By Randi Somers
Special to the Tribune
Helly Hanson and Mountain Safety Research’s Cascade Designs teamed up to bring writers from six magazines on a week-long Alaska outing to demonstrate and publicize the gear they produce. They arrived in Homer Wednesday and were treated to a variety of outdoor experiences during their three-day stay.
Representatives from both companies and the public relations firm who arranged the tour traveled with the writers from Esquire, Popular Science, Wired, Backpacker, Outside and Gear Junkie magazines.
They camped three days and two nights at Charlie Anderson’s CampHomer on Diamond Ridge, a perfect remote setting for their purposes.
“It was Monte’s (Chamber of Commerce Director Monte Davis) and my vision,” Anderson said. “We cater to people who want to get off the beaten track.”
The camp is down a trail below Diamond Ridge Road at such a distance that even the traffic (if there was any) on the road could not be heard. The only hint of an amenity is a classic Alaska outhouse. Ten, two-person Mountain Safety Research tents were secluded in small cleared patches in tall fireweed that insured privacy for each camper. A wall tent for gear, halved-log tables for food and a few folding chairs at a campfire provided a gathering place for the campers.
They arrived in Alaska Aug. 6, trekked to Eklutna Glacier then took the whistle stop train from Anchorage to Spencer Glacier to test gear on an ice climb, a spokesperson related.
After arriving here and setting up camp, the 10 visitors split into two groups to sail Kachemak Bay on Anderson’s 26-foot “Kiana” and fish for halibut aboard Alaska Coastal Marine’s “Spirit.”
Thursday they were flown to bear country by two Bald Mountain Air float planes, where they experienced 10 or so grizzlies wandering among them and snagging salmon from Moraine Creek in the Katmai National Forest and Park Preserve.
That evening they gathered around the campfire at Anderson’s secluded camp while chef Dave Lovullo prepared halibut tacos, ceviche and fried halibut tidbits from the fish they had caught. He also arranged all necessary ingredients for each person to create his own pizza and cook it in a pan on a little individual stove, several of which were provided by the Mountain Safety Research company. Lovullo said that the rest of the halibut was packaged and flash frozen to be flown home for the visitors. Alaskan plusses on the menu were smoked salmon and a dessert made from rhubarb.
When everyone had finished eating, well-known local rancher and performer Atz Kilcher told stories and sang songs about growing up in the wilderness when his family homesteaded near the head of the bay after immigrating here from Switzerland.
Friday the visitors again divided into groups of five and swapped fishing and sailing outings so each person experienced both.
Helly Hanson is a Norwegian company established in 1877 when fisherman Helly Juel Hansen oiled his rain gear to make it waterproof, capturing the attention of other seamen who wanted their coats waterproofed. Over the years, the company has expanded to produce many kinds of outdoor equipment. Accompanying the group, Norwegian Oyviand Vedvik helped demonstrate the extensive line of gear.
Also demonstrating much of their gear, the other company that sponsored this trip, Seattle-based Mountain Safety Research provided the tents and cooking gear for the group. Drew Keegan of MSR Cascade Designs represented the company on the trip.
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