Little Wave Surf Club

When I was in college, I took an Intro to Oceanography course to fulfill a science credit. On the first day of class, the professor had us take a pop-quiz to assess our general knowledge and asked us to name at least four creatures that you might find in a tide pool. I leaned over to my friend and asked, “What’s a tide pool…?”

Fast forward to a month ago when my friend Audrey asked if I wanted to bail on Thanksgiving and join her on a surf trip down the California coast, that question from my Oceanography class replayed in my mind. Despite taking that course, my lack of knowledge for oceans or ocean sports in general is still quite appalling. But a couple months ago I stood on a surfboard for the first time and rode a wave for .75 seconds and I’ve been addicted ever since. So of course I said yes.

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Over the next five days, we stopped in Big Sur, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, and Ventura surfing and shooting and consuming a lot of cookies and plantain chips. We met up with friends in Santa Barbara who invited us in on Thanksgiving, took us to some new beaches, and provided one of the best driveways that I’ve ever slept in.

I’m not totally sure what I was expecting when I signed up for this trip, but it exceeded all expectations. I’m ready to ditch climbing completely, move to SoCal, and shoot and surf little waves for the rest of my life.

I’m also psyched to be a beginner again and totally stoked to shoot something totally different. There’s nothing like a new environment to completely inspire me to dork around with different shots. However, the problem with shooting all the time is that I’m not getting any better at surfing… That’s ok though. For now, I’m cool with floating around while the light dances across the water.

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Abroad and In Between

In the last three months, I’ve boarded 16 planes. The best part about all these flights is that they have taken me to two continents, six countries, and four states – all for different job opportunities. The worst part is that I’ve contributed over 10 tons of CO2 emissions in the process, all in the name of documenting outdoor recreation. Which fucking disgusts me. 

Side note: This is the first time I’ve ever really thought hard about my own carbon footprint in regards to my line of work, so before I dazzle you with pretty photos of far off places, I want to take a minute to address this issue and my thoughts.

I like to think that even though I live in an air polluting van, I’m still reducing my carbon footprint by not living in a house using heat, electricity, or running water on a daily basis. But when it comes to flying, there’s not a lot that can be done other than choosing to not go to that amazing far off destination. And to be honest, I never once thought about my CO2 impact while traveling this summer until I sat down to write this post. I don’t even have any good answers or excuses, but I do think it is important to share that I’ve started donating to Mossy Earth in an attempt to offset my CO2 emissions. You can learn more about how they plant native trees and restore wild ecosystems by visiting their website. I hope you’ll take a minute to reflect on different ways you can help do the same.

Ok, back to pretty pictures.

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The first set of flights brought me to Europe where I spent the month of June in Chamonix. My sister moved to Geneva at the start of the summer and I wanted to join her for some trail running in the mountains. I was also fortunate to work out a contract with Patagonia for my time over there, and also booked a shoot with their trail running team in the Dolomites. 

It was a really great four weeks. On top of being genuinely psyched on the images I was creating, I also met a lot of new faces and spent some quality time catching up with old friends and family. 

After a brief stint back in the US to celebrate my brother’s wedding, I flew south of the equator for my first trip to South America. The Janji team was reuniting to shoot the Bolivia line for their upcoming Fall and Winter collection, and I was pretty excited to shoot more photos and explore a new country with the crew. 

It was a mind-blowing trip. After a week in La Paz, we skipped around the country taking in the incredible landscapes. We spent a night on Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca, drove two days to Uyuni where I shot the most beautiful sunset of my life, explored the terrain beneath Huayna Potosi, and hiked the insane clay conglomerate cliffs of Las Animas. All of which were situated above 12,000ft.

Fifteen days at altitude was a blessing because the next set of plane rides brought me to Peru where I was meeting up with a team from Eddie Bauer to shoot video for a hiking campaign in the Cordillera Huayhuash. We were a small team comprised of three athletes, one guide, a photographer, and myself. The entire trek stays above 10,000ft for 88 miles and includes over ten mountain passes. For this reason, the trek is usually attempted over the course of 12 days. But because of our time constraints, we were attempting to do it in 5 days.

The trek was incredible but exhausting. We were hiking 20+ miles over 16,000ft passes almost every day, plus I was attempting to film most of it. Because of our schedule, we had very limited time to set up our shots and instead opted to run and gun for most of the trek. I was definitely beat by the time we finished, but I was psyched that I was able to keep up with a team of athletes in fairly difficult terrain and do my job at the same time. The views were also pretty great.

After three weeks of bottled water and empanadas, I was looking forward to my next set of flights, which would bring me back to Vegas and my van. As the summer begins to close, I’ve spent the last ten days coming up for air and taking care of all the things that fall by the wayside when I’m working.

Despite the amount of airtime movies I enjoyed while silently adding to the rising temperature of our planet (I highly recommend the new blockbuster Ready Player One – you can really see what the not-so-distant future might look like when global warming and rampant overpopulation have rendered the planet devoid of almost all resources) I still believe travel and new experiences are inherently good and can help us to better understand the human population’s impact on a global scale. But even though I selfishly still hope to see so much more of the world while shooting and getting paid, I also hope more people and companies alike take the effort to visit places close to home that have still yet to be explored. I know I’m excited to do more of that this fall.

 

 

 

 

The Birdhouse

Originally posted on April 16, 2018

It was right around this time a year ago that I bought my van and said goodbye to my Subaru. I don’t know if the people around me had faith that I could build it out and transition completely to life on the road, but I knew I could. In fact, when I finished the van I was slightly surprised by how many people said things to me like, “Holy shit! You did this all by yourself?" Or "I can’t believe you actually did it.” And while I agree, it is definitely my biggest accomplishment to date; I also always knew I was going to do it. It’s one of the few projects I knew I was completely capable of finishing because it was a project that Ethan and I had begun to dream up nearly three years ago. And that probably made all the difference.

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The Birdhouse. 2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500 bought with 172,000 miles.

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Summit selfie courtesy of Ethan’s long arm. June 2015.

I don’t talk about Ethan as much as I used to, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about him every day. In fact, almost every decision I’ve made since he passed away I’ve made because of him. I think grief makes you lose control of your own life in some ways and alters your basic decision-making. I found myself making decisions based on what would make him smile if he were still alive. After we had moved in together, we decided to put a certain amount of our savings from our shared rent towards buying a van. After he died, it suddenly became my number one priority.

