Backpacks, frontpacks and whatever else it takes to get the necessary conveniences up the skin track …
and to our home for the next four days.
Early start looking over the headwaters of Idaho’s mythical Salmon River.
… and up.
Thompson on Thompson. JT capturing the epic view on top of Thompson Peak …
and the fresh line veiled in shadows 2000’ below.
Preparing to drop in on the untracked fruits of the days labor: steep, wind hammered, breakable crust.
Back at the yurt
for backcountry gourmet.
Cheers to great crews and great trips!
Special thanks to Jason Thompson Photography, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, Scott Savage and Alan McLain.
Hello, my name is Jax Mariash Koudele, I'm a professional ultra runner, entrepreneur and VOKE TAB team member. I wanted to share a story from my ultra running mission in 2016, chasing to become the first female endurance runner to complete the global series of desert ultra marathons put on by the 4 Deserts Race Series. In the 14 years of the 4 Deserts race series, an annual event of ultra marathons held across the globe in desolate and challenging terrain, there have only been three men to complete the Grand Slam Plus.
The Grand Slam Plus is a series of five 250k (155 mile), multi-day foot races across the roughest terrain in the world. It includes the 4 Deserts Grand Slam plus the Roving Race – in the same calendar year. Representing U.S. and Canada and raising awareness and funds for the LymeLight Foundation, I will attempt to not only become the first female ever to complete this grueling challenge, but also land a spot on the podium at all five races. I hope that my efforts will help make a difference in the lives of those children suffering from Lyme, helping them more quickly get back outside.
In 2016, the Grand Slam Plus races began almost two weeks ago in a roving race in Sri Lanka from Feb 14-20th. This is followed by the 4 Deserts races on the hottest (Namibia), windiest (Gobi March), driest (Atacama Crossing) and coldest (Antarctica) deserts in the world.
Each race consists of seven days out in the desert moving camp to camp each day. The race format starts with four stages (days) in a row with 22-28 miles per day. On day five, racers run approximately 50 miles (known as the Long March) followed by a rest day. On the 7th day, athletes complete the 250k (155 mile) journey with a 10k jaunt to the finish line. Due to safety in Sri Lanka, it was split into 7 stages with the following approximate distances, 24mi, 25mi, 27.5mi, 29mi, 19mi, 32mi, 1mi (157.5 total).
In addition to the terrain being so challenging, the race is also made more arduous by the requirement that athletes be self-sufficient, carrying everything they need to survive on their backs. The only support from staff is hot and cold water, medical treatment, and a tent space to share with nine other competitors. The race format is so grueling and the terrain so undulating that it is not uncommon for racers to walk away from an event an almost super human runner's high. I hope that through my achievement completing each race, others will find inspiration in my passion for the outdoors and will get outdoors themselves.
Sri Lanka was nothing short of epic, extreme, undulating, rough and challenging. Yet through it all, I ended up scoring a podium spot as 2nd female and was 9th overall with the gents. The course set off through virgin forest and jungle terrain, and through the week, made way through tea fields, local villages, lush hillsides and along an active train line. Native wildlife, including elephants, monkeys, and even sloth bears were abundant and even caused some changes to the course. Not only was the terrain extremely rough, we also encountered intermittent weather patterns. The week started off hot and humid before turning into rain showers and then downpours that left us in leaking tents and wearing soaked clothes as we started stage 5. Ending at Yala Beach was definitely the icing on the cake.
Personally, the race started with a slew of adversity that left me in stage one on day one pushing through a fall hitting my knee, equipment failure and a turn in health with vomiting and diarrhea. Hoping that zero of those struggles ever come in these races, it was a trifecta of challenge right from the start. In a multi day adventure, you have to have the mental grit and strength to end the stage and push the reset button for a new day on day 2. Luckily, I successfully pushed through to a stage win. Day 3 brought forth more challenges with two sections deep in jungle terrain with extremely technical footing. Unfortunately, while letting some gentleman pass, the earth fell under my feet and cause a sprain in my ankle. Once again, it becomes an immediate project of how to push through. With a compression bandage on for the next three stages, I maintained 2nd position among the ladies each day. On stage 6, I finished with another stage win which solidified the power of the mind for me.
