Thursday, April 29, 2010


Let there be no doubt, two is greater than one.

I learned, not that long ago, that doing things on your own is only going to get you so far in life. I have found that the fulfillment of going it solo for any number of ventures is compounded sevenfold when you have someone to share the moment of accomplishment with.

But that's not all.

Partner's serve a purpose. They aid you through the mental crux of a problem. They shoulder invaluable weight (both literal and figurative) needed to get even close to where your objective lies. A partner will tell you to turn back when things get shitty. They will be the one to pay you out rope when you're victoriously clipping the chains at the top of a route. They will celebrate victory by your side and they will share the sourness of defeat when you turn back.

Each person is unique, as is their abilities. Two strong people could make terrible partners together, much like an all-star football team. Look at the Huber Brothers- the crazy Germans who put up the speed record on El Capitan. It's no secret that Alex is the stronger climber, yet there would be no speed records were it not for Thomas' lightning fast jugging ability or his competence in sending weaker pitches as Alex rests.


The team dynamic is second only to the weather with regards to what makes or breaks a successful summit/outing. I wouldn't want to be out on Denali for 28 days with someone who's humor is as dry as a fish bone nor would I want to be with someone who would rather sit on their hands and laugh when there's work to be done.

A Fine Balance

What are you trying to do?

A fine climber can be a horrid backpacker.
The best of hikers may be a terrible traveling companion.
Awesome cyclists could care less about ice climbing.
A person great at everything outdoors can have the humor of a sloth.

Look at your destination!

A partner with an innate knowledge can show you where the best guiness is served
...But the adventure is lost.

The most popular route to the top is a great way to get there
...If you wanna top out with 56 and 1/2 other people.

A tour guide can tell you all about the big things
...But it's the little things that you may find the most rewarding.

What's the Plan?

Some people are logistical experts, namely my girlfriend, Ashley and my roommate, Weston. These are the people to go to before things can even get off the ground and their dedication, combined with a touch of resource gathering expertise, may prove invaluable when looking at the big picture of an outing.

We're here, now what?

Leadership is pivotal. Two type 1-A personalities battling it out for the sharp end pitch after pitch will never complete a route. Two persons fighting over which knot to use will never build and anchor and a group divided on what to eat for dinner will waste much time before a decision is made. What many people do not realize is that leadership isn't static. Rather, it changes over the course of a trip based on the needs of the team. I think this is why my girl and I travel so well together- each of our talents complements the other.

En Fin

Partner's can make or break a trip out there. I guess all that's left to say is that in order to get the right partner, it's up to you to make yourself a good partner and maximize whatever talents you possess while learning and getting better at the things you may not be so talented in. When it comes time to help, help. When your buddy is down, cheer em' up. When the lead needs rope, feed em it best you can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's pretty unnerving when you drive up 10 and a half hours only to find that you're one of 500 people taking the same exact test for only 7, maybe 10 positions.

7/500... That's what, a 1.4% chance that you'll be in that upcoming police academy?

How do you tilt the numbers in your favor?

Rise to the occasion: COMPETITION.

1200 BC: The epic pissing contest for Helen of Troy. 8th century, BC: The beginning of the Olympics. 610 AD: Islam is distinguished from Christianity. 1607 AD: the formation of the 13 colonies 1865 AD: The Red Queen declares war on the White Queen in Charles Dodgson's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 2010 AD: 10.4% national unemployment percentage and 500 likeminded individuals shuffling nervously for a meager 7 positions...

We all have it in us. That desire to compete. That slight edge of envy when you see someone else getting ahead. That desperate moment when you realize someone has caught up to you down the home stretch and you're less than willing to surrender it all away.

Some people are happy just to compete. Others strive to be competitive. No matter where you stand, so long as you stand, you will be made a better person by allowing a little competitive spirit motivate your actions.

Competition can be ugly. It can divide the closest of friends and bring out the worst in people. It can poison an office and it can blind even the most competent of players. I've seen it. I've played the part.

Competition can be beautiful. It can take your performance to the next level. It can motivate you on your darkest of days and transcend your life to a point that you will always remember and always strive towards reliving. I've seen it. I've played the part.

See you at the top.

Rant Fin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Altitude Sickness

I groan as I break over the pass shrouding an alpine gem known as Iceberg Lake. I look back at my partner, Ian just down the hill from me making his way up in a steady manner. We're breathing hard despite what little hiking we've done so far this morning. Slowly, we plod to a rock to escape a frozen breeze sweeping the snow-covered lake. It's a moment before we speak to one another; our minds in that oxygen-starved doldrum between focus and blasé concern. Motivation and logic are hard to come by here, movement is sluggish and weak at times. We wearily look at the looming face of Whitney with hypoxic awe as my partner announces he has forgotten his helmet back at camp...  

