Tag Archive for: wonow media

Review of the Mountain Hardware Scrambler 30 Backpack

Recently I was asked to review the Mountain Hardware Scrambler 30 Backpack with the new proprietary “Outdry” technology. According the company this new laminate is added to the inside of the pack and forms a “waterproof” membrane – perfect for alpine climbing situations that may get a bit damp. What I learned, though, is that it’s definitely not perfect for total submersion. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Evidently there are two kinds of ‘waterproof’ in the world. There’s the ‘waterproof’ that describes scuba diving dry suits, Ziploc bags and the feathers on a duck’s back. And then there’s the ‘waterproof’ that Mountain Hardware uses when referring to its new Scrambler Outdry Pack.”

Read more about this pack’s highlights and shortcomings in my review on the Backcountry Skiing Canada website.

Yellow Sling Wall Rock Guide Updates

For further descriptions about climbs at the Kinnaird Bluffs area in the community of Castlegar in south-central British Columbia, Canada, refer to page 27 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide.

Access: See page 35 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide for a description on how to reach the Yellow Sling Wall and Red Rocks Wall from the Kinnaird parking area. This wall is an excellent early/late season one but tends to be a solar oven in the height of the summer. It offers everything from 5.4 trad to 5.12+ sport and the four pack of Extended Vacation, Yellow Sling, Glory Hole and Bakers Day Off are definite must-dos. However, note that the last two are 28m long and you’ll need 14 quickdraws for Glory Hole.

As with all climbing at Kinnaird, please be respectful of the nearby neighbours – these walls act like natural amphitheaters and every word you utter can be heard with surprising clarity by nearby residents. Also, do not cut through anyone’s yard or property to access the crags.

Yellow Sling Wall Rock Guide Updates: This is the eight in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

This overview of Kinnaird Bluffs shows Yellow Sling Wall and Red Rocks wall in relation to the seven other walls at this area.

Review of the High Trail Evotec Skins

Nova Sport AG, the Switzerland-based parent company of the High Trai brand, was founded in 2005 by Yvonne Rochat and since then has tried to perfect climbing skin technology. For years it offered the Classic, which is a glue-based, 100 percent mohair skin, but now the company has ventured into the “glueless” market with its Evotec skins, which are 65% mohair and 35% nylon. There are other companies that have been attempting to perfect the “glueless” skin but just like the traditional ski skin market there have been some growing pains along the way. The challenge is coming up with an adhesive formula that works in all kinds of conditions, from -30°C to +5°C and in light and dry snow or soaking wet slush. Not an easy feat but High Trail claims to have created a silicone-based adhesive coating that it says “has remarkable performance characteristics that are ground-breaking when compared to conventional adhesive skins.” In this review, we put to test the company’s claims about the Evotec skins.

To read the full review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.

Review of the Mountain Hardwear Compressor Jacket & Pants

There have been very few moments in my lifetime when I wished I had a pair of down pants. The exceptions have been skiing at Mont Tremblant in Quebec during a -30°C spell and snowshoeing in Manitoba in -40°C weather. I suppose if I was scaling Everest or mushing dogs in the Yukon then I’d purchase a pair but usually a good set of thermal long john’s and a shell will see me through most backcountry excursions. A down jacket on the other hand is a part of my daily wardrobe in the winter months and for a lot of the shoulder season too. I’ll wear one belaying, skiing, hiking, climbing in the alpine, walking around town and, inevitably I’ll stuff one in my backpack for a mt. bike or fat bike ride as well, just in case. Needless to say I was excited to try out the Mountain Hardwear Super Compressor Hooded Jacket, with it’s Thermal Q Elite insulation that the company says is “designed to mimic the structure of down to create the highest warmth-to-weight ratio available in synthetic insulation.” (In other words it’s supposed to be as warm as down but will retain its loft and perform well in damp conditions.) As for the company’s insulated Compressor Pant that were also sent to review, well, let’s just say I wasn’t as keen to try them out. But, wow, was I ever surprised.

