Arc’teryx Athlete Roger Strong on Being Vertical and Getting Caught in an Avalanche | Pop-In@Nordstrom New Classics
What’s in a name? Sometimes, a lot—at least as far as we can tell when it comes to Arc’teryx-sponsored athlete Roger Strong. We caught up with the professional outdoorsman as he drove down to this year’s Pacific Crest Trail Days hoopla (before jetting off to France for a global Arc’teryx meeting—ah, the good life) to chat about his go-to pistes, favorite Arc’teryx gear and, yes, getting caught in an avalanche.
Image courtesy of Roger Strong and Joe Stock
In honor of the exclusive his-and-hers Beta LT Jackets that we’re carrying at Pop-In@Nordstrom New Classics, our buds over at Arc’teryx put us in touch with Strong, an avid climber (and skier and fisherman and kiteboarder…) who’s been a sponsored athlete for 15 years and living the vertical life since his childhood in the wilderness goldmine of Denver.
So what does it take to become an Arc’teryx-sponsored athlete and what exactly does that mean? First and foremost: be a badass. Also, maybe ice and rock climb regularly, you know, in between captaining a crab-fishing vessel in the Bering Sea for six months at a time. In return, Vancouver, BC-based Arc’teryx—known far and wide as a leader in serious performance gear—will hook you up with world-class gear and help you fund trips to establish new climbing routes in places like Yosemite.
Check out that intense furrow
Really, there’s no one better to ask about gear and alpine sports than Captain Strong.
The Thread: What sets the Beta LT jacket apart from your other outerwear pieces?
Strong: I LOVE the StormHoodTM and how easy it is to cinch down over a helmet, even when using a gloved hand. Also, the cut, referred to as the E3D Fit (Ergonomic Three Dimensional).
Give us the tech lowdown—what are some of the most geek-out-worthy tech features of the Beta?
The burly yet easy-to-slide, water-tight zippers that Arc’teryx pioneered. And front pockets that are slightly raised from the hem to keep access available even when you’re wearing a pack hip belt or harness.
OK, the let’s-talk-climbing round: best trip you’ve ever taken in the outdoors?
Loaded question as every trip seems to be the best! But O’Malley Peak in Alaska’s Chugach National Forest might be one of the top ski mountaineering trips I’ve done.
Worst trip you’ve ever taken in the outdoors?
On April 6, 2011, I got caught in an avalanche on Snoqualmie Pass (Washington), hit a tree and completely tore the tibias off of my femurs… seven or eight ligaments were torn; it took three surgeries to put everything back together and I was in a wheelchair all summer. Thankfully, I’ve recovered amazingly well.
How incredibly life-altering! What do you feel were your biggest learnings after that particular Snoqualmie run?
I definitely ski smarter now. I really take a lot more time looking at the objective, assessing risk, listening to the people I’m with and thinking about my family. I realized it’s not just about me anymore. Of course, there’s no way to mitigate the risks one hundred percent—but that’s part of the beauty of life, isn’t it? Not knowing all of the outcomes.
Image courtesy of Roger Strong and Arc’teryx
For you, is it about the process or the peak?
The process, definitely the process. It’s about the movement and how different the vertical realm is. It’s about starting at the very bottom and getting to the top—the struggle, the views. It’s like a puzzle, and I always love a challenge. The top is the dessert or icing, but not the goal. You have to earn it.
Last question: you grew up in Denver but now reside in Seattle, so we’ve got to ask—Colorado or Washington?
Such a hard question! I’d have to say the Cascade Mountains in Washington for skiing. There’s more snow and bigger paths. But the Bastille Crack rock climb in Eldorado Canyon (Colorado) is pretty unbeatable.