Team Scheels PETZL RAGNAR Relay Race Report

The Ragnar Relay is a 196 mile relay race from Winona, MN to Minneapolis, MN.  Much of the course is run through the SW part of Wisconsin which is brutal for a born and raised flatlander like me.  294 teams registered and of those 294 teams there were about 20 ultra teams.  An ultra team consists of only 6 runners instead of 12 runners.  My thought is if you’re going to do it you might as well make it hurt!  The team consisted of Josh Duerr, his cousin Tony Duerr, Tony’s friends Matt Hanson, and Mike Waldera (note: all 3 of those guys work for Scheels and Scheels was nice enough to sponsor us for the race), and Justin Schweitzer, an old high school “rival” of mine that was easy to convince to be on our team.  We also recruited my brother, Jason Miller, Tony’s brother, Brad Duerr, and Tony’s brother-in-law Ryan Sunram to drive and help out in any way they could.  These 3 guys played a huge part in our victory due to the fact that we just had to focus on running and you wouldn’t believe how much there is to do out there other than just run!!!

Our race start time was at 4:00pm but I think Justin said it best when he said, “That race started at 3:00pm as soon as we talked with the MN Running Wild team (our competition throughout the race that I will refer to regularly).  We knew these guys were going to be good considering they won it last year and they had a lot of questions about our team prior to the start too.  You could say we were sizing each other up.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL ANGE S Finesse Quickdraw Review

PETZL ANGE S Quickdraws

I’ve been getting a lot of odd looks recently. It could be due to dressing in drag, or climbing on a fatter rope than normal, but I think these glances are directed at the fancy (and funky?) looking new quickdraws on my harness. “What are those?” seems to be a common question when people first spy the Petzl Ange Finesse draws. It’s not that I blame them, I’m just starting to get self conscious with all the attention.

When wiregate biners came out, they were a game changer. It opened the door to the incredibly light clips we have today, but there was always a piece of the puzzle that was missing. How to give them the no snag functionality of a key lock. A few other companies have put forth some idea, but arguably none are as cutting edge as what Petzl has achieved with the Ange.

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My PETZL GRIGRI 2 Recall Experience

Recalled Devices: serial number between 10326 and 11136

Recently Petzl had to recall the GriGri2 not long after it hit the market.  The new Petzl GriGri2, which was released earlier this year, is a new and improved version of the GriGri.  The new belay device is more compact and lighter than its predecessor, easily fitting into the palm of a hand.  Petzl also changed the design a little to allow for greater controlled descent, especially when a smaller person lowers someone who weighs much more than they do.  Petzl, women everywhere thank you.

A long-time fan of the original GriGri, I was excited when Petzl released this new device, and of course, had grand plans of putting it to the test over the summer.  I had already taken it out once to a local crag and was impressed with how well it handled slim ropes, big weight differentials between climber and belayer and how light and compact it was.  When I received the news of this recall, I went and checked my GriGri2.  My heart sunk.  It held the digits listed in the recall.  That meant the days of playing with my fabulous new belay device were numbered until the replacement arrived.  It was the start of summer and I had many great climbs on the books and fun cragging days coming up in which I had been looking forward to using the new slimmer, lighter GriGri2.  But, it would not be, at least not until the new GriGri2 arrived and I wasn’t sure how long that would take.

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Pemba Reads

I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me | Common Dreams
Tim DeChristopher, who was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine for ‘disrupting’ a Bureau of Land Management auction in 2008, had an opportunity to address the court and the judge immediately before his sentence was announced. This is his statement.

In search of diversity in our national parks | High Country News
In the crowd of tourists on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Griffin family immediately caught my eye. Allen, Hashmareen and their two small boys were surrounded by thousands of other visitors, but the Griffins stood out because they were among only a handful of African-Americans I encountered in my travels.

Why Does U.S. Bike Commuting Lag Dismally Behind Rest of the World? | adventure journal
This spring, curiosity propelled me onto a New York City subway bound for Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, where a new bike path along the edge of Brooklyn’s largest park had angry residents worked up into a lather.

