#OmniGames: Season 4

Storytelling is one of the oldest arts humans have. Present in all cultures, the art of telling a story worth hearing from even the most exciting adventures is a skill. Skilled storytellers are able to evoke strong responses from their listeners such that they want to hear more of a story.

When Columbia named the story telling challenge “Charles Dickens” they set a very high bar. Each Christmas, I reread A Christmas Carol and am fascinated by the imagery that the long Victorian sentences evoke and his Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books of all time. Outdoors story telling (which is the best of storytelling about #tryingstuff) has a storied history of its own with greats like Ed Abbey and Jon Kraukour setting a high bar.

While I’ve got a little extra #tryingstuff up my sleeve in the storytelling department, I’m going to do my best to tell the story of what happened on an amazing trip to Park City in the best way I know how: words. (With a few photos thrown in for good measure!) May the words of the greats inspire my fingers! And now, without ado, my #omniten adventure:

Season 4 had a very special experience at the #omnigames. The trip to Park City was our very first trip as members of the #omniten: unlike the members of the Spring 2012 and 2013 crews and Fall 2012 group we were showing up not knowing as many people. The trip had seemed like it was a long time coming but it was finally time to make the journey. I left Quartzsite, Arizona in the wee hours last Monday excited for any adventures Columbia could cook up.

Arriving at the hotel, I was whisked up to the #omniten Hub, signed my life away (snowmobiling, what?!), and given the game plan for the evening. Here’s where the nomad girl in me got (even more) excited: shower everyday for the next weekTori thought this was slightly odd and encouraged me to shower that minute. True to #omniten form, I was able to find some people who totally understood me and my excitement: Gina and Katie.

Up in my room (post shower of course), I rummaged through the giant duffle bag of Columbia gear that I’d been given. Trying on the gear I alternated between total gear junky delight and vehicle dweller panic: so much great stuff! so little room! Refreshed and excited, I headed down to the Hub where I met the rest of the crew. I’d already made real life contact with Josh before at OR Show but before I knew it I was chatting with Patrick in the shuttle, being hugged by Heidi, in turn hugging Dave, meeting Seth and his beard, chatting wine with Derek, and feeling intimidated by the ski prowess of Andy. Sadly, I also learned due to weather back east Wendy wouldn’t be joining us and that Michelle was delayed.

Photo Patrick Gensel

After introductions were made and beers were opened, Daniel gave us a rundown on Columbia’s #tryingstuff philosophy starting with this video. Then he gave us a rundown on the rest of our week: skiing, Olympic freestyle uniform unveiling press conference, a concert in downtown Park City, going to the VIP tent for the World Cup Mogul final, and then the enigmatic #omnigames.

The Season 4 bonding really kicked off that night over an awesome dinner at The Farm. #tryingstuff was in full effect with foie gras, bone marrow, rabbit and more. Heidi, Josh, and I also did some teamwork practice by ordering three different entrées and three different desserts to sample them all! The party continued back at the hotel as the first of our nights in the hot tub.

Photo courtesy Run.Around.Aroo

Tuesday morning it was time for me to get back on skis for the first time in five years. I knew that I hadn’t forgotten how but I was a bit worried I would be able to keep up with the rest of the group. Pointing my skis down the hill outside ski valet, heart in my throat, I found that I was able to cruise right down to the lift and my spirits immediately rose. Skiing with the group was the best. It was fun to have people to laugh with. Although I cut my afternoon session a bit short, I was pleased with the fact my legs weren’t too sore after being on the slopes (must have been the sand running).

Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel

The next morning was super exciting: the rest of the #omniten were starting to roll into town! I’ve been following a whole lot of these people via Twitter for a long time and was pumped to finally meet them. After a morning ski session, Season 4 was in for one more special treat just for us: attending the press conference unveiling the Olympic Freestyle uniforms for the United States, Canada, and Russia.

Going to a press conference doesn’t sound that exciting but when you’re a huge Olympic geek like me, this was an awesome experience. Being some of the first to glimpse the uniforms (and being put on a social media gag order until later that evening), I started to feel that little tingle of energy that indicates something awesome. That something was listening to some of the American athletes talk about their Olympic experiences. There’s no denying it: I teared up listening to Heather McPhie talk about walking into an Olympic stadium with Team USA.

