Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazing Grass Challenge

In good company with The Green Darner and The Bicycling Electrician.
They have real names too, but I like their super-hero aliases. 

This month Amazing Grass is holding a 5 day V-Tox Challenge; with recipes and articles on eating a plant-based diet, ambassador spotlights (I'm on day #2, check out my spotlight here), and a daily challenge; with exercises and activities to keep you excited and stoked on getting healthy, fit, and ready for life.

(Click on the link and sign up with your own email account.)

Recipe #2. Red lentil and butternut squash soup. 

I have been working with Amazing Grass now for a few years and I love their products. I know how easy it is to struggle with eating the "right" foods and staying on track with my "diet."

In fact some of that stuff about eating right and being on a diet, bugs me. Why can't I eat what I want? Right?

Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe food has changed. And with all the people who now have food intolerance's (mine are potato, corn, and processed sugar), eating is even changing.

As an athlete, my health is very important to me. I got into eating a more plant-based diet when I was still a teenager, but I also lived a hard life for many years; drinking and doing drugs. My health suffered because of it. When it came time to restart my life, and focus on the what I loved to do; ski and climb mountains, I had a slew of health problems to deal with that all came directly from my poor diet.

So it's not simple. Not for anyone. And I don't pretend it is easy either. Good luck.

Amazing Grass is the wheat grass company, and they make the best tasting wheat grass powders available. I love these little flavour packets on the trail, at home, and they make a great hit at parties. (Yeah, that's how I party. Hunter S. Thompson did grapefruit. I shoot wheat grass.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Trails

"The happiest people are not the ones with the most, but the ones that make the best with what they've got."

I read this quote somewhere, and thought about all the things 
I am not bringing on my next adventure. 

a cell phone, laptop, or itinerary

Those new cold weather cycling boots I was eyeing with clipless peddles. Nope, didn't buy those. Sorry Mercedes; this trip is more Mitsubishi. 

Still don't have decent bike lights, or a decent headlamp; been looking at that purchase for about ten and a half years.

(Umm, did he say he doesn't have decent bike lights? )
Yeah, this trip I'll still be enjoying some darkness.

And maybe someday my bike will come with lights. 
Be like selling a car without lights. That would be odd. 

Some day my bike will be run with a computer, power-inverter, lights, and a bad ass sound system. But first I'm going to pull off this expedition, and get all human-powered and shit. 

Then I'll get back to imagining about things and stuff, and what I really need in my life.
Like a $20,000 bicycle, with a bad ass sound system.

I know that might sound funny, but I want to be the first to own a real autocycle.
Sign me up 2015, here I am. (Did I just coin that shit?)

The beginning of the dream. Imagining the $20,000 autocycle

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caravan Factory Tour

This February I am going to the Beartooth Mountains on my first human-powered expedition in winter. Cycling hundreds of miles on frozen highways to attempt skiing on mountains that must be climbed.

(Stupid I know,  please leave comments at the bottom.)

I don't really have a plan beyond that. Bike a long ways, go skiing for a month in the Beartooth Mountains, and come home. Simple as that. Trailheads and laundromats will appear, no doubt.

And yeah, I end up wondering about wandering a lot. Who do I think I am out there by myself, hundreds of miles from home, with a bicycle and pair of skis?

What am I trying to prove? Or save? Do I have a purpose? Does my mother know what I do?

Well, I go to the mountains because mountains are honest, and show emotion with stark benevolence. And I need that for some reason. I'm drawn to it.

Getting stoked at the Caravan Skis Factory.

This year Caravan Skis made the Daily Drivers their best selling ski. An all mountain ski that likes to go fast and can hold down the throttle. I demoed a pair of Daily Drivers early in the season, and now I'm testing a prototype for next year.

Zeph, the man at Caravan, has lightened the ski with carbon-fiber, trimmed the tip and tail to make the ski more slashy, and I get to test them.