To read the full review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.

Zebra Wall Rock Guide Updates

For further descriptions about climbs in the Arrow Lakes region between the community of Robson and Syringa Provincial Park in south-central British Columbia, refer to page 19 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Access: Zebra Wall is located on Broadwater Rd. just north of Scottie’s Marina and around the first corner. There are five sport climbs there ranging from 5.10a to 5.11b and the tallest is 28m long. (You’ll need 14 quickdraws.)

Zebra Wall Rock Guide Updates: This is the seventh in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

Hall Siding Rock Guide Updates

For further descriptions about the climbs at Hall Siding between Nelson and Salmo, British Columbia, refer to page 76 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Access: Hall Siding is located 20km south of Nelson towards Salmo. (Note: The WKRG erroneously stated the crag’s position in relation to Hall Siding Road – it is, in fact, 1.5km south of the road.)

Hall Siding Rock Guide Updates: This is the sixth in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the 2014 West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

The Best Brownie Recipe on Earth

Before you get too excited, let me stress this recipe does not include any “magic” other than in the form of ease and deliciousness. It was introduced to me by my friend Amy about four years ago and it has changed my life. As someone who suffers from a mild case of chocoholicism, I’m a big fan of rich, gooey chocolatey goodness but when it comes to making deserts, I want them on my plate as quickly as possible.

Which is why these brownies are so good. They only take 5 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to bake and there are only 5 ingredients. Oh, and did I mention they’re gluten-free too? I’ve been asked for this recipe so often by other people, that I decided to do a blog post about it so that it’s out there for everyone now. And a huge thank you to Amy, one of the kindest people I know, for sharing this with me in the first place.

Flourless Chocolate Brownie Recipe


  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar (if using semi-sweet chocolate, only use 1/2 cup sugar)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa


Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small pot melt chocolate with butter. Whisk in sugar and eggs. Whisk in cocoa. Bake for 20 minutes. To ensure the brownies are deliciously gooey, I use a toaster oven, set to 350°F and only bake them for 10-12 minutes.

Kootenay Kalymnos – Climbing at China Bend

Keith Robine warms up on the über-classic Pork Sausage, 5.11a

Keith Robine warms up on the über-classic Pork Sausage, 5.11a

I’ve had the good fortune to climb at some of the world’s most famous limestone crags including Kalymnos in Greece, Potrero Chico in Mexico, Railay Peninsula in Thailand and Vinales in Cuba. And while all these locations offer epic sport cragging on tufas and stalactites, they also involve a lot of cost and effort to get to. This shoulder season I found myself longing for a trip to a warm destination that features fun limestone climbing – but time and money were lacking.

So instead I drove the 2 hours from my home in Nelson, BC, to China Bend – the Kootenay’s answer to Kalymnos. The date was November 16 and the thermometer read -12°C when I awoke at 7am. Not exactly inspiring climbing temps. But my Rossland friends had assured me China Bend (which is located 30 minutes south of Rossland in Washington State) was a rock oven and that we’d be climbing in light jackets all day. They were wrong. We climbed in T-shirts.

A shirtless (in November!) Jesse Brown on Big Wig Bill, 5.11b

A shirtless (in November!) Jesse Brown on Big Wig Bill, 5.11b

China Bend is a unique limestone rock formation located about 50 kilometres south of Rossland on the shores of the Columbia River. It is an overhanging, south-facing cliff that acts as a solar oven on sunny days, making it unbearably hot in the summer months. In fact, the cliff is closed from mid-February to mid-July to protect raptors that nest there. But when the weather is cooler everywhere else, you can guarantee China Bend is going to be warm.

When Jesse Brown, Keith Robine and I parked at the pullout on China Bend Road at 10:30am, the car’s thermometer read -5°C. But by the time we completed the 10-minute hike up to the main cliff, we were sweating.

