Skip navigation

My friends at Timex have sent me a new training tool, the Trail Mate. What appears as an standard digital watch on a stylish band is really a finely tuned instrument to elevate one’s training to a new level. The Trail Mate allows one to track speed, distance and time with advanced accelerometer technology.

Starting with the basics… the Trail mate has the Indiglo night feature. Always handy in the middle of the night or in a subway that lost power in the middle of a tunnel. (Not that broken subways happen on a regular basis, just good to know we are prepared).

The watch is built upon the four toggle function that is cross platform for many of the Iron Man and Expedition series. Once the accelerometer to set to your height and weight you are set to track your distance travelled by monitoring the swing of your arms.  This data is then calculated to show how many steps one has hiked and, by extension, how many calories one has burned.

Being a bit of a gadget guy, I have had a bit of fun working though the various functions. I’ve used it running up hill, walking around town and ona couple of hard runs.

The watch is set to be relaesed on the 24th of June at a launch party at the Eastern Mountain Sports SoHo store. If you are in “The City” please join us for this special daye. I’ll have a slide show and tie it into the Outdoor Nation event the same weekend.

If you can’t make the opening, please look into the sweepstakes being held. If you win (and ya gotta play to win!) we’ll spend twep days climbing in New Hampshiore this coming 7 – 9 December.

Sign up here:


More details on the watch:


Hard to gather in, this blustery wet last day of May of Eleven. It began with a bang, the Seal Team night ops – (thanks guys) and is now a bit closer The day before I ran in snow ampongst the pines of Baldy Peak and in five days I’ll be on the Kahiltna Glacier, the heart of the Alaska Range for an ascent of one of North America’s most fabled peaks, Denali. At 20,320 feet it is the apex of North America, thrust up by the convergence of the eastern and western pacific plates. The granite that composes the majority of Denali is exceptionally durable. Glaciers, being water and on a quest for the oceans, have carved out the south side of the mountain into an incredible maze of cirques, spires and valleys.

Cliff Hudson and Zero X. One sharp pilot and his honed 185. 40 # lighter with out the paint......


…. Jump forward five days….


leaving Anchorage this morning for the drive to Talkeetna. A busy day purchasing food and dialing in equipment for our intrepid group of eleven. The locals have been commenting on how dry the region has been and the increased likelyhood of summer wildfires. The mountain is drying, resulting in more exposed “blue ice”. When a mountain melts out and / or is not replenished at a sustanable level, the ancient old dense ice exposes itself. From an earth sciences perspective it is part of the dynamic environment of the mountains. From an alpinist and skier’s POV the blue ice is extra dangerous. We need to aware of the conditions especially above 14 camp.

Wet in the Rockies and dry in the Alaska Range. Being in the wilds of Alaska is always enriching. Looking forward to our 14 days on Denali. A fine adventure.



The Bozeman Ice Tower

Bozeman Daily Chronicle Editorial Submission for 26 November 2010
© Conrad Anker 2009

Hyalite Canyon, due its northerly drainage and volcanic rock, freezes up each winter to provide the most reliable and varied ice climbing in the lower 48. Thanks to the County Road and Bridge and the Forest Service’s plowing efforts, Hyalite Canyon is accessible for winter enthusiasts be they fishermen, skiers or climbers. The Twin Falls freezes up offering a great introductory experience on water ice. The springtime drips transform into frigid test pieces attracting the best to test their mettle. From the moderate to the extreme, Hyalite Canyon offers a high density of climbs in a remote setting.
To celebrate the sport, each December climbers from around the world meet for instruction and a good time at the annual Bozeman Ice Festival. The cold temps and dependable conditions allow us to hold the first of the seasonal ice festivals. Ice climbing is a global sport with similar gatherings taking place in Korea, Canada, the Alps and Russia each winter. Competitive ice climbing is part of the fun and entails scratching one’s way up a fake cliff dribbled with blobs of ice. Climbers compete in difficulty and speed. Competitions are popular enough that at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ice climbing will be a demonstration sport. For the sport to eventually make it to the Olympics, a track record of “World Cup” level competition needs to be held. Currently, the ice climbing world cup is held in Europe and Asia each winter. With an eye on the 2014 Olympics climbers are training and competing to represent our country.

To date there is no venue for world cup ice climbing in the United States. Not having a national training facility creates an opportunity for Bozeman. By designing and building a competition climbing structure Bozeman would be the first community in the United States to host the Ice Climbing World Cup. The event could tie in with the Bozeman Ice Festival in a logical and efficient way.

