Take a Road Trip

The monsoons are coming to the Southwest just in time to cool things down. With the forests still closed, there are excellent archeological opportunities awaiting just a few hours away.
Chaco Cultural National Historic Monument.
From AD 850 to 1250, Chaco was a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area–unlike anything before or since. The Chacoan people combined many elements: pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping, and engineering to create an ancient urban center of spectacular public architecture.

Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

Pecos National Historical Park
In the midst of piñon, juniper, and pine woodlands in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe, the remains of an Indian pueblo stand as a meaningful reminder of the people who once prevailed in this area.

Standing Cow Ruin
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, the cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly include distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery while exhibiting remarkable preservation integrity that provides outstanding opportunities for study and contemplation.


Save 15% On a Father’s Day Patagonia Shirt!

From today until Father’s Day Sunday June 19th, you can save 15% on a Patagonia Shirt for Dad. Shop online only  and use CODEDAD2011 at checkout.

Save Some for a Rainy Day

Save some for a rainy day

As we move into summer coming off of a very dry winter in Santa Fe we are once again confronted with the delicate and precarious relationship we have with water in the southwest, in America and in the perspective of the whole world. With the continued effects of climate change we are experiencing historical weather events and seemingly much greater extremes. With a decade long drought taking hold on the southwest and an ever increasing need for water we are at a crossroads. The exploding population of the southwest and the continued demand for water places a new sense of responsibility on all the individuals who live, farm and work in its vast desert ecosystem artificially hydrated by a once mighty river. Without understanding our history, weather and pressures on the system as a whole, it is difficult to take the necessary steps to change what could be the earth’s greatest environmental challenge.

It was here in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1922 at the Bishops Lodge Resort that seven states came together and signed into law the Colorado River Compact splitting the Colorado River Basin into two sections and forever changing the landscape of the southwest. The interstate compact governed the allocation of the rights to the river‘s water among the states involved. With the zealous oversight of Herbert Hoover, these compacts would see the creation of the Hoover Dam at lake Meade and a new vision for the American southwest. It is obvious that when these instruments were put in place our forefathers did not see the far reaching implications of climate change as the industrialized world consumed what seemed then to be a never ending stream of resources The desert southwest is the single fastest growing part of our nation and we do not have any water. The population growth curve is about to intersect with the power of climate change and severe effects will be felt. The population increase will put more pressure on the water resources that are already at their limit. In the past 20 years, the rapid depletion of water in the Southwestern United States has been unprecedented. A good representation of the water usage in the southwest can be found in looking at the recharge rate of Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam. In an unusually wet period from 1964 forward the lake took 19 years to fill to 24 million acre feet. In the period from 1984 to 2007 demand on the resource reduced the lake by over 12.5 million-acre feet of water. As stream flows diminish and the rocky mountain snow pack disappear this seemingly never ending resource could be gone before we know it. The population of Las Vegas is 22 million and growing. The effects are obviously far reaching and demand attention by all of the states involved in the compacts. The reality of the situation is that we all need to begin to exercise individual responsibility and take ownership of the larger scale of this issue. While our water conveniently comes from the faucet at home, if you live in the Colorado River Basin and its neighboring regions, the faucets may just not run one day.

Fortunately through personal responsibility we can all take measures in the desert southwest to reduce our water use. The installation of rain barrels on all the downspouts of your home is a great way to harvest water, continue gardening in containers and best yet lower the water bill. I harp on my kids all the time to turn off the water when they are brushing their teeth. The average individual consumes over two gallons a day on dental hygiene alone. If we were all to wet our brush, fill a cup of water and use only what we needed the numbers would be staggering. In Las Vegas NV alone they could save 44 million gallons a day or a mere 16 billion gallons a year, that’s right just by turning the faucet off when we brush our teeth. Staggeringly simple, harder to do in the face of the entitlement we all feel about water. Obviously there are many other ways we can all make a commitment to changing our water use. Shorter showers, less laundry, xeriscape gardens, water conserving showerheads. It can all add up to a pretty big dent in the home water bill and a really big dent in the looming water crisis. How closely do you look at your water bill every month? If you are like me, not much. This is a great place to look in your quest to conserve. Without knowing what your baseline is every month you will not know if you are moving up or down. Take a look next month and set some attainable goals. Drop by your locally owned garden center and pick up a few rain barrels. If you want to know more about rainwater harvesting LOOK HERE .