The author on the tofu-pinching classic A River Runs Through It, 5.11c

The author on the tofu-pinching classic A River Runs Through It, 5.11c

Over the course of the next five hours of sunshine we hopped on four different routes, all of them excellent quality. (See topo map above.) The one thing everyone should know about this area, however, is that the majority of the routes are steep and hard. It was established by Marty Bland and friends, all of them 5.13 climbers, and even some of the “warm-up” 5.11s felt like .12s. (Apparently there are some 5.10s on a smaller crag to the east of the Main Wall but they’re not worth travelling to the area for.) There are 40+ routes on the Main Wall alone and most fall into the 5.12 range although there are a few 5.13s and 5.14s as well.

If you’re looking to improve your stamina and style, though, this is the place to do it. Many routes are 30-metres long and overhang 3 metres. They involve tufa pinching, roof pulling and delicate crimping – basically every style of movement you’ll find at the world’s best limestone crags except there aren’t any stalactites to rest on here.

If you’re interested in visiting China Bend this winter (seriously, you can – both Keith and Jesse have been there in late January) here are directions: From Rossland take BC-22 south to the Paterson border crossing. (Remember to bring your passports!) Once in the United States, drive WA-25 south towards the community of Northport for 11km and just before you cross the bridge,  turn right onto Northport Flat Creek Road. After 21.5 km, turn left onto China Bend Road and drive this for 2.4 km. Park at the pullout on the right and the trail is on your right leading up to the crag.

For more information about China Bend, check out Marty Bland’s guidebook called Inland Northwest Rockclimbs.

Five Easy Nutrition Tips

It’s amazing when you begin to research something as seemingly simple as eating. I mean, we all do it and we have done since the beginning of time so how hard can it be, right? The more I started unravelling the layers of this topic for a Mountain Trek blog post, though, the more I realized this is a really really big onion. (Sorry. Food similies…bad.)

So I decided to try and break down the topic into five core things that people (and most especially North Americans) can easily remember and digest. The first is crucial: “Drink Your Food; Eat Your Water.” In other words, take time to chew and swallow. Mash up that steak – that’s what you were given molars for. Swish that cool water around in your mouth before you guzzle – get those saliva glands helping with the entire digestion process. One easy trick to help you remember to eat slower is to put your utensil down between mouthfuls.

Here are all Five Easy Nutrition Tips and of them, #5 really struck a chord for me. My fiancé is celiac (she was diagnosed when she was four) and so there’s very little gluten to be found in our household. But there were tons of dairy products and once I started examining my relationship to it all, I realized my phlegmy head every morning may be caused by it. Sure enough, I cut back on my milk intake and voila, no more need for a daily neti pot session. Have a read about the “Sour 8″ and see what small things you can incorporate into your daily routine that many have massive consequences for your overall well-being.

The Ugliest Story Ever

My fiancé is a fish biologist and I have to admit there are occasions when it’s difficult for me to keep up with her day-to-day activities, which could include “ion regulation,” “Parr-Smolt transformation,” or “Leptocephali.” (I think that’s how it’s spelled.)

One day, though, she started describing a local sustainability movement to save this ugly looking fish called the burbot and it definitely made sense to my scientifically challenged brain. The story was incredible! Ice fishing in frigid February temperatures; orgy balls of breeding fish; and a myriad of government agencies in two countries all trying to bring back the population of a creature that is definitely not as endearing as a baby spotted owl.

I pitched the idea to Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine (which just won Western Canada’s Magazine of the Year award) and they too were smitten with the story of the ugliest fish in BC and its return from the brink of extinction. And so was born this latest piece, which just came out in the recent KMC.

Don’t let appearances fool you: this one may be the ugliest ever, but it’s pretty good reading. (If I do say so myself.) Long live the Kootenay burbot!

Read the entire story here: KMC 26 Burbot.