Thursday, December 27, 2012

Schools, Farms, and Skis

I learned how to be a great person because of skiing.
And because of skiing I learned how to live a great life.

Ski Mountaineering in Alaska; 2003

For me skiing took patience and it taught me to enjoy my life in new and different ways.
Today skiing is still teaching me how to live properly.

Getting ready to ski Little Rainbow in the Pintlars; 2004
Little Rainbow above Storm Lake, Pintlar Mountains Montana.

I love skiing,,, and because of skiing I have a message when I go into a school. 
I'm enthusiastic about life....
And I realize how important these next generation are to making a positive,
and greener future.

Captain Green Man w/ bicycle and skis.

Because of skiing, I've learned how to value life differently.
To value my food and my family above profit and material things.

Is it ok to show summer pictures in the winter?

I remember crashing a lot when I learned how to ski.
Being cold and wondering why I was having so much fun at the same time.

I remember the day I realized the truth about skiing.
The exact moment when I knew what it is about skiing that makes it so perfect.
And makes people feel so free.

It's everything!
Everything mountains and earth,
snow crystals and air,
everything magical and real,
all at once
with no barriers between life, love, snow, and mountains

Everything about my relationships with love, 
and how this relationship can catalyst my future.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sacajawea Peak, Bridger Mountains Montana

Super freekin' stoked....!!!!

I love being the mountains in Winter! 
It's so amazing what you can see out there. 
The majestic Bridger Mountains in Montana! 
For a relatively short mountain range 
the Bridgers are have sharp 
jagged peaks, long elegant ridge lined, and perfect powder snow! 

Skiing into the Mountains. Sacajawea on far right.

The surreal adventure of solo winter mountaineering. 
I froze my ass off a few times. 
Lost the use of my right hand for about an hour,
had to jump around in my big puffy down jacket
while setting up camp. 

Bridge Mountain Majesty. So beautiful in full winter gown.

Not sure if I bruised my big toe or if this is partially due to 
Had to question everything;
where to camp,
where to stash the bike,
how fast to move,
what layers to where,
am I too cold or can I keep going?

Ice climbing boots work well for winter bicycle riding!!!

Yes, keep moving.
When your almost there,
It feels like perfection.

"The Great One" on Naya Nuki.

All my fears and doubts were replaced by sheer joy on the ski up to the top 
of Sacajawea. 
The mountains are so peaceful, soft, and quite in winter. 

How much stuff can you fit on a BOB Trailer?

The 7 Summits of Bozeman

My goal is to climb and ski the highest peak in each of the 7 mountain ranges the surround Bozeman in the next 5 months. All 100% Human-Powered! This is a fund-raising climb-a-thon to raise money for our organic farming networks, (that include School presentations on fitness, farming, and a plant-based diet to support a better you and better community, and our BIKE TO FARM summer group rides). Pledge by the mile or vertical foot! Donate today! (find the donate button on the right and make a contribution to support Human-Powered Mountaineers Inc.)
Because food is the most important issue we face in the world today.  Buy local, support organic, and make a difference!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Old Rad Dog Rio

Rio "Old Dog" 1992-2006

Old Dog turned grey at two years.
He held an air of authority and intelligence beyond that of any dog.
My companion, gardian, and best friend.
Rio saved my life more times than I will ever know.
(And a few times that I do.)
We skied off hundreds of Peaks together, from Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and Colorado.
Hitch-hiked thousands of miles in every type of weather possible.
And he never complained once.

Animal companions are a special part of our lives.
I keep this photo of Rio framed in my house
from one of our last adventures together,
rock climbing at Stone Hill near Eureka, MT.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Endorsed by The American Alpine Club

Get ready and buckle up! HPM Inc. is back with the help of Pat Clayton @ Fish Eye Guy Photography and the American Alpine Club. All proceeds will go to support our organic farming education network here in Gallatin County.

