Two years ago, in January 2017, I returned from a trip abroad. I had spent a month in Budapest, Hungary, visiting my friend Shawn, and a month backpacking the Balkan countries.
Colorado weather being what it is, we had 70 degrees (21C) and sun that January, despite the fact that it was the middle of winter. Suffering from the usual post-travel depression, I met up with my friends for a day of sport climbing in Boulder Canyon as quickly as I could. My friend Ben, a Buddhist scholar at Naropa University, told me “I’m inviting a few classmates along. You’ll like them.”
Ironically, neither climbed at all. One was a monk; his order didn’t permit him. The other was Meg, who let us all know, loudly: “I’m going ice climbing tomorrow and I need to save my strength.”
That was the beginning of the end.
Over the next two years, Meg and I climbed some mountains and built a friendship. I found my way into her friend group of serious climbers, and I was slowly sucked more and more towards alpinism, mountains, and ice.
For the past six years, that friend group has taken an annual Super Bowl trip to the Ouray Ice Park, in Ouray, Colorado. I was invited last year, but I was in Italy at the time.
This year, I finally joined the fun. And let me tell you:
Ouray is cool.
There can’t be many places like this in the world. Learn why, below the jump.
When I’m traveling and people find out I’m American, one of the first things they usually say is: “Oh, America: Black Friday!”
I’m not sure why this event has managed to attach itself to the American identity, but I’ve had enough foreigners ask me about it that it clearly has. The rest of the world sees us as capitalism-crazed lemmings; people who will jump out of bed at 5 a.m. for anything, as long as the discount’s high enough.
And maybe that’s true, for some segment of my countrymen. But that’s not MY America. The same way the extreme Islamic clerics don’t represent Nouman’s Morocco, the homophobes in the streets don’t represent Iuri’s Brazil, and the Brexiteers don’t represent Sean’s England. Black Friday shoppers don’t represent MY America.
You can’t (successfully) stereotype people of any country — but the US, even less so. As I tell people when they ask about my home: there are many Americas.
And in my America, we #OptOutside.
While everyone else got up at 5 a.m. to snag #dealz, we got up at 5 a.m. to go snag some early-season ice climbing at Hidden Falls, in Rocky Mountain National Park. Find a different side of America, below the jump.