In summer 2010, photographer James ‘Q’ Martin and conservation biologist Chris Kassar started an organization called Rios Libres. The organization uses multi-media to join the fight to protect the wild lands of Patagonia from proposed dams that threaten two of the most pristine rivers in one of the world’s most spectacular regions. Last April, Q traveled south once again and landed in the thick of some of the largest anti-dam protests the country has ever seen. He captured historic footage of the protests, then spent nine weeks traveling the length of the country talking to gauchos, scientists, activists and the public in search of answers. The result is a solution-based film that addresses the hard questions that remained unanswered in Rios Libres’s first film: “What does an alternative energy model look like?” “How do the Chileans feel about it?” and “Could Chile become a global leader by gaining energy independence via green technology?”
If one is looking for exceptionally capable winter footwear traction, it is widely known that Kahtoola is one of the top manufacturers in the world. I knew this long before I began work as part of the production crew at Kahtoola’s Flagstaff, Arizona facility. Years before there were any golden awards associated with the Kahtoola Microspikes, I had coveted them, but instead opted for a pair of much cheaper four-point instep crampons. Myself and a good friend proceeded to do a November overnight trip up on the San Francisco Peaks, armed with this single pair of instep crampons and one pair of trekking poles between the two of us. Let me be the first to say that self-arresting with a trekking pole is quite exciting, but nevertheless inspired me to shell out the $60 for Microspikes upon our return. The next opportunity to try out my new gear came later that season when a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon was suggested. The rim of the canyon receives a fair bit of snowfall during the winter, and almost none at the bottom. Temperatures during the day at the river are pleasant, and backpacking the canyon during the winter ensures a lack of crowds. The only issue is getting safely past the first mile or two of icy trail near the rim. One slip, and the consequences in such a steep environment can easily be fatal. Kahtoola’s Microspikes made this upper bit of trail a breeze, and we nonchalantly cruised past many frightened and less well equipped day hikers.
I was immediately impressed with how easily the Microspikes can be put on and removed. For those who are unfamiliar with the Microspikes, they are composed of an upper elastomer, which is connected via stainless steel chains to an arrangement of ¼ inch stainless steel spikes. The elastomer allows for an easily customizable fit, ensuring that there is minimal movement between the bottom of your boot and the spikes. Backpackers love the Microspikes, due to the fact that they are incredibly lightweight, yet can handle an immense amount of abuse. My pair shows only slight rounding on the spikes after much mashing on mixed icy and rocky terrain. Since I purchased this pair, Kahtoola has upgraded the elastomer with a pull tab at the heel, and reinforced the chain eyelets. I also highly recommend purchasing the tote sack that Kahtoola sells for the Microspikes, as the jingling of chains on the outside of a pack is annoying, and the spikes might puncture other gear inside your pack.
Now that I have had a season under my belt as an employee of Kahtoola, I have had the opportunity to try out our other products. The Kahtoola Traction System(or KTS) crampons are Kahtoola’s first product, and continued refinements have produced a lightweight, flexible, and adjustable platform. I have utilized the KTS Steel and Aluminum crampons in a variety of scenarios, and have found them to provide exceptional traction and stability in more technical situations where Microspikes are less ideal. The Microspikes excel on packed icy trails, but for off-trail adventures, glacier travel, or steeper icy terrain, the KTS crampons are the traction of choice. The KTS crampons as well as the new K10 crampons both feature the LeafSpring extender bar, which allows for easy fitting and great flexibility. This flexibility means that the KTS and K10 crampons are as comfortable to wear on a running shoe as they are on a rigid boot. The K10 features a new attachment system, designed to facilitate ease of installation and removal. It is also lighter than the KTS Steel, and at a more attractive price point.
As a member of the production team here at Kahtoola, it is always apparent that safety is at the forefront of what we do. We know that winter enthusiasts around the world rely on our products to enjoy the outdoors safely, and so every step that goes into building a pair of crampons or snowshoes has a quality control process associated with it. We don’t just check each pair as it goes out the door, we are maintaining a high standard of quality throughout the assembly process. It is this mindset that keeps Kahtoola at the top of the game when it comes to producing innovative, functional, and high value winter footwear traction.
At times in our lives I think we are all given the gift to meet amazing people that can connect us with parts of the world we may have never know. Working at Kahtoola and serving on our 1% for the People board I get this opportunity more then some, and I makes sure to thank my lucky starts every chance I get. Over the past six months I have met more people who have touched more lives then you can imagine and all of them in different ways. Some with medicine, some with books, and some just by lending a hand. It is truly inspirational and weather these people know it or not I am one more persons life they have changed for the better.
In January a good friend of Kahtoola’s and Flagstaff local James Q Martin became one of those people who has opened my eyes to a new world. Only a year ago when asked what photo I would like for my office I jumped at the chance to hang one of Q’s photos from Lago Betrand, Patagonia. This is a small village with a lake where 50 people live in the summer. Everyday I look at it puts a smile on my face a brings calmness not to mention it makes me want to just jump in. The moment I saw this picture my breath was taken away and the idea of this place being destroyed brought tears to my eyes. So you can see why when James came to us and asked if we would like continue to be a sponsor of the Rios Libres project and that he was heading back to Patagonia, Chile, for a follow up to his previous work Kahtoola’s 1% for the People board could not say no.
