Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To: Carry Trekking Poles on the Plane

We hikers have it pretty easy. If we want hike somewhere, we simply load our packs and go. Aside from good footwear and some basic clothing, we generally don’t need a lot of stuff. In fact, if we want to travel somewhere for a hiking vacation, and we’re efficient, we can load everything that we need for the trip in a single bag and carry it on the plane.

There is one exception, however. Trekking poles.

Since 9/11, trekking poles have been a challenge for hikers who fly. Intuitively, trekking poles should be off limits, but, in fact, they fall into a grey area with TSA, the Transporation Security Administration of the United States.

According to TSA, ski poles are not allowed as carry ons, but walking canes are allowed, provided "they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed."

So where does that leave trekking poles? They’re virtually identical to ski poles, but it could be argued that they fall under the category of walking canes as well.

Here’s our experience:

1. Talk to the TSA officials at your local airport. We spoke with officials at three different airports and, in every case, they allowed us to carry on our trekking poles in their assembled forms. That said, there are two caveats. First, small, rural airports that border vacation destinations tend to allow items that larger urban airports may not. They’re used to people treaveling with sporting equipment and oddly shaped gear. Second, consider your itinerary. Just because your local airport allowed you to carry on your poles, doesn’t mean that the security personnel in Amsterdam will. Flying direct routes within your home country might be fine, but if you have to go through security in other cities and/or countries while changing flights, you might get screwed.

2. Dismantle your poles before placing them inside your pack. We’ve had good luck with this option so far. Simply pull the sections apart so that your trekking poles look like small tubes rather than a long collapsible unit. As it turns out, it’s not the pointy tip of the trekking pole that security personnel have a problem with. Rather, they want to confirm that you don’t have anything stashed inside your poles. The take home point: break down your poles for easy examination.

3. Consider the Z trekking pole by Black Diamond. We knew this pole would be cool when we first wrote about it, but we didn’t know how cool. Acting on a hunch they would be too weird to register on the TSA radar screen as a disallowed item, one of our staff members tested the Z pole by placing it in their carry on. The result: they cruised through the security zones in the U.S. and Europe without a hitch. The experiment was a total success. If you really want to carry your trekking poles on the plane, but you don’t feel talking to TSA, and you don’t want to dissamble your poles each time you fly, then consider the Z trekking pole from Black Diamond. It even comes with its own carrying case. Zuper cool.

Image: Willi uses his trekking pole to harness the power.
Berner Oberland, Switzerland | Chris Pranskatis

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Listen to Ryder-Walker Online

Do you find yourself experiencing trip withdrawal? Have you missed the sound of Kenny's spirited voice in the morning? Do you long for trail wisdom and positive reinforcement? Never fear. Now you can bring the voices of Kenny Fuhrer AND Peter Walker into the comfort of your own home.

Maribeth Clemente, a Telluride, CO-based author and travel expert, recently interviewed Ryder-Walker's own Peter Walker and Ken Fuhrer for her radio show, Travel Fun, and now you can replay the show as many times as you like. Listen through your smartphone. Play the show on your computer. Let the voice of Ryder-Walker ring through the woofers and tweeters of your home stereo system. A podcast of the program is now online at Maribeth’s website: bonjourcolorado.com.

You'll hear Peter and Ken talk about the founding of Ryder-Walker, the things that have made us successful, affiliate companies, summit champagne-toasts, and more. The show is a half-hour long, so pour something tasty, then sit back and enjoy! Oh, and don't worry about your trip withdrawal. It's a natural thing.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Video: Hiking with a Wild Steinbock

We like to boast that our hiking tours bring us "up close" to the wildlife. But how close do we actually get? Watch this video to find out. Mike filmed this gorgeous Steinbock during last week's Gran Paradiso Trek. What's the difference between a Steinbock, an ibex and a chamois? Read Those Dam Goats to find out.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The 2012 Guided Hiking Tour Schedule is Online

Join us for a guided hiking tour through Switzerland, Italy, Bhutan, Colorado, the desert Southwest and more.

See the schedule here.

Note: The prices are valid until September 30, 2011. Book early. Save money. Spend the savings on chocolate and wine (or beer)!

Image: Willi and Finley toasting to a day well-hiked.
Kandersteg, Switzerland | Chris Pranskatis

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Björklund Finishes Top 10 at Ö Till Ö

Congratulations to Ryder-Walker Guide, Staffan Björklund, and his teammate, Jonas Andersson! They finished 8th at this year's Ö Till Ö endurance race.

The Ö Till Ö, Swedish for "Island to Island," traverses 19 islands in the archipelago of Sweden. The event includes 10 km of swimming and 54km of running with competitors entering and exiting the frigid Baltic Sea nearly 40 times during the course of the race. Race organizers call the Ö Till Ö "one of the toughest 1-day races in the world."

Staffan and Jonas finished the race in 10 hours, 52 minutes and 54 seconds, landing their team, Lag Sandhamn, a respectable top-ten finish.

Props to you Staffan, for your 8th place finish and for your outstanding dedication/training during the course of the summer. Congrats!

Image: Staffan "showing them the ropes."
Cortina and Lakes of the Dolomites Trek | Ken Fuhrer

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Book Early. Save Money.

There is a really good chance that our prices will increase for 2012. We hate to do it, but unless the currency gnome suddenly rearranges the markets, then it is what it is. That said, book any of our tours between now and September 30th and we’ll happily guarantee this year’s (lowest) price.

This deal applies to guided, private, and self-guided tours. Note: We’ll have the 2012 guided tour schedule up shortly.

What if you’re still working on dates for your private or self-guided tour? No problem. Just send us your deposit, and then let us know when you have your dates. We’re also delighted to help you with your itinerary. We know the best places to visit and the seamless ways to get there.

Let us plan your dream vacation! Just give us a call or drop us an email.

See you on the trail!

Image: Peak bagging the Ammertespitz (2613 m) between Lenk and Adelboden.
Eiger Trail: Gstaad to Grindelwald, Switzerland | Chris Pranskatis