Did you know that the water and energy crisis go hand in hand and that every time you flush your toilet there is a carbon outlay at the water treatment facility that delivers the resource to your community. As stated by the EPA “It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use everyday. American public water supply and treatment facilities consume about 56 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year—enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes for an entire year. For example, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours”. Very few of us look far enough down the road to see the double-edged side of the water crisis in the southwest. As one explores deeper into the issues we see that it is like a conveyor belt or revolving door with our demand fro water increasing our demand for electricity which in turn increases the output of carbon gases furthering Global warming, accelerating droughts and weather events and depleting our clean water resources.

In Santa Fe we have a very progressive relationship with water and according the city of Santa Fe Water Conservation Unit, we have seen a steady decline in usage despite an increase in population since 1995. Our strict conservation rules and stiff penalties for being a water hog have made our community a model for the southwest. With little rain in our future it is now the time to become water aware and conserve as much as is possible. Any investments we make in water conservation measures will surely only pay long-term dividends down the road. In a supply and demand economy we will see the price of water skyrocket over the next decade, so why not begin offsetting with great water saving ideas and education at home. Be water wise and lets save some for a rainy day.

Water Resources:








Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011

Here is a rundown of the exceptional films that we are presenting at the Banff Mountain Film festival two nights, March 22nd and 23rd.

Tuesday March 22nd

Longest Way
The Longest Way
is a highly entertaining time-lapse of a 1-year-walk from Beijing to Urumqi. Time and distance travelled are charmingly demonstrated by the growth of a beard in this five-minute short.

The Longest WayFrom the film The Longest Way

As it Happens
In As It Happens, a uniquely creative and cinematically striking film, Renan Ozturk and Corey Richards ‘go rogue’ and file timely video dispatches from their attempt of the first ascent of Nepal’s 6,000 meter Tawoche Himal.

Crossing the Ditch
Crossing The Ditch
tells the story of two young Australian kayakers, who battle ten meter towering waves, massive storms, shark-filled seas, and strong currents to conquer the Tasman Sea – 2200kms of some of the world’s deadliest and most treacherous  waters.

Crossing the DitchFrom the film Crossing the Ditch



Fly or Die

A bold new climbing innovation – the Base Free Solo – is the creation of cutting-edge climber Dean Potter. In Fly or Die Potter combines free solo climbing and base jumping, on a quest to master disciplines that will lead to a daring evolution of the sport.

Still Motion
Compiled from the highlights of a whole year of wildlife research, still images from motion-triggered wildlife cameras create an intricately sequenced movie-like production of Alberta’s amazing wildlife. In Still Motion, playful fawns, stalking cougars, and curious elk take centre stage.

Life Cycles
Filmed in Ultra HD, Life Cycles provides some of the most visually stunning images the mountain sports world has ever seen. With thought-provoking narration, it’s a beautiful celebration of the mountain bike – and a tribute to the culture of mountain biking.

Life CyclesFrom the film Life Cycles

Swiss Machine
Ueli Steck may be the greatest speed alpinist the world has ever seen. Accompanied by stunning aerial footage that captures him racing up 2500-metre alpine faces, The Swiss Machine tells of Steck’s record-breaking ascents in the alps and of his one-man alpine speed game which takes him to some of the largest, highest walls in the world.

Wednesday March 23rd

Kranked Kids
A coming-of-age mountain bike parody, Kranked-Kids: Just Down the Road is an immersion in sweet comic relief over the span four minutes.