Imagine a structure at the County Fairgrounds reaching 100 feet into the sky. Designed and built with side-cycled chair lift towers from the old Deer Park and Bridger lifts at Bridger Bowl, the tripod shaped tower would allow climbing and rope work. In the summer climbers could challenge themselves on warm rock. Novices could ascend the stairs and learn to rappel. In winter the structure would be draped with several tons of ice, providing ice climbers a controlled feature to train on. Additionally, the tower would be an ideal place for the County Search and Rescue Team to train for evacuations and high angle rope work. The aerie at the summit would provide an eagle’s view of the fairgrounds and have a flag visible from Interstate-90. The tower would require a small footprint and could be maintained by volunteers and the fairground staff in a similar manner to Haynes Ice Hockey Pavilion.

With the completion of the fifth boulder in Rose Park this summer we will have enhanced our parks with equipment that appeals to all ages and most abilities. Scampering around on a cement rock encourages exercise, an activity that benefits all. The boulders were built with support from the community and the Parks and Recreation Department. To extrapolate the concept of the outdoor boulders to a community funded winter ice-climbing tower is a sensible progression. It would put Bozeman on the map as “ice climbing central” and bring more visitors to the County Fairgrounds.

If you are interested and would like to learn more please visit or come to an evening event at the Bozeman Ice Festival at the Emerson on the 10th or 11th of December.

Hi Folks,
Welcome to the mini page! After a hiatus of several weeks (or more! yikes) I’ll share a few notes and thoughts.

First off – facebook had me change from a friend type of thing to a fan page. All this because I had over 5000 friends. If I may impart my two cents worth – don’t go there. Not nearly the community that I had built in the three years on fb and a kinda one sided conversation. I’m keen on the fluid communication of the old set up. A bit more equal. Chatting with climbers from Mumbai – kinda fun. Anyhow… no sour grapes. Just made me realize how superficial and non essential fb is. Yeah I’m glad you had a nice weekend but do you really need to know what I had on the grill? What is it?

Too much information.

Here is Scott, training partner and ace ecologist at Frog Rock in Montana. The route, John Coltrane is a pun on the 125 wagon coal trains that trundle down our valley several times a day. Off to Seattle to power X Boxes and hairdryers. We get it back a bit later in the form of mercury in our lakes. Well – no big deal – fishing is about catch and release – not catch and feast. So what’s a little pollution? Quite a bit in my book. Subsidies to the extractos is business as usual. Subsidies to the wind and solar guys (China is growing their business with massive government subsidies) is government meddling.

Here is a snapshot of Daniel Woods crushing the final route at the Summer Trade show comp. Max Lowe took this picture. Max’s images are spot on. Daniel is one fierce boulderer. Dedicated he is.

On the harsh reality end of things, got news today that Kurt Albert, German rock and alpine climber passed away. He fell a distance of 18 metres. Kurt was a wonderful man, dedicated to the sport of climbing and will forever be remembered for “red point” ascents. Routes that were climbed free in the Frankenjura were given a red dot, hence the climbing parlance of a red point ascent. Rest in peace my friend.

This is Juan Martinez on the descent from the Grand Teton. This was his first climbing experience. He sent the peak and endured a blizzard on the descent. Juan is from South Central LA. You the man, Juan. I’m coming to visit you and your family.

This is the type of stuff that I like. A durable, analog Expedition watch from Timex. Easy to read dial (bi focals not needed), the date (so you don’t look like a slacker when writing a check at the supermarket – uh … What day is it?), the Indiglo night dial for checking time when drunk frat boys stumble down the alley and pound on my wife’s horse trailer at 2 AM (and covert ops – fully morse code compatible) and the type of classic style that is right there. Always there. Cool and timeless. Functional and timely.

OK . Bye for now.

This past week containment crews working with BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil explosion were able to cap the runaway leak. For the millions of our fellow citizens that call the Gulf home this is a welcome relief. With time, diligence and advanced technology the effects of the spill will be mitigated.

The effects of the oil spill are far reaching. Oxygen starved oceans, soiled beaches, lost oil and disrupted communities are the obvious negative effects. Yet from every disaster there is potential for a silver lining. The engineers that design offshore drilling rigs will be able to address the weaknesses that caused the blow out. It takes failure to learn about mistakes and how to prevent similar catastrophes. As our need for oil is far too great to forego offshore reserves, oil companies will be able to work safer and with greater awareness for the environment.

