Sunday, June 21, 2015

Creminelli - the non GMO pork option in America

Ok the title of the post should read Creminelli, Whole foods and Chipotle. What a funny combination, the premier artisan meat company in America (based in Salt Lake city), the trendiest supermarket and a great fast(ish) food chain. They have been brought together in an effort to bring us non GMO pork products. That is it though, buy from the three of them or don't get any ( as I understand it). Not because others don't want to sell it, but that constitutes the domestic supply - only enough for three companies. It is crazy. What the hell are we eating.

I had the extra ordinary luck and chance to meet a portion of the Creminelli team - including the incredibly friendly and humble Cristiano Creminelli himself - at the Grand Cochon event in Snowmass this past weekend. Not only were we treated to some incredible pork concoctions from around the country but the Creminelli team had an amazing selection of their own products. I was blown away to learn from them this incredible non GMO problem - yes, I said problem - that we have here in America.

This is not a food blog, nor a lifestyle blog for that matter. But so many people ask me what I eat at high altitude - I have always answered salami and prosciutto. It has always been a very tasty and high energy food, and the salt makes me drink water. It is a win win food, zero prep and yummy.
Me with Cristiano Creminelli!

I am really glad I have found a non GMO option for expeditions to buy. I encourage you to look at what you are eating.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Mt. Robson's Grand Adventurers....Cheesmond and Dick

Cheesmond/Dick Mt Robson’s Emperor Face
My obsession with the Emperor Face is sort of at it’s peak, having just returned from a walk about to see it for the first time (with the hopes of climbing a route with Jon Jugenheimer). I am consumed with reading as much as possible and studying photos. Sidelined from much greater range action lately, I am amazed by the scale, angle, overall aesthetic and commitment for a wall that is a day’s hike from the car. (And there are many others like it in the Rockies!)
As far as I know the Cheesemond/Dick (climbed in August 1981, with 3 bivies)has never been repeated, and I am willing to bet a new belay parka from RAB (don’t tell them), never will it be repeated in the same style as the first ascent. 
Cheesmond and Dick started their week long adventure by going up to the Ralph Forster Hut (not as simple as it may seem) and then made an ascent of the Wishbone Arete on the south face to the summit of Robson 3954m, returning the hut where they re-grouped and racked, then traversed the entire yellow band past the Emperor Ridge to the Face.
This kind of week long tour du force is unthinkable these days, as fast and light alpinism is the vogue. Helicopter to the Helmet (4 minutes?) on the north face and then down climb a bit to avoid the ugly lower portion of the face, sure, I get it; but to connect to wilderness in such a big way, no. To immerse yourself so deep into such a visceral connection to how small an alpinist can be; two men, a rope and some down, aluminum and steel and more desire than can be shouldered today is mind blowing, once you see the wall first hand you cannot wish anything other than to climb it. I have not climbed the face and would be willing to by any means, I just wish I had the muster of Cheesmond and Dick.
Has a more impressive connection to wilderness and nature ever been made in alpinism? Is this not the ideal we should all strive for? How much do I have to train (he says re-reading House & Johnston’ book) to meet my ideal of what it means to walk around and over these giants. Do I actually have the mettle to think about such audacious plans – the Giri Giri boys sure do and they finished off routes I attempted (like the south face of Logan with Tackle and Smith). Dare to dream, or refocus and train.
Daydream away..........

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Canadian Rockies


Me, sad to see Wild Thing melting out and things falling down it.
The Canadian Rockies are the greatest alpine climbing range. Simple. No altitude issues, ease of access (even if sometimes you have to wade through deep snow for 20km) and Canmore, Banff and Jasper as drinking holes close by; I am not sure it gets any better. The main reason though, the Rockies win for best alpine climbing destination, is the wilderness. Jon and I saw few people (minus a group of 80 from Spokane) that were chasing steep alpine climbs.

Perhaps the stories of bad rock, bears (there were many out this week) and long approaches keep everyone away. I love the sense of being really out there; even just a couple of hours walk from the car make you feel remote.