Kranked Kids — Just down the roadFrom the film Coming Soon – Kranked Kids

Fall Line
After losing his legs in a grenade blast in Iraq, Heath Calhoun endures a tortuous recovery. In The Fall Line,  the 101st Airborne Ranger finds freedom on the ski slopes – where he discovers a talent for racing and earns a chance to represent his country again, carrying the flag for the US team at the Paralympics.
A Life Ascending
Living with his wife and two young daughters on a remote glacier in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Ruedi Beglinger has built a reputation as one of the top mountaineering guides in the world. A Life Ascending follows his family’s unique life in the mountains and their journey in the years following a massive avalanche that killed seven people.

A Life AscendingStephen Grynberg


Into Darkness
Journey beneath the surface in Into Darkness with a group of cavers who push impossibly small passages to access some of the final frontiers on earth. The images and sounds of spectacular and remote wilderness caves will reveal a fantastic world unlike anything we experience on the surface.

Parking Garage
Parking Garage: Beyond the Limit is a spoof of the Discovery Channel Show, Everest: Beyond the Limit.

Parking Garage: Beyond the LimitFrom the film Parking Garage: Beyond the Limit

‘Chimæra’ refers to a mythological fusion of forms or a foolish fantasy. Shot with a unique camera system capable of shooting over 1000 frames per second, Chimæra generates an experience that blurs the borders between the real and the imaginary. By slowing our perception of reality, Chimæra offers an unprecedented look at a skier’s life.

ChimæraFrom the film Chimæra

Eastern Rises
The stunning film Eastern Rises poetically represents the enormously wild landscape of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Swarming with bugs and bears and threaded with rivers full of massive mouse-eating trout, fishermen risk life and limb in decommissioned Cold War helicopters to explore rivers that have never been fished before.

See you at the festival!

March 22nd and 23rd 2011 7pm 
Lensic Performing Arts Center
$15 per ticket $25 both nights
For info call 984-8221
 Tickets Santa Fe at the Lensic and SDC Mountain Works
Made possible through a Lensic Community Sponsorship

For information call us at 505-984-8221

Fly Low Quantum Jacket -Backcountry Magazine Editor’s Choice Award

Quantum Jacket

This men’s hardshell is tough, packable and waterproof. Use it in the dead of winter or take the powder skirt out for your summertime endeavors.

List price $355.00

On sale $248.50!

Quantum Jacket

Backcountry Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award

Chamonix by Kent Little

It was Warren Miller who said if you wait another year, you will be another year older and another year further from the dream. After eight years of being a diligent parent and mostly staying away from my true nature to seek adventure (not that having two kids is not a constant adventure), I finally secured the hall pass to check another box on the old bucket list. I have always dreamed of skiing in Chamonix France and this year the stars lined up and in the company of four good friends I pointed the boards across the pond to tackle the steeps and off piste’s of the Alps. While I thought the skiing was going to be the piece that gave me the big pucker (which it did) the real adventure was getting across the pond on my beloved United Airlines. After a week at the Outdoor Retail show and a fast pack, I boarded my flight and made it half way before the likes of a raging north easterly storm busted me in the nations capital and left me sleeping on the marble floors of Dulles International Airport for more time than one would truly care. A bivy of sorts and some light tempering for an epic seven days to come.

After surfing cab lines that cliffed out into nothing, sleeping on unusually cold floors and dealing with all the incredibly helpful folks at United ( NOT ), I finally boarded flight 954 to Geneva Switzerland in pretty good spirits belayed of course by the spirits provided by Firkens Airport Pub. With a night flight and a couple of pints down the gullet, I looked forward to knocking back some serious sleep in economy class, not easy at nearly six foot five inches tall. As the in-flight movie lulled me off to sleep, my dreams were empty and hollow after the first twenty-seven hours of the adventure had left me totally exhausted. I kept shuddering awake with the sense of falling. Between that and the drool chain, I am sure my fellow passengers were impressed.