Fast forward to two and a half years, and here I sit in my new home. During that time, our dream has turned into just my dream and I’ve done my best to carve out a new life without him.  A lot of people applaud me for taking such a risk and creating an alternative lifestyle for myself. Recently a friend asked me how I overcame the fear of dropping everything and going for it. The truth is, I felt I had nothing more to lose. It was never a giant decision for me. Nothing really mattered to me anymore, so living on the road felt like a nice place to drift around for a while. Before I knew it, my routine had evolved into a very different life, but one that began to interest me again. I’m pretty thankful for that.

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The Birdhouse aptly got its name from the bird pattern around the walls. A small child gave me an origami crane for 10 cents in Squamish and I thought it fit nicely.

The process of building out a van by myself was as every bit overwhelming as you can imagine. I had no prior building knowledge and spent hours pouring over dumb online tutorials. For the first two weeks, I just drove around with random tools, packaged insulation, and planks of wood in the back because I didn’t know where to start. And then one day I just said, “Fuck it” and went to work.

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Left: When I didn’t think I would buy a van, I converted my 2008 Subaru Forester into a home for 8 months. Photo: Drew Smith. Right: Inside of the van when I bought it.

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A day and a half of insulation.

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Floors, walls, and ceiling installed. 

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Bed frame going in.

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I lived in the van for almost nine months with no real kitchen because I was tired of building and wanted to hit the road.

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Kitchen finally going in.

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Finished!

Since then, it has been a blast. I’ve lived in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Canada, Idaho, and Wyoming. I’ve cooked dinners for 6+ people, baked cookies and brownies, hosted friends for several nights, served as an aid station for my cousin running the Zion Traverse, watched all six seasons of Downton Abbey, and edited thousands of photos. I shower regularly despite the lack of a bathroom and am pretty proud of the life I've built, both physically and figuratively. 

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Most of the time, living on the road can be extremely exciting, but it can also be mind-numbingly boring. My photography work gives me a rough outline of the places I need to be, and then it’s completely up to me to decide where to go next. Done shooting in Bishop, CA? I think I’ll head to Moab, UT for the next month and try to find some work there until the weather gets good in Yosemite. It kind of feels like I’m constantly on vacation with no end in sight.

But then there are the days where I’m all alone. Friends have packed up and gone back to work, or I arrive to an area days before anyone I know will be there. I have nowhere to return to and nowhere to go, plus I live in the van by myself. I’m incredibly introverted to start, so instead of seeking company I’ll just hole up and watch the world go by out my front windshield. It’s those moments where I’ll miss Ethan the most and wonder what my life might look like if he were still alive. I see so many of my friends getting married, having kids, buying houses and I wonder if we were on the same trajectory.

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Sometimes the view is a brick wall.

Perhaps we were. I’ll never know. Instead, I know that I’m learning to love my new life. I like to think that Ethan left me this one last gift. He made me feel capable and I like to think that I’m still making him smile.

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Self-portrait taken 24 hours after finishing the van.

 

 

    365 Days of 2017

    Originally posted on January 2, 2018

    I’ve completed another ‘photo a day’ for 2017.  It’s always interesting to flip through the days, touching on visual reminders of the people I’ve spent time with and the places I’ve visited over the year. It’s been a year of growth and a lot of new experiences, like driving from Boulder to Aspen in a blizzard, buying a van, and witnessing my best friend give birth.

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    The year started out in New Hampshire where I lived with my buddy Jimmy. We posted up in my parent’s house and worked on his Nat Geo project, which focused on the effect of climate change on the ice climbing community in the Mt. Washington Valley. I took a few photos for them, but mostly I just binge-watched Netflix and learned how to use the espresso machine.

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    Jimmy demonstrating excellent form during a 'Yankee Ice' outing.

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    Checking out the ice on Repentance WI5 M4-5

    I moved back into the Subaru at the end of February. One of my favorite events in the spring was the Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived but left with some great new friendships and a new perspective.

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    Mason on a not-so-casual warm up at the Cliffs of Insanity.

    As spring went on, I settled in for a good month in the Creek climbing and taking photos. Toward the end of March, I got a call from Jimmy in NH who asked if I wanted a job photographing this team of women veterans who were going into the Alaska mountain range. Next thing I knew, I was flying across the Ruth Glacier with Denali in sight. I spent the next week photographing six women as they trained to hopefully be the first all-women veterans team to summit Denali in 2018.

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    Flying into Glacier One off the Ruth Glacier. 

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    Jake, Rob, and I formed the media crew up in Alaska.

    Throughout the spring, I also had been doing a handful of work with Louder than Eleven. In May, we teamed up to create a video series for Buff Headwear featuring Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant. We did a big road trip, got a ton of beautiful footage, and had a pretty good time.

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    Getting ready for the sun to pop before hitting the White Rim.

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    Tony and Joe enjoying an afternoon trot across the dunes. 

    Then I bought a van. I traded in my 2008 Subaru Forester with 60,000 miles for a 2008 Dodge Sprinter with 172,000 miles. The next month was a total blur and the build out became my full-time job.

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    Half way done.

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    Nearly done.

    I went to Chamonix in June and ran a bunch and shot a bunch. Around that time, my brother called me up. He was headed to Squamish, British Columbia to finally take down Cobra Crack and asked if I wanted to make a film. We enlisted our friend Drew Smith to join the team and together we spent three weeks filming and climbing around Squamish, and two months later released Cracking Cobra.

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    Mason and Drew during some downtime in Squamish.

    Another highlight of my year was hiking into the Wind River Range with my friend Sara to spend a week climbing around the Cirque of the Towers.  Neither of us had ever gone on an extended climbing trip in the backcountry and we wanted to see what we were capable of. It was a beautiful week filled with really spectacular climbing and I hope to go back next year for more. 

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    Sara basks in the fleeting light during the full solar eclipse.

    And finally, I returned to Yosemite and reunited with a large group of friends. Everyone seemed to be in the valley this fall, which was good because we all ended up needing each other. It was a really good season until it wasn’t, and it’s been a long three months after losing Hayden, Caleb, and Niels. Honestly, the fall was just a huge tragedy, one right after the other, and it’s been hard to witness my friends, family, and community go through such a hell storm. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from death, it’s that we’ll never be prepared for it to happen, but we can be prepared to help others heal in the aftermath. 

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    Caleb dances up Mr. Natural, 5.10c.

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    Meadow hang with the crew.

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    Portraits of my climbing partners in Yosemite.

