Blog posts in Training

Revisiting the Fisher Towers

It's been 20 years since I last touched the crumbly sandstone of the classic desert route, "Ancient Art," in the Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah. It is a favorite climbing area for many with a striking topography of thousand foot towers rising up from the barren martian red desert landscape. For me however, it is an especially meaningful spot. Two decades ago Mark Wellman, Hugh Herr and I roped up together to embark on the same climb, and started to dream of creating a movement we ultimately called No Barriers.

White Rim 2018: "My Soul, Made Stone"

Part 1 – White Rim – Setting the Stage “We climbed it not because it’s there, but because it won’t be there much longer” So said famous climbing pioneer, Layton Kor, of Standing Rock, an improbable, inimitable sandstone tower deep in Canyonlands National Park. This formation was one of the three towers we scaled on our six day bikepack of the White Rim Trail – 100 bumpy miles through an ethereal desert landscape carved by the Colorado River.

Pilgrimage to Norway

Hemsedal, Days 1 and 2.  For rock climbing, it’s Yosemite. Alpine climbing – the Himalayas. But for ice climbing, Norway is Mecca, and this winter I made my pilgrimage. I had heard tales of 1,000-meter waterfalls, immobilized in the harsh grip of Norwegian winter, some massive, wide, and blue, others steep, narrow, and yellow, flowing down nooks and gulleys.

A Chilly New England Adventure

What a wild week in New England! My friends Steve and Andrea Charest invited me to speak at their ice climbing festival, the Smuggs Ice Bash, so I decided to do a “Tour de New England,” climbing classic routes across the region before the grand finale at Smuggs. 

East Coast Visit - Retracing Steps

Last week I flew to the East Coast for a sensational meeting with Paychex in Rochester, NY.  My friend and America’s Got Talent finalist, Mandy Harvey, joined me and wowed the crowd with her pitch-perfect voice. It was a No Barriers day for sure! Photo credit: Timothy J. Toal

Reflections From a Rainy Fall

With a busted finger and bruised ribs from my excursion to the Alps in August, I haven’t been doing much climbing. In fact, my post-summer training has been a whole lot of my favorite supplements, like almond croissants and hazelnut lattes. While I recover and do my physical therapy, I can’t help but reflect on some of the awesome adventures I had this summer leading up to the Piz Badile. 

Adventure and Tragedy in the Alps

I'm now home safely in Colorado after a big summer climb that turned out to be full of adventure and fun, but also some challenge, uncertainty, and tragedy. Having visited the Italian Dolomites and the Alps several times, I've always been blown away by the pioneers of the 1930's and 40's like Cassin, Comici, and Bonatti, who set these bold and preposterous lines up massive rock and ice faces the size of El Capitan and often bigger.

Mayflower Gulch Training Day

As I plan for my Mt. Huntington ascent, I’m training for the long hard days that are typical for big Alaska climbs. It’s important to mix up cardio, strength and just being outside on your feet all day. Backcountry skiing last week at Mayflower Gulch between Copper Mountain and Leadville provided the perfect setting. Timmy O’Neill described it as a “cathedral of gendarmes plastered with late season snow.” Deep in the cirque, I could hear the echo of the ridgeline standing out against the immensity of the sky.

Echo Location Part 1: Batman in Training

I love creating systems which break new ground. Lucky for me, an amazing sensory system for navigating as a blind person already exists. It's essentially what bats do, a kind of echo location, mastered by the guru, Daniel Kish. Flash Sonar is the name Daniel coined, in which you make sharp clicks with your tongue and listen to how the sound echoes off objects to figure out their size, shape, and distance. Most blind people have learned to do this to some degree, but it’s passive and not developed with a conscious process.

Diamond Down

Three weeks ago, I was in Phoenix giving a presentation and planned a kayak adventure on the side. Diamond Down is a 53-mile section of the Colorado River about 4 hours from Phoenix. It travels through the last stretch of the Grand Canyon and makes for a perfect day trip. It’s also perfect training for the longer 277-mile run of the GC that I have my sites set on for next fall. We actually had to cancel our first trip scheduled for mid-September.

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