Outdoor Research, a Seattle outdoor gear company, likes to "focus on creating functional solutions for human-powered adventure."

One of their ways of attaining that goal is through VertiCulture, which, simply put, is "a predisposition to engage in the exploration of wild country, oceans to high peaks, with a variety of tools in all seasons."

A manifestation of that philosophy - the third annual VertFest -- takes place Saturday, Feb. 28, at [R124R, Crystal Mountain Ski Area].

The event - a celebration of the backcountry - is an uphill and downhill race, from Crystal's main lodge to the resort's high point atop Silver Queen and back a couple of times. There will be approximately 4,900 vertical feet of climbing in the two-lap race. There also will be a less-daunting one-lap race, with 2,600 feet of climbing.

VertFest is open to anyone with the legs, lungs, and wherewithal - the $75 entry fee includes lift ticket; for pass holders it's $45 - to experience to Outdoor Research's philosophy. Competitors, who can sign up on race day between 7:30 and 9 a.m., must carry a pack, transceiver, and probe while racing.

The race starts at 10 a.m. and is expected to last from 90 minutes (for the most experienced pros) to 3 hours (for newbies). There will be an awards party/beer bash at 3:30 p.m.