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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Back to Basics

Back-coun-try ski-ing: (adjective) A. the kind of skiing where you don’t have to keep behind ropes or bounds of the resort; B. the kind of skiing where you don’t have to wait in line for a chair to get up the mountain; C. the kind of skiing where you can get some of the longest powder runs of your life, repeatedly. Most importantly, backcountry skiing is defined by high risk for a high reward. The avalanche control work that keeps resort skiing safe isn’t repeated to the same extent in the backcountry, meaning you need to go in prepared for worst case scenario.

The best way to familiarize yourself with backcountry skiing is to take a class. You’ll learn how to read terrain, understand the basics of snow mechanics, and recognize the warning signs nature gives you. Snow is complex — but it does have characteristic patterns. These classes teach you how to recognize these patterns and know when a given snowpack is stable or not. The Utah Avalanche Center and the University of Utah both offer classes, and workshops take place frequently around the valley.

For gear, renting is your best option when breaking into the sport. There is no need to get top-of-the-line skis with the lightest boot combined with the thinnest touring pants possible: yet. You can find cheap gear online, but the most essential equipment is (hopefully) not for purchase: a touring partner. Although they may cost you a burger or drink to convince them to go with a noob, it’s worth it if they save your life, or vice versa. Other essentials include a beacon, shovel, and a probe. In the event of an avalanche these are your first line of defense for survival. If you get caught in an avalanche, you will appreciate your touring partner being equipped to dig you out. Avalanche airbag backpacks are also becoming a common part of the avalanche safety set. These packs deploy when you pull a lever, helping to keep you toward the surface of the snow.

With the instruction and the gear, you’ll need a place to go. Step one is always to check the avalanche report on the Utah Avalanche Center’s website to see current danger ratings, recent avalanche activity, and what kind of terrain to look out for based on weather patterns. For your first couple times out in the backcountry, seek low angle terrain in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, such as Grizzly Gulch or Mill D. Once you get there, it never hurts to dig a pit to evaluate the snow. It’s a lot of work, but carving your own line down powder no one has touched all season is worth every step of preparation and uphill skiing.



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The Art of Hanging Out

Few things convey the message of “I’m outdoorsy, yet I like to relax” better than an artsy pic of yourself hammocking on Instagram. The trend is infectious, spreading through college campuses across the nation faster than student loan anxieties. But what exactly is the appeal? The short answer is the three C’s: comfort, cost, and carry-ability.

Anyone who has spent a sleepless night struggling against the incline of a hill or an unfortunately placed rock can appreciate the beauty of simply not being on the ground. A hammock allows this liberation, freeing your aching back from all the lumps and bumps of a lesser used campsite, while at the same time keeping you relatively level on even the steepest of slopes. With comfort being their greatest appeal, hammocks have been convoluted into all kinds of odd contraptions in order to squeeze out every last drop of coziness.

For example, inventions such as the Hammocraft, a bizarre mash-up of poles, straps, and hammocks, allow for five people to sway in their sacs on the water atop two paddle boards. Or, better yet, the HydroHammock, a hot tub/hammock combination, allows for all the comfort of a 50 gallon portable hot tub in a tree. However, these Frankensteins of the hammock world have tipped the scales too far in terms of comfort, sacrificing the two other critical components to the appeal of hammocking.

In order for a hammock to be effective, it must also hit the criteria of cost and carry-ability. A decent hammock will run you anywhere from $35 to $100 and will be able to pack up into a sack slightly larger than a softball. By comparison, a good backpacking tent could easily run double or triple the price and quadruple the weight. A failure in these last two categories clearly rule out both the Hammocraft and HydroHammock as viable contenders to make a pack list. There are versions out there that hit all three criteria, however, and do it well.

We at Wasatch Magazine have taken the terribly arduous task of spending hours upon hours researching, firsthand, the ups and downs of different brands and styles of hammocks. Below is our compiled list of those and the perks, or downfalls, of each type:


Serac Classic

This is likely the most accessible of the hammocks on the list at just $38, straps included, and is the only style available for rent at Outdoor Adventures. Weighing 16 ounces, it’s perfectly suited to throw in a day bag or even overnight pack, and is almost as comfortable as any of the competing brands. However, the six-foot straps are seriously limiting. Finding two trees of suitable diameter and spacing is a quest itself worthy of a Tolkien novel. The parachute nylon material, standard among most hammocks, seems to be of a lower quality and is not as dynamic as more expensive models. Although, since it only costs about the same as a serious three person Chipotle run, the Serac Classic stacks up to be the perfect model for the casual hammocker.


