Sep
23
2008
0

The Epic Struggle

It has always been a battle in the West since modernization came to town—this perpetual creep of industry, infrastructure, and people. Without it, we would not have the opportunity to live in this great land, but with it, we have a very serious problem to face.

How do we balance economic growth with conservation/preservation?

As a geological engineer/hydrogeologist-to-be, this is an especially critical question that I will be forced to face in the future as a professional. Right now, I face it as a modern-day mountain man and citizen who loves the outdoors and preservation thereof. Anything unnatural is a real burr in my saddle, but, at the same time, I feel power and water should be relatively cheap and easy to get. That is why America is so prosperous. We have cheap and readily available infrastructure.

Currently, there are several dams that are either under construction or on paper for construction. People are split on the issue in each case, but especially in some areas. Considering the fact that we are carving into the earth and forever changing landscapes, it is easy to see where the argument spawns.

Needless to say, these projects affect the outdoorsman and locals the most when put into place. That means you and me. This said, what is your voice on the issue? Where does it end and how should that be determined? The issue is touchy, but someone has to draw the line eventually and, since it must be done, only the best should be handling the stick.

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
21
2008
0

Food for the Outdoors

Whether one is a skier or snowboarder, hiker or rafter, all outdoorsmen have their preferred form of fuel for their given activity. Some prefer having high-sugar, high-carb energy replacers such as M&M’s and Snickers bars while others like having more holistic options, such as omega-3’s, found in mixes of nuts, and unprocessed carbs like granola mix.

Much like activity-specific equipment, certain foods are more suited to particular activities than others. Determining what food one should pack for an excursion can often mean the difference between a happy camper and a mad/energy-poor/might-not-make-it-back camper. Beyond taking into account the physical demand and climate in which the activity(s) one will be encountering on an outing, the other single greatest variable is time.

Physical demand and Climate can both be viewed as functions of time. The more time spent doing physical activity and the longer one spends doing the activity in a harsh climate, the more variant the food needs to be. When this variance in foods needs to be expanded beyond just carbing up, protein and other slow-energy releasing nutrients need to be considered.
Above all, read into the demand required of a body in your chosen sport and get to know your body. My recommended references are given below.

Book- Dr. Bragg’s Water : The shocking truth that can save your life (This book is controversial to some but to me, is really interesting)

Web -  www.outdoorplaces.com (Has a “Top ten Hiking Foods”)

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
18
2008
0

Is Old School Obsolete?

As with most technology, advancements in engineering often turn equipment, especially outdoor equipment, obsolete. Moreover, such ‘endangered species’ of equipment are often abandoned by majorities of producers and consumers alike.

For instance: the transition from silks and wools to synthetics in mountaineering. All but the old timers and a few traditionalists have made this transition, leaving the producers of such clothing switching production toward different markets and, often times, the new synthetics.

With such potential transitions being quite common in the outdoor recreation industry, is there a possibility of such a condition befalling hardtail mountain bikes? Right now, there seems to be a sort of revival in old school designs, but, when that fad fades, might there be an opportunity for cheaper dual suspension bikes and the like to take over? It has been said in passing conversation, so it is a question that pops into my mind every now and again.

I think that there will always be a substantial enough corner in the market for hardtails, but I could be wrong. They are nice for commuting and low-level trails, but I would upgrade to a full-suspension in a heartbeat given the right price. Am I alone in thinking that way?

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
16
2008
0

An Indoor-Outdoor Showdown

I am briefly switching gears from outdoors-outside to outdoors-inside. By this, I mean the Bouldering competitions that are taking place inside the Student Recreational Center this weekend.

This is an annual event put on by the Outdoor Recreational Center and has several categories of varying experience level for both men and women. It is relatively cheap to enter and there are some great climbers on campus. As a newbie to the sport of bouldering, I plan on entering as a “recreational-class” climber and look forward to enjoying the atmosphere and watching some crazy skills just as much as actually climbing myself.

Right now, there are three basic questions in my mind. 1. Who all is showing up? 2. What is the general consensus on who should win the Men and Women’s “Advanced” categories? 3. What kind of cool prizes can be expected?

Give me a piece of your mind. Even a little trash talk, if you are a good climber, will not be discouraged.

For Details on the event go to the ORC homepage:

http://inside.mines.edu/stu_life/recsports/morc/activities.htm#event8

I hope to see you there!

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
15
2008
0

What Season Is It?

All outdoor recreational sports have their seasons. Though sometimes flexible, these seasons are fairly well defined. Skiing starts in November and runs through March, rafting runs from late April to early October, and biking runs similar to rafting. Oftentimes, we plan months in advance for these “on-seasons.” However, we often overlook planning for a very important part of our sport or sports-the “re-supply season.”

