c.webber Author Carolyn Webber is a hiker, climber, snowboarder, and outdoor journalist from Sandy, UT. She’s a senior studying Journalism and Anthropology at the University of Utah and editor of Wasatch Magazine. She loves adventuring in the Wasatch and beyond year-round and is looking forward to taking on the Pacific Crest Trail with a backpack this summer.

Spice Up Your Next Adventure

We’ve all silently moaned while pulling out the contents of our food for a weekend backpacking trip. Oatmeal for breakfast, crackers and summer sausage for lunch, and mac and cheese for dinner. And then it’s the same thing the next day. If you want to treat your taste buds while on the trail, Mountain House has you covered. With its two new dehydrated meals — the Spicy Southwest Breakfast Hash and the Chicken Fajita Bowl — you will get unique flavors in each bite.

Blended to Perfection

Many dehydrated meals end up morphing flavors and textures to become a mushy casserole, but you can taste each ingredient in these two dishes — the corn, the shredded beef, and the perfect amount of green chilies. Plus, you’ll also get a mix of vegetables and meat, so each bite has more kick to it than all those mashed potatoes you’re usually chowing down. Ditch the Cholula. The breakfast hash has a few dashes of it already.

Energy Boosting

The breakfast hash provides 11 grams of protein per serving, and the fajita bowl has a whopping 20 grams of protein. After hiking, climbing, or paddling outside all day, it’s nice to give your muscles the recovery they need. They also have some healthy fats to replenish your body’s stores to keep you moving.

Versatile

Either eat the food straight from the package, load it into tortillas, or use it as a topping on crackers. It’s good any way you want to try it. Although one of the options has “breakfast” in its title, that shouldn’t limit your thinking. Eat either as a filler for breakfast burritos, or you can even a hot meal by the campfire at the end of the day.

Convenient

Each pouch weighs about 4 ounces, and it contains two servings. They are a little pricey (both are $8.99 before tax), but think about all the money and time you would have spent buying all the meat, spices, and veggies, dehydrating them, and packing that into Ziploc bags. Plus, these meals are compact, and they can fit into the tight corners of your backpack.

These two meals overall get a 4.5/5. They taste great, and they are easy to cook, but the price does tip me over the edge a little bit. For those wanting to switch up the flavors of their next outdoor trip, you might as well give them a try.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

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Editor’s Note

When you hear of someone bike touring Argentina, kayaking the Pacific Northwest, or climbing in the Caucuses, the initial response is an odd blend of jealousy and awe. You wonder how on Earth someone can blow off that much time and money to catch a dream we’ve all been chasing.

Everyone is finishing another school year, and some of us are finishing school for good (at least for now). Keeping to the typical projection of life, a job or internship will follow and we will evolve into weekend warriors, time permitting. We’ll read books like “Wild,” watch movies like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and say, “One day…”

I’ll be joining my cap and gown-clad peers in the conga line toward a handshake, smile, and a diploma next month, but I won’t be following them toward a job right off the bat. Instead, I am walking straight on- from Southern California to Canada in fact- on the Pacific Crest Trail. A whole 2,000 (ish) miles.

I’m not telling this to you to impress you or make you feel inferior, but to remind you that yes, it is possible to be that person. It doesn’t have to be a three-month excursion to an exotic country. Utah is beautiful enough that you could adventure here the rest of your life and never see it all. Whatever that outdoor dream of your’s is, go get ’em. Your body, mind and spirit will be forever grateful. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Carolyn Webber

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Natural Medicine: Mending Wounds Through Outdoor Adventure Therapy

Stepping foot onto the Bonneville Shoreline Trail on a sunny Saturday afternoon means running into about as many people as you would at the grocery store on Thanksgiving Eve. But instead of people frantically sprinting between aisles, eyeing their list to check off every item, you’ll see bikers, hikers, and runners with child-like grins, breathing the fresh air of the Wasatch foothills.

Few would deny that nature is good for the soul, especially in a state where outdoor recreation brings in $12 billion in consumer spending and generates 122,000 direct jobs. Utahns love spending time outdoors. But recently, researchers, medical professionals, and therapists are showing that there is more going  on in the body and brain than we might think, and they are beginning to see lasting effects on some patients.

UNPLUG AND REWIND 

David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, began to study the effects of nature on the brain a few years ago, after noticing changes in himself when going outdoors.

