A little over two years ago, a crazy idea was born: What if Columbia Sportswear chose 10 strangers, all of whom were influential in the outdoor industry, and put them together to create an ambassador team who would test gear, build hype on social media, and embark on epic adventures? Would it work? It was a gamble, but they decided to give the #omniten project a go.
I was part of the inaugural omniten crew, and it proved to be one of the best experiences of my life. It began with that I thought was just a package sent to me with a pair of shoes to test out, and blossomed into a lifelong family cemented by an outrageous backpacking trip to Havasu Falls. Columbia Sportswear blindly threw ten strangers together (first at a huge media event in Sedona, then at the bottom of the Grand Canyon where we jumped off waterfalls all weekend), and ended up with the ultimate success: at the end of our trip, our eyes were teary as we hugged goodbye, and our connection has stayed strong ever since.
Now, I’m totally playing favorites, but I think my season’s crew yielded one of the best social experiments of all time. We’ve got a little mix of backcountry backpacker, vegan explorer, peak-bagging climber, coastal-life runner, cross-fit extraordinaire, snow-obsessed nomad, and homemade beer brewer blended with a hefty thirst for adventure – and somehow our unlikely ragtag group became a family. I’ve reunited with most of the original omniten during my yearlong trip, and they’ve been too good to me. Taking me hiking in Arizona, treating me to killer tacos in California, and even letting me housesit for a week in Colorado – these folks are some of my favorite people on the planet.
A few of our crew members have been fantasizing about the idea of a season-to-season challenge that brings all the omniten crews together (there was a lot of talk a la Road Rules vs. Real World Challenge) – and someone finally convinced Columbia Sportswear to turn that crazy concept into a reality. It started with a mysterious email requesting that we all block off a few days in January for an event now dubbed “the omnigames.” We didn’t know any details about the location, or the event – pure mystery.
Finally, Columbia Sportswear threw us a bone and sent another email with the coordinates 40.6443821 -111.49475970000003, which quickly led us to Park City, Utah. There will be a bit of snow sports (which means y’all will be treated to plenty of pictures of me falling in the snow), but with a large percentage of the omniten not being snow-folks, Columbia Sportswear is sure to mix things up. I’m nosy by nature, and did a ton of digging on what Park City has to offer for adventurers. There’s bobsledding, zip-lining, adventure courses (with a 65-foot free fall at the end, yee-haw!), cosmic curling, and more. Bring it on!
The omnigames are going to be epic.
As usual, I plan on taking everyone along for the ride via social media. I’m excited to finally meet the rest of the omniten crews, scope out some sweet new Columbia Sportswear gear, and play Olympic-style in Park City. Follow the #omniten and #omnigames hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all the latest shenanigans.
Do you have any guesses about what the omnigames will entail?
I want to hear your theories!