Climbing Peaks for Breast Cancer Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Here at Ibex, we realize the importance of supporting organizations dedicated to investigating the cause and cures for the disease. Ibex has a partnership of over 10 years with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), so this month we sat down with Sheila Brown, BCPP’s Director of Development and Special Projects to learn more about BCPP’s mission, values, and strong connection to the outdoors.

2017 BCPP Mt. Shasta climb, California

Ibex: Tell us about BCPP’s relationship with Ibex. How and when did it commence? What does it entail?

Sheila Brown: Ibex has supported our climbers and trekkers by providing baselayers and hats since 2004. Ibex has also provided gear as fundraising incentives for many of our other events. In 2006, Ibex strengthened our partnership with a cause marketing campaign benefiting BCPP.

Ibex: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How does BCPP stand out among other breast cancer organizations? How does it collaborate with them?

SB: At BCPP, we like to refer to October as Breast Cancer PREVENTION Month and that is the key difference between ourselves and other breast cancer organizations. Since 2001, our mission has been to eliminate our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. We are the only national breast cancer organization focused solely on the prevention of the disease.  

While breast cancer is understood to be a complex disease, in fact, only 10 percent of breast cancers can be attributed to the traditional risk factor, family genetics. There is a definitive body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer to chemicals in our everyday environment—chemicals in our food, our products, our air and our water. More than 85,000 industrial chemicals are registered for use in the United States, but less than 10 percent have been fully tested for their health effects.

We collaborate with other breast cancer organizations in a variety of ways, including participation on scientific panels, fundraising events, and other projects. We currently have two projects involving such collaboration: a study group on the environmental risk factors for women living with a breast cancer diagnosis and our multi-year project to develop a primary breast cancer prevention plan for the state of California.

Sheila Brown, Director of Development and Special Projects, finds comfort in her Woolies at base camp

Ibex: According to your website, “since 1995 our climbs have brought over 500 women and men together to climb the highest peaks in support of our organization and our mission.” Can you tell us about BCPP’s connection to the mountains?

SB: Over 500 climbers have participated in our climb events, with the first climb on Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua in 1995. BCPP founder, Andrea Martin, felt that climbing a mountain was a perfect metaphor for the challenges facing those with a breast cancer diagnosis…taking on the mountain or cancer…“one step at a time”. Subsequent climbs took place on Mt. McKinley (1998), Mt. Fuji (2000), Mt. Rainier (2005) and 14 climbs on Mt. Shasta, where we found the perfect mountain and community for Climb Against the Odds. Our climbers have raised over $4.5 million to support our work on breast cancer prevention.

Our affinity for outdoor challenges has continued to expand to other events, including 22 years of Peak Hike for Prevention (a day hike in Marin County, CA), Sacred Treks (international trekking), New England Peaks for Prevention (multi-day hike on Mt. Washington, NH) and Beyond the Pink (day hike on Sugarloaf Mountain, MD).

Ibex: Environmental health is important to Ibex readers. Can you explain why it is important to BCPP?

SB: Since 2001, when we re-focused our mission on the environmental links to breast cancer, we have worked at the nexus of breast cancer and environmental health. The connection to increased breast cancer rates has been clearly made. That’s why, working with our partners and supporters, we shift the public conversation around breast cancer from awareness to prevention, and in the process, we will transform how our nation thinks about and uses toxic chemicals. We will find solutions to ensure that ourselves, future generations and the environment can thrive.

Our new name highlights our long-time prevention mission and our partnerships, which are a strategic part of our work. Together we are part of a broad environmental, public health and justice movement. Collaboration among organizations is an important part of this movement and a significant factor in the success of BCPP in our efforts to reduce environmental exposures linked to breast cancer and other diseases. With our partners, we work towards systemic change by holding business and government leaders accountable to produce safe products and implement truly health-protective policies.

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

Ibex: How does Ibex’s partnership with BCPP contribute to its mission and vision?

SB: BCPP partners with businesses that share our values, including living an active, healthy life and caring for our planet. We partner with businesses that produce safe, non-toxic products and promote sustainable business practices. Working together, we prove that businesses can adhere to these values while building profitable, healthy companies. Ibex’s commitment to uncompromising craftsmanship, including leaving the planet and communities better off than they were found, is a powerful message, and what we believe moves business and government leaders to change towards a world where toxic exposures are eliminated and breast cancer rates reduced.

Ibex: How can Ibex readers get involved with BCPP?