“If [you] go on a river trip or a backpacking trip and are away for a while, you start to really think differently. Your senses are recalibrated, you notice things that you didn’t notice before,” he says. Now, he brings his classes away from technology and into the wild every year, measuring electrical activity in the brain with EEG scanners. What did he find? Nature boosts problem solving abilities, creativity, sense of well-being, and decreases stress levels and blood pressure.

When we are outside, away from our smart phones and email and the constant nagging of tasks in the back of our minds, we can rest the part of the brain that controls multi-tasking. The prefrontal cortex, as it is called, is like a muscle. It needs to rest and heal in order to give 100 percent later on. The glucose and glycogen energy stores are restored when you can quiet this part of the brain and go to default mode. It’s not that your brain just slows down though. The brain is actually more active, but in separate areas, like those activated by meditation.

Strayer can prove nature’s healing properties on a screen, but he’s also seen it firsthand. Enrolled students in his “Cognition in Nature” courses are frequently those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq after being on military tours. These students are often quiet and separate from the class, disconnected from the rest. But, as the trip continues, he sees them inch closer to others during group time and participate more and more.

“In one case, we came back to class the day after we got back from the desert and we all thought, ‘Who’s this guy sitting in the class?’ He had shaved off his beard and completely transformed. These are amazing transformations, and it happens on a regular basis.”

HEALING OUTDOORS

Psychologists and therapists are begginning to catch on the trend. At the National Ability Center in Park City, Craig Bryan, executive director for the National Center for Veterans Studies, runs a therapy program for PTSD victims that combines trauma-focused therapy sessions in the morning and recreational activities in the afternoon. While outdoor recreation alone doesn’t often have long-term recovery effects, therapy sessions and the outdoors are the perfect match.

“We use these outdoor activities for people to do things that elevate their mood. We provide opportunities to challenge the core beliefs of our veterans. Many of them ony think ‘I’m a failure. I screw everything up,’” he says. “In therapy we say, ‘Didn’t you just climb to the top of a mountain yesterday? How is it possible to climb a mountain if you can’t do anything right?’”

Since its start last year, the program has seen a 73 percent recovery rate of PTSD by the end of the two-week program. They are continuing to gather data in order to prove to the mental health community at large that there is some kind of healing power of the outdoors.

Wilderness adventure therapy can help those with other mental health issues too, be it trauma survivors, teens with mental disabilities, or addicts.  At some colleges, like Prescott College in Arizona, there are even adventure therapy majors available for students. Utah boasts perhaps the highest quantity of these therapy services.

Aspiro is one of these, taking teens on trips for eight to 12 weeks all over the state. Year-round, groups of six to eight individuals, ranging with problems from autism spectrum disorder, drug abuse, or depression, backpack through the desert or ski tour the Wasatch, says Joe Nagle, Adventure Facilliatation Trainer for Aspiro.

“Doing things that are difficult, especially things that you didn’t know you could do before, translates really easily to whatever you are coping with at home. We found a model that works with a broad range of students,” he says.

They grow in identity coherence, or the ability to know themselves and take pride in who they are, as well as gaining effective coping mechanisms. Pushing limits outdoors can be scary, but believing in yourself and then doing it makes you confident in your abilities.

Nagle knows that, like PTSD recovery, these changes are only possible through the combination of nature and therapy, but there’s no denying that nature is a necessary ingredient.

A PRESCRIPTION FOR NATURE

Stories abound about people stepping into nature to find healing. Most revelations recorded in scriptures happened outdoors just think of Moses on Mount Sinai, Jesus Christ in the wilderness, or Muhammad in the Cave of Hira. In ancient literature like The Odyssey, nature is part of the healing, says Stacy Bare, director of Sierra Club Outdoors.

Bare has been working with researchers, mental and public health professionals, and outdoor advocacy groups to bring the conversation back to the outdoors.

“People see, finally, that this is another way for preventative as well as treatable care,” Bare says. “We need to view our public lands as a public health care system. The benefits of getting outside are incredibly real.”

Park prescription programs are starting to emerge, such as the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Outdoors Rx program, which prescribed active outdoor activity for children and adults suffering with obesity and high blood pressure. Bare himself found healing through climbing, hiking, and skiing after serving in the military for five years.

Stacy Bare skiing in Iraq this year. Photo courtesy of Stacy Bare.

Last year, Bare, Strayer, and others met at the White House to propose a plan to get people off drugs and into nature. Yes therapy and medication are important, but there is a natural healing element that happens when you smell a ponderosa pine or touch a trickling mountain stream.