Out there, you are responsible for all of your own caloric intake with a required minimum of 2k calories a day (14k calories total). In my normal day-to-day life, I tend to start the day with a giant cup of coffee. VOKE TAB is usually my 2pm pick up as I live a life of entrepreneurship and being a professional athlete. Out there on the course, it becomes a staple for me twice a day to get through. The pick-me-up it offers around 3 hours into the race is amazing... A natural and blissful boost to click into 2nd gear. The heat and humidity that often ranged from 80-95degrees and 80-99% respectively, left me extremely nauseous almost every day. Often if I had an additional VOKE TAB when I was feeling this way, it helped a bit as well.
Quite frankly, on many levels, for this race as adversity approached, VOKE TAB was there to help pick everything up. Mood, energy, and stamina.
The next race is just 8.5 weeks away from now. I am taking a week to rest my body which feels really great, yet I already miss running! Then it is back to a mix of running and skimo training for a few weeks to compete in the Grand Traverse and then a final move to all running to follow.
For training I will develop a program of 2x double long runs per week of 20 miles followed by 15 miles. (first day on both double long runs accompanied with a 17 pound pack), and 2 speed workouts, plus 2 small afternoon 2nd runs and one day completely off. This will total around 92 miles a week to prepare for Sahara. I will want to develop a system where weekly my body becomes comfortable with that program so that the race week is just a small bump up in mileage followed by a week off to recover. I cannot even begin to tell you how useful VOKE TAB will be in that entire regimen. A daily component for sure.
I look forward to updating you on every stage of the race. To follow the journey, please visit my website, Facebook and Instagram pages.
Cheers and get VOKED!
Voke Your Shake
Strawberry Banana Voke Shake
By Karin Mittelstaedt
I’ve found that pretty much any of the healthy whole foods shake concoctions I make are even better with Voke. One of the friends and family favorites is my Strawberry Banana Voke Shake. It’s a super easy, super healthy combination that functions equally well for breakfast, lunch and pre or post workout. In fact these photos are from a shake my husband mixed up for us earlier this week 20 min before a backyard mountain bike lap. You can see from the photos that he chose to go pretty heavy on the spinach for extra antioxidants and nutrients before the time-crunched lunchtime lap.
Ingredients (2 Servings)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup ice (note that ice isn’t necessary if strawberries and banana are fresh)
- 1 - 1 ½ cups Original flavor Almond milk
- 1 - 2 TBS Organic Chia Seeds
- A handfull or two of spinach (or your other preferred fresh, leafy greens)
- 2 Voke Tabs (1 Voke Tab for each person sharing the shake)
- 1 TBS Vanilla Veggie protein powder (optional)
- 1 TBS liquid Pro biotics (optional)
With Montana temps in the upper 90's, these long hot summer days have had us thinking about riding bikes under the cool cover of darkness. In addition to more pleasant climate, night riding is the best way to rip some favorite local trails without much traffic (other than the occasional wild animal). Never ones to shy away from an adventure, my friends Max Lowe and Robin Hill eagerly rallied to go. Our only holdup was that none of us owned lights, so we spent a day running around Bozeman looking for the necessary torches to illuminate our journey. We pieced it together, borrowing a NightRider from The Gear Wizard and purchasing a Serfas 1200 from Round House Sports. Conrad Anker lent us a few Petzl head lamps as well. With the lights mounted and bear spray duck taped to our bike frames (for easy access), we set off for a 12AM departure to an undisclosed trail in Paradise Valley.
Duck taped and ready to go!
Robin Hill. Psyched as usual.
It's a surreal sensation cruising in your own light bubble, as trees, rocks and trail features fade to black with every passing moment.
Voke is the ideal fuel for night time adventure.
Kalen, checking out a waterfall.
The Stars and Moonlight were out in full force.
Tricky creek crossing on wet logs.
Max soaking it in on the road out, 3:30AM.
On the 25th of April, central Nepal was shaken with a 7.9 Richter scale earthquake. For those of us interested in mountains and the forces that create them, this is the earthquake we have been worried about. The forces of plate tectonics in this region are immense and have created the planet's highest mountain range.
The destruction has been tragic and widespread in loss of life and property. The seismic aftershocks continue and the effects on Nepal, its citizens, natural landscape, cultural landmarks, and economy will be long-lasting.
