gives slide shows, and conducts ski clinics on more than one continent.

And he’s married—with three boys. So, how does that work? We were able to squeeze in a little time to get an idea how Chris and company makes it all happen.

You’re a very busy man. How do you balance a professional career that sends you all over the world with having a family? There is no question that my life is a delicate balancing act. With three busy kids, a wife that works all winter as a ski patroller, and a hectic travel schedule, it can be very tricky. Without a doubt the glue that makes this entire circus function is my wife. Not only does she keep the home functioning and the kids organized, she really supports what I do for a job. Without her encouragement and understanding I would not have succeeded to the level I have, or I would have been divorced.

How does your career and parental role have an effect on one another? Being a parent and the principal breadwinner for the family is a big responsibility, especially living in a not-so-cheap place like Aspen. So it’s a bit of a burden. I have to create a program for myself year in and year out that balances many different aspects of skiing. The income has to be there to clothe, feed, and educate three boys who also play a ton of sports and travel to ski race. That comes from endorsements, guiding, my books, sports announcing, and speaking engagements mainly. But I also have to have a schedule that’s personally challenging and rewarding, with film trips, guided adventures, and expeditions that push my boundaries and raise the bar in the sport. I work extra hard because I have to, and because I absolutely love what I do.

You’re working with the Parisotto family (owners of SCARPA) in designing a new kind of boot. At your first meeting with them in Italy didn’t you unwittingly floor them a little with your vision of a boot because it was exactly what they’d been quietly designing already? This was truly one of those “Great minds think alike” moments… I spent the better part of an hour explaining my vision for this new high-performance AT boot, complete with some images and design ideas on my iPad. I talked them through my thought process and my analysis of where I believed the industry was at right now, and where it was going. My goal was to convince them that this boot would not only perform great but would be commercially viable and successful. After a short espresso break they came back into the room and presented me with their concept, which was exactly what I had been talking about. I was surprised for a moment but then realized that these guys had definitely done their homework and we were all on the same page.  At that moment my decision to join the SCARPA team was made.

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