Awards Season: Fall 2012

As always, it has been a busy fall for Backbone. We’ve traveled across the country and back for media trips and showrooms, launched a handful of new products, blocked and tackled like an NFL defensive line, and still managed to squeeze in a few lunchtime mountain bike rides.

More importantly, we are proud to see hard work pay off. Our clients are also experiencing a great fall season of coverage. Aside from a cold beer on a Friday afternoon, few things make us happier than seeing good products receiving the praise that they deserve, and it has been a season packed with praise and exciting awards.

First to hit was National Geographic’s Gear of the Year Awards. We were thrilled to see recognition of several clients: Black Diamond’s Carbon Megawatt skis, the Big Agnes McAlpin SL, Klean Kanteen’s new stainless steel canisters, and two Polartec fabrics, NeoShell and Thermal Pro High Loft (incorporated into the Westcomb Shift LT and Patagonia Nano Puff Hybrid jackets).

Soon after, Backpacker’s Fall/Winter Gear Guide hit newsstands, and several of Backbone’s clients took home Editors’ Choice Snow Awards. Both the Carbon Megawatts and Westcomb Shift LT (Polartec NeoShell) earned another award, along with La Sportiva’s Storm Fighter GTX pants, the Cabelas E.C.W.C.S. baselayers (Polartec Power Dry), and Eddie Bauer First Ascent’s BC Microtherm 2.0 and Katabatic tent.

And then there were the ski and snowboard Gear Guides. Black Diamond, Kastle, Boa and La Sportiva all received great reviews. POC and SmartWool were often named among the top accessories. After flipping through the pages of each one, we couldn’t be more stoked for this year’s ski season and for the hard work of our client production teams to make this incredible gear.

Beyond PR, we recently learned that Polartec’s Made Possible College Challenge campaign was chosen as a finalist for the PR Daily Digital PR and Social Media Awards for ‘Best Use of Facebook’. The campaign invited collegiate outdoor programs to submit a video telling Polartec (and the world) what they would do with a $10,000 grant. The videos of four finalist schools were posted to a Polartec Facebook application and opened to a public, winner-take-all vote. The campaign, now in its 3rd year, has been a tremendous success, and has garnered on average of 1.7 million impressions for Polartec each year. The 2012 Made Possible College Challenge is now live on Polartec’s Facebook page and we are thrilled to have Backpacker as a partner for this year’s campaign. Check it out and vote for your favorite!

With any luck, the snow will start falling soon here in the Rockies, and we’re excited to see what the winter season brings.

Intern Impressions: 10th Annual Teva Mountain Games

I’ve never been a big competition climber myself, but the chance to watch the 2011 IFSC World Cup finals at the 2011 Teva Mountain Games (TMG) was too good to pass up. As a new intern at Backbone, I arrived at Carbondale just as the build-up and excitement for the Games was coming to a head. Saturday the 4th dawned cloudless and dry, and I tossed a longing gaze at the pile of climbing shoes in the back of my van. Being from New England, I’ve been conditioned never to say no to a day of good climbing temps. Still, it’s not every day that I get to watch a dozen of my climbing heros flash up to V11 in front of a screaming crowd of thousands. Some things are worth missing a day on the rock.

The World Cup finals were slated to start at 5. Arriving an hour or so early, I had a chance to wander through Vail Village. On the cobbled streets, vendors from every niche of the outdoor industry had constructed a veritable tent city. Hipsters on fixies, bro-dudes on skateboards and families pushing strollers milled around, looking at the 2012 product they were soon to buy–this was Vail after all. Making my way through thousands of people carrying bags of free schwag, raffle prizes and awesome giveaways, I saw more than one dream come true. A skinny bro-dude-in-training, who couldn’t have been a day over 12, walked up to a bikini-blad twenty-something.

“Can I have a hug,” he asked, pushing his oversized white sunglasses into a mop of sun-lightened hair.

“I guess,” replied the girl, craning into an awkward embrace.

Releasing begrudgingly, the boy immediately pounded the fists of his three friends, waiting a yardstick’s length behind him.

“Nice one bro,” I heard them say. “You totally got it.” I envied the boy’s initiative.

