If you haven’t heard rumors of Sean Murphy’s skills on a snowboard coming out of Summit County, well you have now. This Lacrosse, Wisconsin native and ZEAL and Nightmare team rider is on the come up.
We caught up with this young gun from Europe where he’s on full summer shred tour….
Where do you like to ride mainly and who’s your crew?
I just like to ride with my friends at Keystone a lot, and ride pow at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Vail Pass, Loveland — you know all over - and get in the streets with the Nightmare team and other good friends.
What are you up to over in the old country?
Ahh man - it was my first time out of the US so it was a bit overwhelming at times, but i got to learn how to surf on the Eisbach river in Munich at their huge public park English Garden, then went to Les Deux Alpes. I made some friends and had fun at the rail jam they put on and stayed at the Smk camp house which I’m sure I’ll visit again.
Then it was off to Saas Fee in Switzerland, a crazy little old village where no cars are allowed! It’s a stunning place visually - the two days i rode there were the only sunny ones for the past two weeks! Then we jumped a train to Füssen, Germany in the heart of “castle land” to stay with my newest sponsor Templeton Outerwear. Then it was off to the Postland Theory Rail Riots camp with Templeton up in the Netherlands at a snow hall . I’ve skated about 15 different mini ramps since I’ve gotten here. Oh, and the beer here is perfect!
What are you into outside of snowboarding?
Skateboarding a shit ton, nature, and other interdabsting things - LOL - really tho I’m into high-end glass and nugrun bho shatter.
And I’m into exploring consciousness - love going to good festivals in the summer like Electric Forest as well as hometown area fests like Infrasound or Summerset.
Why are you down with ZEAL?
Down with ZEAL because the lenses are fuckin’ awesome — I love that they’re doing plant-based ecofriendly shades, plus it’s a CO-based company - the best state. And they’re down with Nightmare!
Who else do you ride for and what’s good?
I ride for Nightmare, Vans, Future Shock Boardshop, YOU and MarbleMansion street wear. What’s good - hopefully on Candygrind soon, and Union flow through FutureShock.
It was awesome! So much pow! But sadly had a hyperextended knee right before I was about to head home to the Midwest for an urban trip so I had to bail on that… Otherwise i got a couple clips- first year really trying to film a full part..
Join photographer and expert paddler Jason van Bruggen as he takes his canoe above the 69th Parallel and paddles to Franklin Bay and the Arctic Coast for a daily mission chronicling these #ArcticDream. The Horton River flows the furthest north of any of Canada’s mainland rivers and empties into the Arctic Ocean. It is the quintessential barrenlands river and one of the remotest places left to #ExploreMore!
Photos & Words: @jasonvanbruggen
Day 1: Looking under the wing of a Twin Otter crossing the 60th parallel and heading to the Arctic Circle. This workhorse, operated by North-Wright Airways has been my chariot for the last few summers as I’ve explored the barrenlands of Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Day 2: Midnight fishing is what Arctic Dreams are made of. No better way to transition from one day to the next than finding a little eddy loaded with Arctic Greyling. Fish are plentiful on the Horton as it only sees a handful of people paddling it’s waters every year. The ones we caught were so impressive we put ‘em back.
Day 3: @jasonvanbruggen and Cedar Jasiuk coming up for some air after hitting a big wave train at the end of the first canyon on the Horton River. Trigger man: Paul Wood
Day 4: Scouting a big drop on the Lower Horton. River right was the way to go.
Day 5: 20 feet of visibility down. Gold and Green all around.
Day 6: Should we go high or low? Scouting a line down the tricky second canyon of the Lower Horton River.
Day 7: Our days involved either a headwind or a serious swarm of mosquitoes. This was a good day. As we head north out of the sparse Black Spruce forest and into the treeless barrenlands, the bugs are getting worse, and bigger.
Snowboarding is incredibly addictive. For some more than others. Many take years to become completely hooked, but for Rafael Pease the addiction came on quick and capture him mind body and sole. Fortunately, when combined with the right personality, this addiction can be incredibly positive. And contagious.
After learning to snowboard in 2011 in Chile, Rafa immediately hooked and wanted more. He wasn’t satisfied with the riding that ski areas offered. In 2012 he made the move to the backcountry and ever since has rarely ridden at ski areas. Riding continuously since 2012, not missing a season in either hemisphere, his passion for exploration has driven him into deeper terrain. Rafa is currently traveling from one end of Chile to the other doing the job of three; filming, photographing and riding alone to execute a short teaser for his upcoming documentary which will commence filming in May of 2015.
