This is what adventure sounds like. Climb. Ski. Hike. Bike. Paddle. Run. Travel. Whatever your passion, we are all dirtbags. Outdoor writer Fitz Cahall and the Duct Tape Then Beer team present stories about the dreamers, athletes and wanderers.
Here's the Latest Episode from The Dirtbag Diaries:
“Everything that we love is affected by politics for better or worse, and we can't afford to not be engaged with it,” says Canyon Woodward.
Today we hear stories from two people who’ve leaned in and worked directly with elected leaders to have a say in the future of the places we love. Canyon Woodward explains how trail running is a lot like running for office, and Kareemah Batts shares what it’s like to Climb The Hill on behalf of public lands and the outdoor community. We also hear from a broad set of voices across our country about why participation in the democratic process matters. We’re all in this together.
“I'm stubborn,” reflects Steve Baskis. “When my mind tells me not to do something because I'm afraid or nervous, I tend to tell myself to do it.” What happens when you lose something fundamental to how you function in the world in a single second? For ex-infantryman Steve Baskis wounded in Iraq, it meant staying on the bright side, looking forward, and never giving up.
Today, we are sharing one of our favorite podcasts-- Scene on Radio. Over the course of twelve episodes, host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explore a theme both evergreen and immediately urgent: democracy in America. Fitz talks with John about the recent season and shares the trailer.
From Scene On Radio: “Our season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we’ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States from its beginnings up to the present. Through field recordings and interviews with leading thinkers, we’ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like—How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not? Along the way, there’s a good chance that we’ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.”
“I do not remember the ‘first time’ we played hide-n-seek in the barn,” recalls producer Cordelia Zars, “it just always happened.” How do you stay positive when you’re hiding from a pandemic and wildfire smoke with no end in sight? For Cordelia, reflecting on her favorite childhood game brought her some perspective.
Bailey, Colorado is a rural town in the Rocky Mountains. “Bailey is boating hell. There is no water around us at all,” says high school teacher Steve Hanford. Now, imagine 13 high school students building a triple-hulled canoe from scratch and racing it on the ocean. Despite the critics who said they couldn’t, the students and teachers believed in their own power to succeed.
Sarah Lann and her twin sister, Becca, had their lives planned out together. They’d raise their kids hiking, berry-picking, and stargazing together. But after their plans went astray, they scheduled a backpacking trip together on the John Muir Trail to stay connected despite the different path their lives had taken.
When John Temple and Dean Goodman’s dream job fell into their laps in the summer of 1971, they quickly said yes. From June through August, they lived alone- without supervision or communication- in a lineman's cabin along Coastal BC surveying an area of old-growth rainforest for the Sierra Club. As they documented landmarks, wildlife, potential campsites, and treacherous portages, they also found their place and purpose in the world that would carry forth into the rest of their adult lives.
After a decades long battle on Washington State’s Elwha River, a coalition of environmentalists, scientists and locals succeeded in having two dams demolished. Six years later, scientists are monitoring the river and larger ecosystem as they recover from a century of abuse. And one of the best ways to do the research? Snorkeling Class III whitewater.
When life pedals ahead on the trail, how do you catch up? You can downshift and sweat harder, or accept that maybe you’ll always feel a little behind. Anya Miller has learned to embrace the struggle on the ups and savor the flow of the downs.
When Ladia Albertson-Junkans’ best friend and running teammate, Gabe Grunewald, was diagnosed with cancer, they resolved that it wouldn’t slow them down. But after Gabe’s death, grief finally caught up to Ladia. She was unmotivated and struggled to get out of the door some days. With the hope of honoring Gabe’s life, Ladia reluctantly said “yes” to a special and spontaneous FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempt around Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail. In running and in life, time matters - but maybe not always in the ways we imagine.
Get ready for big waves and two epic ocean rescues. Before becoming a photographer, Jeff Johnson was a young lifeguard, determined to prove himself. And Kohl Christensen, a North Shore veteran whose work to save other surfers’ lives...ended up saving him.
This episode first appeared on Outside Podcast.
In her early 20’s, Rachel James would run 10,000 vertical feet every week and ski deep into the Alaskan backcountry in her free time. When her life took an unexpected turn, she drew on her experience in the outdoors to help her navigate the most difficult chapter of her life. When the world feels like it’s closing in on you, where do you find your strength? Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
When Scott Guinn received a letter in the mail from his friend Mike Flanigan, he didn’t expect to find a page-long, typed challenge to climb 10 tricky boulder problems within an hour at the nearby bouldering area. Gauntlet thrown, Scott stepped up to the task, launching what’s become an epic series of challenges that keeps building their friendship through adventure.
When Ryan Smith set out to hike all sixty-seven 4,000 foot mountains in New England, he expected to be finished in a handful of years. But life threw him a curve ball. A shooting pain in his groin led him on a different kind of journey with his body, his partner, and his understanding of what is important.
In an unprecedented time, a lot of us are confined to our homes, yet looking for ways to connect, to create and to be of service. As our community tries to adapt to a quickly shifting reality, it seems like a good time to slow down and have a conversation. Here’s to doing our part, looking for the positive, and finding ways to support each other. We’re in this together.
Leadville, Colorado is a mecca for endurance racing in the United States and home to some of the country's hardest trails and toughest athletes. In the summer of 2019, ultra runners Marvin Sandoval and Buttercup became unlikely partners and show us what happens when you combine a love of sport, hard work, a 10 foot lead rope, and a dash of crazy. One thing Marvin learned, "hang on and see what happens."
“In the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness, getting “Franked” means waking up mid-summer to a foot of snow on your tent, or losing your sleeping bag to a rapid on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River,” writes Allison Fowle. And, when you’re in the middle of the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, navigating the joys and perils of romance can be just as challenging.
When a dirtbag romance starts with a burrito shop and a fire alarm, adventure is bound to follow. Climbers Allen Schaidle and Sara Al-Awadhi who, despite differences in cultures and faiths, fall in love by exploring and climbing together in the UAE. Happy Valentines Day, everyone.
Some of the most powerful learning can happen outside the classroom. In the summer of 1975, public school teacher Mr. Hodges took 22 of his students on an unforgettable bike trip that would impact the rest of their lives. Grab your cut-off shorts, a 10-speed bike, and a sense of humor, and you’ll be along for the ride.
When the DC metro shut down the line that Dylan Lewis used daily, he had to refigure his commute. Borrow a car? Uber? Walk 11 miles? What started as an obstacle became an opportunity, with a little ‘out of the blue’ inspiration. Every January, we bring you big goals from our community for the New Year. Whether it’s your goal, a friend’s, or a stranger’s, you might just try something new. Dream big. Happy New Year, everybody.
Great gear shops are like a toy stores filled with skis and bikes, ropes and chalk. Walking through the door can sow the seeds for the next adventure. Friendships begin. Knowledge gets dropped. When a beloved gear shop unexpectedly closed in Seattle, it shocked the local community and left them wondering whether it could be rekindled. In a day of online, convenience shopping, is there still room for the local gear shop?
How many feet of snow would you shovel each year to own a rad backcountry ski lodge? Well if you’re the Schaffer family, the answer is 60. Today, we bring you the story of an incredible family business high in the mountains of British Columbia where a love of skiing, hard work and entrepreneurship has been passed between generations.
“It’s like you’re scared to move forward– you just need something to give you a little nudge,” says Jonah Manning. “You can call it support, but really it’s just like a little bit of a shove forward. And I’ll never forget it, because Widge was certainly that for me.” Today, we bring you the story of Widge, the ultimate adventure partner. Sometimes when that metaphorical door of adventure opens, you need someone to walk through by your side.
This episode originally aired on June 26, 2014.
When Dan Kostrzewski had an accident with his daughter on the bunny hill, he gained a new perspective on a lifetime of skiing— both as a career and a personal passion.
Disembodied footsteps, screams in the dark, hooded figures: our tenth annual Tales of Terror might have you questioning who -- or what -- else shares the trail with you at night. Ryan Cronin, Natalie Rooker, and Bryce Williams bring us their stories today -- get ready, you might need a friendly hand to hold.
“When I think about it, I'm not happy because I got to the top of some point on the planet,” says Steve Swenson. “I'm happy because of all the things we had to do to get there.” In the summer of 2019, Steve and his climbing partners, Graham Zimmerman, Chris Wright, and Mark Richey, made a first ascent of Link Sar, a 7,041 meter peak in the Karakorum. Steve has been climbing for 50 years and has broken a different kind of trail that younger climbers like Graham can follow.
"The land doesn't belong to me, it doesn’t belong to any of us,” says Joshua Tree resident Rand Abbott. “We’re guests here on this earth. It's my responsibility to make sure that my daughter's children's children get to see what Joshua Tree is really like not just from a video or from a book.” Joshua Tree National Park feels like an extension of Rand’s backyard-- - a place where he can climb, watch wildlife or find solace through big changes in his life. When a partial shutdown of the US government in December 2018 left J-Tree open but unmonitored, Rand became a voice of reason to take care of a place he cherishes.
"A lot of folks like a loop trail or a point-to-point run, but I find something really magical about a good out-and-back. On the way out, I feel one way. Then I turn around and run the same steps back, but I feel different,” writes Anya Miller. When Anya learned that her stepdad had passed away, she immediately headed to her favorite Colorado trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness to start moving through the overwhelming grief that she felt.
Say the word bike, and words like, fun, freedom, fast, come to mind. But does a tandem bike double the fun or divide the freedom? One thing seems certain, whether you’re headed to collaboration or catastrophe, you’ll get there quicker on a tandem. From adventures with loved ones to cycling with strangers, we bring you five stories of the mythical unicorns of the bicycle community and fates linked by a bike frame and chain. Tandemonium!
Leah Breen had always been taught to embrace failure. You can't win every mountain bike race, or make it to the top of every pitch. Learn from it, and keep going. But when she felt her partner's climbing rope careen through her hands over a cliff, she realized in an instant that the consequences of her failure could be much larger than individual defeat. Are there some failures you can’t embrace?
When Steve Casimiro moved across the country to write for Powder magazine in the 1980’s, he wasn’t sure his work was going to matter. But after 30 years living and breathing outdoor publication, and starting his own magazine, Steve reflects on the importance of storytelling in our culture.
Boulder, Utah. Population 250. Sitting in the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this small town of ranchers and settled-down dirtbags prides itself on staying out of the spotlight. It’s the right amount of quiet here. The ranchers ranch. A few small businesses cater to hikers and wanderers. Visitors come and go. Boulder was thrust into the spotlight in 1996 when President Clinton declared the monument. And in 2017, Boulder again found itself at the center of the debate when President Trump issued an order to cut the size of the monument by nearly half.
For this installment of Endangered Spaces, we traveled to Boulder to capture a snapshot of a community thrust into a fight they did not choose. A fight they may have little influence over. And a fight about how to protect public lands and who decides. The outcome of that fight will have lasting implications not just for Boulder, but to all communities who rely on public lands.
For a population of 250, Boulder had a lot to say.
“We biked through wind, rain, and snow. If lightning struck, we kept going. We only stopped if it got too close. We outran tornadoes in Oklahoma. We waited out a storm in an old horse barn in Montana, huddled like penguins, our bikes cast carelessly aside in the mud,” writes John Flynn. After John lost his mom to cancer, he biked with a group of friends from Texas to Alaska to try to find her again-- in the mountains, the rivers, and the solitude of the open road.
“I’ve spent my entire life going on adventures, but I wasn’t ever really the creator of these adventures,” says Kathy Holcombe. “My role is as the dream maker. And, I have a lot of pride in that role.”
Exist in a relationship long enough and we fall into roles. Life is busy. It doesn’t make sense to double up on work. Cultural gender dynamics come into play. One partner excels at certain things.
But what happens when we step out of our role? In the fall of 2017, Kathy Holcombe stepped out of her role in the family, and embarked on a year of adventures that challenged her in ways she never expected, and profoundly changed her view of herself.
Last spring, Andy and Katherine Wyatt set up basecamp on the Powell Glacier in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains.After years of individual rad mountain accomplishments in climbing and skiing, they realized they’d never taken a large trip together. The trip started perfectly and then it all went wrong. At full volume, the power of the natural world is terrifying and the limitations of our physical forms so evident. Survival stories are powerful. To the listener, they pose a question. What would you do? Would you make it? What would run through your mind? It’s all theoretical — until it’s not.
Carmen Kuntz has lived a dirtbag life for over a decade. She’s moved every year since graduating high school, and has explored some of the world’s most remote places in her kayak and hiking boots. But with all the moving around, Carmen began to wonder if she was missing out on something. Specifically, a home — and the connections to the community and landscape that come with it. Does home have to be a place, or can it be a feeling?
After more than 50 years of bipartisan support, Congress failed to re-authorize the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the fall of 2018. LWCF grants have protected over 2.3M acres of natural areas and cultural heritage sites and provided recreational opportunities to all Americans across the 50 states. With more than $22 billion on the table, the team at Outdoor Alliance, comprised of avid kayakers, climbers and all-around (reformed) dirtbags, are faced with the daunting task of convincing Congress to reauthorize the funding amidst a contentious political climate.
In this week’s double-feature episode, Amie Begg and Jessica Kelley head out solo into the Himalayan and Alaskan wildernesses--on their bikes. Through the challenges they face--from negative 20 degree temperatures to near-collisions with moose--both women find new perspective on what it means to adventure alone.
Mitch Breton grew up as as devout member of the Catholic Church. He ascended the religious ranks through his childhood, and assumed that one day he would become a priest. Then, he found whitewater paddling. A summer of raft guiding rerouted Mitch’s spiritual journey -- from one that had existed within four walls and an altar, to one that flowed with the current of the Kennebec River.
