A Tribute to the Unsung Hero of the Omnigames: David Creech

David Creech wasn’t able to compete in the Columbia Sportswear Omnigames in Utah because of his knee injury, but he assumed a new role that truly contributed to defining the trip: Dave became the best photographer out of all our Omniten crew. He usurped every single one of us when it came to turning our Park City competition into still frames packed with action.

Documenting your journey is always difficult when you’re deeply focused on the adventure. We were all constantly on our phones, wearing our GoPros, and snapping cameras – but it still didn’t seem like enough. Dave gave us all a gift by taking beautiful photographs of our crew playing in the snow, preparing for the games, and goofing off.

Here’s just a small taste of the wonderful images shot and edited by David Creech of WildernessDave.com:

The dogs were ready to rock 'n roll during the Omnigames.  (Photo: David Creech)My Omnigames partner Derek Lorange and I, saddled up for the dogsled ride.  (Photo: David Creech)Casey of #TeamBeard looking handsome in the middle of a snowstorm at the Omnigames. (Photo: David Creech)Seth from #TeamBeard stokes a fire during the hot cocoa challenge at the Omnigames.While we were aiming arrows at targets in a snowstorm, Dave was steady aiming his lens at our foreheads furrowed in concentration. He captured our moments of thought when we didn’t realize anyone was looking, and photographed cheerful portraits of the teams as they soaked up every moment of the adventure.

He didn’t just take shots of us being pulled by dogsleds, navigating obstacles high in the air, and bonding with our teammates – he created images that illustrated our moments of triumph, personal challenge, celebration, and love. He made magic with his camera alongside the professional Columbia Sportswear photographers, and kept us all waiting with bated breath when he began uploading the final images.

Erika Wiggins aims her bow during the archery portion of the Omnigames.  (Photo: David Creech)Three of the Omniten ladies goofing off in the snow at Garff Ranch during the Omnigames.  (Photo: David Creech)One of my favorite parts of the Omniten trip: the ropes course at Utah Olympic Park.  (Photo: David Creech)Dave, thank you.

I think everyone will agree with me that your photography is beyond impressive. You made us all look good and seem impossibly badass – even if some of us missed the target, or didn’t spark a fire. Your beautiful photos let us all relive the Omnigames experience, and we owe you so much for the moments you captured. We’re all so lucky to have you as part of the Omniten family. The best part? On top of taking stunning photos, you’re also just a wonderful person to spend time with.

Omniten ladies showing off our pink Columbia Sportswear ski pants during the Omnigames.Crushing the notoriously tricky ropes obstacle during the Omnigames.  (Photo: David Creech)

Even I manage to look pretty badass when Dave Creech is behind the lens!  (Photo: David Creech)For more adventure photography, check out Creech’s website: WildernessDave.com
You can also show him some love on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Want more from Columbia Sportswear’s Omnigames event? Follow the #omniten hahstag on Twitter, and keep an eye on my Instagram and here on the blog for my perspective on the experience during the #7DaysofOmniten! I’ll also be sharing the best stories from my fellow Omniten crew as they dive into their own retellings of our weekend in Park City, Utah.

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The Underdogs: A Guide to Surviving the Columbia Sportswear Omnigames

Here’s the thing: No matter how many rocks I climb, mountains I camp atop, landscapes I journey to – I will always be a Florida girl at heart. I’ve tried to shake it, but I just can’t seem to escape my Sunshine State roots. So when Columbia Sportswear revealed that they would be sending me (and 40 other inspiring adventurers) to Park City for a weekend of competitive snow sports, I knew I was in for a challenging adventure.

The #omnigames wasn’t just a challenge against my fellow #omniten – it was a challenge I had to fight against myself and my personal limits.

Rebecca and I geared up for the ropes course at the Utah Olympic Park.

