Hik­ing is a fan­tas­tic pas­time; it is relax­ing, fun and a great form of exer­cise. But if you don’t pre­pare prop­er­ly you could end up haul­ing an unnec­es­sar­i­ly heavy bag. If you find that your back­pack is always heav­ier than you want it to be, use these five tips to help you on your next light­weight hik­ing trip.

1. Break Up The Weight
It doesn’t mat­ter if you are going for a quick day hike or an overnight trip; either way, you will need to bring a few heavy items. From water to tents, lots of items can be fair­ly heavy, and the best way to pack lighter is to dis­trib­ute the heavy items among the group equally.

If you are hik­ing with a part­ner, ask them to car­ry a cou­ple of heavy items so that nei­ther of you has to car­ry too much. This is even eas­i­er in a big group as every­one only has to car­ry one or two heavy things, which real­ly light­ens the load!

2. Choose Lighter Equipment
If you are think­ing about buy­ing a new tent, a new sleep­ing bag or even a new water bot­tle, con­sid­er the weight of the item before mak­ing a pur­chase. The lighter items are more expen­sive than the heav­ier ones so it can be tempt­ing to go for a cheap­er option, but be aware that it is like­ly that the item will be heav­ier and hard­er to carry.

This is not to say you light­weight hik­ing is only for those who can afford to splurge on high-cost items. In addi­tion to shop­ping at The Clymb, there are plen­ty of hacks you can use to light­en your load on a bud­get.

It can also be use­ful to buy a light back­pack with wide straps, as this will reduce the weight even more (and the wide straps help to dis­trib­ute the weight even more).

3. Be Stingy With Clothing
One of the most com­mon mis­takes that ama­teur hik­ers make is pack­ing too many clothes. If you are going for an overnight hike it can be tempt­ing to pack a few dif­fer­ent out­fits to wear, but in real­i­ty, this is total­ly unnec­es­sary. You don’t actu­al­ly need a clean out­fit for every new day; if you’re going on a light­weight hik­ing trip it is much more prac­ti­cal to reuse your cloth­ing, espe­cial­ly if your out­fit has layering.

The ide­al hik­ing out­fit has base lay­ers, mid­dle lay­ers, and an out­side shell. The base lay­ers should be leg­gings, vest tops, thin T‑shirts, pants and socks; the mid­dle lay­er should be jumpers or items with long sleeves, and the out­side shell will be a coat or a jacket.

Real­is­ti­cal­ly you only need to change the base lay­er of cloth­ing as this will keep you clean (and you should only need to change the top two lay­ers if they get wet or very dirty). For this rea­son, it is best to pack spare tops and spare hik­ing socks, but extra jumpers and jack­ets tend to be unnecessary—unless you are expect­ing the weath­er con­di­tions to change halfway through the hike!

4. Be Reasonable
Lots of hik­ers pack more than they need as they are being over­ly cau­tious, but this means that they spend days car­ry­ing around items that don’t get used once. This adds weight to your back­pack and takes up space, so next time you go on a hike make sure you only pack the items that you need to make your pack lighter.

Of course, you can pack a few lux­u­ry items (such as extra food) if you want, but be aware that this will increase the weight of your back­pack. If you con­stant­ly over-pack, take a good look at your pack after you get home from a trip; what did you not use that you can get rid of? Don’t keep pack­ing things that you might need to use only once a trip.

5. Use Items With More Than One Purpose
Savvy hik­ers fill their back­packs with items that have more than one use, such as camp­ing tools that include can open­ers, scis­sors, knives, and oth­er use­ful tools. This should help to reduce the weight of your back­pack for your light­weight hik­ing adventure!

Royal Trail (El Caminito del Rey)

Nature is very beau­ti­ful, but it can also be very dan­ger­ous. In fact, some­times the most beau­ti­ful parts of nature are the most dan­ger­ous, which has result­ed in some exhil­a­rat­ing and daunt­ing hik­ing routes.

This may not fit in with the pop­u­lar view that hik­ing is a relax­ing sport, but it is true. While some hik­ing paths are relax­ing and sim­ple, there are oth­er hik­ing routes that are seri­ous­ly terrifying.

If you like the idea of a wild hike that is filled with dan­ger, from over­whelm­ing heat to unsta­ble routes, here are five of the most ter­ri­fy­ing hikes in the world. Though we feel the need to warn you, hike at your own risk.

The MazeThe Maze, Utah
The Maze is in one of the most remote sec­tions of Utah’s Canyon­lands Nation­al Park, and it receives only around 2,000 vis­i­tors each year. This isn’t because the place isn’t worth vis­it­ing; the rocky area is breath­tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful, but it is dif­fi­cult to reach and even hard­er to nav­i­gate due to the amount of dead ends. There is also the risk of flash floods and rock fall, which are both poten­tial­ly life threatening.

If you decide to vis­it The Maze you should go with a detailed itin­er­ary and map, as well as lots of water and a ful­ly charged phone. You should also be an expert hik­er, rather than a beginner!

KalalauKalalau, Hawaii
The Kalalau trail is one of the most beau­ti­ful trails in the world, fea­tur­ing iso­lat­ed lush jun­gle, vol­ca­noes and an untouched beach at the end. How­ev­er the 22 mile trip is no walk in the park, as there is a risk of flood­ing and falling rock through­out the trail. There is also a dan­ger­ous area called Crawler’s Ledge, which is an open ledge that is par­tic­u­lar­ly risky when raining.

Maroon BellsMaroon Bells South Ridge, Colorado
The Maroon Bells is a wide area with a few dif­fer­ent hik­ing routes, and the most dan­ger­ous is the Maroon Bells South Ridge. This 12 mile hike is a tip to the sum­mit of the South Ridge, and on the way hik­ers encounter steep paths, risky gul­lies, loose rock fields and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting lost in the vast terrain.

If you vis­it you will see a sign from the U.S. For­est Ser­vice that reads; “The beau­ti­ful Maroon Bells have claimed many lives in the past few years. They are not extreme tech­ni­cal climbs, but they are unbe­liev­ably decep­tive. The rock is down slop­ing, rot­ten, loose, and unsta­ble. It kills with­out warn­ing. The snow­fields are treach­er­ous, poor­ly con­sol­i­dat­ed, and no place for a novice climber. Expert climbers who did not know the prop­er routes have died on these peaks.” Def­i­nite­ly one of the most ter­ri­fy­ing hikes out there!

Royal Trail (El Caminito del Rey)El Camini­to Del Rey, Spain
El Camini­to Del Ray (which is also known as the King’s Lit­tle Path­way) is a 1,200 meter long trail that cov­ers the steep walls of the El Chor­ro gorge in Mala­ga. The trail was ini­tial­ly built to help work­ers build near­by hydro­elec­tric plants, and although the route is closed now every year hik­ers risk the route using climb­ing gear and har­ness­es. There is even an Indi­ana Jones-esque part of the tail that fea­tures a rick­ety, old wood­en plank bridge and dam­aged steel rails!

Huayna PicchuHuay­na Pic­chu, Peru
The Inca Trail in Peru is one of the most famous trails in the world. This is because the scenic trail is home to a few casu­al­ties every year, but the sec­tion known as Huay­na Pic­chu (or the “Hike of Death”) is unques­tion­ably the most dan­ger­ous part. The ancient stair­case climbs over 1,000 feet in under a mile, and the rocks are rot­ted and crum­bling. This can be very dan­ger­ous, espe­cial­ly when you fac­tor clouds and mist into the equa­tion. The route back down can be even worse due to the steep­ness of the steps; many hik­ers have to sit down when they look down at the view! This is cer­tain­ly one of the most ter­ri­fy­ing hikes when it comes to the view.

grand canyon hike

The Grand Canyon is one of the most pop­u­lar hik­ing spots in the US due to its long paths and stun­ning views. While some peo­ple choose to avoid the Grand Canyon dur­ing sum­mer because of the heat, most peo­ple pre­fer the warmth; in fact, the Grand Canyon sees more hik­ers in sum­mer than it does at any oth­er time of the year!

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After all, sum­mer has some perks going for it; the days are long, the weath­er is warm, and the ground is nor­mal­ly dri­er. How­ev­er hik­ing in the sun comes with its own dan­gers, espe­cial­ly if you are hik­ing the Grand Canyon.

Don’t let your sum­mer hike turn into a dan­ger­ous ordeal. Here are five tips for hik­ing in the Grand Canyon in summer.

