I was beat.   I looked at my watch and saw it was nearly 2:30pm.  We’d been hiking uphill, fighting the cold and the wind and the blowing snow since 8am.

I remember reading about accidents on mountains in books and news articles.  It usually wasn’t one mistake or bad decision that gets you in trouble, but rather a series of them.   I had told Dave before he took off to go looking for the trail again that I didn’t want to keep compounding our situation by making more bad decisions.  We’d already gone off trail and gotten lost in a white out in our rush to get down the mountain, we didn’t need to make the situation even worse.

As I stood there in the waist deep snow watching Dave attempt to traverse across the mountain in an attempt to find the trail we’d lost, I thought back to how the day had progressed up to this point…

 

 

 

———-

 

We’d gotten a late start.  We’d set all of our gear our the night before. Thinking back, we should have packed up the bags the night before, and only left our clothes out to be put on.  Although we got up at 5:45, by the time we got cleaned up, ate breakfast and got all dressed and packed out, it was already 7am.  For some reason, everything seemed to take forever.

At the trailhead, we discovered that in our rush to pack that morning, we’d forgotten two important things:  Dave’s mittens and our trail map.  Since we were already running late, we decided to make due with what we had brought with us.

Dave would wear his liner gloves and my Marmot technical gloves.  Along with some hand warmers, it should be enough to keep his hands warm.  And since we we’d already studied the route and saw that it only required two different trails, we decided to forgo to map.   Besides, we were told there would be so many people (including guides) on the mountain that day, we could easy follow someone else or ask directions.

We double-checked the items we did end up bringing with us and loaded them into my backpack:

  • Down jackets
  • Ski goggles
  • hand warmers
  • food (granola bars and shot blocks – 2 of each for both of us)
  • 2 nalgene bottles full of water in insulators
  • Headlamps
  • Mountaineering axes
  • Crampons
  • Cameras
  • Balaclavas and extra hats

This in addition to the clothes I was wearing which included my Arc’teryx base layer, my Patagonia fleece, my REI shell pants, my Arc’teryx Alpha shell jacket, wool hat, wool expedition socks, Vasque mountaineering boots and my Mountain Hardware Masherbrum mittens (Dave had a similar setup, minus the mittens).

We signed into the guestbook at the visitor center,  did one last check of what we had and set off onto the could trail.

On the way up the first part of the route, on the Tuckerman Ravine trail, we saw numerous other hikers out that morning.   Most people we talked to, like us, were planning to head to the summit that day.  By the time we got to the start of the Lion Head trail, we were surrounded by no less than 20 other hikers doing the same thing.

This was a common place to stop for most people to pause, put on crampons, adjust packs and set off for the more treacherous part of the hike/climb to come.    We stopped to do the same and get a quick bite to eat and drink.

I looked at my watch and saw that it was barely 9am.  We were making great time!  The sun was even coming out!  What a great day this was turning out to be!

After we threw on our crampons and started off on the Lionhead trail we noticed the terrain almost immediately got steeper and more difficult.  Within 15 minutes we were going nearly vertical up an extremely steep trail that was a lot of fun.   I had actually wondered earlier if I was even going to need my ice axe for any part of this climb.

By about 11am we reached the top of the Lionhead trail and though the sun was still out we could see a weather system moving in.  Our pace had also slowed considerably.

“Weird” I thought to myself.  “It’s supposed to be nice up here today.  Hopefully it just passes us by”

The wind had picked up quite a bit and by the time we got to the lip of the Tuckerman Ravine it felt like we were in a hurricane.  Though I could still see the summit off in the distance, visibility was dropping.

By noon, as we trudged slowly up a massive boulder field, I look upwards and saw that the summit was no longer visible.   We should still make out the trail with the kearns and marker wands, but our destination was now obscured.

This is the first time that I felt a little something inside of me.  I don’t know if it was dread or what, but I quickly wrote it off.  I mean, we came here looking for the bad weather experience, right?  And as the wind continued to howl I knew we had found it.  In spades.

Every step was getting tougher.   It wasn’t just the hike up that was wearing me down.  The sub zero temps made my lungs burn and the wind punished me, even when I stood still.   We were in the middle of a full on assault, and we kept hiking into it.