After millennia of proof from poetry to films, the data is catching up. Nature changes us. And if you don’t believe it, take the advice from Henry David Thoreau. You’ll walk away feeling taller than the trees.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photos courtesy of Aspiro Adventures

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Kick off the Climbing Season in the Valley of Zion

Ice and snow are sliding off the canyon walls, exposing those projects you’ve been dreaming about all winter. Rock climbing season is here. It’s still March though, an indecisive month that can toss rain, snow, or 65 degree temps at you with a shift of the spring wind. Yes, the Cottonwoods have missed you, but escaping the mountains gives you a better chance of escaping that random snowstorm that will kick you off your project. Switch granite slabs for limestone crags overlooking the expansive Great Salt Lake. Come to the Valley of Zion.

It sounds exotic, but don’t worry, the classic, scratch-your-head names climbers give to walls await you. Choose from Blob’s Your Aunt, Blob’s Your Cousin, Blob’s Your Nephew, or Blob’s Your Uncle. Most are single-pitch sport routes that are a lot longer than you initially expect. Since the majority of climbs are in the 5.9-5.10b range, it’s the perfect confidence booster to launch a new rock climbing season.

Warm up on Blob’s Your Uncle, just above and to the left of the parking area. Greg’s Bear Hug and Drunk Monkey are some favorites, but there’s not a climb here that won’t give you varied climbing and some exposure. Just remember to bring a lot of quickdraws, since 10+ bolts are common. The climbs are side by side, making it a great cragging spot with endless views of Stansbury Island and the near-constant lull of trains passing along the salty desert.

Head over to Elysian Fields after you’re warm, a four-pitch sport climb classic never exceeding 5.9 difficulty. The views along the way are stunning.

Camp for the night and check out Blob’s Your Aunt, another easy crag with a large collection of routes. If you want to try out more difficult, shorter climbs, go to Cannabis Crew Wall. You’ll need to check out “Utah’s West Desert” by James Garrett for a full list of climbs in the area.

Once you’ve had your feel of the valley drive back toward Grantsville to explore South Willow Canyon. The West Desert is the perfect weekend climbing spot not too far from Salt Lake, but with different terrain to feel like you went somewhere.

Photo by Andre Romero

Get here:

Drive west on I-80 past Tooele. Take exit #77 and a side road to the base of the climb. Four-wheel drive required. Hike up a short trail for a quarter mile.

Camping:

From I-80, take exit 84 to get to Stansbury Island. Since the land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, you can pretty much camp anywhere. Just remember to leave no trace. The sunsets and sunrises over the lake are unreal.

Packing List:

Sport climbing gear (at least 14 quickdraws)

Camping gear

Warm layers (It’s the desert — it gets cold)

Fire wood and camping food (fires are permitted on the island)

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Ana Shestakova

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ASUU Hosts Climb-a-Thon

If you are planning on going to The Summit tomorrow, make sure to bring a 10 dollar bill. On Saturday March 4, the Philanthropy and Service Board of ASUU will host the first annual climb-a-thon, raising money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Make-a-Wish Utah. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include climbing, food, and raffles.

Tickets are $10 most of the day or $5 between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. There will be bagels, donuts, and coffee in the morning and cookies, cake bites, and Little Caesar’s pizza in the afternoon. Gear will be available to rent for free upon admission.

This event is replacing the 10-year tradition of ASUU’s dance-a-thon, which typically brings in about 100 people, said Savannah Gelhard, director of the Philanthropy and Service Board. Most of those students are involved in ASUU or the Greek system, and Gelhard thought it was time to reach out to a different demographic.

“A lot of people come to the University of Utah to ski, hike, bike, and rock climb, so we came up with this idea of a climb-a-thon,” she said. “We are hoping to bring in a different variety of students.”

The Philanthropy and Service Board has hosted fundraising events throughout the year, already raising $5,000. Gelhard is hoping to match those funds at this climbing event. Participants can purchase raffle tickets to win an XBox, Seaquest Aquarium Fish Pedicure, Clark Planetarium passes, Grizzlies hockey tickets, and more.

Gelhard is excited to not only attract different types of students through this event, but also because of what climbing symbolizes both for her and for the Philanthropy and Service Board.

“Rock climbing shows a lot of dedication and hard work in order to reach the top. It’s a successful feeling when you do,” she said. “We want to show students they can get involved in something that is greater than they imagined, just like a mountain.”