SB: Readers can start by visiting our website and learning about the challenges we face, opportunities to reduce their personal risk and actions they can take to influence change. Mobilizing the public to raise their voices in support of safer products and policies is a key part of our work. We also offer many opportunities to support our work by joining one of our outdoor fundraising challenges, hosting an event, donating to BCPP and spreading the word about the importance of breast cancer prevention.

Mt. Shasta climb, California

Annual “Source to Sea” River Cleanup Day

Last Friday, Ibex employees carpooled about twenty miles north of our headquarters to clean up a section of the Ompompanoosuc River in West Fairlee, VT, for the annual Source to Sea project sponsored by the Connecticut River Conservancy.

We hosted a Facebook Live with Ron Rhodes, River Steward with the Connecticut River Conservancy, to kick our project off. Watch below:

Then, we assembled.

Posing for a group photo before we hit the river.

Now let’s get to work!

 

In fact, this area wasn’t new to us. The Conservation Alliance, of which we’re a member, helped fund a dam removal at this exact site. During the removal, which happened over a week’s span in August, workers noticed debris from old machinery and other trash along the river banks. Ron Rhodes, River Steward of the CRC who manages projects in Vermont, thought this would be perfect spot for our service day. Read about the dam removal project here.

 

All smiles!

Combing the Ompompanoosuc River for trash.

A section of river we left a little better than we found it.

Trash and other debris peeked out from nooks and river beds.

One river’s trash is another’s treasure? Some interesting finds, for sure!

This is the fourth year we’ve partnered with the Connecticut River Conservancy to do the Source to Sea river cleanup project. We’re already looking forward to next year’s day!

 

Fly Fishing: A Deep Dive with Ibex’s Niki Cousins

Niki Cousins is making waves in Denver – in more ways than one. First, she was hired as the assistant manager of our Cherry Creek North store in June, then promoted to manager in early September. A relative newcomer to fly fishing, her passion for the sport has led to fast progression as an angler and an important role in Colorado’s Greenbacks, a Trout Unlimited affiliated organization. In fact, under Niki’s leadership, the store now hosts a monthly fly tying event where the Greenbacks provide all the tools and materials and brings in a guest fly tyer to instruct how to tie a specific fly. The August event had a spectacular turnout.

We sat down with Niki and were inspired by her passion for the sport, the places it has taken her, and what she’s doing to ensure that anglers are ambassadors for our wild and scenic waterways.

How long have you been fishing?

I have actually only been fishing for a little over a year and a half. I was introduced to it by a friend and after the first fish, I was hooked (pun intended). The following week I went to a women’s night at a local fly shop and that weekend I did a women’s 101 class. I really dove in head first. One of the women I met that night was Heather Sees, the president of the Greenbacks. She took me under her wing and since then we have been fishing all over.

What is your favorite part of fishing?

My favorite part of fishing is the solitude. I think of it as my time to meditate and really appreciate nature and what we have here in Colorado.

What’s your fly of choice?

I love a Parachute Adams, not such a cool name, but if I am nymphing, my go-to is the Purple Psycho Prince nymph.

Who are the Greenbacks and how are they involved in the conservation and preservation of our wild waterways?

The Greenbacks have been working with CPW and other Colorado Trout Unlimited chapters on the reintroduction of the native greenback cutthroat trout into their natural habitats. We work with youth and future generations to teach them the importance of conservation. We also just started an annual river cleanup that is coming up October 7th.

Volunteers teaching kids the importance of conservation.

What do you do with the Greenbacks?

I plan the monthly tying nights and coordinate donations for the materials. I create the graphics for events, help with social media, pretty much anything they ask me to, as well as volunteer for events.

What are you doing to help the sport and the resources it relies on?

I am always taking every opportunity to teach people about conservation and caring for the fish. In addition to volunteering with the Greenbacks, I’m a mentor for a group called The Mayfly Project. We mentor children in foster care through fly fishing. The kids go through a 5 stage program that takes them through the basics of fly fishing and the value of conservation.

Is climate change affecting your sport?

Climate change is definitely affecting the sport. Water flows and levels have changed, spring runoff is higher and faster, the temperature is changing. This is forcing fish to new areas and new habitats. As we have seen in the past with dams, or pollution, humans have a detrimental impact on nature. Hopefully one day we might make a big difference for our future generations and the world we live in.

Join Niki and friends on October 7th for the annual river cleanup.

Most of the anglers we know are dudes, do you see more women getting into the sport?

There are A LOT of dudes! Colorado has a large number of women anglers and it’s increasing quite a bit. But you can definitely tell it is a male-dominated sport when some dude in a fly shop doesn’t take you seriously as a woman angler.