A second silver lining can touch the lives of citizens across the nation. Offshore oil reserves belong to the citizens of the United States. Oil companies lease regions with the greatest potential and in turn for this privilege pay a royalty to the federal government. Last year, the federal government collected over $5 billion in off shore leasing revenues. In 1965 Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to receive $900 million annually from the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leases. The funds from the LWCF have been shared with all 50 states and have connected with American citizens.

The parks, river ways and open space that we enjoy in landlocked Montana are in part funded by the LWCF. Here in southwest Montana, LWCF has protected Yellowstone River headwaters near Cooke City, critical elk passage up the Taylor Fork drainage, a popular climbing area in Bozeman Pass, and Madison Valley fishing access and ranch lands, to name a few. The program has also provided grants to hundreds of state and local parks across Montana including our own Peet’s Hill and the new Rose Park for Frisbee golf enthusiasts.

The challenge is that the full funding for the LWCF has fallen short every year but one since 1965, with most of the $900 million diverted to other purposes. Of the $5 billion in revenue from 2009 only 180 million was set-aside for the LWCF. This is 3% of the total of the total tax revenue from off shore oil and gas leases. To set this in economic context, the profits of BP in the quarter leading up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster were $4.7 billion. In 2008 Exxon Mobil posted record annual profits of $45.22 billion. And these figures are after paying royalties to the federal government of offshore leases. Given the catastrophe in the Gulf, the annual loss of open space to development, the importance of wetlands to water quality and the benefit of recreation to our population it is only fair to ask for full funding of the revenue be set aside for our nation’s natural heritage.

The LWCF is set to expire in 2015, 50 years after it’s signing. As a way to keep this part of our heritage, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, S.2747, on November 6, 2009, and Senator Jon Tester joined to co-sponsor the bill. This legislation is simple and straightforward: it would permanently reauthorize the fund and make $900 million available annually to LWCF as dedicated funding. As the Congress considers ‘oil spill’ legislation in the coming weeks, full funding of LWCF should be a part of the solution.

Americans strongly support this initiative. In a May 2010 national public opinion survey 77 % support funding at the $900 million annual level. The revenue is from the oil we consume (and we all consume oil) and is shared by all. As a way of ensuring the land, water and recreation heritage we depend upon as part of our children’s lives, full funding of the LWCF is the right thing to do.

Inspecting the Gabion Cages in Phortse with Passang, Kumar and Lakpha.

Clouds calm and peaceful in Phortse.

Timex in Kathmandu. Cool stuff!

Dick Bass of Snowbird was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ascent of Everest.

The Maoist Party had a Big Party on the 1st of May.

Young idealists.

After May Day ion Kathmandu I went to the mountains. The Zorral (mountain goat) is protected animal in Sagamartha National Park.

This is a detail of Alex’s memorial rock. Always to stop by and make tribute. This I do….

Damien & Willi Benegas, Cory Richards and radish @ Everest Base Camp. At 17,500 feet air is thin.

Dave Hahn and I climbed Everest in 99. He summited # 12 this season. Way to go Dave!

Russell Brice & Passang Tenjing Sherpa at Base Camp. Russell is the moving force behind HimEx, an Everest guiding concern and Passang is my friend from the Khumbu Climbing Center who helped with the Extreme Ice Survey.

Passang, Adam LeWinter, Cory Richards and me set up time lapse cameras to monitor glaciers in the Mount Everest region. We also compared images from 50 years ago. Guess what? The glaciers are melting.

A self portrait with the south face of Ama Dablam in the background.

The edge of the Nare Glacier near Mingbo Pass. Looking at the glacier polish of recently exposed rock was awesome. Smooth as a mirror.

Passang Tenjing, hi mom and grandmother! Passang’s dad climbed Everest in 1971. passang has climbed it 9 times. His grandmother is 85 and is a beacon of good energy.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon!

This is the trailer for “The Wildest Dream”, the bio pic about the life of George Mallory.

It debuts on the 6th of August in cinema near you.


With each passing day I have this sense that each day is a little shorter. I never quite get everything done, the rote stuff seems to take more of my time and those truly special moments, the ones to cherish, never seem to last. This is in contrast to Sam, our senior in high school, who in two brief months will cross the thresh-hold of education to enter as an adult in our society. For Sam? These two months seem like an eternity. The clock is constant for both of us; it is our perception relative to our experience in life. Having experienced three decades more than Sam time is very precious and moves faster.

