Top Adventures of 2014

Sometimes adventure means traveling to far-reaching parts of the globe and sometimes it means simply stepping out the back door. Arc’Teryx athletes scour the hinterlands in search of new zones, new routes, new adventures – new anything. We’ve selected three vids/stories from the Arc’Teryx ‘Best Of’ – Adventure list for 2014.

 

Thalay Sagar – Prayers in the Wind

Jason Kruk, Paul McSorley and Joshua Lavigne travel to the Indian Himalayas to climb a new route on the imposing, 1500-metre north face of Thalay Sagar. Amidst the sacred waters of the Ganges and towering peaks of icy granite they find a peace that transcends the chaos of their lives. The senses are swept clean and attune to the prayers in the wind.

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Adam Campbell And The Hardrock 100: What You Haven’t Heard About The Race

Words by Adam Campbell. Photos by Matt Trappe​.

The Hardrock 100 Mountain Run in the San Juan mountains of Colorado is a special race amongst mountain ultrarunning events. It’s a true mountain race with steep, technical terrain, variable weather, thin air due to the high altitude, sparse course markings, innumerable river and creek crossings, but also incredible alpine beauty. It limits its field to 140 runners a year, with start lists determined by a lottery system. Just to apply to be considered to the lottery runners have to have shown aptitude at other mountain ultras, or in mountaineering exploits. All of these factors lead to Hardrock being a bucket-list race for mountain runners and I was no exception.

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Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

The 2014 Hardrock was a special event because several of the top ultrarunners in the world, including Kilian Jornet and several other previous race winners and podium finishers, were all selected for the race. I was one of the lucky ones joining this elite crew of veterans.

When I heard I was chosen for the race, I had a moment of ecstasy, followed by almost as much fear and dread. I knew that the course would challenge in ways that I had never been challenged before and to even just finish the beast I would have to adapt my training. A run like Hardrock is not about speed – runners spend more time hiking parts of the course than they do running – but rather it’s about strength, mental fortitude, preparation, good race execution, comfort in mountain environments, adaptability and problem on solving on race day and more than a bit of luck.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

Most of my training for the race included run commuting to and from work with a 10-12lbs pound pack on my back. These runs would be between 25 and 90 minutes depending on how much time I had. I would also try to sneak in one specific hill run mid-week, with really big days on the weekends. The weekend runs had a specific focus on getting in vertical in technical mountain terrain, mostly around Canmore, AB, or in Kananaskis. I would also try and do a bit of strength work at home a few days a week. Through the winter months I tried to get in some climbing, x-country along with a few skimo races and big days ski touring to mix things up. In total I was getting 10 to 25 hours a week of training, with most weeks in the 12-15 hour range.

I was a bit uncertain how my unconventional training approach was going, because I was living in a new city, so I didn’t have a lot of reference points on standard routes, we also had a brutally cold and snowy winter in Calgary and I wasn’t racing much. I did run the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in 7:21, suffering a rather dramatic blowup from the heat on the final ascent up the South Rim. I ran the Calgary Marathon 50 km race in 3:08 and I also set a new Fastest Known Time for the Canmore Quad, in 9:20. The “Quad” is a challenging 53km route with almost 5,000m of ascent the day after a 5.5 hour run with over 2,600 meters of elevation. I assumed that my fitness was probably alright, but there were a lot of variables that I couldn’t account for including 1) how would I handle the increased altitude since I would not be able to get up high to acclimate before the race; 2) I had only run one 100-miler previously, so the distance was still a big unknown; 3) I did not know the route well and I did not have time to recce it; 4) my brother was getting married in Spain the week before the race, so I spent my Hardrock taper on the beach in Spain arranging my brother’s bachelor party and helping with wedding party planning, along with partying a bit myself; 5) I had put in some long hours at work in the previous month and was hoping to compete against a host of full-time professional runners.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

If there is one positive that I kept trying to reinforce to myself, it’s that I felt very little pressure to perform. I usually believe that I can compete with the some of the best runners on a good day, but this time around my goals were 1) finish the race; 2) enjoy the experience; 3) gain more experience at 100-milers. I was able to do this almost perfectly on race day. I was able to run within myself, staying quite mindful of the tasks I needed to do to cover the course efficiently, including not getting lost, fueling properly and listening to my body about when I needed to slow down and when I could push the pace. I remained mostly grateful that I was out there moving quickly through incredible terrain, doing something that I know a lot of runners wish they could do. I also knew I had a lot of family and friends cheering me on from afar and I was lifted by the thought of them.

