The OR Insight Lab

#ORInsightLab, Outdoor Research Valhalla

outdoor research, #ORInsightLabWhen it comes to gear and equipment, we like to use whatever we think is best, and we’ve generally avoided commitments to specific brands so as to have the freedom to do that. But when I was presented an opportunity to be part of a small group of product testers for Outdoor Research, I thought it warranted some additional consideration. Actually, I said yes right away.

The reason was simple. To this day I have never owned anything from Outdoor Research that has let me down. From the old classic gaiters (that I still have 15 years later) to their latest puffy coat, I’ve always held their products in high regard. Because of my overwhelmingly positive experience with the brand through the years, I’m excited to be involved. read more>>>

Sportswomen of Colorado

(Christy here) This weekend I had the honor of attending the 37th Annual Sportswomen of Colorado Awards Celebration. Prior to receiving a letter a few weeks back notifying me that I was the recipient of an award for Superior Performance in Ski Mountaineering, I was not familiar with the organization. Honored to be included, I headed to Denver, and along with my parents, attended the gala event. As it turned out, this was one of the most inspirational and special events I have ever experienced.

Founded in 1974 by the YWCA of Metropolitan Denver, in cooperation with Gart Brothers Sporting Goods Co., Sportswomen of Colorado is recognized as the first community-based organization in the nation to honor athletes at the state level. With the  amount of exceptional athletes who live, train, and participate in women’s sports in Colorado, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has such a long history here. Past Sportswomen of the Year include names like mountaineer Ellen Miller, mountain biker Alison Dunlap, swimmer Amy Van Dyken, and figure skater Dorothy Hamil. read more>>>

Fifty Classic Ski Descents in North America

Soon-to-be hot off the press, and just in time for the holidays.

Earlier today I was given the opportunity to pore over a proof of the much anticipated new book, Fifty Classic Ski Descents in North America, and it looks awesome. The 200+ page, large format book, a collaboration by Chris Davenport, Art […]

The Hoka One One

Well it’s hard to say, but after getting my hands on a pair of these and hitting the trails, this latest European concept might actually have some legs, or at least help preserve mine.

The Hoka 1.1, a super-cushioned running shoe, is the antithesis of the current minimalist trend in running, and is being introduced as the new barefoot craze seems to be hitting full stride. The compelling case for barefoot running and it’s purported benefits have made otherwise crazy ideas like the Vibram Five Fingers trendy, and in the process fault traditional cushioned shoes for causing injuries. Having not ventured down the shoeless path yet, I can’t quite speak to the topic, but after one quick jaunt up the trail and back in the Hoka’s, I was left thinking that the barefooters out there might want to reconsider their decision.

The debate will continue as to the pros and cons of barefoot vs. cushioned, but even with all the great press the minimalist camp receives these days, I find it hard to believe it will ever move beyond the fringe. Cushioned running shoes are and will remain, in my opinion, the norm. And for the majority out there who prefer cushioned shoes, you can’t get more cushy than the Hoka.


In defense of the non-golfers

An interesting sequence of news came together a couple of weeks ago which has since generated quite a lively debate. Here’s what it’s all about.

  • Last May, a 16 year old golfer from Texas named Jordan Spieth finished 16th in the PGA’s Byron Nelson Championship.
  • Around the same time, a 16 year old sailor from Australia named Jessica Watson completed her seven month solo circumnavigation of the globe.
  • A few days later, a 13 year old climber from California named Jordan Romero reached the 29,035 foot summit of Mount Everest.

I think it goes without saying that all three teens should have everyone’s respect for being able to set and achieve huge goals at such young ages. And all three are probably so thrilled right now that if they were introduced to one another, none of them would claim their individual achievements to be greater than the others. What’s the big debate then?


Moderating the Moderate Rating

A moderate pace up the moderate slope, as an avalanche instructor/forecaster, Josh knows better than to assume the moderate rating is as safe as it sounds.

If you haven’t checked the CAIC website as of late, the current avalanche danger rating for the Aspen zone is moderate on all aspects and elevations. With five ratings on the avalanche danger scale– low, moderate, considerable, high and extreme– moderate is just a notch above low, the safest rating possible. To look at it another way, if the ratings were assigned numerical values from one to five, then moderate would be a two. A danger rating of two out of five might suggest a fairly high level of confidence in the snow stability, right?

But what about all the talk a few weeks back of sensitive snowpacks and abundant weak layers out there? Did that change? Is moderate really as safe as it sounds?

After asking these questions to Amos Whiting and Josh Hirschberg, a couple of local guide friends/snow science gurus, they agreed that moderate was the appropriate rating according to the defined danger scale, but admitted the simple rating system doesn’t always tell the whole story. To help explain, listed below are the risk rating definitions and associated probability of an event: read more>>>