At Voke Tab, our hearts are with the people of Nepal, and we care deeply about the well-being of friends. This season we partnered with Alpenglow Expeditions and the Sherpa staff from Nepal (pictured right) for an ascent of the northeast ridge of Mount Everest. Among them were Panuru Sherpa and Mingma Tschering Sherpa, two buddies whom I've climbed with and taught alongside at the Khumbu Climbing Center for 16 years. The team was preparing in Tibet for the expedition when the earthquake struck. Luckily, everybody on the team was okay, but Phortse, the hometown of many of the Sherpas, was hard hit. With the effects of the tragedy affecting the north side and the south side of the mountain, both have been closed by the Chinese and Nepali governments. The Alpenglow team will return and the climbers from Phortse will begin the process of rebuilding their community.
If you are interested in helping out, please consider a donation to the Khumbu Climbing Center or the American Himalayan Foundation. These organizations will be working with the mountain communities to rebuild their homes. Please see the donation buttons below.
Voke Ambassador Captain
The Khumbu Climbing
The American Himalayan
Congratulations to Voke family members Renan Ozturk, Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker on an epic climb and riveting feature length film! MERU is premiering at the Sundance film festival this Friday, January 23, 2014.
After suffering dramatic set backs in their lives, three close friends, who are among the world's best professional climbers, battle their complicated pasts, inner demons and nature's harshest elements in an attempt to climb the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru, considered the ultimate prize in the exclusive high stakes game of Himalayan big wall climbing.
Featuring Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, Jon Krakauer, and Jenni Lowe-Anker. Directed by Jimmy Chin, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Produced by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, and Shannon Ethridge, Filmed by Renan Ozturk, and Jimmy Chin, Edited by Bob Eisenhardt, A.C.E., Music by J. Ralph.
Painting by Renan Ozturk while on the Meru expedition in October 2011.
Conrad Anker talks about how he discovered Voke Tab and why he takes it on expeditions to the highest places on earth.
Edit by Max Lowe Media
I awoke slowly. My body felt strange and unresponsive. Mike was rustling in his sleeping bag a few feet away. We were on top of El Cap, and the sun was almost upon us. It seemed like I had just exited a long intense dream, but I knew that it wasn't a dream. My body doesn't feel like that after only a dream. We did top out the previous night. We had spent the last 6 hot days in late June on the wall. We did wake at 3 am each day to climb and were chased by the sun each day. We did get caught in a half-day storm that rocked us and soaked everything and jeopardized our ascent. We did free climb the PreMuir. It felt like I crash-landed back into my normal body and mind.
It seemed like a dream because the 6 days were spent on another level of concentration and consciousness. It was a state of incessant presence of mind and focus on a singular objective. I wish I had had the ability to act without attachment to a result, but I didn't, I wanted to succeed. Because of that, there was pressure. I felt a crushing pressure the whole time that we were on the wall. This state of awareness and existence required an expenditure of energy far greater than any regular day. Thus after 6 days in that state, I was incredibly depleted.
That morning I felt like Atlas if he had shrugged the world off his shoulders. Mike and I made coffee, and after a time he wandered off to do some morning business. I was still half in my sleeping bag, and I looked around. The view from the top of El Cap is amazing. My breath got shorter, and my eyes welled up. I cried until Mike got back. I was so relieved and proud. He said, "It's okay man. We did it." He was right -- we f***ing did it.
There were LOTS of VOKE tabs consumed in those days. They helped with the early mornings, and also the mid-afternoon slumps in energy and fatigue. There isn't another product out there that delivers the energy and clarity, but is lightweight and packable enough to take while climbing. We were lucky to have them.
For a full interview of Sam Elias and Mike Kerzhner in Rock and Ice Magazine Click This Link.
What adventures can you find in an afternoon? VOKE TAB athlete Jeff Shapiro shows us his version of a scenic trip in the Mountains.
Music: "The Fly"
Shot and Jumped: Jeff Shapiro
Edited by: Max Lowe Media
A Voke Anthem by Max Lowe Media and Camp4 Collective.