On my way to the climbing wall I called my friend Dave Wetmore. Dave is a friend from my native Boston, and after an impressive 14th-place finish at the 2011  American Bouldering national championship, he qualified to participate in the World Cup. Dave climbed very well in qualifiers, but was in the audience to watch finals with me. At around 5, the top six men and women strolled out from isolation to begin work on the four problems that lay in front of them.

Rei Sugimoto is worth driving for.

So is Anna Stohr.

I won’t bother to recap the results as numerous result listings and highlight reels are plastered all over the interweb. Of note is Louder than Eleven’s short video, which is–as usual–very nicely done.

It is difficult to provide an objective evaluation of the competition. I’m a climbing nerd, and would probably have fun watching the comp if I were blindfolded. Furthermore, saying that the crowd seemed “super-psyched,” or “high-energy,” is essentially meaningless; it seems that action sports devotees have limited modes of expression. However, the size of the crowd did surprise me. I realized, at some point, that not everyone in the crowd was a climber–not by a long shot. This means two things: first, it indicates that climbing competitions stand some chance of providing audience appeal in a large sense. Second, it means that the TMG’s efforts to combine a whole range of outdoor lifestyle activities were successful. TMG’s attendees must have been excited to watch events that fell outside of their own usual interests.


The world cup crowd. Awesome.

After the comp ended, I met up with a few more members of the Backbone crew and headed up to the Teva House, where, on a rooftop overlooking a the Budlight Mountains of Music Festival Stage, athletes and industry folks enjoyed the setting sun with a poolside barbeque. Before long, the evening’s music, Xavier Rudd started an amazing set, simultaneously playing guitar and didjeridoo. Anyone who has ever to tried to produce a sound from a six-foot-long tube of eucalyptus will recognize this as no small feat.

Xavier Rudd.

Having been a bit of a sneaker freaker in a past life (read: high school), I took notice of the many pairs of flashy shoes stomping around the party. It seems that Teva had been giving away quite a bit of free schwag (according to Ian this is called “seeding”), and everyone and their brother was rocking bright kicks.

Teva Gnarkosi.

These things were designed for wake skating, and have a sticky rubber bottom with hundreds of drainage holes. This would have come in handy that night, as the mountain biking pro’s got endless entertainment out of cannonballing into the pool, dousing the periphery and the people in it.

From speaking to a number of people who had a part in planning and executing TMG 2011, I could tell that everyone was pleased with the turnout, the buzz, and of course the uncontrollable arbitrator of any outdoor event’s success: the weather. Though I’ve just started, it was great to be on the inside of an event like this, which up until know I’ve only viewed as a spectator. A frightening number of hours go into these events, and it has to feel good to see it grow after year.

Congrats to all the athletes and the TMG crew for putting on a great show.

Onward and upward!

Settling Into the South: Part Deux

Just a quick Backbone employee update from the land where history lives, Charleston, South Carolina. Dax Kelm has settled into his new Southern digs and is working full steam ahead getting ready to run the trade show gauntlet kicking off with Winter Outdoor Retailer, SIA and ending with ISPO. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by the Bamboo Bottle Company’s Winter OR booth (BR 345) or POC’s SIA booth (1023) and rub it in a little that he and the wife just happened to load up the U-Haul and move to the South during the BIGGEST winter in Jackson Hole history!

Backbone Media Charleston - 125 Spring Street

From his emails and Facebook posts, it seems like he’s fitting in well:

“Penn and Nate, things are going great here in the South. The waves are sick and the locals are very friendly. Here’s a quick vid of some new friends I met in the water today. I’m pretty sure they will invite me to watch the Auburn vs. Oregon game tonight!” – Dax

Ski Here Now

Black Diamond just announced a new web video series coming this winter titled Ski Here Now. The three episodes will be released one each in December, January, and February and feature BD athletes Ptor Spricenieks, Tor Eggeboe, Nicolas Aubert, Martin Webrant, and David Pitschmann skiing in France and Switzerland.

Here is a preview, or as they call it on the internet, webisode #0:

SKI HERE NOW — webisode #0 from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America

A few years back, Backbone was promoting Ski the 14ers book, by Chris Davenport and Art Burrows.

Ski the 14ers was the culmination of Dav’s epic goal of skiing all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000′ peaks in a year. For you ski historians out there Lou Dawson was the first person to complete this task, in 1991 over the course of many years. By achieving this goal in just twelve months, Chris mixed tenacity, a high acumen of planning and route selection and displayed his voracious appetite for skiing.