1. Be Aware Of The Heat
At the risk of sound­ing like a bro­ken record: the most impor­tant thing you must remem­ber when hik­ing in the Grand Canyon is how hot it can get. Many hik­ers assume that the inside of the basin will be as warm as the rim, but it can actu­al­ly be around 50 degrees hotter.

If you only real­ize this when in the basin, you’ll be con­front­ed with a tough uphill hike in extreme tem­per­a­tures. This can be very dan­ger­ous, so make sure to keep the heat in mind at all times when you are hiking.

2. Set Off Early
It’s always impor­tant to set off ear­ly so that you can avoid the mid-after­noon heat, but this is extra impor­tant if you are hik­ing in the Grand Canyon. As the area is so open and exposed there is very lit­tle in the way of shel­ter, so a tough trek through the heat could leave you with sunstroke.

It’s also nor­mal­ly qui­eter in the morn­ings so your hike will be more peace­ful and relax­ing, and you will real­ly be able to take in the stun­ning views!

3. Take Breaks To Rest
Don’t for­get to take reg­u­lar rest breaks. Hik­ing is a stren­u­ous activ­i­ty at the best of times, and adding hot tem­per­a­tures into the mix can be a recipe for dis­as­ter. Make sure to look out for shad­ed areas when you are hik­ing, and if you see one take a break to sit down and drink some water.

4. Bring Water And Salty Snacks
Every­one should bring water with them on a hike, but you may want to pack twice as much if you are head­ing into the Grand Canyon. You should also pack some high-calo­rie salty snacks, such as ener­gy bars or trail mix. These snacks will help to replace your elec­trolytes as you hike, and they will give you the ener­gy that you need to hike back up the basin. Make sure that you alter­nate between water and snacks to avoid stom­ach cramps.

5. Wear A Bandana
A ban­dana will pro­tect your head, fore­head, and neck from the extreme heat, which is very use­ful as it can be hard to find shade and shel­tered areas. If you find your­self get­ting warm you can take the ban­dana off and wet it before putting it back on, as this will help cool you down.

The Grand Canyon is also sandy and it can get quite windy so you can use your ban­dana to pro­tect your mouth and nose. You can even use the ban­dana to blow your nose (might want extras if you do), wipe your hands, or dry the back of your neck; this small item has many dif­fer­ent benefits.

Lots of peo­ple don’t go hik­ing alone as they wor­ry that they may get hurt or lost. While these sce­nar­ios are cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble, they are not likely—especially if you pre­pare in advance.

Hik­ing alone may seem like a scary prospect, but in real­i­ty, there are lots of advan­tages to solo hik­ing. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to and you can go at your own pace; if you want to stop to take pic­tures of a water­fall, you can. Want to take a break to sit down and have some water? You can. If you want to pow­er ahead, you can!

Hik­ing alone might be for you, here are six tips to make sure you stay safe.

1. Choose A Pop­u­lar Trail
It sounds counter-pro­duc­tive, but choos­ing a pop­u­lar trail is always a bet­ter bet. This is because pop­u­lar trails are nor­mal­ly bet­ter main­tained and safer so you are less like­ly to fall or injure your­self. It also means that you are much more like­ly to run into oth­er hik­ers. So if you do find your­self need­ing help you should have no trou­ble find­ing it.

You may usu­al­ly pre­fer qui­eter trails, as you are less like­ly to encounter oth­er peo­ple, but in real­i­ty, the oth­er hik­ers prob­a­bly won’t want to stop and chat any­way; they will just want to keep hik­ing, so you will be able to enjoy your alone time!

2. Hike Some­where You Know Well
If you are hik­ing alone for the first time, you should plan a hike in an area that you know well. For instance, you could hike local­ly, or you could vis­it a hik­ing path that you have trav­eled before. This is because you will know more about wild ani­mals and poi­so­nous plants in the area.

Don’t wor­ry that the hike will be bor­ing or repet­i­tive; the world always looks and feels dif­fer­ent when you are on your own.

3. Check The Weath­er Fore­cast Before You Set-Off
Sim­ply look­ing out of the win­dow before set­ting off for a hike isn’t enough. The weath­er could change with­in a mat­ter of min­utes, which can be very dan­ger­ous. If you think that you are going for a hike in the sun but it starts to snow after an hour, you are putting your­self at risk of hypother­mia and pneu­mo­nia. Check the weath­er fore­cast online to see pre­dic­tions for lat­er in the day or week. This way you will be able to pack the right kind of clothes for the weather.

You should also keep your eye on oth­er hik­ers that you pass. If you notice that they are all wear­ing rain­coats and head­ing to their cars, the weath­er may be about to get much worse!

4. Pack A Range Of Supplies
Always take a thick jumper, some food, some water, a map, and a first aid kit with you when you are hik­ing so that you are pre­pared for any­thing. You may also need to bring sea­son­al items, such as a peaked cap or a water­proof coat. If you don’t own a pair of qual­i­ty hik­ing shoes, you might want to get some.

5. Tell Some­one Where You Are Going
Let a friend or a fam­i­ly mem­ber know about your hik­ing plans and what time you should be arriv­ing home. Tell them that you will call them when you are back, just in case some­thing hap­pens to you while you are hik­ing (and don’t for­get to actu­al­ly ring them—otherwise they might wor­ry). Make sure that you don’t change hik­ing trails at the last moment with­out let­ting your friend know; if you don’t and you injure your­self, they may not be able to find you.

6. Drop By The Ranger Station
If you pass by the ranger sta­tion on your hike, make sure to drop in to say “hi.” Tell the rangers your name and let them know that you will be hik­ing alone today. Tell them how long you expect to be hik­ing for, and tell them that you will drop by on your way back.

This means that the Rangers will know that you are miss­ing if you don’t come back, so they will head out to look for you. This essen­tial safe­ty move could save your life if you are injured or hurt. It also means that the Rangers can let you know if any paths should be avoid­ed due to recent rain or snowfall.

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Nation­al Parks owe their his­to­ry to some key peo­ple and key moments. But what about places? Parks are, after all, spe­cif­ic places on earth. The Nation­al Park Ser­vice was found­ed more than 100 years ago. So let’s look back at a few patch­es of ground that have had an out­sized impact on the Nation­al Parks movement.

yosemiteA Nonex­is­tent Camp­fire Some­where in North­west­ern Wyoming
As myth has it, the idea of a nation­al park was born around a camp­fire by the first east­ern Amer­i­cans to explore Yel­low­stone: David Fol­som, Hen­ry Wash­burn, and Fer­di­nand Hay­den in 1869–71.

As the sto­ry goes, dis­cus­sions around the camp­fire led to that the area should be kept pub­lic and not be sold off to pri­vate indi­vid­u­als as much of the West was being home­stead­ed in the late 1800s. Sup­pos­ed­ly this led to the cre­ation of Yel­low­stone as the first nation­al park.

The sto­ry is almost cer­tain­ly false. In fact, Yel­low­stone wasn’t real­ly the first “nation­al park”. Abra­ham Lin­coln, inspired by Car­leton Watkins’ pho­tographs, had signed a bill back in 1864 that declared the Yosemite Val­ley inviolate.

But in 1876 park advo­cates latched on to the appeal­ing sto­ry of rugged explor­ers kick­ing ideas around a camp­fire and made polit­i­cal hay from it. The North­ern Pacif­ic Rail­road, seek­ing tourist des­ti­na­tions for their route through the west, sup­port­ed the Park. Through a tall tale retold, the Nation­al Park idea gath­ered steam.

©istockphoto/traveler1116 Glac­i­er Point, Yosemite
In 1903, Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt toured Yosemite. He told his entourage, wait­ing for him at the Wawona Hotel, that he would join them “short­ly”. The Pres­i­dent didn’t show up for three days; he had ditched them to go off camp­ing with a fel­low named John Muir.

The two slept beneath the giant trees in the Mari­posa Grove, hiked up Sen­tinel Dome, and woke up cov­ered in snow at Glac­i­er Point. It was prob­a­bly the most impor­tant camp­ing trip in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. The com­pa­ny of Muir and the land­scape of Yosemite sent Roosevelt’s already-strong con­ser­va­tion instinct into hyperdrive.

Muir’s imme­di­ate goal was renewed fed­er­al pro­tec­tion of Yosemite. He got that and more. Roo­sevelt cre­at­ed 5 oth­er nation­al parks, 18 nation­al mon­u­ments, four game pre­serves, 150 nation­al forests, and over 230 mil­lion acres of pub­lic lands.

