Veterans Expeditions

Posts Tagged ‘Kahtoola’

The VetEx Experience at Winter Outdoor Retailer 2014

OR VetEx Pints

Our Pint Glass Sale at KEEN Happy Hour. VetEx logo looking good.

This winter a team of  VetEx veterans went to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.  We went with big plans of new partnerships and quality time with long time partners.  Keen set us up in their booth Wednesday through Friday of the show.  We interacted with Keen staff, Keen customers, and show goers all day long in the booth.  Things started to heat up for pint sales and happy hour.  Keen donated all of the proceeds to VetEx.  Thanks for the continued support Keen.

OR Keen Booth

Keen and VetEx at the 2014 Winter OR Show

Keen and VetEx at the 2014 Winter OR Show

VetEx veterans had the pleasure of hanging out and talking with Wade Davis after his talk at the Conservation Alliance Breakfast.  Wade is the author of Into the Silence, a spectacular book on World War I and the military veteran climbers who took on Everest, Mallory included.  This book is a must read for the veteran climber.  Mr. Davis writes of war in such detail and accuracy.  The reader can defiantly draw comparisons to then and now.  Those veteran climbers paved the way for VetEx today. Many of those WW I vets were unemployed and looking for peace and a future in the outdoors.

OR Wade Davis talks to the men

VetEx Leadership gets some wise words from a very wise man. Thanks for the time Wade Davis. A class act and avid supporter of veterans.

OR Guys with Wade Davis

From left to right: Dan Wiwczar VetEx East Program Director, Josh Brandon heads up SCMO, Wade Davis, Stacy Bare Sierra Club Outings Director, Nick Watson VetEx Executive Director.

Wade talked with our group about his book, Into the Silence, and his current effort to save his homeland in The Sacred Headwaters.  A story of the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass in Northern British Columbia.  The knowledge, subject matter, and passion Mr. Davis has on these subjects is impressive.  I have never spoken with a better speaker and story teller.  We will make sure that VetEx vets will have opportunities in the future to speak with this amazing man and all he has to teach and tell us.

OR VetEx Sally Jewel

The VetEx Leadership with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Sally heads up the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, and much more.

The VetEx leadership team had the chance to speak with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell.  It was great to speak with Sally about all her job entails.  Fascinating woman working hard in service to this countries wild places and open spaces.

Or HardWear Lunch

We attended the Mountain Hard Wear lunch and got updated on all the new designs and specifics for their new line.

OR Kahtoola

We wrapped up the show at the Kahtoola booth.  Kahtoola was our first sponsor in 2010 when most folks would not give us the time of day, Kahtoola wanted to make sure our veterans were in their snowshoes and microspikes.  We will always be loyal supporters of Kahtoola as they have been very loyal to VetEx.Adventures of the Year Party SLC

We attended the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year party on Thursday where Stacy Bare and Nick Watson (VetEx Co-Founders) were presented with the 2014 Adventurers of the Year honor.  Thanks National Geographic for recognizing our veteran run, veteran led trips and expeditions nation wide.

It was a great show for VetEx as we got to meet so many new faces and hang out with old partners to talk about future trips and the future of veterans outside. Thank you once again Keen, Kahtoola, and National Geographic for making our show so eventful. 

 

VetEx Veterans go to Hyalite Canyon Montana to Climb ice with Conrad Anker

How does a group of veterans get the chance to climb with elite mountaineer Conrad Anker?  Why organize such a trip?  These are the questions asked of me after unloading the van from our latest trip to Montana.  They are easy questions to answer.  This was Conrad’s idea I say.  It came about when VetEx ran a trip in Glacier National Park last August with Conrad Anker and James Baylog of Chasing Ice.  The trip was a veteran led climate recon team that was to look at climate change on an up close and personal level.  On that trip our veterans got to climb a very remote peak in the park with Conrad Anker.  A short film will be out soon from the trips sponsor, the Sierra Club.  On the summit of Blackfoot Mountain, Conrad said to our group that we should come to Montana this winter and climb ice in Hyalite Canyon and that is exactly what we did.

