23. March 2012 15:38
Living here in Pullman since February of 2000, I have had my fair share of outdoor experiences in and around the Pullman area. One place I really enjoy is Moscow Mountain-just across the border in Idaho. Some of my friends at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) introduced me to a group of mountain bikers in the area who traverse the trails of Moscow Mountain on the regular. Being the adventurous gnome that I am, I quickly gathered a group of friends to check out the trails of Moscow Mountain. To my surprise, there are a bunch of interconnected trails all over Moscow Mountain. After my first trip to Moscow Mountain, I was hooked and have been going back often throughout the year for the past 10 years.
The great part about Moscow Mountain is the diversity. With a bunch of different trails weaving in and out of other interconnecting trails, the options are almost limitless. There are trail lengths and difficulties ranging across the spectrum, Moscow Mountain is a perfect place to learn the sport of mountain biking or to challenge your biking expertise. My first trip out there was more of a feeler, trying to get used to the terrain and ensuring I knew where I was and where I was going. Now, I hit the ground pedaling and don’t look back, it’s truly a great place to bike!
While the majority of the land is private, the Moscow Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA), a group out of Idaho, maintains 39 mountain biking trails. This non-profit organization conducts trail restoration events throughout the year. Their website requires a donation to access the most detailed information about the trails, but the free access to the site is sufficient for most (bikemoscow.org). Additionally, some information about mountain biking trails can be found on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce website (moscowchamber.com) and Trails.com website.
Having such an amazing place to go mountain biking just down the roa... [More]
2. March 2012 22:31
Get to Know Your Gear’s weekly update will get you familiar with 0°F Sleeping Bags & Liners.
What is a 0° Sleeping Bag & Liner? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are, as their name’s imply, very cold weather sleeping bags and liners to keep an outdoor enthusiast safe and warm when camping in frigid winter conditions. These sleeping bags are made of different materials depending on the needs of the camper, varying from heavy to ultra-light. Liners specifically are used to line the inside of the sleeping bag as another layer of insulation.
How do they work? – 0° sleeping bags can vary in type and material, but they work to keep body heat in and the cold air out. The outer shell of the sleeping bag is typically made of nylon, which is used to protect the outside of the bag from the environment. Inner shells are often made or nylon also, but can be a type of polyester blend. Both the inner shell and outer shell are both good at keeping air from penetrating their exterior. The inside of bags (fill) is often filled with down, polyester blends, or synthetic materials made to insulate the bag. This combination of fill, inner, and outer layers keeps body heat within the bag while protecting the user from the cold outer air. Liners are often a fleece or microfiber material used to add an additional layer of insulation within the sleeping bag. While liners are not made to deflect air, they are an insulator within the bag, retaining body heat keeping the user warmer. I personally have a bag with nylon exterior and interior shells with 800-fill goose down insulation and a fleece liner. They keep me nice and toasty at night during my winter hiking and camping adventures.
When should you use them? – 0° sleeping bags and liners are designed to be used in extreme winter weather conditions. Some sleeping bags are rated even colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit,... [More]
22. February 2012 20:01
Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.
15. February 2012 22:04
This week’s Get to Know Your Gear segment will focus on Climbing Skins.
What are Climbing Skins? – Climbing skins, also known as ski skins, are cross country skiing accessories which attach to cross country skis to restrict backward sliding of the skis.
How do they work? – When the skins are attached to the skis, the fibers in contact with the snow lay flat when moving forward allowing for unrestricted forward movement. Alternatively, when sliding backwards, the snow pushes against the grain of the fibers causing the skins to dig into the snow and hold the skis, and skier, in place.
When should you use them? – Typically, climbing skins are only needed when venturing into areas with hills, switchbacks, or any type of ascent where momentum will not carry the skier to the top of the next hill. While they are not always necessary to have on the skis, carrying climbing skins in a pack when cross country skiing is always advised.
