Talk about loving what you do and doing what you love: frustrated by having to drive to Spokane or mail order his kayak and climbing gear, John Crock started Hyperspud Sports, an outdoor gear store in Moscow, ID, originally selling equipment out of his own house.
Twenty years and a signed lease later, Crock says, “everything I sell in the store I do as a hobby.” His next outdoor excursion is his annual canyoneering trip to Utah.
In addition to scaling canyon walls, contorting his body through canyons that might be as narrow as nine inches, and wading through frigid water at the bottom of canyons so deep their streams rarely see the sun, Crock will navigate his way by map and compass. “Recently, we made an agreement not to use GPS. I think it’s a lot more fun when you’re trying to figure out where you are, not just heading toward a waypoint.”
Shoes: “When you’re in the canyons, you usually have two pairs of shoes,” Crock says. This year, he’ll use the La Sportiva Halite GTX shoe for climbing and hiking, and an old pair of tennis shoes for wading and swimming. Crock looks for shoes with rock-gripping soles and ankle protection. “I like a higher-top shoe because the sandstone is pretty abrasive and any sort of exposure can result in scrapes and rash,” he says. “It’s really hard on gear down there—you’re always dragging gear across the rocks or squishing between the walls of the canyons.”
Pants: SportHill. “The fabric I like is called 3SP. It’s stretchy, fleece, wind resistant, and it’s really great when wet.”
Tops: Crock prefers synthetic performance fabrics, usually zip neck turtlenecks with long sleeves. The zip-neck allows you to vent; the long sleeves give you rash protection, he says.
Gloves: A pair of fingerless bike gloves to protect your hands from stemming across the rocks.
Backpack: Osprey’s 85-liter Crescent pack for longer hikes, because it can hold plenty of gear. “A smaller Mountainsmith fanny pack is great for those canyons that are too narrow for a backpack to pass through,” he says.
Tent: “My favorite tent is the MSR Hubba Hubba. It’s very roomy—I’m 6’2”, and two people my size can sit up and play cards in it. It’s mostly mesh, so that’s nice in the desert because you can set it up without the rain fly, and it only weighs about four pounds.”
Crock also has a bivy sack by Integral Designs. “I never get condensation in it, it’s really light, and it compacts to about the size of a Nalgene bottle.”
Sleeping Bag: “My favorite company that makes sleeping bags is Western Mountaineering,” he says. “It’s all US-made, and they make a great lightweight product.”
Pad: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad.
Helmet: Petzl Ecrin.
Harness: Mammut Mirage.
Rope: Mammut, in 8 or 8.5 millimeter diameter. “You definitely want one that’s treated with a dry coating so it doesn’t get wet and heavy,” he says.
Belay device: Petzl Reversino, which is specifically made for small diameter ropes. “You’re not taking big falls that you might in other types of climbing, so you can get away with lighter ropes, but if you put a skinny rope in a regular belay device, it can get pretty scary because you rappel so fast,” he says.
Extras: “Because of the flash floods, anchors get washed away, so it’s important to take a lot of slings and bits of old rope to use and leave behind as anchors if you need to,” Crock says.
For wider canyons or excursions with less vertical, Crock uses Black Diamond hiking poles. “They can be helpful for getting you through a couple of steps of quicksand or crossing streams,” he says.
In the desert, Crock says, water is another part of the equation down there that makes things interesting.” To ensure plentiful drinking water, Crock uses MSR Dromedary water bags, nylon bladders that can be rolled up when empty. “They’re great for the desert because you can put six liters of water in your pack, but when it’s empty, it’s not like you have six Nalgene bottles floating in your pack,” he says.
“Water down there can be really bad—you can have a little pool that’s black from rotting cottonwood leaves or filled with tadpoles, but the Katadyn Vario I use is very fast and it has a filter you can scrub so it doesn’t get plugged.” The carbon filter even neutralizes most of the bad tastes.