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A Dream Hike: Mt. Timpanogos

One mountain peak that stands above most in the Wasatch front is Mt. Timpanogos, also referred to as Timp. Technically speaking, it is the second highest peak behind Mt. Nebo, standing at 11,752 ft. However, between the two, Mt. Timpanogos is much more picturesque, and it is one of the most prominent mountains in Utah. It’s one I have yet to climb myself. Someday, I hope to. For now it sits on my list of “must do.”

On my very first mountain peak summit last year on Twin Peaks Salt Lake, I was able to see the tallest peaks in every direction from Ben Lomond down to Mt. Nebo. Being at the top of a mountain provides a unique prospective for anyone. You feel as though you are touching the heavens above. Climbing mountain peaks become more addictive the higher and higher you go.

Growing up in Salt Lake has put me around the base of Mt. Timpanogos many times. I’ve also seen so many different perspectives of Timp that I finally think it is time to conquer one of my missions to climb to the top. I have seen Timp driving through Provo, downhill skiing at Sundance, and riding on the Heber Creeper in Heber. Many of my friends have climbed Timp in the summer and told me what the hike was like. Most of them said it took an entire day to reach the summit — but they all said it was well worth it.

The hike to the top from American Fork canyon is a 15 mile round trip in the summertime. I would really like to climb to the top in the winter or early spring while there is still snow at the top, even though I would need to take more care to ensure that the snow is stable to walk on when the temperature increases. This is because I feel as though the mountaineering aspect of climbing to the top of mountain peaks is what draws me. I want to be able to look down on everything around me still blanketed with snow, reflecting the bright sunlight. I had a small taste of this feeling when I went on a backpacking trip to King’s Peak, the highest point in Utah at 13,528 feet. Being above the timberline is stunning knowing that other creatures do not venture above that height. The rock features are so unique that the only way to explore them is to go up.

In the mental planning I have already done, I know to go on a hike up to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, I would need a daypack at minimum with plenty of water. I know there are streams on the way up, but that I would need to rely on my own water bottle once I climbed beyond them. The view would be impeccable, especially looking North towards the South side of the Pfeifferhorn. If I was lucky on my adventure to the top, I might even come across a mountain goat just strolling along the cliffside. When I got to the top, I would be sure to have friends with me to enjoy the hike along with my camera to document every step of the way. After all, how would others know that I am having fun without seeing images in this technological world we live in? Last but not least, I would bring a University of Utah flag to wave at the top just so those at BYU could see that a Utah flag was towering above them.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Peak Bagging Dos & Don’ts

“I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to,” Jason Stevenson, writer of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, said. We’ve all been in those situations where the temperature is pushing 90 degrees, our sunscreen melted off hours ago, and our water bottles are empty, but still we are determined to continue onward. The last few miles can’t end in vain.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Here in Utah, serious hiking and peak bagging are huge outdoor sports once late spring and early summer start to roll around. Peaks such as Olympus, located on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, draw tourists and visitors from all around. Last summer, on the straddle, I met a young couple on a road trip from Wisconsin, who were facetiming their parents, exclaiming that they could see the whole Utah valley because they were 9,000 feet up in the air.

The University of Utah especially has a huge outdoor presence, especially including the students who are from out of state or out of the country. Even so, for both those who are first time peak baggers, and serious climbers, it can be easy to underestimate the amount of supplies you’ll need to bring along, and potentially end up in a very dangerous situation. Like Stevenson, I have made my own mistakes as well. Here is a guide to things you should keep in mind once you start planning your summer hiking trips, so you don’t have to copy the mistakes I am familiar with making.

Water

Absolutely and most importantly, always bring enough water. Dehydration is one of the most common, and also most dangerous, risks of outdoor activities. I cannot exaggerate the number of times I have heard someone tell me they attempted to climb Mount Olympus and had to turn around because they didn’t have enough water. If you know you won’t be able to carry all the water you are going to need, purchase a water purifier from any outdoors store so you can replenish as you go.