Jeanie Adamson, a 50-something Mom, decided to switch things up last year for spring break. When she told her son, Luke, she wanted to ski at every resort between Dallas and Lake Tahoe, he offered up Sherrod, his newly-renovated 1990 Dodge Ram van for the job. The two of them threw in their skis, buckled up, and embarked on what would become a memorable mother-son trip.
There is no clear way to cope with death and grief. Moving forward is often heartbreaking, baffling, and uncertain. So, how do we best honor those we’ve lost? When he was 12-years-old, Navy Seal and backcountry snowboarder Josh Jespersen tragically lost his father. Confused and angry, Josh drifted in school and got into legal trouble. He joined the Navy Seals, where death was a constant. Josh would drink to celebrate the life of his fallen friends, but this led to more legal trouble, more confusion, more anger. Ultimately, Josh realized that the best way to honor the dead was to embark on an outdoor adventure that would amplify their memory. He realized he had to live for those he had lost.
After a childhood of moving from one suburban neighborhood to the next, Jonathon Stalls felt starved for connection--to anything or anyone. In a quest to find community, he set out with nothing but his own two feet to carry him from Delaware to California. The awkward, exhilarating, and at times terrifying challenges he faced over the next 8 months helped him tear down the walls around his long-standing isolation.
After falling in love with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Charlie Turnbull and Leon Morton set out to recreate the 1,615-mile journey described in the novel – but on bikes. In July. With camera gear and a few buddies in tow, they followed historic Route 66 from Oklahoma to Southern California. And along the way, they found a place that really brought Steinbeck’s book home.
“For better or for worse, ideas are infectious. They become our goals, and the struggle to realize them becomes memory, the story of our lives,” says Fitz Cahall.
When Brian O’Dell decided it was time to stop driving his Honda Civic, he didn’t list in on Craigslist. Instead, he posted in to outdoor forums in the PNW. The cost? Free, but there was one catch. This year, we hear how Brian’s idea for engaging with his community changed another person’s life, and what goals contributors, staff, and community at the Dirtbag Diaries have for 2019. Our ideas are what make us keep growing as individuals--and as a community. Happy New Year!
Chris Kalman, Austin Siadak and Miranda Oakley got to go on what should have been a climber’s dream trip--fully funded first ascents of granite big walls in the Coast Range of British Columbia, helicopter transport in and out, and good team dynamics. But, by the end, Chris realized that this dream trip left him feeling a little hollow and he needed to redefine how he pursues meaningful adventures.
"To work in tourism is to witness the human comedy," says Joe Aultman-Moore. "Every guide has stories that start with, "You'll never believe this...'. Nowhere, it seems, do people go further from the familiar that on cruises to Alaska." Working as a seasonal guide at a remote camp in rural Alaska with ten other men, Joe Aultman-Moore figured it would take nothing less than a request to Santa and his team of flying reindeer to meet a girl. Can Christmas wishes still come true?
Drew Hamilton makes a living by taking people out into the remote Alaskan wilderness to hang out with brown bears. These days, he does it, in large part, as a unique way to protect this magnificent landscape from the proposed Pebble Mine. For the fifth installment of our Endangered Spaces series, we travel to the mainland of southern Alaska to meet Drew and the bears and to better understand the threats to this landscape.
What if you could hit pause on life? This last summer, Fitz did, and biked the 670-mile-long Oregon Timber Trail. A groove and a rut look different when perched on the saddle day after day.
Our ninth annual Tales of Terror brings you three stories that will send shivers down your spine. From ghost-like figures walking silently through the snow, to shadows lurking in a backcountry hut and canyon, these stories will keep you peering over your shoulder.
For the past five years, Janelle Kaz has traveled on her motorcycle fighting against the worldwide problem of wildlife trafficking. Travel along, as she follows jungle roads in Colombia into the incredible indigenous culture of the Kogi.
“I have really good reason to believe that if I hadn’t have been walking down the strip and found that 72-foot tower to climb, that I would be dead or in prison. I have no doubts about that,” says Juan Rodriguez. Juan is an American citizen, an immigrant and a climber. Today, we follow Juan’s journey from Mexico to climbing shop owner, through illegal border crossings and to the first rock wall he ever climbed on the Las Vegas strip--a chance encounter that altered the trajectory of his life.
“I was certain I was paralyzed. My legs were totally limp, I was hanging upside down and the only thing stopping me from falling 160-feet headfirst into the talus below, was this rope that was wrapped around my foot,” remembers Craig Gorder. In November, 2016, Craig took a fall climbing that injured him badly, and dramatically altered the course of his life. We follow Craig through the first year of his recovery--the day to day questions and decisions, setbacks and victories, mini-crises and mini-epiphanies that really make up the recovery process.
“I have a pretty young grandfather, but he was starting to get old and knew he had one or two more big expeditions in him,” says Ethan Roebuck. “He wanted to put together a big trip, because he’s getting older, but also because I’m getting older. When Ethan’s grandfather proposed that they go on a tandem kayaking expedition along the Canadian coast the summer before Ethan’s senior year of high school, Ethan was onboard. Producer Cordelia Zars brings you the story of a wild adventure, a passing of the torch, and the special bond that emerges and evades the constraints of words.
“Any time I ski a steep line, I’ve done it hundreds of times, and still every time for me there is that moment of fear on top, where I am like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’,” says Jason Hummel. “But, also, anytime you do anything scary, it really ties you down to the moment, the instant, to that second, and all that matters is the next turn.” Just as Jason had started to feel like he knew what his home mountains had to offer, he stumbled into this idea that made him reconsider how much he still had to explore. Today, we bring you Jason’s journey to ski all of the glaciers in Washington--a story about how sometimes, by placing a constraint on adventure, we can deepen our relationships with the places we consider most familiar.
For most of his adult life, Cam Fenton has fought against climate change--and particularly to protect the Arctic. “The funny thing was, for most of that time, I couldn’t tell you why,” says Cam. He traveled to the Arctic hoping for revelations about climate change and renewed purpose to fight the good fight. He did walk away with a revelation--just a very different one than he expected.
Expedition kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic have what is perhaps the longest running, most successful partnerships in outdoor adventure, but, in April 2017, on an expedition to the Colombian Amazon, the team dynamics grew so strained that being held hostage by an armed rebel group didn’t seem like the worst thing that could have happened. In Part II, we’ll get into the history of this epic partnership, what went so wrong, and what happens moving forward.
After a breakup and a drinking habit sent John Gray in a downward spiral, he decided that he needed something radical to shake him out of his "life avoidance stupor." So, he signed up for a semester-long Outward Bound course that would take hime from the Appalachians to the Everglades to Costa Rica-- and change his outlook in a lasting way.
Expedition kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic have what is perhaps the longest running, most successful partnerships in outdoor adventure, but, in April 2017, on an expedition to the Colombian Amazon, the team dynamics grew so strained that being held hostage by an armed rebel group didn’t seem like the worst thing that could have happened. In Part I, we’ll follow Ben and Chris down Colombia’s remote Apaporis River.
Today, we bring you the first episode of Duct Tape Then Beer's new show, "Safety Third." Big wall climber and former wingsuit flyer Chris McNamara believes risky outdoor pursuits are essential. But, what happens when something vital has the potential to kill you? You find different ways to take risks.
“In the early stages of my pregnancy, I was intrigued and ready for the changes that would take place,” says Chelsey Magness. “As an athlete, I expected body image and performance challenges. I expected exhaustion. I expected attachment issues to my newborn twins. I never expected what was actually to come.”
Chelsey and her husband Jason have built unique lives as professional adventure racers and partner acrobatics and slacklining instructors--among other things. When unimaginable tragedy struck their family, they came up with a unique way to move through their grief.
There are a lot of serious problems in this world, but the solutions don’t always have to be serious. Fly-fisherman and runner Andrew Todd channeled his concern for Colorado’s native trout and the watersheds that support them into the creation of a joyful, irreverent, event: The Flyathlon.
Chronic depression and the deaths of a few friends launched Tyler Dunning on a mission to visit all of the National Parks. He constructed an identity around the project, started writing a book and making a short film about his journey. But part way through his project, he lost interest, and was again left with the question, ‘Now what’?
“I was working this corporate job, and, every day, I looked out the window and thought, ‘Man, those mountains are so beautiful, I wish I was out there’,” remembers Perry Cohen.
Growing up, Perry was an outdoorsy kid--hiking and cross-country skiing in rural New Hampshire. He was thrilled when, as a teenager, he got to sign up for an Outward Bound course. But the experience left him disappointed. For the first time, he didn’t click with the group.
Perry reconnected strongly with the outdoors in his late thirties, as he transitioned from female to male. Being outside helped Perry have an appreciation for a body that he had felt alienated from. Looking out that window, he realized that he wanted to help other transgender folks get outside.
“I thought there must be some queer outdoor organization leading trips that I could go work for, but I didn’t find one. So, I got despondent for about twenty-four hours, and then I thought to myself, ‘I’ve led a corporate HR department, I understand how to run a business, maybe I should just start one’. And so I did.”
Carmen Kuntz had just started to break into the world of competitive, freestyle whitewater kayaking when she sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. For the past four years, she has had to confront a new kind of challenge: learning to balance the risk of re-injuring her head and the risk of losing who she is.
“For me, it was a way to stay connected—literally: tied to my free-range daughter by a length of 10-millimeter climbing rope, and connected to my own dream of being an adventurer,” says David Altschul. “And that was how I found myself on a ledge, high above the Columbia River, in the dark.”
For the past decade, David has told the story of the infamous “Escape From Beacon Rock”–a failed attempt to climb a basalt monolith with his daughter, our producer, Jen. At age 72, it dawned on him that, rather than continue to tell the story of the failed climb, he could connect with his daughter by actually climbing Beacon Rock, and doing it this time as a ‘real’ climber.
“Here I was, a professional wilderness instructor with no food or water, a sopping wet tent and wetter sleeping bag, no way to banish the chills or signal that I needed help,” says Emma Walker. “For the first time in my career, I began to think I might need a rescue.”
Emma’s husband Bix has also worked for years as an outdoor guide and educator. So, when the two of them set out on an overnight backpacking trip to a beach on Hawaii’s big island, they were unconcerned--maybe a little too unconcerned.
Emma Walker and her husband, Bix, have both worked for years as wilderness instructors, so when the two of them set out on an overnight backpacking trip to a beach on Hawaii's big island, they were unconcerned. Maybe a little too unconcerned.
"The notion that there's one dream that we're all after and agreed upon ways in which you can verify that you are indeed living that dream drives me crazy," says Forest McBrian. "Everyone's dream is a little bit different. In May of 2017, Forest and Trevor Kostanich spent a month traversing the North Cascades from Snoqualmie Pass to the Canadian Border (well, almost) in a style that broke all the rules of an epic mountaineering expedition--in the best way possible.
"It's like being caught in a spiderweb. You'll find yourself pushing with every part of your body, and no part of your body will be able to move. You're totally trapped by--held by plants," says Elsa Sebastian. She bushwhacked through the overgrown clearcuts of Southeast Alaska in a creative effort to defend the remaining old growth on her home island, Prince of Wales, from a proposed bill that would transfer up to 2-million acres of the Tongass National Forest to the State of Alaska. For the fourth installment of our Endangered Spaces series, we follow Elsa and her companions as they trek across the island to see for themselves what's been lost and what remains to be saved.
"I think the jack of all trades gets a bum rap. The jack is the master of none, but I think the jack probably has a lot of fun," says Fitz Cahall. We open our annual Year of Big Ideas with an ode to “mediocrity” from Fitz, then turn, as always, to our community for inspiration for the coming year.
Some people grow upward and outward; some people root down. For Fitz Cahall, what growth means has changed over time.
Cordelia Zars shares stories of her family's unconventional adventures--like dragged a 90-lb keyboard 10-miles through the snow on a 9-degree Colorado evening--and she reflects on how those excursions shaped her and her siblings.
Katie Wallace learns to see family holidays as a privilege rather than an obligation.
"It's like the Iditarod with a chance of drowning," says Jake Beatty, one of the organizers of the Race to Alaska. What's crazier than trying to race from WA to AK on a boat without a motor? Karl Kruger's decision to enter the race on a SUP.
For our eighth annual Tales of Terror episode, we have five stories that span the range of things to fear--from angry men with shotguns, to bears and mountain lions, to things that really don't have any explanation in the world of science.
When Tyler Neese and four friends loaded up the truck for a spring break ski vacation in Colorado, the stoke was high. Until, just minutes from the slopes black ice and a distracted driver flipped their trip upside down. Sometimes, it's not about what happens to you, it's about how you react.
For our third Endangered Spaces episode, we travel to Northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to follow Dave and Amy Freeman on "Paddle to D.C." and "A Year in the Wilderness," two adventures that had a real impact in advocating for the protection of the place they love most.
"If you're thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated. That's what they say. Those perfect people who always have a clean, happily-colored, reusable adult sippy bottle on hand," says Anya Miller. "Most often, I only realize that I'm thirty when someone offers me a drink. My friend Jesse Bushey brought up climbing El Cap. I didn't even know I wanted to--until he suggested it."
"When we were living in a house, we were always compromising what we thought we should be doing," remembers Kathy Holcombe. Until, the day she, her husband, Peter, and their daughter Abby moved into a Winnebago to travel and work from the road. "I want her to see that... whatever her wildest dreams are, to chase them and not stop until they come true," says Kathy. 12 year old Abby's dream? To kayak the 280-miles of the classic Grand Canyon run.
"I looked like some mountain man's girlfriend, and sometimes, that's all I felt like," remembers Andrea Ross. But after an accident on Mt. Humphreys forced Andrea to draw on her EMT training, she reached a turning point in her relationship and the way she imagined her life.