If interested in donating to the board or getting involved in other ways, email sgelhard@asuu.utah.edu.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

 

 

 

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Faultline Winners

Last week, Wasatch Magazine hosted the very first Faultline Film Awards. Students and locals from up and down the Wasatch submitted their films, and after the results came in, we showcased the winners and honorable mentions during a night of films. Films were judged on use of theme, creativity, editing/flow, and coherence/story. Here are the winners and their awards:

 

Fall Activities-

Swellsgiving by Cassidy Eames (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hji-wbbCAM)

$100 cash prize

 

Winter Sports-

Wasatch Wanderer by Colby Angelos (https://vimeo.com/202142604)

Pair of Aura Optics Cirrus Goggles and $50 cash prize

 

Environmental Justice

Suffocate by Tyson Whitney (https://vimeo.com/134980034)

$100 cash prize

 

Love for the Wasatch Front

Unruly Things by KUER RadioWest (https://vimeo.com/127875314)

$100 cash prize

 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first biannual event. Start getting films ready for the next Faultline Film Awards. We’ll see you in the fall!

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This Land Was Made For You and Me

Last fall, I went on a road trip up the California and Oregon Coast. For a large portion of our drive, thick, burly redwood trees created an enveloping tunnel that kept me spellbound. I realized these 500 to 2,000 year-old trees claimed this land before anyone else, and I felt privileged to share it with them.

People have cried for land conservation and public land designation for decades, and the National Park Service celebrated its monumental 100th birthday just last year. However, some have forgotten just how defining these lands are to our national identity. “This Land Is Your Land” sings about the “sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,” which may refer to the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, or maybe the “golden valleys” speaks of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. From the Redwood Forest National Park to the Gulf Stream waters found in Biscayne National Park, this land was made for us to enjoy.

Many have felt a rising threat against these lands, and the outdoor industry is leading a cause to protect them (see more on this story on page 10). We at Wasatch Magazine love public lands because of the life-changing, inspiring experiences we’ve had exploring them. The granite slabs we climb and the rocky trails we mountain bike along the Wasatch reside within U.S. Forest Service land. This past year, I backpacked and hiked around six national parks, and am grateful for the lands we collectively own.

This Land is Your Land. This Land is My Land.  Whether you prefer mountains, desert, sea, or sky, recreationists of all types have used the millions of acres in national parks, state parks, and Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service land. I fell in love with the outdoors trail running along the Bonneville Shoreline — where was it for you? As always, our advice is to get outside, but it’s also to protect and preserve that land we love. After all, this land was made for you and me.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Wasatch Editor

Photo courtesy of Mckenzie Wadsworth

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Patagonia withdraws from Outdoor Retailer

Patagonia, Inc., who threatened last month to leave Outdoor Retailer, pulled the cord. In a press release issued today, the outdoor clothing and gear company announced that it will not be attending the retail show in Utah anymore.

The action came from a resolution Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed last Friday, urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. A statement signed by Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia, says, “Because of the hostile environment [elected officials] have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.”

Founder and former CEO of the company Yvon Choiunard released a statement last month threatening to leave if Gov. Herbert continued to sell public lands off to the “highest bidder.” While no other companies have officially stated that they will be leaving, it’s likely that more companies will follow suit.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of Patagonia

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Find Your Pitch, Ice Climbing close to home

Climbers have three options in the winter: drive south, go indoors, or layer up and get on some ice. If you haven’t yet tried option number three, there is still time, the season isn’t over yet. Yes, attaching metal spikes to your feet and holding on by the tip of an ice axe can be a little intimidating, but there are few epic adventures more brag-worthy than standing atop a pillar of ice. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.

Most people have their baptism by ice at Ouray Ice Park in Colorado: the perfect launch pad for an ice climbing career. The man-made ice is reliable and thick, while in the Wasatch, fluctuating weather patterns and avalanches make route finding a little more fickle.  For those sick of following a Candy Lane trail of colored, chalked-up holds in the gym, put your gloves on instead and try these ice climbing routes.

PROVO CANYON

After driving up this canyon, park at the Bridal Veils parking lot, and you will find another vehicle full of climbers. Accessibility and consistent ice make this place a little crowded, but there is a high concentration of climbs here. Access the famous Stairway to Heaven just off the trail, a multi-pitch climb that can reach up to 10 pitches during a good ice season. The first pitch, lovingly called The Apron because of its width, is easy to set up a top-rope on and do laps. There are a few bolts at the top, so you can hop between routes if you are in a bigger group.

If you keep walking up the trail before turning toward the Stairway area, you will come to the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls. While it rarely freezes, there are a few fantastic climbs to the right of it. Ice leading experience is required.

