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Ursack

Progress at Yosemite?

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On August 31, 2018, Yosemite superintendent Mike Reynolds had a constructive and open phone discussion with Kristi Denton Cohen, director of Ursack community relations.

Mike outlined the concerns his bear management people had with the Ursack AllMitey. Despite never having tested it in the year and a half that they have had it, the bear crew hypothesized that the bag is porous.  From that hypothesis, they concluded that a bear would lick the outside of the Ursack and thus become food habituated. This is sometimes called The Popsicle Theory.

Mike had not seen the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s (IGBC) test protocol. So, in a follow up email, Kristi sent it to him—highlighting two facts: 1) The IGBC started testing bear containers in 1989 and has continuously revised its test protocol in consultation with a wide variety of bear experts. It is the only testing agency in the US; 2) the IGBC protocol allows for gaps of up to ¼”. This belies the unproven Popsicle Theory held by some. Kristi also pointed out that if you put water in a Garcia Backpacker’s Cache canister and turn it upside down, it will leak.

Regardless, Mike is open to testing and to putting Ursack’s people together in a room with his bear management people to see if common ground can be achieved. He remained open (having discussed it with superintendant Woody Smeck) to having SEKI test Ursack first.  He also remained open to eventually allowing AllMitey use for through hikers and those camping far enough away from the Valley floor.

Clearly, the AllMitey will not be allowed in Yosemite in the very near future, but there is hope on the horizon.

Legendary Climber Tom Frost, Ursack’s Godfather, Dead at 81

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Tom Frost died on August 24, 2018 after a short battle with cancer. Tom was a rock climbing pioneer who made first ascents of many of Yosemite’s iconic walls, and was part of a team that included Yvon Chouinard that made the first continuous ascent of El Capitan. He went on to partner with Chouinard in the company that later became Patagonia, and much more. See  https://www.outsideonline.com/2339191/climber-tom-frost-dies?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=onsiteshare

I met Tom when my wife, Kristi Denton Cohen, was making her film “Vertical Frontier” the history of Yosemite rock climbing narrated by Tom Brokaw. We attended an American Alpine Club event in Washington, DC at which Tom was awarded the Club’s highest honor for his work in saving Yosemite’s Camp 4. At that ceremony, we were sitting at dinner with Tom when I told him about a bear resistant food bag I had invented for use on the Yosemite to Tahoe trail. It was purely for our own use, but Tom said it could be a business. He invited me to share his booth at the Outdoor Retail Show in January 2000, and Ursack took off from there. I was (and remained) a practicing attorney with no intention of running a bear bag company, but there was too much demand for Ursack for me to let it go. It never would have happened without Tom Frost.

Beyond all his accomplishments (and there were many), Tom was above all a gentleman. He will be missed.

Same ol, same ol. Maybe you can help.

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May 24, 2018

It has been a year or more since Yosemite and SEKI promised to evaluate the Ursack AllMitey for use in those Parks.

We have heard nothing from them. Perhaps they should hear from you.

While Yosemite’s response to us has been underwhelming, they are responding to you as evidenced by an email we recently received from a customer who contacted Mike Reynolds in Yosemite.  It was a boiler plate response, but if the Parks understand why the light weight food protection provided by the Ursack AllMitey is so important to backpackers, maybe we can get them to come around.
If you want to tell Yosemite or SEKI what you think (pro or con), please write them:

Michael T. Reynolds
Superintendent
Office of the Superintendent
Yosemite National Park
209-372-0496
YOSE_Superintendent@nps.gov

and/or

                   Woody Smeck
                   Superintendent
                   Office of the Superintendent
                   Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park
                   47060 Generals Highway
                   Three Rivers, CA 93271
                   559.280.3433
                   SEKI_Superintendent@nps.gov

Canisters Failing in Yosemite

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A total of 85 approved bear canisters were either broken or stolen by Yosemite black bears between July 15, 2012 and July 11, 2017. During that same period, 2 Ursacks failed (1 incident was mistakenly reported twice). All of the Ursacks were older models—not IGBC approved.