©istockphoto/tobiasjo Mile 32.8, Col­orado Riv­er, Arizona
Mile 32.8 of the Col­orado Riv­er in the Grand Canyon is fair­ly innocu­ous. The last big rapid is eight miles back, and the next siz­able drop, Unkar Rapid, is forty miles down­riv­er. Boaters look for­ward to stop­ping at Red­wall Cav­ern and fill­ing up with fresh water at Vasey’s Par­adise, but it’s hard to miss the four big square holes up high on the wall.

They’re the test holes for the Mar­ble Canyon Dam, which was pro­posed and even sur­veyed. In 1963, the Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, hav­ing just closed the flood­gates on the Glen Canyon Dam upstream, pro­posed a 300-foot dam in Mar­ble Canyon that would have backed a reser­voir all the way up to the foot of Glen Canyon Dam. A sec­ond pro­posed dam in Bridge Canyon on the west end would have turned the leg­endary Col­orado Riv­er into a series of reservoirs.

As crazy as this sounds now, the 1950s and 60s were the era of big fed­er­al dam build­ing and the Sun Belt was grow­ing and thirsty. The fight over the Grand Canyon was a seri­ous one. It turned a riv­er rat into a sea­soned con­ser­va­tion­ist (Mar­tin Lit­ton) and a small region­al group of out­door activists into a nation­al force to be reck­oned with (the Sier­ra Club). Col­orado still flows like a riv­er through the Grand Canyon.

florida evergladesA Swamp in South Florida
A swamp near Mia­mi does­n’t seem like the per­fect place for a nation­al park; but when Con­gress autho­rized the cre­ation of Ever­glades Nation­al Park 1934, it was ground­break­ing even though they didn’t appro­pri­ate any mon­ey for the Ever­glades for anoth­er five years.

Ever­glades Nation­al Park was game-chang­ing in two ways. First, it was the first nation­al park in the East, where most Amer­i­cans lived at the time. The Ever­glades broke a pat­tern of parks being estab­lished almost exclu­sive­ly in the high moun­tains of the West.

And sec­ond, it was the first park to be pre­served not for its scenic beau­ty, but to pro­tect frag­ile ecosys­tems at risk from water draw­downs and agri­cul­ture. In the midst of the Great Depres­sion, plac­ing the eco­log­i­cal con­cerns of a bug­gy humid swamp at the top of any list was a coura­geous move. The Ever­glades was the first vic­to­ry for the new sci­ence of ecol­o­gy that would gath­er steam in the com­ing decades.

©istockphoto/tondaThe Mouth of the Lit­tle Col­orado Riv­er, Grand Canyon Nation­al Park
The les­son of Hetch Hetchy and the Grand Canyon Dam pro­pos­al is that nation­al parks still need defend­ers after they’re estab­lished. One of those places is the unde­ni­ably mag­i­cal blue waters of the Lit­tle Col­orado Riv­er where it meets Col­orado, a sacred site to many Nava­jo and Hopi.

The pro­posed “Grand Canyon Escalade” devel­op­ment would build a 1.4‑mile motor­ized tram to shut­tle up to 10,000 vis­i­tors a day to the bot­tom of the Grand Canyon and would fea­ture a hotel, restau­rant, RV cen­ter, and amphithe­ater. Forty years after the defeat of the Grand Canyon dam pro­pos­als and the expan­sion of the park, the Grand Canyon is still under threat.

©istockphoto/OGphoto 146 Acres in Zip Code 20004
It may be one of the small­er Nation­al Parks, but it’s the most impor­tant. The Capi­tol Mall in Wash­ing­ton D.C. is where Yosemite, Glac­i­er, Denali, and Canyon­lands were cre­at­ed. Parks are estab­lished, fund­ed, defund­ed, pro­tect­ed or pri­va­tized by the action (or inac­tion) of Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent. Far away as it may seem from the depths of a slot canyon in Zion or atop a pin­na­cle in the Tetons, the Capi­tol Mall is a place park advo­cates can’t afford to overlook.

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Why Peru, and Why the Salka­n­tay Trek in Particular?
Valen­cia Trav­el Cuz­co via The Clym­b’s Adven­ture appealed to me because the Salka­n­tay Trek, a 5‑day trek through the Andes, is regard­ed as one of the best treks in the world. Cap­ping at 15,253 feet, this ancient and seclud­ed trail is locat­ed in the same region as the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Pic­chu. Explor­ing this region had long since been on my buck­et list so when the oppor­tu­ni­ty came up I quick­ly jumped on it.

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Pack­ing Essentials?

Beyond the hik­ing essen­tials (sun­block, hik­ing poles, cam­era), I couldn’t do with­out bug repel­lant. Trav­el­ing through an array of micro­cli­mates, I wore warm clothes to pro­tect me from the cold con­di­tions. After trekking along­side glac­i­ers in the morn­ing I had to quick­ly delay­er when we reached the jun­gle, expos­ing myself to bugs that were in search of dinner.

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Trip High­lights?
The goal had been to reach Machu Pic­chu, but in hind­sight the most mem­o­rable part of the trip took place on day 2 of the trek. That morn­ing, my guide Fabi gave me a pep talk about the chal­leng­ing route that entailed gain­ing 3000 ft of ele­va­tion with­in 3 miles to reach the Salka­n­tay Pass. Mak­ing it to the pass, which is set­tled between mas­sive moun­tains and glac­i­ers, was tru­ly epic. To the left stood Tucarhuay and to the right Salka­n­tay. I felt the crisp air of the moun­tains and was grate­ful to stand at the top admir­ing the beau­ty of the Andes.

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What Made this Trip so Special?
Along the Salka­n­tay trail I had the priv­i­lege to be greet­ed by the many locals of the coun­try­side. I was enam­ored by their kind­ness and gen­eros­i­ty. It was a real hon­or to jour­ney along this ancient and sacred path.

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Where Do You Want to Go Next?
There are so many amaz­ing places to see, but South Amer­i­ca keeps lur­ing me in. I would love to climb Aconcagua, which stands in the heart of the Andes wedged between Chile and Argenti­na and peaks at 22,841 ft. Aconcagua is the high­est moun­tain in both the West­ern and South­ern Hemispheres.

Want to share your Clymb Adven­ture sto­ry? Email stories@theclymb.comwith trip high­lights and 3–5 images for a chance to be featured.


For more infor­ma­tion on book­ing a trip, check out our Clymb Adven­tures page here.

You’re read­ing our first ever Clymb Adven­tures Part­ner Spot­light. We’ll be giv­ing you an inside look at the peo­ple who pow­er Clymb Adven­tures, what makes them so spe­cial, and why they are such an inte­gral part of what we do.

Hori­zons framed by soar­ing snowy peaks, ancient Bud­dhist monas­ter­ies, and wind torn, flut­ter­ing prayer flags are but a few rea­sons the Himalayas are pure alpine mag­ic. The topog­ra­phy of this sacred land begs for explo­ration and dis­cov­ery. It’s not just the land but the peo­ple that make an expe­ri­ence here unforgettable.

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Ace the Himalaya, a 100% Nepalese-owned ground oper­a­tor, makes adven­ture hap­pen here. And The Clymb is proud to say they were our very first trav­el part­ner. Today, they con­tin­ue to embody the spir­it of human-pow­ered adven­ture, offer­ing authen­tic­i­ty, val­ue, and a mod­el which takes care of its own and the sur­round­ing communities.

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Found­ed in 2006 by a for­mer trekking Sher­pa named Prem Kha­try, the inspi­ra­tion was born out of a life lived to hon­or moun­tains. Raised in the remote Himalayan vil­lage of Gorkha, Prem devel­oped a love for nature which led him to the Nepalese tourism indus­try at age 15. After 8 years as a guide, Prem was ready to bring his own vision to life, and Ace the Himalaya was born.

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Oper­at­ing in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, from trekking, to moun­taineer­ing, raft­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, cul­tur­al tours, to vol­un­tourism, Ace con­nects explor­ers with their cho­sen paths. With an aver­age group size of eight clients to two guides, these expe­ri­ences are inti­mate and authen­tic. All guides are local and trained to strict standards.