Am I Still a Dirtbag? | adventure journal
I just got a new job. After years of scraping by on a newspaper salary, then a nonprofit salary (I may be one of the only people dumb enough to take a pay cut from an already low-paying journalism job), I have enough money to eat. And purchase a new pair of pants without thinking about it for two weeks beforehand.

TNB: Kai’s First Climb | Rock & Ice
Three weeks ago my wife and I visited the City of Rocks, Idaho, and my son Kai completed his first climb: Lookout Ridge (5.5). He’d just turned four, was on his first road trip, camping and rock scrambling and hanging out with his best friend Hen J. They rallied around the base of the routes with toy trucks, conversing at volume 10, sometimes erupting into hoots and screams until I forcefully explained that screaming is the one vocalization you can not make at a climbing area. I felt bad about subjecting our fellow City of Rocks climbers to Kai, in particular. He projects his voice like an opera star and his lamentations can break eardrums.

Splitter Choss: PETZL XION Rope Review

PETZL XION testing at City of Rocks

“Hey, how skinny is this rope?”
“How skinny is this rope, it’s flying through this GRIGRI.”
“Ha, that’s a 10.1! It’s the fattest rope I own!”

You can imagine my friend’s surprise, as he thought I had sandbagged him with a tiny 9.2 or something similar. In reality, we were out using the new Petzl Xion, which clocks in at a beefy-by-today’s-standards 10.1. I usually shy away from anything bigger than 9.8, but Petzl was touting this as being a beefier cord that offered “excellent hand and suppleness similar to that of thinner ropes,” so I decided to check it out.

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Majka Burhardt: Going Big



Majka Burhardt moving toward the moment of the click in Ethiopia. Photo By Gabe Rogel

Five days ago I drove out of Eldorado Canyon after seven pitches of climbing with two professional women who live in Boulder. We’d spent the day climbing sandstone cracks freshly crisped by the proceeding evening storms. The river roared beneath us for the full day making communication difficult and creating isolation of judgment and choices for each of us while climbing. It was a day where climbing was climbing – the complete pairing of mental and physical connection dialed together by focus. As we drove away from the perfect day Tracy and Amy planned future objectives and talk circled to fall climbing plans. Tracy and Amy talked about Colorado; I brought up Ethiopia.

This fall I’m co-leading the second annual Imagine Ethiopia expedition. During the trip we will rock climb, mountain bike, do yoga, and further the path and possibility of Ethiopia’s education. And is if that was not enough we will also explore Ethiopia’s coffee heritage and help celebrate one of its greatest economic drivers. I’d like to say it will just be a standard 14 days in Ethiopia, but I’d be lying.

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Classic Pemba Serves

It’s summer time! If you’re not outside on adventures or maxxed out doing Spring 2012 previews maybe you’re inside watching reruns. Am I right?

Here are some of Pemba Serves’ classic posts from Brad, Bryan, Janice, Pete and Steve to keep you occupied and to get us back to work!

Lessons of Xegar
Brad Werntz

“We spent ten days in Xegar. Every day, we watched it rain, waiting. Prior to our sojourn in Xegar, we spent ten days crossing Tibet on muddy roads, over landslides, through floods. We expected our gear to be waiting for us in Xegar, as it was sent from Beijing before us. Instead, we waited in Xegar for our gear, for ten days.”


Rock Climbing Risk
Bryan Kuhn

“There are old climbers, and there are bold climbers, but few old, bold climbers. I don’t know who said this, I’ve heard it attributed to dozens of climbers, and I tend to think of it a general understanding of the sport and what to expect as you age into it.”


Our Chicks ROCK!
Janice Ellefson

“Rock Climbing? Yeah I’d thought about it – A LOT. Brad and Vera and Boulders are just a stone’s throw away. Steve, my coworker here at PEMBA, is OBSESSED. Between these three, I have climbing power-houses all around me and yet I had not taken the plunge. I had never climbed before, except for a few stints at Boulders. Well, suddenly an opportunity came my way that I couldn’t pass up!”