Roland Thompson used to rob banks. Now he climbs and snowboards.
"The reason that I was able to do it is because I was incredibly naive," says Lucas St. Clair. "I had no idea how much work it was going to be, when I started. Not a clue."
The thing Lucas did: work to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in the North Woods of Maine.
We started this "Endangered Spaces" series for two reasons. First, we want to take a deeper look at a handful of important, active land battles. Second, and every bit as important, we want to follow the stories of a handful of people who, in their own, quirky ways, have stepped up to protect the threatened spaces they hold dear.
For Lucas, the endangered space wasn't the land he was working to protect, but the communities that surround it.
The comment period for the 27 monuments on Zinke's list ends July 10th. Outdoor Alliance makes it easy to speak out for the places that are important to you.
To plan your trip to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, visit Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.
"Three days from the end of the trip, I started to panic," writes Emma Walker. "I still didn't know what to do with my summer, let alone the rest of my life. Inspiration, as I'd imagined it, hadn't struck. Now, I had to face the realization that I didn't have an exit strategy. This had been it, and it would inevitably end."
The summer after her first year of graduate school, Emma enrolled in an Alaska Pacific University Expedition Mountaineering course. She told her family she signed up because it meant she'd earn graduate credits to traipse around the Harding Icefield. But she also hoped the trip would bring some clarity on the bigger questions, like whether or not grad school had been a mistake and what she was still doing in Alaska.
No lightning bolts of clarity struck during her trip, but looking back a year later, she could see that, perhaps, her month in the Alaska mountains had given her the inspiration she needed after all.
"As a brown woman, I stand out," says Mary Ann Thomas. "People came up to me just because they were curious, just because they were like, 'There aren't a lot of strangers here, we're just interested in who you are as a person-- as a whole person.'"
Mary Ann is the daughter of Indian immigrants, she's queer and she had always lived in the liberal bubble of big cities on the East Coast. When she embarked on a six-month, 6600-mile bike tour across the country, she worried most about the prejudice she might encounter as she pedaled through middle America. She was surprised to discover that the stereotypes she had to confront in a profound way were her own.
When a bad breakup sent him spiraling into a deep depression, Tom Ireson fixated on an unconventional way to get his head straight:
"I really needed something to focus my mind on to pull me out of that," Tom says, "and about the biggest thing I could think of was to try and do a new route on a big wall."
Not just any big wall, a big wall on the other side of the world in the remote and wild valley of Cochamo, Chile. When he latched on to the idea, Tom had never been to Cochamo and never climbed a big wall, much less established a new route on one.
Today, we've got one for you about how, if you find yourself at the bottom of an impossibly deep hole, sometimes it takes an equally impossible goal to pull yourself out of it.
If you want to hear more from Tom, check out his 2014 Short, 'Go For It'.
"I used to go climbing in the same way people would go to a well, a source of life equally routine and sacred. It would fill me up--leave me refreshed and full after a hard day in the mountains," writes Keith Erps. "After Ryan's death, climbing appeared dark and ugly. I wanted to love it, but had to find a new answer to the 'why' questions."
For many of us, the relationship we have with the outdoors stretches back longer than most of our friendships. But what do we do when what should have been a type one fun day in the mountains turns into the worst day of our lives? How do we redefine our relationships with the activities we love?
Ryan's family started a scholarship in his name to help underserved youth get outside. You can donate here.
You can find more of Keith's writing here.
Matt Muchna and Peter Journel are best friends, and complete opposites. Matt is spontaneous. Peter is a planner. Matt is an idealist, Peter in a realist. And a few years ago, they made a bet: Peter bet that Matt couldn't climb one of the highest continental peaks for less than $3,000. If he did, Peter would pay him back for the trip.
"When I made this bet, I had maybe two or three pairs of cut off pants that were now shorts--or jorts--a pair of sandals, and maybe six or seven pretty nice Hawaiian shirts," remembers Matt. "And that was it."
Today, producer Francesca Fenzi brings you a story of mountain climbing on a budget, friendship, and idealism versus realism.
You can find more of Francesca's work at: francescafenzi.com
"Every day on the mountain and every night at the bar, drinking and partying was as much a part of my life as skiing," remembers Paddy O'Connell. "That is until, of course, they became the only part."
We've heard the stories of addicts who found salvation in the outdoors and the outdoor community, but that's not the way the narrative arcs for everyone. For Paddy, recovery looked less like slashing pow turns with his ski-bum buddies, and more like a game of catch with his dad on the back lawn of a treatment facility in Minnesota.
Josh Ewing's metamorphosis from climber to climber-activist and the battle to protect Bears Ears.
Loosely speaking, there are two kinds of fear. There's the fear of external, objective hazards--like getting caught in an avalanche, or taking a bad fall climbing or getting mauled by a grizzly bear. Then, there's the internal, more slippery kind of fear, like the fear of not being pretty enough, or not being popular enough or not being perfect enough.
When Kat Cannell embarked on a 350-mile, solo horse-packing trip through the mountains of Idaho and Montana, across snowy mountain passes and through a large swath of grizzly bear country, she had to confront both kinds of fears. She realized that maybe conquering the fear of having a head on with a grizzly and conquering the fear of not being pretty enough really isn't all that different.
This April, Kat and activist Katelyn Spradley plan to ride 900-miles from the Washington Coast to Redfish Lake, Idaho, following the path of Idaho's wild salmon up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers to their spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Basin. Learn more at RideforRedd.org, or follow the trip on Facebook or Instagram.
If you travel down to Ushuaia, Argentina, you might just find a bus plastered with a massive photograph of Sam Evans-Brown. In that photo, he's sprinting, shoulder to shoulder, with Olympic cross-country ski-racer Martin Bianchi in the final stretch of the 2008 national ski championship of Argentina.
Today, Sam brings us the backstory to that photograph--a story about a split-second act of kindness that altered the course of Martin's life, and about figuring out when it's time to leave the races behind.
Sam hosts the podcast 'Outside In', a show from New Hampshire Public Radio about the natural world and how we use it.
A version of this story originally aired on 'Outside In'. You can find "Don't Cheer for Me Argentina" here.
"'Oh, shoot', my dad muttered for the tenth or fifteenth time in the last five minutes. Then, he burst into exhausted chuckles," remembers Deron Daugherty. "I looked up the chute that we were trying to march out of: thirty degrees of slop, several hundred feet to go. 'Shoot', I agreed, and laughed, the dark laugh of those initiated to the secrets of redlined exertion. Type 2 fun before I knew its name.
When Deron's uncle coerced him and his father on a trip to Vasey's Paradise, an oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, they had no idea what they'd find down there. They didn't know about the chute. They also had no idea what truths they would uncover about one another, the bonds that would form between the three of them or how long those bonds would last.
No matter who they voted for, right now, a lot of people in this country would agree that things could be better. In the long term, if want thing to go well or if we want to move forward or to grow, then two, almost evenly divided, sides of the country can't remain at intellectual war.
So, this year, we bring you our annual Year of Big Ideas, but with a twist. With the current state of our country, asking people about their personal goals to get rad outside didn't quite feel right. Instead, we went out the simple/utterly confounding question: How do we move forward?
Today, our friends, contributors and listeners weigh in with their thoughts and goals on what we do in 2017 and in the years to come. Happy New Year!
"I have now officially sold out," writes Chris Kalman. "I work more than I climb. I pay rent and sleep in a house I'm getting rich off of writing--so rich, in fact, that I do my grocery shopping inside the store now."
Today, we bring you the story of Chris's life through the eras of three vans, "Ford," "Chevy" and "Van," to his current, nameless fancypants car. How do you reconcile a dirtbag soul with changing goals and dreams?
You can find more of Chris's writing at FringesFolly.com
Chad Kellogg. September 22nd, 1971 to February 14th, 2014. Seattle climbing community legend. Dear friend to many. And the toughest guy around.
"For Chad, not eating and shivering on ledges--that was like skiing powder for him. It was just that fun," remembers Jens Holsten.
Today, we take a look at what gets left behind when someone like Chad leaves us, and what grows in that vacant space.
In part one, we hear from Jens, Chad's climbing partner, good friend and mentee during the final years of his life.
In part two, we follow Ras Vaughan and Gavin Woody as they pick up the torch on a project Chad dreamed up, but never completed: the Rainier Infinity Loop. An idea so grand, it seemed almost inhuman.
With a professional ski guide for a dad and a skin instructor for a mom, Nina Hance learned early how to set a steep skin track and charge hard. At 20, she started to work toward her ski guide certification and got a job as an apprentice guide for a heli operation in Alaska. Imagine her delight when, her first week of college, she met Olivia, climber skier and aspiring avalanche forecaster: the ultimate female adventure companion.
"She taught me how to party hard, and I made her wake up early for powder days," says Nina. "Whether in deep conversation over a bottle of wine, swapping leads on a multi-pitch, or giggling in the skin track, we couldn't get enough of each other."
Then, one morning, Nina awoke to a phone full of missed calls from mutual friends, and the terrible realization that she would have to find a new way to love the mountains.
"As a mom, you have no book that tells you the right way to take care of your kids through bad times," says Bonnie Elozory, mother of four.
For seven-years, the Elozory family weathered a relentless streak of bad luck. With no instructions on how to pull her family out of the muck, Bonnie got creative. When her husband nudged Bonnie to rekindle her dream to hike the Appalachian Trail, she latched on to the idea. And decided to take the kids.
"Oh my gosh," Bonnie remembers thinking, "this is going to save our lives."
*This episode contains discussions about assault. If you're listening with young ears, or have sensitive ears, you may want to skip this one.
"This is the part that I never anticipated: the boots have taken on a life of their own. They've just worked magic with people," says M'Lynn. "I'd like to see Paul's boots continue to be an inspiration, continue to get people off the couch and out into the fresh air and paying attention to what they're doing with their lives."
Paul's boots have now covered all 2,189-miles of the AT. All three pairs have summited Katahdin. Now, we've got quite the collection of size 13 hiking boots at the office. And we agree with M'Lynn: we think it would be a shame to let them sit in the corner and collect dust.
For our third and final episode on the Paul's Boots project, we bring you the story of thru-hiker Alex Newlon, who carried a pair of boots the entire length of the AT, and we have one last ask for you:
Where do these boots go next?
Email ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the full Paul's Boots film.
This is our seventh annual Tales of Terror episode. Over the past seven years, we've read a lot of scary stories about things that happen out in the woods. We've discovered that there are all kinds of frightening things that can happen out there, but there are two ingredients that, mixed together, seem to lead to a terrifying experience more often than anything else:
1. Going out alone
2. Trying to go to sleep
Today, we bring you three stories of what happens when you try to go to sleep alone in the woods. First, we'll hear from Ryan Taylor, then from Jason Prinster and then from Duct Tape Then Beer's very own Isaiah Branch-Boyle. Happy Halloween, everyone. Maybe go camping with a buddy.
In the fall of 2015, photographer Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko embarked upon a journey to rally support to protect one of our most awe-inspiring national treasures: the Grand Canyon. Their method? A 700+ mile sectional thru-hike of the wilderness that lies between the rim and the river. They knew the trek would challenge them, but they had no idea how quickly and completely the canyon would leave them demoralized and physically destroyed.
The two of them were contemplating giving up when, as Kevin puts it, 'A miracle happened'.
Today, a story about three people who have dedicated the better part of their lives to developing a unique skill--and a project so complicated and important that it required their cumulative experience to pull it off. It's also a story about friendship, and how friends working toward a common goal can lead to something greater than the sum of its parts.
You can find Pete's photography and film at: www.petemcbride.com/
To learn more about Pete and Kevin's journey, check out these two articles: "6 Painful Lessons I Learned by Hiking the Grand Canyon" and "Are We Losing the Grand Canyon?"
To learn more about the current threats to the Grand Canyon and what you can do to help, visit: savetheconfluence.com
"The days and months on the road had unspooled before us and we'd simply followed the thread. But the bobbin was empty now," writes Dave McAllister. "Fine Jade would be the last cumulative "now" we shared, the final adventure we'd have as a group. At least on this trip. Maybe ever."
Last spring, Dave and his band of dirtbag travelers celebrated their last moments together and helped their friends get hitched in style--atop a desert tower. Today, we bring you a story of gumby ingenuity, spring in the desert, feather boas and a little tale of 'dirtbag theology' in motion.
You can find more of Dave's writing at: Thundercling.com
Last winter, we received an email from M'Lynn. Her late husband, Paul, had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. He never made it to the AT--but, M'Lynn thought, maybe his boots could?
Maybe they could serve as a reminder for all of us to live our dreams while we can. Maybe they could go one step further and literally pull someone off the couch and onto the trail.
We asked you, our community, to help us make that dream a reality. More than 400 emails poured in, from seasoned thru-hikers to first-time backpackers. We heard a resounding, 'Let me know how I can help'. We knew we were part of an incredible community, but damn. We're floored.
Today, we bring you an update on the journey Paul's boots have made over the past nine months, introduce you to some of the hikers who carried Paul's boots and hear M'Lynn's reaction.
"Maybe you and I would have the same recommendation--from my standpoint to the climbers out there, and from your standpoint to the mother's of those climbers out there," Kyle Dempster said to his mother. "Talk about the worst case scenario. Don't pretend that it doesn't exist. Express the love that you have for each other, and also the insurance that, in the event of worst case scenario, life will go on."
On August 22nd, 2016, Kyle and his climbing partner Scott Adamson went missing on Pakistan's Ogre II. After days of bad weather, friends and family, with incredible help from the Pakistani government, were able to conduct a search, but found no trace of the two climbers.
Our hearts go out to Terry and to all of Kyle's friends and loved ones. We know that he understood the risks involved in the activities he did, and we know that still doesn't it any easier for the people close to him to live with the hole he's left in their lives. Kyle was one in a billion.