Art Mortvedt, pilot extraordinaire, came to visit Bozeman and Montana to share his quest to fly the Polar Pumpkin from pole to pole. The Cessna 180 is a fine durable single engine plane that has cris-crossed the planet. I had the good fortune to fly with Art while working in Antarctica more than a decade ago. One of our most memorable flights was a low elevation flight over the Minnesota Glacier in Antarctica filming for the Nova special (TK). The crevasses were a rope length below us, the epitome of inhospitable land. Art and his wife run a small lodge north of Fairbanks, the Peace of Shelby. Aside from walking and dog sledding flying is how you get to their magnificent place. Art is a top drawer fellow – he is a man of the land. Art is adept at keeping things in good repair and keeping a level head about it all. Yep, visiting Art in Alaska is on my big “to do” list.

My training friend Scott Creel and I enjoyed 24 hours of Hyalite on the 6th of March. We started climbing at 5 PM, went through the night and finished the following day. Lots of fun. Got to climb lots of ice!



Night Climbing.

Nice mixed climb.

Happy Campers!

Every year for the past four years my friend Boone Speed comes and visits us in March. Boone and I go back to the mid eighties in Salt Lake City. Boone was one of the key motivators in the development of American Fork, the limestone area south of the Salt Lake valley. At the time I couldn’t keep up with Boone and his fingers of steel. He still pulls down. We meet up to capture images of ice climbs.

This year Sam Elias, a young climber who took second at the 2010 Ouray Ice Festival came along. Being 20 years younger than I am and very strong Sam got on an open project in the Bingo World cave in Hyalite Canyon. After two days of working the route he sent it on his fifth go – pretty darn hard, a tour de force of mixed climbing. It was very inspiring to see Sam pull multiple figure fours out the roof.

Max was home from university and joined our small group up at the base of the Andesite cliff amongst the pine trees. As an aspiring photographer it was inspiring to see Boone share his skills with Max. The ball of knowledge. Learn from it, add to it and pass it on.

Last week Jenni, Sam and Isaac and I visited Sayulita, Mexico for spring break. In the past we would go camping in the deserts of Utah. Which is very nice. Except when it snowed. Beating snow off a tent in the predawn is my idea of a good time. Then I would here a bit of grousing that this isn’t a “vacation”.

Same Bat Channel – more to come!

Well now that I have your attention… with either fast and furious music or yummy bits of vegetable adorning rice I’ll take a minute to catch up from our last chat.

Thanks to those of you that are dedicated readers. Your notes are super meaningful. My friends over at Timex prompted me to write and the result after a couple of years has been a most wonderful.

Since the last post – Ouray and the likes – I have been over to Nepal to conduct the seventh session of the Khumbu Climbing Center. Jenni joined me for the last part of the journey, which was very nice. Sam and Isaac managed the house just fine – it didn’t burn down and I don’t think they spent too much time on the X Box. The dogs must have loved being under the care of the boys. Think gravity feeder. Happy is now holding the title of “bacon back”. Not that he knows what it means. Just gotta get him out running and ice climbing.

Ross and I departed Montana for Nepal on the 14th of January, routing through the Tom Bradley International Terminal @ LAX. With the cultural melting pot and gate to Asia this hub seems to be the 21st century’s equivelent of Ellis Island. To an extent. The flight takes 15 hours direct to BKK, with a two hour transition before flight 319 to KTM.

“Mishandled baggage complaining desk.” One certainly appreciates the honesty.

As we flew in the Himalaya defined the northern horizon. Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Everest standing above the adjacent mountains. Somewhere below Everest on Tawoche Renan Ozturk and Cory Richards (Nan & Roti) were steps away from the summit after establishing a new route on the south buttress. They had a great time – running out of water, climbing loose rock and hard ice. Like, what is the point of you don’t suffer, eh?

Check out their cool ascent here:

After a two day stint in Kathmandu we flew to Lukla for the beginning of the trek. Steve Swenson, president of the American Alpine Club, David Weber NPS, Steve Gipe MD, Ross and me trekked to Monjo the first night. While in Monjo we met David, an engineer from MIT who was ice climbing with his wife and friend. He likened our meeting to a Bilbo Baggins gathering in the Shire. With his full beard and twinkling eyes he might just have been a Hobbit.