Thermarest Slacker Double

The only double hammock on the list, the Thermarest Slacker Double provides a reasonable option for getting closer to that special someone. Unlike most hammocks, Thermarest utilizes a ripstop polyester designed to, they claim, offer a better next-to-skin experience. The validity of that assertion is hearsay, but the material does make the hammock slightly less breathable than its parachute nylon counterparts. As far as doubles go, the Slacker runs a little on the heavy side at 1lb 7oz and doesn’t pack down that small, only managing a relatively big 9×12 inches. Although, the $80 price point, not including straps, is reasonable for this style. Not necessarily a spectacular hammock, the Slacker Double mainly serves as a sufficient alternative for those looking to move away from nylon.


Tribe Provisions Adventure Hammock

What Great Value is to food, Tribe Provisions is to hammocks: not as flashy, but usually almost as good. For $40 you get a ripstop nylon hammock and heavy duty cordage that acts as straps. No instructions are provided on how to hang the hammock with the cordage, so some basic knot skills, or some good YouTube videos, are needed. Prolonged hanging without proper straps will also result in tree damage so some kind of tree protection is needed (this can be as simple as a piece of cardboard between the rope and tree). Weighing in at 1lb 2oz without the cordage, the adventure hammock isn’t the lightest option on the market, but isn’t too heavy either. If your goal is lightweight backpacking on a budget, this would be a good choice.


ENO Singlenest

Essentially The North Face of hammocks, Eagles Nest Outfitters have set the standard for the ideal nap facilitator. Weighing just 16 ounces and packing down to 4×5 inches, without straps, the Singlenest is the prime lightweight alternative to a backpacking tent. The hefty $60 price reflects this. However, the 70D nylon taffeta, heavy duty cordage, and aluminum wiregate carabiners ensure that this investment has the durability to last you many, many trips. If you’re serious about your outdoor naps or are willing to spend a little more to save some weight in your pack, this is the hammock for you!


Photo Credit: Peter Creveling


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An Illinoian’s Perspective of Utah

Why Utah? It’s a question so central to the beginning of a first year student’s experience it’s even on the application. Answers vary from person to person, but mine was adamant: the mountains. I came to the U in large part for the mountains.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed. It’s hard to look out a window here and not see something that makes you want to grab a backpack and head out. Utah seems to have it all: big mountains to climb, rivers to raft, natural arches unlike anything else in the world, and more national parks than any other state but Alaska and California. The hardest thing is picking the right adventure.

With my first free weekend looming, I decided on an overnight trip to Red Pine Lake, planning to climb the Pfeifferhorn and White Baldy the next day. My two roommates and I piled into an old Subaru and head up Little Cottonwood to the White Pine trailhead. A quick hike brought us to the lake, where we scoped out the best possible campsite, and fired up the stove for some well-deserved ramen.

As my two roommates were laying out their sleeping bags and pads in the tent, I was left sitting on a rock by the lake watching the clouds whip across the sky above an unreal mountain landscape. All I could think was, “This is home. You live here now.”

This was not a slightly larger hill that allowed for a slightly better view of the surrounding cornfields like I was accustomed to in Illinois. This was a real mountain, with real views. The fact that I only drove thirty minutes to get there and didn’t have to pay any fees or get permits only added to the experience. Sure, we weren’t completely alone, and sure, we were only about an hour hike back to the car, but for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t hear the road while camping.

I fell in love with Utah that night. Managing to summit both peaks the next day was more than just the cherry on top, it was a whole new cake. The last time I had experienced this kind of adventure was after months of research. Comparatively, this trip took just a few days to put together. The quality of the adventures compared to the amount of logistics they take is something unprecedented so far in my life. I did not know such a place existed where this ratio could be so low. I felt as if I had fallen into Shangri-La.

Maybe it was the slightly expired ramen making me feel this way, but during that trip a sense of amazement washed over me anew each time I moved my gaze from my shoe. As an outsider, this is all new to me so it naturally is more exciting, but that is the true appeal of the place where we live. There is so much to see, do, and explore that anyone, regardless of how long they’ve lived here, can feel like an outsider and take it all in again.




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Make the Great Escape to Lake Blanche for a Panoramic Hike

School has just begun, and maybe my memory is going bad, but I don’t remember my life ever being this busy.