Now that you know what climbing skins are, when to use them, and how they work, you are ready to get outside and try some cross country skiing! Remember, climbing skins for Tele Skis or Randonnee (Alpine Touring) are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center. Enjoy the great outdoors!
1. February 2012 23:22
Don’t let the snow covered ground (which is quickly melting) keep you from enjoying all of the hiking trails scattered around the area. This week’s Getting to Know Your Gear blog will show you how to enjoy hiking regardless how much snow we get this winter by using snowshoes and trekking poles.
Snowshoeing has been thought to be around for roughly 10,000 years. The basic principle of snowshoes is the ability to distribute body weight over a larger surface area allowing people two walk across snow covered ground with greater ease. In the past, snowshoes were used in snowy areas so hunters/trappers could continue to provide for their family during the winter months (and to escape the ever lurking Yeti). Now, snowshoes are more of recreation accessories so outdoor enthusiasts can hike in deep snow.
While there are a few different types of snowshoes available, the most common is the recreational/trekking type. Other styles include backcountry/mountaineering and aerobic/running snowshoes. Running snowshoes are usually shorter and less wide than both recreation and backcountry. Additionally, for the same size person, mountaineering are going to be a little longer and wider for more difficult terrain. Each of these types of snowshoe have either fixed/limited-rotation or full/pivot-rotation bindings. Racing snowshoes usually have fixed-rotation bindings which do not allow the toe to pivot below the bottom plane of the shoe. Unfortunately, fixed bindings have a tendency to kick snow up the back of the user’s legs. Full-rotation bindings are normally preferred for traditional and mountaineering snowshoes because they allow for greater traction and mobility.
One of the best accessories for recreational or mountaineering snowshoeing are trekking poles. Poles help hikers maintain balance on most types of terrain, can help with knee pain and often increase the speed of the hike.&... [More]
31. October 2011 19:23
I can’t wait for Veteran’s Day weekend! Not only do we all get a day off because of the men and women who have served our country and provided us with the freedoms we have today, but I am going rock climbing at one of the best climbing spots in the Pacific Northwest with the ORC. Frenchman Coulee, just outside of Vantage, WA has some of the most diverse and challenging routes around. Having climbed there a few times in the past, I have been able to really experience a lot of what Frenchman Coulee has to offer.
During my first trip, I didn’t want to try anything too challenging, so I decided to start on a couple of less-challenging routes to get a feel for the rock and make sure I felt comfortable at a new site. After spending the morning getting comfortable on some of the easier routes, I decided to take on some more difficult climbs. Since I went on a guided trip, it was great to watch an experienced climber scale the wall and set the top rope. While I was now more in the afternoon than in the morning, I was still not ready to lead climb. Also, the guides helped by telling the climbers where solid hand and foot holds can be found. This may seem strange at first, but when my arms and legs were shaking from fatigue, it was nice to have an expert give me some pointers on where to grab and step so I could rest without having to solely rely on the rope to hold me up. While I know the rope can easily hold me, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I don’t use the rope as a crutch. After the fun and excitement of my first climbing experience in Vantage, I knew it would not be long before I had to go back again.
Since my first trip, I have spent a few weekends at Frenchman Coulee over the past two summers and have really fallen in love with the vast diversity of the climbing available. While I enjoy the familiar local granite climbing and the routes in Post Falls, the basalt colum... [More]
19. October 2011 20:36
Trying to make weekend plans and not sure where to go?
After living in Pullman for 2 years, I have only been to one ski resort. This winter my season goal is to go to as many ski resorts in the area. This winter I plan on visiting these resorts:
21. September 2011 19:09
The ORC has many items to rent. Today’s gear rental highlight is camp chairs. A great way to watch the autumn foliage change is from a camp chair! The ORC accepts reservations, simply call 335-1892 and be prepared to pay with a credit card.
Keep in mind Friday is the Autumn Equinox. The sun will appear to cross the celestial equator, from north to south, on September 23 at 5:05 am. This marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.
photograph retrieved from http://thecolumbuswench.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/autumn-walk-4-web.jpg