The range is dry this year, which could equate to a lack of ice. Fortunalty it was very cold and the water that was flowing formed very nicely. Once we took care of the opening ceremony we began climbing and learning the ropes.

This year we moved a bit closer to having the program run by our Nepali friends. The lead instructors were all Sherpa, we filed the Nepal articles of non profit incorporation, changed the name from Khumbu Climbing School to Khumbu Climbing Center (Nepal is very strict in that school may only be used in the traditional educational sense) and began work on the physical building.

Students climbed with great enthusiasm and learned to be safer climbers. All in all we were very happy.

Lila Bishop taught English, which is great as it is the shared language for people who trek and climb in the Himalaya. Thanks Lila!

Climbing on the steep ice of Lapharma. The Sherpas led the pitches, which are WI 5 .

That is Everest in the background. Jenni is awesome!

Taking notes below Ama Dablam, a mountain I climbed twenty years ago. The swell watch is the new analog EAltimeter. It is super cool.

See you : )

January 12th, 2010. Typing the date is a reminder that time flies.

We had a wonderful Christmas break with Max home from Seville, Spain and his junior year abroad, Sam happy not have to brave the congested halls of Bozeman High School and Isaac glad to have earned time on his X-Box. (During school the toy disappears, hmmm?)
Jenni was able to get out for a few afternoons with Chippy her horse and we all enjoyed a few days up on the ski hill.

Last weekend the climbing tribe converged on Ouray for the 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival. The gathering was welcomed by good weather, nice ice and the usual truck full of New Belgium beer. Vince Anderson set the comp route, which was the best yet. With a sit down start, an epic chimney and the cliche headwall, the route was engaging, challenging and a testament to Vince’s route setting skills. People fell off at different moves and the winner, Josh Wharton, won by climbing the route faster than Sam Elias, the only other climber to complete the route.

While on the stand I looked at the ice and began to think about the impact the millions of gallons of water frozen for the winter has on the local water and bio-zone. Glaciers are nature’s reservoirs – holding water in the frozen state and letting it trickle back when temperatures warm up. The water that is used for the Ouray Ice Park is allocated and would continue down stream for agriculture use. Being winter and all there is not as much need for water. So…. the ice park stores the water, cools the local surrounding and then releases the water slowly for the coming spring and summer.

Perhaps the practice of farming ice is good for the environment. Saving water for future use and cooling the area at the same time.

Hats off to Will Gadd, of Canada, who in a 24 hour period climbed 193 laps on “Pick of the Vic”, a 145 water fall. Just about 28,000 feet of climbing! Amazing. The climb was a fundriser for the dZi foundation, a group working to improve the quality of life and education in Nepal.

I’m off to Nepal and the Khumbu Climbing School for year seven. Looking forward to a top notch group of student and three weeks of arduous hiking around the high reaches of Nepal.

All the best,


Ice climbing and surfing are both water sports. There is probably an 80 degree Fahrenheit difference between the two disciplines. Which is pretty vast. What they do share is that they are both conditions dependent. The ephemeral nature of surfing is that one needs the right wind that creates the swell, atmospheric pressure and perhaps alignment of the stars. For ice climbing it is probably the same except that in there is no swell. Periodically surfing is given a huge season. The surfers go nuts and the legend grows.

So it is with ice. Hyalite Canyon in SW Montana we are totally happy to be in the first month of what promises to be an epic season. To start off the Mummy climbs received an ascent on the second weekend of October. Then in November the seldom seen climbs started filling in. The Big Sleep, Black Magic and Winter Dance all were climbed before the 1st of December. The standard climbs formed in well.

So what brings on a good season for Hyalite Canyon? First of the geologic layup of the canyon favors ice climbing. The canyon is on the east side (read cold) of the divide and drains north. The peaks sit atop a layer of volcanic mudflow and andesite – both a bit more impermeable to water than the country rock above. Combine this with a very wet summer, a cold October and a heavy Sierra grade layer of snow the second week of November and everything lines up! Ice grows fastest (albeit brittle) when the temps are cold.

Just for the record – I am a totally novice surfer. I aspire to get better, but until then I’ll have to be happy with dicey run outs, falling ice and the occasional smile at the top of a pitch.

The family at the 3rd annual Huffing for Stuffing 5 & 10 K Fun Run on Thanksgiving Day. Our community raised 20 K $ for the food bank. Good karma.

