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Chris Korbulic on First Ascent’s Five Years
Posted on November 20, 2014

Chris Korbulic checks in from the Labrador Wilderness on Destination Torngat

Adventure kayaker and pro photographer Chris Korbulic has ticked a life list of big-water first descents in the most remote corners of the globe, from Bhutan and Brazil to Africa and the Arctic. It’s hard to pick the trips that top his list, but Korbulic’s greatest hits include unlocking the Iso Gorge in Papua New Guinea, running the Impossible Gorge of the Marble Fork, completing the first commercial rafting descent of the Murchison Falls section of the Nile, completing the first descent of the 18 waterfalls of the Nachvak River in Labrador and more than 60 similarly impressive remote first descents of rivers, sections of river and waterfalls around the globe. He’s been part of the First Ascent effort since the beginning, both testing our gear at the far corners of the globe and capturing incredible images of the journeys. We sat down with him to get his take on the significance of First Ascent hitting the five year mark and his perspective on the Guide-Built process. —LYA Editor

Chris Korbulic in the Rwenzori

Tell us how you got involved with the First Ascent gear.

I got involved with Eddie Bauer First Ascent through Ben Stookesberry. We’d been paddling and adventure partners for a good few years before Eddie Bauer came into the picture. He made the connection and we’re a very logical team to keep together — we have had all of our biggest adventures together. It has been a team effort to keep the relationship with Eddie Bauer going and to get it started in the first place.

Tell us how you’ve been involved with the Guide Built process.

The Guide Built process is what makes Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line really special. We are out there using this gear year-round in crazy conditions, and when our feedback gets put into use in developing product, we definitely see a better product. I see better products than I get to use and I think even the little things that we do in the details of all this gear makes a big difference in its usability and wearability. You get great gear from it.

Tell us about how you guys tested the water resistance of the Storm Repel Down in the Karakoram.

The most significant product development input that I’ve been involved in was the Karakoram Sleeping Bag with the DownTek insulation. It was a game changer for me because I’ve always had to use synthetic because I’m always on the river in some crazy places. It’s going to rain and it’s going to be really cold the next night. Synthetic has always bothered me a little bit, so to be able to have a down bag that packs down, is super light, super warm, and, more importantly, acts more like synthetic in that it stays dry and still keeps you warm when it’s wet, I mean it’s been amazing for our trips, packing, and comfort in general.

 

Thinking back on five years of First Ascent, what are the most memorable moments?

When I think back over the last four or five years of being involved with First Ascent, a couple of the most significant memories are from central Africa and this trip with Henri and Ben during this amazing, long winding adventure through Uganda and Congo. On the more recent side is the Marble Fork. It was absolutely one of the most exposed and difficult things that we’ve undertaken and that one definitely goes down in my book as a top adventure.

What do you hope for First Ascent in the next five years?

I’d love to see some more technical water gear that is useful, rugged, and easy to use. In the next five years of First Ascent, I can only imagine that we’ll see a great evolution of gear development, hopefully with the guides being involved in making really useful products. I’m super excited to be on the team and have a place to give some input on what happens with this gear.

Chris Korbulic image of the sunset on the Nile

Five years ago we had a mission: draw on our brand’s heritage of technical innovation and alpine exploration to launch Eddie Bauer First Ascent and set a new standard for gear in the alpine realm. Five years after First Ascent launched, our record speaks volumes: 13 industry best-in-class awards, 53 pioneering testing expeditions, and a series of innovative technical gear that has enabled personal adventures, big and small, around the globe. For the month of November we’ll be profiling the First Ascent effort on Instagram, on the Live Your Adventure blog, at eddiebauer.com and with our YouTube playlist. Check back daily for guide-built, expedition tested and award winning product stories behind the making of First Ascent.

Author: - Thursday, November 20th, 2014
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