Break me into bigger pieces, so some of me is home with you.

Archive for July, 2012

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

“…and you may ask yourself, well, “How did I get here?”


Back from safari

This world is pretty amazing.

I just spent the last five days gallivanting around the wildlife preserves of Tanzania, ogling ostrich, wondering at wildebeest and gandering gazelle.  Who’s life is this?!?

The safari was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had.  Most people have been to a zoo and observed some of these animals in captivity.  On safari, you pull right up alongside the elephant, hanging out of your topless Land Rover to get the best shot.  The CB radios equipping each vehicle constantly squawk to life as fellow drivers inform one another of a cheetah sighting.  We watched, mouths agape as a female lion proceeded to stalk and attack two Thompson Gazelle.  We gagged with captivated (nasal) disgust as a group of hippopotamus (the only animal to fart out of it’s mouth) basked in the shade downwind from us.  It was sensory overload in all meanings of the phrase.  I can’t wait to get some pictures up here and share the experiences with you.

I return home on Sunday evening and look forward to some more detailed posts next week!

BroFile: MattB

MattB is a guy you want to have around.  A few phrases to describe him:

  • Excellent Photographer
  • Music connoisseur
  • Computer nerd
  • Outdoors-man

Yup, when you’re stranded in the great outdoors MattB will stump you with music trivia, fix your broken digital camera and, after snapping a shot of your dumbfound expression, post it to every social networking site.  Look, you’re on the front page of Reddit!

MattB was partially responsible for getting me on my first 14er (Wetterhorn Peak, 14,016′).  Our families took a trip together after a great 4th of July celebration a few years back.  It got me hooked.

Not sardines, but just as scary

He also introduced me to sardines as trail food.  I was skeptical at first, but damn, a nice tin of fish, some mini bagels and a packet of mustard really hits the spot at 13,000′.

MattB’s not old, but he has seen me grow up in our small community.  Here he is gettin’ rad back in the day:


What a punk kid.

He shreds on tele skis and a bike.  Powder days are heaven, whether they’re white or brown.

Thanks for the help training, MattB.  Let’s hit some more 14ers when I get back!

Really, though, MattB takes the most amazing pictures.  Be sure to check out his site.

The 2012 Cancer Climber Kilimanjaro Team

I thought it would help in the retelling of the trek to provide background on my Kilimanjaro team-mates.  After all, they’ll be in plenty of my pictures and stories and are all pretty awesome people.

Don Bray

From Colorado as well, Don is an avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast.  He wasn’t always, however.  Don only began hiking four or five years ago, but fell in love with it and made fast friends with other hikers in the Denver area.  He participates in a number of charitable causes and that’s how he got on this trip.  Don is a keen observer and throughout the trip had a way of pointing things out that I hadn’t seen or heard.  I look forward to doing some 14ers with him when we get back to the states.

Kyle Bingham

Having just left the slopes of an unsuccessful attempt on Mt. Rainer, Kyle was very prepared for this trip.  From Seattle, climbing and hiking is Kyle’s passion and it shows.  We were tent-mates, so Kyle and I got to know each other pretty well during the trek.  Our philosophies on life are very similar:  if you have the opportunity to do something, do it.  Not everyone gets the chance, so use yours wisely.  He has aspirations of climbing Everest in a few years and has his sights on Denali for the same season as I do.

Becca Gwin

“Congratulations on graduating, your grad gift is a trip up Kilimanjaro!”  Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it went, but Becca has just graduated and is headed to Purdue this fall.  We dubbed Becca “The Punisher” because of her endurance and ability to grind out tough days.  She never descended into a bad mood or low spirits and loved trail riddles.  Her youthful exuberance always pulled us out of the hiking doldrums.  She was great to have on the team.


The mother of Becca and a powerful team member, Melissa kept a light energy in the crew.  She’s a very friendly and soft-spoken individual, but had this terrific way of putting people at ease.  Melissa’s nurturing and gentle nature made her a great asset in such harsh and brutal climates.  I think this mother-daughter team received more satellite phone texts than any other team member.  The love was obvious and a welcome addition during our expedition.

Carol Stewart

Carol is an incredibly strong woman.  She lives in Seattle and is a cancer survivor as well.  Her grit and determination impressed me day in and day out.  Often times I would over hear her saying things like, “Well, Garrison is wearing his shell, so I’m going to put mine on, too.”  I tried not to take advantage of this, but considered throwing my down jacket on in the hot and humid rainforest to see if she’d follow suit.  I have immense respect and admiration for Carol, because she really jumped into this thing head first and had the determination to see it all the way through.

Terry Swarner

You can see where Sean gets it.  Terry’s tenacity and determination is obvious and from the moment you meet her, you can see a fire behind her eyes.  Unfortunately, I think the mountain sickness hit her the hardest, but it didn’t stop her from fighting hard each day.  The motto on the mountain is “pole, pole” (p-oh-lay) which means slowly, slowly, and Terry helped us keep our eager team members (me, maybe?) to a reasonable speed.  You can’t summit this mountain fast.

Sean Swarner

The man who brought us all together.  He’s a two-time cancer survivor, has one lung, was the first cancer survivor to summit Mt. Everest, has completed the Seven Summits, runs marathons and competes in Iron Mans.  …what am I missing…Oh, and established an amazing organization called Cancer Climber, which you should definitely check out and give to generously.  He made this trip a reality for me and gives inspiration to countless survivors.  Seriously, this guy is the Bill Gates of inspiration (he has lots of it.)

We all meshed immediately.  The team was strong day in and day out.  I’m glad to call each and every one of these people my friends.  Keep climbing!