Bikepacking The U.S.: A Solo 5,000 Mile Journey

Blaire, a close friend of Ibex (she’s married to one of our employees, actually!), left Vermont this July to start her crosscountry bikepacking journey by way of the south. Her first official stop? North Carolina to start the Trans-Am Trail (TAT); a 5,000 +/- mile, mostly dirt, route across rural America. Her initial 1,000-mile ride to the official ‘start’ was a shakedown tour of its own. As far as the “why”, that’s something she’s realizing between Vermont and Port Orford, Oregon. We caught up with Blaire to see how the trip’s going so far.

Where are you right now?

I am currently in Albuquerque, New Mexico and am taking a little bit of time off for bike repairs, resupply and (very badly needed) new tires! I’m also stuffing myself full of really wonderful local food. I am next headed to Durango, Colorado.

Leaving Taos, NM and headed to Santa Fe, along the Rio Grande.

What inspired your trip?

Curiosity! A huge desire to see more of the United States and getting to travel through it slowly enough to really experience it. Plus, I really just like riding my bike.

Had many, many roads like these from Oklahoma through west Texas into New Mexico. Not a soul in sight!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on the road?

Ha! I’ve seen a lot of really neat things, surprisingly not very many weird! A memory that does stick out was when I was biking from Conway, Arkansas to Alma, Arkansas on a Wednesday (124 mile ride). I had already passed through some bigger towns for the day and ran out of water in a very small and rural town. I was in the middle of nowhere and stopped at a gas station to rehydrate. I was squatting in the parking lot and refilling my bottles with a gallon jug and felt like someone was watching me. Sure enough, there was a long haired guy wearing a ‘wife beater’ tank top in a ratty old pickup, parked directly in front of me, just staring. He hopped out, and started walking towards me. He walked up right next to me and said “Well that’s weird!!” I laughed, and said “I get that a lot!” That made him laugh, and he said it was just so odd to see someone biking through those parts; especially a girl, by herself. He couldn’t wrap his head around why someone would do that. He warned me about some hills coming up, and warned me about tweekers and said that I was “where the crazies lived”. We shook hands and he told me to be safe.
It wasn’t really anything weird I saw; it was just the kind of interaction that is common when bike touring. I find myself wrapped up in conversations with folks I probably otherwise would never talk to! Perhaps the moral of this story is that most people think I’m the weirdest thing they’ve seen in awhile!

Blaire goes camping in Tennessee at Chickasaw state park.

Favorite snack/meal on the road? 

I’ve had a voracious appetite and my cravings differ everyday. I had one day that I wanted brownies so badly I cried a little bit. A few favorite meals (that have remained favorites for just under 3300 miles so far!) are instant oats with dried fruit; precooked and dehydrated refried beans stuffed into tortillas (homemade, now that I’m in New Mexico!) and jazzed up with salsa, ranch, or whatever packets I’ve taken from gas stations and have on hand. Sometimes I’m lucky and have some tomatoes, avocado or cheese that I picked up in town. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches have been really good too- I’ve done them on bagels, cinnamon raisin bread and on tortillas. They last forever in my bag and pack really well! Favorite snack would definitely be ProBars. I’m eating around 6,000 or more calories a day currently.

What are the essentials to get started with bike packing? 

A bike that you love and are comfortable riding on a wide variety of terrain! A really good attitude helps too… I’ve found no matter how many plans I make there are just a number of things that are out of my control! Weather, flat tires, headwinds come to mind… I’ve met a number of folks traveling by bike, or who have traveled by bike previously, and everyone’s set up is different, which is so fun!

How do you keep your setup light?

I carried a lot of ultralight backpacking gear over to my bikepacking set up. I cut weight where I could: sleep system, clothing, cook system. I slept in a hammock for the east coast and have now moved to a bivy for the remaining portion of my adventure. I’ve really pared down on clothing too- it’s pretty stripped to necessities. The heaviest part of my set up is definitely food and water. I carry calorie dense foods (100 calories or more per ounce) and have chosen not to take a stove. I carry 4 liters of water all the time, and more through remote areas. I like carrying lots of water because it means I can stop to refill less.
*I could really go into detail with everything I have packed if wanted! I would like to include what clothing I have with me (currently!) for fun, since most of it is Ibex.
  • 1 pair men’s Ibex bibs
  • 2 Ibex bras
  • 3 Ibex t-shirts (2 to sweat in, 1 to sleep in)
  • 1 woolies 1 top (sleep shirt)
  • 3 pair Ibex socks (2 to sweat in, 1 to sleep in)
  • 1 Patagonia Houdini pullover
  • 1 North Face rain jacket
  • 1 Patagonia nano air jacket
  • 1 pair silkweight capilene pants (sleep)
  • 1 pair Ibex pulse runner shorts (town shorts)

What type of bike are you riding?