The film, like many of our dreams, is about finding untouched, unharmed nature in the backcountry while connecting with the indigenous people and how their lives have changed over the past few decades due to environmental issues. As well as finding the best powder in the best spots in Chile. Stay tuned for his upcoming teaser and see more HERE.
This is only the beginning.
Sit down with ZEAL Ambassador Steve House to talk climbing, plans, goals and the unwavering drive to get out and #ExploreMore!
You’re a hard man to keep up with. Give us a quick run down of where you’ve found yourself over the last couple months?
The spring was spent climbing and skiing in the Alps. I started with a great 3-weeks in the Chamonix-area where I had hoped to get on some bigger alpine-climbing objectives, but it just kept snowing. This was bad for climbing conditions, but good for skiing, so skiing was had! Next was a trip to Alaska with the Alpine Mentors project. This is a group of four young (25-30 year old) climbers who I’ve been mentoring and climbing with for almost two years now, we spent 3 weeks on Denali, and everyone learned a lot and summited the mountain, some three times.
What have been some of the highlights for you?
In Chamonix I was able to get on some steeper descents than what I’d done before. After Cham, my wife Eva and I went to visit her family in Austria and while there we linked up this huge traverse, the High-Tirol (Hochtirol) in six days, guiding four clients, and putting about 130km under our skis. I love doing big mountain traverses like that in winter. It was really challenging with a bit of bad weather and difficult navigation. Yet every day we had amazing powder skiing on glaciers, with the mountains to ourselves. It’s so cool to travel across so much beautiful mountain terrain under your own power and hardly see a soul.
In June I was on Denali with www.alpinementors.org. This trip was a big success, not because we did anything super rad, but rather because the group worked really well together despite really challenging weather and bad conditions. And we all got to the summit of the mountain multiple times, in short, not-great-weather windows. That showed me how far our group has come in the last two years. I was really proud of them. My personal highlight was seeing them struggle and overcome, getting to the summit in some tough conditions.
How has the response been to your book lately? It really provides an interesting perspective on the climber as athlete.
A lot of mountain athletes have been asking for this book for a long time, and everyone I talk to is stoked to finally have all this information at their fingertips. The book is very comprehensive and it’s a lot of knowledge to take in and the more time that goes by the more people are contacting us saying that they are following our training methods, and they’re super happy with their results. I expect it to take a while for the majority of climbers to put it into practice in their own climbing, but it will happen. These things have a way of snowballing because as soon as one person starts to realize how much better there partner (who is training) has become, they’ll jump into training too. Also I think this book goes a long way to dispelling the myth of talent, and gives people a very specific roadmap for achieving great things in outdoor sport. It simply takes a plan, hard work, and dedication. No special tricks are required.
How have you been promoting the book and do you think it’s having an impact on the community?
We did a couple of promotional events around the time of publication, but mostly we’re letting word-of-mouth do it’s work. We’re racking up a lot of really good reviews with all the on-line booksellers; we have 97% 5-star reviews. And the books’ early-adopters, those who started their training four months ago when the book launched, are seeing really good results and telling their friends.
How have you been filling your time at home in Colorado?
Scott Johnston, my co-author and coach, and I are working on a training-logbook that goes with Training for the New Alpinism. I also own a guide service, Skyward Mountaineering, and we’re re-launching our website soon. To stay motivated and strong I’m running a lot and rock climbing as much as I can.
Top three spots in CO to explore:
Telluride-Area. If you’re a climber, be sure to check out the Ophir Wall and the Falls Wall. Neither are great places for beginning climbers, but if you can climb 5.10/5.11 you can have a blast in either of these places. For hiking, I’d recommend the Sneffels Highline Trail. It runs well too as it’s overall not as rocky as some trails in the area.
Ouray-Area. In the winter-time Ouray is Colorado’s ice-climbing mecca; and everyone who ice climbs makes it there at some point. If you’re just getting into the sport, or even want to try it for the first time, I’d recommend attending the Ouray Ice Festival. There is tons of free gear to demo and cheap clinics to take. Overall a great event, but especially great if you want to try ice climbing in a safe, fun environment.
Black Canyon. This is hands-down my favorite climbing venue in Colorado. It gets a bad rap because some of the routes have less than perfect rock, but lots of the routes are stellar. You have to be an advanced trad climber to lead here, but if you have the skills, it’s simply epic.
How long does it usually take before you get the itch to head back out and Explore More?
I usually need to have some big expeditionary trip every six months or so. Three expeditions a year is too much though, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work out too well!
What’s next on the calendar?