The Rios Libres project is one you should take the time to familiarize your self with, you might just find yourself wanting to help. Take the time to read their blogs and look through the beautiful photos James Q Martin has taken. James just returned from Chile and is in the process of working on a Movie to tell the full story of what is happening in Patagonia and the struggles that lie a head to save this irreplaceable place.
Please take the time to read their latest blog. http://rioslibres.com/?p=755
So here it is, a winter spring fling. First day of Spring and it snows… What does this say for our up coming spring? Will it be cold and wet, will it be windy, or was all of this just a tease and it will be warm sunny and happy for the months to follow? I am setting a goal (of sorts) I will not complain about the weather. I will enjoy spring time with the knowledge that it is unpredictable and that all of the above will happen at some point. I will also remember that with out snow and rain my outdoor camping season will be short and not no sweet. So in the spirit of the end of winter Kahtoola is having a contest to see who’s winter memory from this past season is the best.
Send us your favorite winter memory with a picture or video and if your’s is chosen as the winner you will win a pair of KTS Crampons, tote sack and SRS.
So send in your story we can’t wait to read it!
Last weekend Hilary Edgar from Kahtoola took part in the 5th annual Summit for Life event in Aspen CO. Summit for Life’s mission is to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation and raise funds for the Chris Klug Foundation. Katoola was on board again this year donating 60 pair of MICROspikes to the first 60 racers to register. Individual racers raised as much as $4800 per person for this worthy cause with a $109,000 raised at the event, and still counting. For the race, itself contestants race from the base of Aspen Mountain all the way to the top. They will climb 3,267 vertical feet – over 2.5 miles uphill and at night! Racers can choose their own lighting and non-motorized equipment like snowshoes, skins or other creative gear and go at their own pace. Racers of all physical abilities and ages are welcome to participate! When racers and supporters reach the summit, dinner, drinks, dessert and entertainment awaits them.
This is Hilary’s fourth year attending this event that over the years has become close to her heart. Chris Klug, who the foundation was named for, is the only transplant recipient to win a metal at the Olympics.
Kahtoola is honored to be part of such a worthy event.
Winter has arrived. Days are shorter and colder, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to train. Here are some tips from runner Jared Scott from Flagstaff AZ.
2. The warmer you are, the happier you’ll be. Don’t hesitate to bring extra layers of clothing out with you. You can always take them off and easily carry them if you get too hot, and you will get hot occasionally. Ambient temperatures change quickly depending on sun aspect and wind direction, turning a sunny mild day into full winter conditions. The good thing about winter clothing is it extremely lightweight and portable. When you get too hot, long sleeve shirts/jackets can be easily tied around your waste, hats and gloves can be put into pockets or tucked in your waistband, and pants can be rolled up or tied around your waste.
3. With the changing seasons, try changing your sport. Nothing can be more frustrating than being cooped up all winter because the weather is keeping you from running. Kahtoola snowshoes are great to keep you afloat when the snow is deep but also provides excellent traction on hard, crusty snow. The MICROspikes will allow you to run with confidence on slick, snowpacked trails. In fact, know one person who got rid of her treadmill after getting a pair of Microspikes! Getting outside during the winter can be a wonderful experience and sure beats doing a workout inside or doing no workout at all.
4. Do your hard workouts when the sun is shining. This is partly a literal statement because regular running is better on the warm winter days when the roads and trails are not icy. However, when the weather is frigid, the snow will be likely be hard and crusty, which is perfect for going fast on snowshoes. Snowshoeing is an excellent way to get some added strength work because it is just plain harder than running on a road or trail. Also with snowshoeing, run for time and effort and not for distance because you will cover less ground on snowshoes, but you will still get all the fitness benefits as running on a dry road or trail.
5. Most importantly–HAVE FUN! Winter provides an opportunity to experiment with new things. I got hooked on snowshoeing during our record setting snowfall last winter. Thanks to Kahtoola, I was never stuck in my house,I was out in the snow having fun!
Winter is just around the corner and I am getting ready to answer the number one question I get asked each year every where I go, “Really snowshoeing, WHY?”
And as of three years ago I would have said the same thing, but then I started to work for Kahtoola and found out snowshoeing has got a bad wrap, and it really can be just as much fun, if not more then a hike or run…and yes I said run, but will get to that later.
Now I love to hike and if your like me and you are more likely to opt for a good hike then a run on a normal summer day, then you might just fall in love with winter hiking to. Some of the perks of a winter hike in snowshoes are:
- You will see a side of your favorite trails that you have never seen before and will bring a whole new appreciation to your favorite spots. (make sure trail is open for winter hiking)
- Less traffic on trails.
- If you have kids its a great family activity.
- If you have a dog large or small they will love it and sleep the day away after.
- I have saved the best for last…it is FREE, all you need is your snowshoes and you favorite spot!
If your still doubting the possibility that snowshoeing really is fun. Do me a favor and give it a try. There are lots of opportunities around the country to try out a pair of free demo snowshoes in the winter, such as Winter Trails Days www.wintertrails.org or check out Kahtoola events section throughout winter for where we will be with FREE demos.
I hope to see you out there and for you runners I have not forgotten about you I will have some great tips for winter running and races from some of the best runners I know just around.