I’m scrambling to get things done, and all my friends have disappeared (as well as all the required class supplies I needed two days ago). I’ve been stuck inside, and stress has been clinging to me like the smoke from a late-night summer campfire.

But right now, I step outside of myself and realize that I’ve been smiling uncontrollably for the last hour or so. My stress is disappearing as I stand next to Lake Blanche up Big Cottonwood Canyon. In the distance, Sundial Peak towers over 10,320 ft. My beating heart is slowing. I can hear nothing but the gently blowing wind, the distant trickle of water, and Ian noisily rummaging through his pack. Everything is right. It’s a condition I don’t seem to experience a whole lot lately: contentedness. It’s all beautiful, and it’s all perfect.

Earlier in the week, I enticed my good friends Ian and Cameron to join me for a hike up to Lake Blanche. We had all done the hike multiple times over the last few years, but it gave us the chance to get out into our beautiful Wasatch together. The endless onslaught of syllabi and much-too-soon homework was making me stir-crazy. I had to get out. I picked them up at 6 a.m., and we drove four-and-a-half miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Mill B South Fork. We were on the trail at 6:30 a.m.

From trailhead to destination, the whole experience is lovely. Generally agreed upon as a strenuous hike, there is a 2,680 ft. gain in elevation over just 3.8 miles; it’s not the most casual walk, but approachable by all skill levels, provided enough time and water is allotted. The whole trail meanders through aspen groves and stays along a river for much of the time. Eventually, quartzite, rubbed smooth by glaciers, comes into view. It really is a fantastic experience for those looking to get a taste of the flora, fauna, and geology of Big Cottonwood.

However, despite its beauty, the entire, difficult approach is forgotten once you reach Lake Blanche. At around 9,000 ft. in elevation, Blanche is an alpine lake. It’s placid and beautiful, and Sundial Peak rising up in the distance makes for a beautiful panorama. It’s such an iconic scene that the Wasatch Mountain Club has chosen Sundial as its symbol. Two other lakes, Lake Lillian and Lake Florence, border Blanche to the Southwest, and each of them offers even more serenity, as Blanche is more popular among hikers.

Spend some time up here. There are a few good spots for hammocks, and the fishing isn’t too bad either. Bring food and have a relaxing picnic. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the moose that roam the area. When you’re done, head back down the way you came.

At the end of the day, getting out is awesome. Whether you’re a slow hiker or a conditioned trail runner, we all need a little Mother Nature in our lives. Cameron, Ian and I returned to the car at 9:30 a.m. a little happier, a little less stressed, and a little more prepared for another day of classes.

Depending upon your skill level, I’d set aside three to six hours for the hike itself. The whole area is beautiful any time of day, but at sunset Mill B South Fork ignites, painting Sundial with fantastic hues of reds and oranges. Just be sure to bring a headlamp for the descent.

On top of all it has to offer, Lake Blanche is a fantastic overnight backpacking destination. Sleep near (but not too near) Lake Lillian or Lake Florence to get a bit more peace and quiet. But if you are in search of something more technical, try Eleventh Hour, a 530 ft. and 5.8-mile climb that ascends the beautiful north face of Sundial Peak.



Lake Blanche

Directions: Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon 4.4 miles, park at Mill B picnic area

Time: three to six hours

Gain/Distance: 2,680 ft. / 3.8 miles


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“A Walk in the Woods” features humor, friendship, and gorgeous hiking vistas

If you don’t have the energy (or lunacy) to walk 2,168 miles in the wilderness, watch “A Walk in the Woods” instead.

Based on the 1998 book, the movie follows author Bill Bryson (played by Robert Redford) as he attempts to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail along with his bumbling buddy Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). The two traipse through the landscape, combatting bears, camping on the side of the trail, and reminiscing about their prime. It’s a story of rekindled friendship interspersed among the trees.

The plot of the movie diverges from the book on one major characteristic: age. Redford, 79, and Nolte, 74, portray the characters as much older than Bryson and Katz were when they hiked the trail in 1998 (they were in their mid-forties at the time and more concerned about their subpar physical fitness than knee replacements and funerals). This shift changes the dynamic and some of the recurring jokes — a hardship for diehard fans of the novel — but the story otherwise remains fairly true to the original, if a bit quicker in pace.

Redford’s performance is unexceptional, and he tends to overpower the character of Bryson as more of an environmentalist than a dreamer. He does, however, deliver quick retorts and sharp dialogue to comically balance the few heartwarming and serious moments in the film. Nolte, on the other hand, shines in his role as the womanizing, warrant-evading, formerly alcoholic sidekick, supplying plenty of laughs and physical humor with perfect timing.