Sunday 13 December somewhere on Interstate 15 near the town of Monida, a tiny village straddling the border of Montana and Idaho. I’m 15 hours in to an epic bus ride across the basin and range of Nevada, up on to the Snake River Plain and into Montana. This past weekend on the 12th of Decemebr Isaac participated in the United States Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country running meet. Over 1200 young runners descended on Reno, Nevada. Saturday’s meet was chacterized by blowing snow, packed snow, light snow , wet snow, icy snow, slushy snow, sugary snow and even more snow. Lucky for the Montana contingent this kind of weather is de riguer in the latter part of the season. Our one week to race run was a five miler in ten degree weather.

Isaac, Colter & Theo!

Some of the runners were from climes a bit warmer. A young lady and her mom from South Texas were completely challenged. Mom was in training shoes, not water proof and the runner was tip toeing about in racing spikes. Which have about as much insulation as a pair of dragon fly wings. The family was super psyched to be part of the event – the snow was a real treat.

Blowing snow could be considered a homefield advantage for the kids from Helena, Great Falls, Butte and Bozeman. Which it was. Eight runners made “all American” (top 25) and the Girls Youth Team took second in team points, edging out the powerhouse Bowerman Team from Portland Oregon.

Cross country running is the perfect mix between pure athleticism and trail running. The courses are generally set on rolling hills with a few obstacles – sharp turns and other runners that fall over for good measure. My haunch is that kid runners will follow through with the sport for the rest of their lives. I did.

Not all is cream and peaches. This past Thursday the climbing community lost one of it’s guiding lights. Guy Lacelle of Canada fell to his death in Hyalite Canyon. A small pocket avalanche caught Guy as he was transitioning from moderate to low angle terrain. Guy will be dearly missed by the international climbing community. He was a tree planter in BC because he loved to care for nature. He was an ice climber because he loved nature in its most rare and ephemeral state.

Miss you Guy……. thanks for the 17 years of friendship. The day we caught Happy Days in nick is one of my most memorable moments.


“Knowledge drives innovation; innovation drives productivity; productivity drives our economic growth. That’s all there is to it.”
William R. Brody, U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge, Testimony to the House Committee on Science, July 21, 2005.

Knowledge is information, skill, education and experience relating to a specific subject. Each generation adds to the collective and passes it on to the next generation. Innovation, the act of creating something new, is based on knowledge. The fields of medical science, engineering, agriculture, computing and energy have led to a higher standard of living for humans. Technological improvements are founded in knowledge and innovation.
How is knowledge and education beneficial to our regional economy? Education is the foundation for knowledge. Knowledge drives innovation, which in turn drives productivity. Productivity drives our economic growth. Although the connection might not be as self-evident as potatoes come from seeds, the Apollo program is an example of the education multiplier. The national drive to put man on the moon, led to the scientific innovation that has touched every aspect of our life.
We are fortunate to have Montana State University (MSU) as the cornerstone to our southwest Montana community. From the graduating class of each spring to the Bobcat football games most everyone in our community has a connection on some level. The future of MSU is secure, yet the opportunity exists to excel in the field of energy production, energy conservation and related technologies. These three areas have an unlimited potential for growth. As the United States increases in population and the existing global population strives to live at the standard of we enjoy there will be an ever-increasing amount of need for energy and energy efficiency.
For MSU to become a regional and national powerhouse in energy we need to focus on the students of tomorrow. The fifth grade children of today will be university juniors in a decade. By getting them excited in energy – be it coal, natural gas, oil, conservation, efficiency, thermal, wind or biomass we have the opportunity to start today. What motivates people, young or old? Incentive.
If MSU were to create an “Energy Scholarship” aimed at high school juniors and seniors we could be assured of attracting the best and brightest minds. Hear me out: each year MSU will award two full-ride undergraduate scholarships based on merit. The students will participate in a science project that is based quite simply on energy. Faculty and industry experts would judge students from our region on projects that they have invented. Be it a low cost solar water heater, efficiency designs for lawn mowers, insulation techniques for housing, outreach programs; any concept that targets energy and has the promise of innovation would be rewarded. These budding inventors would be students at MSU. Their ideas would lead to innovation and the sharing of knowledge. Within a ten-year time frame the students in this program will be nationally recognized for their contributions. Our goal of energy independent and becoming experts in the field of energy would be one step closer.
Imagine 400 hundred of our state’s brightest young students competing on a project that will benefit our nation and in turn our planet. This program, albeit ambitious, would be a tremendous benefit to our regional economy. We would be known throughout the world as the hotbed for energy innovation.
For the United States to continue its lead in the field of science we need to support education throughout the academic spectrum. From preschool to the post doctorate education is a sound investment in our economic wellbeing. It is possible and it’s at our fingertips.

