When the world’s best gear brand teams up with top mountain guides around the globe to build multi-day climbing, trail-running, and trekking journeys, you know it’s time to start training
Assembling the slate of expeditions for the new Arc’teryx Trips program was actually a simple process, says Jurgen Watts, the company’s director of brand experience. “We just asked our best Arc’teryx-sponsored guides for their adventure travel dream trips,” he explains. “Then we started reconning their ideas.”
Which is how Watts found himself trail running through Switzerland last summer, threading the postcard-perfect mountain valleys between Zermatt and Grindelwald while his luggage sped to his next hotel by train. One minute he was bending his neck upwards to take in the towering views, and the next he was rounding a bend to find an archetypal Swiss mountain hut serving beer on the patio. “It’s like I’d been training all my life for that moment,” he laughs. And yes, he ordered a thirst-quenching stein.
In September 2020, you too can experience the nine-day trail-running itinerary Watts followed through Switzerland, designed in collaboration with Norwegian IFMGA mountain guide and ultrarunner Stian Hagan. It’s one of 11 guided small-group adventures Arc’teryx is rolling out for next summer and fall, each featuring one of the mountain sports the company is best known for—mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, and trail running—set in majestic locales such as Corsica, Chamonix, and the remote Wind River Range of Wyoming. (According to Watts, backcountry ski itineraries in destinations like Hokkaido, Japan, will also be announced early in 2020). Built to help motivated, accomplished athletes take their skills to the next level, each trip reflects the fast-and-light ethos Arc’teryx is known for, as well as the company’s insistence on impeccable detail and quality.
“It’s no coincidence that each of these trips puts people squarely into settings and challenges where our gear can help them thrive,” says Watts.
In fact, he says, the concept is that the participants should be able to hold up to the trips’ rigors just as well as the products Arc’teryx makes. Climbers on the Chamonix mountaineering trip, who will scale such classics as the Aiguille du Chardonnet and the Dent du Géant, ought to be prepared to follow sustained 5.8 routes for eight hours continuously. Participants on the Corsica trail-running trip, which traverses the island on the rugged GR20 trail, should be capable of 20 miles a day with more than 6,200 feet of elevation gain, and they must have recently completed a trail marathon.
The reward for meeting those thresholds may be the trip of a lifetime. In Corsica, trail runners will have lactic acid flushed from sore legs nightly by a massage therapist, followed by the payoff of a rich Vermentino wine. Climbers in the Wind River Range’s Cirque of the Towers will complete the 12-pitch Northeast Face of Pingora, one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America. “That climb will change who you are as a climber,” says guide Brenton Reagan, who designed the trip.
Reagan’s itinerary features more than just climbing, however. Perhaps the trip’s defining feature is that the expedition’s gear will be transported to base camp by a horsepack string from Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch. “Horsepacking is absolutely indicative of Wyoming’s backcountry culture,” says Reagan—not to mention how it will facilitate the trip’s biggest luxury, a camp chef with a full larder of provisions to feed the famished climbers.
Such luxuries and opportunities are what will set Arc’teryx trips apart, says Watts. Horsepacked goods, massages, the inclusion of a photographer on daylong ascents of Chamonix granite, and even the option to field-test Arc’teryx prototypes are all hallmarks of the itineraries. “It’s the same attention to detail we put into our gear,” he says. Like a perfectly articulated jacket sleeve, or the welded seams of a roll-top waterproof backpack, “it needs to function perfectly but also have the capacity to surprise and delight.”