Next big trip for me will be an expedition to India in October to try the first ascent of an unclimbed 20,000’ peak.
Advice for people heading into the mountains this weekend?
Decide at the outset if you’re there to have fun and go with the flow or if you’re there to focus on doing something specific, like a particular route or peak. Both approaches are good, but it never works out to mix the two. Last weekend I wanted to focus on rock climbing, so when it started raining, rather than head down I found some routes under a big roof and got my pump on. If I’d let the rain run me off I would have been disappointed in my weekend for sure.
Three essentials in your pack on every trip:
Rock shoes, maps, and of course the best sunnies!
This summer Ellen and Seth Massey had big plans—sailing the Northwest Passage—but Murphy’s Law came into play. Here’s how this duo rolled with the punches and found another amazing adventure along the way…
A few times out in the backcountry, I’ve dug a snowpit and decided not to ski that line I’d been hoping for. Mixed with the inevitable pang of disappointment, there’s always the consolation that I’ve done the right thing and, if all goes well, I can be up there again another time. Seth and I have had pretty much those same feelings these last couple of months, maybe on a larger scale.
We knew that preparing our sailboat Celeste for her big Arctic voyage through the Northwest Passage was going to entail a major refit. Over the winter our boatyard and sponsor Platypus Marine did the really huge projects: sheathing the hull in extra fiberglass and even a layer of Kevlar at the waterline to protect against ice, and installing a new Yanmar diesel engine so we wouldn’t experience engine failure just as an iceberg is bearing down on us and there’s no wind to fill the sails. But Seth and I had left a lot of the finicky (and high labor cost!) projects to do ourselves when we returned to the boat towards the end of May. We’d banked on installing new electronics—GPS, chartplotter, radar, autopilot, and satellite phone—as well as new batteries, solar panels, a low-energy refrigerator, and a watermaker (drinking water is expensive or even impossible to obtain in the Arctic communities). What we hadn’t banked on was all the other stuff.
The biggest disappointment came when we unscrewed the panel covering the wires to the circuit breaker. Almost none of the original wires had been marine-grade (tinned to prevent corrosion), and, as new instruments or lights or equipment had been installed over the boat’s lifetime, connections had just been piggy-backed onto older terminals so that nothing made sense. There were also multiple hanging, disused wires, which made things messy and confusing. There was nothing for it but to tear everything out and start re-wiring. We spent our twelve-hour work days crawling into awkward spaces wearing headlamps, unscrewing hangers and snipping old zip ties, discovering we didn’t have the right gauge wire or the right ring terminals or enough terminal bars and ordering more, soldering and heat-shrinking connections, and running around the boat with an ohm meter and a long bit of wire to find out what the hell those mystery wires did. By the end of about 10 days, though, every circuit had a bit of painter’s tape saying what it did, and our breaker panel made a lot more sense.
Smaller disappointments followed: some problems with our plumbing, wood and fiberglass needing varnish and paint before we could mount the solar panels, and the daily frustrations of not having quite the right part for a certain project. Constant runs to the hardware store for hosing or fasteners, Radio Shack for some obscure electrical connector, or the chandlery for a marine-specific part put us back hours and even days. But finally the day came when we could start stowing the boat with all the thousand items needed for such a voyage. In the shed, the piles of sails, life raft, survival suits, rope, tools, spare engine parts, first aid kits, pots and pans, blankets, towels, and clothes slowly diminished as it all found room somewhere in Celeste’s 40 foot hull. Then we were on to provisioning: buying and stowing all the food we’d need for the next few months. Exhausted and stressed, we finally launched Celeste on June 20, ten days after the date we’d intended.
The headwinds wouldn’t stop, though! Our autopilot was steering in circles, our heater was burning so hot that it turned the chimney a psychedelic purple color, our engine was also running hot, and my laptop wouldn’t talk to our satellite phone to download weather files. All of this took some time to resolve, though all the people and/or books we consulted were super helpful: OCENS Satellite Services’ technical support patiently talked me through my errors; the heater company replied to our email with a labeled diagram; the autopilot manual told us we needed new software which was free to download; and Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual told us we likely only needed more oil and coolant in the engine.
