Female Ultra Skier Crushes All-Time Record, Kelly Slater Surfs to 56th Career Win, & More Stories to Start Your Week


From the inspiring to the tragic, this is GearJunkie’s weekly wrap on adventure news of the week — top news in the world of exploration and the outdoors. Here’s what you missed this week and a few things to look forward to.

One skier and two runners set new course records at this year’s Arrowhead Ultra 135, the human-powered winter race that draws fat-bike cyclists, runners, and skiers to northern Minnesota every winter.

First, skier Shalane Frost (33) of Fairbanks, Alaska, busted through the overall course ski record by skiing faster than any man or woman had in Arrowhead Ultra history. Frost’s time of 20:40:00 dethroned Dan Campbell’s 2020 record by a stunning 17 minutes.

“I was confident I could get the women’s record,” Frost told Alaska Sports Report. “I didn’t actually think that I would have a shot at the men’s record. That’s fast, a 6.6 miles per hour average.”

The Arrowhead’s frosty footrace saw new course speed records for men’s and women’s divisions. Jake Hegge of Wisconsin broke the tape with 28:27:00 on the clock, snuffing out the previous speed record of 30:54:00.

Gretchen Metsa of Minnesota clinched first in women’s and second overall with a time of 33:05:00. Metsa’s pace put her more than 9 hours ahead of the previous women’s course time and 16.5 hours ahead of her performance in 2020.

Now in its 17th year, the Arrowhead Ultra 135 is considered one of the 50 hardest races in the world. Though 2022’s temps were just in the single digits (mmm, toasty!), the mercury has dipped as low as around -45 degrees F in years prior. Arrowhead organizers proudly proclaim it as “coldest gosh darn race anyplace, even the Arctic” — and we’re inclined to believe ’em.

Head to arrowheadultra.com for the full recap, and check out the rad Arrowhead 135 2022 gallery put together by race volunteer Jamison Swift.

arrowhead 135 fat bike racers
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A few days earlier, musher Ryan Anderson and his fluffy sled dog posse ran to gold at the 400-mile John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Grand Portage, Minn. The team finished with a time of 54:26:50, cinching Anderson’s fourth Beargrease win since 2011.

This year’s unseasonably warm temps made for dense, punchy snow — conditions that can prove hazardous for sledding’s remarkably good boys and girls. But Anderson and crew had a relatively easy race.

“I’m … proud of the confidence that the dog team has now,” Anderson said Tuesday. “They feel like they can accomplish anything.”

In a much warmer part of the world, surfing GOAT Kelly Slater rode to his 56th career win at the Billabong Pro Pipeline on Saturday. The victory — a 9.23 wave score — comes just days before Slater’s 50th birthday. “I kind of think of it like a martial art,” Slater said afterward. “You don’t get worse as you get older; you get more experienced.”

The 11-time world titleholder has effectively bookended competitive surfing history. Slater became the world’s youngest champ nearly 30 years ago, at the green age of 20. Nineteen years later, he carved his way to the record for the oldest world champion.

Yo, East Coast climbers — the Bouldering Project is coming your way. On Wednesday, the Seattle-started climbing gym franchise acquired locations in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood from Brooklyn Boulders.

The buyout effectively doubles the Bouldering Project’s footprint, which also has locations in Seattle, Austin, and Minneapolis. The move strategically positions the company in the eastern U.S. for the first time.

Brooklyn Boulders’ management style has been the subject of some controversy in recent years. And the announcement posted to the Bouldering Project website seems to acknowledge that.

“[T]oday’s change marks a new beginning,” it states. “Our purpose in acquiring these gyms is to grow with new people in new places. We believe there is beauty in climbing together.”

rock climber bouldering indoors
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The rapid proliferation of climbing gyms makes the gym-to-crag transition even more important than ever. Here are our recommendations for your introduction to rock climbing in the great outdoors. Read more…

Looking for a natural high? If you live near Longmont, Colo., you’re in luck. On Feb. 10, between 5 and 7 p.m. MT, you can volunteer with Can’d Aid to build 65 bikes for Northridge Elementary’s first graders. The donation is made possible by the Braly Family Foundation. The bikes, helmets, and an interactive bike lesson will be given at the school on Friday, Feb. 11.

For more information, and to sign up for the Bike Build, go to candaid.org.

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