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Local Birkebeiners Go Big: Plus 51,000 vertical feet and trail running champs pick Bend 

James Balog Wins Rowell Award

click to enlarge The powder returns and luckily there are brave souls to ski it.
  • The powder returns and luckily there are brave souls to ski it.
The powder returns and luckily there are brave souls to ski it.The Rowell award is given out each year to celebrate the lives of Galen and Barbara Rowell, who died in a plane crash in 2002. The Rowells, with their athletic abilities and adventurous spirits, traveled and climbed all over the world. They captured awe-inspiring photographs wherever they went. When traveling through Bishop, Calif., stop in at the Rowell Gallery to take in hundreds of their breathtaking images. Lupine fields in front of Fitz Roy in Patagonia, gnarled Bristlecone Pines in California's Sierra Nevada 'Range of Light,' skiing in the Alaska Range, and cultural photos of Tibetans, Pakistanis, and Nepalese are just a few of the images chronicling the Rowells' lives.


James Balog, an outdoor adventure photographer, won the Rowell Award this year. National Geographic Adventure recently featured Balog's current project, the Extreme Ice Survey. According to the American Alpine Club website, the Extreme Ice Survey "Involves Balog and his team installing 26 time-lapse cameras on 16 glaciers in five countries that will produce more than 300,000 images to document glacial melt of the next two years." These images will help scientists determine more precise rates of glacial recession and will also be used as visual cues to show the world just how fast many of the world's glaciers are melting.

Last year, Jimmy Chin won the award. Chin travels around the world as a member of the North Face athlete team climbing and skiing the world's tallest peaks. Chin and Balog both use their images to inspire people to travel, adventure, and to preserve the Earth's natural ecosystems and landscapes.

American Birkebeiner

The Norwegan Birkebeiner has a history as rich as a flourless chocolate cake. In 1932, the first Birkebeiner ski race was held in Norway to celebrate the rescue of young King Haakon Haakonsson IV. A civil war between the Birkebeiners and Baglars had the country in turmoil. Baby Haakonsson's life was in danger in the year 1206 when the Birkebeiner clan skied the royal heir to safety. Haakonsson IV's reign ended the strife in the country and is celebrated to this day. Thousands of skiers compete in the Norwegan Birkebeiner each year and are required to carry a pack with enough weight to symbolize an 18-month old child.

In 1973, Tony Wise had a dream and vision to bring this race to the U.S. The race has been scratchy at best the past several years with a lessening snowpack in Hayward, Wisc., and was even shortened last year due to lack of snow. This year, perhaps a result of La Nina, the course was blanketed with snow. Skiers from 21 different countries and 41 states made the trek to Hayward. Bend's XC Oregon Team had a brilliant showing with Evelyn Dong and Kristina Strandberg taking first and second overall. Sarah Max also had a strong finish placing 11th as did Brayton Osgood, Zach Violett, and Marshall Greene placing 15th, 18th and 21st, respectively.

24 Hours of Sunlight

Last month, the world record for human powered vertical feet covered by a male and female on skis was broken in the 24 Hours of Sunlight race in Colorado. Eric Sullivan climbed a total of 51,068 vertical feet while Molly Zurn climbed and skied 33,044 feet ... WOW! Keep this in mind the next time you go out and ski 5,000 to 7,000 vertical, which is typically a pretty big day. Coincidentally they were both skiing on ultra light-weight Randonee ski/boot setups that are becoming popular for the uphill/downhill Randonee rally races taking place around the country and in Europe.

Xterra National Trail Running Championships

Bend was recently selected to host the 2008 and 2009 Xterra National Trail Running Championships. The weekend series of events on Sept. 27th and 28th will include a half marathon as well as 10K and 5K races. All races will be open to the public so start logging those miles now that the snow is receding from your favorite trails.

Telluride Films

The Telluride MountainFilm Festival travels through Bend this weekend at the Tower Theater (check out our preview in the Screen section). Mountain people, culture, adventure, and conservation are celebrated and proceeds for the films benefit reSource, a Bend non-profit organization. reSource implements programs in our region including OregonSwap - a "free-bay" to help people reuse materials, Earthsmart - a youth education program geared toward conservation, From the Ground Up - promoting sustainable lawn and garden care, Sustainable Business Network, and Living Sustainably - tips and resources.

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