This information was gleaned from a comprehensive spreadsheet of wilderness bear incidents provided to us by Yosemite. Some of the information in the report is difficult to precisely analyze because the narratives crammed into the spreadsheet are truncated. But as best we can determine, 30 approved canisters were broken enough that a bear got a food reward. Another 55 were rolled or batted away from camp and were never recovered. Many others were rolled away from camp but were eventually found.

Overall 200 bear incidents were reported. Not all involved canisters. Some of the recurring findings: bears taking backpacks with or without food inside; bears pounding canisters so that the food was inedible even if the canister remained intact; and several tales of bears getting improperly stored food because campers could not fit everything into approved containers. It is worth noting that these 200 incidents are based on reports to rangers. Many incidents go unreported.

We will ask Yosemite to post the spreadsheet because it contains fascinating and useful information, and demonstrates how hard it is to keep bears wild–especially in the heavily traveled parts of Yosemite. If you are camping in that area you need to be exceptionally vigilant.

Yosemite and SEKI: No news is no news.

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In a letter dated July 5, 2017, the superintendents of Yosemite (Palmer Jenkins) and Sequoia-Kings Canyon (Woody Smeck) wrote:

“As we mentioned in our May 8, 2017 letter to you, we are in the process of reviewing the new Ursack product [the AllMitey]. However, with the busy spring and summer, we have many high priority operational demands on our staff and park resources. Once we are able to complete our review we will let you know.”

They prefer written communications (not email or phone calls) to PO Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.

While waiting for the “as soon as possible” review from Yosemite/Seki, take a look at our new dog toy

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Here is something to chew on while we continue to wait for Yosemite and SEKI to review the AllMitey.

We recently introduced Grrrsack, the world’s toughest dog squeaky toy–made of the same fabric as the AllMitey. Here’s a comment from a customer:

Hello,

I just wanted to let you know my initial impressions of the Grrrsack. Max has never had a toy other than  Kong toys last more than a couple hours (this may sound crazy but he has eaten or destroyed everything in hours). I gave him the Grrrsack last evening and at first he was not sure what to do with it, I think he thought it was something he should not chew on. After an hour or so he would not put it down. Carrying it everywhere, sleeping with it, even and this is the oddest thing going to the bathroom with it in his mouth. The only time he has put it down was when he eats or I take it from him. All this to say is after 24 hours of playing there is only one small hole [Note: dogs have much sharper teeth than bears]. Between the way it has lasted and how happy it has made him I am completely satisfied with your product.
Thank you,
Sean

 

Yosemite and SEKI to review Ursack AllMitey “as soon as possible.”

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We received a letter from the superintendents of Yosemite (Palmer (Chip) Jenkins) and SEKI (Woody Smeck) dated May 8, 2017 in which they said they would review the Ursack AllMitey “as soon as possible.”

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other issues about Yosemite or SEKI, you may contact them at:
Yosemite
SEKI

Ursack AllMitey Receives IGBC Certification No. 5135

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We weren’t worried about the IGBC Grizzly test, because the AllMitey is made of the same Spectra and closure system as the already approved Ursack S29.3 AllWhite. But they required a new test because we added a Kevlar laminate. The AllMitey was tested at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone on April 11, 2017 and successfully withstood at least 60 minutes of Grizzly attacks. IGBC Certification Number 5135.

Progress??? at Yosemite

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Ursack’s Secretary of State (a.k.a) Kristi Denton Cohen met with the acting Superintendent of Yosemite on March 24, 2017. He knew Kristi from her work on her prize winning documentary, Vertical Frontier. Kristi demonstrated the AllMitey for him, and he appeared genuinely interested. The AllMitey now goes to others at Yosemite and SEKI for their input and (we hope) approval.

Finally! Ursack is famous at last.

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On the February 9, 2017 episode of Jeopardy, the answer was “bear” and the question was:

Thanks to Paula Whittington of Loksak (maker of OPSak) for spotting this and being quick enough to take a picture of her tv set.