This fall 2010, Backbone is again promoting another title with Dav – Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America. Co-authored with Art Burrows and Penn Newhard (yep, that is me), the book is a tribute to fifty of the greatest off piste descents in our continent.

Rather than just sit down over beers and decide what we thought was best, Chris, Art and I reached out to friends and skiers all over to get their opinion. By doing so, Fifty Classic Skis of North America becomes more than just a coffee table book of pretty pictures but combines the perspectives of our contributors becoming a snapshot of ski alpinism in 2010.

The contributor list ranges from iconic ski mountaineers like Lou Dawson, Chic Scott and Lowell Skoog to steep aficionados Andrew, McLean, Kris Erickson and Ptor Spricenieks and leading skiers including Glen Plake, Eric Pehota and Hilaree O’Neill. The book covers all types of peaks and exposures ranging from done-in-a-day classics like Tuckerman Ravine to expedition goals like the Messner on Denali. The contributing photographer list is strong with Christain Pondella, Scott Markewitz, Jordan Manley and Brad Washburn to name a few.

Fifty Classic Skis will be available through Wolverine Publishing in November 2010. Pre-orders are being offered at a slight discount. You can leanr more on Facebook. Check it out.

VholdR and ContourHD – exploding the myth of press release professionalism

Fully armored and only 4.3 oz. Your phone weighs more than that.

In our little alternate universe here in Carbondale press releases follow a predetermined ebb and flow defined by brevity and succint facts. That’s kinda how a release needs to be delivered to our audience – they’re busy, and beside that, who really wants a barrage of exclamation-point saturated sophomoric drivel from overly-caffeinated, prone-to-fits-of-Daffy-Duck-like-enthusiasm 12-year-olds? I don’t…even though I pretty much am that coffee guzzling juvenile delinquent looney tune, I get those releases all the time from an overly bro’d-out bike industry guy in SoCal at least twice a week…and each and every time I need to restrain myself from calling him out on his egregious abuse of exclamation point protocol.

You WILL read the Verteblog...

You WILL read The Verteblog...

Yet sometimes, you need to let it out. This is one of those times. And since this is our blog and you’re here voluntarily (and arguably you are…unless you’re sweating through some sort of Kubrickian nightmare), we’re going to explore the full range and spectrum of human emotion as we reveal the latest addition to the Backbone client list. Or at least I am. In other words, I’m gonna let the stoke out.

You see, we just added VholdR to the roster. They make a series of unassumingly sexy high-definition video cameras that you can mount (mind out of the gutter now) on your helmet, goggles, handlebar, boat, moto, street rod, top-fuel funny car or just about anything else you could imagine. The ContourHD 1080p units that we’ve been playing around with all come with a software suite called “Easy Edit” that allows for simple connectivity and the immediate commencement of “oohs” and “aahs” (or heckling as the case may be) from your colleagues, your friends or your mom.

The late, great Anne Ramsey

And if your mom’s a heckler, I apologize. That’s kind of sad.

The video is rad. It’s super-crisp with options to shoot in 720p or 1080p, a 135-degree perspective and once again, all you need to do is plug your camera in to your computer to enjoy or share your exploits…and that’s a big deal. Aside from the clinical box that press releases demand to be housed in, we live in a place ripe with backcountry adventures and are fortunate enough to call some of the best gear brands in the world friends, colleagues and clients. The new stuff from VholdR is amazing – and the POV perspective allows all of us to share our adventures in whatever exploit floats to the top of the to-do list around lunchtime, be it riding, climbing, skiing or fishing.

So I’m stoked. We’re stoked. It helps that the VholdR folks are great people. And I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t walk away from our get-to-know-you meeting with glazed eyes and dippy smiles smeared across our mugs. Because as cool as they are today, it pales in comparison to what they have cooking for the next couple of years.

Prepare to be amazified. I know I am.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled bone-dry press release. Gotta throw a bone to the fun-haters.


VholdR/ContourHD Selects Backbone Media to Manage Public Relations Effort
Carbondale, CO agency to execute brand communication strategy
VholdR/ContourHD, manufacturers of the world’s first and smallest wearable high-definition camcorder have selected Carbondale, CO based Backbone Media to oversee and integrate brand communication efforts. Backbone will support ContourHD’s media communications, product placement, branded content and social media strategies.