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To cel­e­brate Ace the Himalaya, we’re high­light­ing four of their adven­ture offer­ings. Hike the clas­sic route to Ever­est Base Camp, trek the spec­tac­u­lar Anna­pur­na Cir­cuit, heli-tour the Himalayas, or raft, moun­tain bike, and paraglide your way through Nepal. Expe­ri­ence a beau­ti­ful cor­ner of the world while sup­port­ing a grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion. There’s no bet­ter time to go than now.

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For more infor­ma­tion on Clymb Adven­tures, check out our page here.

We want­ed to take a moment and hon­or the many thou­sands of our mem­bers that have trav­elled with us along the way, whether it’s sup­port­ing the best brands in the out­door indus­try or explor­ing the world on extra­or­di­nary human-pow­ered adven­tures. We, more than ever, are com­mit­ted to con­tin­ue to offer com­pelling oppor­tu­ni­ties for adven­ture trav­el where you can explore, make a dif­fer­ence, and have ball.

In that spir­it, here’s a lit­tle more about WHY we do what we do.rafting

OUR PURPOSE AND PASSION IS TO:

INCREASE THE WELL-BEING OF THE PLANET AND INHABITANTS BY INSPIRING HUMAN POWERED ADVENTURE. It’s our com­pa­ny’s mis­sion, we are com­mit­ted to help­ing you get out and explore: from your back­yard, to the far­thest cor­ners of our amaz­ing plan­et. We believe in human-pow­ered adven­ture. Trekking, cycling, kayak­ing, hik­ing, raft­ing, skiing—so many ways to con­nect, prac­tice a craft, try some­thing new. Ulti­mate­ly, explore and feel alive.

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MAKE ADVENTURE TRAVEL MORE AFFORDABLE. Let’s face it, adven­ture trav­el is often way over­priced. The aver­age price per day of our com­peti­tors is often $350+. Our aver­age price per day is around $150 or less. We believe that amaz­ing adven­tures should be avail­able to all. It’s not about being the cheap­est, it’s about offer­ing great val­ue. We are com­mit­ted to nego­ti­at­ing the best pos­si­ble rates for you in order to low­er the finan­cial bar­ri­er to GO. New lux­u­ry is authen­tic­i­ty and access, not thread count and stars.

SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIES. Often in mass tourism, as much as 90% of trip costs go to a cor­po­ra­tion oper­at­ing out­side the coun­try vis­it­ed. Adven­ture trav­el is the inverse, and we work hard to ensure that the lion’s share of trip costs go direct­ly to the local economies and peo­ple we visit.

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BE A FORCE FOR GOOD. We can vote with our dol­lars and sup­port: sus­tain­abil­i­ty, con­ser­va­tion and the idea of help­ing great places to vis­it also be great places to live. By work­ing with small­er, local oper­a­tors, we ensure that the mon­ey is going to local peo­ple and com­pa­nies, who are on the front lines of pro­tect­ing nature, cul­ture, and place.

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LASTLY,

Because, Awe­some. This is not our job, it’s our voca­tion. We are part of a glob­al tribe that believes that we need mean­ing­ful trav­el expe­ri­ences more than ever and the con­text that we gain from our expe­ri­ences makes our lives and that of those around us richer.

Join us. It is with­in your reach. For in the end, the only regret we will have, is hav­ing not gone.

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“And if trav­el is like love, it is, in the end, most­ly because it’s a height­ened state of aware­ness, in which we are mind­ful, recep­tive, undimmed by famil­iar­i­ty and ready to be trans­formed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, nev­er real­ly end.” Pico Iyer


To take a Clymb Adven­ture, check out our Adven­ture Trav­el page here. 

I’m sit­ting on my porch on the first day of spring. Gar­den flow­ers are already bloom­ing. Leaf-out is begin­ning in the wilds. Light is stretch­ing more into the evening. But to real­ly appre­ci­ate the explo­sion of nature that’s hap­pen­ing, watch for these signs that spring is real­ly here and sum­mer is on the way.

©istockphoto/VladimirKoganReturn of the Osprey (ear­ly April)
The Camel­lias in my yard bloom ear­ly, but spring isn’t real­ly here until the Osprey shows up. The West­’s pre­mier fish-eat­ing rap­tor, they cruise in from their win­ter­ing grounds in South Amer­i­ca right around April Fools Day. Osprey are beau­ti­ful birds with a loud, pierc­ing call, and they’re not shy around peo­ple, so it’s obvi­ous when they return. You’ll see them soar­ing above rivers and lakes, and build­ing big nests on trees, phone poles, riv­er chan­nel mark­ers and any­thing else with a good van­tage point near water.

©istockphoto/PDidsayabutraThe Gorge Explodes in Col­or (April-May)
The Colum­bia Gorge is one of the worlds’ most unique land­forms and it also hosts one some of the best wild­flower explo­sions in the world. The bloom—which includes sev­er­al species that occur nowhere else in the world—happens in phas­es and moves east to west. The first half of May is usu­al­ly the peak. Hikes com­bine a work­out, spec­tac­u­lar vis­tas and catch­ing our breath while fig­ur­ing out the dif­fer­ence between Colum­bia desert pars­ley and Slen­der-fruit­ed desert pars­ley. Clas­sic hikes are Dog Moun­tain, Cather­ine Creek, and Tom McCall Preserve.

©istockphoto/Sam CampThe John Day Riv­er (May-June)
The plea­sures of a desert riv­er are many. The John Day, Oregon’s longest free-flow­ing riv­er, com­bines vir­tu­al­ly all of them into one trip: cur­rents that whisk you along, camps that com­bine great riv­er-watch­ing with hikes to vis­tas above the riv­er, tall cliffs and deep canyons, soli­tude and rap­tors and bighorn sheep. And this year, with a decent snow­pack, the riv­er will actu­al­ly have water in it. Ser­vice Creek to Clarno Bridge and Clarno Bridge to Cot­ton­wood are the clas­sic runs. The low­er run includes Clarno Rapid, the most dif­fi­cult rapid on the low­er John Day, but it can be portaged. Be pre­pared to get a per­mit online and pack out human waste.

©istockphoto/ AndyworksLife in the Heron Now (April-June)
Ever since it got plopped onto the label of one of Portland’s first craft breweries—Bridgeport’s Blue Heron Ale—the gan­g­ly, croaky, pho­to­genic Great Blue Heron has been both the city’s unof­fi­cial and offi­cial bird (it also appears on the city seal). Herons nest in mas­sive rook­eries around the city. The most famous rook­ery is on the north end of Ross Island, vis­i­ble via a short pad­dle from down­town. Herons also nest at the tech cam­pus­es on 185th, the apt­ly named Heron Lakes Golf Course and at Jack­son Bot­tom Wet­lands. Cohab­i­ta­tions of herons and egrets can also be vis­it­ed by canoe on the north shore of Bybee Lake in North Port­land, and at Reed Island near Washou­gal, WA. Watch­ing adults sit­ting on nests and bring­ing food to the hun­gry hordes of cack­ling young is a Port­land tradition.

©istockphoto/FRANKHILDEBRANDUrban High Fliers (April – July)
The return of Pere­grine Fal­cons to Port­land is a heart­warm­ing sto­ry about wildlife in the City. And not just return­ing: shack­ing up, rais­ing kids and thriv­ing in the urban envi­ron­ment. After rebound­ing from the effects of DDT, Pere­grine Fal­cons began nest­ing on the Fre­mont Bridge in 1994. They have set up oth­er nests on bridges, sky­scrap­ers, and cliffs in the area. Like humans, birds find that rais­ing kids in the city comes with a set of chal­lenges: traf­fic, expo­sure to pol­lu­tion and inter­ac­tions with every­thing from news heli­copters to young that stum­ble into big events at Water­front Park while they’re learn­ing to fly. Port­land Audubon Society’s Pere­grine Watch has helped pro­tect nests and young from haz­ards or urban life. In addi­tion to the Pere­grine, a pair of bald eagles has been rais­ing kids on a nest in the Ross Island lagoon. Pad­dlers should stay 50 feet back from the nest until the mid­dle of July.

©istockphoto/PaulTessierWacky War­blers (May-June)
War­blers are among the most col­or­ful and intrigu­ing birds that pass through dur­ing migra­tion. They’re also a chal­lenge for out­door lovers to learn and iden­ti­fy, but the rewards are worth it. They tend to flit about in the tops of trees, and there are enough of them that it can be hard to tell a Wilson’s war­bler from a Her­mit War­bler until you learn them—but at least they’re col­or­ful and dra­mat­ic-look­ing. Nerd up on these bright and flighty fowl with Port­land Audubon Soci­ety’s class­es and soon you’ll be a full-fledged twitcher.