Though she makes only a brief appearance in the film, Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen is a comedic jackpot, playing the ever-enthusiastic gadfly of the trail with a three-season tent and an oversized backpack. The film also, notably, includes Emma Thompson, Bryson’s endearing and overprotective wife, Catherine, and Nick Offerman, the know-it-all REI salesman. The lively and charming cast aids the idea that hiking the Appalachian Trail, though secluded, is just as much about the people you meet along the way as the journey itself.

Complementing these portraits, the film is filled with stunning visuals of the trail (thankfully, watching hiking is nothing like watching golf). The most breathtaking are the overhead shots that show the grand scale of it all.

Through this montage of great scenery, “A Walk in the Woods” ends, somewhat obviously, without Bryson and Katz reaching their destination. A clever scene involving postcards concludes that though they didn’t finish, they did accomplish their goal: to hike the Appalachian Trail. It’s profound and impressive.




Where • All major theaters

When • Opened Wednesday, Sept. 2

Running time • 104 minutes

Rating • R for some coarse language and a few sexual comments

Rank • Four of five stars


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Editor’s Note, August 2015


When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a professional explorer (sort of an Indiana-Jones-meets-Bear-Grylls type but with better hair and a flashier fanny pack).

On my exploits, I planned to bring with me only a compass, my disdain for maps, and an equal devotion to adventure — the fanny pack was just for looks, not utility, of course. I was prepared to fight off Sasquatch with my bare hands, discover a hidden treasure that was actually in plain sight all along and valiantly defend the sable fedora (you’re welcome, Harrison Ford).

But now that I’m older, I’ve realized that’s not exactly a profession, at least not one the IRS would recognize, so I save the adventuring for my free time. Luckily in Utah there’s plenty of opportunity for that and I don’t have to go without the chance to channel my inner Bear Jones (Indiana Grylls?).

With this month’s Wasatch Magazine, we want to help you, too, find your inner professional explorer with our “Summer Adventure” issue. Among these pages, you’ll find stories on rappelling down red rock cliffs, hiking to hidden lakes, and sliding through slot canyons. You can also check out our guides to camping in comfort and climbing outside your comfort zone.

So go ahead: have one last crusade before school starts.





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Gear Review: Camping in Comfort


One of the best things you can do during the summer is go on a camping trip. You’re out in nature, enjoying beautiful scenery during the day and sitting around a campfire at night — it’s the ultimate adventure. So to help you enjoy your trip, here’s the top gear you need to camp in comfort:

Kelty four-person tent

This tent is perfect to house all of your bags, pads, and blankets for a camping adventure. It is light enough that you can move it from the car to the tent spot with ease. The rain­ fly that comes with the tent will protect you and your friends from the elements. The best part about a four-person tent is that you can stand up all the way without having your head hit the ceiling.

Marmot three-person tent

If you’re more in the market for a backpacking tent, this is the best one you could purchase. It easily breaks down into three components: the poles, the tent, and the rain fly. There’s also enough room inside that you don’t squish the person next to you when sleeping in close quarters. The best part of the tent, though, is how easy it is to set up. There aren’t any mysterious sleeves for the poles to slide into. It simply connects to the exoskeleton frame with clips, which keeps space between the fly and the tent to reduce condensation.


One of the simplest ways to make your camping trip comfortable is to bring a hammock with you to tie between two trees. The hammock will allow you to rest during the day and enjoy the great outdoors. Another great benefit of a hammock is that you can wrap yourself into it and away from the hungry mosquitoes. At nighttime you can stargaze. Almost any brand of hammock will do.

Coleman lantern

The second-most important item to pack when camping is a lantern. I like Coleman-brand lanterns. They easily turn a dark night into a well-lit campground.

Coleman dual burner stove

This stove is wonderful for feeding large groups. There’s a lot of surface area to cook on so that no one is left waiting for food. One of the benefits of this particular stove is that it can take various types of fuel, so you aren’t restricted and can pack whatever you have on hand.

Lodge cast-iron frying pan

If you have a stove, you better also take a frying pan. With the Lodge cast-iron frying pan, you can fry eggs, sear salmon, and caramelize onions in a flash. You won’t regret lugging it around either — after each meal you’ll enhance the flavor of the pan. The more you cook, the more seasoned the pan will get.



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