Unlike the off-season or season, the re-supply season can be very short or very long and is basically anytime the best specials for upgrading or replacing gear occur. As an economic sportsman, I find myself preparing just as much for a purchase as I do for a trip. The best times are, in general, at the end of whatever season it may be, but if it is a special sale (example: ‘Sniagrab’ in early September for the ski season), the stereotypical best time can be changed to any time.

This said, what websites, events, sale specials, and times of the year do you find most buyer-friendly for getting what you need? Give an example of you purchase and provide a brief explanation of why it was a great purchase.

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
11
2008
0

Is skiboarding cool, or just a poser?

We all know about the relationship between skiers and snowboarders. Skiers often dish sly remarks about how snowboards are not as good as skis while snowboarders provide similar judgment about how they feel skis are somehow inferior. However, what are the sides, if any, with these constituencies, and others, when it comes to less-publicized skiboards?

For those who do not know what skiboards are, I shall provide a brief description. Often confused with ski-skates, skiboards are essentially snowboard-shaped skis with a much shorter and fatter profile than traditional skis. They are said to be very quick-turning and known for their ability to spin. Also, cost is quite a bit less compared to traditional forms of skis and many snowboards. That said, what do the snowboarders, skiers, and skiboarders out there think of them? I know they are more popular in Europe, but there are a few on the slopes around here so there is bound to be an opinion for or against them.

Personally I am intrigued to look into them based on their touted capabilities and relatively cheap prices. However, if there be a much more knowledgeable voice than the one in my head, I am all ears.

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
09
2008
0

Solid Gear for Sick Days

When the weather turns ‘South’ while you are still ‘North,’ what gear do you trust? What brands and specific products are the best for climbing high altitude, high-risk environments?

Now, I realize the smart thing to do is not to be caught at high altitude with bad weather in the first place. However, since it is the Rockies and weather changes on a dime, one must be prepared. Everything from hats to boots and stoves to global positioning devices are on the table for debate. Simply list your top five “must-haves” and describe a scenario when your gear passed “the test”.

Kin to my last blog, I will set a general guideline from which one can support his or her favorite brands and products.

General Guideline: 1. Weight: Extra weight can easily equate to extra trouble. 2. Durability: If one’s gear cannot take a hit, then one certainly does not want to take it to tree line. 3. Performance: Tree cover blocking reception, socks failing to keep toes warm, or stoves providing less than adequate heat, are all definite downers. 4. Price: Not as important as staying warm and dry but still a factor, especially in today’s economy.

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |
Sep
08
2008
0

Introduction

Hello fellow outdoor enthusiasts, and welcome to the very first Living the Rockies blog! My name is Elliot Matthews, staff writer and photographer for “The Oredigger”, and flatlander-turned altitude junkie. The general topic of this blog is pretty much anything and everything related to outdoor activities in the Rockies and the lifestyles that accompany them. Discussion topics may include, but are not limited to, trip suggestions, helpful tips, upcoming events, gear opinions and/or all-around mountain wisdom. Preface in mind, let us get things headed upward… say, to 14,000 feet or so?

Many a person has sought the lofty summits of the mountains simply known as “Fourteeners” or at least heard of their magnificent existence in passing conversation. They have inspired books, guides, songs, websites and many a soul. I have personally experienced the wonder of climbing four different peaks and, personally, they each symbolize what John Denver was singing about in “Rocky Mountain High” (Pikes Peak might be the only exception). Of those I have talked to who have traversed their awesome slopes, I have found there to be a preference among many hikers as to a particular peak, and for various reasons. It may because it was the first one they did, the most scenic, most memorable, or the most technical. Bottom line- virtually everyone I have talked to has a favorite peak or climb for whatever reason. This said, I pose the question: Which Fourteener is really the best?

Now, before bloggers go off on a tangent about why they think a certain peak is better than another, keep these judging standards in mind. 1. Scenic Value 2. Variation in Difficulty 3. Interesting History 4. Unique Geologic/Topographic features 5. Least Traffic 6. Other Interesting Attributes.

I will get it started off. Of the four that I have climbed, all in the Sawatch Range, my favorite peak thus far is Mt. Massive. It is fairly secluded, has several cool routes up to the summit varying form level 1 to level 2, it is a long and scenic hike from Mt. Elbert campground, and is relatively low traffic when I usually hike in Mid-June. Is it the best? From my brief experience it is, but if you think otherwise, prove it.

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Written by Elliot Matthews in: General |

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