After the press conference, we headed to downtown Park City and the No Name Saloon to unite with the rest of the #omniten. I’m so glad that we were able to arrive early to spend some time together as a smaller unit. I don’t doubt for a second that if the #omnigames would have pitted season against season we’d have been a tough crowd to beat.

More awesome storytelling of this awesome #omniten adventure headed your way tomorrow!

#OmniGames: The People

I was fortunate enough to chosen as part of Columbia Sportswear’s Fall 2013 #omniten cohort in September. After having heard about the Spring 2012’s trip to Havasupai, Fall 2012’s Park City exploits and Spring 2013’s Rogue River rafting adventure I didn’t hesitate for a second—I absolutely wanted in. Soon, the mysterious #omnigames concept emerged: Fall 2013 would be competing, as would all three previous groups.

The #omnigames were incredible and the #omniten lived up to the #tryingstuff experience but that wasn’t the best part. Not even by a long shot. Instead it was my fellow #omniten.

Photo courtesy WildernessDave.com

Living on the road can be lonely sometimes. I’m lucky to have F and Sprocket to travel with and there are often serendipitous encounters along the way but a traveler rarely gets to completely relax and be themselves enveloped in the company of friends. As someone who is initially a bit reserved, I particularly struggle with this.

Photo courtesy Gina Begin

Prior to landing in Park City, I’d met a handful of #omniten in person and interacted with quite a few via Twitter, their blogs, Facebook, and Instagram. Tapping into this network had already enriched my life with some outdoor adventure and a wonderful adventure-centric internet crew. I was excited to have more adventures and meet a few friends.

Photo Courtesy Tori Lesikar
Photo Courtesy Tori Lesikar

Instead of making just a few friends, I found that the #omniten are my people. In the shuttle, in the #omniten Hub, at dinner, on the slopes, in the hot tub, in No Name Saloon, at the Freestyle World Cup, eating delicious hors d’ouvres around fires, on the Twister mat, on buses and in vans, in my hotel rooms, in late night chill sessions, at a fashion show, on ropes courses, in tiny show shelters, on snowmobiles, during a press conference, playing Cards Against Humanity, on social media, and so much more we bonded and had a blast. I felt so happy, welcomed, and surrounded by adventurous friendship all week. It was the most incredible feeling!

Courtesy of someone… (let me know so I can fix it!)

To all of the #omniten, each and every one of you: thank you. You, more than everything we did made my week. Not only did I meet people who are game for #tryingstuff but I met genuine, friendly, wonderful people. By your sides, I laughed and played harder than I had in a long time. The competition was friendly, supportive, and (perhaps, best of all) still intense. You all were absolutely the best.

The final competition of #omnigames is sharing our stories. Since my story at #omnigames is the story of all the #omniten, I’m starting with them. (More coming from me about our activities, the competition, and how it all felt for me soon!) Their blogs, Twitter accounts, and Instagrams are full of #omnilove right now but don’t miss all their other fun adventures as well!