The selected wood core gives the ski a liveliness I haven't felt before. The hand made feel also gives the ski a sense of being something new and different. Both things I like.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The filming of LONU

Last year I made a ski film, or really, I sat around on the edge of making it and watched. Occasionally getting to ski and act silly. The film is credit to Henry Worobec and his crew of talented friends.

"Land Of No Use" was born a bumper sticker by our old time conservative brethren, and re-born into a ski film by our younger generation. (Click this link to watch Land Of No Use on vimeo.)

There has been debate about the making of our film, because of the whole Wilderness thing, and thus the making of a non-commercial film. I mean, why? Do we hate money? Is this supposed to be an environmental documentary, a ski film, or what?

So here's the skinny and the dirt behind the making of an outlaw film, and the three things I don't ever say to Henry.

Why make a non-commercial film about skiing in designated Wilderness?

Many big production films have segments filmed in Wilderness, but as long as they don't exploit the area; i.e. name the peaks, valleys, trails, trailheads, and try to sell you a guide/book/souvenir/movie,,,, then the Feds don't seem to mind so much.

But it seems if you start naming things and laying claim; the Feds want in and want money, and require expensive permits to lay your claims. And this is where it gets sticky, because big productions can easily pay the $15,000 for a permit to film.

So why not make a big production out of it? Pay the fees, and make a rad film about the meaning of Wilderness and what it means to us as skiers, Montanans, and passionate people with a voice. (And pay our bills, and make some money in the process, like the rest of us?)

Because big budget projects; can, have, and will be denied by the Feds for filming in Wilderness areas.

Probably because it becomes propaganda, and propaganda is also sticky. So is the Constitution to someone like me who doesn't know much. But what I understand, is that the Feds are able to control all commercial Wilderness propaganda, but can not control the Freedom Of Speech.

Meaning we can make a film. Anyone can, about anything. We just can't promote it to the world and profit off of it. If we did that we could be held at fault and sued by the Feds for breaking their rules.

And they have rules, so that's why you can't buy our film. That's why it's FREE now and forever. The Feds made it that way, in a way.

Now here is one of the things I don't ever say to Henry. For a ski-bum we skied and partied all winter, and not in that order, and then you come up with this non-profit status with Cottonwood Environmental Law Center to protect yourself and gain leverage.

I thought you were a ski-bum. What, did you actually go to college? And here's number two; the aloof thing with the ladies, is annoying. Every time we go out, all the ladies are like, Oh Henry wanna go float some rivers,,,,, piss off Chris.

And the third thing I wouldn't say directly to Henry. Sure you ski better than me, big deal, but you grew up in Boston, and that makes no sense; so I'm torn between loathing you and loving you for it. Peace.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Knowledge Route

My climbing mentor and I couldn't have been more different than one another. He slept with a gun under his pillow, frequently pulling it out, and soloed like he was pointing it at his own head.

I felt lucky though, because he liked me, the town hippie, and he was willing to show me the steep side of ice climbing around Valdez, AK.

When I first met "The Climber Who Shall Not Be Named" he had just soloed, Keystone Greensteps, Bridal Veil Falls, Simple Twist of Fate, and The Glass Onion; in his first three days in Valdez.

Some of the locals were pissed, because that's Valdez. Who was this guy? Did he ask permission to come in here and crush our routes? These are the biggest climbs we have. Damn him.

The guy had Montana plates, and looked to be living in his truck in the winter. Kindred spirits, I thought. I walked up immediately and asked him….. WTF dude? Where's your partner?

Like any good recluse, he avoided bragging at all cost and looked at me and said, "don't have one, just kinda made my way up." He didn't even know the name of the route he just crushed. I did.

I lived in a shack just up the road from the canyon. I asked DG; my ski partner, landlord, and resident sourdough, if our new friend could join us and stay at the compound. He said yes.

Then I made another no-brainer. I asked to go climbing. I said I had three years experience, was self taught, my gear was outdated (even for 1999), but that I would be willing to follow anything. Trouble started with the next breath.