So…sea kayaking doesn’t suck
Pete Witucki

“Without debating if a six-hour drive to Lake Superior is a ‘local recreation area,’ I have discovered that not only does sea kayaking not suck – I could actually see myself getting into this.”


Son of the Irish
Steve Schultz

“I learned more about climbing, trying hard and so much else that afternoon climbing with this mystery man. He took me around the Buttermilks showing me classics, must do’s, what not to do’s and future projects for me. He insisted that I needed a tour and that he was the man to do it. Off we went.”

What’s Your “Trekking Pole Trail”?

Following the "trail" in Willow Canyon

Following the "trail" in Willow Canyon

It’s that time of year in the shop. Customers with backpacking equipment lists bound for adventure start their journey in your store. We know the drill. Start with the boot fit. Next the pack fit. Then with the boots on and the pack loaded help them with all the other essentials. One item that’s usually found on the “optional” part of that list is trekking poles.

It can be easy to dismiss that “optional” item. Trekking poles can seem gimmicky, only for wussies or backpacker nerds. Plus it can be a $100+ “optional” item on that list. But after a great clinic as a shop employee and some “Trekking Pole Trails” of my own I’ve changed my mind.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL Xion 10.1 Rope

“On our recent trip to City of Rocks, it was nice having a beefy cord that could stand up to the abuse of top roping over the abrasive granite. I’m still going to take the skinnier cords out most of the time, but when I want something stout that still feels nimble, the Xion is the ticket. Stay tuned for more on this one in the coming weeks.”

Splitter Choss: What’s in Your Rope Quiver?

Pemba Serves weekly reads

Splitter Choss: Our Favorite “New” Climbing Websites
“It seems there’s no end of new climbing blogs popping up daily, but most follow the same unfortunate path. Start out strong for a little while, but when the reality of keeping regular updates sets in, the spark fades and the site languishes into obscurity. (Pimpin and Crimpin where did you go!?!?) There are, however, some great new sites I’ve come across recently, and here’s to hoping they can keep a good thing going. (And when I say “new,” I mean new to me, as some of these have been around for quite awhile).”

Grand Rapids bicyclists agree: City’s bicycle culture is growing, getting better
“On a warm summer evening – perfect for bicycling – about 100 bicycling enthusiasts instead gathered at Wealthy Theatre for a panel discussion about their favorite subject – bicycling.”

From the Lean-To: Documerica
“I’ve spent too much time in front of the computer, sitting at the minituare aqua-green cafe table that overlooks my block, cold beer in hand, gazing at the Documerica photos that grace the National Archives’ Flickr pages. The bright reds and oranges of the desert rocks, the old Appalachian Trail signs, the midnight campfires, that, for no reason other than being lit sometime in the mid 70’s, just seem cooler than any fire I’ve ever lit.”

Crisis: National Parks Are Polluted, Crumbling, Underfunded, and Likely to Get Worse
“America’s best idea is in a bad way. The National Parks Conservation Association has just issued a dire warning about the state of our national parks. The NPCA, a 325,000-member group with a lobbying arm in D.C., also has a research arm based in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Center for Park Research. Interestingly, that latter’s acronym is CPR, which is what their latest findings suggest are in order for the nation’s 400 parks, 80 of which were thoroughly surveyed in a nearly decade-long inventory of the state of our national parks.”

I Kicked a Squirrel Into the Grand Canyon
“It was a mid-July morning during my fifth summer on Grand Canyon National Park’s trail crew, and I arrived at the worksite on the South Kaibab Trail to find an old woman — memory casts her with doughy white skin and frumpy teal-colored clothes — perched on a rock on the side of the trail. She was quite contentedly scattering sunflower seeds about her, and amid the seeds, practically sitting on her lap, hastily shoving the booty into its wadded cheeks, was the One-Eyed Squirrel of Ooh-Aah Point.”

The City and Bikes: Rubber Meets Road
“Spring was a little shrill and embarrassing. There were crazed media furies about bike lanes, non-stop reports of police crackdowns, hyperbolic worries that the city was transforming into an effete Euro village. If we didn’t defend our streets, the cyclists would overtake Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan would open a leg-shaving station in Union Square.”