©istockphoto/Frank LeungWhen the Var­ied Go Away (May-June)
In the Willamette Val­ley low­lands and on the coast, most morn­ings you’ll hear a dra­mat­ic high flut­ing sound that sounds more like it belongs on the moors of Scot­land than the rain­forests of the Pacif­ic North­west. It’s a Var­ied Thrush, a cousin of the Robin, first described to mod­ern sci­ence by Lewis and Clark. When they leave the Val­ley it’s a sign that spring is about to turn into full-blown sum­mer. Where do they go? Up. Var­ied Thrush­es are ver­ti­cal migrants: they leave the low­lands for the fir and hem­lock forests of the high cas­cades, arriv­ing there soon before the snow melts off the hik­ing trails. It’s a sure sign that you’ll soon be head­ed for the high coun­try too.

The West Wind Blows (June)
When the west wind starts to blow through up the Colum­bia from the coast to the Gorge, it’s a sign that you’re in for full-on sum­mer. The result of greater warmth in east­ern Ore­gon than in Port­land cre­ates the flow of air through the Gorge, cre­at­ing the nuclear-force winds that wind­surfers, kite­board­ers, and rough-water sea kayak­ers love. The same thing hap­pens on the Low­er Colum­bia fur­ther west as the Willamette Val­ley heats up: air flows from Asto­ria and the Coast up to the Colum­bia to Port­land. This is great news for the wind­surfers at Jones Beach west of Rainier. It’s bad news if you’re com­plet­ing one of the Northwest’s pre­mier pad­dle jour­neys: the Low­er Colum­bia Water Trail from Port­land to the sea. That’s a trip for May before the west wind stops your progress downriver.

©istockphoto/imcarlosFor many, it’s the ulti­mate night­mare: sink­ing ever deep­er into the abyss, ’til you’re so far below the sur­face that no pen­e­trat­ing day­light can illu­mi­nate the way. It’s just you, unpro­tect­ed, in a watery, alien world. For oth­ers, it’s the ulti­mate test of phys­i­cal sta­mi­na, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­quer a realm nor­mal­ly reserved for finned creatures.

Free­d­iv­ing is many things to many peo­ple. What­ev­er its ulti­mate goal, the sport has the pow­er to trans­form its par­tic­i­pants and con­nect them with some of the human body’s most aston­ish­ing capabilities.

Acti­vat­ing the Mas­ter Switch of Life
Free­d­ivers slip into the water unen­cum­bered by oxy­gen tanks or oth­er gear and kick until they begin to sink with appar­ent ease, an eerie sight doc­u­ment­ed in the video below of div­er Guil­laume Nery in the Bahamas.

How do they do it? Human beings don’t seem built for hold­ing their breath upwards of 10 min­utes. But with train­ing, divers have indeed accom­plished this feat. Our phys­i­ol­o­gy takes care of us in the water if only we learn how to mar­shal it.

When the human body is sub­merged in water, a process called periph­er­al vaso­con­stric­tion trig­gers blood to begin flow­ing from the limbs to the vital organs, giv­ing the brain and heart an oxy­gen boost that makes pos­si­ble the wild stunt of sub­merg­ing your­self to the depths.

Swedish-born researcher Per Scholan­der termed the phe­nom­e­non the “Mas­ter Switch of Life”. Free­d­ivers flip that switch and become one with the water.

Com­pet­i­tive Freediving
There are three main events in the sport of freediving:

  • Con­stant weight (CWT): the div­er uses a monofin and their own phys­i­cal pow­er to reach a cer­tain depth and back to surface
  • Con­stant Weight No Fins (CNF): the div­er uses only arms and legs, unas­sist­ed by fins
  • Free Immer­sion (FIM): the div­er pulls her­self down on a weight­ed line then back up to the surface

Many divers con­sid­er CNF the purest vari­ety. The cur­rent record for CNF—over 331 feet— is held by William Trubridge of New Zealand.

While the sport gives ath­letes an unmatched oppor­tu­ni­ty to become one with the ocean, it’s also dan­ger­ous. Pass­ing out cold or sur­fac­ing with blood bub­bling from your mouth and a glazed, unre­spon­sive expres­sion are very real pos­si­bil­i­ties in this sport.

Free­d­iv­ing for the Sake of Science
Free­d­iv­ing gives sci­en­tists and con­ser­va­tion­ists a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act with the marine world. Sci­en­tists decked out in div­ing gear, masks and tanks can dis­rupt the nat­ur­al behav­iors of the ani­mals they study. A human wear­ing noth­ing more inva­sive than a fin can get a lot clos­er and more per­son­al in pur­suit of research.

For­mer com­pet­i­tive div­er Han­li Prinsloo holds sev­er­al free­d­iv­ing records in South Africa. But Prinsloo chose to focus on teach­ing div­ing as a way to immerse him­self in and appre­ci­ate the ocean environment.

Mean­while, divers with Project DAREWIN are using their skills to study marine mam­mal communication.

Plac­ing Our­selves in Our Environment
Whether for pride of com­pe­ti­tion or for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the life and rhythm of the ocean, free­d­iv­ing is an expe­ri­ence unlike any oth­er. Turn­ing your body over to the force of the ocean might be the ulti­mate act of trust, but it’s also the ulti­mate act of con­nec­tion: con­nec­tion to the world around us and con­nec­tion to the capa­bil­i­ties of our own mirac­u­lous physiology.

Note: For an awe­some primer on Free­d­iv­ing, check out Deep: Free­d­iv­ing, Rene­gade Sci­ence, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Our­selves, by James Nestor.

While every­one can ben­e­fit from own­ing the items and skills on this list, this one was put togeth­er with the ladies in mind. Many of us out­door women were intro­duced to our more rugged pur­suits by the men in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need to be depen­dent on them. It’s easy to let a guy take charge and be respon­si­ble for the items below, but it’s so much more reward­ing to have our own gear and know how to han­dle it ourselves.

There are women and girls who cer­tain­ly break this mold, but many of us grew up in a cul­ture that con­di­tioned us to defer to the exper­tise of a man­ly man when it comes to any­thing sports relat­ed. Here’s a list of sev­er­al must-haves for a seri­ous out­door­swoman inter­est­ed in gain­ing more trust and lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence. If you want to feel capa­ble, con­fi­dent and inde­pen­dent in the out­doors, stop bum­ming the gear and skills from the guys and get your own. 

Pock­et Knife
Whether we are spread­ing peanut but­ter or prepar­ing ban­dages for a lit­tle back­coun­try first aid, we def­i­nite­ly need our own pock­et knife. It’s com­mon to slide under the radar with this one for a long time because it’s an easy item to bor­row from a fel­low camper. Hav­ing a trusty knife, how­ev­er, sends a mes­sage to every­one else in your group that you are self-suf­fi­cient and wor­thy of their respect. This small item is a sig­nif­i­cant one in build­ing the self-con­fi­dence of an expert woodswoman. 

Tent
All out­doorsy ladies should have the full camp­ing set up, from sleep­ing pad to head­lamp, but even though I had all that for years, it wasn’t until I bought my own tent that I felt tru­ly inde­pen­dent on camp­ing trips. Being depen­dent on the rest of your par­ty, whether it’s one per­son or a whole group, to bring a reli­able tent with enough room for you to squeeze into can be risky. A mem­o­rable back­pack­ing trip I went on a few years back involved the split­ting up of the group gear only to real­ize when we went to set up camp that the tent poles had nev­er made it into a pack. The expe­ri­ence left me deter­mined to be more proac­tive in mak­ing sure I am ful­ly pre­pared for an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence and taught me to not blind­ly trust mem­bers of my group to have what I need.

Snacks
This may seem pret­ty basic, but it’s impor­tant! How many of us ladies have set out with an apple and trail mix only to be insane­ly jeal­ous of your hik­ing com­pan­ion’s jerky and PB&J after a long climb? Or how about the same sit­u­a­tion in reverse, when your body craved some healthy treats and all you brought were processed snacks? The point is, know what fuels your body and the amount of food you need to con­sume for any giv­en amount of exercise. 