Let's hop on Royal Ribbons, he suggested. My heart fell out of my ass and ran away. Royal Ribbons I trembled. Right now? I'd never climbed a multi-pitch mixed route. I don't even think I knew what mixed climbing was.

The climb looked spectacular. A 150ft pitch of beautiful blue/green ice leading up to a roof, where the ice ends as it emerges out of cracks in the rock.

From there, the climb traverses right on loose rock for 30 feet to reach a tiny ribbon of ice that spills down a blank vertical wall from above, for a pure 100 feet of perfect climbing. The Royal Ribbon.

I remember thinking, this is my first hanging belay, and shouldn't there be more than two ice screws. And when buddy kicked off a huge piece of ice on the second pitch, and it started oscillating at 150mph, making a loud hissing noise as it arced through the air…..

Well that's when he started screaming. At first my ass fell out again, but then I realized what he was saying. THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!! Yeah it was. I saw this huge grin, and about a 50 foot run-out from his last piece.

Welcome to the real world of ice climbing, I thought. Now let's pass the initiation exam….. It lasted two years.

I know that I am lucky to have found an old school, old world, and traditional coach in the sport of climbing. Funny thing was; he's 2 years younger than me.

HydroMonster; Yellowstone NP.  2010

Well now the exam is over, and while my mentor moved further into the AK bush to quietly push the limits of extreme alpinism; I moved back to Montana, and have been holding classes of my own.

My first attempt at mentoring ended poorly; with a broken leg, a ten year limp, and my best friend moving to Sacramento.

But then I met Kyle Rott. A goofy 17 year old kid from South Dakota that wanted to climb so badly, he was willing to try anything. Ice, rock, big walls,,,, he wanted to climb it all. So we did.

Maybe someday Kyle will start holding classes of his own, but he might have to move out of his truck first.

Kyle Rott, Avalanche Gulch, 2014

The Prodigal Dirtbag warming up on the choss in Hyalite Canyon.

Kyle of Expanding Horizons, during The Bozeman Ice Fest

Making it to the ice on Expanding Horizons.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


The Fat One
photo: Pat Claton

How is it possible that riding my bicycle to Canada took less preparation than riding 22 miles up The canyon south of town?

I ask because it baffles me. Why am I so freaked out to ride my bike to the Grotto trailhead and go ice climbing?

I've ridden hundreds of dirty winter roads, and I've gone climbing in many amazing and awe inspiring places. So why does my backyard scare me and freak me out so much?

I don't know. But I love it. I love the interconnectedness I feel about the place. The history. The climbing. The people. The animals. The trees. And the way I feel when it's snowing in the middle of a route. Awesome.

The place is made of heroes. They're there every day. And unlike many hot-spots on the climber's radar; to me, this place is not just a proving ground; it's just a special place.

Sure The canyon comes with a reputation. And sure, every climber who's ever climbed in The canyon, should know the reputation and how to act appropriately.

It's like the first day you climb in Yosemite, the first day you ski in Valdez, the first time you're like, Oh shit,,,,, am I really doing this? Oh yeah!

Certain places and mountains make us come alive. And not just us climbers and skiers who forgot about mainstream life. But for anyone who goes there and goes there frequently.

Hello Grotto.

The 29er+ mid-fat wheel size is great for long distances.

The 3" wide tires aren't quite fat enough to be a snow bike.
Best ride into The canyon yet.

Fully loaded for an overnighter and a day of ice climbing.

There are so many new tire sizes now for bicycles. I've been riding a 4" wide tire on a 26" wheel fat-bike for a few years now in the winter. This was the orginal size for fat-bikes, and great for snow riding, but slow over long distances.

This year I'm riding a 29er+ with 3" wide tires, and I've been calling it my mid-fat because it looks like a fat-bike, but really it's not.

