Ear to the Ground: Oct / Nov 2015

Outdoor News and Notes for the California Region


Outdoor community loses two beloved members

Bela Vadasz on Mt. Huntington.

Bela Vadasz on Mt. Huntington.


Respected ski and climbing guide Bela Vadasz, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 62 in a medical procedure on September 15. Vadasz founded California’s Alpine Skills International with his wife, Mimi, in 1979 and played a crucial role in creating the ski certification process in American mountain guiding, leading to American guides. For almost twenty years, he and Mimi ran a low-cost lodge at the top of Donner Pass near Truckee. Of many achievements, his proudest was the first American ascent (with Mimi )of the Peuterey Integral, an extremely challenging climb up Mont Blanc. Vasasz was presented with the AMGA’s Lifetime Achievement Ward in 2008. In addition to his wife, he leaves behind two sons and countless other loved ones.

Less than two weeks after Vasasz’s sudden death, well-known action sports athlete Erik Roner was killed in a skydiving accident at Squaw Valley. Roner, 39, hit a tree in a skydiving performance as he attempted to land. He was pronounced dead at the scene.The star of MTV’s Nitro Circus was a supporter of High Fives Foundation, an organization that assists injured action sports athletes. Roy Tuscany, co-founder and executive director of High Fives, was a close friend to Roner, and witnessed the accident with many others. Tuscany says, “This is the biggest loss for the action sports community, this is comparable to when Shane passed away,” Tuscany said. “Everyone needs to focus on Erik’s family.” Roner leaves behind his two children and wife Annika, who says “Erik was a beautiful man, great father, wonderful friend and the love of my life.”


Climbing legend Alex Honnold releases new book
Alex Honnold is known for pushing the limits of free soloing beyond anything previously attempted, climbing without a rope, without a partner, and without any gear to attach himself to the wall. If he falls, he dies. In Alone on the Wall, Honnold recounts the seven most astonishing achievements thus far in his meteoric career, including free-soloing Sendero Luminoso in Mexico and climbing the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia. Each chapter narrates the drama of one climb, along with reflective and introspective passages that show what makes Honnold tick.


More Than Just Parks spotlights National Parks

21488388196_e7cc9fe9eb_hBrothers Will and Jim Pattiz are media professionals who have a passion for our national parks. This past year they decided to put that passion to work using their talents to produce captivating short films about the parks.

The More Than Just Parks (MTJP) mission is to raise a greater awareness of America’s most treasured possessions – our national parks. MTJP hopes to inspire exploration and conservation of these incredible natural wonders and have embarked on an epic, nationwide journey to each of the 59 US national parks. They plan on creating a short film for each park, showcasing the things that make each one more than just a park.

California parks covered so far are Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California and Joshua Tree National Park in the southeast area of the state. The films are the culmination of several weeks spent exploring these parks, and both were shot entirely in 4K.

To learn more about the making of these videos visit: morethanjustparks.com. To learn more about these national parks, visit: nps.gov.


Bell Helmets launches Joy Ride Collection for Women

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Photo: Bell Helmets

Bell Helmets responds to the need for women’s specific helmet. Born from feedback from women riders of all levels, from trailside ride conversations to insights from a year of field research, the Joy Ride Collection is inspired by and designed by women who ride. Beyond the new, attractive, purpose-built helmets, Joy Ride is also about Bell’s ambassadors, employees, events and ways for female cyclists to be part of the brand.

Jessica Klodnicki, Executive Vice President/General Manager of Bell Helmets explains, “The inspiration for the Joy Ride Collection began in Santa Cruz, around Bell’s headquarters. A small women’s riding group started with four women and has now grown into 330 women of all levels looking for a fun, supportive and a social connection found only on two wheels. We’ve been inspired by these women to create the Joy Ride Collection. Our goal was to combine the performance of Bell in a package that women would appreciate, but also to take it a step further by developing a program to inspire women’s riding.”

Learn more at bellhelmets.com.


California Enduro Series announces 2015 champs at Kamikaze Bike Games

Photo: Called To Creation

Photo: Called To Creation

Riders took on loose, fast pumice-laden terrain at elevation that pushed the limits of fitness at the series finale for the California Enduro Series (CES) at Mammoth Mountain September 26-27, 2015. The CES 2015 season overall podium took place immediately after the race awards, with 2015 individual and team winners across a number of categories taking the stage on a perfect high Sierra afternoon. Marco Osborne took the 2015 Pro Men champ title, while Amy Morrison took it for Pro Women. Larkspur Bike reigned as top team of the year. For full standings and more information about the series, visit californiaenduroseries.com. ASJ is a proud sponsor of CES and we look forward to the 2016 season!


Debating canned vs. bottled beer

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Whenever a brewery trumpets a new release of a beer packaged in cans, you’ll often find them saying something like “…and best of all, cans are better for the environment than bottles”. For years, plenty of craft breweries claimed cans are better than bottles for the environment since they are lighter, requiring less energy to transport, and are more recyclable than bottles. On the other hand, Tony Magee of Lagunitas declared his brewery will be the last in the United States to sell beer in cans, citing the environmental consequences of bauxite ore mining. Seeking answers to what was becoming a complicated question, I turned to Cheri Chastain, Sierra Nevada’s Sustainability Manager and asked her point blank: “Which is better for the environment, cans or bottles?”

“I don’t have an answer for that,” she responded, laughing. Turns out, it depends how far back you look from the time either the can or bottle is produced from raw materials until the time you open it to enjoy a cold one. As she explained, “Bauxite ore mining is incredibly destructive on the environment. That said, aluminum is easier to recycle since it doesn’t break like bottles and weighs less, so it takes less energy for shipping, resulting in less fuel consumption and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a really difficult question to answer.”

Various studies attempting the answer this question come to similar conclusions. Cans require about twice as much energy to manufacture than bottles. So beer must be shipped long distances, estimated to be at least a few hundred miles, before the energy savings due to aluminum’s lighter weight offset the increased energy of production. New Belgium Brewing Company, which like Sierra Nevada devotes considerable resources to environmentally sustainable brewery practices, has an interesting report on the matter posted on their website and declares no winner in the debate.

So what’s an environmentally conscientious beer drinker to do? “Draft is the most sustainable option for beer,” answers Chastain. Kegs are reusable and when used with a reusable glass or cup, the most environmentally sustainable option for beer. “I also encourage people to make sure to recycle whatever package they chose, whether bottles or cans,” adds Chastain. Supporting your local brewery is another thing you can do for the environment, since the shorter the beer travels before consumed, the less environmental impact. — Derrick Peterman

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