I awoke nine hours later with my travel donut around my neck to the captain announcing our arrival in Geneva. I slipped up the window cover I caught my first glimpse of the Alps poking above the clouds blanketing Geneva. I had made it. I had cleared the seemingly karmic hurdles of my flight cancellations in Washington and now seemed to be in the clear, minutes away from the land of some of my greatest alpine dreams. The wheels touched down and with the screech of rubber hitting the tarmac we taxied to our gate past the throng of private jets, probably belonging to the great chiefs of commerce attending the world economic forum at Davos.

Upon arriving we cleared the stone-faced customs agents and landed in the baggage claim and waited. Slowly but surely the baggage claim area went from about 100 people to just me and one other woman looking down the conveyor belt with semi perplexed looks that said  “could these turkeys have really lost our bags with a mere 27 hours in Washington to get them to the right plane…………………? “ The baggage carrier stopped indicating that the karmic folly was not over yet. I had already missed day one skiing on the Grand Montet with my ski partners and tomorrow was our big day in the Valle Blanche, WTF over. After another hour in the Swiss baggage claim office, I was informed that at the current time the airlines could not locate the bags in the system and I proceeded to attempt a description of my bags. Thank god for the baggage cue cards, they were by far the most helpful tool the airline had provided to this point. “OK man don’t lose it….this will work itself out ”, I said to my self or perhaps out loud, I was so whacked at this point I am not sure. I departed the Swiss baggage office with little confidence and in need of a double espresso and a lift to Chamonix.

Allez, Allez I have a shuttle to catch and this would be the last for the day. In the absence of my bags I sprinted to the Cham Express counter and squeezed myself into the Diesel Minibus with about twelve other Euros who were headed to Chamonix for the Kandahar World Cup for the weekend. After chatting with Dr. Jack from South Hampton about the merits of the European holiday system we finally arrived in Chamonix. When I stepped out of the bus, the sheer scale spun me around with a sense of vertigo a place like this could instill in even a seasoned mountain veteran. As I gawked at the valley the peaks of childhood dreams revealed themselves. The Aiguille Du Midi, Mont Blanc, The Drus, The Petit Drus, The Grand Jorasse… holy shit, I felt as if I had arrived in Mecca. With no bags or ski’s to check I hit the town in search of those items I would need for the upcoming days and my ski down the Valle Blanche. I am totally psyched as the airlines has provided me with two hundred dollars to replace about five thousand in gear. Chamonix is a town that I believe has more gear shops per capita than any other place in the world. As I cruised the streets I passed The North Face Shop, Ice Breaker, Patagonia, Millet and they kept going, I thought my little town was competitive as a small specialty mountain shop owner. After a bit of research I found that the best place to rent was just down the street and I set out to replace my kit for the day of ski mountaineering coming on the following day. While I feared I would be skiing in an electric pink one piece, euro-style, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to rent all high quality goods in the finest condition for ascent and descent off the Aiguille du Midi. Thanks to the folks at Sanglard for getting me geared up head to toe.

After a heavy lunch of wine and cheese and ham so rich that it could turn the heartiest stomach inside out, I headed back to the charming Hotel Faucigney to meet my mates and go over our plans to descend the Valle Blanche the next day. After the usual boy like greetings and back-slapping we headed out to a local Brasserie to imbibe and lay out our game plan to meet our guide and prep for our first big day. The boys had been skiing the Grand Montet all day and despite an absence of snow in the valley, they were able to find some good turns out of bounds in what we called recycled powder blown in from the area. We were encouraged. We continued into the night attending the World Cup bib ceremony, then had a dinner of fondue and Grog. Once fed and wined we headed out into the world of The World Cup revelers draped in the flags of their home country ringing cow bells staggeringly drunk. I was reminded of my annual visits to Lambeau field in GreenBay . World Cup Fans are like Packer Fans on their way to the Super Bowl, anything goes if it goes down the gullet. Unfortunately one could not get to the bar for a beer so we headed back to put down some pillow time before our big day.