Snacks

Even if you had a good breakfast, or plan to stop at In and Out on your way down from the canyon, you should always bring some kind of snack with you. Granola bars, gummy bears, an apple, or anything that will keep your blood sugar up should suffice.

Sunscreen

Unfortunately I am very guilty of saying, “I don’t need to wear sunscreen…” I have learned the hard way that I absolutely do. When packing your bag, always include a bottle of sunscreen. Additionally, always wear some kind of hat or sunglasses to protect your eyes if you can. Many popular trails in Utah, such as Grandeur Peak, are almost completely exposed and many hikers underestimate just how easy it is to burn, even on a cloudy day.

Clothing

Nobody likes chafing, blisters, or too much or too little clothing. Make sure that you wear good socks, appropriate clothing based on the weather, and good shoes. I once wore a pair of Nike Frees when I attempted to scale Pfeifferhorn, a peak up Little Cottonwood, and I was lucky not to fall off the side of the mountain and become mountain goat food. Traction is important!

Toilet paper

If you are on a multiple mile hike, and you don’t need to go pee at least once, then you definitely aren’t drinking enough water. Stuff a little toilet paper in your backpack for potential emergencies and good hygiene.

First aid

No matter how experienced you are, a small first aid kit is always a good idea. In fact, it is when you think that you will be fine, and come unprepared, that you end up being not so fine.

Backpack

A good backpack is imperative. String backpacks are terrible, and carrying your water bottle for 5 miles is also terrible. Good backpacks can be purchased from REI, Cotopaxi, and even Walmart. Backpacks with water bladders are also great at eliminating the need to carry around a water bottle and the annoyance of having to get it out of your backpack every time you need a drink. You’re also more likely to drink enough water if you can just stick a tube in your mouth and suck.

Navigation tool

Some kind of navigation tool is highly suggested. There are many great apps out there, such as All Trails and Gaia, which can pinpoint your exact location and show you the maps of a trail. Even a GPS watch can be useful, because it can help you estimate how far you’ve gone and how far you’ve got left. It is important to know your destination and be aware of possible turn offs. Even taking a wrong turn in Big Cottonwood can have you accidentally end up in Mill Creek Canyon unknowingly.

Weather prep

Last but not least, always make sure that you prepare for weather conditions. Starting a hike an hour later than the predetermined time can be detrimental, and potentially put you in the heat of the day. You shouldn’t be starting a 10 a.m. hike at 2 p.m., for example. Utah weather especially can change on the dot, so always be prepared for temperature changes, rain, and snow.

Camera

Always have a way to capture the moment. Whether it’s snapping a picture, or bringing a pen to sign the book of finishers in the shack on the top of Timpanogos, you won’t want to forget how hard you physically exerted yourself for that view.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Hiking is by far one of the most engaging and beautiful things you can do in Utah because of the many different landscapes in our state. Safety and preparedness are very important in making sure that your hiking experience results in those engaging and beautiful memories. One thing to never forget is that you should never be afraid to turn around if you run out of water hours before the destination, if it starts to get dark, or if someone in your group gets injured. Peak climbing in Utah is a challenge, but the 10,000 foot views are worth everything. Make sure to prioritize the prep.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

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Getting Into Trail Running

I’m sure the thought of trail running seems like a superhero feat, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. Trail running is similar to running on a track or road, with the added benefit of letting you reconnect with nature while getting in a little cardio. Trail running has other benefits that basic road running does not. Surprisingly, trail running puts less pressure on your joints, leading to fewer injuries in the long run. Now you’re thinking, “Well, running on uneven ground is dangerous,” which is true if you’re not careful, but along with road running, all sports have their pros and cons. For those who are just starting out, there are a few things you need to know before hitting the trails.

Start out slow

Obviously it’s called trail running for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to fully sprint up and down the trail. Start off slow to get into the groove of things. Rugged terrain can sometimes be tricky, so don’t be ashamed to slow down and take your time when running. If you’re prone to knee and ankle injuries, trail running is lower-impact compared to running on solid, hard surfaces like pavement or track, especially if you take it easy at first.