We originally aired a version of this episode in 2014--a story from Kyle and his mother, Terry, about the struggle of loving an adventurer. The struggle between loving them so much that you don't want to see them hurt, and loving them so much that you want to support them in pursuing their dreams and doing the things that make them tick.
Last year, we reworked this piece to submit to the Third Coast Audio Festival. We have never aired this version publicly. It seemed like the right moment.
Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic are the expedition kayakers. Over the past decade, the duo have made first descents of over 120 rivers in wildly remote locations across 36 countries and 6 continents. In 2016, Ben and Chris traveled to Myanmar to complete a source to sea descent of the Irrawaddy River.
The both say it was the first time they failed completely to accomplish their objective--and also one of the richest experiences they've ever had.
"Had we floated freely down the Irrawaddy, I don't know that we would've learned nearly as much about what actually was going on," says Ben. "The corruption that's occurring in that area stopped us from running the river. It wasn't just a side note. It was directly in front of us."
Today we, bring you a story about the intersection of politics and adventure, and about the richness in failure.
You can read more about Ben and Chris's trip to Myanmar here.
"I think all of us -- dad, me, my brother -- recognized a window of opportunity in which our flexibility as freelancers overlapped with dad's entrance into the golden years of being both retired and fit," says David Hanson. "Plus, it felt like dad and I had some things to figure out. Our differences weren't just that he liked park lodges and I preferred remote bivy sites."
For the past five years, David's father, Scott, has visited a cluster of National Parks. And every year, David and his brother take turns accompanying him. Today, we travel with David and his father to Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend in search of two of the greatest gifts our public lands give us: family time and common ground.
You can find David's writing, photos and video at: davidhandson3.com
"Over two weeks I went from pretty 'fine'--I have to say 'fine' with air quotes and an eye roll because it's that kind of fine--so, I went from 'fine' to 'I'm out'! I just needed a life restart," says Katie Crafts.
For her thirtieth birthday, Katie gave herself a trip on a cruise to Antarctica. In the other, older passengers on the ship, she caught a glimpse of her future if she continued on the path she was on. In the ship's crew, she saw something else: a superwoman equivalent of herself. Today, we bring you the story of a journey to the far reaches of our planet, and of what it takes to see the person you want to be, and then become that person. It starts with saying 'yes'.
"If you go on some really big, really ambitious trip or you have some enormous goal, if you look at the big picture all the time, it's too intimidating, it's too big, it seems too insurmountable," says Jim Harris. "If you break it down into the next move, or the next pitch, or the next day of hiking, or the next rapid or whatever it is, those chunks are manageable. And there's a lot of aspects to spine injuries that are that same way."
A year and a half ago, Jim traveled to Patagonia to attempt a 350-mile traverse of the Patagonian ice cap via kite-ski and packraft. But before the team even made it out of town, Jim was practicing with his kite when an errant gust of wind pulled him into the air and the slammed him back into the ground, breaking seven vertebrae and rendering him paralyzed.
For the fifth installment of our Mileposts series, we travel to Grand Teton National Park to bring you a story of how much these places we love can take away from us, and about how, sometimes, those same places can teach us the skills we need to come back.
You can find Jim's photography at: http://www.perpetualweekend.com/
"I'm not what you'd call a 'runner.' I prefer it to getting fat, but not by a lot," writes Brendan Leonard. "The most I'd run in the past fews years was probably close to 12 kn. I ran a marathon once, and although it felt pretty recent, it was nine years ago." So what's a non-runner to do? Sign up for a 50K trail race with less than 25 days to train, of course. Ready, set, race.
You can find more of Brendan's writing at semi-rad.com
Jim Herson and Anne Smith live in the Bay Area. They're in their fifties. Jim has worked the same computer science job since he graduated college in 1982, and he and Anne have been together nearly that long. They have two kids, a 17 year old daughter and a 13 year old son, who they shuttle around the city in a maroon Subaru wagon. An all-around American family.
Except for one thing-- Jim and his kids get their family bonding time a thousand feet off the deck on Yosemite's classic routes.
"Tommy grew up in Estes, but you notice that so many families and so many kids just don't go into the the National Park," says Becca Caldwell. While Rocky Mountain National Park is just a short drive from Estes Park, CO., Becca found parents gravitated to the local playground and coffee shops for playdates. "Why aren't we going out on the trails and letting the kids run loose? How can we change that for my sons's generation?" she asked. It's a question that many experts have been asking too.
Today, for the fourth episode of our Mileposts series, we hike with the Little Explorers in Rocky Mountain National Park, and see how Becca's simple act is forming a community of kids and parents out on the trails.
Before Semi-Rad.com, Brendan Leonard wrote a Short for The Dirtbag Diaries called Sixty Meters to Anywhere. He recently published a book with the same title, documenting his journey from handcuffs to hand-jams, from rural Iowa to the mountains of Colorado and from business casual to assignments for Climbing magazine. We returned from our sixth annual pilgrimage to the 5Point Film Festival with something a little different this year: a lightly edited version of the presentation Brendan gave to a packed house. See you there next year?
Looking west from Seattle, the skyline of Olympic National Park is defined by the notched peak of The Brothers. "I see it stuck in traffic. I see it from meeting rooms in downtown Seattle. I see it on my evening runs that I use to stay in shape for my days in the mountains. I've looked at that skyline and imagined the light, the wind and thought, 'I could be standing on that peak,' -- instead of dealing with 'this', whatever 'this' is," writes Fitz Cahall.
It can be easy to wallow in the constraints, responsibilities, and duties of life. It can be so damn easy to play the grass is greener game. When Fitz takes a spring Friday to go and climb The Brothers, he gets a chance to look back in the opposite direction and realizes that it's not about which side is greener. It can be as simple as going when you get a green light.
"My new husband, Bix, consulted the map and asked if I thought we'd make it to Bowknot Bend that day. Lots of honeymooners probably have similar conversations, except for one small detail," writes Emma Walker. "Unlike those couples who coyly take their twos at the gas station down the street, my spouse of less than a week sat discussing the finer points of canoe rigging from his perch atop of the river toilet."
Today, Emma shares her take on the ingredients for an awesome relationship: honesty, openness, unconditional acceptance of ourselves and of each other--and a solid foundation of poop jokes.
You can find more of Emma's writing at: https://myalaskanodyssey.com/
"You have to imagine that you're on the frozen Arctic Ocean. You're six miles from shore, you can't really tell where the ocean stops and the white shore begins. All you see is white--and this thing where they're dumping crap into the ocean to make this island," says Dan Ritzman. "And there, stuck in the ice, is a sign that says 'No Trespassing'."
It was 1999, the beginning of the climate movement. Oil companies had started to talk about green energy, but continued their dogged search for fossil fuel. At the time, Dan worked for Greenpeace, who was determined to expose that hypocrisy by any means necessary.
Today, we bring you the story of a Danish ex-special forces trainer, some very cold weather, some crooked State Troopers, a group of activists and the sometimes thin line between standing up for our wild places and adventuring in them.
"The sky above you goes on forever, and the landscape appears as endless as the sky. The world is expansive and you are tiny. All of your problems shrink down to the head of a pin," writes Melina Coogan. "This is why places like this matter--places like Great Smoky National Park: they give us perspective."
Just months after Melina got married, she walked out of a doctor's office with a sobering health diagnosis. Today, for the second episode of our Mileposts series, we travel with her to Great Smoky National Park to see what perspective we can take home.
You can find more of Melina's writing at: http://www.thewildercoast.com
Eric Johnson lives in Sturgis, South Dakota with his wife and three young daughters. He works as a high school English teacher. He's responsible--well, most of the time.
Half way into his thirties, Eric emptied his retirement account to buy a raft, despite the fact that he lives in a state without any navigable whitewater. Just over a year later, he found something too good to be true: a group of experienced guides advertising an open spot on a pre-season trip down Idaho's Main Salmon.
Today, we bring you the story of what happens when you ignore the red flags that pop up when something is actually too good to be true and of what it feels like to bob around in the bucket of someone else's bucket list.
"I unclipped the hot belay device from my harness. I looked over at Conor, smiled and announced, 'This is the best part of my day so far'!" writes Jen Altschul. "For a moment, a smile of pure joy spread across his face--which, just as quickly, flipped into disappointment when he realized that I was talking about being back on the ground."
The first time Jen tried to climb a desert tower, her and her partner bailed after the third pitch and returned the guidebook. Today, we bring you a story of abrasions, frustrations, failure and an eventual, unlikely love for the peculiar formations of the desert southwest.
"Sometimes, when I'm hiking somewhere near Moab and chatting with other people, I think about saying something like, 'You know what's great about this hike? In about 75-minutes, you can be at Milt's Stop & Eat'," says Brendan Leonard. "Milt's is a 19-mile drive from Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, it's 55-miles from Indian Creek and 75-miles to Canyonlands' towering red and white striped sandstone needles. I mean, when you think about it, it's kind of the nucleus of all that rad stuff."
In the first episode of our Mileposts series, we explore the national parks around Moab, Utah--and celebrate with a milkshake.
You can find more of Brendan's writing at: www.semi-rad.com/
"We started the trip without much of a purpose," writes Fil Corbitt. "We wanted to be pushed around. Wanted to find something we didn't know we were looking for. We wanted to take some small chance and see where we landed. And see which side was facing up."
But how do you find that kind of serendipity when you only have a week? Fil created a game. Each morning, he and his friend would wake up and roll a single dice. The rules? A one meant go north. 2 = east, 3 = south, 4 = west, 5 = stay put and 6 meant to cross the nearest state border. The only rule? No backtracking.
Today, we follow Fil as he and his friend Brian figuratively and literally roll the dice and see where they land. And which side is facing up.
This episode originally aired as a six-part series on Fil's awesome podcast, Van Sounds. We cut quite a bit of material to turn it into a single piece. You can listen to the full version of the Dice series as well as other awesome travel stories, like the Freight Train episode, at: http://vansounds.org/
We got a call from Australia. M'Lynn's husband, Paul, passed away this past July. He left behind three pairs of polished hiking boots and a backpack packed for his dream hike: the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail.
M'Lynn reached out to us. She had an idea for one final gift for her husband. "How good would it be," she asked, "for his boots to make the journey even if Paul could not?" We want to make it happen. Give a listen. We need your help.
Want to help? To learn more, click here.
"I followed my friend through the small, dark weight room in a crusty garage-like building left over from the station's army days and up a narrow, twisted staircase," Hilary Oliver remembers. "Behind the door at the top of those stairs hid a magical place."
Drudgery and boredom ruled most of Hilary's season at Antartica's McMurdo Station, but she also got an unlikely introduction--one that opened up a whole different world.
You can find more of Hilary's writing at thegription.com
God told Steve Wescott to walk from the Space Needle to Times Square, NYC, with a goat named LeeRoy, to raise $200,000 for an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Or at least that's the elevator pitch. In truth, when Steve started out of Seattle in 2011, it had much less to do with God, and much more to do with running away from himself and the mistakes he had made as a Christian rock star and sex-and-love-aholic. You probably don't want to listen to this one with your kids.
To learn more about Steve's project and the orphanage, Uzima Outreach, visit: http://www.needle2square.com/
"In the end, Iran's spirit took me completely and pleasantly by surprise," writes Greg Buzulencia. "The benevolence I received inspired me to approach every situation with a more open mind. Doing so opened up the world in a way I hadn't expected." Greg left for the Middle East with dreams of powder turns, but returned with the best gifts that travel can offer: new friends, shattered assumptions and a refreshed perspective on the world and the people in it.
Phantasmal footsteps, strange silhouettes, inexplicable movements and unaccountable sounds. In our sixth annual Tales of Terror, Bix Firer, Lorraine Campbell and Kealan Sojack share three stories of 'What the *&@! was that'? A dream? Or an indication that, perhaps, we are not as alone in the woods as we like to think. Happy Halloween.
"Our four seater plane touched down on a small gravel bar in the heart of the Brooks Range. We unloaded. The engine roared back to life, and the plane disappeared down valley into the blue-gray mountains. Then, the mosquitos came," writes Fitz Cahall. In May, Fitz received an email that contained a golden ticket--a float trip down the Kongakut River through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There was just one problem: the timeline collided with prior commitments to family and friends. How one email, one trip and one decision to say yes crystallized Fitz's commitment to responsibility and desire.
"This was one of those rare moments in life where you must act or die and everything was therefore very simple--although the outcome remained unclear," writes Kim Campbell. "If I lived, I knew that I could manage what followed. It was like a dare and a promise."
Today, we bring you the story of Kim's first sailing trip, of horizontal masts and lightning strikes and, in her words, a "kernel of confidence that bloomed over the years."
You can find more of Kim's writing at: http://blog.kimzyn.com/
Maps. We've all studied them. Stuffed them into backpacks or the seatback pocket of our car. Maybe we've even been led astray by a map. But have you ever thought about the person who made that map? Or how that person might influence your initial impression of a landscape?
"A map in not a perfect representation of a landscape. It's an abstract representation." says cartographer Marty Schnure. Today, we have a sotry about a mapmaker, Patagonia Park, and the process Marty uses to create a map--a map that she hope will connect you to a place.
"By midweek, I can't focus on my duties at work, and spend most of my time on Summitpost and Mountain Project," writes Niki Yoblonski. "There are so many things in the world I want to see--so many mountains to climb, things to discover. I have to get out of there." Yet, inevitably, Sunday evening has her praying for the trailhead, a burger and a soft bed. Niki's theory on achieving the work-outdoor life balance? Just turn the hourglass.
"I was looking for no less than a new way of living in this world for our entire society," says Clay Shank. "Like, 'What's the alternative to this capitalistic system that we have here'?"