Immediately following the slide show we will turn the event into a social, by introducing our farmer friends from the summer's BIKE TO FARM project that Justene and I spearheaded, and we will be introducing all our friends and sponsors who are all apart of the holistic food & body work network here in Bozeman. This will be a great way for everyone to meet their farmers, yoga teachers, nutritionists, natural-path doctors, body workers, etc, etc, etc.  And all in a setting to drink a beer with them (?). Yep that's right. We are going to let it all hang out this year, (like we didn't do that last year...)

We are creating the future together. One peak, peddle stroke, and picture at a time. See you there!

p.s. The poster here is incomplete. Not all of our sponsors have reported in for duty. But as you can see this is going to be one awesome raffle. Everyone who buys a raffle ticket will at least be going home with a bag of swag. Everyone loves swag, and Bozeman is the king of swag.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Screaming Barfies

To many of us, ice climbing is church.
We come here to pray and get on our knees.
Our fate: The Screaming Barfies

If your not wailing out loud and dry heaving, it's not the 'screaming barfies'.
This man is getting the full value experience.

When your friend gets the 'screaming barfies' for the first time, the proper thing to do is humour him by laughing, pointing, and having a little boy come over to untie his knot.

By definition, the screaming barfies are when your hands warm up from frozen little icicles, to red hot pumping blood at 98.6ยบ, so fast that the burning sensation drops you to your knees, and you start wailing and dry heaving at the same time. (As pictured above).

Now I hear a lot of people throwing around the term 'screaming barfies', which makes me happy because it means that ice climbing is finally out of the closet and we don't have to be shy and bashful anymore about the sport that we love more than anything else in the world that requires our most basic primal instincts. BUT,,, if your not screaming and barfing, you haven't experience the screaming barfies.

Where's Waldo?
Can you see the ice climber in this photo?
The first person to identify the location of this amphitheatre wins
free Yerba Mate, from Mate Factor.

Why do people love ice climbing so much?
Maybe because it's cold,
and absolutely beautiful!

Friday, November 23, 2012

big love's advice column

We recently got this Email from Ian Gibson:

Hi There,

Just want to say great website and very inspiring.  You have got some really important stuff on there.  I am also very interested in holistic health and healing, and also planning my own human powered mountaineering trip on Vancouver Island next summer.  I was wondering if I could ask for your advice about how you packed your climbing gear on the bicycle.  I Have a bob that I intend to use and my trip partner will probably rely on panniers.  We will be encountering mixed terrain with some glacier travel and some low grade belayed climbing.  We are both experienced at cycle touring and climbing, but have yet to combine the two.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Going to extremes can easily look like this...!!!!
Note the shock on the BOB Ibex Trailer. Very nice ride...!!!!

Hi Ian,

Glad to help and share the adventure with you. I absolutely love bicycle touring and fell into almost by accident. If you have a BOB Trailer your stoked. In the past I've done everything from 3 day trips to 18 months, and the BOB (Trailer) has carried all of my gear without a single problem or complaint. Usually I put all the heavy climbing gear and ropes in the bottom of the dry bag, if you have one of those yellow dry bags that come with BOB. This keeps my rope and gear dry and I don't have to move the stuff around at all when I'm on the cycling leg of the trip. I also put my climbing gear and hardware in a stuff sack so that it's not lose in the bottom of the dry bag. Then depending on how much stuff you have with you, (I usually have more than enough) I put most of the light clothing, sleeping pad, food for the day, and other odds and ends in my back pack and strap that onto the out side of the trailer on top of the dry bag. I've done this with multiple size loads, everything from large backpacks with skis strapped to them, and smaller packs too.Please take pictures and we'd be stoked to hear about your adventure. I spent a month on Salt Spring Island (Gulf Islands between Vancouver and Vancouver Island) in 2010 at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, and then from there took the ferry over to Vancouver Island and rode north to Nanaimo, then back on the ferry over to Horseshoe Bay, and rode up to Squamish (world class rock climbing destination) and spent a month there climbing rocks with friends. Awesome ride on the Island. Love'd the places I camped and the being on the coast. Have fun and try to get your buddy a BOB Trailer....!!!!!

big love,


big love

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ice Climbers On High

A cold day in Hyalite started out the ice climbing season for me this year. This was Jimbo's first day on the ice, and I have never seen anyone as excited as Jimbo to try the sport of icicle climbing. He was so excited he almost lost his lunch before the start of the route...  John Meyer in yellow, Jimbo Whelan in green. 