Is it a gravel bike? I am riding a 2016 Novara Safari. It is an “all-road” touring bike. It’s a heavy steel frame bike that rides really great loaded. I’ve changed the tires, saddle, stem and derailleur; everything else is stock.

Necessary coffee pit stop in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The owners of this shop biked from Oregon to Oklahoma and opened Hoboken!

What advice would you give to a first-time bike-packer? 

Get out there! Make it fun, start with a local overnighter. Invite friends, family, strangers! Keep it simple, and take/ride what you have. Pick a route that interests you and pack accordingly! Take tons of pictures and document your thoughts and experiences- it’ll help when you pack for next adventure and it’s really fun to look back and remember the little details you may otherwise forget.

Any tips for traveling solo by bike? 

Expect an incredible amount of kindness from absolute strangers. I’ve had folks approach me almost every time I’ve pulled off somewhere! People are drawn to adventure. Trust strangers (but of course also trust your gut as well). I’ve been offered home cooked meals, a safe place to sleep, meals out, and both company and conversation. I’m not sure if I would have experienced this much generosity had I been traveling with others.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Listen to people when they give advice for good food (locals always know where to get the best breakfast, or pie, or a pint and often will join you!). I’ve had a number of strangers recommend towns or even states, and I’ve adjusted my route accordingly. In fact, that’s why I’m in New Mexico!

A stranger who became a friend! Wendy rode me out of Perkins, Oklahoma to Guthrie.

Anything else you want to add?

Utilize warm showers if you’re able! You will meet some of the most incredible people, and they are most often folks who have bike toured/bikepacked themselves which is a huge inspiration and encouragement at the end of a long day.

Dam Removal in West Fairlee, VT

Since Ibex is a member of The Conservation Alliance, we get notified whenever there’s a project happening around us that the organization has helped fund. One such project is a dam removal going on right now on the Ompompanoosuc River in West Fairlee, VT, just a few miles from our headquarters. Last week saw the majority of the removal action, and we were there.

BEFORE

 

AFTER

 

How it all went down
Two years ago, Ron Rhodes, River Steward from the Connecticut River Conservancy, was contacted by the state of Vermont regarding the dam. It’s small, taking up about a quarter of an acre on private property, but after a state assessment, a suggestion came about to remove it as it hasn’t been operational since 1994. Ron contacted the landowner, talked with the community members, neighbors and other interested folks, got the proper permitting, and worked with engineers. For context, most dam removal projects take two to three years, so this has been right on par.

How removing this dam is a good thing
Water depths go back to normal. With a dam in the way, sediment gets trapped, making water depths unequal. We showed up last Thursday and saw a two- to three-foot difference on the side of the river from where the water had been just the day before.

Flood elevation levels are lowered. Thanks to the more natural, lowered water depth, flood levels have higher to go to become dangerous. Sure, we’re talking a small river, but to surrounding land owners, this matters.

Fish have more access. Removing the dam opens up 17 miles of river, along with many opportunities for fish to have access to colder waters, which offers a better environment for spawning.

How others benefit
Construction materials are not cheap. So the fact that all the concrete taken out from this dam will be recycled and used in other road projects is a huge benefit. Ron also told us he and the Conservancy are committed to hiring local engineers and contractors, finding it’s a win-win working with folks who have knowledge of each area.

Watch our video to get the full effect:

We’re thankful The Conservation Alliance helped fund a project benefitting one of our neighboring towns here in Vermont. Being able to witness an example of the Alliance’s vision to restore wild places feels really good to us.

For more information on the Connecticut River Conservancy, visit www.ctriver.org. See more about The Conservation Alliance at www.conservationalliance.com.

 

Learn to Sweat the Right Stuff, Not the Small Stuff

From Ibex Advocate Britta Kfir

I stepped on (or fell off of, rather) my first slackline in Winter 2011. In those first precarious attempts to stay upright on the damn thing, everything that my physiological body knew thus far of balance was all but thrashed into a thousand disconnected pieces of vital information in mere seconds. I wouldn’t surrender to this new challenge, but I knew it wouldn’t surrender to me, either. I sweat profusely, feeling the rage of frustration and the rouge of embarrassment flooding the capillaries in my face. I couldn’t figure out how to relate to that one-inch-thick piece of nylon webbing and I was anxious, stressed, and determined to dominate it.