Conrad Anker on the summit of Blackfoot Mtn after being presented the summit flag

And so the story continues.  We climb ice with groups of veterans because it is fun, it is challenging, it brings up what we miss from active duty military service, camaraderie,  team work, being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Trips like these help us step back, relax, talk about things we don’t talk to everyone about, and then take it all back to our day to day lives.  Veterans learn new skills and develop old skills with the help of other veterans doing the same.  Trips like these help fill the void of the normalcy of civilian life and help with that difficult transition from active duty service to civilian society.

Our 11 vets and guides on this trip

We spent 4 nights out winter camping on this trip.  The time spent away from technology is nice because all we have to do is climb and hang out with one another.  The 11 veterans on this trip have stories to tell of their individual service.  All 11 stories worthy of sharing and when told help shed light on the experiences of our men and women who serve in our military.  It is so refreshing for me to see a diverse group of military veterans work together and become functioning members of our backcountry team.  The bonds and connections made will stay with them long after the trip is over.  I feel so fortunate to witness this over and over again.  If the people of our nation could only see and witness what I experience on these trips and expeditions, veterans would have all the resources they need.

Our veteran crew with Conrad Anker and our Guide Sam Magro

I want to give recognition to the 2 stories that have come out on this expedition already.  

http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/dailyfeatures/article_de06684a-7bc2-11e2-ad2a-001a4bcf887a.html

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/04/veterans-tackle-hyalite-canyon-and-life-after-war/#comment-114436

These stories help tell the story of what happens when veterans get outside together.  Please read them for more perspective on the trips that Veterans Expeditions run.  I would like to thank our sponsors the Sierra Club, the North Face, Petzl, Blue Water Ropes, Mountain Equipment Recyclers, Keen, Julbo, and Kahtoola.  Please enjoy the following photos that tell the story of this trip much better than I can.

Demond gives it his all

Demond after topping out on an incredibly challenging route. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn

Mark, another city kid going big

evening by the fire

Mike making it look easy

Sam crushing it

Joe learning how to place ice screws

morning warm up

myself, giving it a go

Stacy on the pilar

Conrad heading home and all of us from VetEx say see ya out there!

By Nick Watson

Co-Founder of Veterans Expeditions

[email protected]

Crater Lakes Snowshoe 4 of 4 Beginner Snowshoe

Crater Lakes. Photo by Chris Kassar

VetEx will snowshoe to Crater Lakes Saturday the 30th of March. This will be our fourth and final  snowshoe of the season.  The Crater Lakes Snowshoe is a beginner snowshoe.  This day trip is appropriate for all abilities and those who have never been on snowshoes.  Snowshoes sponsored by Kahtoola.

What:  VetEx Meet-Up Snowshoe beginner in difficulty, Crater Lakes, Rollinsville,  Colorado.  Please reserve your slot with [email protected]

When:  Saturday March 30th 2013  at 7 am we will meet-up at the Boulder Safeway.

Where do we all Meet Up:  7am at the Boulder Safeway at 3325 28th Street Boulder, CO 7 am.  The corner of 28th and Iris.

 https://maps.google.com/maps?q=safeway+on+iris+in+boulder&fb=1&gl=us&hq=safeway+on+iris+in+boulder&cid=0,0,5820848417713507236&t=m&z=16

What Gear Do I Need:

Day pack items required by each individual to provide and have with them:

-Day pack
-64 oz of water/ 2 liters/ 2 Nalgenes (enough water for all day in the mountains)
-Raincoat/parka mountain weight
-Warm jacket / heavy weight fleece / down sweater / pile jacket
-Winter hat
-Warm gloves
-Long sleeve shirt / long-john style non-cotton
-Short sleeve shirt non cotton
-Headlamp (we may walk many miles in the dark)
-Hiking boots (Waterproof is key as there will be snow) The warmest, driest boots you have!
-Sunscreen
-Lunch, snacks, lots of them

Snow Pants, Down Jacket or Winter Coat will make your day warmer!

FACE MASK COVERAGE AND GOGGLES ARE A MUST!!!!!!

