We scoured the globe for two people who could prove they can test gear in the most unforgiving conditions on Planet Earth and tell the world about it. We hired two people to be the ultimate testers, world travelers, glacier climbers, brand ambassadors, social media gurus, nature photographers and spelunkers all-in-one.

And we’ve found the perfect people to carry the torch from season one.
Director of Toughness Faith Briggs; Meet Faith video
Faith Briggs is an avid runner and documentary filmmaker from Brooklyn, New York. She’s passionate about sharing stories from diverse communities and can always be found with her camera, whether at New York Fashion Week or in the cloud forests of Honduras. Faith is equally at home running trails upstate or sprinting down 5th Avenue. A dedicated urban runner, she’s a member of Black Roses NYC. When Faith sets her mind on something, she never gives up. She lives by the motto #goodvibesonly and loves to show that women and girls, literally, run the world. Follow Faith’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.
Director of Toughness Mark Chase; Meet Mark video
Mark Chase is our first international Director of Toughness and hails from Gloucester, England. Raised on a diet of climbing, skiing, camping, hiking, and rugby, a safe office and a cozy bed were never going to cut it. An ex semi-professional rugby player, Mark is used to challenging himself both mentally and physically. After retiring from rugby, he discovered a passion for adventure. Working, playing, and often living in the outdoors, Mark continually pushes the limits to feed his natural curiosity, and was recently described as "an adrenaline junkie with a camera." Follow Mark’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Video of Klamath River journey; Image of Faith and Mark standing beside their kayaks on the riverbank.
“How often do you get to do something for the first time?” It’s an observation Faith has made often enough for it to become a de facto motto for her and Mark. It’s both an appreciation for their experiences and a rallying cry to step outside their comfort zones.

For the Directors of Toughness, that could be running 100 kilometers across the Andes or biking 200-plus miles through the Mojave Desert. To kick off their first leg of a Pacific Northwest road trip, it simply meant Faith merging onto I-5 for the first time after getting her driver’s permit. “Yeah, we got airbags,” Mark observed wryly. “We’ll be fine.”

Of course, the truth of any road trip is that the journey is as important as the destination. In this case, finding awe-inspiring adventure in their own backyard. After driving south across Oregon from Columbia’s headquarters in Portland, Faith and Mark reached their first destination—the banks of the Klamath River. Their task: A three-day whitewater kayaking trip down the Klamath and Clear Creek. Another first.

They started with a crash course in piloting their inflatable kayaks through calm eddies and rushing rapids and around—or into—jagged rocks, fallen trees, and any other obstacles in their path. It quickly became apparent they were merely hitching a ride on whatever Mother Nature threw at them. “You can definitely see how powerful the water is,” Mark said, “and how you can very easily get into a sticky situation.”

Turns out, the best way out of those situations was a bit counterintuitive. “We were almost taught to forget everything we knew about self-preservation and just go for it,” Mark said. “If you were approaching a big wave, tackle it head-on. If you’re powering towards a rock you can’t avoid…hit that guy straight on.” Or as their river guide Tyler Poley put it, “When in doubt, crank it out, paddle hard!”

As Day 1 turned to Day 2 and then Day 3, the water got colder, the current moved faster, the obstacles became bigger, and the waves more ferocious. As Faith and Mark steadily made their way down the Klamath and its stunning tributary Clear Creek, they muscled through a gauntlet of roaring rapids with names like Devil’s Toenail, Sasquatch Squeeze, and Dragon’s Tooth. More than once they were swept out of their kayaks and into the frothing cauldron of rushing water. “I took a few swims,” Faith said. “It happens so quickly. One minute you’re in the kayak and the next minute you’re flying into the water. The river’s force is not to be underestimated.”