Today, we bring you "700," the story of Clay Shank's ambitious goal to find a new way of life and his unlikely method: skateboarding 700-miles through the state of California, hiking the 210-mile John Muir Trail, climbing Mt. Whitney and Half Dome and, all the while, capturing a video portrait of the people living in California. But, first, Clay had to learn to talk to strangers.
"All of my friends kayaked. All of the trips we went on were kayaking trips. When not kayaking, we talked about kayaking," writes Sarah Paul. In the four years since she left home, Sarah had constructed her whole identity around whitewater kayaking. Then, on the first day of a whitewater rafting guide course, she felt something shift inside her shoulder. In a bad way. As recovery dragged on, Sarah had to figure out who she was-- other than a kayaker.
In our fifth annual "Live from 5Point" Film Festival, we interviewed Frank Sanders and Tommy Caldwell.
Frank spent his youth climbing on the East Coast. His path took a turn in 1972, when he hitchhiked west and saw Devil's Tower for the first time. Now, at 63, Frank owns and guides out of Devil's Tower Lodge. He shares the story of his journey and what it's like having found his place.
Over the last seven years, Tommy has spent months at a time focused on climbing The Dawn Wall, the hardest big wall climb in history. On January 14th, he and his partner, Kevin Jorgenson, pulled over the top of El Capitan into a swarm of cameras and microphones. He talks to Fitz about what it's like to end a seven-year relationship with a project and how his life has changed now that people outside the climbing world recognize him.
"After a summer of bussing tables and lifeguarding, I had saved up enough and I was finally going to get it. My ticket to anywhere I wanted to be," writes Anya Miller. "I was a little worried about the money, but I was in complete realization that anything I actually wanted to do in life -- literally, anything -- depended on it." Today, Anya shares the story of her first sleeping bag, and the person she became with the help of the women's medium, right-hand zip cocoon. When you can sleep anywhere, you can go anywhere.
In the golden days, dirtbags lived to climb. They didn't work, have permanent addresses or sponsors. They ate leftovers off of tourists' plates and slept in beater cars or caves. They stayed in one place only as long as teh weather allowed for climbing. Now, our modern world of fees, time limits and locked dumpsters has made it nearly impossible to live that way anymore. Dirtbagging is dying-- or at least that's what some people claim.
Join Matt Van Biene for a day on Yosemite's Camp 4 as he talks to climbers of all different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. Is dirtbagging dead or alive? And what does the modern dirtbag look like? Tune in.
"We opened my aunt's basement door and walked into the dusty room. Among cardboard boxes and carpentry tools stood a bright red bicycle. The frame had a few patches of rust. The components looked clunky and the gears grated roughly when I spun the pedals. It had no seat post or saddle. It was unrideable, but it had character," writes Graeme Lee Rowlands. He had a few months before he would move from Oakland, CA to start college in Squamish, BC. And he had decided that he would make the 1000-mile trip on a bicycle that he would build himself. He didn't know anything about building a bike, nor had he ever ridden more than 40-miles in a day. But he was determined.
"My first few days in Moab's red rock desert were like a blind date where everything went wrong," writes Hilary Oliver. "For one, it was August. My metal aviator sunglasses got so hot in the sun that I couldn't smile or they'd burn my cheeks."
Four years later, Hilary and the desert got a second chance at their botched first encounter. Over the past ten years, they have developed a relationship with one another. Now, she has to learn how to share her place with all of the other people who have had their hearts stoled by the landscape of juniper trees and red and orange sandstone.
You can find more of Hilary's writing at thegription.com
When Kevin Fedarko stepped through the door of the O.A.R.S. boathouse in Flagstaff, AZ, he didn't realize he had crossed a figurative threshold as well as a literal one. Kevin had planned on rafting the Grand Canyon for a wilderness medicine course. Then, he planned to go back to his life as a successful freelance writer. But what he saw in that first week on the Colorado River left him desperate to find a way to keep coming back. Kevin spent the next smelly, humiliating, beautiful and life-altering decade of his life developing a relationship with the Grand Canyon, writing about the Grand Canyon, and, ultimately, figting to protect it.
You can purchase Kevin's book, The Emerald Mile, here.
Brendan Leonard wrote and narrated this episode. You can find more of his work at Semi-Rad.com.
"My future captain interviewed me with three questions," remembers Joe Aultman-Moore. "Had I ever sailed before? No. Did I get seasick? I don't know. And, could I leave tomorrow? Yes." As Joe learned to sail while hitchhiking a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean, he also discovered the unexpected ways in which travel could explode his perceptions of normal.
Check out "Going Into the Wild," another essay Joe wrote on hitchhiking--but this time thumbing cars, not boats, through Interior Alaska.
When Matt McKee first heard about the position forecasting avalanches for Minera Pimenton, a gold mine in the Chilean Andes, it sounded like the snow geek's dream job. But, mere hours after his plane touched down in Santiago, Matt started getting hints that maybe he had walked into a situation that more closely resembled a nightmare: a den of avalanche paths, a mine full of workers who didn't believe in avalanches and a country that looked for someone to blame if things went wrong. Today, we bring you Matt's story of trying to make it out alive.
"In the day to day tangle of life, it's easy to let go of the things that provide focus, and calm and perspective," writes Fitz Cahall. "I find that serenity so easily in wilderness. How do we carry that home?" While on a trip to Minnesota's Boundary Waters, Fitz resolved to do something back in "regular life" to try to tap into that quietness every day, for one year.
It's January. Time for our annual "Year of Big Ideas." This year, we talked to Alastair Humphreys, a 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Among other things, Alastair has walked across India and 1000 miles through the largest sand desert in the world, cycled 46,000 miles around the world and rowed across the Atlantic.
People often come up to him after his talks and tell him they wish they could go on the kinds of adventures that he does. Alastair believes that they can. Today, he explains what he's learned about what it takes to make an adventure happen. Here's to another year of big ideas, and committing to them. Happy 2015!
There comes a stage in a great athlete's career when the pursuit of the technical difficulty take a backseat. It gives way to simplicity, an aesthetic, and possibly to an iconic style that leaves an impression on a sport. Will Gadd is one of the most accomplished mountain athletes ever. Most people know him as a climbing legend, but he also holds that stature in the fringe sport of paragliding where he's won competitions and held the single flight distance record for a decade. Last year, Will and renowned pilot Gavin McClurg embarked on a truly incredible trip down the spine of the Canadian Rockies. The goal was to create a continuous line through the air. At night, they landed in the alpine, slept and repeated the process for 35 days. The trip changed Will's perspective, not just on the craft, but on how he pursues adventure.
"I'm thirty-year-old, and a complete and utter failure," writes Chris Kalman. "My mom is a PhD astrophysicist, my dad, a PhD mathematician, and my sister has a Master's in epidemiology. They all have jobs, children, houses. I, on the other hand, am a dirtbag."
Earlier this fall, Chris moved away from his favorite climbing haunts toward something bigger and more intimidating than giant rock walls. As he helped care for an extended family member thousands of miles from the place he had called home, he had to figure out how to take a journey very different than an annual pilgrimage to climb in Patagonia: a journey within.
You can find more of Chris Kalman's writing on his blog, Fringe's Folly, "for the purists, dirtbags and salty oldtimers who live climbing."
"Death-by-lightning-strike statistics kept swirling through my head, causing me to push my 13-year-old daughter to the very limits of her physical ability. We were on her Trip," writes Otto Gallaher. Today, we bring you the story of a rite-of-passage tradition in Otto's family simply known as 'The Trip'. What outdoor traditions does your family keep?
You can find more photos of Otto and Riley's trip on Otto's photography website.
Regardless of how you choose to play outside, if someone gets hurt in the mountains, the first step on the checklist remains the same: "scene safety"--you make sure the thing that hurt your buddy isn't going to hurt you too. But there's no checklist for emotional safety when things go wrong. Today we bring you the story of a family, an accident and the repercussions they navigated for years afterwards.
Ghost stories. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, ghost stories have a way of seeping into your mind. And, if they're really good, suddenly, that soft rapping on the window or the flickering lights become more ominous--like we've primed out minds to seek another explanation. In part, that's the fun of ghost stories. But how do we explain those things we had no intention of seeing? Our Tales of Terror winners, Justin Gero and Melina Coogan, present tales of seeing something they really, really didn't want to.
"It's never encouraging to be awoken in a tent by headlights. I wanted to play possum--roll over, and pretend to sleep until they left," writes David Hanson. "But this was exactly why I was here, a few hundred miles into a 500-mile canoe float down Georgia's Chattahoochee. I came here to see the river, but I really came here to see its people. And here they were."
Today, we bring you David's story of discovering a culture at once foreign and strangely familiar--and all within a day's drive of the place where he grew up.
David recently returned to the Chattahoochee to create a documentary, Who Owns Water, that chronicles a tri-state water war that threatens the river and the communities that depend on it.
"The reality of climbing is, if you climb long enough, you're bound to bail," writes Dean Fleming. "I've left rappel biners on sport bolted 5.8s. I've bailed from trees, chockstones, fixed cams, and Manzanita bushes. Sure, sometimes my pride gets a little dinged, but so far I've survived some pretty weird situations."
We figured with that kind of experience, Dean could teach us a thing or two. Today, Dean presents another Lifestyle Tip for the Committed, with his five step guide to convinving your climbing partner to rig a retreat.
Find more of Dean's words + photos at California Climber Magazine.
"Encouragement. Peer Pressure. Bullying. Call it what you like," writes Tom Ireson, "but the climbing community is full of it."
We rely on our friends, mentors and coaches to push us past our own self-doubt--help us realize what we're capable of. And yet, we never actually know what someone is capable of ahead of time. Today, we bring you a story on searching for the line between pushing someone to succeed, and pushing them too far.
You can hear more of Tom's stories if you visit him at The Olive Branch in El Chorro, Spain--a family run hostel for adventurers of all kinds--where he works as a chef.
You can find Paul's music here.
"I remember really quickly going from, 'Wow, I'm home, this feels great', to 'Holy s***, what did I do to my mom'?" says alpinist Kyle Dempster. "And that was the first time I saw how truly difficult it is for mothers."
Today, we bring you two stories--one from Hilary Oliver, and one from Kyle Dempster and his mother, Terry--about the struggle of loving an adventurer. The struggle between loving them so much that you don't want to see them hurt, and loving them so much that you want to support them in pursuing their dreams--in doing the things that make them tick.
This story was originally inspired by one of Kyle's blog posts by the same title. You can find more of Kyle's writing at Through My Eyes.
You can find Hilary's writing at TheGription.
"I was disoriented beneath the cold water. I kicked toward the surface, but the force of the water held me down. I twisted and hung underwater for a moment. A thought passed through my head--this is what it feels like to drown," writes Dan Gingold. Dan and three friends planned to raft the Musconetcong River into the larger Delaware River over three days. With the river running high with spring rains and little prior recon, their mellow trip became more than they bargained for as they navigated multiple dams.
"It's like you're scared to move forward-- you just need something to give you a little nudge," says Jonah Manning. "You can call it support, but, really it's just like a little bit of a shove forward. And I'll never forget it, because Widge was certainly that for me." Today, we bring you the story of Widge, the ultimate adventure partner. Sometimes when that metaphorical door of adventure opens, you need someone to walk through by your side.
"Standing up in my pedals, I dug so deep to make it to the top of the hill I wasn't positive that my butt could bear sitting back down on my bike seat when I got to the top," Hilary Oliver remembers. "I'd hardly said a word to another human being all day, and began to wonder: What the hell was I doing out there, anyway?" Hilary had driven that stretch of asphalt between Fort Collins and Denver many times, but she didn't know what it had to teach her about herself and where she came from until she got out from behind the windshield.
You can find more of Hilary's writing at TheGription.com.
A month ago, we headed south for our annual pilgrimage to the 5 Point Film Festival and our live Dirtbag Diaries. Today, we share stories from two women, from two different generations who share a love for rivers. In 2013, Amber Valenti had the opportunity to paddle one of the last great free-flowing rivers in the world-- The Amur River. Amber, along with three other women paddlers, documented the river from its remote headwaters in Mongolia to the wide-ribboned channels in Russia. Amber wrote and produced the film, "Nobody's River," filled with hilarious antics and the soulful exploration of a new place and oneself.
Our next guest, Katie Lee, was a force to have on stage. Feisty, poignant and ready to tell you what she thinkS, Katie is not your typical nonagenarian. Katie started her career as an actress in Hollywood, but soon left it behind after taking her first trip down the Grand Canyon. But it was Glen Canyon that she fell in love with. When it was flooded in 1963, Katie used her voice to write songs and books about the river and the west. And she's still using her voice as an activist for the environment.
This episode contains strong language.
Committed. It’s a word we use to describe people we know, our friends, even ourselves. Committed to a sport. A ski line. A lifestyle. It can be easy to commit to those daily or short term goals. But carving out time to achieve a bigger dream, something that may take weeks or months, even years–it can feel really hard to take that first step. To even know what that first step is. And sometimes, the very goal we set for ourselves can define the duration of our commitment. Twelve years ago, Pablo Garcia left Argentina to pedal around the world. And he’s still pedaling.
The average American spends a third of their income on housing. Almost as much as the next two greatest expenses--food and transportation--combined. So, theoretically, if you just stopped paying for housing, you could earn a living working three days a week. Or two thirds of the year.
Today, we bring you a story about the pursuit of snow, world domination and cheap rent. It's imperfect. It comes with inconveniences. Trade-offs. But, at the end of the day, what would you rather trade in? Convenience? Or time chasing down dry rock or fluffy snow?
