Radical Reels: The Best Mountain Sports Films

By Ali Carr Troxell Picture this: a bunch of svelte mountain athletes rabbiting between slack-lining, base-jumping, paragliding, and free-soloing…wearing clown shoes. All at a frenetic pace set to music that’s better suited to a big top than an outdoor film. This mash up of skilled athletes and acrobatic circus performers is the premise behind the French film, Petit Bus Rouge (or Little Red Bus, as it translates). It’s a sure audience-pleaser scheduled for this year’s Radical Reels tour.

Read More

Backcountry Pole FAQs: Your Questions Answered

As many winter hikers, snowshoers, skiers and splitboarders will attest, backcountry poles help you maintain stability and safety as you cross snowfields, navigate icy switchbacks, and traverse frozen hillsides. Plus, they help you reduce joint impact and minimize fatigue, so you can save strength and better endure the elements. Adjustable winter poles are especially useful for navigating steep inclines and descents, letting you shorten or lengthen poles to match the terrain for improved efficiency. Adjustable poles also pack up and stow away easily while in technical terrain, or when splitboarders are ready to ride down. Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) of our customer service department along with information to help you select and use MSR® backcountry poles that are right for you, for your environment, and for the…

Read More

Choosing the Right Snowshoes for Every Adventure

More than 4,000 years in the making, modern snowshoes have migrated from their roots in Central Asia to become a popular form of recreation worldwide for all types of adventurers. Annually, millions of cold weather enthusiasts explore city parks to national parks on plastic and metal-framed footwear designed for snow flotation. And selecting the perfect snowshoes for the intended terrain and snow conditions will only heighten the experience for everyone.

Read More

Water Treatment 101: Viruses

Viruses take the cake as tiniest of the waterborne microorganisms that cause illness in humans—smaller than both protozoa and bacteria. These nasty little bugs are also the least understood by scientists, and cause the greatest range of symptoms across infected individuals. The good new is, in North American backcountries, viruses are typically considered much less of a concern than the other pathogenic threats.

Read More

Water Treatment 101: Bacteria

Bacteria are everywhere—on you, in you, in the soil, and yes, even in the wilderness’ cool, refreshing water sources. In fact harmless species of these single-cell organisms exist naturally in the backcountry’s rivers and pools. But humans and animals can carry harmful bacteria as well, and spread these pathogens to the water, making it risky if you happen to drink from the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of these bacteria are the same notorious headline grabbers associated with foodborne outbreaks or epidemics after natural disasters. We’ll discuss those and others, but first a few general facts.

Read More

Water Treatment 101: Cryptosporidium

Research backcountry water treatment and you’re sure to be warned about cryptosporidium or “crypto.” And for good reason. This microscopic protozoan parasite is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. Like the parasite giardia, crypto is found in water sources worldwide, and affects individuals differently. Fortunately, the disease it causes is rarely life-threatening in healthy adults. In fact, some 80% of the U.S. population has had cryptosporidiosis at some time, according to the FDA. Still, its symptoms are nasty enough that you’ll want to take strides to avoid it on your next backpacking trip.

Read More

Water Treatment 101: Understanding Giardia

If you find the published information about Giardia confusing and inconsistent, it’s because the information is a reflection of the parasite itself. Giardia is a multifaceted protozoan that affects individuals differently. It can be prevalent in one small corner of a lake, and practically absent in other parts of the same body of water. In the context of backcountry water, cases of Giardia are rarely diagnosed or reported and there haven’t been enough scientific studies to understand the risks to backcountry travelers. To further complicate the matter, the symptoms of Giardia are difficult to distinguish from those of cryptosporidium, another parasite.

Read More

Backcountry Basics: Recognizing Avalanche Terrain

By Dale Atkins “We didn’t think we were in an avalanche path.” These were the sorrow-filled words told to me by a couple whose friend was buried and killed in very small Colorado avalanche back in 2000. The problem of not recognizing avalanche terrain is not new. Avalanche survivors have likely uttered similar words for centuries, and even today the message is still heard after some accidents. Avalanche terrain can be a broad and complicated topic. But here, I’ll introduce some ideas and key points about avalanche terrain that you may not have heard before. I hope this will encourage you to seek out information. Recognizing avalanche terrain is key to staying alive and having fun in the backcountry. You can’t control the weather or the snow conditions but you…

Read More

Backcountry Basics: How To Use Your Avalanche Probe, Shovel, and Snow Saw

Written by Jeff Hambelton Working in the backcountry during the winter for the Northwest Avalanche Center, I investigate the current snowpack, track the avalanche hazard, and perform all manner of experiments in the name of snow science. If you ask me what’s in my pack, you may get varied answers, depending on the mission. You might find overnight gear, maybe a science toolkit, sometimes a picnic lunch. But you will always find my shovel, probe and snow saw—the basic tools for snow science and companion rescue.

Read More