I’m a total tank-top and cut-off shorts kind of gal. I do best when the sun is warm on my face and I can spend the entire day outdoors without a single shiver. Can y’all picture me getting hardcore while bundled up in ski equipment and more thermal layers than I could count? Here’s a little help with the visuals:

Upon arriving in Utah, a dusting of snow  accumulated on my plane as we taxied into the terminal. This should have been my first clue that I was in over my head. I ran around outside while we loaded up the shuttles, and kept my face pressed against the glass watching the flurries fall as we make the trek to Park City. It was beautiful.

I awoke on the first morning of the Omnigames to quite a sight: snow was gusting through our lodge with a newfound ferociousness that turned my “oh boy, snow, snow, snow!” into “uh-oh, better put my big girl boots on.” The beauty of the frozen landscape was suddenly quite intimidating. So, how does a totally unprepared, absolutely out of her element lady react when thrown into a land of snowstorms and ski slopes?

Here’s my guide to surviving the Columbia Sportswear Omnigames:

1. Team up with a loyal, adventurous partner.

The teamwork dynamic of the competition was left a mystery until moments before the event began. My team was the first to be created – by drawing two names out of a hat. My partner was Derek Loranger of 100peaks.com, a fellow Trail Sherpa blogger from California. We both met with wide-eyes – I’m one of the youngest, most inexperienced kids in the crew, and he’s much more mature and wise, but as the games progressed, we quickly bonded into a strong team. Our first day’s performance wasn’t exactly impressive – we started day two in last place – but we more than made up for it during ropes course and vertical skiing challenges that bumped us up to 9th place. Derek led our team with a strong show during the skiing portion, and I did my best to keep us both afloat during the ropes adventure. Many high-fives were exchanged, and our spirits remained high through any battle!

My partner and I on the dog sleds at Garff Ranch during the Omnigames.The dog sledding at the Omnigames.

2. Always go forth in the spirit of #TryingStuff.

Y’all, the Omnigames were no joke. You can get an excellent break-down of all the events from Patrick Gensel, but here’s the basic spread of challenges we were faced with: dog-sledding, shooting archery, building snow shelters and primitive fires, maneuvering ropes courses 55 feet in the air, and clocking the most vertical footage in 90 minutes. The ropes course is the only activity I knew I would dominate, so the rest of the Omnigames were spent just going for it. Did I shoot a single arrow that hit the target? Absolutely not, but I adored the experience of pulling my bow back and feeling the arrow zip past my fingers into the air. Did I make a fire while the snow was blowing sideways? Negative – but I’m redoing the challenge this weekend while camping! While going forth with the spirit of adventure, you have to be comfortable with the idea of failure, and always persevere with the determination to keep trying stuff.

3. Never give up.

Just before being split up into teams, Columbia Sportswear revealed what the prize of the Omnigames would be: the top five teams would form the new Omniten season and embark on a journey to Jordan in spring to explore the country while documenting the adventure. After feeling pretty decent about our first day’s events, my partner and I were slightly taken aback when the scores were read after the first morning and we came in dead last place – but that just provided extra fuel for our fire. We regrouped, amped up the determination, and rallied our hardest during the final challenges. The result? Our team bumped all the way up to 8th place, meaning that our chances of making it to Jordan were still alive. Giving up is never a good choice – you always have to keep charging forward and trying you hardest (even if you crash into a snowbank minutes after putting on skis).

4. Get creative.

Keeping it creative was one of the most important things that led to my team’s success during the Omnigames – and we weren’t the only ones kept on our toes. Even the Columbia Sportswear crew had to think outside the box when blizzard conditions forced us to alter the second day’s events (and they rocked it). As an adventurer, you’ve got skills and experience that can help you out in any situation. While building a snow shelter, I turned to my knowledge of knots to help secure our makeshift structure, and my partner dug deep into his past experience with summertime shelters to utilize those skills in a different season. And it worked – I would totally have slept in our shelter for an evening. When it came to the ropes course, I channeled every ounce of climbing know-how to help me balance my way across the obstacles.

Heidi and I on the ropes course at Utah Olympic Park during the Omnigames.

