Mountain Hardwear hosts 64 backcountry.com Gearheads at Psicobloc finals
Mixing business with pleasure is something the outdoor industry does better than any other. Because in our business, it’s all about passion—for both the sport and the gear.
Highlights from Mountain Hardwear’s Psicobloc event
On July 28, Mountain Hardwear sponsored the 7 annual Psciobloc Masters series competition. Sixteen of the best male and female climbers in the U.S. raced up a 55-foot wall overhanging Park City’s Olympic pool in under a minute, grabbing, jumping, and hucking themselves as fast as they could, either to the top or into the pool below.
Earlier that day, 52 Backcountry Gearheads—Backcountry customer service experts— and office staff headed to Park City to climb on the daunting Psicobloc wall. Split in half, the first group learned about Mountain Hardwear’s history and brand philosophy, from the company’s creation of the first taped soft shell jackets to its philosophy: everyone who enjoys the outdoors is an outdoor athlete. The second group headed to the pool and climbing wall.
Mountain Hardwear athlete Kyra Condie spoke to the Gearheads about falling, about the different routes, and prepared them for their time on the wall. “Keep your arms tucked in,” she told them after they changed into their swim wear and climbing shoes. Taking big falls—even into an Olympic pool whose surface is aerated to lessen the impact —can be dangerous, and Condie offered sage advice on how the climbers should land. Later that evening she put her advice to practice, winning the women’s category, after topping out and jumping from the wall five times.
The Gearheads listened raptly to the discussion around Mountain Hardwear’s latest gear technologies. There’s StretchDown technology, which is a construction method that uses a unique baffling system to evenly distribute down and prevent cold spots. Each Gearhead was seeded with a Ghost Whisperer Jacket. It uses Q.Shield Down, which is treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) to resist moisture and stay warm when wet. In the pack category, Gearheads learned about the new MultiPitch 40, a rugged climbing pack. Gearhead Karsyn Ansari was impressed: “The front compartment in the 40 is perfect for lunch, first aid kits, or any other smaller items that normally get squished in your cragging pack.”
At 55 feet tall, the PsicoComp wall can be intimidating. In the evening the men and women raced parallel on identical 5.13 routes but the Gearheads took the first crack at the routes. Most of the climbers stuck to the moderate holds on the sides but a few intrepid Gearheads, tried the competition routes. While no one topped out the route, a fair made it into the initial overhang at 30 feet.
For Ansari, the wall gave her a deeper perspective on the competition she watched from the VIP viewing balcony later that night. “Knowing what it felt like to drop from the wall into the water made it even more exciting to watch the action,” said Ansari. “And, getting to watch all my co-workers experience the wall for the first time was a blast!”
Gearhead William Bowen launched into the water, after making it thirty feet up the wall. A Backcountry.com employee of just six months, events like this have helped Bowen appreciate both Backcountry and gain an understanding of the products he sells. “I’ve been in the outdoor industry for over three years and nothing ever came close to how cool of an event it was,” Bowen said.
After all the Gearheads tried their hand at climbing the wall, Mountain Hardwear athlete Tim Emmett offered some no-nonsense insight into what deep water soloing is all about. It’s pretty simple. “You either get to the top or you fall off,” he said. Emmett, who helped develop some of the hardest deepwater soloing routes in Thailand and Mallorca, presented a twenty-minute slideshow about his role in pioneering deep water soloing.
After relaxing with beer and wine, and enjoying a gourmet dinner, the Gearheads watched the Psicobloc 2017 Masters Series from the best seats in the house: a porch overhanging the spectacular pool. And the climbers put on a good show. A dead heat race between Kyra Condie and Alex Puccio resulted in a rematch with Condie moving on to win. In the men’s division finals, Ben Hanna tried to outspring Jimmy Webb, but ultimately fell, giving Webb the win. “It was very inspirational to watch some of the big names I’ve been following for years compete in this event,” said Ansari.
Under a late July sun, Hannah Novitt eyed the hold on the Psicobloc Wall at Park City’s Olympic Park.
With more than 120 other Backcountry.com corporate employees and Gearheads, Novitt climbed on the 55-foot tall wall above the Olympic pool, a few hours before the 2017 Psicobloc competition.
Event sponsor Mountain Hardwear provided the Backcountry employees a chance to hear about their upcoming products, to watch a slideshow from deep water soloing pioneer Tim Emmett, and to climb on the competition wall.
Novitt jumped for the sloping hold. A few minutes later she’d hear about Dynama pants, innovations in stretch down, and how important it was for Backcountry sales folk to use the products they sold. But for a moment, Novitt was in flight.
After twenty feet, she hit the water. A second later, she emerged smiling.