Be prepared

Like any kind of exercising, you’ll need water. Running up an incline while simultaneously dodging rocks, avoiding branches, and making sure your footing is correct can be quite the workout. Most small hiking backpacks will have chest and waist clips to strap that baby in nice and tight. I like to be extra prepared with snacks and a small first aid kit just in case as well.

Have proper footwear

Just like in hiking, ankle rolls are common. I suggest light weight, ankle high hiking boots for the extra support. Again, if you’re prone to ankle injuries, ankle braces can be helpful as well. If you just have tennis shoes, make sure they have a good amount of tread for footing purposes.

Know the rules of the trail

It’s good to know what kind of trail you will be running and the traffic it has because not all trails are the same. Yield to other hikers and runners and remember that it is better safe than sorry. Not doing so is potentially dangerous, and even without injury, no one wants to be shoved off the trail by someone else.

Elbows out

Use those arms! Balance is everything. Trail running is great in the way that it works out muscles you didn’t even know you had. Utilizing your arms will help you get better footing and help you balance as you run on rugged terrain.

Keep your eyes on the prize

While simultaneously watching your footing, dodging obstacles, and focusing on your breathing, always keep your eye on the trail. No one wants to trip over a tree root or rock and injure themselves. Running, tripping, and falling down a mountainside sounds like a nightmare. Avoid that by being attentive to your surroundings.

Take it all in

Last but not least, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers or the sheer sweat that you’ve worked up while running through our beautiful Utah scenery. The biggest benefit of trail running is the change of scenery anyway, right? Happy trail running!

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Epic Picnicking

Growing up in Utah really helps you to appreciate the outdoors and the incredible opportunities just past your doorstep. The possibilities for travel within this state alone can take more than a lifetime. The question for any individual adventurer then becomes, how do you make these commonly enjoyed places more unique? My spin off answer to this question is to have a picnic, and epic picnic, at every location you visit, either figuratively or literally. Take your stereotypical red and white table cloth, woven straw lunch basket, and deli sandwiches and create your own picnic table in the most epic places possible within the wilderness. Make each and every experience your own.

One such epic picnic experience is peak bagging. Yes, you might have to carry a little extra weight to bring up all those picnic items, but hear me out, the experience alone will stay with you the rest of your life. I can speak from experience. I hiked King’s Peak, and what I remember most is carrying a tripod in my right hand and a subway sandwich in my left for miles. Was it difficult? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Am I insane? Most likely. Now, I have a great story to tell each time about how I hiked the highest peak in Utah, and I have the photos to remember the experience.

Another option is to take hiking to a new level. I recommend getting into mountaineering. This sport is truly breathtaking, and I’m not just talking about the lack of oxygen once you get above 10,000 feet. Mostly, I just feel like an astronaut walking on the surface of a foreign planet with the coolest glacial glasses known to existence on my head, ice crampons on my feet, and an ice axe in my hand. When you mountaineer this way, it is just you and the mountain. Let me tell you, once at the top of a peak after hiking through a glacial field, a delicious sandwich is one of the best tasting meals you’ll ever have. This was another epic picnic I have notched into my experience belt.

These are only two examples of  the “epic picnics” I have created for myself. I challenge you to create some of your own as well. You might be struggling at the present when trekking through the desert, but it is the memories you create along the way that matter most, and adding a picnic, to any already epic adventure, is a great way to make it even more so.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Bouldering Rockstar Alex Puccio

The history of bouldering is comprised of amazing feats initially thought impossible. The sport is made up of a wide variety of people, brought together by a similar love for sheer rock and tough holds.

Professional rock climber, Bouldering World Cup winner, and eleven time National Champion, Alex Puccio, is one such person. Raised in Dallas, Texas, Puccio, two months shy of 29, has been climbing more than half her life. At this point, her reputation precedes her.

“I started climbing at a gym called Exposure,” Puccio says. This indoor gym near where she grew up led to a youth competition circuit where she competed until turning 16, at which point she was legally able to enter adult climbing circuits.