I am very grateful for the incredible help I got from my crew and pacers, Gary Robbins and Aaron Heidt. I would not have had the race I did without their help. It was a real honour to share the experience with two Canadian runners who have both been influential in getting me into ultrarunning and both of whom have pushed me to try and be the best runner that I can be. I will forever be indebted to them for their generosity and help out there. They are true friends.

There has been a lot (perhaps too much) written about the lightning incident, so I don’t need to elaborate much on that, other than it was incredibly scary and I am very glad that Aaron and I escaped a potentially very serious situation unscathed. Once Aaron and I were finally out of danger, there was no discussion between us about whether we should continue or not. We went to Hardrock to experience the environment, which included the weather. In big mountain environments you get big weather. It did reinforce to me that anything can happen in a race, and in the mountains, and it was a good reminder that I had to remain ever mindful and vigilant in order to make it around the course. A lot of great runners were not as fortunate as me out there and were not able to have the result they wanted.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

It was also a real privilege to watch Kilian Jornet have arguably one of the greatest ultra marathon races of all time, destroying the course record and making the race look easy. His level of skill and proficiency in the mountains, his mental approach to running, along with his otherworldly fitness and physiology are a real perspective changer. He is changing the nature of the sport and showing us what a well conditioned and adapted human is capable of. I was fortunate enough to run some miles with him and spend some time with him after the race and it has had a profound impact on me and how I will approach my mountain adventures.

I was also fortunate enough to watch people of all speeds and abilities challenge themselves in indescribable ways out on the course. Every participant in the race is faced with their own internal demons and is challenged in unique ways by the mountains. Hearing their stories after the race, whether they finished or not, is inspiring and worth listening to.

Finally, it was an honour to be a part of such a historic race. It humbled me, reducing me to walking and sitting on a rock in the middle of the night on the verge of tears contemplating how I would cover the last 20 miles. My spirits were lifted by my fellow competitors, along with the amazing volunteers, spectators and race organizers who added an incredible human element to the event. The race would have no soul and would not happen without them.

 

Collaboration, Inspiration and Motivation: Christina Lusti at The Great Cairn Hut

Words by Christina Lusti. Photos by Angela Percival.

I find inspiration in just about every corner of life. Inspiration is everywhere: it’s in the people I surround myself with, the passion I have for life. It’s in the change of seasons and it lives in the anticipation of a big day in the mountains. I make the most of every moment I have in the mountains and I am motivated by the fuel these elements add to the fire.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

The constant act of acquiring knowledge and experience creates a unique curiosity as I propel myself through, over and down mountains around the world. Learning the about snow – how it changes and the craft of understanding the science of it all – excites me to use and practice my skills in the place where I belong. The management of always changing mountain conditions is a mind game that never stops once one steps into an alpine environment.

What is it about self-propelled ski touring that drives me up mountains? It is as much of the up as it is the down: the art of creating my own up track through complex terrain, relying on my strength physically and mentally to push me to the most amazing places I can imagine. When I am out there, I know that I truly am in the right place and right moment of my life, as if I am following my passion as an internal compass.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

My first visit to British Columbia’s Great Cairn Hut was two years ago. I skied in from the CMH Adamants lodge, and after two days of navigating though a storm and new terrain, I opened the door to one of my new favorite zones. Getting to know this area is one thing, hitting it with the right weather and conditions for the big prize objectives is something else altogether.

When we arrived this spring, I was excited for Forrest Coots and Eric Hoji to see a little more of the northern Selkirks. Coots and Hoji are athletes I look up to, and I always feel privileged to spend time with these two savvy mountain men.

Photo courtesy Arc'Teryx.
Photo courtesy Arc’Teryx.

Learning from another athlete’s perspective can open our eyes in the mountains and teach us to look at everything differently. With a week to explore, we spent long days and early mornings out on the snow and returned every day to the cozy stone walls of the Great Cairn Hut. The team kept the laughter loud and rich, with stories from past trips, and life moments worth sharing.

We called the hut home for a week, and were dealt some stormy spring weather, teasing us with convective clouds, high winds, and loading precipitation. We made the best of the situation – we navigated around the zone and tried our best at some of the bigger objectives we had in mind. Sometimes you can only push so much in the mountains before it becomes really clear that another time, might be a better time.

 

Reblogged from Arc’Teryx’s The Bird.