By 1:30pm I noticed an object in the near distance that looked man made.  It was a railing, covered in sideways icicles.  I walked a few more feet and saw a building.  We had made it to the top.

After about 20 minutes of walking around, checking stuff out and taking a couple of pictures next to the summit sign, we were ready to get down.  The wind, gusting up to 80mph, was merciless and we were both really getting tired.  We weren’t getting cold yet, but we knew the longer we stood still the colder we’d get.  Plus, the idea of heading down quickly and getting some beer and pizza sounded really good.

 

So down we went.   Quick.  Too quick.  The conditions on the mountain had continued to deteriorate and we were now in a full on whiteout.  I could barely make out Dave’s bright green jacket 20ft in front of me.   We just kept heading straight down the field of rocks and boulders until we stopped in the middle of a snow field.  This didn’t look familiar.

We turned east and walked through the snow for a few minutes, looking for some evidence of the trail.  We couldn’t have missed it by that much, right?    And where were the other hikers?  Had the weather turned all them around?

We stopped again.  No luck.  Nothing looked familiar and we couldn’t see any major landmarks. We turned around and saw that our tracks were almost completely washed away by the blowing wind and and snow.

Uh oh.

I looked at Dave and I saw in his eyes a reflection of my own panic.  The weather was deterioating further and every minute that ticked by brought us closer to sunset.

Sunset would be very bad.  Like, never get off the mountain kind of bad.

We talked for a minute or two, and discussed the situation.  No use in panicking, we agreed. It was only going to make things worse.   Though we were both really worn out, we decided to head back up the mountain a little bit and try to see if we could find a trail or some kind of landmark.  And after about 10 minutes, we saw what looked like a sign post sticking up!  We rushed over to it and brushed the snow off

“<- TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL ->”

OK, that helped, but not much.  We were on a trail, but which part? Part of the Tuckerman Ravine trail leads up to the summit, which is not where we wanted to go.  The other side gets closed after heavy snow fall due to avalanche danger.   Somewhere along the trail was a turn off that would take us safely down the mountain.  But where?  Had we gone too far?  Not far enough?  We were already in really deep snow and completely worn out.

 

Choosing the wrong direction could either put us in an avalanche zone with a 1500 drop off or send us trudging back up the mountain while it got dark.

Dave started walking.  “I think the trail’s this way” and headed back up the mountain.

I gave him 30 minutes.  If he didn’t find it by then, we’d have to make another decision about what we were going to do.

I looked around and tried to think of what our other options were:

-We could try to work our way down the Tuckerman Ravine.  It was dangerous, but people have done it before.

We could also work our way back up to the summit and start our decent all over again.  We’d be tired, but it would give us a good chance of getting back on track, if we could get back up there and down before dark.

-That last option, one I didn’t want to think about, was digging a whole and in the snow and bivouacking down until the weather broke.  I knew it would get really cold that night, but it would be better than falling down the Tuckerman Ravine in the dark.

Then I started to think of my wife, at home.  Probably watching TV on our couch.  I was supposed to call her this evening when I got off the mountain.  She was already worried about me.  If I didn’t call her tonight, she’d be a complete mess.   I hate it when she worries about me.  Imagine how upset she’d be if…

I stopped myself.  No way that’s happening tonight.  I could not stay up here tonight.  We’d HAVE to find a way down, no matter what.  Even if we had to hike all the way back up to the top 5 times and crawl down at midnight, we were not going to be stranded here!

I had worked my way into quite a pep talk!  Just then I remembered.  I had downloaded a copy of the map on my iPhone to study.  I had brought my phone with me, just in case of an emergency.  I didn’t get service, but I had a copy of that map still on here.  I pulled out my phone and with my liner gloves, I was able to scroll and zoom to the part of the map were on.

I looked around to try to and orient myself to a landmark with little luck.  I thought we were right above the Tuckerman Ravine, but I couldn’t be sure.  And just then, the weather lifted for a few moments and, off in the distance, I could make out the unmistakable shape of the Lionhead.

We couldn’t be that far off course!  Dave had to be headed in the right direction.  I started walking towards him.  I was ready to grab Dave, shake him and yell “we’re going to live!  We’ll make it off….”  What was he waving his arms like that for?