“Contour has gained great acceptance at retail and with consumers in multiple markets,” explains Marc Barros, Founder and CEO.”We have significant new product innovation, partnerships and plans for 2010 and  believe Backbone will help us convey our brand ID and messaging effectively.”

“Every once in a while there’s a breakthrough product that nails it in terms of consumer need, design and function” states Backbone’s Penn Newhard. “The ContourHD camera brings together POV technology allowing people to capture and share their experiences in a clean and easy-to-use format.”

Seattle-based VholdR produces the ContourHD, the world’s first high-definition wearable camcorder. With the introduction of ContourHD1080p, it’s also the first to shoot and share 1080p video. Both the ContourHD and ContourHD1080p feature amazing video clarity, a wide angle lens (135°), single button simplicity, and a click to share online experience.

Visionaries. And they can hang, too.

Backbone News

A bunch of stuff going on…

SmartWool, New Belgium and Aspen Skiing Company win Best Places to Work in Outside Magazine, for 3rd and 2nd times, respectively.

Skiing is wrapping up. Spring is here with good road riding in the RF valley in between snow storms and powder tours.

Backbone recently was named one of Colorado Companies to Watch by Colorado BIZ magazine. Backbone was one of 50 companies named out of a field of over 420. Additionally, Nate Simmons was voted one of Sporting Goods Business  40 under 40 – one of the most influential young industry professionals for his role as Global Director of Marketing for Polartec and partner here at Backbone.

On the fun side, Nate and Greg were up with Chugach Powder Guides with crew from New Belgium, Powder (thanks Kback!) and various film crews like MSP. Check out Adrian’s warm up video  below.

KBack, G-Dub and Nate

Backbone has always loved to bike. Now we are spinning with new clients Serotta Sports, Honey Stinger, Velogear and Jett MTB. Along with this, Backbone is proud to announce Mike McCormack joining our team. Many may know Mike from his Trek, Yeti or Breck Epic days. Mike is a cycling geek and has a 120 lb. dog named Boo – which easily outweighs both of his boys JJ and Tavish. Mike’s wife Emily is a PR powerhouse in her own right and runs Hula Communications.

To see all the official news you can go to our pitchengine newsroom or check it out on our site. Lastly, our good man Ian Anderson and his wife Sari recently added a new son Axel to their family. I realize we don’t “do” baby announcement blogs here so I’ll include that Ian  was recently  promoted to Director of PR here at Backbone doubling up his responsibilities.

Excuse my French but Axel will be a next generation bad ass

Clips of Faith – Films Needed

This summer our good friends at New Belgium Brewing are launching a film and beer tour called Clips of Faith (a pun on their tasty Lips of Faith batch beers). They’re looking for “amateur filmmakers, activists, aspiring actors and accidental brilliance in video” to submit films that are 10 seconds to 10 minutes in length. The submission rules are simple, just watch the short movie below for all the details.

And here’s the website.

An Unlikely Black Diamond Ski Convert

When I first told a friend I was going to work at Backbone, he said, “You better get used to the idea of skiing Black Diamond skis.” Nawww, I thought, those things are too planky.

Turns out lots has changed about Black Diamond skis in the past few years, and the current selection is nothing like the old sticks I used to borrow from my college’s freeheel club. I recently got a pair of the Justices, and as a devout bump skier I was wary of skiing something 115 underfoot.

Fast-forward to last weekend, when I drove to the annual Telemark Extreme Skiing Championships in Crested Butte. The morning of the first day of the comp, I opened up my car/extra storage unit and stared at my choice of skis for the day. Out of the big pile of K2s, Icelantics, Karhus, and G3s, I chose the BD Justices.

The combination of long binding cartridges/small boots proved fatal, as I walked out of my binding with a few turns left in the 2nd run, and got disqualified as my ski rocketed to the bottom. But I have to give Black Diamond props—the Justices kill it in pretty much any snow condition. They are maneuverable enough for light bump skiing, come around as quickly as you need them to in steeps (thanks to the early-rise tip), and are able to arc long big-mountain turns in powder.

Check out the video of the event. I appear around :28 seconds in. Don’t take a sip of coffee, you’ll miss me.