The boat seemed ready to go, so we finally set off on our first big passage of the voyage on June 27. Unfortunately we’d made the sailors’ critical mistake of leaving on a Friday. No day can be more inauspicious, and I think that’s the last time we’ll ignore seafaring superstitions! Neither the electric autopilot nor the mechanical self-steering gear would cooperate. But worst of all was that we’d forgotten to take care of ourselves while preparing the boat. We had neither of us realized how completely drained we were from all the work and stress, and now, out on the open ocean, our bodies and minds let themselves be heard. We both got more seasick than we have in years. Aside from a couple of moments when we saw a whale spout or watched a black-footed albatross wing across the waves, it was one of our most miserable times at sea. The last straw came when our jib—our primary headsail—blew out a bunch of its stitching just after dawn on the third morning.
It was a difficult decision—akin to looking at a dubious snowpit and packing it in for the day—but ultimately we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t prudent to keep pushing ourselves and the boat. So we decided to postpone our Northwest Passage transit. We’d make our repairs—stitching the jib back together and fixing our self-steering gear—and rest ourselves on Vancouver Island before sailing north through the islands, fjords, and mountains of Southeast Alaska. By the time we would make our next offshore passage, to Prince William Sound and all its incredible tidewater glaciers, we’d have fully recovered in body and mind. From Valdez our plan was to carry on west along the Kenai Fjords and then the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak, arriving in Dutch Harbor in September. There we’d winterize Celeste and return again in 2015 for the Arctic.
It was the best decision we could have made. Beautiful forested mountains greeted us as we closed Vancouver Island. The swell lay down, the wind quieted, and we could hear a whole chorus of birds, the most soothing welcome to a pristine harbor. A bald eagle swooped overhead and perched in a nearby tree and a sea otter, the first I’d ever seen in the wild, floated on his back and watched us pass. It was the perfect introduction to what would be a summer of humpback whales and orcas, black bears and grizzlies, hot springs and waterfalls, glaciers and snow-capped peaks. In the end it’s turned out for the best that our metaphorical snowpit didn’t look good—what a shame it would have been to miss all this!
The PedALL The Peaks crew is back on their mission to bike, hike and clean up all of Colorado’s Fourteeners this summer with a mission up the Diente/Wilson Group.
Words: Morris Hogan
Photographs: Austin Johnson
Partner in Crime: Kyle Lusk
We slept in a nearby RV park located conveniently right off the highway. The traffic roared by all night which left pretty restless sleep for the lot of us. The prior day Kyle had fallen Ill and we opted for a rest day in Ridgway. However today Kyle had begun to feel better, far from perfect health, but good enough to push through. After breakfast we hopped on our saddles and headed up Dallas Divide, our first pass of the day.
It was around 11 am by the time we were on the road and the monsoons had begun to build over the mountains. We knew this was a late start but we could not afford to rush and risk Kyle’s health. After a solid hour slog we reached the summit of the divide. From here we decided to take Last Dollar road to connect us to the town of Sawpit.
Last Dollar road led us on this beautiful mesa which offered superb views of the San Juan’s and more. Once we hit Sawpit we grabbed a quick snack at a local gas station then continued the climb up towards Telluride. Right before the town of Telluride we hooked a right and headed for Lizard Head pass.
Around 6 pm we finally reached the summit of Lizard Head. From here we had to descend about 6 miles down the other side and link up to a dirt road which would take us to the Navajo Lake TH. When we reached the dirt road we decided to ditch a good portion of our weight and keep only the essentials-one set of clothes, stove, sleeping bag, pad, tent, barely enough food, sunglasses, toothbrush with paste, and of course the fly rod. We threw our packs on our backs and carried only one pannier a person.
The lighter load was an incredible relief and made the dirt road significantly more enjoyable. We cruised up and over another Mesa where we caught the beginning of an epic sunset. After about 7 miles in on the dirt road we eventually reached the TH, instead of locking up the bikes and hiking in we decided to push our luck and see how far we could ride.
We made it about one mile in until we reached an impassable pitch, at least by bike. So we locked up and started the trek. The hike up was beautiful, but by the time we reached the lake it was dark, 10 PM dark.
Exhausted and drained from a 60 mile bike over three passes topped with a 5 mile hike, we had finally reached the days destination. We quickly whipped up some dinner, filtered water, and hit the hay to prepare for the following day.
We decided it’d be best to allow ourselves at least 8 hours of sleep to hopefully recover from the prior days journey With that in mind we set the alarm for 7 am and were on the trail around 8.
Navajo Lake sits at about 12,000 ft, so we fortunately did not have all that much elevation to gain. Our bodies were sore and exhausted from the day before so our pace was slow. Kyle was feeling much better, which was a relief to all of us. We were even able to reach the Rock of Ages saddle- which divides Navajo Lake from the northeast side of Wilson Peak, as seen on the Coors can- around 9 am. From here the more technical aspect of Wilson Peak began.