It took only 3 and a quarter hours last night to get to our high camp at 12,300. When you come from Reno at 4400 feet and make it up that high, that fast... You're gunna feel it. Usually.

No one knows exactly what causes altitude-related illnesses such as AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) but it's no joke. Look at the death earlier this month on Mount Shasta: accomplished climber, vibrant, young and healthy. Falls over while he's putting on his crampons (traction spikes for your boots) and remains unresponsive. Found a couple days later dead, stuffed in a snow cave.

Read more about it here:

Another good example regarding the ghastly reaches of altitude sickness takes us back to 1953 as a group of visionary mountaineers found themselves in a desperate situation at 25,500 feet (makes my altitude threshold look pathetic) on the infamous mountain: K2. Storm-bound, mountaineer Art Gilkey developed clots in his legs (easy to do in thick, oxygen-depleted blood) and required immediate assistance in descending the mountain. Incapacitated, the team wrapped him in a sleeping bag and together, slowly belayed him down the savage mountain. Suddenly, the lead downclimber lost his footing, ripping each person above him off their feet.
Death was certain. Bound by rope, all of the team raced down the impossibly steep South Face- save for one man, Pete Schoening, who was able to arrest the fate of the entire team through sheer strength and skill via an ice axe-hip belay. 

This is known in mountaineering history as "The Belay."

Gilkey was swept away by an avalanche moments after the heroic save. He was discovered in 1993 as the Godwin-Austin Glacier was melting out. 

The next morning, after deciding against a late start on the route, I wake up coughing. Blood and pink frothy crap make my spit colourful enough to warrant a longer stay in the tent. Ian rushed up to our gear cache at the toe of the buttress (the guy's carved out of steel, or some lightweight carbon-fiber material I swear) as I shivered out my affliction within the relative safety of my floorless tent. When he returns, I know that I am deteriorating and that i must descend. I am also thankful to have a strong partner as his willingness and ability to retrieve the gear means that the ropes and protection amounting to my life savings is secured. 
As we head down, I am overcome with waves of nauseousness that test the reserves of my digestive system. I am weak and I slip several times trying to negotiate the wind-packed snow.
 We stop at a lower alpine lake about 2,500 feet lower and I am finally hungry and thirsty enough to pull out a GU packet from my pocket. There is an enormous igloo that someone made near us, blue ice cascades off the North Wall of the pass we just descended. The lake, called Lower Boy Scout, is exposed from the snow and placid waters fracture beautifully underneath the gray skies that loom overhead. My hunger broods as Ian produces some fresh jack cheese he's been carrying and offers to share. We share laughs, destroy cheese and talk about how unused food (particularly heavy food items like cheese) carries "potential energy."

A thousand feet lower and my coughing fits have ceased, save for the occasional bad joke or wag-bag comment. My nausea is no more and I am thankful to be on dirt again, moving fast through the glacially-fed forest. 
We give rides to two hikers who couldn't make it up the access road because of an avalanche slide and are again thankful to return to civilization- at least for the time being.

I spoke with my mom the next day- today, actually, between shifts at work. After a hefty scolding, I tell her that I am 23, 6 feet tall and bulletproof. She dismantles me quickly however, and reminds me that I am not in fact 23, but 22.. That I am not quite six feet tall but 5'11". This leaves the "bulletproof" sections about as suspect as two college students eating salads out on a Winco bench at Northtowne. 

Picking up where Chile left off.


The dust has settled after returning from a rather cold, yet refreshingly epic country known as Chile.

2010 and I am now a graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno. I am one of many, many people looking for real work in a recovering economical mudslide.

"My dad never went to college, so it was real important that I go.

So I graduate, I call him up long distance, I say "Dad, now what?" He says, "Get a job."

Now I'm 25, make my yearly call again. I say Dad, "Now what?" He says, "I don't know, get married."

...I can't get married, I'm a 30 year old boy."

-Tyler Durden, Fight Club

It's kind of funny. Coming from a smaller town, the general consensus was that going to college pretty much guaranteed you a job whenever/however you finished. Sure, you're not gunna be a doctor or a lawyer fresh out with a 4-year, but you know, it'll get ya something that'll afford you the things you're supposed to have when you're truly "grown up."


Clean Car




What a joke. Free will dictates that we have the ability to make decisions and act out in accordance to our own wishes, free of influence. This definition, for better or for worse, is a far cry from actual "free will." The vast spectral campus of free will both you and I experience is cropped to fit the picture of conformity: Laws limit expression. Rules keep us within dictated parameters. But maybe I'm being another self-entitled Generation 'Y' graduate- bitter without a job- bitter without insurance.

I digress.

Thing is, the blog is back. Couldn't tell you where it's gunna go or what it's going to say, but it's the truth. It's the garbage that circulates through my head and it's the law that governs my behavior.

I dig adventure. I dig ranting.

You'll see.