    At the start of the year, I felt pretty anxious about this new freelance forward lifestyle. I was taking on a lot of risk financially and worried a lot about how I was going to make it sustainable. I learned that one of the most important components of this job is being flexible. I used to stress about open weeks with no gigs, but now I just use that time to go somewhere new. I’ve learned that the more I move around and the more people I meet, the more I come across different work opportunities.

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    The in-between moments catching up with friends. Boulder, CO.

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    Ian and Emma model their clothing for Hawaii. Somerville, MA.

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    Auds & Pips. South Conway, NH.

    I also believe there’s something to be said about having a strong personal collection of work. There are many weeks where I have no gigs or assignments, but the photo a day project always keeps me hustling. A handful of the photos I sold this year were shot because I had to take my photo of the day. I think the photos paint a pretty good self-portrait, too, and hopefully those who stumble across this ongoing project learn a little bit more about who I am as a photographer. I am the sum of my experiences, most of which have now been documented over the past two years.

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    The last night of 2017.

    Faces of Yosemite

    Originally posted on December 18, 2017

    I went back to Yosemite this fall for two months. Similar to last year, I rolled in without any plans and without really knowing who would be there. Despite the unknown, I felt so relieved to finally be back – as if I had lived the rest of the year in anticipation for when I would return to the valley.

    I decided to work on a portrait project while I was there. The rule was to take a portrait of every partner I roped up with or bouldered with during my time in Yosemite. I rarely take portraits and it’s an area that I really want to improve within my photography. I’ve always felt incredibly self-conscious when taking portraits and tend to rush the moment without dialing in on my focus and settings. It was great practice for me to whip out my camera at the end of our day and try to capture the vibe of my climbing partners.

    Below are the thirteen faces that I partnered up with at some point in Yosemite.

    1. Caleb & Randy

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    Like last year, Caleb was the first person to reach out to me on the first day I arrived. He and Randy invited me to crash at their site in Upper Pines (thanks Sandy!) and it was so fun to reconnect with these two goofs. The three of us roped up for my first climb of the season – a wonderful session running laps on Mr. Natural (5.10c). As usual, Caleb sandbagged our approach but Randy threw me a line to help scamper up the sketchy terrain that Caleb so easily soloed up in his Chacos. It was a really fun day, one I look back on quite fondly.

    A month later, Caleb passed away in a skiing accident down in Chile. It’s one of the hardest losses I’ve dealt with since Ethan died, and I still can’t believe he’s gone. I look back at the month I spent with Caleb and Randy in Yosemite before they left for their trip to South America and I can’t help but feel so grateful that we got to spend so many wonderful days together before he passed. I miss him a lot.

    2. Audrey

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    My one true partner in crime. I used to live with Audrey when we both lived in Boulder, but now that she lives in the Bay Area it was great to climb with her each weekend that she drove to the valley.  We climbed Commitment (5.9) together, which is one of my favorite routes to do when easing back into Yosemite granite. I already miss our climbing dates like hell.  We’ve gone through a lot together and I’m so thankful to have her in my life.

    3. Sara

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    Sara and I simuled Royal Arches during my first week back. I had never climbed it before and she was psyched to scamper up it with me. We climbed it in just over two hours and had a blast. Sara has become a solid friend and climbing partner over the last year. We went into the Wind River Range together last summer for a six-day climbing trip. I love how well our skill levels match up and how much more confident we are as climbers when we rope up together. We climbed together a bunch in Yosemite and it felt great to really push ourselves. Sara is so calm and often quiet, but she has a fire in her belly for overcoming big challenges.

    4. Jordan

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    I ran into Jordan while cragging at the Chapel Wall. For some reason that I will never understand, he thought I would be a great partner to go do Border Country (grade V 5.12c) on Middle Cathedral. And for some reason, I said yes. It was a really cold day and Jordan witnessed the great junk show that is Eliza on her first biggish wall ever. But it was fun and Jordan onsighted, which was rad.

    5. Woo

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    My sister. I was so excited to show her around Yosemite for her first visit to the valley. I took her up Royal arches, we ran the Mist trail, hiked the Pohono, and lounged in the meadow. It was a quick trip and yet it was perfect.

    6.  Sandy

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    For those of you who don’t know Sandy, don’t worry, you will meet her at some point.  Everybody does. And Sandy is everybody’s best friend. We spent almost the entire fall together and she is one of the most generous, kind, and smartest humans I know. She also started her first day in the valley with barely any lead climbing experience and was soon crushing valley 5.9’s by the end of our season together. One of my favorite days was letting her lead me up Harry Daley (5.8) and Positively 4th Street (5.9). She crushed it.

    7. Chase

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    Chase was one of the best additions this fall. Chase was a friend of Caleb’s and I’m so thankful that he was introduced to the crew. We had some great bouldering sessions in Camp 4 and it was sweet to watch him onsight Drive By Shooting (5.12). He also ended up being a key friend after Caleb passed away. I think he needed us as much as we needed him and I will forever be grateful that Caleb brought him into our lives.

    8. Sam

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    British Sam. I met Sam on my first day in the valley. Caleb, Randy, and I snaked him and his partner on Mr. Natural. We all ended up hanging out on the ledge and I had great fun photographing him on the climb. Later on, we kept bumping into Sam in the meadow and soon enough he became a staple character in the group. One of my favorite days was when he took me out and taught me to aid climb. He got a bug in his ear after I had just started up my first aid pitch and I had to lower down to assist in removing the buzzing creature from inside his ear. That was a really fun day.

    9. Tim

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    My craigslist best friend. Tim and I first met in Boulder and he’s been one of my best friends ever since. I was psyched that he took a week off from work to fly out to the valley and climb with me. I wanted to show him some classics so we climbed Serenity and Sons (5.10d) and Absolutely Free (5.9). Despite the heinous crowds that both of those routes attract, we had a great time together.

    10. Sanni

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    This girl is just a bright ray of sunshine. She and Alex arrived to the valley late in the game but it was perfect timing for me. Quickly after meeting each other, we realized that we both were projecting Drive by Shooting (5.12) at the Chapel Wall and I was psyched to finally have a new partner to try hard with. We both sent after working the route for two days, but the real victory was an awesome new friendship with awesome new lady crusher. Can’t wait to climb with this chica again.