“When I was 16, I competed in my first adult national bouldering series, or comp,” Puccio says, “And I actually won it, which was a big shock and a surprise to me.” What some may have thought a fluke, Puccio proved to be a matter of skill and strength soon after, she says. “Every comp, or at least 95 percent of the comps that I entered for adults from that first comp, I won.”

Puccio’s skill is not limited to the gym, either. She’s also conquered multiple V14 boulder routes, a level typically ranked in the “Elite” echelons of bouldering, and considers herself more of a boulderer than a sport climber overall. She explains she got into sport climbing first because, “When I was younger, I had to mostly sport climb because in the youth competition circuit” — a level of climbing competitions for those 18 and younger — “there wasn’t any bouldering,” she says. However, once she found bouldering, she says, “I naturally loved bouldering because I think I’m a more powerful athlete and I develop muscles just genetically like really easily, so I gravitated to the powerful side of climbing, and really loved it.”

Videos capturing Puccio’s sport climbing and outdoor bouldering are stunning to watch. When she’s moving, Puccio makes incredible jumps, grabs, and upside-down holds look easy as she scales sheer rock faces and steeply angled walls. Analyzing those same sections later, even having seen Puccio make her way through, it is hard to believe any upward movement would be at all possible.

Despite major injuries — like a torn ACL and MCL and, even scarier, a herniated disc affecting her spinal cord, taking place within a year of each other — Puccio earned her eleventh National Champion win this year, in February at the downtown Salt Lake City Salt Palace. Though as a result of that second injury, she says, “I think I have slight loss of range of motion, and some of the muscles in my neck get kind of tweaked or cramped,” she adds, “Other than that, I don’t notice that much.” In fact, injury seems to have been motivating for Puccio, who says, “I did my first competition about three and a half months [after surgery for the herniated disk], and went with expectations of just climbing and seeing how it went, and potentially backing out if I felt scared or not ready, and then I ended up winning the comp and I ended up winning every single comp after that for the next five months.” 15 professional competitions. 15 wins. Post-major spine-related surgery.

Ever improving, Puccio will no doubt maintain a strong presence in the climbing world. If you spend time in Orangeville, Utah’s Joe’s Valley during fall and spring, or Little Cottonwood Canyon, you may run into her. Of Joe’s Valley, she says, she and her boyfriend “love to go there for climbing outside. It’s a beautiful sandstone rock and really fun to climb on.…Little Cottonwood Canyon’s right in our backyard, basically. It’s a really good climb. Most people don’t travel really far [to get there], so if you go there, it’s pretty small and scarce, but there are a lot of classic lines, and a lot of classic boulder problems … and sport climbing. It’s definitely a nice area to have just to go local and to not have to go very far.”

c.koldewyn@wasatchmag.com

s.guirguis@wasatchmag.com

Cover photo by Kiffer Creveling.

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Keeping Warm in the Great Outdoors

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by the ice-cold temperatures while trying to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re hiking or camping, staying warm is the only way to have a safe and enjoyable trip. If anyone claims they like being cold, they’re lying. Here are a few tips and tricks to staying warm during your winter adventures.

Keeping warm requires a variety of tools and tips during Utah’s cold months. Photo by Annie Duong.

Pack the Hand and Toe Warmers 

Keeping your hands and feet warm is essential to not losing a finger or toe to frostbite. No one wants to go through the trauma of that, so listen to the nagging voice of your parental figure in the back of your mind, and pack some hand/toe warmers, some nice thick socks, and gloves.

Stick to the Three-Layer Rule

This may be common sense but it’s important to make sure you have a tight-fitting base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. For your base layer, it’s best to have a synthetic or wool article of clothing. DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Cotton is very loosely knitted and takes a very long time to dry. Your middle layer should retain heat. Fabrics like merino wool, down and/or fleece are suggested. Finally, your outer layer should protect you from the elements so it should be windproof, waterproof and well ventilated. Just remember the three Ws: wicking, warmth, and weather.