Safari Time

Sorry I have yet to write a recap.  I’m going on safari for the rest of the week (rough life, I know.  We’re calling it ‘recovery’, but you may call it ‘fun-hogging’.)  I just got off the mountain a few hours ago, so I’m not going to have a lot of time to prepare posts.  While I’d love to give you a concise overview of how the entire hike went down, there’s just too much to cover in one short post.  Don’t worry baby birds, I’ll feed you.  But it is probably going to have to wait until I get home.  I’ll have awesome pictures from the safari at that point, too.

Hope all is well at home.  Don’t worry about me, I plan to keep my distance from the lions.

Summit Success!

We made it!

We reached the summit of Tanzania’s 19,341′ Mt. Kilimanjaro at 7:21am, East Africa Time. I’m posting from the hospitable and comfortable computer room of our Springlands hotel in Moshi town, Tanzania.  We returned a few hours ago after trekking out of the national park.

I plan to write a recap of each day to give you an idea of the trek itself, the conditions, highs, lows, etc.  You can rest easy, all of our team is safe and happy.

Thank you all for following along the journey and helping to inspire me through your love and support.  Stay tuned, because I’ve got a story to tell…

Summit Day

If all has gone according to plan, today is our summit day.  We’ll leave high camp at 11:00pm and trek through the night to, hopefully, witness a Kilimanjaro sunrise.  Once the summit is reached, we descend to our second camp making the total time for the day a hefty 18 hours.  I’m hoping all has gone according to plan and that the plan is well underway, because you’re probably reading this in the morning and I should be on the way to get some celebratory banana beer.


Bro-file: JCarr

I’ve decided it would be a cool thing to start a new feature:  Bro-files.

What is a Bro-file, you might ask?  It’s a profile on one of my bros.  Pretty straight forward.  I’ll get a few out there to hopefully get my readers acquainted with some of the peeps I get into the great outdoors with.  For this episode…


I first met JCarr at the entrance to Hartman Rocks.  I think I made a good impression.  You see, a few WSC bike team teammates and I were course marshaling at the turn into Hartmans.  It was just past dinner time and we had imbibed on a few festy-bevs.  And then a few more.  We had just got the portable fireplace raging and started passing the whisky around when JCarr rolled up on his single-speed.

“Uh…hey.  What are you guys doing?”  he asked, suspiciously.

“Hey dude, you want a shot of whiskey?!” another member of the team asked (certainly not me, you guys) and offered up the bottle.

Nice to meet you, JCarr.

A bit later, we hired JCarr at the Tune Up (R.I.P.) as a mechanic.  We rode together, skied together and worked together.  We became friends pretty quickly, as most with such similar hobbies in a small town do.

What is JCarr known for?

Pretty simple.  Cheesin’:


Haulin’ ass:

Leading the Growler

and Gettin’ wild:

Factory beer bong

We’ve had some good times together.  He’s helped me train quite a bit for Kilimanjaro, while he trains for the Colorado Trail Race (something that I have little to a lot of interest in depending on the time of year.  Typically, no interest before the race happens, lots of interest after it’s over.)

JCarr’s a super fast rider and always down for a new adventure.  Sometimes they end up being misadventures, but there’s fun in that too.  He’s always got something going on, and you can often hear him howl one of his catch-phrases:

“What’s going on YouTube?  Changing tires??”


“I could be into that shit.”


He’s also a bit of a hillbilly.

Here’s to you, JCarr.  Keep getting stoked.  For America!

The Darkroom

This image is not my property

The Darkroom.  Everyone knows it, even if they don’t know it by that name.  It’s the pits.  The low point during an activity.  The point at which you want to give up, go home and cower.  It’s playing the pain game.

And it’s required.

You can’t have a great time in the mountains or on the trail without getting into the Darkroom once or twice.  Inevitably, at one point during your ride, you’ll ask yourself: “Why the hell am I doing this?  I’m miserable.  My lungs burn.  I can taste blood.  I’m sucking wind and everyone is going faster than me.”

You’ve just entered the Darkroom.

It’s a dangerous place, this Darkroom.  It can make you quit.  It HAS made you quit.  It’s full of hoodoos and demons and all sorts of doubt.  It engulfs you and shakes you up.  You can’t focus on anything but stopping and turning around.  It hurts.

There are those souls out there who intentionally put themselves in the Darkroom.  Society calls them masochists, I typically call them some of my more hardcore friends.  My buddy EFreson calls it “Type A Fun”.  Putting yourself out there, knowing you’ll soon be in an extremely uncomfortable environment takes a certain type.  Admittedly, I’ve opened the door to the Darkroom on purpose from time to time.  I get inside and wonder what I was thinking when I turned the knob.

“Ouch!” I say, “Why did I want to do this?!  My legs burn!” as I make my way up a silly steep boot pack.

“What were we thinking when we thought of this?” I’ll moan as we bushwhack down an increasingly narrow runoff canyon.

“You thought this was going to be fun?!?” I’ll lament in the midst of a 70mph gust on a snowy, exposed ridge.

Luckily, most Darkroom experiences are with other people.  You may be in the Darkroom, but at least you’re with other people.  They can bring you up, unlock the door and get you out of there.  It’s lonely in the Darkroom, and it’s valuable to have partners who know how to rescue you from the depths.

But I’m glad there’s a Darkroom.  Cliche, yes, but how can we appreciate the good without the bad?  Being positive and happy in the mountains all day long is not realistic.  It just doesn’t happen that way all day.  The Darkroom has a way of teaching you appreciation and giving you perspective.

When you get into your Darkroom, how do you get out?  What helps?  When have you willing entered?

Toto: Africa

I’m sorry.  Really, I am.  It was too easy.

For your Tuesday…