Not that I’m a warrior in the combat type of sense, more of the sticking to it type of action.

First off – huge props to all the men and women who serve our country on this day. Veterans Day. You are huge in my book and I can not express the gratitude I have for your commitment and sacrifice. You are purveyors of peace and this is good. Thanks!

Since the 1st of October I have been to: SLC, UT; Boston, MA; Bozeman, MT; Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; Cleveland, OH; Big Oak Flat, CA; Bozeman; Jackson, WY; Fort Collins, CO; Boulder, CO; Breckenridge, CO; Austin, TX; Santa Fe, NM; Denver; CO, Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Banff, AB; Boston, MA; and tonight back in Seattle.

Lots of shows with The North Face speaker series, work with Nat Geo and the Young Explorer Grant program, Banff Mtn Film with Timex, Conservation Alliance work, met with the glaiciologists at the U of Washington and getting “The Wildest Dream” off to a good start. Great fun – but I do miss home! Jenni, the boys, the dogs, the birds, the fishies, the bunnies and the tarantula. I’ll be home on Friday night and look forward to a day inthe woods with the family. And special Sat night treat:

We’re gonna rent “Master and Commander” and clap on the halyards for good fun.


Wooo Hooo!

Greetings Friends,

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle is our local news paper for the Gallatin Valley and surrounding communities. This past summer I submitted a selection of Op Ed pieces to be considered as a columnist. Nice things happen and I earned the right and responsibility to be one of the three rotating Friday writers. The following is from my first column published on Friday the 23rd of October.

These articles will show up every three weeks. While not directly relating to climbing, adventure, the outdoors and nature they have a big picture view and hopefully will mean something to you. Thanks for reading.

Education, Energy and the Environment
As I look to the east, with the sun welcoming a fine Montana morning, I realize how lucky we are. The mighty Missouri river originates in the peaks surrounding the Madison, Paradise and Gallatin valleys. We hunt, fish and play in these ranges, rejuvenating us for the work that supports our communities we so dearly cherish. Seldom is the person that doesn’t see how fortunate we are to live in this corner of our planet.
Part of being a citizen of Montana and the United States is knowing how we have shaped the current state of the world. We are the beacon for democracy, opportunity and knowledge. These three attributes have created a quality of life equal to none. With this privilege and right of citizenship comes responsibility.
One of life’s aims is to leave the world we inhabit a better place than when we inherited it. The generations preceding us have lived by this axiom and given us much to be grateful for. If we are make the world a better place there are three areas that we as citizens of Montana can make a difference.
These subjects are: education, energy and environment. These three topics are tied to our well-being and will define our future.

Education: The United States has been at the forefront of technology for over a century. Aviation, communications, nuclear physics, lunar exploration are four examples of our “can do” spirit and the worlds greatest collection of research based universities. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2008, 17 of the top 20 universities are in the United States. Montana State University receives research funding, which creates innovation, which in turn leads to commerce. The technology companies that support our communities with employee payroll and tax payments benefit from the university environment. To succeed as a university we need quality schools for our children. Our economic growth is dependant on having bright minds designing the future.

Energy: We are first in national coal reserves with 119 billion tons and fifth in annual production at 43 million tons. Coal is part of who we are as a state. Similarly, wind defines the Big Sky. A breeze over 5 MPH is an untapped source of energy. Our state is second in the nation with a potential 4700 terawatts of electricity. This is 3700 times what we currently consume. Yet both of these resources have their challenges. Coal is the largest source of CO2; wind is reliable only 40 % of the time and is limited by transmission capability. Hence energy circles back to education. Our children are the engineers and scientists that will find solutions to coal emissions, carbon sequestration and efficient energy use.

Environment: The mountains that we enjoy are the water towers for the Mississippi and the Columbia watersheds. Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and our communities. How the water is used is of vital importance to our well-being. Hydro electricity is a source of energy and loops back to the education equation. Our fair vale is on the verge of unacceptable levels of air pollution. If we address this before federal government mandates change we will be much better off.
These three topics are of national and regional importance. Our community is poised to be the leader by creating the next generation of scientists with our exemplary education system, addressing the needs of our national energy needs and fostering a healthy environment. By being part of the solution we will grant future generations the quality of life we cherish.