Six months later, I found myself facing bigger challenges on the line at a slackline yoga teacher training hosted by the YogaSlackers. This time, those challenges looked like walking lunges, seated meditations, hand balancing inversions, and other amazing postures, all while perched upon on a dynamic, suspended slackline. I was finally beginning to integrate and redefine balance, not only in my body but also in my approach to life.

“True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice, and to learn.”
-Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The YogaSlackers is a group of nomad adventurers and free spirits who specialize in sharing five very special modalities: Yoga, Slacklining, Adventure, Acrobatics, and Conditioning. Our tribe attracts people who love living life in the outdoors (a.k.a hiking, camping, climbing, yoga-ing, cooking, bathing, running. You name it, we do it.) and we generally have a pretty laid back, no-stress, “slacker” mentality when it comes to stressful situations.

As a certified teacher, I consider myself lucky to be able to travel internationally sharing these principles and spending time practicing, playing with and teaching students of all walks of life how to approach balance with a new perspective. The physical practice and the lifestyle that unite the YogaSlackers has truly changed my life by giving me the tools to be able to step back from the intensity of certain situations in order to, quite literally, sweat the right stuff instead of sweating all the small stuff.

Sweating the right stuff means identifying the bigger issues at a hand and responding to those issues instead of reacting to them. On a slackline, this means letting your body move and respond to the fluctuations of the line. Offline, this translates to being in a relationship, or car troubles, or intense physical and emotional hurdles. The more we surrender to the “line” or to the edge of discomfort, the more we are able to see the bigger picture and to practice breathing, balancing and softening into the situation, the more we learn.

Life is dynamic, just like slacklining. I never know when the “balance” might get thrown off, but I’m learning to sweat the right stuff instead, and it’s proving to make all the difference. Luckily nowadays I wear products like Ibex wool when I’m slacking so at least when I do sweat, it don’t stink!

  • About Ibex Advocate Britta Kfir

Britta is a moon-worshipping adventure-seeker from San Diego, California. She’s a proud Colorado native and has summitted 10 of its 52 14’000 foot peaks. She is also an avid surfer and slackliner, and loves pushing her limits as a triathlete. Her travels have brought her through much of Southern India, Eastern Asia, Europe, and the continental US, but more than anything, she loves exploring the West Coast and all its diverse climates. Britta is a certified yoga and AcroYoga teacher and hosts retreats and immersions internationally, sharing the ‘art of play’.

Climbing Tips for Beginners

From Ibex Athlete & Climbing Guide Karsten Delap

Karsten works as a rock and alpine guide at Fox Mountain Guides. He has been pursuing mountain adventures for over 20 years; follow him here.

***

Most of the people I talk to love the outdoors or at least some aspect of it, however, almost in the same breath tell me they “could never go rock climbing.” They proceed to list all the reasons why it is scary…that they don’t like heights…and on and on, and then go on to describe a beautiful overlook that took them 10+ miles of hiking to get too.  

As an avid rock climber and advocate of getting outside to climb, I’m here to tell you that climbing is just like hiking, just a little steeper, and with that great overlook view the entire way up. In fact, I find it more engaging than hiking which is what makes it a meditative activity. When done properly, the pure act of rock climbing is by far safer than the act of driving to the grocery store. Read on for common fears, at least from my point of view, and how to overcome them.

Heights schmeights
One of the main reasons I find that people are scared to go rock climbing is their fear of heights. Most people who are afraid of heights get a feeling of uneasiness when next to an edge because they fear they may not be able to keep themselves from jumping, or might become dizzy and fall off. For beginners, when climbing, we are tethered to the mountain at all times. In fact, climbing rock with a rope is more secure than climbing a ladder; at any point you feel uneasy, you just sit back in your harness!

Trust your gear
Another reason I see people apprehensive about climbing is not trusting the gear. With the climbing culture becoming huge around the world, more money has been put into testing gear. As a result, the gear is very, very strong if used in the right application. That said, you will want to make sure the gear has a UIAA or CE rating; good thing is that almost all gear sold in the U.S. has these. In most cases, your gear will hold 10 times the amount of force you could possibly exert on it.

No need for guns of steel
Many folks think that climbing is all about upper body strength. Just because all the photos show climbers barely holding on to anything does not mean that is how they started out climbing. Most easier climbing is done on your feet. So if you can walk up a trail, you will likely have no problem moving up an easy pitch of rock.

Go the guide route
Another great way to experience outdoor climbing, and what I recommend for beginners, is to go with an AMGA certified guide. Not all guides in the U.S. are certified, but the ones that are have had training in dealing with not only safety but also client comfort to help you overcome your trepidations in moving up the rock. You can learn many tools and techniques that can help you start to develop as a climber you can use for adventures on your own.