I heard him yell  “I found the trail!  Its right here.  We were only off by about 100ft!”.

Oh right.  Well, nevermind the speech.  I guess we’ll just walk down then.

And sure enough, the trail was right there.  And just as we got there the weather broke for a few more moments and I could see the rock formations on the Lionhead directly ahead in the distance.  We walked down slowly and got back down to the tree line.  The weather, which had been pounding the summit finally eased.

The setting sun came back out again to greet us as we quickly walked the lower half of the trail and finally dropped below the mountains just as we reached the trailhead and car.

We unloaded the gear into the rental car, turned the heater up to full blast and drank a bottle of slushy water I’d left behind.

“What’d  you think?” I asked Dave.

“That was not as easy as I thought it would be.”

“Me either.”

“Ready for a beer?”

“Dear god yes.  Let’s go”

 

As we set off down the road to head back to down, we both got quiet in our thoughts.  I thought about calling my wife and how good it would be to hear her voice.  I thought about how different the whole experience was from I pictured it.  But mostly I thought about all the stories I’ve read of people who have died on mountains and how real it all seemed to me now.

Now to our credit, we did stop making bad decisions at a critical juncture.  Though we were only a 100ft or so off-course, we could have easily made the situation far worse if we had continued to make bad decisions.  I stopped our descent, Dave made the sacrifice of heading back up and because of the that we were able to find our way back on-course after losing about an hour or so of time.

But I saw firsthand how easy a serious of seemingly small errors can compound and snowball into disaster.    Coupled with a lack of humility, we were actually pretty lucky to have made it off as easy as we did.

Mountains, especially ones as fierce as Mount Washington, demand your respect.   It doesn’t matter how fancy your shell is, or how good of shape you’re in or how shiny your new crampons are. If you don’t respect that mountain, it can punish you.  Sometimes with severe consequences.

This time, we walked away with a free lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

“I think we’re in big trouble”

That’s all I could think as Dave and I looked around in the storm that had changed the weather to complete white out conditions.

We were lost. Bad. And completely worn out. We had spent so much energy rushing our way to the top, we had very little strength left in out bodies. It was obvious that we had missed a turn somewhere. In our rush to get back below the tree line we had somehow gone right past our turn. We were now on a completely unfamiliar part of the mountain and it would be getting dark soon.

Nighttime on that mountain could spell a death sentence. It was -2 degrees with gale force winds and the temperature was dropping. If we didn’t get back on course soon, we could be stuck out here all night. Without a tent or bivy sack, without a stove or sleeping bag. A night out here would be disastrous.

If only we could see more than 100 ft in front of us, we could tell which way to go. I was pretty sure we had gone too far west, but how far? If we wandered too far west, we risked heading down the Tuckerman Ravine. Over 1500 ft of near sheer drop off. Going back east meant going back up hill and trudging through waist deep snow. Our legs were so already spent, we could barely walk as it was.

I looked over at Dave. He was just as exhausted as I was. “I have no idea where we are man. This is bad.” We stopped for a few minutes to discuss the situation. We couldn’t stand here long. As soon as you stop moving, you get cold. Plus, we were losing daylight.

Dave decided to head up and east to scout out a new route. Meanwhile, I’d look at the map and try and orient ourselves. I could look as my compass and see our direction, but I couldn’t find a big enough object to use to direct ourselves.   We had to find a way back down soon…..

 

 

 

It was Thursday afternoon and I was on the train heading to new york where I’d meet Dave who was up already up there for the day. He was going to grab me a couple of slices of NYC pizza, hop on the train and we’d roll the rest of the way up to Boston where we’d grab our rental that was waiting for us.

We got to Boston around midnight and I was immediately glad we decided to rent a 4×4. It was snowing like crazy. A weak weather system had gotten hung up on the east coast and was just sitting there, dumping snow all over New England. By the time we got the car and left the rental car office, it was nearly a full on blizzard.

A drive that was supposed to take a bit under 3 hours ended up taking nearly 4 and a half and by the time we arrived in Jackson, NH at the Synnott Mountain Guides Bunkhouse at 4:45am, we were thrashed. We quietly made our way inside to the one room house that featured several beds where other climbers were already passed out. With headlamps on, we found a free mattress and couch to crash out on, which we did almost immediately.