    11.  Sam #2

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    Sam! What a gem of a human. I was stoked to hang with Sam towards the end of my time in Yosemite. I first met Sam when I hired him as an intern at Sender Films, but it’s way more fun to be hanging out with him on the walls. He’s killing it in the photography/film world, too, and it was great to rope up with him at Sentinel Creek for a group cragging session.

    12. Alex

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    Alex and I have bumped into each other over the years, and so it was great to finally spend some time getting to become better friends. I have never bouldered so much in my entire life than during the time I spent with him and Sanni in early November. I also baked a lot of cookies and he ate a lot of cookie dough.

    It was a good fall until it wasn’t. We lost too many really wonderful human beings this season and it’s been hard to come up for air. I’m really really grateful for the people I still have in my life and I hope I do a better job at showing those people how much I care about them. Love to you all.  

    Women in the Winds

    Originally posted on August 28, 2017

    The last ten miles of dirt road had me holding onto the loose car stereo so that it wouldn’t fall out of the dashboard. The potholes and washboard rivets continued to wear on my van’s suspension, but I didn’t care. My grin was so wide while the aspen groves flew past me and the far off mountain skyline came into view. I pulled into the overflowing trailhead parking lot. “Holy Shit,” I said to myself. I had arrived at the entrance to the Wind River Range, and so had about 300 other people.

    I was prepared for it to be busy. We were hiking into the Cirque of the Towers two days before the total solar eclipse, which was going to conveniently pass directly over us. I was excited to see this natural phenomenon that is only witnessed once or twice in a lifetime, but it didn’t compare to the excitement I had to finally embark on a week-long climbing expedition into the remote wilderness of the Winds.

    My partner, Sara arrived ten minutes later in her turquoise 1999 Jeep Cherokee. We hugged and looked around wide eyed, trying to settle into the adventure we were about to embark on. We threw all of our gear on the ground and let out nervous laughter as we began to pack for six days. We consulted each other on how much gear we needed, what kind of layers was the other bringing, or whether we really needed that #4 cam. Sara giggled as I threw her some new baselayers, jackets, and a helmet that I wanted to photograph. We put together our packs for the rest of the evening and then said good night as we each crawled back into our vehicles and fell asleep.

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    “Look! I think that’s Pingora!” Sara pointed at the tall sloping granite peak in the distance. I looked up under the weight of my 50lb pack and instead saw the two ridgelines between us and our final destination. Usually that distance wouldn’t give me dread, but I was carrying half my body weight in gear, food, and cameras, and all I wanted were the damn pack mules that our friends had offered to share with us for the hike in. They were going to a different area though, and Sara and I were keen on doing the entire trip self-supported and as “just the girls.” I hoisted my pack up higher on my back and trudged on.

    I woke up to the pale shade of light hitting the top left side of our tent. Typically, I would’ve stayed in my sleeping bag for a few more hours, clinging to the warmth, but Sara and I had passed out at 8pm the night before and now I was wide awake with anticipation for the alpine glow that would no doubt be hitting the walls above us. I’m a light chaser by profession and I was equally excited about all the photos I would take as I was about the climbing. I grabbed my camera and stumbled out of the tent. I felt hung over from the 12-mile slog the day before and could barely summon the coordination to lift the viewfinder to my eye. I hadn’t put contacts in yet, but the blurry shadows of pink and gold were enough to guide my lens in the right direction. Click.

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    As the light revealed more of the epic walls and remote wilderness that surrounded us, my mind began to come up with excuses for why we should just lay low for the day. We’re tired. What if we can’t find the route? It’s already late in the morning. The smart thing to do would be to rest and get mentally prepared to climb tomorrow.  I stretched out on our breakfast boulder hoping I looked cool and collected, but my insides had turned into a tight knot of anxiety and nerves. I knew the climbing would be easy, but my self-confidence had completely disappeared. I looked up at Sara and her gentle face scanned the route we were planning to do with ease and simplicity. This is why we came into the mountains, I thought to myself. To trust ourselves. To prove to ourselves that we are capable of this. I sat up and with a nervous grin said, “Fuck it. Let’s go.”

    Four men watched as we scrambled up to the large belay ledge. It was a perfect blue bird day, which was fortunate as we quickly realized we would be third in line. Within five minutes, another party of dudes arrived at the scene. Sara and I sat quietly and waited as the first team pitched out the initial 200 ft of 5.6. Forty minutes later, his second started to follow. Thirty minutes after that, I racked my gear and tied in, eager to get going as the last party in front of us was finally off the ground.

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    “That was fast.” The man from the party ahead of us looked down at me with surprise as he stood belaying his partner on a wide ledge. I smiled as I topped out and built a small anchor in the corner crack. “On belay, Sara!” I yelled from above. Ten minutes later my partner joined me up on our perch and together we glanced up at our next pitch. “I think the classic 5.8 is the left side of the K Crack…” I said. We were slightly confused though. Why was the party ahead of us on the weird looking crack to the right? “I don’t think we went the right way,” said the man belaying. “My partner said this crack is super flared and hard to protect.” We needed no further proof and with that, Sara jammed her way up a beautiful splitter to the summit.

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    “I feel like we’re the only team of women out here.” Sara sat on our boulder back at camp and looked out across the meadow in front of us. Two male climbers were setting up camp a few hundred yards away. She was right. Apart from the one woman we encountered following her male partner up Pingora earlier that week, we were the only other girls we’d seen in the last four days. “Why is that?” I asked. “It's obviously not because we’re not good enough to be out here,” I said with a cheeky grin. We both laughed and figuratively brushed the dirt off our shoulders.  Of the three male parties we encountered on Pingora, we were by far the fastest and most efficient team. “Maybe it’s because we’re perfectionists and don’t want to try until we know we can succeed,” Sara added. “Yeah, or maybe it’s because we just lack confidence,” I said.

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve always relied on my male climbing partners to ensure that I reached the top of tall, technical, multi-pitch alpine routes. I’ve observed their tutorials but never put any of my knowledge into play since they were the ones navigating up the rock, building the anchors, or setting up the rappels. All these individual practices are pretty simple at a crag with your friends, but put it all together on varied terrain in the middle of nowhere with zero cell phone service and you can see how it may feel rather overwhelming to someone who has never had to rely on her own systems before. The anxiety I had felt that first morning was a product of years of being dependent on my climbing partner, usually male.

    Sara and I summited every climb we set out to do and with very little trouble. Instead of pushing ourselves on hard terrain, we pushed each other to overcome the tendencies that we were nervous about as climbers.  We measured our success through the confidence we felt as a female team amongst a sea of men. Though we may have left the Cirque with just a few more easy multi-pitch routes under our belt, I think we also left with a clearer sense of self.

