Tag Archives: The North Face

‘Crazy Kid’ Mark Synnott previews tonight’s talk

Mark Synnott in the Broughton auditorium.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why the 250 or so Broughton High School International Baccalaureate students were so taken with elite climber Mark Synnott’s message earlier this afternoon.
One, he was talking about the remote and curious nooks of the world his “job” as a professional climber has taken him. And there was his stint as founder and president of the Crazy Kids Club of America.
Synnott was giving the Broughton students a preview of the talk he’ll give this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.
Synnott has been part of The North Face’s elite climbing team for 17 of his 43 years. At first, he was primarily motivated by the climbing. But he quickly discovered something interesting about every place he went, no matter how remote it was.
“There were people there,” says Synnott, whose home base is in Jackson, N.H. “Everywhere I went, there were people.”
He quickly became just as intrigued by the people as the climbing.
In the Musandam Peninsula at the Straight of Hormuz, for instance. Accessible only by boat — and then a challenge considering the peninsula is notable for its 2,000-foot rock faces that jut out of the straight — the inhabitants speak a unique language based on Persian and Hindi but that borrows from Spanish, French, English and other languages. No one, not even the residents themselves, know how they got there.
“In one village, everyone had the same last name,” Synnott said.
Then there were the two gentlemen they encountered on camels in the Sahara desert of northern Chad. The pair were returning from a salt run to Libya. When the pair saw the strangers in the four-wheel drive vehicles, one quickly dismounted and began milking his camel.
“It’s a custom in many of these areas to give your guest something,” Synnott explained. As the man presented the climbers with a tin of fresh camel milk, Synnott quickly thumbed through his Lonely Planet Guide to see what it had to say about drinking unpasteurized camel milk.
The recommendation? “Not advisable.”
“It was a bad scene,” Synnott said of the aftermath. “Nobody died, but we wished we had.”
Then there was the Crazy Kids Club of America. The club, of which boyhood friend and Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton was also a member, involved crazy stunts that Synnott would dream up. Complete the stunt and and you’d get a cardboard Burger King crown bearing the image of a kid jumping off a cliff.
“We were really into pole vaulting,” Synnott said by way of example. “Only not for height, for distance. We’d pole vault over these icy rivers in the winter. The bigger kids, we’d just barely make it,” he said, a smile beginning to creep across his face. “The little kids wouldn’t make it.”
Synnott will share more stories from the remote corners of the globe tonight at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, 111 W. Jones St., Raleigh . General admission is free, reserved seats at $10, all tickets must be reserved online by going here. read more

Cory Richards: Just another regular extraordinary guy

Cory Richards

Climber/photographer Cory Richards is in town tomorrow night to speak about his experience as a top climber and photographer. His talk at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, “Both Sides of the Lens,” is part of The North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series. I managed to get an interview with Richards late last month; I say “managed” because Richards was on location in the Crimea and he managed to fit my questions in between his climbing and shooting. read more

90 Second Escape: Waiting for Diane

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb. read more

MST Endurance Run: The Southern Apps Attack

The Southern Apps Mountain gods exact their revenge.

Sunday, Day 4 of the MST Endurance Run, began on schedule for Diane Van Deren with a 3:45 a.m. wake up call. After getting off the trail the previous evening at 9:36 with Annette Bednosky, her trail guide for the weekend, she’d gotten her first good night’s sleep — 4 hours. She arrived where the Mountains-to-Sea Trail passes the Folk Arts Center in Asheville ready to rock a 43.8-mile day. read more

Four days in, Van Deren hits her stride on MST Endurance Run

Annette Bednosky leads Diane Van Deren into a rest stop on Day 3 of the MST Endurance Run.

A large building loomed out of the dark woods to our right.
“Is that the Folk Arts Center?” Annette Bednosky asked slightly perplexed. It was — the very same Folk Arts Center we’d set off from 15 minutes earlier, at 5:01 this morning.
“Well,” said Diane Van Deren, “we just did a 14-minute warmup lap.”
To Van Deren, it was a “so-what” moment. When you’re spending up to 20 hours a day for 21 days hiking a thousand miles, what’s 15 minutes?
This morning was the start of Day 4 of Van Deren’s attempt to break the speed record for trekking the entire Mountains-to-Sea Trail, from Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast. Her MST Endurance Run is sponsored by The North Face (Van Deren is one of the outdoor gear company’s elite athletes) and the Great Outdoor Provision Co. The goal: raise awareness — and $40,000 — for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a work-in-progress trail spanning North Carolina.
Since starting her quest before dawn on Thursday, Van Deren has covered about 145 miles. Read on … read more