A group of friends climb the Nose of Looking Glass in western North Carolina using the skills they gained from instructional courses. Photo credit: Karsten Delap

Learn the lingo
Knowing some terminology can help you understand a bit more about what you are doing and make you more comfortable with the tasks at hand. Here are a few terms and their meanings you will want to know:

Belay: Dictionary meaning is to hold fast, or secure. This is how you will move rope to hold your climbing partner on the rock.

Belay Device: This is the object that creates friction on the rope so that we do not have to have much strength to hold the rope in our hands.

Piece of Protection: These are objects that are put into the rock that can hold enormous amounts of weight. They can have more specific terms like cams, nuts, and bolts.

Anchor: This will be made up of two or more pieces of protection and will hold you on the wall.

Holds: These come in all shapes and sizes and are what you use to move up the rock. Some beginners call them grips or grabs but the proper term is hold, as in “climbing hold”.

Bomber: Despite this sounding like something might blow up, it is actually the opposite. Bomber means super strong. So if you hear someone say something is “bomber”, it is strong!

Here I’m resting so my forearms don’t get too pumped, and thinking about the moves to my next piece of protection. Being comfortable with your surroundings and your gear affords you a more relaxed time on the rock. Photo credit: Austin Schmitz

 

Rock climbing is a fantastic way to recreate and enjoy the outdoors while gaining different viewpoints. It’s also a great family activity that can build trust as you work through perceived fears, and become a relaxing form of exercise for outdoor lovers of all ages. So, why not give it a try?

 

Protect These Lands: Our National Monuments at Stake

The public comment period for President Trump’s proposed review of two decade’s worth of national monument designations ended on July 11, not with a whimper but rather a veritable bang. The review’s public comment period, which lasted for 60 days, elicited more than 2.5 million responses (with Ibex’s signature proudly among them). Of the comments, 98 percent were in favor of maintaining or expanding current national monument boundaries. At Ibex, our employees live, work, and play near many of these public lands, which is why we continue to lend our voice to the chorus of support for their longevity.

The United States’ National Monuments resemble national parks in terms of their sublime scenery and safeguarding of history; however, their designation defies the stringency of the National Parks Service: National Monuments can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government. Near our Ibex flagship stores in Washington state and Colorado, and our headquarters in Vermont, three of the National Monuments threatened under the current review stand proudly as bastions of preservation, recreation, and conservation.

 Photo Courtesy of Tom Foster

Hanford Reach National Monument, located about three hours southeast of Seattle, showcases a fascinating chapter in human history as well as a vibrant display of biodiversity. Plutonium reactors, remnants of atomic weapon production for WWII and the Cold War, tower above the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River; this stretch of water is the nation’s last, non-tidal, free-flowing segment of the Columbia River. Forty-three species of fish have been documented as occurring in the Hanford Reach. Hanford Reach was the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s first National Monument; it embodies their mission of guiding the conservation, development, and management of fish and wildlife resources, as well as providing opportunities to the public to understand and wisely use those resources.

In Colorado, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument serves as a living history museum; this Bureau of Land Management-governed monument showcases a part of the state occupied by humans for over 10,000 years. Visitors can access a wealth of information about the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other native cultures of the Four Corners region at the Anasazi Heritage Center, Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum. Since most of the wild and rugged landscape of 178,000 acre monument is open to exploration by foot but lacks well-market foot trails, a visit to the museum is integral to experiencing the monument to its fullest potential.

Here at our Ibex headquarters, we are familiar with the wonders of winter, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is one of our favorite seasonal playgrounds. The National Park Service-managed monument boasts groomed cross country ski trails, 22 miles of snowmobile access, ice fishing, winter camping, including huts and lean-tos, and fat bike access. The “woods and waters” of the monument offer solitude and serenity at any time of year, whether for bird watching, cycling down gravel roads, or simply sitting on the shores of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

The protection and preservation of America’s national monuments has a direct impact on the outdoor recreation economy, generating jobs and economic growth. Furthermore, as those in the outdoor recreation industry know, these places don’t simply provide us with a paycheck but with something much more meaningful. One of Ibex’s core values is to “Protect the places we love;” these places are America’s public lands, and we are their biggest advocates.

Ibex Staff plays in dirt at The Conservation Alliance “Backyard Collective”

On July, 14th Ibex staff and members of the Conservation Alliance rallied together to volunteer for a day of trail work at the“BACKYARD COLLECTIVE” to benefit Vermont State Parks.

More than 50 volunteers from Ibex and other supporting members volunteered and aided in an area cleanup and invasive species removal at CCC Camp Smith. The historic camp, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was the largest CCC camp in the eastern U.S. The camp housed CCC corpsmen during the construction of Waterbury Dam after the disastrous flood of 1927.