    This is why we came into the mountains. To trust ourselves.  To prove to ourselves that we are capable.

    Up, Down, and Around

    Originally posted on May 9, 2017

    At the beginning of the year, I got back on the horse and started producing again. I hadn’t produced any projects since I left my job at Sender Films at the end of 2015 and wasn’t totally sure if I ever wanted to produce again, anyways. But my friend Colette put me in touch with Jon Glassberg, founder of Louder than Eleven, and I hopped on a hilarious road trip that involved filming a scooter mission from Boulder to Aspen in the dead of winter. I jived really well the crew and found myself enjoying the producer role again, so I started committing to more projects with these dudes.

    One of the projects I’ve been working on with LT11 is a four-part video series for Buff Headwear. The videos focus on endurance athletes Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant as they run, climb, bike, and ski around Colorado. It was definitely one of the largest commercial projects that I’ve taken on, involving four different locations, limited schedule opportunities, and classic inclement weather forecasts. But we pulled it off and ended up having an incredibly fun (albeit rather epic) road trip across Colorado. 

    I ended up taking quite a few BTS shots and thought I’d share a bunch of the images here. We were pretty lucky with some beautiful locations. It was definitely one of the more “fine art” pieces I’ve ever filmed and I’m psyched to see how it comes together. 

    Service to Summit - The Alaska Range

    Originally posted April 24, 2017

    In the middle of March, one of the coolest opportunities just landed in my lap. A group of female veterans who are attempting to climb Denali next year wanted me to photograph their week-long training trip to the Alaska Range in April of this year. Within thirty minutes of hearing about the opportunity, rates and dates were set and I was headed to the great white north to shoot six awesome ladies on a glacier.

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    This would be my first time shooting an extended expedition in the remote Alaska range, in the cold, and totally by myself. I was psyched. I quickly called upon a few friends who have done expedition photography for advice on how to keep batteries warm, what additional equipment would be necessary, and how to stay on top of managing the thousands of photos I was sure to produce. I received loads of advice and am very grateful to those who shared some tricks of the trade.

    A week after booking my flight, I was standing on the Susitna River in Talkeetna, AK, looking across at Denali as the sun set around 9:30pm. Six women stood before me, hugging and cheering as they pointed across at next year’s goal. I knew little about them and yet felt close friendships beginning to form. Their energy pulled you in, kept you laughing, and made you feel important. I knew it was going to be a good week.

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    Service to Summit is a brand new program that creates an outdoor community for women veterans who are still looking to tackle big objectives after service. The pilot team is comprised of a diverse group of women representing the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, with the ambitious objective of becoming the first all female veteran team to summit Denali. Their expedition is set for May 2018, but this spring they convened in the Alaska Range for a mountaineering course led by the Alaska Mountaineering School.

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    The plan was to fly to base camp on the Kahiltna glacier for a six day mountaineering course that would prepare these women with the necessary skills needed to summit Denali. The weather didn’t cooperate, so we re-routed to Glacier One, a small glacier off the Ruth Gorge. The small planes of Talkeetna Air Taxi dropped us off and before we knew it we were alone in the mountains, over 60 miles from the nearest town.

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    Over the next six days, while these women learned to set up a winter camp, travel safely across glaciers, and perform rescues when needed, I learned of their incredible stories of perseverance, determination, and strength. These gals were like superheroes with a secret identity. The stories they could tell would have you wide-eyed and speechless, and then the next minute their humor would have you keeled over with unstoppable fits of laughter. What I found most humbling was that, despite the hardships of their past, they led incredibly positive and motivated lives. I can’t relate to helicopter crashes, traumatic brain injuries, losing a leg, or being blown up, but I can relate to life changing tragedies and it was inspiring to see each of these women charging through life with a zeal for living, laughing, and loving. Without hesitation, the ladies welcomed me into their tribe and I began to feel much more like part of their team than like their professional photographer.

    It was rad to spend a week photographing and hanging out with women in the middle of the Alaska Range. Not that I don’t love recreating in the outdoors with my male friends, but I forgot how fun and important it is to experience the outdoors with an all girl crew. On that note, I’m also grateful that this team prioritized hiring a woman to take photos. On these types of expeditions, it’s always men who get the job. And that’s because I can literally count on one hand the number of female photographers/videographers with mountaineering experience that come to mind. But it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that no one is giving them the chance to exist. 

    So thank you, Service to Summit, for giving me a chance to exist. 

    Lessons in Sandstone and Subarus

    Originally posted on April 5, 2017

    I’ve been “homeless” for 216 days and life feels OK. The start to 2017 gave way to new places, new friends, and interesting projects. The biggest reward for life on the road has been the freedom and flexibility to make spur of the moment decisions, and the opportunities that present themselves when you least expect it.

    I spent a few weeks producing a film in Boulder, CO at the beginning of the year, jumped to New Hampshire for a month to ice climb, hit up the Women’s Climbing festival in Bishop, CA, drove back to Colorado to produce another project, and then hit the road for Moab, UT with my sister and best friend for a month of climbing in the desert.

     Me and my Subaru/home. Photo by Audrey Sherman

    Me and my Subaru/home. Photo by Audrey Sherman

    Though I’ve taken countless trips to the Moab area over the last six years, this was the first time that I gave myself a few weeks to just climb, live, take photographs, and settle into the climbing groove. Similar to my season in Yosemite last fall, I welcomed desert life and reconnected with other “on-the-road-ers” that I’ve met over the last eight months and quickly reacquainted myself with that cozy Subaru life.

    A big goal of mine this year is to become more comfortable leading harder trad. One of the biggest things I’ve been trying to work on is to stop apologizing for climbing at my current level, and to instead be proud of the progress I’m making. So, I set a goal to onsight 5.11 within the calendar year, something that felt within reach with the help of some extra mileage and a stronger head game.

    In the beginning, it was hard to stay motivated with my goal, particularly because I was only climbing with a crew that warmed up on my projects. But by the end of week two, I sent my first 5.11- and I was psyched. I feel stronger, smarter, and more confident, and I’m looking forward to the next chance I have to finally push past my original goal.

    I don’t have much else to say, so I’ll let the rest of my photos do the talking. 