Good cold fun!

Ready to take that first step on the ice,  just not sure how big...

Twin Falls in great shape! Nov. 10th, 2012

Beautiful cauliflower formations on G1.
Fun lead, now TR.

Who says cowboys don't like rap?
That's me; rapping like a cowboy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still Growing Up...

Chris Bangs circa 1976

The Empowerment of Local Organic Food

By Chris Bangs

Growing up on a small organic farm in Missoula Montana is one of the luckiest things I can imagine in the United States. So sure I was born lucky, but does that make living in this country at this time any easier for me that it does for you? 

The answer is no. No it’s not an easy time to be living in this country. We are currently smack dab in the middle of political, international, and personal chaos. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are at epidemic proportions, and the system is as foul and corrupt as ever. In fact the system right now is in the business of keeping people sick, scared, and un-empowered.

So what do we do that can make a difference, and what did I do to start a peaceful revolution in my own life?  The answer boiled down to something on two wheels that could promote and raise money for local organic farming across the country. 

The birth of Human-Powered Mountaineers Inc. was born. It was my way to take everything I have done in my life, (organic gardening, cycling, skiing, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and talking to the trees) and combine it into one huge project to shake up the world that I live in. 

Being a human-powered mountaineer is far from easy. It’s intense, dangerous, and at times; just plain brutal. But look at the world around us. Is anything easy anymore? Sure all the ease and convenience around us is nice, but is it really helping us out and securing a future for our kids and generations to come?

Once again, the answer is no. No we are not securing a future for our kids, and yes this is a tough thing to stomach. So what do we do about it? What do we do when we feel helpless to change the system? We start gardening, buying local organic food, join a co-op, (or start one in your town if there is not one there), work on a community garden, and ride your bike as much as possible.

For me, food is the central issue in our lives. Food, air, and water are the three most basic needs for survival. Yet food is up to us. How it’s cultivated, prepared, cared for and eaten. Air and water already exists, but it is food that effect the rest. How we prepare and grow food (or the choice we make when we buy food; organic vs. non organic) effects the quality of the air we breath and quality of the water we drink. Supporting Local Organic Food in my opinion is the single most import thing you can do to empower yourself, your community, and undermine the big bad system that most of us feel helpless against. 

In my experience over the last 10 years of going on self supported mountaineering expeditions. The most important thing that I have learned to keep myself feeling healthy, strong, and motivated; is paying attention to the foods that I eat. And make no mistake about it; I learned the hard way, and I have suffered what I call a food crash many times before I really figured it out. 

I wasn’t always an extreme athlete, living on an organic plant-based diet. But my travels and adventures taught me so much about the importance of sustained nutrition; especially on a 4 month long human-powered endurance challenge. Where in 2011 my wife and I rode our bicycles from Bozeman Montana all the way to the world famous Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia. What made this trip so amazing wasn’t the 15 technical rock climbing routes that we completed. It was the organic farms that we stopped at each day to buy our food. We were shopping with a machete, outside in the fields, and supporting local organic farmers, (and making some great friends along the way). So be an empowered human, and support local organic food as much as you can. 

Chris Bangs is the owner of Human-Powered Mountaineers Inc.. He holds a Ph.D. in Ski Bumming from The State of Alaska, and earned his Masters Degree in Dirt Bag Rock Climbing from the Hidden Valley Institute in Joshua Tree California. He now lives in Bozeman Montana.