Two Beanies are Better than One

Not only will you be the most stylish individual in your group, but you’ll also be the most prepared. If you didn’t know, you lose a lot of heat from your head, so it’s best to always have a beanie or warm hat. Bringing two can ensure you’ll have a dry and comfortable beanie to wear at all times. This goes for clothing, too. Wearing wet clothing will 110 percent make you colder than if your clothes were completely dry, so doubling up is a necessity.

Chug Olive Oil

Apparently chugging things like olive oil, and eating avocados and other foods high in fat content, will help keep you warm. The burning of calories leads to an elevated body temperature, so bottoms up. I’m sure to most people olive oil does not sound appealing to drink, so any alternatives that are high in carbs and fat (like chocolate and/or nuts) will keep your internal furnace well fueled.

Keep Your Butt off the Ground

Never leave the fire or you’ll freeze your butt off, and try not to sit directly on the cold ground or on rocks. That goes for sleeping as well. Be sure to sleep on a sleeping pad or a cot to ensure maximum heat insulation. For below freezing temperatures, shoot for at least two or three inches of insulation between you and the ground when sleeping.

Make Yourself a “Crotch Bottle”

Think back to a cold, dreadful night in your tent. Do you remember where your hands were for the majority of the night? Probably in between your thighs, right? There are important arteries in your inner thighs that are essential to regulating body temperature; so don’t put away the kettle or jet-boil just yet. Use this to fill that extra water bottle you packed with hot water and get cozy with it in your sleeping bag, placed perfectly between your thighs to keep your body temperature up.

Big Spoon or Little Spoon?

Don’t know your tent mate? Suck it up, buttercup. Get your pillow talk ready. It’s common knowledge that sharing body heat keeps you warm, why not do it?

Don’t Get Trashed

Even though chugging olive oil isn’t as appealing as the whiskey you packed, a liquor blanket can only get you so far into the night. I’m sure half the reason you’re going camping is to sit around the fire with a beer or bottle, but drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated, and dehydration makes you cold. That warm, fuzzy feeling inside is a trap. You are colder than you think; limit your drinks and make sure those friends of yours who maybe aren’t as careful don’t pass out in unsafe conditions.

Drink Lots and Lots of Water

If you’re like me, being out in the cold doesn’t particularly make me thirsty. The truth is though, the cold, dry winter air actually dehydrates you faster than warmer air. Obviously, water keeps you alive and well but sometimes it’s an easy need to ignore. As your body is working harder to generate heat under all your layers, water is vital. To keep your water from freezing, use a wool sock, invest in an insulated bottle, or use a DIY foam sleeve.

Splurge on Nice Gear

If you do enough cold weather camping, it may be time to invest in some high-quality gear. This isn’t really a tip but you’ll definitely feel a difference between that $30 sleeping bag compared to a $300 one. I’m not telling you to go buy the latest and greatest equipment, but it may be time to do a little research and invest.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Packing Your Camera for Adventure

You may be wondering how adventure photographers get such epic photographs. The easy-yet-complicated answer is: They take their cameras with them everywhere. Whether an adventure is high in the mountains, deep in a cave, or under the interstellar sky with the Milky Way Galaxy above, these adventure photographers have their cameras with them at all times.

This answer for getting great photographs is easy, yet complicated because adventuring with a camera is more difficult than you might think. You need to plan your gear for your adventure, as well as the camera equipment you’ll want to take, without breaking your back, or risking the safety of too much equipment. There’s a lot to take.

For instance, when you want to photograph skiing, you first have to plan out what essentials you will need to keep yourself warm. These may include glove liners, pocket warmers, extra sunglasses, and an additional layer under your coat for when you are standing still observing skiers. Next, you will need to grab some snacks and water so you do not go hungry on the slopes. Lastly, you need to bring your camera. Oh wait, what about lenses? Let’s throw some additional lenses into the mix. Don’t forget a spare battery. Since you will be in the snow for a few hours, you will also want some sort of microfiber towel to dry off the lenses to prevent water damage.