3 and half hours later, our guide Joe came in the door looking for us. We had booked an all day ice climbing class with Synnott Guides, and he was ready to get going. There were no blinds or curtains in the little house we had flopped in on the night before so the bright morning sunlight was reflecting off all that new snow and right through our window. Looked like getting up was our only option anyways.

So we threw on some clothes, test fit our climbing gear and set out for one of the many ice climbing destinations around Mt Washington. After a quick stop at the local Eastern Mountain Sports for a few last minute items and a second stop for a giant cup of McDonald’s coffee, we were at the trailhead, starting the 45 minute hike to Champney Falls.

We got to the falls, which was already covered with other climbers, and setup a top rope anchor. Our guide, who knew we were both rock climbers, took a very hands off approach to teaching us to climb. He helped us get our crampons on and basically just threw us on a wall with ice tools. 10 minutes later Dave and I had both top roped a 30 foot class 4 route.

During the way, our guide would take time to critique our technique or form. Showing us how to get better crampon purchase in the ice or the sound a tool should make when it gets a good stick. By the end of the day we were doing a 60ft class 4 plus route with relative ease.

 

 

 

 

While ice climbing is obviously a different animal from rock climbing, many of the same principals apply.  Smooth, balanced movements are preferred, using your feet to climb instead of your arms, visualizing your route, remembering to breathe…  All key if you want to have successful and enjoyable route.

We both had a blast and by the time we hiked back to the car we felt like the day had opened up new climbing avenues for both us. Too bad there’s not much in the way of ice climbing in Virginia!

We left and headed out to the gear store so Dave could get boots and crampons for the next day’s hike up Mount Washington. Afterward we stopped a local dive bar for some well deserved greasy food and ice cold brewskis, and discussed our big adventure the next day.

After dinner we checked into our accommodations at the Nereledge Inn, local B&B that caters specifically to climbers.  Steve, the owner,  gave us a big, clean room with two comfy beds and promised to have a breakfast ready for us when we were heading out at 6am the next morning.

After we got unpacked, we wandered downstairs to hang out in the common area where there was a TV and a wood fired stove where we met two older guys playing chess. We struck up a conversation and found that they had both been on some pretty seriously climbs, including several winter summits of mt Washington, a 5 week long climb up Denali and even a couple of Himalayan peaks! They told us we’d have a blast on our climb the next day, but to take care to not underestimate the weather on the mountain.

After enjoying several beers and listening to stories and wisdom from newly found friends, we retired to our room. We got in bed around 9:30pm and set the alarm for 5:45am the next day. When we awoke, it’d be time to head off the mountain for the highlight of our little weekend adventure.

 

 

To be continued…..

We can’t all choose how we’re going to go.  In fact, most of us will not.   Statistically speaking most of us will succumb to one form of cancer or heart disease, hopefully when we’re older, likely in a hospital or hospice.  It’s sad, but it’s a part of life that we all must face sooner or later.

But, the lucky few will pass from this world in a manner in which they would consider fitting or maybe even poetic.   And while death is never something to be cherished, the life and legacy that remain should be.

My friend Dave’s brother-in-law, Ted Smith passed away on New Years Eve.  A local surf legend in his home of La Jolla, Calf, he died doing what he loved and what he was best known for; surfing.

Last weekend, the local surf community came out for a “ride out”.  One last surf to pay tribute to their dearly departed friend:

May we all be so lucky.   Rest in peace Ted.

 

 

Happy trails.

Our second stab at a trip to Mt Washington is only two short days away.    On thursday afternoon I’ll be on the train heading towards New York where my good friend Dave will be waiting to join me as we continue on up to Boston to get our rental car.   Since our trip has changed from last year, in both the activities (we’re taking an all day ice climbing class on Friday) and the mode of transportation (not flying), I’ve had to adjust what gear I’ll be hauling up with me this time.

 

I’ve researched the message boards and various outfitters to see what they recommend to bring.  I broke down my clothes and gears by my needs for the weekend into three categories, though there is some crossover:

1. Ice climbing – Being outside on the ice all day, I’ll need breathable layers that’ll keep me warm, without turning into a sauna.  Also, I’ll finally get a chance to try out my crampons I bought last year.