Christopher and Melissa; at home in Missoula 1976

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nature Of Motion

Guest Blog By Tim Rodgers @ Nature Of Motion

Also in response to wanting to hear from other (em)powered humans, we got this post from Tim Rodgers of Nature of Motion.  True human-powered mountaineers, very inspiring, and we love that it is another awesome boy/girl couples team out there doing amazing bike-and-hike-and-climbs....!!!!!  
Go, Go, Go,  Tim and Liz....!!!!
Tim writes:
Dragontail Peak, Serpentine Arete

When we arrived in Leavenworth this spring, it was the first time either Liz or myself had ever seen the town, the Stuart Range, or the Cascades.  A dry ski season had left us with strong legs, weak butts, and a voracious appetite for climbing.  With only our bicycles for transportation our appetite was indeed larger then our ability for those first few weeks.  Slowly we worked our way into the season with short trips up the Tumwater and Icicle canyons, the packs on our backs were heavily laden with gear.  Hobo's Gulch, Clem's Holler, Castle Rock, Pearly Gates, we methodically worked our way up the road, each ride a little farther, each climb a little harder.  After a while we wised up and put some slick tires on our bikes and threw down some dough for a couple of B.O.B. trailers to get the gear off our backs and save our asses some unnecessary pain.  We've come a long way since those first weeks of this human powered season, our cycling has become more efficient, faster, and more pleasurable, and our climbing has improved in the same ways.  Not only the physical nature of our trips has increased though, the mental toughness required to undertake a multi night adventure in this style is demanding.  Should either of us be hurt or otherwise compromised, we're a long walk and ride from town.  The more we've become accustomed to this risk and accepted its many challenges, physical and mental, the more successful, exciting, and purely awesome our trips have become.  On our most recent bicycle-powered excursion into the Stuart Range, we wanted to push the envelope even farther by undertaking a committing alpine climb, from town, all human power, in one day.  We aimed high, and were rewarded with one of the finest climbs, and most rewarding experiences of the summer. 

Dragontail Peak's 2000 ft. Serpentine Arete.

Dragontail Peak's Serpentine Arete is a moderate, but committing climb.  While one of the easier routes on the Northern side, it's still a serious undertaking on this mile wide, 2000 foot face.  The arete is neighbors with the Backbone Ridge and offers a few pitches of awesome quality and location, along with thousands of feet of moderate scrambling and climbing.  The day would call on all of our skills, and require cool heads and a fast pace to complete before dark.  

With days getting shorter and our hopes to avoid a descent like our previous weeks bushwacking in the dark, we made for an early start, enjoying some coffee and granola, and rolling out of town under the cloak of darkness around 5 am.  The light caught up with us quickly but the ride out Icicle road and up the canyon was cool and we lost little energy compared to previous weeks of cycling in the heat.  A freshly grated and compacted road up Mountaineer Creek afforded us a speedy ascent to the parking lot of the Stuart Lake TH, the first leg of out multi-sport day going down in only about 2hrs, our first time up with day packs and a full 45 minutes faster then any previous attempt.  A quick refuel and we set off up the trail to Colchuck lake, again the early start and cool temperatures played in our favor and we were at the lake enjoying a snack in about only an hour and a half.  Around the lake and up the moraine got us to the base of the climb, just in time to transition to vertical movement and start using our hands,  as both of us were starting to feel a little tired from the waist down.  

Morning sun catching up with us over Colchuck Lake


Fueling up on top of the moraine.  We've come a long way already.

The first several hundred feet of the route are similar to backbone ridge, about 500 feet of scrambling gets progressively steeper, harder, and more exposed until the space below you motivates for some roped climbing.  A bit of simul-climbing and some exciting moves get you to the right side of the great pillar and the start of the fun climbing.  The next few short pitches were the highlight of the climb, clean, steep, moderate cracks and face climbing rated in the 5.8 range soon gave way to the blocky arete and loose rock the route is known for.  

Sending.  Liz sporting custom S.A.G. chalkbag with the Colchuck Glacier showing in the background.