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON

You really can’t call yourself an ice climber and live in Utah without climbing the Great White Icicle. It’s a classic multi-pitch easily accessible off the freeway. The views get better and better at the end of each of the four pitches, but don’t get distracted and forget to watch for falling ice. Because of high traffic, you will get hit with ice, so always wear a helmet. Once you’ve done this classic, you might as well hike over to Scruffy Band, a collection of ice dripping off granite slabs. You can switch easily between routes of easy grades.

MAPLE CANYON

When avalanche dangers are high in the Wasatch, Maple Canyon is the perfect alternative. Around every winding cobblestone corner, ice pours into perfect climbing routes. There are several routes accessible off the Main Road, but Box Canyon and Left Fork also reveal hidden treasures. Tennis Shoe Slab is long but sustained, and the intimidating Dagger is just around the corner, suspended over an easy first pitch that has set chains. The Wet Itchies and Bowling Ball Head are a little more steep, but fun if you are ready to push yourself.

JOE’S VALLEY

This famous bouldering destination also has stellar ice in the winter months. The CCC and Donoricicle are both breathtaking pillars of thick ice that just taunt you to climb them. A top rope can easily be set up at the Donoricicle, but leading experience is necessary for the two pitches of the CCC. A plus here is the belayer isn’t stuck with a bad view, the frozen Joe’s Reservoir and surrounding mountainous landscape are visible below.

**If you are going ice climbing in Utah, purchase the detailed guide “Beehive Ice” by Nathan Smith and Andrew Burr. Also, check avalanche conditions prior to the climb and check equipment constantly throughout.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

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Carpool up the canyons

As bus riders grabbed their skis and stepped off toward the lifts last Friday, they were met with a pleasant surprise — a free beanie and a thumbs up from enthusiastic people heading the POW Day event. POW Day, which began last year through a partnership with Protect Our Winters (POW), Ski Utah, and local resorts Snowbird and Alta, was such a success that they decided to expand it this season to Powder Mountain and Sundance.

For the Cottonwood resorts, the day was representative of a bigger initiative taking place all season long. Snowbird’s new program, RIDE (Reducing Individual Driving for the Environment), incentivizes carpoolers and bus riders, said Hilary Arens, Snowbird’s Director of Water Resources and Environmental Programs.

Arens knows what all skiers want: “Time, money, and powder,” she said.

Those carpooling with three or more skiers or riders receive VIP parking close to the lifts by Entry 1 and Entry 2. Besides proximity to fresh tracks, they also receive a punch card that, after 10 times carpooling, they can redeem for a transferrable half-priced Snowbird day pass. Monthly, Snowbird will select twenty season pass holders who ride UTA to receive a half-priced day pass as well.

Carpoolers participating in RIDE also enter a raffle, in which eight people are selected for a once in a lifetime early-up ride on Gadzoom. One bus rider and one employee are chosen for this event too, which will take place a few times a season.

Snowbird teamed up with POW, Breathe Utah, Canyon Transportation, and UTA to design and launch the RIDE program and, soon, similar benefits will spring up at Alta, Brighton, and Solitude ski resorts. Snowbird worked with UTA to improve the frequency and reliability of their buses, and season passes double as a UTA pass. This is a cost Snowbird incurs, said Brian Brown, director of marketing for Snowbird, but any extra incentive to reduce traffic in the canyon is worth it.

“We believe we can make a difference, even if it’s a small one,” he said. “I am 100 percent confident that over time, this program is going to pay off and we are going to have less people driving up the canyons.”

At POW Day, that difference was calculated at a reduction of 24,197 lbs of CO2 for the four participating resorts, according to Paul Marshall, spokesperson for Ski Utah.

“With a tree absorbing an average of 48 lbs of CO2 annually, POW Day saved as much CO2 as 184,000 trees would absorb in one day. With a healthy forest density of 75 trees per acre, this is equivalent to 2,455 acres of trees, or all of Snowbird,” Marshall said.

This was the first year Ski Utah tracked results, which they did thanks to people registering via the SNOCRU app, and they hope to increase those numbers each year. But, there’s no need to wait for next POW Day to make a difference; each time riders carpool to Snowbird with three or more people, they are keeping 40 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

“There is a carbon fee to come ski. To come up these canyons, to run the chairlifts and the buses,” Arens said. “So, the best thing that we ask of our employees and guests is to offset that by coming up together and reducing Snowbird’s carbon footprint.”

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of Chris Segal

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