All technical snow/ice gear with be provided by Kahtoola (snowshoes/microspikes)

This is a minimal list.  Any Gear questions or Gear needs to [email protected]

 

March 16th Mt. Elbert Snowshoe 3 of 4

This was Mt. Elbert last May. Expect colder temps and more snow in March. Photo by Chris Kassar

VetEx will climb Mt. Elbert (14,440 feet) Saturday the 16th of March. This will be our third snowshoe of the season.  The Mt.Elbert snowshoe will be intermediate in difficulty and any bad weather will make the summit an even greater challenge. If you have never climbed a Colorado 14er before, this snowshoe is not for you. If you have been working up to this and think you are almost there, then come on out.      Snowshoes sponsored by Kahtoola.

What:  VetEx Meet-Up Snowshoe Intermediate in difficulty, Mt. Elbert, Leadville  Colorado.  Conditions could make this a very long, very hard day! Please reserve your slot with [email protected]

When:  Saturday March 16th 2013  at 7 am we will meet-up at the Leadville Safeway 1900 Hwy 24 Leadville, CO 80461. We will carpool from the Safeway to the trailhead or as close as we can drive to the trailhead. We will need 4×4 vehicles to get into the trailhead more than likely.

Where do we all Meet Up:  7am at 1900 Hwy 24 Leadville, CO 80461 at the Leadville Safeway.  Safeway is on your right at the first stop light in town.

What Gear Do I Need:

Day pack items required by each individual to provide and have with them:

-Day pack
-64 oz of water/ 2 liters/ 2 Nalgenes (enough water for all day in the mountains)
-Raincoat/parka mountain weight
-Warm jacket / heavy weight fleece / down sweater / pile jacket
-Winter hat
-Warm gloves
-Long sleeve shirt / long-john style non-cotton
-Short sleeve shirt non cotton
-Headlamp (we may walk many miles in the dark)
-Hiking boots (Waterproof is key as there will be snow) The warmest, driest boots you have!
-Sunscreen
-Lunch, snacks, lots of them

Snow Pants, Down Jacket or Winter Coat will make your day warmer!

FACE MASK COVERAGE AND GOGGLES ARE A MUST!!!!!!

All technical snow/ice gear with be provided by Kahtoola (snowshoes/microspikes)

This is a minimal list.  Any Gear questions or Gear needs to [email protected]

This was our Mt. Elbert summit photo last summer. Photo by Chris Kassar

Outdoor Retailer Show: a military veterans perspective

Keen shoe display at the Keen Booth

I spent last week in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Outdoor Retailer Show. I was there to find out what outdoor companies are working with military veterans and to remind companies to consider veterans in their marketing of outdoor gear. My goal was to partner my veteran non-profit (Veterans Expeditions or VetEx) with any outdoor company who recognizes military veterans as an educated consumer of their outdoor gear. I was also looking for the latest gear to test and review.  I was looking for companies who identified with my mission and wanted to provide gear to the veterans who come on VetEx trips. I was to report back what I found in an Elevation Outdoors Blog. I walked into the enormous Salt Palace with open eyes and ears. This is what I found.

I met with the good folks at Keen to thank them for providing shoes for VetEx veterans and talked further to see if Keen could continue to support the footwear needs of VetEx. Turns out Keen will continue to support VetEx’s footwear and wants to see veterans as Keen Ambassadors. I can’t tell you how good it feels to sit down with an outdoor company and be treated fairly and with respect even though I am not some outdoor big-shot hucking myself of anything that might kill me or claiming first ascents around the world. I am just an ordinary veteran who found peace in the outdoors and wants to share the outdoors with as many vets as possible. Keen gets it though because we “inspire” the folks at Keen by just being military veterans who want to build community through the outdoors.

Boa Bindings make Louis Garneau snowshoes a snap

I went to a sushi lunch provided by the folks at Backbone Media. It was a good opportunity to eat some great food and get some time with new products from Boa and Louis Garneau. I was impressed with the Boa bindings used on the snowshoes offered by Louis Garneau. The snowshoes were all very light with the Boa binding and the running snowshoes (center snowshoes in photo) were the lightest snowshoes I have even felt. The unique binding allows for one handed in and out operation. For veterans with hand or upper body disabilities like myself, the one handed operation is very appealing for its simplicity and ease of operation. Stay tuned as I have been promised a demo of these snowshoes when they are released this coming fall. We will have the vets at VetEx put these snowshoes and their cool bindings through a gear test and review. We will let you know how theses snowshoes stack up after solid use.

