Everest Basecamp

It's hard to tell when the journey and adventures began. My friend Erik and I headed to Nepal to trek around and make our way to Everest Basecamp, but the adventures began much sooner than expected. You could say they started upon arrival in the country when we trusted our taxi driver to book us flights on what is considered to the most dangerous passenger flight on the planet. 

Or did the adventures begin when we were about to board the plane and they announced that the crew needed fifteen minutes to "fix" it before we could board. Maybe it was when we landed in Lukla and they'd somehow lost our bags and gear during a thirty minute flight. 

One thing was certain, this entire trip was going to be an amazing adventure. I've spent plenty of time in the mountains and traveling around the world, but one thing was completely unique to this trip, the scale of the mountains were unlike anything I had ever experienced. 

After a couple of days trekking through the Khumbu Valley, Erik and I were finally able to make a routine. We'd rise up early and trek until we were tired or the sun was getting too low, we'd look for a guest house in the nearest town and gather with others for trekkers. As for routines, it was a pretty broad one. It's so easy to lose track of time when you're in the middle of nowhere and you're planning to be away from home for a month. The Alpiner 4 made by Alpina was the perfect watch for this trip. The automatic self-wind movement was perfect, given that there were hardly opportunities to charge batteries or replace them if need be. 

Time pieces have always been something I've loved and after a month of traveling with this watch to one of the most remote parts of the world I can say that we've shared some amazing memories. 

As I head into other mountain ranges around the world, I constantly look forward to the weight and companionship of the Alpiner 4 on my wrist. 

Enjoy the gallery from my trek into the Khumnu Region below:

Alpine Modern Issue 06

I was recently asked to sit in a panel of six other (much more amazing) folks to talk about design, tradition, photography, and the outdoors. The event was held at Alpine Modern Cafe which is where I I formally met Lon McGowan, the Founder of Alpine Modern. We had coffee later on and listened to each others stories, I left incredibly inspired and encouraged. Long story short, he's started some really rad stuff. 

I also, without thinking about it too much, mentioned to him that I'd love to contribute to the Alpine Modern magazine. I didn't really have a story or anything at the moment that I thought would be a worthy contribution, but just wanted to let him know my desire. 

It turns out, I had the perfect image for a story that needed images. So ... I'm excited to say that I'll be featured in Alpine Modern Issue 06

The Odd Excitement of Insecurity

So, I just quit my steady job with a tech company in order to fully chase my dreams as a photographer, storyteller, and athlete.

Its scary as hell to give up steady pay checks and routine. Its scary to think about the dream I usually don't dare to dream.

But lately I've been craving so much more and I'm willing to work hard to get it.

The success of this upcoming journey isn't defined in relation to the achievement of other; but rather, the purpose of this journey is to achieve my own ultimate potential to better serve others.

Vincent Van Gogh once said, "If you hear a voice within you saying 'You are not a painter,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

I'm ready to silence all the voices that are discouraging me to bring forth this work, though this doesn't mean I'm being blindly optimistic about the reality, hardship, and struggles associated with chasing being dreams. I'm also chasing my dream in the context of community, surrounded by friends with great wisdom.

This does mean that I'm oddly excited about the insecurity that lies ahead.

It means, I'm chasing my dreams.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN REITER: OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER

Based in Colorado and Utah,  Justin Reiter is an Olympic Snowboarder and adventurer. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. 

So, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How old were you when you decided that you wanted to be in the Olympics? When did you first get on a snowboard? 

I was born in Lake Tahoe California and lived there until I was 6. Then, when I was six my Mother and I moved to Colorado. I lived most of my life in Dillon and Steamboat Springs Colorado. I saw snowboarding for the first time when I was 9 years old. I was mesmerized.  It was love at first sight. I begged my Mom for a board and come Christmas there was a Burton Performer Elite under the tree. I slept with it that night and still have it today.

I also got to watch snowboarding's first venture into the Olympics take place in 1998.  I snuck into a bar and watched from the kitchen as history was made. I knew at that moment I wanted to go to the Olympics. 

What is it really like training for the Olympics? How old were you when you started training? 

I started snowboarding for fun when I was nine, but soon found out there was a local series of snowboard competitions. I was drawn to the competition not because of the desire to be the best but because all of my friends were there and there was an undeniable spirit of friendship. Slowly I became more competitive and driven. Back then we competed in all of the disciplines.  Racing and freestyle, the goal was to be the best overall rider. Eventually, when I turned 17 I had to choose my focus if I was going to turn pro. My heart was torn between half pipe and racing.  My love for speed won and I focused on racing. From 18 on, snowboarding became my life and my life became snowboarding.   

What does your "average" day look like at the moment?  

I have four types of days: Competition Day Training Day, Travel Day, Day Off.

  1. Training days are the bulk of the season. It consists of waking up, scarfing some breakfast and heading to the hill. At the mountain my coaches will set a course while I do some technical free riding to warm up. Once that is set I will start chasing gates, one run after another. Always focused on improving. I will take between 6-12 runs. After on "snow training" its lunch time and then gym time. The day ends with dinner and a good nights sleep.

  2. Comp days are intense but there is a calm in the storm.  They are similar to one another as the schedule remains the same. I find some peace in the routine and knowing what's coming. The opposite of the calm is nerves and anticipation.  

  3. Travel Days happen almost as often as training days. They consist of planes, trains and automobiles. It is an effort to try and enjoy them. Its always fun to look ahead and plan to make stops at cool spots along the way.  

  4. Days off are the best because you are normally in a cool place and can finally get out of the routine to explore. 

Whats your dream location or line to snowboard? 

Honestly, I love riding with my best friends and good snow. It could be anywhere, it really doesn't matter.

How do you balance out all of the training with just having fun?