Twitter Instagram Blog
#omnigames attendees:
Fall 2013
Andy @andycommandy @andrewcommander
Me! @3UpAdventures @3UpAdventures 3Up Adventures
Dave @LowGravityAscnt @Lowgravityascents Low Gravity Ascents
Derek @100peaks @100peaks 100 Peaks
Heidi K. @runaroundaroo @runaroundaroo Run Around A Roo
Joshua @joshuariggins @joshuariggins Experience.Via.Imagination
Michelle @Mish1100 Living On Life
Patrick @patrickgensel @patrickgensel Adventure Travel Buzz
Seth @sethayates @sethayates Plains And Peaks
Spring 2013
Adam @HikingTheTrail @hikingthetrail Hiking The Trail
Aleya @AleyaJean @aleyajean Rock & Sky
Anne @AnneCarneyMedia @SweetAnneMarie
Dave @DavidECreech @wildernessdave Wilderness Dave
Eric @trails2brews Trails2Brews
Erica @Active_Explorer @active_explorer The Active Explorer
Julie @PBFingers @pbfingers Peanut Butter Fingers
Justin @lukasavige @lukasavige Backcountry Treks
Kristie @wigirl4ever @wigirl4ever An Appetite For Adventure
Tori @torilesikar @torilesikar Tori Lesikar
Fall 2012
Anne @annedriggers @annedriggers
Bret @SkierBW @skierbw It’s All About The Experience
Weston @WestonShirey @westonshirey Dispatches From The Trail
Ed @thestash @thestash
Katie S. @KatieMSmith @thekatiemsmith
Spring 2012
Casey @modernhiker @modernhiker Modern Hiker
Gina @ginabegin @ginabegin Notes: An Adventurers Blog
Heather @AColoradoGal @acoloradogal Just A Colorado Gal
Heidi H. @BananaBuzzbomb @bananabuzzbomb Banana Buzzbomb
Jon @JonBausman @jonbausman
Katie B. @themorningfresh @katieboue The Morning Fresh
Katie L. @k8tlevy @k8tlevy Adventure Inspired
Rebecca @calipidder @realcalipidder Calipidder
Steve @stevewweiss @stevewweiss Mountain Enthusiast
Other #omniten I haven’t met yet:
Fall 2013
Wendy @TheSkiDiva The Ski Diva
Fall 2012
A.J. @lionelhutzskis Famous Internet Skiers
Merisa @femaleskibum Tales From A Female Ski Bum
Porter @porterhaney Porter Haney
Spring 2012
Colin @runwicked Run Wicked

I’m #omniten!

A few weeks ago, I headed out to the post office with Sprocket and was surprised to find that there was a package waiting there for me.

Inside, I found a ton of Columbia winter gear to test out and a letter inviting me along for six days of adventure at a still undisclosed location as part of #omniten. #Omniten is a collection of ten outdoor social media folks that are picked by Columbia because they get out and Try Things. Since I’ve been following along with previous seasons of #omniten on Twitter and know that I’ve got awesome times ahead!

I’m honestly still a bit shocked that I’m one of the “chosen few”! And with these rumors of #omnigames rumors swirling I’m even more excited!!

Gear Value: Columbia Titanium Fleece

I was folding clothes the other day and commented to F that his orange fleece is starting to look a little threadbare. “No way! I paid $70 for that fleece, it can’t be worn out!”

Orange fleece

We started trying to place when exactly he purchased this Columbia Titanium fleece and I wasn’t much help because I know it was over five years ago, before I met him. On top of being more than five years old, he has worn it EVERYWHERE.

The fleece is still going strong but we decided that this fleece (and its maker Columbia Sportswear) deserves to be honored on the blog.

Summiting Mt. Washington (Oregon), July 2009:

F at Mt. Washington

Chinatown, San Francisco, August 2009:

F Chinatown menu

Hiking in Olympic National Park, October 2009:

F, Olympic National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, April 2010:

F, Carlsbad Caverns

F and Sprocket

Camping along the Pecos River, Texas; April 2010:


Mt. Michell, North Carolina; May 2010:

Mt. Mitchell, Highest point east of the Mississippi

Not only does he play in his fleece, but he fixes cars in it as well! Culpeper, Virginia; May 2010:

Jeep Repairs

Snow Falls, Maine; May 2010:

Snow Falls (Near West Paris, Maine)

Fixing a Model A; May 2010:

F Model A

Moving in to our house in Missoula, July 2010:

F and Sprocket

Hiking in Moab, March 2011:

F and Sprocket

F and Ezra

Home Repairs; July 2010:


Yellowstone, September 2011:

Old Faithful Lodge

Spokane; September 2012:

F and Sprocket

Day-before-the-wedding; September 2012:


Hiking in the La Sals; September 2012:

La Sals, F and Sprocket

Fixing the Sprinter window, North Fork Salmon River; September 2012:

Fixing the Sprinter window

F and Sprocket

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; December 2012:

Enjoying the steam vents

I’ve even worn it a time or two: Lava Tree State Monument, Hawaii; December 2012:


Childs Mountain, Arizona; February 2013:

F on Childs Mountain

Near Ajo, Arizona:

Arizona desert

I think that fleece has been worth every penny, don’t you?

What gear have you really gotten your money’s worth out of?