First Aid Kit and Skills
Invest­ing in a small kit is a great idea. An even bet­ter idea is tak­ing a basic First Aid and CPR class. Feel free to take it a step fur­ther even, and get your­self WFA or WFER cer­ti­fied. If you feel pre­pared to han­dle any sit­u­a­tion that might be thrown your way, you will have a huge burst of con­fi­dence on your next out­door adven­ture. Your group will val­ue your exper­tise and be thank­ful to have you around. This step is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ladies who feel out of their ele­ment and ner­vous about being in the outdoors.

Basic Knots
If you don’t know when you would use a granny knot instead of a fig­ure eight fol­low through, I would sug­gest grab­bing a line, doing a quick google search and prac­tic­ing some basic knot tying skills. While expe­ri­ence with knots is more help­ful for cer­tain sports than oth­ers, it nev­er hurts to have that knowl­edge handy. You might want to rig a ham­mock or hoist your food in the air to pro­tect it from crea­tures who might want a nib­ble, and noth­ing makes you feel more capa­ble than whip­ping out a com­pli­cat­ed knot that you can trust to hold. This skill can also be essen­tial in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that are hope­ful­ly few and far between. There are always oppor­tu­ni­ties to show off and impress the peo­ple around you by being a knot expert. 

Com­pass, GPS and/or A Good Sense of Direction
I’ll admit that aside from the apps I use on my iPhone, the only one of these three that I cur­rent­ly pos­sess is the last. It’s easy to rely on the more expe­ri­enced or nat­ur­al lead­ers in any group to step up and take charge on the trail, but I try to mem­o­rize land­marks, trail junc­tions, names, and any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant details when I’m out­doors. Like the rest of the items on this list, a good sense of direc­tion is some­thing that will facil­i­tate a grow­ing trust in your­self and your own capa­bil­i­ties. Make an effort to be more self-reliant and you will reap the benefits. 

Invest­ing in your own gear allows you to be respon­si­ble for your own expe­ri­ence in the out­doors. It makes you more self-reliant and con­fi­dent, allow­ing you to progress in your cho­sen sport or pas­time far greater than you can in bor­rowed or rent­ed equipment. 

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©istockphoto/aimintangEvery­one loves a moun­tain town. Whether you’ve been there once or every week­end since you were 13, there’s that one place you dream about being when you’re stuck in traf­fic dur­ing your morn­ing com­mute or work­ing over­time at the office. You dream about leav­ing the city behind and mov­ing to the moun­tains con­stant­ly, but some­thing holds you back until one day, you just pick a date in your cal­en­dar, book a U‑Haul and start packing.

That’s what I did any­way. I left my job at a Seat­tle-based tech com­pa­ny and head­ed to the Sier­ra Neva­da moun­tains because they are clos­er to my fam­i­ly, remind me of my child­hood, and just make me hap­py. And I def­i­nite­ly don’t regret it.

Moun­tain towns aren’t for everyone—if you read every­thing above this point and think it sounds nice but don’t want to sac­ri­fice the ameni­ties of city liv­ing, you prob­a­bly should hold onto that desk job. I miss good (and cheap) pho, reli­able pub­lic tran­sit, buy­ing a car­ton of eggs for less than $5, art muse­ums, year-round farm­ers mar­kets, and a few oth­er urban ameni­ties, but hon­est­ly it’s hard for me to come up with a long list of things that I loved about liv­ing in the city. 

On the oth­er hand, the list of things I love about liv­ing in the moun­tains is endless. 

The Perks
The biggest draw to liv­ing in a moun­tain town is, of course, the moun­tains. Ski­ing, hik­ing, pad­dling, cycling…you name it and it’s prob­a­bly pret­ty acces­si­ble. One of my pre­vi­ous jobs in the city had some great perks. They paid for half of my gym mem­ber­ship and gave me a GoPro as a Christ­mas bonus. A giant perk I have now that I didn’t then, how­ev­er, is a world-class resort des­ti­na­tion right out my front door.  I’ll take the moun­tain lifestyle over a few more thou­sands of dol­lars a year any day. 

The Peo­ple
Sure, some of the peo­ple can be a lit­tle bit elit­ist about locals vs. tourists or even tran­sients vs. full-time res­i­dents, but for the most part I con­nect right away with the peo­ple I meet. We all chose a cer­tain lifestyle and most like­ly have at least one pas­sion in com­mon, whether it’s the envi­ron­ment, an out­door sport, or the love of a good brew. As a rel­a­tive new­bie to my town, I have found that many peo­ple are quick to offer advice about where to go hik­ing, what back roads are best to take on stormy days and when to avoid the gro­cery stores on big tourist week­ends. The first win­ter I lived here, a kind stranger even went so far as to back my car out of a slip­pery snow­bank for me when she saw me struggling.

The Com­mu­ni­ty
There are a lot of tran­sient work­ers who come through town dur­ing the peak sea­son, which makes locals hes­i­tant to put them­selves out there. When I first moved here, one of my new friends con­fessed that she was scared to make new friends because so many of hers had moved away. Locals get tired of the folks who come to town to par­ty for a win­ter and then take off. 

The flip side of this is that the peo­ple who are real­ly invest­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty are very well-con­nect­ed and appre­cia­tive of each oth­er. My advice if you are ready to com­mit to being there long-term: seek out non­prof­its and com­mu­ni­ty groups. Vol­un­teer and learn about issues that face your com­mu­ni­ty. I have also found the gym to be a sur­pris­ing­ly good place to do a lit­tle net­work­ing. Be obvi­ous about your inter­est in carv­ing out a life for your­self in the moun­tains and stay­ing long-term. Trust me, being part of a small moun­tain com­mu­ni­ty is a great and reward­ing thing. 

©istockphoto/DOUGBERRYThe Out­door Lifestyle
Both the peo­ple, the com­mu­ni­ty, and the nat­ur­al sur­round­ings of my town inspire me to push myself and grow much more than if I was just an occa­sion­al week­end war­rior. All of the peo­ple who make their lives here do so because they are devot­ed to an active, out­door lifestyle (ear­li­er I men­tioned net­work­ing at the gym, but trails and slopes also do the trick!). The peo­ple I have met in my moun­tain town inspire me to try new sports, to be more fit and to chal­lenge myself as an out­door athlete.

Being a Lady
My moun­tain town doesn’t quite have as stark of an inequal­i­ty between the num­ber of men and women who make their home here as some ski des­ti­na­tions, but I will admit the odds are in my favor. Plus, the men I meet in the moun­tains are the type that don’t seem to mind when I for­get to put on make­up or walk around town in work­out leg­gings. When we hang out, we skin up or shred. We go for a ride or grab a beer. The guys here are inter­est­ed in girls who like spend­ing time with them out­doors, and I am def­i­nite­ly okay with that.

Being a Local
I’ll admit it, I love strik­ing up a con­ver­sa­tion on a chair­lift, being asked where I’m from and answer­ing, “Here!” with a giant, smug grin on my face. Because every time I see that jeal­ous look from a tourist, I can’t help but feel like I am liv­ing everyone’s dream. 

I pitched the Juniper 2 in a juniper grove entire­ly by acci­dent. Myself, and a buy­er at The Clymb, Brett Cas­sidy, were camp­ing at the Deschutes Riv­er and we had the good for­tune to give these new 180 South tents that are exclu­sive to The Clymb a tri­al run.

front-Ponderosa_4_One_3-sourceThe world-famous salmonfly hatch was on, and a cur­so­ry glance at the river­bank grass revealed these thumb-sized bugs in abun­dance. I was anx­ious to wet my line, so I jumped out of the car, assem­bled my rod, and hit the riv­er push­ing the chores of set­ting up camp until later.

On the riv­er, I caught fish, lost fish, and had one behe­moth strike from beneath a log that I’ll nev­er for­get. When I walked back the trail toward camp the sun had set behind the canyon rim. It wasn’t ful­ly dark yet but I could see an LED lantern glow­ing from inside the Pon­derosa 4. Brett was inside chill­ing in a camp chair read­ing Blood Merid­i­an with his mas­sive Swiss Moun­tain Dog, Bazzers, look­ing out the mesh win­dow with his huge gar­goyle head.