Finally, you’re packed. Now another problem appears: How do you carry your gear?

The only solution is a backpack you can rely on, at a weight you can manage, that will carry all of your gear safely. This requires significant planning ahead of time, and probably quite a bit of money.

There are many assorted styles of backpacks that photographers use, from roller bags to backpacking backpacks. The single most limiting factor preventing any adventure photographer from taking all the equipment they want is weight. You must carry the gear back and forth, and modern-day camera equipment gets heavy fast, not to mention challenging to organize.

When packing for an expedition, you should also always consider your ability to access your camera equipment. You never know when something extraordinary — like a wolf howling at a blue moon or an eagle catching a fish over a lake — is going to be in front of you. You never want to go home from an adventure saying, “I wish I had taken a photo of that.” Having an organized pack where you can easily access your camera equipment will solve this problem. The pack should also protect your gear so the falls and bumps you encounter won’t severely damage them. Camera specific bags have padding to divide lenses into compartments and they are useful for organization, too. When you don’t have padding, use your clothing. Hats, sweaters, and gloves are excellent clothing items that double as soft pads. Last but not least, make sure nothing inside your pack moves around or can fall out of a loose zipper. Dropping a lens and hearing it crack is one of the worst things a photographer can experience since those can easily cost thousands of dollars to replace.

For quick access to cameras, I like to have a CamelBak worn on my chest that houses the camera and lens. At times it does appear awkward when hiking around, but after the trip is said and done, I am very appreciative that I carry the extra pack. It also has the added benefit of letting you keep snacks and water close at hand during any outing.

As you begin packing your gear for that adventure, do some research to determine what gear to leave behind. There are various websites, like Flickr and 500PX, where you can search and take note of what lenses, ISO, focal length, and aperture other photographers used to create their stunning photos. This is a fantastic way to eliminate camera gear you can do without. Plus, when you are on your adventure, you will have a nice starting place to initialize your camera settings, from which you can make minor adjustments for the specific conditions you are in.

During your photography adventure, document what camera gear you end up using and what you do not, for both yourself and other photographers. You will also be able to write down a few essential camera settings you can use next time.

Remember, there are always going to be exceptions, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you feel an urge to bring a lens or filter, do so. You are the artist behind the camera; only keep in mind with extra gear comes extra weight.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com 

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See the Stars in Utah’s Dark Sky Parks

Over my fall break trip to Utah State University, I noticed something that I wasn’t used to seeing at my home in Salt Lake City — the starry night sky. Here in the crowded city, the stars in the sky are next to invisible. Thankfully, it is a different story once you drive a few hours outside of it.

Starry shot within Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Bettymaya Foott is the coordinator for the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative. A University of Utah graduate herself, Foott’s coordinator position allows her to work closely with the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, located here on campus in the College of Architecture and Planning. The Consortium for Dark Sky Studies is committed to the preservation of dark skies in Utah.

DarkSky.org defines certified Dark Sky Parks as  “lands possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” In other words, these parks are certified places where you can actually see the stars. Luckily for Utahns, we have the most certified International Dark Sky Parks in the world. Utah has nine IDSPs, which include Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, and two located very close to the Salt Lake area; North Fork Park, which is located in Ogden, and Antelope Island State Park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado from which the Milky Way was viewable. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Parks must apply to the International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Places Program to become certified IDSPs. The parks must have at least 67 percent fully shielded lighting — light that only points downward — at the time of the application process, and must commit to having 100 percent fully shielded lighting within 10 years. In addition, the parks must agree to have at least four dark sky-themed events per year.

Foott explains that outside of an International Dark Sky Park status, parks can apply to three additional programs: the International Dark Sky reserves, which is a dark zone surrounded by a more populated periphery; the International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, which describes the most remote and dark places of the world, which are the most fragile; and the Dark Sky Developments of Distinction, which includes towns and places that focus on dark sky conservation, but aren’t qualified enough to become an IDSP.

