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8 very adventurous loop runs & hikes in the Colorado Rockies

By Andrew Skurka / May 19, 2020 /

For the first time since 2013, this year I didn’t race and I won’t log at least 3,000 miles. Nagging injuries, lack of race entry luck, and a growing guiding program all played a role, as did an absence of desire — whatever I’d been running towards in my mid-30’s, I felt like I’d reached…

Discuss: When & how will backpacking be safe & feasible again?

By Andrew Skurka / April 14, 2020 /

The COVID-19 pandemic has me heartbroken by the death toll, saddened by the widespread fear, longing for social engagement, deflated by its economic impact, fascinated by the science, and — most of all right now — simply anxious to return to a “normal” that more closely resembles the old one than the current one. I’m…

Assignment: Create a topographic mapset with CalTopo

By Andrew Skurka / March 18, 2020 /

For at least five years, CalTopo has been my preferred map-making platform, and I use it exclusively for personal trips, guided trips, and guidebooks. The service was launched in late-2011 by Matt Jacobs, and its functionality eventually matched and then greatly surpassed my prior go-to, National Geographic TOPO! desktop software, which has since been discontinued.…

Gear List: Backpacking First Aid Kit for soloists & groups

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

A first aid kit is rightfully considered by most backpackers to be a must-have item. To check this box, you have two basic options: Purchase a prepackaged commercial version like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight that has been vetted by medical professionals; or, Create your own, based on the specifics of your group, itinerary, and…

Dinner Recipe: Peanut Noodles

By Andrew Skurka / November 22, 2019 /

For years Peanut Noodles has been a crowd favorite, usually ranking just below the world famous Beans & Rice. This backpacking dinner recipe goes on every single guided trip and on most personal trips, especially if I have a prepared batch of sauce already in the fridge. The sauce has gone through several iterations, getting better each…

Dinner Recipe: Beans + Rice with Fritos & Cheese

By Andrew Skurka / November 18, 2019 /

This meal is my favorite. It goes on every single backpacking trip. I never get tired of it. Clients love this recipe. Need more convincing to try it? Key Stats Recommended meal weight: 5.7 oz Total calories: 668 Calories per ounce: 117 It’s rare that someone struggles to finish this meal. But if you have a…

Long-term review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon Tent || $1000+ fragile guilty pleasure

By Andrew Skurka / August 17, 2019 /

Over dinner at The Pump House in Fairbanks, I read to my co-guides — Alan Dixon, Flyin’ Brian Robinson, and Justin Simoni — the disclaimer-filled email about the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent, sent to me by BA’s PR firm: “The [Tiger Wall Carbon] is intended for only the most advanced users. Although…

Gear List: Yosemite High Route + PCT/JMT in July

By Andrew Skurka / July 8, 2019 /

For several years my High Sierra guided trips have been in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park in September, when conditions are predictably comfortable (mild days, crisp nights, little precipitation, and no bugs or wildfire smoke) and when there is less backcountry traffic. But for a change in scenery, this year I scheduled them in Yosemite in…

Standout gear for cold-and-wet conditions in the Appalachians

By Andrew Skurka / May 19, 2019 /

Last week my guiding season kicked off in the beautiful — but soggy and unseasonably cold — mountains of West Virginia, with four 3-day/2-night learning-intensive Backpacking Fundamentals¬†courses, split between two guide teams. Based on the conditions assessment that we performed during the Planning Curriculum, we expected rain and cool temperatures. But I was hoping for…

Snowpocalypse 2019: Expected “summer” conditions in the High Sierra & southern Rockies

By Andrew Skurka / March 28, 2019 /

California, Oregon, Nevada, and the Four Corners states have been drenched this winter, with snowpacks now about 150 percent of their normals. If you have scheduled backpacking trips in the High Sierra or southern Rockies in June or July, and to a lesser degree August, here is some reading for you: 1. Today on my…