Using a device that works like a hand-powered snowcat, a team of four wheelchair athletes cranked to the summit of California's 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta over the summer, proving there's more than one way to bag a peak. Invented by team member Pete Rieke, the 45-pound SnowPod rides on two treads and is powered by a chest-high hand-crank.
Snowpods bog down in soft snow, so the four adventurers did most of their climbing at night, often starting at 10 p.m. and cranking until dawn, then sleeping during the days. The Shasta team included Mark Wellman, a paraplegic climber who made pioneering ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park; Rieke, pod inventor and the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Rainer in Washington; Muffy Davis, a Paralympic and World Cup alpine medalist; and Keegan Reilly, a 21-year-old college student who climbed Colorado's highest peak on a hand-cranked mountain bike. "I promised myself that I wasn't going to let my disability slow me down," Reilly says. "I wanted to show people you can do anything if you just put your mind to it."
The Last Run
Working under the theory "if you can't beat 'em, fleece 'em," the town of Vail has started hawking full-size replica manhole covers after the real ones started disappearing from the streets. The 75-pound, cast-iron covers are inscribed with the Vail logo and "Founded 1962." They come in black and nickel finishes and cost $275. Shipping not included.
For the Record
Citing tight market conditions, KDR, Inc., the U.S. supplier of the once-venerable Kneissl skis and the boot brand formerly known as Raichle, is leaving the U.S. KDR didn't ship any 2002-03 products, including skis and boots that earned Gold Medals in SKI's September issue. If you want Kneissls, head to Europe, where KDR is still active. For more information, contact your local shop.
Sometime in October, Ron Cram, of Sandy, Utah, will hike up the rugged Snowbird backcountry. After about three hours, he'll hit snow, locate his hidden gear, click into his Atomics and make a few dozen turns. This will mark a decade-120 consecutive months-that Cram has skied at least once a month. The 46-year-old medical sales rep admits a hobby has morphed into an obsession. "Someone who hasn't caught the passion could never understand," Cram says. "And to be honest, I'm not certain how to explain it myself."
As a veteran of the famed 10th Mountain Division, an injured Pete Seibert returned from World War II in 1945 and was told he'd never ski again. Instead, he raced for the 1950 U.S. Team, then proceeded to fulfill a childhood dream: to build a ski resort. He opened Vail in 1962, and American skiing has never never looked back. Seibert died in August, leaving behind an American icon. For more on Seibert, see "In My View."