2. Mt. Washington climb – They don’t call it the home of the world’s worst weather for nothing.  Sub zero temps and 100mph winds are commonplace as you approach the summit.  I’ll need plenty of layers I can add as we go higher, as well as goggles and other extreme cold weather gear.

3. Travel/Lounging clothes – While I’m sitting on the train and chilling out at the motel at  night, I’ll want to be comfortable.  Additionally, I may want to go out to a local pub and not look like I just got done climbing a mountain.

So with all this in mind, here’s what I finally settled on:

 

 

Luggage and bags – Here’s what I’ll be packing all my gear into

  • REI Adventure Cargo duffel bag- For hauling all my stuff from home, through the train station and to the base of the mountain
  • Black Diamond 40L Alpine bag – On the train I’ll carry my ipad, magazines and other stuff for the trip up there, on the mountain it’ll carry all of our gear.

Clothes – Outerwear and layers

  • Arc’teryx Alpha shell – I’ll pretty much wear this the entire time I’m up in New Hampshire.  With its Goretex Pro fabric, its warm enough to wear by itself around town and capable of protecting my from that ferocious wind at the summit
  • REI insulated snow pants – I’ll wear these over my base layer to keep my legs warm and dry
  • Patagonia down jacket – Unless there’s a blizzard, I’ll likely be wearing this as my outer layer around the base of the mountain.  It’s tremendously warm, breathable and lightweight
  • Patagonia – I’ll wear this under the down layer and around the lodge to keep warm and dry and add another layer of insulation
  • Patagonia Capaline 3 baselayer top – This thin base layer zips down with I need a little bit of cooling but zips all way up the neck when I need to keep out the drafty cold
  • REI base layer long undies – These aren’t just a great base layer for the legs, they’re a fashion statement around the lodge (with boots of course)
  • Patogonia fleece hat – Even if we don’t summit, I can totally look like I climb Mt Fitzroy… bro
  • Outdoor Research balaclava – Great for keeping your neck, ears and face warm and doubles as a great ninja mask!
  • Two or three pairs of REI wool socks – Probably just one pair for each day
  • Wool expedition socks – For wearing up the summit or if we get bored and decide to put on a sock play on the train
  • Liner gloves and liner socks – Socks will help prevent blisters on my feet and the liner gloves will protect my hands in case I have to take my mittens off.
  • Mountain Hardware Masherbrum Mittens – This mittens are LEGIT.  They’re almost as big as boxing gloves and stuffed full of warm insulation.  I’ll keep these on for most of the trip up the mountain
  • Marmot insulated gloves – Backups for the mittens and also for use while ice climbing
  • Vasque Mountaineering boots – I’ll finally get the chance to wear these somewhere outside of my neighborhood. It’s nice that they include built in gaiters
  • Other stuff? I’ll be packing a couple of t-shirts, a pair of hiking pants for walking around and of course some extra undies

Gear (climbing and otherwise)

  • 2 Naglene bottles – both with insulating sleeves to keep from freezing
  • Headlamp with extra batteries – Because you never know. If we get stuck out after dark I don’t want to rely on moonlight to get us back down
  • Black diamond crampons – for traction on the ice and the misc climbs we’ll be doing
  • Camp ice axe – Typical mountaineering axe
  • Ice axe leash – Don’t want to lose your ice axe right!?
  • Rope and carabiners – while we won’t be doing any technical climbing, it’s probably a good idea to carry a length of rope, just in case
  • Julbo glacier glasses – Keeps the sun/wind out of my eyes when we’re heading up the mountain
  • Ski goggles – see above

Misc

  • Snacks – nothing that needs to be cooked and stuff that won’t freeze on the mountain.  Most of our meals will be at the in town, we just need to have enough food to keep our energy up when we’re hiking
  • First aid kit – Small with just a few things
  • Compass with signal mirror – The trails are well marked, but again, you never know
  • Cameras – I’ll be hauling along my Canon t2i, the GoPro and a point and shoot for pictures/video of the trip.
  • Chapstick and sunscreen
  • Books and magazines, ipad for the train and probably my laptop

 
That should probably about cover it.   I’m still figuring out if I need to load the kitchen sink, but I’ll make that a game time decision.    Seriously though, this may look like a lot of stuff (ok, it IS a lot of stuff), but I want to be sure we have everything we need to ensure this adventure is successful, fun and safe.