We tried hard to find something fun to climb, looking at Mts Chephren, Andromeda, Cromwell, Robson, Temple and Deltaform, but the 10 day high pressure and very high temps kept us from getting anything done. It might seem like a ton of effort ( 2 x 24 hour driving days, 1 x 40 km hiking day to see conditions of the Emperor face, a 2am start to try a route and hundreds of other kilometers driven to look at routes and only 3 rock pitches climbed at Lake Louise) for nothing. But we had fun, we did get a lot of exercise and laughed a bunch.

Sometimes everything lines up minus one key ingredient - conditions. No Problem, we will be back........here are a few more photos from the trip.
Jon, testing the snow, yes, snowshoes were helpful.

Me, Asteroid Alley and Shooting Gallery, living up to their names,  above.
Moraine Lake, tourist walking on thin ice, shorts and t-shirt weather

Sunrise, taken under Mt Andromeda

Looking up at the sun hitting the upper wall of Andromeda Strain

Reflections on the hike to Mt Robson's Emperor Face.

Beautiful colors in the water on the way to Mt Robson's Emperor Face

Mt Robson, Emperor Face


Emperor Falls

Valley view below Emperor Falls

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Journey

My home woddie
“The journey is the destination” and all the other trite sayings about being in the moment, forcing us to be excited about the process of training, about the pain and effort of repeated movement, of practice making perfect movement and eventual execution of routes has always bothered me. Bothered me because I always felt it somehow belittled the need to have a huge end goal. Would I train for the sake of training? Would I run just to run? I have needed and used big goals as good motivators over the years. Would I be happy without the passion of heading towards a big goal.

Very hard wood cut into blocks with shallow drilled holds make excellent drytooling holds.
 Something clicked with the process recently; I have been stuck in the process of everyday life for the past year, the grind of house building, of moving, of work, of films, of love and of injury. All of it combined to make life full and eventful. But all of it forced me to get excited by small incremental achievements on my home wall, or a longer distance run faster or a steeper slope skied better. 

Somehow I managed to find the joy in the process without a clear goal in mind. Those small gains made me happy. I thought that not having a clear goal would make with train without passion. Trapped in a white 12’ high x 20’ long carport tent on a wooden home built wall has turned out to be a small oasis. I took great pleasure in setting routes and then failing to finish them at first, making a move or two closer to completion ever few sessions. Finally I have completed all of them and can now link them.

The joys (read expensive) parts of home building.
I have big goals again and somehow the day to day gains seem more important; I finally have finished a cycle of training that coincides with an alpine climbing trip to Canada.  I have a strong and motivated partner that was just in Chamonix and in the swing of things. Lets hope conditions are good.


Alpine dreams.
 More when we get back.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle! Crag Slippers

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Fridays!

Old running shoes are now my craving slippers
Looking for ways to clean out your closet this spring and perhaps this weekend? Wondering what to do with pesky old running shoes. For a few years now I have been cutting the backs off of my old running shoes when I cannot run in them anymore and use them as crag slippers. 

They are great for between burns in Rifle, or anywhere the approaches are short and not too steep. I use them to walk the dog in the morning, or when I have just forgotten something in the car. A great way to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Spring Alpinism

Me, Hallett's Chimney, a while ago, thanks Tom for the photo!

Spring always brings a bit of hope for me.

Long, warmer days generate a shift in desire from cold snow floating and long ski tours, to slow, methodic and often panic filled moments of alpine climbing.

Such a strange thing, let's be honest; powder skiing is the best fun you can have in the mountains. Hands down the best. Yup you read that right. I am yet to have a bad time floating on powder. How can you? It is somewhat magical, that simple.

Alpine climbing though, well, that is another story. The approach is hardly ever fun, nor close. The pack always weighs too much. It is freezing leaving the car and then you are sweating immediately. Wind, darkness, getting lost, and the constant wondering if the climb is in condition, if someone has beat you to it, etc. Who wants to do this?

Then you get to the climb and you have it all to yourself and now you might just actually have to climb it. It is cold and tools start to scratch around and crampons scrape and you wonder where the warm up climb, like in the gym, is. Too much gear clanking around, is it the right gear?, why do I even have so much gear (Josh Wharton never has this much in the photos I see of him)?, pack full of belay coat and extra gloves and other junk because the easiest way home is down the other side of the mountain. Does the gear hold in that iced up crack I kinda beat out, should I have used a longer sling, a shorter sling? Is my partner paying attention? Is he stoned again ( I live in Colorado).