The next morning we gathered early in the dining room of our small ski country hotel and enjoyed a continental breakfast of cheese, Nutella and coffee before heading to the tram dock at the Aiguille du Midi to meet our guide Jeff Banks. The day was upon us to experience one of the longest backcountry ski runs and surely one of the most classic. As we walked the narrow streets of Chamonix , street keepers swept away the accumulated butts from the night before. Revelers were many with the World Cup in town and cigarettes are just part of the training program here in Chamonix for the locals. Upon arrival at the Tram Dock we kitted up for our launch to the top of the Aiguille du Midi.  Beacon, Shovel, Probe, Harness……..check, check check.

There is an art to cramming yourself into a tram in Europe and it is a bit like a good old fashion playground pile on. There is always room for one more and as long as you don’t mind the acrid smell of café un du tabac in your face then its all good for the 3800 m trip to the top. Fortunately I was pressed against the glass so as to enjoy the view of of the valley pealing away under my feet. The Telepherique held the record for two decades as the highest cable car in the world. The Aiguille du Midi translates as the Needle of Midday and for the early settlers of the valley acted as a sundial. Upon climbing out of the tram one shuttles through granite tunnels, across the steel walkway and through the infamous ice tunnel to arrive out on the knife-edge ridge descent to the Valle Blanche a 20 km back country piste with 2700 meters of vertical descent. One of the most classic BC routes in the world indeed.

After our brief but deft safety meeting with our guide we begin our descent of the ice covered knife edge ridge, the route is protected with ropes but the air below our feet makes for a thrilling descent to the Col to begin the 20 km descent of the valley. When you ski in Chamonix it is common to buy helicopter rescue insurance on your pass so that in the event of a minor epic, one can be extracted quickly any-where in the range via helicopter. While reassuring this perhaps creating a false sense of security. The helicopters run all day and by the look of some of the folks descending the ridge with us, I can see why.

From here pure off piste lay ahead of us and for the next five hours our only task would be to ski the best lines in the safest fashion avoiding the gaping crevasses which would litter our descent for 20 km down the valley. With blue bird skies and  most of the others descending the trade route, we are treated to a series of steep pitches sewn together with a maze of snow bridges , bergshrunds and recycled powder. Despite the lack of snow, our guide Jeff Banks bird dogged some pretty fine lines for us.

As one descends the journey seems like it could never end in the best of senses. Each pitch is met with another and equally beautiful line creating what almost seems like the run that will never end. Eventually we of course hit the Mer de Glace and the descent turns into a nice cruise down the glacier sliding just below the towering fang of the Drus, on of the most classic Granite spire rising 3700m from the glacier. As we descend, our guide points out the level of the glacier just twenty years ago. The drop is shocking and a reminder that somewhere not so far from this incredible place human induced climate change is stripping these amazing places of their heart and soul. For some skiing the Valle Blanche could represent a lifetime of turns with this leg of the Journey behind us, we would look forward to the days ahead in Courmayeur and on the Argentiere Glacier.

I am driven by these wild places and feel blessed to be able to stand among such majestic peaks. As I travel through this immense wilderness I am reminded of my own inconsequentiality on the face of this planet, a mere speck searching and seeking for truth through adventures. As I walk from the glacier up the ever expanding stairway system to the cog-train which will take us back to Chamonix I pass signs every 50 steps or so that say “Level of the Glacier 2000 “. All I can say is that this wonderful place is slipping away and with the lowest snow levels in almost a decade the glacier will again vanish a bit more this summer. If you wait another year, you will be another year older and the glacier will be another year smaller. I will never forget my week ski touring in the Alps. The ski lines are many and the hundreds we were not able to track up will haunt me until the next time.

SDC Alumni Opens Little Tony’s Pizza.

A big shout out to our former receiving manager Chad Bennett on his latest business venture in Santa Fe. Drop by Little Tony’s pizza in the Solana center for a great family dining experience featuring pizza and great pasta dishes. Chad is a passionate Climber and Snow Boarder and serial entrepreneur.  Drop by Little Tony’s after a day on the slopes. For more info on Little Tony’s Pizzeria check out this link and give them a YELP  http://www.yelp.com/biz/little-tonys-santa-fe

Little Tony's Grand Opening.


Little Tony’s Pizza

(505) 989-8669





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.