 

Happy trails!

 

Last year, I had made a plan with a couple of friends to travel to the home the of the “worlds worst weather”, Mt Washington in New Hampshire.   A bit of bad weather cancelled our travel plans at the last minute and we couldn’t manage to coordinate on another weekend to head up.  We promised ourselves we would find a way to get up there, even if it wasn’t that year.  Well, here we are in 2012 and me and my buddy Dave and I decided to take another stab at it this month.

This time, instead of relying on the airlines, which are more sensitive to inclement weather, we’re going to take the slower and more scenic means of travel, the train.    We’ll be heading on old Amtrak Northeast Regional on a Thursday evening and heading back on Sunday night.  It’ll take a lot longer than flying, but we’ll be able to read, watch movies and relax the whole way.  And since Amtrak offers free WiFi now, I may even be able to get some work done.

Since the hike up Mt Washington will only take about 8 hours and we’ll have 3 days to fill, we decided to take the opportunity to expand our climbing skills and take an ice climbing class through Synnott Mountain Guides on Friday. I’ve never done ice climbing before and I’m looking forward to the chance to learn something new.

We’re still hammering out the details, but we’re looking trying to get our summit hike/climb in on Saturday morning, which will leave us with the rest of the day and all day Sunday to do whatever we want.  Worst case scenario, if the weather is too bad on Saturday to make it to the top, we can try to do a summit attempt on Sunday morning and be back down in time to get on the train before it leaves.

I’m excited to have the first big adventure of 2012 only a couple of weeks away.  I’ll be sure to write up more about our itinerary, gear selection and, of course, a trip report when it’s all done.  Who knows, there might even be a video!

Have a great weekend and happy trails!

 

And he brought me climbing gear!  Since I’ve been getting more and more into outdoor climbing, I figured it would probably be good to start building my own collection of climbing gear.

Last month, I bought a 60m dynamic rope from REI and over the last few weeks I’ve been finding sales on small pieces parts like slings, some nuts, nylon webbing, carabiners and accessory cord.  Basically all the cheap stuff.

The of the expensive stuff remained.  So I asked the wife and the rest of my family to please consider the gift of climbing gear this Christmas.  I put together a list of the stuff I really wanted on REI’s website and my wife gave them the link. I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning!

Well, Christmas came around and I set to opening my first gift, from my sister-in-law and her boyfriend.  A Pezel GriGri!!!  Score!

I went through a few packages of hiking socks and shirts till I got to the next big present from my in-laws which was….  another Pezel GriGri!   Everyone had a bit of a laugh and I went to opening the rest of my gifts.

A few more shirts, a book and and a Pezel pulley!   And….  ANOTHER GriGRi!!!  This one from my loving wife.   You can’t make this kind of stuff up!!

So after all the chuckling had subsided I got the receipts of two of them (I kept the one from my wife, naturally) and decided to head up to REI the day after Christmas to return them and pick up some other climbing gear.

With the credit I got, I was able to pick up 2 Black Diamond Camalots, some more nuts and some nylon webbing (in addition to a new Arcteryx running shirt).  So between all that stuff, and the sweet #3 cam my buddy Dave got for me, I’m starting to get a pretty decent looking rack going:

Now, hopefully we’ll get some nice weather in the next few weeks so I can actually get out and use some of it!

Happy trails!

I got bored this past Saturday evening, so while the wife and her friend watched the last Harry Potter movie in the basement, I recut and remixed the footage from our Seneca Rocks trip.

 

I learned a lot from my first attempt at making a video and I’m more satisfied with the new one.  I can’t to get out and shoot more video with my GoPro!!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy trails!

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On Sunday morning Matt, Dave and I went down to Carderock in Maryland, just on the other side of the Potomac to do a little outdoor top roped climbs.

While were there, Matt took some time to show Dave and some of the basics of traditional climbing, specifically setting artificial protection pieces.

It was a tremendous learning experience and a great way to spend a cool Sunday morning outside before heading home to drink beer and watch football.

Enjoy the pictures!

