‘Rivering’

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I wrote about river skiing two years ago for New York Times. (See the full story here: http://travel.nytimes.com.) Now this month a new story of mine on the sport—a hybrid game that involves skis or snowshoes, ropes, climbing equipment, and some canyoneering savvy—appears in the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine.

Of all my esoteric outdoors pursuits, skiing frozen rivers—a sport called “rivering” in Minnesota—might be my most unusual. Participants employ ice axes, skis, snowshoes, ropes, ice screws, sometimes skins for their skis in an attempt to ascend frozen rivers, preferably through narrow canyons and up and over icefalls.

Here’s a paragraph of desription from my Minnesota Conservation Volunteer story:

“Like many rivers in the [North Shore of Minnesota] region, the Onion is all but inaccessible for much of the year, a canyon of torrential whitewater funneling through cliffs toward Lake Superior. But under winter’s grip, the Onion morphs to a navigable track of snow and ice, rushing water clamped under thick ice sheets that crack and buckle like dry earth.”

In my New York Times story, I highlight another North Shore of Lake Superior river, the Manitou, as . . .

“a white-water torrent nine months of the year, frozen under winter’s grip, its twists and turns accessible briefly on an ephemeral walkway of ice. Like dozens of rivers in this region, which spill from the steep watershed of the Sawtooth Mountains and drop through forested valleys and white-water ravines to Lake Superior, the Manitou is all but impassable for most of the year. Its canyon depths—moist basalt catacombs, cascades and tannin-tinted pools—are a guarded environment. But the deep winter freeze provides passage and a peek at life in the sequestered gorge, at least if you know what you’re doing.”

Go here for the full Times story: http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/03/10/travel/escapes/10rivering.html?scp=27&sq=regenold

Click here for the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer piece: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/janfeb08/sop.html

By
Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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