Brett set up the Pon­derosa 4 by him­self. He didn’t have the rain fly cov­er­ing the tent since there were only stars and no clouds in the sky above. I grabbed a chair and sat in the tent and told Brett sto­ries of all the fish that I did and did not catch. Inside, the Pon­derosa felt like an out­door liv­ing room. A cool juniper-scent­ed breeze blew through the four over­sized mesh win­dows on the tent’s side­walls. The inte­ri­or was roomy, even with Brett and I sit­ting in camp chairs along­side the largest pup­py you’ve ever seen sprawled out on his dog bed. We cracked a beer and drank it before I head­ed out to set up the Juniper 2.

I searched about in the dark for a place to pitch the Juniper 2 and found a flat spot beside the riv­er in a juniper grove. The moon had risen over the canyon wall and I opt­ed to attempt a moon­lit set­up to avoid get­ting dive­bombed in the face by bugs if I turned on my head­lamp. The first thing that made the set­up easy was that the entire frame of the tent is essen­tial­ly one long con­nect­ed pole. So even though it was my first time, and it was in the dark, I had no prob­lem fig­ur­ing out how to set it up. The frame’s con­struc­tion is a sim­ple, effi­cient, no frills design that seems like will with­stand years of hard use.

Over­all, we were real­ly impressed with the 180 South tents. I’d high­ly rec­om­mend the Pon­derosa 4 as a base­camp tent and the Juniper 2 as a back­pack­ing tent. Each one was easy to set­up and had dimen­sions per­fect­ly suit­ed to their intend­ed use.

Margot Talbot and Michael O'Donnell
Mar­got Tal­bot and War­ren Mac­don­ald  at the Port­land Alpine Fest

Mar­go Tal­bot is a writer and climber who lives in the south­ern inte­ri­or of British Colum­bia. She has com­pet­ed in a num­ber of climb­ing com­pe­ti­tions, includ­ing the ESPN X‑Games and the Ouray Inter­na­tion­al Ice Fes­ti­val. A spon­sored ath­lete with Out­door Research, she also guides for Chicks with Picks and runs an adven­ture guid­ing com­pa­ny for women, The Glit­ter Girls. She recent­ly gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on how ice climb­ing empow­ered her to heal her­self from a life­time of drug addic­tion and sui­ci­dal depression.


The Clymb: As an accom­plished ice climb­ing instruc­tor and men­tor who strug­gled with depres­sion and addic­tion for years, you’re work­ing hard to use climb­ing to help peo­ple heal them­selves. How do you see ice climb­ing as a metaphor for liv­ing a healthy life?

Mar­go Tal­bot: For one, not all ice is cre­at­ed equal. When you try to swing your axe into a chunk of chan­de­lier ice, it’s real­ly hard to get a sol­id pur­chase you can trust. Nav­i­gat­ing life with the effects of child­hood trau­ma or sui­ci­dal depres­sion is sim­i­lar to nav­i­gat­ing chan­de­lier ice — you nev­er feel like you have a sol­id foun­da­tion beneath you. The best thing you can do is help your­self devel­op in ways you nev­er did as a child.

Also, ice climbers are noth­ing with­out the right tools. We bring the axes, cram­pons, rope and screws we need to pro­tect our­selves from a ground fall–the equiv­a­lent of rock bot­tom. The best thing peo­ple suf­fer­ing from men­tal health or depres­sion can do for them­selves is get them­selves the sup­port sys­tem they need to keep them­selves from tak­ing repeat­ed ‘ground­falls’. Rock bot­tom can be a per­fect turn­around point for some peo­ple but for oth­ers it’s a slip­pery slope into oblivion.

Last­ly, ice climb­ing brings you into the present moment. It’s an exer­cise in mind­ful­ness and a mov­ing medi­a­tion. Depres­sion is defined as being caught up in the pain of the past and anx­i­ety is fear of future events. The obvi­ous anti­dote to both of these is being in the pre­set moment. That’s hard to do with unre­solved trau­ma inside of your body, but the best thing to do is to try not to numb the pain, instead be present with the pain and move through to the oth­er side. To heal yourself.


The Clymb: What is the most impor­tant life les­son you’ve gained from ice climbing?

Mar­go Tal­bot: Climb­ing taught me to trust myself and trust life. With the right tools and tech­niques, you’ll find that you can progress your life upward one move at a time. You can’t know every part of a route, you just trust that you’ll have the skill and the tools to reach your desired goal.


The Clymb: Dur­ing your bat­tle with drugs and depres­sion you describe life as “… mono­chro­mat­ic, devoid of colour or bright­ness. There was no beau­ty in the world, only pain and suf­fer­ing. I felt this inside myself, and I saw it reflect­ed every­where in the word.” How did you even­tu­al­ly learn to heal yourself?

Mar­go Tal­bot: I saw the con­nec­tion between the pain that was stored inside of me and the thoughts and feel­ings I was har­bor­ing as a result of this. I decid­ed that at a cer­tain point I was the one who was per­pet­u­at­ing the pain, because the caus­es for it had been removed from the time I left home. This rever­sal in my think­ing, that rather than the pain com­ing from the out­side in was now being trans­mit­ted from the inside out, was a key step in mov­ing for­ward. I decid­ed that I need­ed to own my life up to that point, and every­thing in it, in order to begin the heal­ing process. As long as I saw myself a vic­tim of the cir­cum­stances of my life, I was going to feel pow­er­less to do any­thing about it. This shift in my think­ing would be cru­cial to mov­ing beyond my painful past, to go from stand­ing at the base of the climb to step­ping onto the ice and ven­tur­ing upward.

At the age of 37, I topped out of my climb out of depres­sion. It’s a mir­a­cle to me to wake up depres­sion and anx­i­ety free every­day. I would­n’t will depres­sion on my worst ene­my but I will say that I learned more from that state than I could with­out it and that’s because look­ing back over expe­ri­ences that are labeled a dis­ease by our cul­ture, all I see is the archi­tec­tur­al beau­ty of the blue­print of my own psy­che. Every­thing that hap­pened to me was tai­lor made for my own heal­ing jour­ney and I learned that we are all equipped with the tools to heal our emo­tion­al trau­ma if we can stop the distraction.


The Clymb: As a respect­ed author, speak­er and climb­ing advo­cate, you’re quick­ly gain­ing noto­ri­ety as a female role mod­el in a male dom­i­nat­ed sport. Did you have any women role mod­els when you were learn­ing to climb?

Mar­go Tal­bot: One month before I got bust­ed I was leaf­ing through a climb­ing mag­a­zine and I found this incred­i­ble image of a woman climber named Kit­ty Cal­houn. I looked up to her a lot as a climber and a woman. Dur­ing my first two years of ice climb­ing, I did­n’t run into many women ice climbers and I always won­dered if there was a way to lure more women into the sport. I heard about a gal in Col­orado named Kim Reynolds who ran Chicks with Picks. She heard about some of the work I was doing with all female clin­ics and called me to see if I would come teach some clin­ics for her. When I showed up I real­ized that I was teach­ing right along­side my idol, Kit­ty Cal­houn. That was twen­ty years ago and I am hap­py to say that some of the strongest rela­tion­ships I’ve formed to this day are with the women I met through Chicks with Picks.


The Clymb: Did you ever tell Kit­ty she was such an impor­tant role mod­el for you?

Mar­go Tal­bot: I always want­ed to go up to Kit­ty and tell her my sto­ry about her being my role mod­el before I was thrown in jail and the drugs and every­thing but I nev­er did because my past used to be a maze of care­ful­ly hid­den secrets. But then in the Fall of 2009 I began writ­ing my book, All that Glit­ters. Many peo­ple have asked me why I decid­ed to write the book when I could have kept my past a secret. I want­ed to give a voice to my depres­sion because it was some­thing I lived with so inti­mate­ly for so many decades that it actu­al­ly feels like a best friend. I want­ed to help remove the stig­mas we have in our cul­ture towards men­tal ill­ness, sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies and drug addic­tion. But most of all, I want­ed peo­ple to know that there is hope. That even in the depths of dark­ness, humans have come through seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble situations.

I’m a home­town boy. I did­n’t learn to cut turns from a lat­te-clutch­ing ski instruc­tor, and I’ve nev­er stayed in a pres­i­den­tial suite. I like good snow and I hate long lift lines. Due to the sky­rock­et­ing price of admis­sion to many resorts across the nation, I’ve ditched the chair­lifts for a more ana­log approach: boot-pack­ing back­coun­try bliss.