Brody Leven applied for a climbing permit for Denali from a rented Subaru parked outside a closed cafe. In a blizzard. In Iceland. Weeks later, he would fly to Alaska to meet up with his team of overly accomplished athletes with the goal of climbing and skiing from Denali's summit. Determined not to be the weak link, he spent his two week layover in Salt Lake City obsessing over his gear. “I packed, unpacked, checked and repacked,” remembers Brody. “I read every online gear checklist I could find, packed my warmest clothes, and measured the length of my prussiks.” Yet, despite all of his careful planning, Brody made one dire miscalculation.
There are two kinds of dreams. An honest dream. “The kind of dream,” writes Luke Mehall “that keeps you up at night, and wakes you up in the morning with a knot in your stomach that can only be untied with blood sweat and tears.” For Luke, climbing El Cap was that kind of dream. And then there’s the other kind of dream. The kind that starts out as a joke, then escalates to the level of the ridiculous. When Luke drove west towards Yosemite National Park, he was determined to realize one of each.
We all know the feeling of remoteness. The stillness. The perspective. It's part of what keeps drawing us outside. But what does it feel like to be standing, literally, in the most remote place in a state? In the country? And what might those places reveal about the fate of our country's wild lands? In 2010, Ryan and Rebecca Means embarked upon Project Remote to find out.
“With steely determination, I pointed my tips downhill and tried to power through the deep snow, but I was doomed,” remembers Julia Rosen. “I started to do the super slow splits as my skis drifted further and further apart under two piles of snow that felt like wet concrete. My feet stopped, but my body lurched forward and I was thrust into an unwelcome downward dog.” Anyone who’s skied powder remembers this fall. Anyone who, like Julia, learned to ski pow as an adult remembers it more clearly. But Julia did make it through the painful learning process—only to discover that, perhaps, the wisdom she had gained might just serve her in the horizontal world as well.
Plastic bags. They clog drawers, landfills, coastlines and trailheads. Recycling them is confusing and inefficient. But what if there was a way to turn the trash into something of value? Enter Industrial Designer Will Wells. Today, we bring you our annual Year of Big Ideas. We talked to contributors and friends about their goals for the coming year. Here's to going big, traveling to new places and trying something new. And here's to making something that will inspire others, even if it's small.
Powerful ideas often demand that we leave the comfort of a safety net. We quit a nine to five. We take out a second mortgage on our house. Along the way, we can expect to be called a crazy one day and brilliant the next. In the late 1990's, Jeff Pensiero had an idea--to build a backcountry ski lodge that catered to snowboarders. It was outlandish--targeting a market that barely existed—and yet perfect. But, like any dream, it took years of sweat, worry, right people-right time connections, and damn good perseverance to make it all look seamless. From the shores of Lake Tahoe to the world renowned slopes of Baldface Lodge, we bring you one snowboarder’s journey to create his dream. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
Significant life tumult propelled Nick Triolo to leave his home and move to Todos Santos, Baja earlier this year. As an ultra-runner, he instinctively explored the area on foot. As he settled into the town and its community, he became aware of a growing resistance to proposed mining in the area. And he knew he wanted to help. But how? It might have been easy for Nick to shrug off the feeling. Instead he thought big-- he would organize a protest run across the 70-mile wide stretch of the Baja Peninsula-- through the heart of where the mining was proposed. And he would run it in a day. Now, could he get anyone to join him?
Special thanks to Montana Public Radio KUFM in Missoula and Sherie Newman for volunteering time to help with the recording.
Is there something out there? It’s a question that lurks in the back of my mind. Probably in yours too. It’s one of the very reasons why I love the outdoors: the unpredictability. Over the years, I’ve collected experiences. Moments, like bits of data, that, collectively guide my intuition. And yet. We’ve all had that moment where hairs stand up on the back of our neck. Was it heightened perception? Or did the wind just blow in just the right way? And if you convince yourself it was the wind, does some lump of doubt sit in your stomach? Because sometimes you just won’t believe something is out there. Until it’s right there.
"It's the unpredictable elements that throw our lives off course, for better or for worse," writes Niki Yoblonski. We leave a trailhead with some idea of what we're seeking, but on true adventures, what we walk away with is never what we expected. When Niki and her boyfriend, Jason, set out to climb Mt. Darwin one Labor Day weekend, they didn't take home a summit photo, or a bag of shiny coins, but, by a series of slim chances, they took home a treasure perhaps more valuable than anything they could have expected. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
Walking into someone's apartment, house, van, tent or trailer for the first time can feel sort of like flipping open the first page of their journal. The places we choose to call home and the way we assemble them say a lot about who we are and where our priorities lie. But at some point, our environments can start to construct us as well. In the two months between the end of a semester of college and the beginning of a seasonal job, Ethan Newman loaded all of his belongings into his Saturn sedan "like a champion Tetris player," and drove to Bishop, California. He was thrilled to discover an alternative to pitching a tent every night or getting sand blown in his face while he slept. Until he woke up one morning to realize that the habitat he had constructed had started to change him.
"We had the discussion around the campfire one night of trying to define 'what is wilderness'," John Stoneman remembers. "We determined that if you get hurt or you have a problem and there's really no way out, you're in the wilderness." Despite the fact that 29,000 people raft down the Colorado River every year, the Grand Canyon is still unquestionably that-- wilderness. But what happens if you do need to get out? When the one place you need to be is a thousand miles away and you are off the grid? In 2010, John put in at Lees Ferry and embarked upon the trip of a lifetime - but not in the way he imagined. Today, we bring you a story about a race against time and the lengths that perfect strangers will go to help others in need. Buckle up.
There's a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It's as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are being allocated to prevent it--and finding a solution is likely as complicated as understanding why.
Veterans Stacy Bare and Nick Watson know the struggles that service members face as they readjust to civilian life. Addiction. Depression. An overwhelming feeling of being out of place. But over time, both found a place in the outdoors and the surrounding community to recreate what they missed from the military, and to feel like they had really come home. And they didn’t stop there--they became determined to find a way to make that transition easier for other veterans too. Today, we bring you their stories and the story of how these two veteran's are creating a community for other veterans on the home front.
This episode does contain graphic descriptions of violence and adult language.
"Three months ago, I'm not sure I would have considered myself a patriot," writes Hilary Oliver. "Mentally, I separated my nation―government, states, and people―from my country: the mountains, deserts, plains and oceans that took my breath away. Maybe I had taken my privileges for granted, but I couldn't tell you the last time my heart swelled with love or pride for my nation."
Then she drove into Zion National Park. With it's soaring sandstone walls, and man's will imposed upon the landscape to make viewpoints accessible, Hilary found an appreciation for her country and nation.
We've told stories about people quitting jobs, ditching mortgages and selling worldly possessions to go live life on their own terms. But what if you had lived your entire adult life on the road? If you'd never signed a lease or even paid rent. Passion can lead to the most incredible places, even to the most American of dreams -- Buying a home.
Our baptism in wild places is different for each of us. For some, it's ingrained so early in life that it hardly registers as a memory. For most, it was probably a little awkward, a bit daunting, yet so compelling that we wanted to do it again. For Wendy Irwin, it began with, "a soft-shell cooler, a MacGyver like trust in the magical properties of duct tape, and a 'Tent for Sale' ad in the classifieds." Though much went wrong on Wendy's first backpacking trip, the tendrils of nature's beauty wound themselves into her mind and around her heart. And years later, when she met a teenager hiking the John Muir trail carrying two backpacks, she knew to smile and wish him luck. Because if you love it, you'll figure it out.
Our second installment from the third annual Live from 5Point in April at the 5Point Film Festival. If you missed the last episode, we talked with snowboarder Kevin Pearce and skier Chris Davenport. Today, we present stories from James Walsh and Kyle Dempster. James has focused his camera lens on the biking culture within African. But the creative process can be a frustrating journey where you have to be doggedly determined to succeed. Today, James talks about the odyssey of being a filmmaker.
Kyle's path as an alpinist is firmly rooted in first ascents around the world and a good humor. He's won the Piolet d'Or twice. And in 2012, he traded in a climbing partner for a bike as he journeyed through Krygystan in search of more first ascents. Today, Kyle talks about the origins for his trip, how it evolved, and how his dad helped an alpinist take a bike trip.
We're back for our third annual Live from 5Point event. Today we present two stories from snowboarder Kevin Pearce, about finding happiness after suffering a traumatic brain injury, and big mountain skier Chris Davenport, about the aesthetics of the lines he chooses and what he loves about mountains, especially those close to home.
As the days grow longer and warmer, the road beckons us. And while we can pile gear into the car until we can’t cram anything else in, packing some items take a bit more thought. Like, how will I keep the cheese cold? “The ice chest is the vagrant’s culinary miracle. It allows you to transport cold, somewhat-fresh food to almost anywhere your beater car can haul it,” writes Dean Fleming. But it can still break the bank. Fortunately, he has extensive experience living on the road and scraping by on a budget. Today, Dean presents another Lifestyle Tip for the Committed– his secrets for eating well, but cheaply, while you’re out on the road.
"We traveled in an ode to that particular brand of privileged American adventure, the cross-country drive, funded in equal parts by savings from crappy after-school jobs at a camping store and graduation money from loving parents," writes Graham T. Beck. Fresh out of high school, Graham and his friend, Tim, headed to Yellowstone National Park for a backpacking trip. They knew they were in bear country. But only after they'd hiked 40 miles in could they begin to understand the horribilis of the grizzly bear.
An earlier version of this story appeared on The Morning News.
Great stories often have these 5 words, “and then it got dark.” But how can carefully executed alpine starts and planned summits turn into watching stars dot the sky? Well, getting benighted can happen for a few reasons. One- unforeseen circumstances. Two- complete denial of reality. Or three- getting too comfortable in the dark. Kelly Cordes, Ryan Peterson, and Jay Puckhaber share their tales of being out, long after the sun has set.
While climbing Castleton Tower, Brendan Leonard watched a climber cruise past him, take on a piece of gear, and then fall onto a ledge right at his feet. The immediate moment had Brendan dealing with the logistics of how to help someone when you're a pitch off the ground and initiating a rescue for the climber. But the image of what he saw lingered long after the ambulance left the parking lot, and had him questioning his own climbing motivations.
Love- It's life's great surprise. You can try to pin its origins in brain chemistry and hormones. Or the right timing. But those don't explain why tough guys make slow rock mixes or why a timid person suddenly introduces themselves to the person of their dreams. Why it works for one couple and not another is beyond me, so I've stopped trying to guess. Your mate could be across the ocean or right next door. But if you find him or her, it feels as though every moment lead to the perfect culmination, even the awkward middle bits. And even if you need the help of a voodoo doctor. Today, we present two stories about finding love.
Ever managed to talk yourself into an adventure or a job only to realize you have gotten yourself in way over your head? Sometimes these scenarios lead to embarrassment. Sometimes they begin horror stories. But, sometimes, they provide unexpected opportunities for growth. In 2007, Jen Altschul talked her way into a job as a ski patroller. And then the snow began to fall. Today, we present her story of learning how to be one.
You might remember a story about climbers in the Magic Kingdom. It sounded like a dream job- climbing, secret lairs and cutting to the front of the roller coaster line. Our inbox flooded with emails about how to apply. But the program was canceled in 2007. Until last year. In an audition room filled with sponsored climbers and underground crushers, Susanica Tam felt her resume paled in comparison. Could climbing a mini-Matterhorn change Susanica's outlook on climbing?
Today, we present our annual Year of Big Ideas. We went out into our community and listened to what you want to do in 2013. Here's to saying yes to new opportunities, stretching ourselves, and embracing a little spontaneity.
Greg May signed up as a rookie for the 24 Hours of Exposure at the heckling of his friends. But as he stood on the start line he felt under prepared, under biked, and overweight. "Probably not the thought you want before your first 24 hour mountain bike race." Though Greg wanted to finish, he'd also needed a distraction from writing his Ph.D. thesis. Laps spun to hours, and Greg found that pushing his body stopped the whir of thoughts. As he nerared the finish line, he wondered whether his body could finish what he had started.
Alastair Humphreys has biked around the world, crossed glacial highlands and desert lands. But in 2011, he stayed in Britain, focusing on trips close to home. The idea of backyard adventure wasn't new, but he put it in terms everyone could understand. While Alastair was perfecting the microadventure, Josh Norris and Ty Atwater were distilling down the elements of past adventure and cramming them into an all day-- well, Sufferthon. Can they create Type 3 fun without leaving Oregon?
In 2010, Seth Adams worked in Ecuador with Round River Conservation Studies. He was there as part of an effort to show the locals the importance of conserving the surrounding forest and wildlife. Yet, the longer that he was there, interacting with locals like Don Manuel and Stu, the more he began to reflect on his own perspective. Could the Ecuadorians show Seth something about himself?
We've all day dreamed about it - becoming a pro. What would it be like? Well, besides getting to do the thing you love everyday, you'd probably get free gear, meet incredible people, get your photo taken, maybe travel the world. You might even get paid. We call it living the dream. And it's good work if you can get it. But, how do you get the gig? And is it really all that it's cracked up to be? Zack Giffin and Timmy O'Neill share their stories of finding the spotlight and moving beyond it.
Ever walked through the woods late at night and felt like you were being followed? Had a strange feeling about someone you just met? Encountered the strictly inexplicable that led you, abruptly, to pack up and bail? Often, we rationalize these instincts – just a bird in the trees cracking limbs, just a strange fellow with good intentions, or, well, our senses simply must have failed us. But what about when these warning signals don’t go off? Today, Micah McNulty, Trey Johnson, and George Braun bring us stories of the times that intuition didn’t kick in when maybe it should have.
Steve's typical weekend would make any dirtbag jealous. Concerts by the river, sunrise climbs, hiking a new trailhead just because. He's living his own version of the dirtbag dream; the one he wanted to achieve for so many years. Until one day, he realized the dream he chased, wasn't all that he'd imagined it to be. Could he change his dream to reflect the reality he now wanted?