Music by onomono.net
Words by Max Lowe
Photos by Kalen Caughey
Slogging step after heavy step through the thinning air atop Archdeacon's Ridge, the fight to hold onto the fleeting strength that kept our feet moving and fingers from freezing was ebbing away. After 4 pushes for the summit of Denali, only to be shut down by unforeseen weather patterns above 17,000 feet, this was our day. Moving fast and strong we were set on the summit. Coming over the ridgeline with the plateau of the "Football Field" ahead and our path to the summit within sight we celebrated a premature victory over the grand massif. Minutes away from the summit ridge and our certain road to the top, a deep guttural rumble shook the spectrum around us. As the afternoon eased on, large cumulous clouds had gathered like ominous cotton balls blotting out all signs of the land below. They now boiled up and engulfed our team, snuffing our desired route to the summit. Electricity permeated the air within the white fog as we stumbled downward to gather as a team on the Football Field. Freckles of lightning danced along our ice axes and brims of our helmets. Conrad Anker, the leader and most experienced member of our team made it clear that we had to get down, out of the snowstorm and under the electrical storm. We were beaten within an inch, temps were dropping and we still had another 6 hours of tactful and delicate movement down the mountain.
Three weeks had passed since we set out with a team of some of the best climbers, skiers and snowboarders in the world, with sights on climbing and skiing off the summit of the tallest peak in North America. This endeavor was to take us the better part of a month and would be one of the largest backcountry expedition style missions that many of us had embarked upon. Ralph Backstrom, world-class big mountain snowboarder and winner of last years Snowboard Free-ride World Tour, was one of the newcomers to the high altitude realm of mountaineering.
"Immersion in Alaskan mountains has been one of my favorite forays in my world of riding over recent years, and in fact I spent almost a month this spring in the mountains of AK riding big lines. When I received an invite to come on a trip to Denali from Conrad, I knew it would be an experience unlike any I had yet to embark upon" – Ralph
Marching slowly up and across the mass of the upper Kahiltna Glacier made for some of the most challenging days on the mountain. The sheer will power and endurance needed to survive in the environment that Denali National Park provided was truly something that the newcomers on our team had never experienced. The guidance that we received from the senior members of our team including Conrad, Jeremy Jones and Jon Krakauer kept spirits high and attitudes eager. This stellar cache of leadership was also what made decision making in our group sharp and direct when we were faced by the lightning storm on our summit push.
As the blizzard raged around us we abandoned hopes of our push to the top. Directives from Conrad made it clear that our only goal was to safely arrive at our established camp 6,000 feet below. Propelled by necessity, we pulled from our final reserves, sharing what little water we had left and a tin of Voke tabs to propel our aching legs and tired minds on the long descent to the comfort of our high altitude home.
Camp 1 - All Eyes on the high one.
Moving up from Camp 1 (8,000 ft) to Camp 2 (11,000 ft.). The gear load averaged 125 lbs per person split between our packs and plastic sleds.
After stashing food and gear at Windy Corner (13,500 ft) we racked up our sleds and took a cruise back down to 11K camp. Brody Leven, Conrad Anker, Jeremy Jones, Rachel Pohl, Ralph Backstrom, Jacqui Edgerly.
Max and Ralph taking in the view from 14,000 camp.
The team ascending fixed ropes above 14,000 ft camp. Dawn patrol on one of 5 summit bids.
This snap is at 20,000 ft on summit ridge after crossing the Football Field and ascending Pig Hill, 300 vertical feet from the tallest spot in North America. Stoke was high, soo close to our goal after three weeks of climbing. 5 minutes later we heard the first thunderclap. 15 minutes later the blue sky we had enjoyed all day became a whiteout blizzard as the team regrouped below Pig Hill. The electrical storm that followed had our hair standing up and carabiners crackling. With thunder overhead, we made our retreat back down 6000 ft to 14K camp...feeling grateful nobody got sizzled. As Conrad said, "we are just flies on an anvil."
Jacqui Edgerly, Ralph Backstrom and Max Lowe descending through some haze near Washburns Thumb (16,600 ft) after being turned around by the electrical storm at 20K ft.
Team Wild Salmon fully assembled: Brody Leven, Jeremy Jones, Jacqui Edgerly, Kasha Rigby, Robin Hill, Conrad Anker, Rachel Pohl, Kalen Caughey, Jon Krakauer, Ryan Hudson, Max Lowe, KT Miller, Ralph Backstrom, Phil Henderson.
Rachel Pohl getting one final pow lap above 14K camp. An hour later we started our all night descent back down to the melted out plane 'runway' at 7,200 feet on the lower Kahiltna Glacier.
Epic rides to and from the glacier thanks to Talkeetna Air Taxi.