The 29er+ has very low rolling resistance and is great for long distance travel. The 3" wide, low volume, tires on the 29er+ make for an extremely comfy ride, and allows adjustments in air pressure (10-25psi) to match changing road conditions.

Riding up The canyon, I was not worried about the icy paved section in the narrows. Sure, steep mountain roads, with icy corners are dangerous, but I was worried about the last three miles past the reservoir.

Would the ruts be to big to ride through? Would the snow be to deep for my skinny 3" tires? I didn't want to come up short, and not make it to the trailhead. Realistically I could stop and camp anywhere near the reservoir, and walk the rest of the way into The canyon to climb some ice.

But that's not the plan. The plan is to be ABLE to make it to the trailhead, relatively EASILY, from home, in winter weather and changing road conditions.

Well it's not really a plan, yet. More like an idea or a wandering gaze across the arctic circle where the earth curves. The sort of vision that alters reality, and the sort of reality that alters vision.

I wouldn't say human-powered mountaineering, during it's inception, has been a constant vision quest, or that to be a human-powered mountaineer I've had to wake up every morning and remember why I swallowed the red pill.

But I will say that I have an active imagination, and that's mostly what it takes. I think. I guess. I don't know?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ski & Flu Season, and the Athlete's Dark Cycle

Adrian Dingle; Rock Skier

Many of us have been hiking in the mountains this year. Skidding and sparking the rock skis off the rocks.  Swinging ice tools in slushy moss.  And getting ready,,, cause it's almost WINTER... Yeah!!!

And if you're like me, you love winter, and you hate to get sick. Winter comes and everyone starts coughing up yellow, green, and brown phlegm-balls, and passing it around like lunch.

So for years now I have been taking immune support tinctures in the late fall and early winter.  This boasts my immune system for these cold and dark months when we are forced to close all the windows and stay inside.

True, I stayed healthy living in a tent in Joshua Tree, CA. for two winters. But that's southern California desert, and there were lots of people around to climb with. (and hide from rangers with)

But, I got sick as a dog living in a damp teepee type tent-structure in Girdwood, AK.  Don't worry, I was young and dumb. Little phased me then. I was in Alaska to ski and I wanted real experiences. They found me.

Examples of immune support tinctures;
Astragalus, Echinacea, GoldenSeal, Ashwagandha, Hawthorn

Oil of Thieves
For robbing graves and surviving plagues. 

PLEASE NOTE: Always consult your doctor and health care professionals before taking any new form of medicine or drugs.

Now when the flu bug comes through town; I feel it. But I don't go down anymore. No more insane bronchial infections. No more lingering colds that last for weeks on end. And no more worry about my health.

I know how to take care of myself now. For centuries our culture has practiced preventive health care. It's cheap, easy to learn about, and can make a difference in your ski season.

I also know the importance of taking time off each year from being hard core and intense. As an athlete it is important to take brakes, both mentally and physically.

I call this the Dark Cycle. For me it comes in late August and lasts for a month or two. This year, the dark cycle lasted two and half months.  I'd burned myself out, and I needed a huge break.

I broke my strict diet, stayed up late, drank beer, socialized, and generally forgot about being cool all the time.

It was amazing, healthy, and some-what controlled. In the past, when I didn't know to take breaks; I would burn-out and not know why. I'd get frustrated, depressed, fall off the wagon, and end up hitch-hiking around the west coast with hippie girls in need of drug rehabilitation centers.

This year, the dark cycle allowed me to see changes in my life I was not expecting. At first it sucked, and I had to keep myself in check. Mentally I felt like there was a need to go out and keep proving myself. But physically I was flat.

The struggle (to chill-out) lasted over a month. Then when the feeling of being content came, there was this beautiful realization of having meaning in my life that I could see. Yeah, a small victory!

Dealing with the ego is difficult. As athletes, we pick up the sword, we wield our strength, and we attract certain demons because of it. How we deal with our demons determines champions.

In the gym with my trainer Chris Bender.

Coming out of the dark cycle with Amazing Grass smoothies.