5. Remember what the adventure is really all about.

There’s no denying that every single person competing out in Park City really, really wanted to win a spot on the trip to Jordan – but most of us hardly let that overshadow what was really going on. We were reunited with friends we rarely get to see, sent to play in an unbelievable landscape packed with activities most of us have never experienced, and blessed with the opportunity to do it all while testing new gear. There was plenty of competition, but it was never trumped by pure camaraderie. When Derek and I struggled to get our fire going, opponents Beth and Justin quickly huddled over our grill and tried to help us spark a blaze until time was up. During the ropes course, Kristie and her partner Weston shared tips for making it through each obstacle. At the end of every competition, hugs and high-fives were shared by all. Like any adventure, the bottom line was sharing memories, pushing personal boundaries, and having a good time.

The final event of the Omnigames is still alive and awaiting a victor – it’s called “Charles Dickens,” and it is a challenge to retell the story of our experiences out in Park City. Keep your eyes on the blog for two more posts that highlight stories that go beyond the usual recap, and follow @TheMorningFresh on Instagram for #7DaysofOmniten – a little project that highlights my favorite images and mini-stories from the trip. 

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A peek at Columbia Sportswear’s mysterious #omniten adventure to Park City, UT

I’m going to upfront about this: I have absolutely no idea what I’m getting into when I fly to Park City on Wednesday morning.

If you follow me on social media, you’ve been seeing a lot of the #omniten hashtag over the last two years – and lately,  #omnigames has become a new buzzword too. If you don’t already know, here’s the TL;DR version: I’m part of Columbia Sportswear’s inaugural Omniten ambassador program, and after an amazing trip to Sedona and Havasu Falls last summer, they’re reuniting my crew and the rest of the Omniten seasons for a mysterious trip to Park City this week for an event called “the #omnigames.”

While the details are sparing, we’ve all speculated plenty. Heidi Kumm suggests a little snow kayaking, Rebecca of Calipidder.com is banking on some bear wrestling, Heather from Just A Colorado Gal is scratching her head,  and Michelle has promised to make us homemade poutine. Basically, no matter what our itinerary ends up looking like – it’s going to be epic.

The #omnigames with Columbia Sportswear are on!

For those of you following along at home, here’s what I do know:

  • I’ll be flying into Salt Lake City on the morning of January 8th, then being shuttled to Park City where I’ll stay until Saturday morning. While there, we’ll be staying at the beautiful Hyatt Escala Lodge in suites with our respective Omniten crews. We’ve also been told to pack swimsuits for the hot tubs.
  • There will be at least one day spent out on the slopes. If you know me, you know that I am neither a skilled skier nor snowboarder, so I reckon there will be plenty of wipe-out photos of me. Columbia is providing all the equipment, so I decided to stick with skiing since I’m sorta-kinda-maybe okay at it.
  • On the 8th, Columbia Sportswear is unveiling the USA freestyle ski team uniforms. They haven’t officially linked it to the #omnigames, but we all have a feeling something is going on with that!
  • The Columbia team won’t spill all the beans, but “what we can say is that you’ll be eating well, testing gear, getting to know each other, playing in the snow, and…

I’m no winter sports gal, so I’m going to be severely under-packed and underprepared, but judging by the photos the early arrivals have been posting of the gear Columbia Sportswear is hooking us up with, my current lack of snow pants won’t be an issue for much longer. But forget the sweet gear, what I’m looking forward to most is reuniting with my Omniten family, meeting the new folks, and joining the crew for an unforgettable trip playing in the snow of Utah.

Want to follow along on the adventure?
Keep an eye out on the #omniten and #omnigames hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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That Time Columbia Sportswear Reunited the Omniten for Another Epic #TryingStuff Adventure

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.The inaugural Omniten crew from Columbia Sportswear at Havasu Falls.

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.

Heidi Henry and I celebrating after making it back to the rim of the Grand Canyon in one piece during our omniten trip to Havasu Falls.And now, Columbia Sportswear is bringing us all back together.

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! 

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