"A friend of mine said that it was worth getting a budget flight to Morocco just to eat an orange. After that you could turn around and fly home content." Writer, photographer, and surfer Mat Arney was ready for a break from his routine; and really ready to go surfing. While driving or flying was the simple solution, Mat made the journey equal to the destination, taking the train from England to Morocco. As the landscape outside the train's window subtly change, he enjoyed the slow release and focus of travel.
Drive it until it dies. That's the motto I lived by as my truck, Crash, crisscrossed the West. Family members would doubtfully ask, "Are you sure you want to drive there?" I did. Friends would ask about Crash's well being as though he was my aging dog. Though I knew the day was coming, I was still blindsided when the gears ground to a halt on my way to Yosemite. Could my belief in Crash transcend beyond the hulk of metal?
"My father would collected me in the summer and we would range farther in our explorations of the West. We would find small towns on the edge of wilderness and he would tell me, 'If I ever disappear, look for me here.' These trips nurtured a love of the outdoors that I cannot imagine being without.” Deron Daugherty pays tribute to his father as they take one last hike together into the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.
Next time you're out at a popular trailhead, take 30 minutes, crack a beer and take a look around the parking lot. You'll start to see that there are a few distinct types of people you can meet in the parking lot. Each has their merits that can help you achieve a spectacular day. And each has its drawback too. It’s up to you to decide which player you want to be in the parking lot.
Jessie Stone has a resume that would make any dirtbag proud -- raft guide, pro whitewater kayaker and member of the US freestyle kayak team. At the end of that list is medical doctor. And the director of the Soft Power Health Clinic in Uganda. She is a career shape shifter. who followed her passions and ended up in an unexpected place. How do you know when it's time to step out of the current and follow an alternative path? Trevor Clark traveled to Uganda to tell Jessie's story.
"If there are three types of fun, there should be five types of B.O." It happens to all of us. You're out camping for a few days, maybe more. Free from the hygienic shackles of society, you sniff and think, "I'm good." Brendan Leonard's been there. He'll go multiple days without a shower, because one isn't readily available, or he doesn't want to find the soap buried in his car. It's gotten bad. Really bad. Brendan breaks down the B.O. levels. What's your rank?
Welcome to the second half of our 2012 Live From 5 Point show. This week we continue the show from Steve's Guitars in downtown Carbondale, CO. Photographer Ben Moon presents his story about overcoming cancer, the community that rose up to support him and his thoughts on fear. Veteran alpine climber Mark Richey recounts the incident that almost took his climbing partner's life during their ascent of Sasser Kangri II. Colorful language included.
5Point Film Festival invited us back for another live Dirtbag Diaries. And of course, we said, "Yes!" We invited four people up on stage to to talk about a moment in their lives when it all seemed to go wrong. And where those moments have led them, as the effects have rippled through their lives. Today we present the first two stories. At 23, free skier Josh Dueck overshot the landing of a jump and fell 100 feet out of the air. He returned to skiing the following winter in a sit ski. And he rips! You owe it to yourself to watch The Freedom Chair and Josh hucking a backflip.
Kayaker Chris Korbulic was nearing the end of a 7 week trip through central Africa with Ben Stookesberry and Hendri Coetzee. After paddling the difficult stretch of the Lacuga River, a crocodile pulled Hendri underwater. The film Kadoma (full version available on iTunes) tells the story of their trip. Chris has continued to return to Africa pursuing the rivers that brought him together with Hendri.
Last spring, Fred Sproat and his friend Sam pedaled 630 miles from Eugene, OR to the heart of the Sierra. Their mission was to ski couloirs by truly earning their turns and challenging the status quo of how we feed our backcountry addictions.
"When you’re in a crowded movie theater or stadium, do you nervously fidget and plot an escape route?" asks Dean Fleming. If so, you may be suffering from Post-Emphatic Wilderness Disorder. Dean walks you through the symptoms and three steps to help you cope with this recently diagnosed disorder.
The Dirtbag Diaries turns five. This also happens to be our 100th episode. To celebrate the occasion, we reached out to our collaborators, our contributors and our friends and asked for ideas. Their response was resounding. "We want to hear your story, the story of the Diaries," they said. Our intern, Austin Siadak, stepped forward to do the interview and relay the story.
On road trips, Brendan Leonard always stops to check out the t-shirt rack, bumper stickers or display of trinkets unique to the area. And every stop is a chance to find the best, ever. But he hadn't quite found it. Until friends told him of a magical place huddled in the shadow of the Sierra. Indeed, this was a magical place, but could it exceed his checklist of expectations?
John Dittli says the skating has been epic in the high Sierra. While others have bemoaned the lack of snow, John has seized the extended window to ice skate on multiple lakes. In the spirit of making the most out of a situation. we present the Year of Big Ideas- goals from friends, pros and creative thinkers. And no matter what 2012 brings, we'll make sure there's more lemonade in all we do.
Growing up in Ireland, writer Lisa McGonigle wasn't immersed in snow and mountains. But a trip to the Pyrenees when she was 19 to try snowboarding realigned her priorities. While little rivals fresh lines on a powder day, she discovered the fine line between passionate and obsessed can be difficult to distinguish.
Transitions may not be sexy, but they make or break us. Almost five years after I wrote the Monoboard and started The Diaries, I find myself in a metaphorical transition. My passions run from the mountains to the Seattle music scene and I've become adept at moving between them. My life is about to change. My passions won't. It's time to refine the transition.
Dean Fleming writes, " Like most rock climbers, I’m a control freak and I’m cheap. So I’ll share one lifestyle tip for the committed to put extra cash in your pocket." DIY haircuts. Dean lays out 3 simple steps to keeping the dirtbag dream alive.
It can be difficult to separate an initial seed of fear from the growing tangle of possibility that can quickly emerge in your head, but sometimes that sprouting seed is very tangible. Today, we bring you stories from Sara Porterfield and Jeremy Allyn. They'll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. You'll try to shudder them off. But the seed- the seed will remain.
The weekend ritual of loading up a car with gear, picking a destination, and watching out the window as the landscapes passes by is familiar to most of us. We may have a love-hate relationship with our vehicles, but they are able to take us to the places that help clear our heads and restore our souls. Is that rationalization enough?
The Underdog is the most potent myth in America. Is this special type of hero just a myth or is the underdog real? Jayson Sime was a small town Iowa kid from the tough part of town. He was told he wouldn't amount to much by his teachers and hazed by his peers. From north of nowhere to a career in politics to Mount Shasta's summit, Jayson has overcome. Maybe heroes are real.
While in school, Fred Sproat successfully balanced his time between guiding and love. Guiding takes a commitment to dealing with Mother Nature's spontaneous eruptions and the tenacity to keep clients happy. But you are able to pursue you passion, even if it means leaving somethings- or someone- behind.
The first time I sat around a climber's campfire at 19, I could sense that though our lives were superficially different with jobs and responsibilities, something greater connected those gathered around the fire. Today, we present two stories from women- one a climber and one a creator- about the moment when the random became connected at a time when it mattered most.
When David King set out to ride his bike across the US, he had read the books, bought the right gear and trained tirelessly on hills back home. But biking day in and day out started to wear on him mentally, as well as physically. As he cranked up a steep pass early in the trip, David wondered whether he had the mental tenacity to complete the ride.
After road racing bicycles for seven years, Gary Visser settled into life in South Carolina. He discovered a new passion in the salt water marshes, raised a family, and taught his son, Garrett, to fly fish. As Garrett prepares to leave for college, Gary appreciates that letting go, much like his parents did more than 30 years ago, is harder than one might think.
Our long held dream of creating a live performance of The Dirtbag Diaries came true this spring at the 5Point Film Festival. Today we present the stories of the folks behind the camera. Mickey Smith and Nick Waggoner join us on stage. Welcome to the 5Point Film Festival.
For years, Becca and I have wanted to create a live performance of The Dirtbag Diaries. When 5Point Film Festival gurus Julie Kennedy and Beda Calhoun approached me earlier this year about creating a onstage storytelling hour at the festival, I immediately said yes. Baybe Champ and Frank Smethhurst join us on stage. Welcome to the 5Point Film Festival.
For surfer Wade Grocott, his local break is thousands of kilometers away. The weeks he's not surfing, he's surrounded by the prairies of Saskatchewan. Answering the questions of his fellow and understandably curious Saskatchewanians is just part of the process. Surfing? Saskatchewan? Really? Wade has got the answers.
In 2005, Gregg Bleakney was on the rise. He had all the trappings of a successful life, but Gregg also had a secret. Something he wasn't sharing with his boss, his family or friends, even his longtime girl friend. It was an idea that was about to change his life. Today, we present Ditch Logic. Evolving as a person isn't always pretty.
How do you choose the stories to retell when you get back from a trip? Shane Robinson writes, "At first, I tried to recount every amazing detail of my travels, only to watch my unsuspecting friends' eyes gloss over in boredom." The stories we share are gateways beyond the mechanics of a trip, but dig into how we appreciate spending times away from our daily routines.
Jacob Bain has traveled to SE Asia, Cuba, and Africa. And though he sometimes has climbing gear, he always has a guitar. In the summer of 2010, Johnny Fernandes invited Jacob and his band Publish the Quest to Cape Verde to partake in a musical experience as part of his goal to preserve the local music. Can a hook, a horn line and a new take on a traditional song overcome culture and language barriers?
Mike Colpo went to guide school in search of a different life. His rugged instructor, Cody, taught him the basics of guiding climbers, but also pushed Mike and the other students towards something bigger. Mike found himself facing a fear greater than physical risk.
Our sports have long heralded rating systems that let us know just how we're doing. We may bicker over their ratings, but we return to them again and again. They help us set goals, and push ourselves harder. Today, Brendan Leonard dives in with some simple ideas on who and what are hard core. How do you measure up?
Christine McMahon read Ranger Rick, stole her brother's Boy Scouts Manual to learn survival tricks and was driving by age 9. She grew up relatively carefree surrounded by friends and family who made sure she feared nothing. Until the day circled in red on her calendar arrived. The day when she would try to walk again. It was time for Christine to take the first steps to leaving the crutches and wheelchairs behind and embrace the possible on her own.
We present our 2011 Year of Big Ideas show. Professional athletes, passionate weekend warriors and Dirtbag Diaries contributors come together to present what they are working on in the coming year. Get inspired and then buckle down.
Mark Rutherford and John Merritt grew up sharing the same sand box. Twenty years ago, Mark began a successful adventure fly fishing guide service in the Bristol Bay region. An avid fisherman, John got in touch with Mark and scheduled a trip. That first trip marked the beginning of a decade of trips, each more adventurous than the last. Today, we are headed up stream to the confluence of several lives.
After hitchhiking in Canada and Arizona, Graham Waugh thought he'd easily catch a ride from Needles to Joshua Tree. He didn't account for the nearly deserted 100 odd miles on California's highway 95. He scrawled "Canadian" on his last piece of cardboard, and only then did he discovered something wonderful.
This last fall, Becca and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. To those who asked, I offered a slew of reasons. Those closest to me knew better. I was trying to save myself. At its core, The Diaries has always been about the joy of wild places and our community's profound optimism, but at times contributors have stepped forward to provide stories about personal struggle, sorrow and depression Today, I present my own story.
Surfer. Waves. Design. Surfboard. In 25 years of surfing, Will Ranken never thought much about how those four elements interrelated to one another. When he needed a new board, he would buy one off the racks, hand over the cash, and soon he was paddling into the line up again. That was the status quo, until he read an article about making and shaping wooden surfboards.
Today, we present Tales of Terror, two stories from the most terrifying moments of our contributor's lives. Our first story was recorded in the field somewhere in Afghanistan. The second comes from my old stomping ground -- Tahoe. Despite the differences, both stories are the result of passion, imagination and creativity.
When writer and biker Dean Campbell packs he "always forgets one thing and always brings too much to read." Can your packing style influence how you experience a new place? After traveling by bike for four months through Africa, Dean understands that what we bring dictates what we take home from our distant travels.
This summer I decided to not only try road biking, I decided to embrace it in all its spandex glory. My climbing could suffer. The mountain bike could collect cobwebs in the garage. Along the way, I discovered the joy of riding through my city.
Growing up, inheritance and parenthood – these themes have quietly woven their way into the Diaries’ Fabric. Today, Bob Nydam presents a story about the sometimes painful process of watching a child grow up.
Maybe the cowboy is gone, but the tradition of going West to reinvent oneself has remained a part of our culture. Today, Brendan Leonard presents a story about mountain people and the dreams parents instill in their children.
When it came time to settle down after returning from a Peace Corps stint, the economy tanked and Ryan Nickum pieced together whatever work he could -- data entry, process server and ditch digging. He began to question whether his youthful wanderlust now impeded a more adult life.
In August 2008, 11 climbers lost their lives on K2. The ensuing media frenzy was just that -- a frenzy. What really happened up there? Freddie Wilkinson, started asking questions and in the process he found himself chasing an incredible story. You don't need a journalism degree or a press pass to be a reporter.
James Lucas had dreams of rock stardom. He wanted to cast a shadow longer than El Cap. He wanted to live forever in camp fire conversation. He wanted to be Yosemite's Next Top Idol. He turned to the legends for advice and they welcomed him with open arms. Turns out nobody can resist sandbagging a young hungry climber.
At a quick consideration boxing and alpinism have little in common. Ponder if for a second and you might see the similarities. After years in the ring and even longer in the vertical life, Kelly Cordes certainly does. Today Kelly presents a story about the biggest fight of his life and embracing the mythic choss pile that has haunted him since his early days of climbing.