Following up the money pitches.


We hadn't seen any parties on the wall when approaching from the moraine, somewhere below the great pillar we heard a shout or two but thought it might be resonating from the more popular lakeside.  Just before reaching the pillar we realized the shouts were coming from above and that we were following another party.  Most of the beta for the climb warns about a lot of loose rock and the reality that you'll probably not want be below other parties.  Where we were, the rock was still clean and we thought there was plenty of terrain to pass or keep to the side should conditions persuade us.  

We worked our way up the moderate sections high on the route, taking time to rest often as it was obvious the party ahead of us was not into letting us pass.  This made for some lost time but we figured we were doing great anyway and would be able to make up time on the descent.  Waiting quickly got old, however, and we made use of the available moderate terrain to try and sneak beside the other party to an alternate finish.  While scrambling and simul-climbing on the loose, gravely ledges I pushed off a few rocks that pushed off a few more and before I knew it, they were careening towards Liz below.  "rock..., Big Rock!"  I yelled, as Liz darted and swerved, but a softball sized chunk of granite connected with her hand and smashed her finger pretty well.  "You got me", she announced between tears, but she continued to climb up to me and I took her sobs for laughing because she was still moving and I hadn't realized she'd been hit.  I wouldn't have expected someone to get beaten by rockfall and immediately continue climbing, tough girl I've got here.  I belayed her up to me and we assessed the situation, bloody, beaten, but okay.  I taped up her finger so it wouldn't fing and like the hardwoman she is, Liz sobered up and pushed to the top.  

Close to the summit, Enchantment Basin in the background.

Bloody and taped up, but still smiling.

We were only a few minutes from the summit and before we knew it the climbing was over.  We enjoyed a snack, and a few of the most delicious, locally crafted, raw chocolate truffles from Sage Mountain before starting the descent towards Aasgard Pass.  We made some nice turns boot-skiing down the back side, and made good time down Aasgard.  Back at the lake, we hydrated and appreciated the view of the beautiful, and imposing mountain we'd just climbed.  We hoped to make it home by dark so we kept at the pace and again made quick work of the trail, getting back to the parking lot in another hour and a half, about 12 hours since we left it that morning.  All that lay ahead was the bicycle back to town, and as they say, it's all downhill from here.  

Now to go down...

Smiles on our faces and the wind in our hair, we soaked up the glory of the day in the most fitting way possible, coasting on a bike down a long hill.  Liz's finger got smashed, and that sucks.  Not cool.  But it could have been worse and it was a wake up call for us both to be more alert and careful, and as always, patient.  Otherwise the day was smooth, successful, and satisfying.  We dreamed big with this single-day, human powered, committing alpine climb, and were rewarded for our training, patience, and mindfulness.  One of the finest climbs, days in the mountains, or days of our lives, that either of us has ever experienced or shared.  This summer has been unreal, and the season for climbing is just getting started.

By the numbers (estimates):

Miles Biked:  25
Miles Hiked:  15
Vertical Feet Climbed:  2000
Total Vertical Ascent (feet):  7600

15 hours door-to-door


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Early Wanderings


It is important to give up in life 
That, which you will be forced to give up
in death

It is important to find in your life 
That, which will help carry you on
in death

It is important to learn in this life
That, which you must know
in death

It is important to live in this life,
That, which you will not regret 
in death

And yes 
It is very important
To get in touch with the part of yourself
That, knows no death

That is the importance of life
Skiing just makes it fun

My daily commute outside Valdez, AK. circa 2001

For almost 20 years I've been traveling around, posing as a professional ski bum in a motion picture that I play continuously in my mind. This keep me sane, because as a good friend once said to me,

"if you think that there might be something wrong with you, then your probably alright, but if your walking around thinking that everything is all hunky dory, then your most likely screwed in the head and need to seek help."

