“The Summit” brings 2008 K2 tragedy to vivid life

Like giant waves, giant mountains frighten me. I have no problem face climbing or approaching cruxy roofs a few hundred feet above where my feet are most comfortable. However, throw in crumbling snow, creaky ice slabs, an unpredictable forecast and little chance of rescue and something in my man parts cowers inward and runs for cover. In short, I stand in awe of big-time alpine climbers.

K2 has long-earned its reputation as the world’s most dangerous mountain. In 2008, it chose to remind us just how seriously it takes that moniker. This is what the movie is about.

Shudder.

Gear Up: Vedavoo’s interchangeable packs seem right for every occasion.

The Boston area isn’t exactly recognized as a climbing mecca. But Vedauwoo in Southeastern Wyoming is exactly that. It’s also the home crag of Scott Hunter, who founded Vedavoo, a gear joint targeting primarily climbers. So while Hunter built his new company up in Mass, testing its meddle at Solomon Pond, it’s roots are solidly embedded in the Rockies.The flagship of Vedavoo is its modular climbing pack line, which offers an interchangeable system of rope bags, crag packs and rack haulers that can be clipped, strapped and connected to one another based on your trip’s needs.

Outdoor gear, especially that which is designed by industry non-cognoscente, is ripe for multi-use gimmicks that often result in it being capable of nothing at all. Not at all so with Vedavoo. Well, from what I can tell anyway. First, the packs are very simple in scope with minimal accouterments outside of their ability to interact with one another. This tells me that Hunter and crew focused on the true needs of its user: to haul stuff. That will attract me every time. I like packs that are essentially barrels with straps. Give me some durable material and I’ll decide how to organize things.

The crag pack is an easy roll-top design with three strap systems that can hold tight an array of tools and equipment via 35 different points. Now, I’m not a big fan of externally hauling anything but in climbing and mountaineering, it’s simply part of the game.

More over, credit has to be given to the background of the company’s principals and the number of iterations the company has experienced as it refined its products. A lot of good can come out of growing pains.

Check ’em out. I see good things on the horizon.

It’s not a Michael Bay movie, magnetic north is really shifting faster than before

Declination settings on a typical topo

Magnetic north is not true north. Got that?

Well, some may feel it’s a skill that hardly seems like having anymore, given the ubiquity of handheld GPS devices and the ever-increasing capability of smartphones, but any hiker worth his bootlace should be able to properly use a compass.

Backcountry hikers who keep their compass as close as their paper topo know that the first step in correctly navigating with such a tool is to adjust their declination for magnetic north. It could mean the difference between a few quick miles through the forest and winding up in a twisted slot canyon. Apparently though, we need to learn to adjust for declination on the fly because scientists have found that magnetic north has entered a “fast shift” phase.

Jeff Love with the U.S. Geological Survey Geomagnetism Program (again … not a Michael Bay movie) says that this is nothing unusual but should be consistently monitored by those who navigate sans satellite device. It’s just that, you know, our planet’s revolving core of molten iron tends to adjust its pace every few generations.

“Magnetic north is shifting all the time; it’s a continuous process, not an event … In 10 to 20 years from now, it might be slowing down,” he said.

Cool. Read more about it in that url-embedded text up there. You can also check out Backpacker magazine’s take on compass use.