Next I met with Verde PR and got the lowdown on Julbo eyewear, K2, Madshus, and Metolius. Stay tuned on gear reviews from these companies and their products. I am hoping to get more eyewear to test from Julbo and start the conversation for them to become the eyewear provider of VetEx. Good eye protection is so important in the high mountains and most of our veterans lack a pair of solid sun glasses.

Kahtoola Microspikes see an upgrade

It was on to the Kahtoola booth for happy hour and a talk with Danny Giovale, the owner of Kahtoola. There was a large crowd gathered at the Kahtoola booth and they were giving away lots of microspikes and snowshoes. I watched them give away pair after pair. The most gear I witnessed being given away all week at the show. Danny and I sat down for a chat about how far VetEx has come. Kahtoola was VetEx’s first gear sponsor and they have been backing us since we started. I was reminded of just how down to earth Danny Giovale is as well as his entire Kahtoola gang. You will not find better people in the outdoor industry than these folks. A refreshing, made in the USA company that truly supports military veterans. Can’t say enough about the people behind such great outdoor gear. Happy to hear there will be new things coming soon from this Flagstaff Arizona company. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Their microspikes are one of a kind and the standard for in between season mountain travel.  The snowshoe binding releases from the deck to provide instant traction to your boots.

One of my last stops was to the folks at SteriPen. You know, the ultraviolet backcountry water zapper. SteriPen was very interested in helping get vets outside. They make a special SteriPen for Special Ops that I will be testing very soon. SteriPen will also donate these cool water purification devices to VetEx for our expeditions and trips. Very cool of these guys to come in and help us out with a product that will give us clean drinking water in the backcountry.

So thats a wrap on the Outdoor Retailer Show from my military veteran perspective. I will also be testing gear from Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Mammut, and many others. Clif will be making sure our veterans have the snacks to get us through the next backcounty challenge and beyond. I thank all the outdoor companies helping military veterans achieve their outdoor goals!

By Nick Watson, Former Army Ranger and Co-Founder of Veterans Expeditions (VetEx)

 

 

 

 

 

VetEx Snowshoe Meet-Up 2 Mt.Yale

VetEx and Team Rubicon Snowshoe Group

VetEx will climb Mt.Yale (14,420) feet Saturday the 2nd of February. This will be our second snowshoe of the season.  The Mt.Yale snowshoe will be intermediate in difficulty and any bad weather will make the summit an even greater challenge. If you have never climbed a Colorado 14er before, this snowshoe is not for you. If you have been working up to this and think you are almost there, then come on out.      Snowshoes sponsored by Kahtoola.

What:  VetEx Meet-Up Snowshoe Intermediate in difficulty, Mt. Yale, Buena Vista Colorado.  Please reserve your slot with [email protected]

When:  Saturday February 2nd 2013  at 6: 45 am at the CITY MARKET 438 Us Highway 24 N Buena Vista CO 81211 .  Leaving City Market at 7am for the Mt. Yale Trailhead.

Where do we all Meet Up:  CITY MARKET 438 Us Highway 24 N Buena Vista CO 81211 , CO  at 6:45 am.

What Gear Do I Need:

Day pack items required by each individual to provide and have with them:

-Day pack
-64 oz of water/ 2 liters/ 2 Nalgenes (enough water for all day in the mountains)
-Raincoat/parka mountain weight
-Warm jacket / heavy weight fleece / down sweater / pile jacket
-Winter hat
-Warm gloves
-Long sleeve shirt / long-john style non-cotton
-Short sleeve shirt non cotton
-Headlamp (we may walk many miles in the dark)
-Hiking boots (Waterproof is key as there will be snow) The warmest, driest boots you have!
-Sunscreen
-Lunch, snacks, lots of them

Snow Pants, Down Jacket or Winter Coat will make your day warmer!

FACE MASK COVERAGE AND GOGGLES ARE A MUST!!!!!!

All technical snow/ice gear with be provided by Kahtoola (snowshoes/microspikes)

This is a minimal list.  Any Gear questions or Gear needs to [email protected]

Photo by Gina Fasciani


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