While unfortunately, it won’t ever be realistic for anywhere in Salt Lake City itself to become IDSP certified because of light pollution, the good news is that this pollution, unlike most others, can easily be prevented and is reversible! Foott offers a few suggestions that we can all integrate easily into our lives:

1. Put lights only WHERE you need them. Excessive light causes light pollution.

2. Use lights only WHEN you need to. Use motion sensors to turn lights on and off as needed. This improves security and reduces light pollution.

3. Select bulbs with WARMER COLORS. Consider using amber or yellow colored lights to minimize sky brightness.

4. Select the most ENERGY EFFICIENT lamps and fixtures. Replacing poor quality outdoor lights with efficient fixtures saves energy and money.

“Get involved locally,” Foott stresses. “Ask your city or county about existing lighting ordinances that help protect the night sky in your area.”

Photo of the night sky from the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Next time you are on a biking, climbing, or hiking trip in any one of Utah’s National Parks that are IDSP certified, make sure you look up at the stars and appreciate just how much more visible they are than when you are in the city.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

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Bomber and Company: More Flashy than Functional

I stray far from the frivolous. Every item I purchase, or think about purchasing, is weighed against the possible experiences I could have for the same cost. Spending $50 to replace the rain jacket I lost last October? No thanks. I’d rather swing by Walmart and grab a dollar poncho before heading up into the Uintas for an overnight backpacking trip.

Needless to say, when Bomber and Company’s package showed up in the mail for us to review here at Wasatch Magazine, I was skeptical. At first glance, these seemed frivolous. I was, we’ll say, half wrong.

In the neatly packed box were five items: the Bomber Barrel (duffel bag), the Mini Bomber Travel Kit (amenities bag), the B-2 Nano Blade (truly tiny pocket knife), Bomber Carabiner Paracord Keychain (exactly what it says), and the Bomber Firestarter Paracord Bracelet (bracelet of woven paracord with firestarter flint). At first sight, all these products absolutely nailed one main factor: design. Everything was sleek, black, and modern, from the cleanly woven paracord zipper pulls on the duffel to the tactical shape of the “world’s smallest pocket knife.” The whole lot was a solid mix of tactical survival with modern, everyday city life. Anyone carrying these items would certainly give off the outdoorsy, bad-to-the-bone, Bear Grylls-esque, “I survived behind enemy lines for three days eating only cactus,” impression.

However, from a first impression, I suspected this is where the products would end. The actual utility of these items seemed like an afterthought. That didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to use these pieces of trendy gear like they were advertised. I ended up with mixed results.

The duffel is easy to rate. It paired with the travel kit to make for a very useful bit of luggage. I toted it along on a weekend backpacking trip to Zion National Park’s Kolob Canyon and found that it served perfectly as my “doesn’t belong in the backpack” bag. That is, the bag with all my snacks, books, chargers, etc., that would not be accompanying me on the trail. I found the bag to be a good, medium size with a simple number of pockets, just enough to hold all your small bits without acting like a puzzle when you have to get something out.

The two paracord items, the bracelet and keychain, also proved at least functional. They clearly were still created for form over function, though, they did still function. The firestarters on both worked (after scraping off the black coating). I found that by wrapping the keychain around your knuckle and using the separate circular striker, you can throw decent sparks off the flint and steel. Of course, if your fire-making skills aren’t already pretty solid, it won’t be of much use.

The B-2 Nano Blade, on the other hand, I found frivolous. I saw no use the tiny pocket knife could provide that a much cheaper Swiss Army knife couldn’t. At least you get a toothpick with the Swiss Army. It only seems useful if you want to feel like a marine while opening your envelopes.

The major downside of all these products ties into their biggest positive. They are all far too expensive. The duffel catches a cool $200, while the paracord products each hit the $23 mark. The hopelessly small pocketknife asks a steep $35. To me, this only reinforces that these products were made for looks, not necessarily use. They aren’t bad, but paying that much for an extraneous piece of gear isn’t something I’m chomping at the bit for. These are targeted towards consumers who are trying to put on a facade and don’t mind paying a little bit more for it. For that market, they’re doing great.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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Bouldering in Bishop

Rock climbing in Happy Boulders in Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, and Jill on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

The time has come for regular climbers to plan their annual fall trips. With Utah getting cold fast, your best bet is to look elsewhere for thrilling climbs. One place I’ve taken to venturing to is Mount Whitney in Bishop, California.