    366 Days of 2016

    Originally posted on January 2, 2017

    I’ve never liked the idea of clocks telling me what to do, or that my years on this planet should equate to a certain chapter in my life, or that I should feel a certain way because “one year has gone by.” In my opinion, time is an incredibly arbitrary measurement. And yet, here I am, reflecting on the now archived 2016. The fun part is, I can physically look back on the last 366 days (yes, 366. It was a leap year). And I have to say, it’s much more enjoyable to do your reflecting by literally looking through every single day.

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    I did a lot this year. I visited twenty-two states (two of which were new), and I traveled to Canada for the first time. I went vegetarian for a year. I learned how to ski tour. I built a bed in my car. I ran the Mont Blanc Marathon. I fully realized that I am a cat person. I went surfing for the first time. I watched four great friends get married. I slept on top of El Cap. And I completed my photo a day project.

    This photo a day project completely transformed my year. It motivated me to engage with my surroundings again. There were so many days where all I wanted was to say no and close my bedroom door, but then that wouldn’t have produced a good photo, now would it? The actual disappointment of taking a lame photo would motivate me to get out the door, to find the good light, and to find the action. In doing so, I participated, which started a habit of always saying yes. So here’s a special shout out to Ian MacLellanand his photo a day, who was the original inspiration for this project (and who also taught me everything I know!)

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    The year started off with my sister. She followed me back to Boulder, CO to help me get back on my feet and I am eternally grateful to have her in my life. I think she was also pretty grateful that her relocation supplied her with plenty of mountains to train for the 80k du Mont Blanc. Which, she crushed.

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    I was also fortunate enough to spend my summer working for an incredible outdoor adventure camp for kids. I discovered a passion for teaching that I didn’t know existed, specifically for rock climbing. I learned a lot about myself this past summer and felt wonderfully focused and engaged when I was teaching the sport I loved. I hope to continue this passion in the years to come.

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    Though my time at camp was fulfilling, it was also exhausting and I don’t think I ever caught up from going zero to sixty. I was feeling lost and angry and even further from Ethan. So I took a risk: I subletted my room, moved into my car, and hit the road. For four months, I traveled the western united states.

    During that time, I reconnected with my life and myself. I focused a lot of time on running and climbing again and was psyched to reach most of my physical goals. I found a lot of happiness in the simplicity of my decisions and I met wonderful people who made me feel inspired again. I found a lot of positive momentum in regards to my photography and my life. So I’ve decided to not return to Boulder, and instead to continue living out of my car and allowing it to take me to where I need to be.

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    Perhaps the moments that I am most grateful for are the hours, days, weeks, and months I spent in the company of old friends and new friends. If anything, 2016 showed me that there is still a lot of life to be lived. There are still so many places to live and so many people to meet. And while I’m comforted by the life long friends I have now, I can’t wait to add more to the list.

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    At the beginning of the year, I was so close to putting the camera down for good. 366 days later, I’ve taken thousands and thousands of new photos and see my work getting better every day. I taught myself different editing techniques across most of the Adobe platforms and I even learned to code a small amount in order to customize my own websites and blogs. I’ve grown more as an artist and love seeing how it applies to my photography. And boy, it feels pretty good to get paid for it, too. 

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    Though it’s fun reflecting on a year gone by, I do think time adds unnecessary stress and pressure. January 1st is neither a new year nor a year’s end. It is just another day; one we wake up to like any other and step into carrying the experiences and wisdom we obtained the day before. Time only exists in the past and future, but it is in the present that we get to decide what to do with our time. 

    Hockey in the Rockies

    Originally posted on December 7, 2016

     

    I didn’t plan to return to Colorado so soon, but I also don’t really make solid plans anymore so I guess I can’t complain.  I was hoping to stay in the desert for another week, but with the temperature dropping and friends leaving, I soon found myself driving back to Boulder. The first sight of the flatirons brought mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was looking forward to reconnecting with friends and laying low for a few days. On the other, it signified that my adventures for the fall had come to an end.

    It didn’t take long to change that, though. My friend Audrey mentioned this fabled “Hockey in the Rockies” that was supposedly happening the weekend I was home. Apparently, a group of hockey enthusiasts plan a game up on Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park every year. The timing has to be perfect though – cold enough to freeze the lake smooth, but also before the snow comes to keep the ice clear. And we just happened to stumble upon the right weekend.

    We left Boulder the next morning and drove up to Estes Park. It was a perfect day, sunny and blue skies, but as we reached the park we noticed that the mountains were totally socked in with a dark blanket of stormy clouds. We shrugged it off, added a few extra layers to our packs and began our hike up to the lake. We barely knew anyone attached to the event, but as we got closer to our destination we began to see hockey sticks strapped to the packs of others on the trail. We knew we were in the right spot. Soon enough we came over a crest and were greeted with gnarly winds, snow fall, and a perfectly frozen Emerald Lake.

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    The valley was spotted with an array of skaters, a keg was being rolled onto the middle of lake, and goal posts were being screwed into the ice. I barely skate and was mostly there to take photos and witness the adventure, but Audrey grew up battling her brothers on ice and I could see the excitement in her eyes as she laced up. I’ve never seen someone more comfortable on ice. We were grinning ear to ear as I made her do jumps and twirls for me.

    We quickly made new friends and Audrey traded cookies for a hockey stick and joined the annual game of Hockey in the Rockies. It was an incredible day of beautiful backdrops, suffering in the cold, and finding adventure in the most unlikely way. The rest can only be explained in photos. One thing’s for sure, it was a good reminder that there are still plenty of adventures to be had back in Colorado.

    The Healing Valley

    Originally posted on November 14, 2018

    It was night when I arrived. My mind was wired and wandering as I zigzagged through the darkness of Tuolumne meadows. I didn’t know what to expect and felt as though I could be embarking on either a month of hardship or a month of new beginnings. I heard the concern in my friend’s voices replaying in my mind and I kept asking myself what I was doing. Before I knew it, I had pulled into camp 4 and pitched my tent.

    I felt numb as I lay there in the dark. Expectations and visions of the coming weeks played in the background of my mind. The memories of last fall grew stronger and my concern for how painful this month might be began to develop. I only knew one person in the valley. I had no plans. I thought about all the climbs, all the hikes, all the exploring I wanted to do, and perhaps didn’t want to do. Despite the creaking of bear boxes and snoring of newfound neighbors, I finally drifted asleep. And so began my month and a half in the healing valley.