Accord­ing to the Den­ver Post, vis­its to Col­orado’s ski areas fell 9.8 per­cent last sea­son, mak­ing it the third-worst sea­son in the past twen­ty years. The lat­est report from SnowS­ports Indus­tries Amer­i­ca (SIA) weaves a sim­i­lar tale of inim­itable demise. Despite much bet­ter snow­fall totals than the pre­vi­ous sea­son with some resorts clos­ing lat­er than nor­mal, only an esti­mat­ed 15.6 mil­lion folks bit the bul­let last year. Along these lines, the Den­ver Bus­ni­ness Jour­nal report­ed 57.1 mil­lion vis­i­tors through­out the sea­son. Now, the way SIA crunch­es their num­bers reflects one per­son ski­ing mul­ti­ple times through­out the sea­son, while the DBJ report is mere­ly mass num­bers. It’s a tricky lit­tle num­ber infla­tion trick that the indus­try prefers.

Regard­less, “The num­ber of new skiers is drop­ping off about 3 per­cent a year; peo­ple aren’t going back and try­ing it as much…Snowboarders that went about 7.5 days a year 15 years ago are going less than 6 days a year,” Ed Sealover with the DBJ told the Den­ver Post.

My lit­tle home­town resort, Hogadon Ski Area in Casper, WY is fac­ing the same fate—a mix­ture of errat­ic snow­pack, ris­ing oper­a­tional costs, and all of that on top of mil­lions of dol­lars of ren­o­va­tions. While most resorts are pri­vate­ly owned and rely on retail and upscale lodg­ing to shoul­der some of the finan­cial bur­den, many small­er moun­tains are being crushed.

When White Pine Ski Resort in Pinedale, WY was on the brink of clo­sure, local busi­ness own­ers stepped in to save it. A sim­i­lar sto­ry in Ter­race, British Colum­bia forced the local pow­der­hounds to step in and con­vert the moun­tain into a non-prof­it co-op. When the moun­tain faced clo­sure, the town banned togeth­er to form what would be the My Moun­tain Co-Op, who offi­cial­ly runs the moun­tain as of last year.

Shames Moun­tain is a mod­est affair eschew­ing the restau­rants, bars, and din­ing for the sim­plic­i­ty of pur­su­ing the piste. It has two chair­lifts, a tow bar, and a base lodge where you can buy food and drink and hire equip­ment, but with 480 inch­es of snow a year, few are complaining.

The Moun­tain Rid­ers Alliance is try­ing a sim­i­lar mod­el on our slopes. MRA has been work­ing with Maine’s Mt. Abram since 2010 and, in 2013, began man­ag­ing the ski area oper­a­tions. Mt. Abram has been in oper­a­tion since 1960, offer­ing 51 trails and 1,150 ver­ti­cal feet over 560 acres. In 2012, it was the sec­ond ski area to install E/V Charg­ers and received a USDA REAP Grant to install a large solar array, cre­at­ing its own ener­gy on site. With­out the man­age­ment of  coop­er­a­tive own­er­ship these ren­o­va­tions would not be pos­si­ble because the resort would not exist.

While the decline of large resorts makes the future of ski­ing in Amer­i­ca some­what fog­gy, it’s uplift­ing to see com­mu­ni­ties step in and com­bine their resources in an effort to keep their shred.

7 Best Dirtbag Resorts

Hav­ing trou­ble ski­ing on a dime? Here are the sev­en best dirt­bag resorts for skiers and snow­board­ers who need mon­ey for ramen:

Jay Peak
Most folks trav­el a long way to ski here for good rea­son. It has the MOST snow in the North­east thanks to the Jay Cloud and the micro-cli­mate cre­at­ed by the pass. While Stowe also boasts great Back and Side Coun­try access, the lines are way too long, the tick­ets are expen­sive and the trees are often tight. At Jay, the lines are short, the tick­ets are cheap, and there’s sim­ply noth­ing quite like pulling high speed GS turns in thigh deep pow­der deep in the woods. If you learn the moun­tain you can eas­i­ly spend the day ski­ing pow­der turns all day even a few days after a good storm.

Bear Moun­tain
Big Bear Moun­tain Resorts is actu­al­ly two ski areas: Bear Moun­tain and Snow Sum­mit. A dual moun­tain pass pro­vides access to both and a shut­tle ser­vice is pro­vid­ed between the two ski areas. They can’t quite com­pare to Mam­moth or Tahoe Resorts but, if you’re in SoCal and want  to ski 30 plus days a year, Big Bear is hands down the best choice. Bear Moun­tain appeals more to the 20 some­thing crowd and though it wel­comes both skiers and board­ers, most of the resort is ded­i­cat­ed park ter­rain. Lit­tle Sean White corked his first rodeo on these slopes and the bar is set high here, but if you  keep your flow you’ll be fine. Bear Moun­tain placed 33rd in Out­side Mag­a­zines 2012 top 40 nation­wide resort rank­ings and it’s a spot well deserved. 

Red Lodge
Red Lodge Moun­tain Resort is as much about the charm­ing town of Red Lodge at the base of the Beartooth High­way from Cooke City as it is the moun­tain itself, because Red Lodge has about the friend­liest peo­ple in the coun­try. Their $30 col­lege rate was hard to find any­where else, espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the qual­i­ty ski­ing they have. Red Lodge is the kind of resort that puts ski­ing above every­thing else. There’s no fan­cy lodge, but the lifts are great and the ter­rain var­ied.  This is one of the best resorts to take your first crack at hit­ting fea­tures in the ter­rain park.

Grand Targhee
For­get for a moment all those adver­tise­ments about Utah. The best snow in my opin­ion is in Wyoming. This is not the place for peo­ple who like to ski groomers though, as groomed runs are prac­ti­cal­ly non-exis­tent here. The locals don’t even show up unless there’s at least 10″ of fresh snow because it hap­pens so often. For pow­der hounds, this place is heav­en. Because of its remote­ness, very few peo­ple come here. Most peo­ple go to Jack­son hole, which is on the oth­er side of the moun­tain range, and does­n’t get all the good snow dumps like Grand Targhee. They get more than 500 inch­es of snow annu­al­ly and with over 2,200 ver­ti­cal feet, it’s hard to not nab your own first tracks.

Bridger Bowl
Bridger Bowl is renowned for its extreme inbounds ter­rain and its cold, super dry snow. Being on the east­ern side of the con­ti­nen­tal divide, snow qual­i­ty is deli­cious­ly dry, hence Bridger’s moniker ‘Ski the Cold Smoke’. The ski area is locat­ed on the east slope of the Bridger Range and extends 2 miles from the ridge­line down to the base area at 6,100’. Bridger Bowl is flanked by large bowls to the North and South. The name has a reason—most of the ski area offers wide open ter­rain with a vari­ety of land­scapes includ­ing long slopes, glades, chutes and gul­lies in addi­tion to oth­er small­er bowls.

Mount Shas­ta7 Best Dirtbag Resorts
With 1,390 feet of ver­ti­cal and fab­u­lous­ly groomed trails, Mount Shas­ta is a great place for any lev­el of ski­er or snow­board­er. They have the Rev­o­lu­tion Ter­rain Park and Super pipe, which is not for the faint of heart (a net­work of box­es and rails along with a 1,000 feet ver­ti­cal ter­rain run). Not only is Mount Shas­ta known for it’s great trails and ter­rain parks, but their gold medal learn­ing cen­ter which is con­sid­ered one of the finest in the indus­try. Whether you’re a begin­ner or advanced ski­er, there’s some­thing at Mount Shas­ta Ski Park for everyone.

Pow­der­horn
Nes­tled deep in the heart of the Grand Mesa on the sto­ried West­ern Slope of Col­orado, Pow­der­horn is a scenic, fam­i­ly-friend­ly resort fea­tur­ing 1,600 acres of ter­rain suit­ed to a vari­ety of abil­i­ties and pref­er­ences. Pow­der­horn is known for extend­ing excep­tion­al val­ue to each guest, thanks to improve­ments at the resort and moun­tain focused on cre­at­ing a one-of-a-kind, year-round expe­ri­ence. West­ern Col­orado is known for its wide-open spaces, dis­tinc­tive topog­ra­phy and friend­ly local res­i­dents. It is also rec­og­nized for its vine­yards, winer­ies and agri­cul­ture. The cli­mate allows for ski­ing or snow­board­ing in the morn­ing and play­ing a round of golf or enjoy­ing a hike or moun­tain bike ride in the after­noon. The options for explor­ing, both moun­tain and the Grand Mesa, are mind-boggling.