Ultimately, they were left soggy but unbowed. When they paddled ashore for the final time, they were handed a message from Columbia chairman Gert Boyle with instructions for what the second leg of the road trip would entail. “You survived the river, now go and climb to its source,” the message read. “Sweet,” Faith said with a laugh. “Up we go.”
View of Mark, Faith, and their guide floating down the river surrounded by green, mountainous forestland.
Quotation mark.
Every time I’ve had a chance to explore the Pacific Northwest I’ve found something new and amazing at every corner.
Mark and Faith carry their kayaks to the river.
Outsiders have rarely set foot in the upper reaches of these mountains. Fewer still have been allowed to visit the sacred lakes protected by the Kogi and nestled high within the Sierra Nevada. Faith and Mark would need permission from a tribal leader (or “mamo”) if they had any hope of doing either.

For Faith, arriving at the village was like “walking into another time.” The Kogi have maintained a traditional lifestyle for centuries dating back to when their ancestors fled into the mountains at the onset of Spanish conquest. They consider this sacred land, and they its defenders.

After careful inquiry and contemplation, the mamo gave Faith and Mark his blessing to journey onward—and upward—to the sacred lakes. What followed was an epic trek covering more than 10,000 feet of elevation in three days across a range of different climates, ecosystems, and terrain.

“The Sierra Nevadas throw everything at you,” Faith said. “There’s mud, there’s rocks, it’s super steep…it was just one foot after another for hours and hours and hours.”
Video of Mt. Shasta journey; Image of Faith and Mark climbing a rock near the treeline and looking up at Mt. Shasta towering up in front of them.
Faith, Mark, and their mountain guides slowly make their way up a very steep, snowy incline on Mt. Shasta.
Quotation mark.
There were so many things to think about and every single thing was essential. In mountaineering, what I’ve learned is that you can’t really afford a misstep.
Close-up of Mark Chase, Columbia Director of Toughness.
Close-up of Faith Briggs, Columbia Director of Toughness.
Faith and Mark trek with their guides upwards through windswept snow toward the Mt. Shasta summit.
Right around daybreak on the fifth day, Faith, Mark and their Kogi guide Edinson crested a ridge just below 15,000 feet and were greeted by the sight of sparkling serenity—the sacred lakes. Near the softly rippling shoreline, they were led through a traditional Kogi ceremony intended to help them leave behind negative energy and return back down the mountain free of those burdens.
[Video] Faith walks on the Pacific Crest Trail with local volunteers for a day of trail maintenance and cleanup.
For both Mark and Faith, the one-of-a-kind experience helped solidify what they had learned and observed from interacting with the Kogi people, their culture, and their deeply ingrained belief in protecting the natural environment around them. It was a pulse-pounding, back-aching journey into the “heart of the world,” but one that they nevertheless returned from feeling uplifted and invigorated.

“This is not something that I’ll remember in 10 years,” Mark said. “This is something that I’ll remember in 50 years—and for the rest of my life.”
[Video] Faith and volunteers chat with PCT thru-hikers "Mama Bear" and "Patchy."
Two young female volunteers work with shovels to widen the Pacific Crest Trail.
Men's Titan Ridge Down Jacket in blue.
Men's Titan Ridge™
Down Jacket
Men's OutDry Ex Gold Tech Shell Jacket in light and dark blue.
Men’s OutDry™ Ex Gold
Tech Shell Jacket
Men's Titan Ice Half Zip Shirt in light and dark red.
Men's Titan Ice™
Half Zip Shirt
Women's OutDry Ex Gold Down Jacket in dark blue.
Women’s OutDry™ Ex Gold
Down Jacket
Women's Northern Ground Half Zip Fleece Shirt in black.
Women's Northern Ground™
Half Zip Fleece Shirt
Women's Titan Ridge II Pant in black.
Women’s Titan
Ridge™ II Pant
Men's Flashback Windbreaker Pullover Jacket in gray, green, and yellow.
Mens' Flashback™ Windbreaker
Pullover Jacket
Women's OutDry Ex Gold Tech Shell Jacket in light and dark green.
Women’s OutDry™ Ex Gold
Tech Shell Jacket
Women's OutDry Ex Gold Tech Shell Jacket in light and dark green.
Women’s OutDry™ Ex Gold
Tech Shell Jacket
Men's Ghost Mountain Full Zip Jacket in gray and blue.
Men's Ghost Mountain
Full Zip Jacket