We've all got them. War wounds. Battle scars. We get them from crashing bikes in the woods, surgeon's scalpels and cheese grating falls on granite. The real incredible thing is that we chose to see what we want in our wounds and in others. We look past them to the emotion and memory behind them. They become the physical diary of our lives.
Last year, Aimee Brown got the opportunity of a lifetime a job writing for National Geographic. Excited, she packed her Subaru and moved east. After a few weeks of living in D.C. a nagging feeling set in. Were days looking out an office window, lonely treadmill runs and sun salutations without the sun success? It took six thousand miles of driving for her to answer that question.
Harini Ayer came to the States from Southern India almost a decade ago and fell in love with this country, her research and climbing. If Harini switched jobs, or took a break from her research, she lost her ability to stay here. Climbing took a back seat, until eventually Harini made a stand for herself, her style of life and took an incredible risk.
Ryan Nickum was a 20-year-old college athlete with a passion for brutal tackles and body checks. Spring break of his sophomore year, Nickum and his best friend Woodchuck were too broke for Cancun's party scene and opted instead to join a band of radical environmentalist organizing a tree sit in Southern Oregon. There are many ways to stumble into activism.
When writer Alissa Bohling and her longtime boyfriend Paul set out on the Pacific Crest Trail, they thought a trip of that significance would leave a mark on their relationship. They didn't foresee that it would leave Paul hobbling and struggling to get healthy years after they reached the Canadian border. In today's Short, Alissa puts pen to paper and imagines a pain-free life for Paul.
Today, we bring you another Year of Big Ideas -- a time to turn daydreams into concrete goals. Professional athletes, weekend warriors, and full time dreamers present their goals for 2010.
When Scott Harvey’s poem “40 Miles of Inspiration” showed up in my Inbox, it was a like a breath of fresh air. It’s hard not to smile at this refreshing cure for the mid-week blues. Farm dogs. Wayward bats. Coyotes. All in a day’s commute.
There is type one fun and type two fun, but today, we are going to explore type three fun. This is the epic. The suffer fest. What does type three fun entail? Why do some people seem particularly drawn to these types of adventures and what could possibly motivate us to embrace type three fun? Today, we bring you answers.
Two and a half years ago, climber and Diaries contributor, Kelly Cordes, signed up for a Facebook account, promptly forgot the password and found out that negotiating social media can be every bit as difficult as picking a path through gaping crevasses, rotten ice and snow-covered rock. It’s certainly just as time consuming.
Today, we present three stories. A city girl sheds caution to start a farm. A kayaker becomes a journalist. An adventure photographer forgoes a career traveling the globe to run for office back at home. I am John Muir. You are John Muir. We all have a Yosemite.
Last summer, climber and writer Majka Burhardt embarked on an adventure two years in the making. In the last moments before leaving, Burhardt decided to purchase travel insurance. Her trip to Namibia was an insurance underwriter’s nightmare. After all the work to make her trip happen, she wanted more than insurance. Burhardt wanted assurance that her adventure would be a success.
It was a tough summer in the climbing community. We lost heroes, friends, mentors, legends, sons and parents. We celebrate their lives with stories and memorials, but then the living are left to confront hard questions and dark emotions. This year, 22-year-old Evan Piche’s world turned upside down. He discovered, that even in the worst moments there are seeds of growth.
When writer Sarah Wroot took her first hike through Scottland’s craggy hills, she was overwhelmed with a surprising notion. “If I had a pack and a tent, I could keep going. I could be free to go wherever I want,” she thought. The idea took hold. Today, Sarah takes us all the way the Scottish Highlands and a journey that changed her life.
Two years ago, Christian Beamish crafted an 18-foot-long sailboat in his San Clemente garage. His obsession with sailboat-assisted surfing began with small week-long voyages and evolved into preposterous idea – sail the entire length of Baja looking for waves.
Up in the Northwest, we say that summer doesn’t actually start until July 4th. Right now, we’re experiencing our annual June gloom. So I thought it was time to invoke blue skies and warmer temps. It’s time for me to do my part in the changing of the seasons.
Today writer and climber Sarah Garlick presents: The Dreamers — reflections from four generations of the world’s best climbers: Steve House, Henry Barber, Steve Schneider, and Colin Haley. In the process Sarah found out a little bit about herself.
A few Christmases back, Brendan Leonard received a rather strange gift from his brother - an old rope. Brendan wasn’t a climber. He had no intention of becoming of climber. Sometimes though gifts can change our lives. It turns out that 60-meters of climbing rope has taken him farther than he could have ever dreamed.
In 2001, Scott Kennedy and his wife Sophie were living in the States. On weekends, they would meet up to climb in Yosemite’s high country, Tuolumne. On the Great White Book, Scott was offered a chance to look inside. What he saw was too difficult to share even with those closest to him.
In September 2008, Chad Kellogg and climbing partner Dylan Johnson stood atop 6250-meter Siguniang in Western China after completing the 10,000-foot-long SW Ridge. The two friends endured days without water and several sleepless nights. Summits fade, routes disappear into alpinists’ memory, but occasionally mountains extend back into life on level ground. Sometimes we don’t just want to climb a mountain. We need to.
In the outdoor world, as we age, we can become picky. We are able to discern choss from splitter granite or hard packed moguls from Utah’s finest snow. Opportunities to return to that beginner’s wonder can be rare. Sometimes it is as simple as trading two planks for one.
Photographers and activists Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson present stories and photos from wild ski terrain and their struggle to become a piece of the conservation puzzle rather than a cog in the problem.
Two years ago, I was staring fruitlessly at a computer screen. I was sick of daydreaming. I dropped the commissioned piece I was working on that day and started writing. I pulled out a mic, hit the big red record button and decided it was time to find my voice. Today, we present The Monoboard Revisited. Here’s to another two years of dreaming, tinkering and coming up with ways to get into trouble.
Throughout his life, Portland rock climber Bob Grunau has struggled with the lingering clouds of depression. Until he discovered climbing, the only way to weather the darker cycles was to retreat inward into his mind. That approach worked until he became a part of a family. High, lonesome places can provide respite and joy. We can love them deeply, but ice and rock will not love us back.
Rangi Smart was riding a small spur of his favorite single-track trail when he stumbled upon a perfectly designed mountain bike jump. The 33-year-old math teacher thought to himself, “What kind of nut-job rides off something like that?” Then Rangi imagined that he was that nut-job. We bring you the hopes, dreams and goals of professional athletes, regular joes, parents, soldiers and students. Here’s to the dirtbags. Here’s to Mr. Smart.
Taco Bell. Pizza Hut. Climber and writer, Kelly Cordes had one hell of resume by the time he applied for a position baking bread. It was an ideal job for a dirtbag who lived and breathed climbing, and once resided in a 77-square-foot shack. Then Cordes ran into Bosszilla.
With his career stalling and idealism flat lining, Ryan Nickum looked into his past to search for the seed of the travel affliction. There was only one person to blame -- his father. What makes the traveler's feet restless? Is it nature or nurture? Writer Ryan Nickum presents Bedtime Stories for Wanderers.
For the last five years, I have been stingier than Scrooge when it comes to a Yule Tree. In 2008, I’m a changed man. Armed with a handsaw and empowered by a National Forest permit, I wandered out into the Cascades to search for the perfect Christmas tree.
“’You should get a bike. It will change your life,’ my friend Nick said. I heard this over and over again like a nagging brake pad rubbing on the one wobbly spot on a dented wheel,” writes Colorado-based writer Brendan Leonard. Leonard wasn’t a believer until his friend showed up his doorstep with a gift – a 1989 red Trek bicycle. As he began riding, Leonard found his life falling into the smooth order of a finely tuned bike.
To celebrate Halloween, we bring you two tales of terror. Contest winner Chris Peters explains why it pays to listen to the safety talk and a very special guest remembers a family vacation to the Alaskan wilderness gone wrong.
The Bohrer clan isn’t your average Idaho Falls family. Juggling goals in the mountain with parenting is no simple task. Sometimes balancing competing passions requires combining them into a lifestyle. After all, whether you’re old or young, everyone likes to play hooky if there is snow on the hill.
Recreating without a car might seem impossible, but this summer I set out to test the preconceived notion. What happens when you find yourself trapped in the Urban Jungle? You blaze your way out.
After loosing his leg in a climbing accident, Craig DeMartino had to retrain his body and learn his craft all over again. DeMartino takes us to Vail and the Teva Mountain Games. Behind the bright lights, big names and massive crowds, climbing’s everyman gets his moment in the sun.
A mythical, semi-secret, surf spot on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast – that’s as descriptive as Australian Duncan McNee would get. This secret break, a quick bike ride from McNee’s day job as a high school teacher, requires the perfect synchronicity of swell, tide and windless days. On average, the variables come together once every two years. At long last, we bring you a surfing story.
Today, we bring you the Crusade, the story of two stockbrokers, an engineer and a nuclear physicist who, with a little help from the Internet, helped shaped American ski mountaineering without ever leaving their backyard.
In the Year of Big Ideas, my childhood friend Brad laid it out – he was going to climb El Cap in 2008. We planned and tried to convince others to join us, but in the end, Brad and I were on our own to wrestle with one very big – arguably bad – idea. A third of the way through 2008, where are you in your year of big ideas? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and a little inspiration. What have you ticked off the list? What’s left?
Through the years, I’ve tried to escape words and journalism, but the writing life always has a funny way of creeping back into my world. This time it came in the form of a 230-pound cameraman with a fear of heights, a fast talking New York producer and a 30-year-old broadcaster trying to return to her childhood. It turns out you have to earn your 15 seconds of fame.
Seventeen years ago, Sean O’Neill – artist athlete and big brother to pro climber Timmy O’Neill – lost the use of his legs. After the accident, Timmy dreamed about helping his older brother climb El Capitan. In 2005, the brothers decided it was time to act. James Mills brings us a story about two brothers, one very big cliff face and a 17-year-old dream.
When listener Andy Guinigundo’s email appeared in the inbox on a rainy spring day, I read through it, read it again and thought “Damn, I wish I could have been there.? That’s because no matter where you ski, a powder day is a magical thing. I’d been wanting to create some smaller shorts between feature episodes, so Andy joined us in the Dirtbag Diaries Midwest Studios and gave us his own farewell to an unforgettable winter season.
In spring of 1991, Tom Broxson survived a 200-foot fall off the top of Yosemite Valley’s Washington Column. To this day, Tom, his climbing partner Pat and the rescuers who saved his life aren’t exactly sure what happened. Today we bring you Tom’s story of survival, recovery and will.
Today, Becca Cahall brings us All These Things – a story about getting older and skiing faster. We’re headed for British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains – an incredible range of open alpine faces, perfect tree skiing and tight chutes that every backcountry skier dreams of visiting.
In the summer of 2007, kayaker and blogger Shane Robinson found himself paddling down Peru’s isolated Apurimac River with Andrew Oberhardt and Bryan Smith. They had no map, no aerial photos and enough food for five days. Fifteen years of kayaking had led to this moment.
Today we bring you the “Year of Big Ideas? – a show all about goals, some big, some small. We’ve interviewed friends, professional athletes, random people on chairlifts, anyone we could rope into contributing. Here’s to dreaming big and going bigger in the New Year.
Today, we bring you the tale of Ryan Utz and Micah Helser -- both climbers, both soldiers -- and their quest to create a lifeline back from the frontlines to the things that matter the most – friends, family and that freedom found only in open spaces. We are headed to the world’s most improbable climbing wall. This is Camp Taji. Welcome to Iraq.
In 2005, photographer, writer and avid cyclist Blake Gordon joined the Logsdon brothers in the midst of pedaling 15,000 miles and raising money for the National Brain Tumor Foundation. Today, we present The Reckoning – a story plucked from the pages of a young photographer’s notebook. You can ride your bike to the edge of a continent, but when the road ends it doesn’t always lead to neat resolutions.
There’s no such thing as a perfect job. What if there was a magical place where you could get paid to climb? At the center of this kingdom is a mountain, and all you have to do is climb it. Find out what happens when a bunch of climbers are left unsupervised with the keys to the Magic Kingdom.
Today on the Dirtbag Diaries, we’re traveling from the halls of a New England boarding school where two boys forged an unlikely friendship to the wind-swept wilderness deep inside the Cascade Mountains, where a trio of climbers have been hard at work solving one of the Northwest’s greatest free climbing projects.
In 1996, photographer John Burcham and three friends completed the first foot traverse of the 650-mile long Alaska Range. Burcham decided to leave the group at the very end of the trip in order to make it to his sister's wedding. He was alone in the continent's last great wilderness with a sobering realization -- crevasses, hungry wildlife and hypothermia can kill you, but loneliness can drive you crazy.
This week the Dirtbag Diaries presents the Anatomy of an Accident. What do you take away from a near-death experience? Is there meaning in it? If so, what does it say about our relationships with these mountains, these rivers and these oceans.
This week we're headed for Laos to recount the story of two friends and one spectacularly bad idea. Join us as we follow Jacob Bain, Colin Brynn and a bamboo raft down a river at the edge of the world.
Many of us associate our vehicles with freedom, independence and youth. But can a hunk of metal have a soul? Fitz presents the sometimes-true tale of a 1974 Mitsubishi Sigma, a boy on the cusp of adulthood and a life changing journey across Australia.
On a remote cliff in northern Arizona, we join rock climbers Albert Newman and James Q Martin as they attempt the first free ascent of Tooth Rock.
Gaper. Touron. Weekend warrior. As mountain people, we can be a cold, hard lot adhering to an "Us and Them" mentality, but at the root, what makes a dirtbag a dirtbag? Is it a look? The clothes we wear or the skis we ride? Or is there something deeper to out culture? Can anyone be a dirtbag?