This Is Youth and Meg of the Mountain Climb a Mountain

Hey friends,

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that in addition to travel, I have another passion: climbing. (For more context, see one of my favorite essays I’ve ever written: ‘Work the Problem.”) The “Pieces of Life” feed is a pretty solid example of this: it alternates between climbing pictures and travel pictures. The two don’t mix, they come in blocks. A month of climbing photos, then a few months of travel photos. Then back to the climbing. Then more travel. Etc.

The night before I left Colombia, I met an American expat for drinks. Happy for a friend, he kept buying me rounds. Uneager to leave Colombia, I kept accepting. Together, over the course of what was supposed to be just a quick get-to-know-you afternoon, we drank 26 beers. Our pyramid of empties filled the tiny table.

I traveled home the next day: 12 hours, three airports, one hangover. I arrived in Colorado late on a Saturday night. The next morning, Sunday, I was in Boulder Canyon, climbing. Leading 5.10d and 5.11a, although certainly not elegantly. Most people wouldn’t do that.

I wasn’t speaking Spanish, but I was speaking a language I loved — climbers have a language and a diction all their own. Kneebars, cams, handjams, crimps, onsight… words I loved hearing almost as much as chevere, súper, and ciao.

Ever since returning home from Colombia, I’ve been climbing a lot. I find this is the most effective way to fight the post-travel depression that always sets in when I return from an extended jaunt abroad. Luckily for me, home is Colorado, where amazing climbing literally comes at you around every corner.

While I’ve been doing a ton of climbing, I realized I haven’t written much about it. So today, I figured I’d give it a go.

Continue reading

Nepal 98: Sunrise at Annapurna Base Camp

(almost landed this chapter on 100… so close…)

I awoke shivering in my thin sleeping bag at Annapurna Base Camp. My sleep had been shaky, at best. This was probably the twelfth time I had awoken in the middle of the night, but this time, the room was ever-so-slightly lighter. I looked at my phone. 5:30 a.m. Good enough.

I clearly wasn’t going to be getting any more sleep.

Sunrise over Annapurna. This was what we’d come for.

Continue reading

Which Popular European Vacation Spot Disappointed Me?

I was trying to come up with a list of my “Least Favorite Countries,” recently, as a bit of a contrast to my Three Favorite Countries article. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that I couldn’t honestly come up with three countries I thought belonged on that list. Every place I’ve been to has held good memories or lessons for me.

There are only two places I would say I didn’t like that much. One was Sofia, Bulgaria, where I only spent a few hours, and the other was this surprising European country — which didn’t quite meet my expectations.

Hit the jump to find out where it was!

Continue reading

#vanlife is so Passé… Meet This Couple Living Out of ‘the GNARbus’ — a Converted Old School Bus!

If you’ve got half an ear to the ground re: the cool kids on social media these days, you’re surely aware of the growing bohemian trend of living in your van. The New Yorker wrote a great article about the #vanlife trend recently, which means, like, obviously, the trend is no longer cool.

Sarcasm aside, there has been a huge increase in millennial interest in this trend of converted vans. So when I met my friend Jazzmin in Paris last year, I was a little surprised to hear her say she and her boyfriend Carson had recently bought, not a van. but a short SCHOOLBUS, with the intention of converting it into a tiny home on wheels.

You don’t hear much about converted schoolbus homes.

Now, half a year later, the bus is done, and the pair have hit the road. They recently launched a new website, GNARbus, to chronicle their lifestyle and adventures.

Hit the jump to find out a little more, and see a video walkthrough of their ultra-cool ‘mobile home.’

Continue reading

Nepal 86: The Diplomat

The German woman who had leaned into our conversation about Linjon turned out to be quite a character herself. As we kept chatting, I became fascinated with her life story. This happened quite frequently while you were traveling, I was beginning to understand.

She was a diplomat — attached to the ambassador’s office in Kathmandu. Her daughter, on break from university, had joined her for a few weeks of holiday in Nepal. Being able to tour around amazing places and new cultures was just one of the perks of working in the foreign service.

“Well, really the only perk, if your job is like mine,” the diplomat told me as we hit the trail again. “Unfortunately, I spend most of my time working, and very little time to enjoy the country. My boss, on the other hand, he loves to trek. He is in Mustang right now I think, trekking.”

“Walk in for thirteen days, look at a damaged monastery, write a check, hike out for thirteen days, and call it work?” I joked.

She laughed, a wheezy exhalation as we made our way up some steps. “How did you know?!”

Continue reading