Me, Alexander's Chimney, a while ago, thanks Brian for the photo
Then suddenly you are in the swing of things, your mind clears because you have no choice. It must. You must go up and you must apply all of your earned skill and knowledge so that you get the most of the experience. You squeeze every bit of doubt and suffering out of your mind because you packed your bag, you walked the long approach, you put yourself in this position. That, I think, is the beauty of climbing, it mimics the uncertainty of the world, the chaos, the fear and doubt; but you control the only aspect of it that you can - you put yourself there. You chose to do it.

It is rare, but those times that you are pushing your limit and everything is going well and you have completely zoned out all the negatives and self doubt make alpine climbing so much fun. Those are alpinism's powder days. Trust me, they are few and far between, interspersed with hard days that make you reflect on your choices of sport, but when they come they are so sweet.

After a bit of time off (you know if you don't count the trips to Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Alaska, Nepal and all of the days working in Colorado the past year) to get rid of some nagging injuries, I am very excited  for this spring!

Thanks very much for the continued support from SCARPA and CAMP and the new support from RAB (who make some really kick ass alpine climbing clothes, sleeping bags and Tents - remember Integral Designs!!!) I hope to bring you some fun photos and trip reports soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lobuche & Cholatse Oct 12: Kathmandu Again!

Saddhus at Pashupatinath
Packing has become my least favorite thing in the world to do. I seem to leave it until the last minute every trip these days. Too many things to choose from probably making it way too difficult!

Departing Denver, when you have 4 pairs of Scarpa shoes, a variety of Marmot down, 3 Pairs of CASSIN tools and and a new Reactor stove, it takes this many bags to get here. 
In the Kathmandu airport yesterday a man was wandering around through the visa line, not Nepali but Belgium. He was looking for the girl standing in front of me in the two hour long line. He had arrived a few days before and just walked into the airport, past security, past baggage claim and past the desk where you get your visa. He wandered around calling out her name in the hall filled with over two full flights that arrived at the same time. They reunited, hugged - I thought sex was not out of the question right then and there they way they gyrated with excitement - and then he headed past the visa desk and down the stairs. That is how you know you are back in Kathmandu, anything goes really. She waited patiently with the rest of us, got her visa and bags and everybody flooded out onto the streets to go their own way. A sea of confusion all with a purpose.
A view from the visa line, on a much much quieter day.

I have done the same thing to pick up clients before, rules in Kathmandu are for personal interpretation it seems.

I went out to run errands, saw the barbers I have been using for over 15 years, saw staff at my favorite coffee shop, saw the same shop keepers that have known me for so long and then stood at the "four corners of the world" - close to the general market a few meters form the Kathmandu Guest House. I have a theory that if you stand there for a short time you will bump into people you know. Sure enough, less then ten minutes passed and Ivan Vallejo walked up to say "hi". From Ecuador he finished off all 14 a few years ago, and we climbed together around the turn of the century, we were the "rabbits" on K2 in 2000, trying for a speed ascent. We bump into each other in seemingly the most random places, Kahiltna Glacier this spring, Kathmandu, etc. But there is rhyme and reason to the transmigration of alpinists globally. Sept/Oct is to Nepal for everyone.

Thamel, just a few steps from the "four corners of the universe"
Thamel is busy, very busy, reminds me of the late 1990s busy. Ivan told me he and some Peruvians had been to a new dance club that I had to see, I would not believe it was Kathmandu any more. Gone are the days of Tom and Jerry's and Maya Cocktail bar. Change is good, this town could use a shake up. The streets are still getting widened - the government decided 40 years ago to make the streets wider to accommodate the increase in cars, and then last summer finally got around to demolishing anything that crossed the demarcation set at that time. It is causing heartache, and a bunch of traffic jams. A "5 year project" probably more like a 20 year project.

Some of my favorite people, Matt and Dee - I was his best man at their wedding a few years ago, are in town, they just returned from a Chora of Kailash, so much for all the rumors of Tibet being closed. Roger arrives this afternoon and hopefully the adventure to Lukla starts early tomorrow morning. We are off to climb Lobuche East and then Cholatse. More fun in the Khumbu!!! Time to run around Kathmandu finishing off all the food shopping!



Statue in the garden of the hotel




Boudhanath