The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2010

The Gear Junkie Scoop: Columbia Heated Boots

Columbia Heated Boot (Mens) By Stephen Regenold

High-performing heated boots have long been a Holy Grail in the footwear world. With its new men's Bugathermo and women's Snow Hottie models, Columbia Sportswear Company took a stab at making the ultimate heated boot. The boot features built-in rechargeable batteries and on-boot controls to provide three temperature settings. A single charge provides up to eight hours of heat for your feet.

Over two months of Minnesota winter, including temps below zero, I tested the Bugathermo boots, which cost $250 a pair. A female friend who coaches Nordic skiing tried the Snow Hotties out. Our conclusions were about the same: Columbia has missed the aforementioned Holy Grail by a long shot. The Bugathermos are clunky and uncomfortable. Design flaws include a bad fit on the top of the midfoot area, where boot flex causes material to fold over and press into your foot. Fit around the calves was uncomfortable and loose on long hikes.

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Ellen Miller: A Role Model for Women Climbers

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Ellen Miller is a quiet climber. Many people have not heard of her athletic and mountaineering achievements. For example, she is the only woman to summit Everest from both sides within the span of one year.

I first met Ellen in 2002, on an expedition in which she summited Everest from the Nepal side. She was a quiet and confident person with a natural bent towards giving encouragement to others.

She was clearly the strongest climber on our team.I remember on summit night, after we all left the South Col together, I watched her and Ang Dorge Sherpa disappear up the Triangular Face at an amazing pace. They were one of the first teams to summit that night.

Ellen, a long time Vail resident, is no stranger to mountains. She has summited Cho Oyu, Mustagh-Ata, Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, and Kilimanjaro in addition to the volcanoes of Ecuador and all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks.

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Ski With Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad

P1010027 Think of it as skiing's equivalent of a backstage pass: This March, Chugach Powder Guides will host a special heli-ski trip with pro skiers Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad in Alaska's Chugach Range. Let's just say that these two know what they're doing. Saugstad won the 2009 World Freeride Tour, and Townsend has appeared in flicks by TGR, Warren Miller, and Matchstick Productions. March 14-20 or March 13-21. Check it out on Townsend's blog, Cherry Pow or on Chugach Powder Guides' website

--Kate Siber

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Avalanche on Kashmir's Disputed Border Kills 17

More sad news to report: A slide killed at least 17 soldiers when it hit a military training camp near Gulmarg, a popular Indian ski resort, today. This border with Pakistan has long been disputed in one of the world's highest-altitude wars. The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent report, and years ago in this magazine, Kevin Fedarko wrote a first-hand account called The Coldest War

The east coast is getting hammered with snow but human-triggered slide action in the U.S. mountain West is relatively quiet at the moment. Let's keep it that way. 

--Kate Siber

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Shackleton's Lost Antarctic Whiskey Recovered

We've been waiting for this.The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has successfully recovered the whiskey left behind by Shackleton's 1908-1909 expedition to the continent, according to the Daily Mail. We anticipated the find in a December article

The expedition recovered the cases in almost perfect condition, considering their age. And as a bonus, they also recovered some brandy left behind by Shackleton. Want a sip of century-old whiskey that's been on ice for the past 100 years? You may be out of luck. The Daily Mail says the Mackinley Old Scotch Whiskey must be kept according to conservation guidelines.

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Photo from the Daily Mail

-- Jonah Ogles

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