Seventeen of my favorite pictures from 2017 — a year that took me to four continents, six states, and eight countries.
For my 16 favorite photos from last year, check out 2016 in Photos.
My good friend and climbing partner Meg was in a serious mountaineering accident last week. She was struck in the head by falling rock while attempting to climb Martha’s Couloir on Long’s Peak, a mixed ice and snow route. Her helmet saved her life, but by all accounts from those back home, she faces a long journey to recovery. Meg’s a strong person; the strongest I know, probably. But a traumatic brain injury is not a small thing.
When I saw the news on Facebook, I felt powerless. Here I was, halfway across the world in Morocco, while a good friend lay in the hospital on the verge of death. Had I been in Colorado, I might even have been on that mountain with her. I felt guilty.
I have a platform here, an audience that cares about what I have to say. I dashed off a post about the accident; imploring people to donate to the GoFundMe her family had started to pay for the sure-to-be-staggering medical bills. It felt good to be doing something. I was even going to send a message to my neglected e-mail list. I might lose some subscribers, but someone would probably donate. I wanted to help. I almost pulled the trigger.
I went for a walk in the mountains. Here in Chefchaouen, mountains rise right outside of the town—their powerful presence is a big part of why I have lingered in this sleepy Moroccan pueblo for so long. Mountains have always been where I find my peace; where I find my best self. Meg, I know, is similar.
I walked out of town, accompanied by a new friend from the hostel, doing her best to distract me from my morbid state of mind. Admirable effort, but I still found myself thinking about the times Meg and I had shared together as climbing partners. I thought about the reasons we go into the mountains. I thought about why we do these things which we know could kill us. And I thought about what Meg would want.
Here it became clear to me, the story of a broken person in need of help wasn’t the story she would want told. That’s not Meg’s story. I wouldn’t dare to write it.
Instead, I want to tell the story of the day we climbed Long’s Peak.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of Colorado’s premier climbing destinations. Nestled in a hidden little valley just a few minutes from the edge of Boulder, Colorado, Eldo is a spot most people will never have reason to visit. Unless you’re a rock climber.
I spend a lot of time on the road. This is, after all, a travel blog. But I can never spend all my time abroad — the pull of home is too strong. And climbing, for me, is a huge part of that pull. I don’t write about it much — but the fact is, climbing is just as exciting as anything I do abroad. (And I have not been that successful at climbing while on the road). So today, we’re going to take a look at one of the reasons I love my home so much, and why Colorado is a premier travel destination for many adventurers.
And one of my favorite places in the world.
After our race, Young Ankit and I struck up some conversation as we sat waiting for the rest of our group to catch up with us. Ankit was working as a porter, carrying the diplomat’s pack, but I had noticed that he seemed a little different from the rest of the porters. Younger, less beat-down. He was more wide-eyed, and certainly more social. Many of the other porters didn’t even speak English. Ankit was animated, articulate, and curious about life in countries other than his own.
It turned out, this was his first-ever trek. He was 15.
It was all still an adventure to him.