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    During the first few days, my mornings began with uncertainty. While everyone around me had climbing partners lined up, I would make a cup of coffee, hesitant about what the day would bring. But there was also excitement for the endless opportunities for that day. Where to explore? Who would I meet? The valley felt so vast and yet so accessible. I felt curious again. I felt excited for the future, even if my future only consisted of the next twelve hours.

    But still, it was unnerving to feel excited in a place that still represented so much sadness. I found myself on edge, trying to find harmony between tragedy and hope. Enormous landmarks filled with memories from last fall stared down at me every day, threatening the small flame of hope I was beginning to feel. Finding the balance would be key, so I mentally prepared for a trying month in which I would hopefully find some peace of mind.

    Throughout my time in the valley, I would find myself wandering around the trails on my bike or laying in the vast meadows staring up at a canopy of granite. I had nowhere to be and was responsible for no one but myself. And though that may seem like a lonely place to be, I found it liberating and discovered a peacefulness I hadn’t felt in a long time. How powerful is nature’s ability to nurture? Yosemite is so awe-inspiring and nature is writ on such a vast scale, you’re instantly shocked into a sublime sense of place. The constant chatter of my mind receded in the onslaught of beauty and I was left with a wellspring of contentment that bubbled forth. Over the next few weeks, the act of simple observation was constantly present, freeing my mind from a previous place of anxiety and leaving me to experience my days with an overwhelming sense of freedom.

    This openness to experience a new life also lead me to a community of individuals with a similar enthusiasm for beauty and adventure in the outdoors. What struck me was their contentment for having no real plan and being able to sustain a lifestyle that put quality of life first. For years, I had met these kinds people on my weekend trips and envied their ability to step away from the pressures of society and live on the road. Some call them dirtbags, and maybe they are, but they navigate through life with a purpose stronger than most of the people I know – a purpose that isn’t driven by money or success, but driven by the pursuit of happiness. And what I’ve found is that those who put more emphasis on quality of life will inevitably find a way to sustain that life, and not because the money is abundant, but because they’re happier to try harder to make it work.

    Over the last month and a half, the valley became my home. Not only did I climb across its granite walls and explore the multitude of trails by foot and bike, but I became familiar with the inner workings of the park and settled into a routine that felt more comfortable than anything I had experienced in years. And yet, I didn’t have a home. I slept in tents, in hammocks, in my car, and even nabbed a bed in a luxurious cabin for the last few weeks of my stay. But the feeling of “home” was ever present, nestled within the big walls that surrounded me and through the community of people I lived with. It sounds silly, but there truly is an energy about this place that calms the soul and delivers a new sense of youth. The healing valley took me in and replenished my mind in ways I never could’ve imagined.

    My experiences in Yosemite gave me a new perspective and outlook on life. It begs you to recognize the true meaning of beauty and emotional wealth. For the first time in a long time I feel excited about the future. I see opportunity and feel optimistic. I feel this forward momentum in regards to my photography and my internal drive. I don’t have a plan but I have confidence that life will play out as long as I allow it to do so. With a society that is quickly losing its creative spirit in exchange for abundance and convenience, it seems more vital than ever to bask in this irreverent lifestyle with a camera in hand, juxtaposing modesty before nature and the quest for a deeper importance in what it means to be alive.  It involves living with the past but finding meaning in my future with a willingness to accept any and all experiences that will continue to come my way.

    Orr's Island Clambake

    Originally posted on August 19th, 2016

    In 2011, my aunt and uncle hosted a clambake for the family off the coast of Maine at their house on Orr’s Island. It was such a success that we’ve had one every summer and it has quickly become one of my favorite weekends of the year. The day is packed full with activities and it’s a wonderful day to reconnect with a side of my family that I usually only see once a year. I even made a short video back in 2013 that encapsulates everything I love so much about that day.

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    For the past few months I’ve been bummed that I wouldn’t be able to make it this August. Along with my cousin Tommy, the two of us are the only “kids” to have kept a perfect attendance over the past five years. So when I found out I had a few extra days off I immediately booked my tickets and planned a surprise visit to the east coast.

    The trip didn’t disappoint. It was a quintessential Nelson clambake equipped with boat rides, clambake assembly, watching the uncles argue over the fire building process, undercooked lobsters, lots of wine and beer, and of course pie. The whole process is wonderful, but all of the people who come together to make it happen are what I love the most.

    It was great to see the family as usual, but it was also great to reconnect with my old life on the east coast, something I rarely do these days. It was fun to photograph a different scene, too. The ocean sure is pretty.

    Race Weekend - Chamonix, France

    Originally posted on July 16th, 2016

    It’s hard to appreciate experiences while they’re unfolding in real time. For the past three summers, my family has been participating in a series of trail races that take place in Chamonix and a few weeks ago I got to return to France for another go at “race weekend”. It was a whirlwind of events, and yet it felt rather unexciting at the time.

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    It wasn’t until I started recounting the highlights of the trip to my friends that I started to feel an incredible weight of enthusiasm for what just happened. I ran the Marathon du Mont Blanc. After two years of attempting this 10,000ft beast, I finally crossed the finish line. What should have been an incredibly cathartic experience just kind of fell flat upon finishing. Maybe it’s because I was more prepared this time and knew I would cross the finish line. Maybe I was bummed that my partner wasn’t there to share in the experience. Maybe this race just wasn’t a big deal to me anymore.

    To be fair, I guess the cathartic moment I was looking for occurred when my sister crossed her 80km finish line. Woo and I ran our first marathon in 2014, but since then she has crossed into another dimension of long distance trail running. Her passion for grueling, high elevation ultras is inspiring and slightly concerning. At 24 years old, she not only completed her first official 80km, but she finished 4th in her age group and 6th overall female. While I’m bragging for her, I should also mention that this race included 21,000ft of vertical gain and occurred in 90-degree weather. Plain and simple, she is so cool.

    Still, it’s strange to appreciate these experiences after the fact. The other night, I was looking through my photos of the races and all of a sudden I felt an enormous amount of pride. The numbness I had previously felt just sort of lifted and I was left with this wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Why now? Why not three weeks ago?

    Side note: I would also be doing a disservice to my parents if I didn’t mention that they both excelled in their races, too. Dad finished 2nd in his age group for the vertical kilometer, and Mom ran her 23km through torrential rain, hail, and lightening storms. The only member of our family who seriously failed in every athletic way possible was Mason. But it’s ok. Not everyone can be athletically gifted…

    Here are a few of the shots from the trip.

