The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” refers to a notion that a complex idea or large amounts of data can be conveyed or absorbed with a single image. While that may be true, I would argue that the saying relates to me in that a picture is worth a thousand words of inspiration, to go see that place or do that thing. Here in the outdoor community, we are continually exposed to many amazing photos of landscapes and destinations, with people doing activities we do or wish we could do. I have to admit many of my trips have been motivated by seeing a photo of a lake surrounded by mountains or red-orange desert canyon, and then I plan a backpacking trip to an alpine lake, or realize it’s been too long since I rappelled down a sandstone cliff. But my favorite images are the ones that inspire me to do something new, an activity I’ve never done, or a place I’ve never been to.
Last spring I saw a picture on one of our athlete’s Instagram pages. It was Timmy O’Neill doing a via ferrata in Telluride with some friends before the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. They were all in their best ballerina poses, with the ground far below them. Our headquarters is only an hour and a half from Telluride but I’d never heard of a via ferrata there. Via ferrata is Italian for “iron road,” but in climbing, these are typically routes across or up rock walls in which you enlist steel cable to secure yourself to and installed ladders, steps or bridges to travel on when there are no rock steps. They are more popular in Europe than the U.S. but there are a couple scattered around here nonetheless. After seeing Timmy’s picture, I did a quick Google search and found a route description on SummitPost.org. Turns out it was built by Chuck Kroger in the mid-2000s. A local climbing legend, Chuck forged and fabricated the iron steps himself and finished the route just before he passed away from cancer in 2007. It is named the Krogerata in his honor.
After sharing Timmy’s photo with two of my friends here at Osprey Packs, we decided that the morning before a music festival we were going to in Telluride’s Town Park last summer we would go find this via ferrata and do it. After the weekend, we shared pictures with the office and our own social media sites from the trip. People got excited about it and asked details, but like too many adventures, people put it to the back of their mind and didn’t just go do it. Than this summer, a year later, the three of us were again going up to Telluride for another music festival and remembering the buzz our trip across the via ferrata created and how much fun we had. I sent out an all-office e-mail with pictures from last year and basically said ‘We are going here, we are doing this, meet here, at this time, on this date, I’ve got gear, you bring beer’.
You know you work with cool people at a cool company when you get a huge email response from everyone, but you really know it’s a cool group of people when 14 of them actually show up the next morning. After some gear dispersion and a quick safety/procedure talk, we set off. We got all fourteen across, some had never slid on a climbing harness before and had plenty of the ol’ shaky leg on the exposed sections. We all had fun, we all felt accomplished and it personally felt good for the three of us to introduce something new to those eleven friends and co-workers.
Here’s what Lindsey Beal had to say after putting on a harness for the first time ever:
“As we were traversing the most exposed part of the Via Ferrata my Elvis legs really started to kick in. Every muscle in my body was shaking. A big thank you to the veteran climbers in front of me who were physically moving my carabineers for me and to the continuous words of encouragement from those right behind.”
So next time you see that epic Jimmy Chin photo or your friend posts a picture from her recent mountain bike trip to Crested Butte and your first reaction is: “I want to do that!” Hold on to that excitement, that motivation and do it. Or if you’re someone like me who doesn’t always lack the motivation but likes to share the adventure and see the excitement when people try something new or go somewhere they’ve always wanted to go then send out that picture worth a thousand words of inspiration and say ‘We are going here, we are doing this, meet here, at this time, on this date, I’ve got gear, you bring beer’.
-Chris Horton, Osprey Product Guy
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Also Osprey Athlete Timmy O’Neill
And Osprey Product Guy Chris Horton