Its a difficult line. Sometimes when the results aren't there the tendency is to grind super hard.  You forget about fun and just work. This can be counterproductive. You have to remember to enjoy the journey. For this I turn to photography. I love trying to capture the experience and this reminds me to savor it.  

Whats peoples biggest misconception about the Olympics? 

I believe in the Olympic spirit. Fortunately, that is embodied in every athlete who represents their country in the games. Unfortunately the Olympics, due to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), have become way too commercialized and they no longer put the athletes first.  Money takes priority and the athletes are forced to deal with sub par conditions and locations.

Alright, last question. Whats your biggest advice for anyone wishing to be an Olympic Athlete or a Sponsored/ Pro Athlete?  

Find what you love and do it no matter the cost. You may NOT be the best today, but that doesn't mean you cannot BECOME the best tomorrow. 

Photos from Justin Reiter - Instagram.

Photos from Justin Reiter - Instagram.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BRADLEY: MOUNTAIN GUIDE

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, growing up in Stowe, VT my head was wrapped along with the clouds around the mountains that surrounded the town. As I grew older I decided that I wanted to lean into a roll of someone much older than myself. I wanted to be bigger than myself. So I joined the local 911 services, mountain rescue and ski patrol before I had graduated. I joined anything and everything I could that would give me the skills I needed for the mountains. 

Wanderlust was kicking in hard and before graduating high school I told my mom I wanted to head out to Alaska. I signed up for NOLS to give her peace of mind, knowing I would be safe with this organization. While finishing up my Alaska mountaineering program II was reunited with someone that I had rescued off a mountain in Stowe, back when I was in high school. Turns out, he was the head of Alaska NOLS. He ended up encouraging me to hang out for the rest season. Moments of reuniting and connecting with folks became a pattern. I eventually made a great first impression on my future employer during a rescue scene. That moment ended up sealing my place on a team that would eventually take us to Greenland, where I'd get to guide. That all leads to my current mission, The Duck Hunt.

So, whats The Duck Hunt?

Its a current project I'm working on which involves locating 3 American war heroes lost in eastern Greenland in 1942 when their Grumman J2F-4 Duck amphibious biplane crashed into an icecap during a rescue mission. 

What excites you most about this project?

Besides making history, its the fact that these young made made the ultimate sacrifice. They risked and ultimately lost their lives to rescue others. They deserve to be found. 

You've been a mountain guide for a while, what's peoples biggest misconception about your job?

There is incredible responsibility that comes with being a guide. Other people are trusting you with their lives in some of the most difficult moments they may ever experience. Being a guide also means you're usually working on other peoples projects. It doesn't mean you don't have fun and you aren't enjoying the outdoors anymore, it just means that you spend most of your time focusing on what the client wants to accomplish. And like any other job, you have to find extra time for your own projects. 

What sort of physical training do you do to keep up with the demands of being a mountain guide? 

I'm more of a couch guy. I hate the gym. But really, I'm always training. I'm always outside doing something. The equipment I use and my knowledge of it is way more important to me. 

So you really don't do any training?

I mean, I ride a ton of mountain bike. I ride a single speed mountain bike which is a heck of a workout. 

Thats the most hipster thing ever: single speed mountain bike. 

I started riding a single speed mountain bike when today's hipsters were still in training wheels. 

You're crazy. Would you say its ever too late to get serious about adventure and outdoor sports? What about becoming a guide?

No way! Anyone can begin to get serious about the outdoors. Start by spending as much time as possible outside. Pick up some books and take some classes. Like anything else in life, if you really want to pursue it, you're going to have to sacrifice a lot.

Any last advice? 

Wear a helmet, please. Don't ever leave without it!

 

 

What I learned from my first week of Training with Mountain Athlete

Before beginning this plan, I was in the gym at least five days a week either lifting, climbing, or conditioning, but it was all over the place. So in this first week I'm already finding a certain discipline that comes from committing to this sort of regimen ... the sort of discipline thats needed to endure days and weeks in the mountains or months and years trying to work on a climbing problem. So here are my top three findings:

1) My mental toughness has a lot of catching up to do with my physical.

2) At the same time, I have found a whole new mental focus and drive that I haven’t felt in a very long time.

3) Mountain Athlete's programming is amazing. I used to coach Crossfit and have been through tons of different programming, but I’ve never worked through a plan this precise. Every session perfectly aligns with the ultimate 10-week goal: climb bigger mountains. 

Side note: I'm going to be doing some time trial efforts on hikes, climbs, runs, 2000M row, and more to begin pulling in some data. I'll track that data through the end of this training and use it to inform my next training cycle.

In an effort to keep training my mental state, I'll be reading these three books:

If you have any other book, article, or podcast recommendations please leave a comment. I'd love to check them out.

 

Big Mountain Training Program

I’ve always wondered what I could accomplish if I got serious about my training for the mountains. Like really serious. Not just climbing at the gym recreationally and going on weekend hikes in hope of somehow becoming a serious athlete, but giving it everything I’ve got. 

So instead of continuing to wonder, I reached out to Mountain Tactical Institute in search of some coaching and advice. What resulted was the beginning of what I hope to be a long relationship. I’ve started their Big Mountain Plan which is 10 weeks long and prescribes for five days of training. 

I’m dedicating myself entirely to this program. Along the way I’ll also be training outside - since the whole point of this is to train for outside performance. 

This program is mainly focused on giving you the big engine (the endurance) you need for long and hard days in the mountains, so to supplement my technical training I will be adding in a little bit of training from The Rock Climber’s Training Manual.

I’m excited to see whats possible for a kid who grew up in Miami, FL and didn’t have real access to mountains till he was 22. It’s never too late to tap into your full potential, and thats what this is all about. Thanks for following along!

Cheers!