Duality, divine paradox; whatever you want to call it. It's real. And it's the world we live in. Keep digging, never give an inch.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Foundation

posted by Chris Bangs

Some where in New Mexico,
Lost in a forest
With nothing to do
I spit in the sand,
and chalk my hands.

Life took on a new meaning
the moment my feet left the ground.
The searching,
And the training,
Everything was paying off.
Zen is happening in my life!!!

No thoughts
No worries
No where else to be but in this moment.

Why be a dirtbag?
Because you want it! That's why. You want the freedom, the earth, and your feet on the ground,,,, how do I know this? Because I watch the news. I see the sadness in the rich persons eyes because there is no connection, to themselves, to the earth, to their mothers and their fathers, and especially to each other.

One cold rainy day in Alaska, Rio (Old Rad Dog Rio) and I were picked up hitchhiking by a nice guy in a new Porsche. Cool I thought. I'm in a new Porsche with my dirty dog getting mud on this guys seats. This is going to be interesting.... Let's see where this goes.

As usual with hitching a ride on a rainy day. The conversation started out, "boy I wouldn't want to be you right now, stuck out in the rain."

Then just as usual (as it has always been in my life on the road) the conversation shifted. The driver of the hot little red sports car started asking me questions about my life, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was not poor or destitute. I was living.

I had just hitched all the way from Montana to Alaska, spent a winter living the forest, climbing mountains with my dog Rio and then skiing back down to my tent, and my bag of dry beans, and my forest friends. The squirrels, moose, and little voles that I feed at night.

To make a long story short (my life has a bit of the infinity in it, as I go on forever),,,, by the time I got out of the $100,000 cherry red 911 Porsche Carrera t-top,,,,, the poor sap wanted to trade me lives. Too bad, I've got no use for a stupid little status symbol in my life. I'll take the rain and the wind in my face. I'll take the good times with the bad. The days of feasting and the days of famine. Because this is life, and we were meant to live it, raw, real, and without compromise.

It's not that I wanted to be the catalyst for somebodies mid-life crisis,,,, but a wake up call is a wake up call. As a matter of fact, the happiest people I know are dirtbags. They have learned to accept life, to accept the good and the bad without attachment.


Rain forests



The Foundation is not something that you can buy, rent, or steal; but a metaphor for your life. The Earth is infinitely more beautiful more than anything man can create. Protect her with your life!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Ski Bum Institute

posted by Chris Bangs

Mount Moran

My first HPM style trip started in 2002, when I rode my bicycle from Missoula, Montana to the Grand Tetons.  I stayed for a month (for free) at the American Alpine Club Teton Climbers Ranch, (thanks Sue!) and climbed and skied and frolicked my merry way around the Grand Tittie Mountains. Running into old friends, meeting new ones, and taking care of old vendettas.  Namely Mount Moran, and skiing the Skillet Glacier. No other mountain at that time had cast a stronger spell over me than Mount Moran. The first time I saw Mount Moran and the Skillet Glacier from the shores of Jackson Lake during winter, I dropped down to the ground and almost puked. Instantly the mountain's spell overtook me. It was love at first sight. Drop me to my knees style love, monarch butterflies in my stomach, style love. I will never really have lived until I ski this line, all by myself, just me and the mountain, together as one, style love.

That first view of the Skillet Glacier was back when I lived in Jackson Hole in 1997. I was in the process of becoming a full fledged ski mountaineer, and seeing lines in the mountains like the Skillet Glacier always took my breathe away. This time though I was seeing the line in person, and in winter when the run from the summit, all the way down to the lake, is over 6,000 vertical feet of relief.

Five years later, having graduated from The Ski Bum Institute, located in Valdez, Alaska, I was now back in the Tetons, one my first HPM style trip. Looking for love. Good old-fashioned Mountain-Man-LOVE.

This is what love looks like.

authors notes:

The Ski Bum Institute, does not actually exist. Yet if you manage to graduate from The Ski Bum Institute,,,, then you're in your thirties, still living in a total dump, and probably don't have a girlfriend.