The Ouray Ice Park is the Most Unique Place You’ll Hear About Today

(Tambien disponible en español, aqui)

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.

Continue reading
Advertisements

The Things I Saw in Joshua Tree National Park During the US Government Shutdown

J-Tree at Sunset

Joshua Tree was in the news a lot during December and early January, thanks to the US government shutdown. And if the Congress fails to reach a more permanent agreement by Feb 15, the government will shut down anew — and Joshua Tree may be in the news once again.

Why was Joshua Tree in the news?

A number of articles seemed to put forth the narrative that without US government workers to safeguard the land, irresponsible users were utterly consuming and destroying the park.

I’m an avid outdoorsperson and a huge advocate of Leave No Trace principles. I believe our public lands need to be protected and preserved for future generations.

But I’ve also spent the last few years working in online media, and have built a pretty healthy distrust for blindly accepting ‘reporting’. Here’s why:

  1. The media always has an agenda — and any given story is framed to advance that agenda. Sometimes this is done intentionally, sometimes it enters the writing unconsciously. But it’s always there.
  2. Reporters rarely have the time and resources to actually investigate their stories. In most cases, outlets simply parrot what the other sources are saying — resulting in a million versions of the same story, all based on the same dubious source. For example: the above photo of a Joshua Tree that was allegedly chopped down during the government shutdown (widely shared) turned out to be of a tree which had fallen down PRIOR to the shutdown

So, I’m not saying it’s all “fake news”. But I am saying, you should measure what the news says up against independent observers and expert voices.

I’m no expert, but I was observing Joshua Tree during the shutdown. 

And in my experience, people were being caring and respectful.

Continue reading

Home is Where Your Climbing Partners Are

Took a winter romp up the route Ruper (5.8+ YDS, 5b+ French) this weekend. Ruper’s one of the classic climbs in Eldorado Canyon State Park (Eldo). Ruper’s six pitches of beautiful, vertical Colorado rock climbing — just twenty minutes from downtown Boulder.

We had 58 degrees (14.5 C), with cloud cover and moderate wind — in the middle of December!! Winter in Colorado is awesome. We climbed in base layers for the first few pitches, but threw our puffies on for the climbing higher-up.

Not many words here — mostly pictures.

Continue reading

Best Christmas Gifts For Beginner Climbers

[Spanish here / leyelo en español]

Christmas season is coming up, which means it’s time to start thinking about the things we could get out loved ones to help them along their way, and brighten their days in the year ahead.

Since I often write about climbing on here, I thought I’d put together a brief list of gift ideas that could be good for an aspiring climber or a beginner climber.

Read on for my recommendations.

Continue reading

Why I Chose to #OptOutside this Black Friday

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.

Continue reading