You shouldn’t do it, at least according to an email I got from them today.    It was an interesting email and I would like the share the message with you:

 

 

———————————-

Today is Cyber Monday. It will likely be the biggest online shopping day ever. Cyber Monday was created by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to focus media and public attention on online shopping. But Cyber Monday, and the culture of consumption it reflects, puts the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. We’re now using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet.

Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time – and leave a world inhabitable for our kids – we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.

Environmental bankruptcy, as with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face unless we slow down, then reverse the damage. We’re running short on fresh water, topsoil, fisheries, wetlands – all our planet’s natural systems and resources that support business, and life, including our own.

The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing. Consider the R2® Jacket shown, one of our best sellers. To make it required 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.

And this is a 60% recycled polyester jacket, knit and sewn to a high standard; it is exceptionally durable, so you won’t have to replace it as often. And when it comes to the end of its useful life we’ll take it back to recycle into a product of equal value. But, as is true of all the things we can make and you can buy, this jacket comes with an environmental cost higher than its price.

There is much to be done and plenty for us all to do. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Think twice before you buy anything. Go to patagonia.com/CommonThreads, take the Common Threads Initiative pledge and join us in the fifth “R,” to reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.

 

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Yet another reason why I love Patagonia (you can read my review of my down jacket here).  Not only do they make outstanding products which I love, they have a value system that directly impacts the way they handle their business.

And it’s a good reminder for me to reflect on purchases I make not only today, but everyday.   Because more and more, I’m finding myself wanting buy things that I’ll own not for a year or two, but for a decade or more.  Not only do I end up being more environmentally (and financially) responsible,  I end up owning things I cherish far more.  And, I have a lot less useless, unwanted junk  cluttering my house that eventually ends up in a landfill.

 

 

Oh man, this time tomorrow I’ll be in Maryland feasting on a giant turkey leg, shoveling down stuffing and mashed potatoes and fattening myself up on pumpkin pie.  Then, the following day we’ll be setting off for Ohio to spend the weekend eating and drinking with friends and family up there. It’s going to be a good, albeit calorie heavy, thanksgiving weekend.

As is tradition, we take this time to reflect on the things we’re thankful in our lives. So in between dreams of leftover turkey sandwiches and Great Lakes Christmas Ale, I’ve taken a few moments to think about all the things that I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving.  And the more I thought, the more I realized I have a tremendous amount to be thankful for, both big and small….

 

50 things I’m thankful for:

  1. Good friends who have such varied interests
  2. Being healthy
  3. My father calling me after every Browns game
  4. Comfy pillows
  5. Cheap beers
  6. My dog and his endlessly wagging tail
  7. Zombie wedding cakes!
  8. Mountain tops
  9. Adventure partners
  10. Football
  11. Being gainfully self-employed
  12. Weeknights on the couch watching TV with the wife
  13. Nalgene bottles
  14. Pho noodle soup
  15. Saturday afternoon naps
  16. New gadgets
  17. Leather goods
  18. Having a hammock in my back yard
  19. Cookouts
  20. Being old enough to know better (most of the time)
  21. Being young enough to try something foolish (sometimes)
  22. Strong black coffee
  23. Bacon…. glorious, glorious bacon
  24. iPhone (seriously how’d I live without this thing!?)
  25. Finding new music that I love
  26. Bourbon and BBQ nights at Rocklands
  27. B movies
  28. Calling in well
  29. 3 day weekends
  30. Goat cheese
  31. Having several people I can call my best friend(s)
  32. LED head lamps
  33. Weekend long runs
  34. Warm summer mornings
  35. Digital cameras
  36. Getting to visit and explore new places
  37. Good cigars
  38. Finding money in a jacket I haven’t worn in months
  39. Writing a good blog post (it happens from time to time)
  40. Going to REI
  41. Climbing a new route
  42. Bourbon
  43. Giving something to someone
  44. Being able to get to the Shenandoah National Park in about an hour
  45. Really good pizza
  46. Having a wonderful family (which got much bigger this year!)
  47. Down jackets
  48. Being tall
  49. Post it notes (they keep me from losing track of everything!)

 

and lastly, I’m grateful that I was able to find the girl of my dreams and marry her.

 

Happy trails!

 

Stuff I’m doing this year:

July 3-7 - Climbing Grand Teton, Jackson WY

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