    Subaru Home Improvements

    Originally posted on April 27th, 2016

    Earlier this year I thought a lot about buying a van.  I had months ahead of me with nothing to do and nowhere to be, so the idea of being able to live comfortably on the road for a while was quite appealing. It also seemed like a practical decision, mostly because I’m currently unemployed and paying rent these days is synonymous with lighting my cash on fire.  Alas, it didn’t pan out. However, that didn’t stop me from dreaming up similar innovations that I could install into my own 2006 Subaru Forester.

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    Don’t get me wrong - I love camping. I enjoy sleeping in tents, breathing in chilly night air, and curling up in my sleeping bag. It’s perhaps one of my favorite things to do. But if you’re doing it enough, the option of a quick mobile set-up is perhaps just as attractive. Recently, my sleeping arrangements in Moab have ranged from sleeping on couches, up in tree nets, or in my tent. All have been lovely accommodations but I found myself wishing I had a more permanent dwelling while on the road. So with the help of Kinloch Customs, we built one.

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    My main concern was to make it comfortable, yet functional. I wanted a simple design that wouldn’t compromise storage or extra seating. Therefore, we created a platform that essentially folds up into the trunk when I need to use the backseats. And it’s awesome.

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    For the materials, I used one ½” 4x8 sheet of plywood, nearly three 8’ 2x4’s, six hinges, and some classy commercial carpeting. Though not very aesthetically pleasing, the carpet is incredibly durable and gives the wood a protective cover.  All the materials cost under $100 and we were able to build the whole thing in one day. It also only weighs about 60lbs and is easy to collapse and/or remove by myself.

    We created a platform that sat roughly 11 inches high, leaving plenty of room for storage underneath. It also has a “trap door” that I can lift for easy access. A hook and bungee cord make the whole process hands free. 

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    The front half of the platform sits on a lip and is locked in place by two 4″ bolts. Two legs on hinges swing down and sit atop the folded down seats. I also installed an extender that flips out when the front seats are pulled forward. This bonus feature adds an extra foot of length so I can fully stretch out. 

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    The entire platform measures 36.5″ wide x 75″ long, or almost the exact size of a twin bed. I also topped the platform with a 2″ foam mattress topper for added comfort. 

    I tested it out this past weekend in Moab, UT and it didn’t disappoint. It also happened to be an incredibly windy weekend, so it was especially nice to climb into a wind-free/sand-free bed. Even when I’m not camping, I’ve been driving around with the platform laid out. It’s fun to have a cozy abode, even for day trips. 

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    Desert Dwelling

    Originally posted on April 19th, 2016

    Words really can’t describe the feeling I had when I saw red desert sandstone after months of snow. The sight of the dry desert landscape sparked something inside of me that I hadn’t felt in a while: real happiness. That might sound incredibly depressing, but to me it was inspiring. Happiness is a wonderful feeling.

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    Moab has always been a really special place to me. It has been a place to escape to for endless adventures, beautiful landscapes, and above all, a space that provides a time and place to connect with like-minded people.  I first came to the desert in the fall of 2011 to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and sister. Mason had already been climbing in Moab for years and introduced us to a completely new world – a world with no rules.  A place where you can jump off cliffs tethered to climbing ropes, walk highlines over canyons, climb for hours on remote un-established walls, and best of all, go basically anywhere you want… just for the sake of exploration. Since that first trip, I’ve returned to the desert 20+ times over the past five years. This place never gets old and will continue to be my favorite place on earth.

    I didn’t plan to spend the majority of March and April in Moab, but I was having a hard time reconnecting to life in Boulder. I was running a 30k at the end of March in Moab, so I planned to go out a week early because… why not? One week turned in to two and before I knew it I was commuting back and forth between Moab and Boulder like they were neighboring towns. Mason has been posted in Moab for the past month as well, so Woo and I have always found reason to return.

    One of the things that Ethan and I both connected over was our love for the desert and how there was always something new to explore.  In the past 30 days, I’ve spent 20 of them in the desert and each of those days was a mix of familiar and new experiences.  I returned to Castle Valley where Ethan first asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I finally got to spend some quality time in Indian Creek and watched Mason put up a first ascent. We traveled deep into the canyons off of Kane Creek and found huge boulders, crystal clear pools, and exquisite un-touched splitters. We explored caves above Potash and waterfalls up Mill Creek.

    Maybe it’s all the memories that I have from the desert, or maybe it’s a good distraction. Either way, there’s a magic hidden there that will always lift your spirit.

    I’m back in Boulder for a few days so I figured I’d take this time to post a few shots from the past month before I head back to Moab on Thursday.

    Into the Mountains

    Originally posted on March 23, 2016

    Earlier this winter, I flew to Chamonix, France to meet up with the rest of my family for an extended ski trip. Since I was 13 years old, my parents have been taking my siblings and me to this beautiful spot nearly every year for climbing, hiking, running, and ski touring trips. I’d like to say that I’m well traveled, but I can’t since the only place I travel to is Chamonix. That’s nothing to complain about though. It’s nice to fly halfway around the world and feel familiar and comfortable in a foreign country.

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    I found it really tough to leave Boulder though. My mind and body were beginning to settle again, plus the weather was turning warmer and I was getting motivated to climb harder and run longer. When I arrived in Chamonix, I found it increasingly difficult to switch my brain to ski touring. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever did. A mix of fear, anxiety, and the loss of independence made it hard to get excited every morning. However, I found that the one thing that motivated me to get back into the mountains was my camera.

    Since Ethan’s accident, there was a large part of me that never wanted to touch my camera again. It felt like a selfish pursuit – how could something as trivial as photography have meaning or purpose anymore? Though in large part I think I just couldn’t bear the fact that I would be creating images that he would never see. I was scared to be a part of anything new, anything that Ethan would never be a part of.

    A few months after he passed, I began to feel differently. I found that channeling my grief into photography was actually therapeutic. When you’re looking through the viewfinder, it’s hard to think about anything but the subject in front of you. But for me, it was more than just finding peace and quiet through the camera. I was able to express myself again - and not for the rest of the world - but for Ethan. 

    So, I started a Photo a Day project in an effort to stay present and focused. This project has helped me be a part of this new life and continually serves as motivation to get out and get after it, if only to take a photo.  And this is what served me well upon arriving in Chamonix. On the days where all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch, my camera beckoned. And so, up into the mountains I went, feeling thankful that E got me there.

    In the end, I took far more photos than were needed for the Photo a Day. I compiled some of my favorites here.