“We are very excited to partner with The Conservation Alliance and its Backyard Collective,” said Susan Bulmer, NE Regional Parks Manager for Vermont State Parks. “Through the collaboration and support of community partners, and programs like the Backyard Collective, we are able to create and enhance important recreational and cultural opportunities for visitors to our state parks.”

Vermont businesses such as Ibex, Darn Tough, Mammut, Outdoor Gear Exchange, Pale Morning Media, and the Pinnacle Outdoor Group, are member companies of The Conservation Alliance.

“As a member of The Conservation Alliance, Ibex is thrilled to welcome the Backyard Collective event in Vermont this year,” said Chelsea Pawlek, Supply Chain Manager at Ibex Outdoor Clothing and member of The Conservation Alliance board of directors. “It’s great to be able to bring our industry together in Vermont to support our local community, as well as give our employees a chance to work side-by-side with other Conservation Alliance member companies.”

The mission of The Conservation Alliance is to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. The Alliance launched the Backyard Collective Program to connect member company employees in the outdoor industry with the work of organizations that receive funding from the group.

“We’re very excited to add a Vermont event as we celebrate our 10th year of our Backyard Collective program,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “Over the past decade, our members have pulled together for some impressive stewardship work on the local level. Conservation starts at home, and these events represent a strong commitment to preserving these companies’ backyard.”

The Backyard Collective moves that action to their local community, and gives these employees a venue to get their “hands dirty” for the sake of conservation.

Some of the volunteer businesses participating in the Backyard Collective are members of the newly formed Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative, formed by Governor Phil Scott through Executive Order 11-17 on June 15, 2017. Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder chairs this task force. “This volunteer day highlights the importance of our outdoor industry partners and the roles they play in strengthening stewardship of outdoor recreation resources through providing community-oriented assistance for maintaining our outdoor assets, said Michael Snyder.”

 

The Secret to Wool in the Summer

Itchy wool sweaters are a bit like lima beans or peas: right beside our memories of being forced to sit at the table until we cleaned our plate is Mom’s voice, insisting that you keep the sweater on if you wanted to go outside and play. Now, we try and load our plates with mostly green, and wool is the fiber of choice for keeping warm and staying cool, playing hard and chilling out – all of the ingredients in a successful camping trip.

Merino wool shines in all seasons, but it’s particularly well suited to summer. First, it can hang with the hours we keep. From the time you load up your car or backpack in the morning ’til the time you’re relaxing post-hike by the campfire, you’ll hardly know you’ve been wearing the same clothes all day long. The men’s All Day T can keep up with every aspect of your camping adventure; it looks good, feels good t, and won’t confess at 10pm that you put it on 14 hours earlier.

Merino’s second secret is that it holds up well in the heat. Its breathability – the ability to allow moisture vapor to be transmitted through the material – makes it practical for sweaty endeavors. Wool is also able to store moisture within the structure of the fiber, so as your body warms up, the stored moisture will evaporate and cool the air between your skin and the fabric. The women’s W2 Kinetic T is designed with our “weightless wool” technology; for warm-weather workouts, nothing can beat its soft feel, durability, and lightweight touch. When the sweating’s done, the wool wicks excess moisture from the skin so you can kick back at camp without the post-workout chills.

Finally, wool is a great travel companion. If you’re headed away to go backpacking or to make a basecamp in the woods, wool will promise that you can wear it more than once. Whereas most synthetic fibers create a happy home for bacteria, Merino absorbs moisture which then evaporates, keeping odor-causing bacteria at bay. Furthermore, wool contains Lanolin, which is how sheep don’t get soaked in a downpour and don’t stink after a day in the fields. Our Pulse shorts have a Merino liner, which means that you can confidently wear them to bag a peak one day, slay some trout the next, and play cards at camp in the evening.

Certain questions demand essential answers when planning the summer camping trip: what will keep me cool when it’s hot? Warm when it’s cool? Comfy around the picnic table, and dry and clean-feeling while I’m out playing? Merino wool – It’s as essential as the tent, tarp, and S’mores.

Colorado Mountain Club: The Voice of Colorado’s Mountains

America’s public lands received a veritable threat in April when President Trump issued an executive order to review the national monument designations. The order mandates the Secretary of the Interior with the task of reviewing all designations (or expansions of designations) under the Antiquities Act made since January 1,1996 where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, or, “where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” From the slickrock spires of Grand Staircase-Escalante to the turquoise depths of the Pacific Remote Islands, the order places at least 20 – and as many as 40 – monuments on the government’s hit list.