Carefully manoeuvring the loose steep scree we safely made it to the summit around 10 am. The views were astounding and offered a great arial map of the San Juan area. We had a lot of passes to cross and significant elevation to gain and lose over the next few weeks, nothin new though in this line of business.
After a quick lunch we began the decent down. On our downward travel we picked up what trash we found, not all that much, which was expected. The San Juan’s see much less traffic than the front range mountains and thus less garbage is left about. However down by the lake, where most people camp, we found much more trash compared to that on the trail. We cleaned up some of the area and proceeded to lounge the rest of the afternoon.
There was no doubt about it, we were beat from the day before, all three of us passed out once back at camp. After the nap we cooked dinner and laid down for the evening. The day before was hard, but the following day would prove to be much more arduous
We started the day early, around 5:30 the first alarm sounded. This allowed us to hit the trail by 6 am. The prior day we scoped out the ascent and traverse of El Diente to Mt Wilson, we decided it’d be much more solid if we took an alternate route up Diente.
What we decided on was a rugid 2,000 foot ascent up a granite couloir which ran off the north west aspect of the peak. The first half of the couloir contained steep loose scree, and we found ourselves slipping and clinging onto whatever we could find. We reached the final 1,000 ft of the couloir around 8:30, what remained was banger solid granite ledges all the way to the summit.
From here the climbing was much more solid and we felt significantly more comfortable, even though we were fully exposed about 1,500 ft off the valley floor.
There’s no doubt we were pushing our limits up there, but we couldn’t help it. There’s arguably no better feeling than threading the needle between fully alive, and, well, not alive.
Carefully climbing and going one at a time to ensure whatever safety there was, we arrived at the summit around 9:30. We ate a quick snack and began the traverse over to Mt Wilson.
The first half of the traverse was quite mellow with only one real technical section, which required scooting over some steep ledges above vast shear cliffs below. We passed by carefully and diligently arriving at the second half of the traverse around 10:30. From here the climbing was spiced up a few notches.
We had to maintain the ridge for about 300 yards, which offered a good dose of exposure. The loose blocks that made up the ridge were constantly trembling under each step, any misstep or stumble would result it in utter disaster. With all fours spread out we slowly made our way across the ridge and into a saddle where a 100 ft wall awaited. One by one we made our way up the harrowing climb passing numerous anchors, which are typically used by most the mountaineers up there, unfortunately ropes didn’t make our cut on this trip. From here the summit was only a short scramble away! We reached the top of Mt Wilson around 11:30, and immediately indulged into a peanut butter bagel surprise.
After lunch we scoped out our return route. The three of us decided that it would be a better call to descend one of the couloirs that ran north into Navajo lake off of Mt Wilson, rather than re navigate the treacherous ridge. What we found was a 50 degree decent on loose rock which lead right into a 1,500 strip of snow. Using nothing more than a rock to self arrest, we glissaded the narrow strip of winter. At one point Kyle was unable to keep hold of his rock and began to slide out of control, picking up speed quick. He slid for about 50 ft before he was able to dig his wolverine claws deep enough in the snow to halt his momentum. Close call.
After the glissade we navigated down another 1,000 ft stretch of steep scree and cliffs to finally arrive back at Navajo Lake around 2:30. Another quick snack and camp pack and we were back! On the trail that is.
During the decent and ascent of Diente/Wilson we found minimal trash, mainly because of the alternate routes we chose. However now that we were back on the Navajo lake trail the amount of garbage increased, but only a little. By far the lake and the TH held the most trash in this area, great start to the San Juan’s.
We ripped down the trail and arrived back at the bridge where we had left our bikes a few days prior. But unfortunately we were greeted by some bad luck. Kyle’s rear tire was completely flat, and we had not brought the pump. With a turn of luck I had some old Co2 cartridges and happily gave it to Kyle along with a fresh tube. With less than half the appropriate amount of air pressure we were back one our way. With lighter loads we ripped the single track in proper fashion. Two crashes over the bars and a couple of smiles later we reached the TH and began to clean the area. After, we began our climb back up to the Mesa and over to the south side of Lizard Head pass.
Here we dug out our stash of ditched weight and reloaded our bikes. Slowly we climbed back up Lizard Head and reached the summit just in time for sunset. We started the day before sunrise, and now it was looking like we would be ending the day after sunset.
We finally reached Telluride around 8:30 after about 14 hours of non stop movement, we we’re beat, drained, exhausted, cooked, scorched, and more alive than most. For the following days we would rest in Telluride before moving forth through the San Juan’s.