If you have not, Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous 48 states, standing at 14,505 feet, and it is located one hour south of Bishop, California. The drive is long if you’re coming from Salt Lake City, about eight hours if you go through Nevada, so make sure to have some playlists ready. After reaching the Nevada-California border, you’ll begin to see some of the highest mountain peaks in the lower 48. They are crested with white snow and sit atop the horizon. The best place I recommend stopping for food is at Erick Schat’s Bakery for fresh Dutch bread and treats before heading out to the camping spot known as the Pit. Of course, you should make sure you already have supplies for your climbing expedition.

The Pleasant Valley Pit Campground, located 8 miles west of Bishop on Highway 395 is the perfect campground and is relatively inexpensive. The cost will set you back $14 per night with a maximum stay of up to 60 days. That is, if your body can handle that long of a trip. The view from the Pit is stunning. You’ll fall asleep directly under the stars while looking at Mount Tom, which towers over you at 13,652 feet. Most of the fellow campers in the Pit are also climbers looking to either boulder or climb in the Gorge.

Rock climbing in Happy Boulders in Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, and Jill on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Owens River Gorge, about 11 miles north of the Pleasant Valley Campground, is the perfect place to work sport climbing routes. With over 577 climbing routes, including both sport and traditional, the possibilities are endless. I recommend heading to a few routes in the Holy Trinity crag in the Upper Gorge. Routes range from 5.9 to 5.12 with excellent protection. The routes will almost be shaded from the daytime sun since they run next to the river in the gorge. Pick Pocket, 5.11a, was my favorite route. It is easily noticeable because of the specific chalk holds that have marked the path up to the bolts 60 feet off the ground. Other notable climbs in this area that are a must are Triple Play cliff, great for warm ups, and Gorgeous Towers, awesome crack climbing, especially on Wacked Scenario 5.10b. You will absolutely love this crack.

After you’ve finished climbing in the gorge, head back up to your car and drive north to take a dip in the Crab Cooker hot spring 20 miles northwest. The Crab Cooker is located on your way to Mammoth, a classic California ski resort in the Inyo National Forest. The hot springs have adjustable temperature settings with a wrench to turn the valve. Once you’ve relaxed in the hot spring, head back to camp and catch some shut-eye before bouldering the next day in the Happy Boulders area.

When you wake up the following morning, get a well-rounded breakfast and head due east about 4 miles to the Happy Boulders for another exciting day of climbing. The only bouldering I had done prior to this trip in Bishop, California, was in a Salt Lake City gym. After bouldering outside in Bishop, I finally understand the desire to boulder — it is so much more fun to be outside with friends, climbing on real rock. The thing about bouldering is that there are so many different routes to climb it is unbelievable. In the Happy Boulders area alone, there are 481 marked routes. One climb I would put down for the record books is Monkey Hang V3, which starts out with an unbelievable Gaston hold, a technique where you push against holds instead of pulling on one to gain leverage, and a foot hold. While keeping your hands placed on the starting hold, you swing your body around to latch your feet on the top edge of the boulder. Once they have been placed, carefully reposition your body to mantle (a move where you push and flop like a beached whale) up over the lip to finish the route. You will be breathing heavily after completing this route, but you will feel like a champion once reaching the top.

Rock climbing in Owen’s River Gorge near Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, Jill, Felix, and Kristen on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

As always, climb with friends in case of an emergency, and remember to take the proper equipment such as sun screen, clothing, and food. Document your adventure with a camera and tell others about the awesome area in Bishop. On your drive back home, I suggest stopping by Erick Schat’s Bakery for some cinnamon pull-apart bread to enjoy in celebration.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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