We at Ibex (along with over 70 other organizations) have added our name to an open letter to Secretary Zinke urging him to listen to the will of the people; luckily, our voice is bolstered by the efforts of our friends putting in hours and miles at the ground level. The Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), one of Colorado’s oldest advocacy and recreation groups has always been an active advocate for protection, access, and stewardship of public lands on a local, state, and national level; as the “voice of Colorado’s mountains,” these days, the CMC is speaking louder than ever.

“Primarily we represent human-powered recreationists – specifically hikers and mountaineers – as well as backcountry winter users (skiers, snowshoers, etc.) through our Backcountry Snowsports Initiative,” says CMC’s Conservation Director, Julie Mach. “We weigh in on policy and legislation that affects public-land designations, funding and management such as Wilderness proposals, agency budgeting, and the transfer of federal public lands to state control. Our members and supporters receive regular updates and action alerts on advocacy issues, we host public meetings and letter writing campaigns, and we engage volunteers in testifying to support public lands in Denver and Washington, D.C. We also work closely with a broad network of regional and national conservation and recreation organizations (including the Southern Rockies Conservation Alliance and Outdoor Alliance) to elevate the voice of our members and unify the broader recreation community in support and protection of public lands.”

Founded in 1912 by 25 charter members, the CMC showed, early in its history, the power of like-minded people in passing and defending important land use legislation. The club was instrumental in helping to establish Rocky Mountain National Park, and as the official record keepers for 14er, 13er, and other list completers, it’s “had a hand in naming, protecting, and enjoying the state’s high peaks for more than ten years,” says Jeff Golden, CMC Marketing Manager.

By serving as a modern day database, the CMC is an excellent resource for visitors or Coloradans who are spending time in the mountains. It also provides numerous opportunities for people to teach, learn, and grow in the Rocky Mountain playground.

“In 2016 alone, we had over 600 volunteers dedicate their time to the CMC; we led 1604 trips; we taught 174 adult courses, clinics and schools; educated 7000 youth through our Youth Education Program; and totaled 95,708 human-powered miles,” says CMC’s Membership Manager, Lauren Shockey.

The experiences that CMC facilitates contribute not only to Colorado’s outdoor culture but affect people’s relationship with the outdoors far and wide; when people have access to sustainable recreation, they are far more likely to act as stewards of the places where they play. The three tenets of CMC’s mission — education, recreation and conservation — operate in tandem to create an involved, engaged, and active constituency.

It’s more important now than ever for the outdoor industry to present a united front in support of public lands. Because of shared beliefs, Ibex is proud to share an area code with the CMC. Opening our doors in Denver puts us squarely in the middle of Colorado’s vibrant recreation scene, one that’s as active in civic centers as it is on top of 14,000 foot peaks.

4,000 miles in 14 Days with Ibex Advocate and Photographer Nelson Brown

Having a 9-5 job leaves me only with three weeks of vacation time each year. With limited time off, I strongly believe in the importance of traveling to new places and getting out of my comfort zone when I can. This year, my girlfriend and I set a two-week time frame to explore all that the West has to offer.

We had a general idea of the places we wanted to see, but never set an exact itinerary. Because for us, the adventures are ever-changing. We chose to travel without a set destination because it allowed us to go with the flow and to live in the moment. We drove through six different states, all of which were unfamiliar places, totaling 4,000 miles in 14 days. The best part of the adventure was chasing the sun to our next campsite where we would set up camp only to get a good night’s sleep, knowing we could do it all over again.

In my opinion, car camping is the best way to travel and see the country, but you’ve got to be equipped with the right gear in order to appreciate the journey. Packing light is crucial when traveling with limited space. All Ibex Merino wool items can be put through the ringer and still come out smelling pretty… even after 14 long days. My travel wardrobe consisted mainly of Ibex apparel that was versatile enough to wear in all terrains: mountains, rainforest, desert, and urban.

Throughout the trip we made stops in Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Each state had their individual cool spots and destinations, but I’d like to share with you a list of my personal favorites along the trip and why they should be on your bucket list.

Utah – Dixie National Forest

Utah’s State Parks and National Forests are what make Utah one of my favorite places thus far. Just south of Bryce Canyon National Park lies The Red Canyon in Dixie National Park, Utah. Here in Red Canyon we found breathtaking rock formations and less traveled trails to discover. Maybe the light snowfall drove people away, because we did not see a single person at this location. I highly recommend hiking Cassidy Trail while you’re in Utah.

Travel Hack – save some money by camping in National Forests versus a designated campground!

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