Between the 1st of October and today I have been busy travelling around our fine nation. On the 1st of October I introduced James Balog in Salt Lake City for his Extreme Ice Survey. Great work about glaciers and their impact on the planet. They are disappearing! The following day I flew to Harvard for the Young Explorer Workshop with National Geographic. It is inspiring to meet students that are keen on the environment, science and the good mission of the Society. “To Inspire people to care about the planet.” Very simple and meaningful. I co-presented the Chang Tang Traverse with Tim Laman, a PhD rain forest biologist who pecializes in the Brids of Paradise and how rapidly the birds have evolved in the past 5 million years. Check out his website at > lots of wonderful images.


After Boston I zipped home to be with the family on the 5th of october, the 10th anniversary of Alex Lowe’s passing. He and David Bridges were killed on the 5th of October 1999. It is amazing that 10 years have passed since that date and how much our life has changed. Most special to be with Jenni, Max, Sam & Isaac and to keep their dream of a happy family alive and healthy.


This image is from the fall of ’96 when the two of us tried to climb the SW Ridge of Annapurna III. Wonderful memories.

On Tuesday the team from National Geographic Entertainment convened for a meeting at the Satchi & Satchi advertising agency in Los Angeles. We are hoping to build Toyota into The Wildest Dream film. The film is a bio pic about the life of George Mallory and the pioneering English climbers. The film is due out early 2010. Stay tuned to my notes and I’ll keep ypou infrmed on how things progress. The Nat Geo Entertainment division is distributing the film – in theatres and large screen cinemas.

Wednesday was in San Francisco for a screening of the film with The North Face team. I think they enjoyed the film. Thursday was off to Cleveland, OH to meet the team at Energizer. I use their Premium Lithium Batteries (the silver units). Aside from the cute bunny they make the best cold weather lightweight battery. We met to brainstorm on energy needs for expeditions. Great people!


Over the weekend it was off to Big Oak Flat, California to spend the weekend with my parents and siblings. It was the grand opening of the Priest Station Cafe. My sister Denise and brother Steve have done an excellent job getting it up and going. After a 36 year hiatus we are getting things going at the Top of the Grade. If you are driving to Yosemite, make sure you “Stop at the Top” and say hello.
We are the 5th generation to be part of this special place.


The cute girl with the braids is my late grandmother Marge and the lady next to the horse is my great-grandmother. They lived “off the grid” as there was no grid.

Sam and Isaac joined me for this fun event. We went for a hike at Rainbow Falls – nary a soul about, fall colors and just the three of us. Getting outdoors like this is wonderful.

Lastly, props to my friends at Timex. Keeping time is part and parcel of travel. None does it better than my handy WS 4 Expedition watch.



Lastly – a bit of cross continental humor. Rad is my nickname, it also means bike in German. Anker is anchor in German. My friend Tim in Switzerland sent me this image. If I could get a Rad frame and build a fixed gear urban cross town mobility unit ~ how sweet




Stay tuned to the bat channel,


It is 5:30 AM PST and I’m about to board a jet to go to Cleveland. Having never been to this fine city I am quite excited to check it out,

First off is a layover in Denver. Nothing all to newsworthy…. just a little note.

Thinking of Alex….. ten years since he passed away. Thanks for the inspiration!

jimmy & Conrad
Jimmy is on a ski expediton in China. Hope things are going well.

Each summer the National Snow and Ice Data Center releases information on the minimum extent of the the Polar Ice Pack before it starts building back. The good news is that the 12th of September was the turning point for the ice sheet. It is growing back, reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere and providing habitat for polar bears. The bad news is that it is the third smallest year (smallest ice pack was the summer of 2007) and the scientists that track this are predicting a continued recession of polar ice.



The ice is shrinking and it brings to mind challenges facing our generation. Whys is the ice melting as fast as it is? What will the future be like in terms of regional climate? Is our generation going to stand around with our hands in our pockets?

Climate change is serious. As an extremely intelligent species we have been able to create a life based on our ability to manipulate the earth’s environment for our own benefit. This is quite nice as it has allowed 6.7 billion of us to live on this small planet. This same intellect that has given us the quality of life we take for granted is capable of envisioning, inventing and designing solutions to improve our predicament. Changes in our lifestyle, large scale increases in efficiency and planning in a 200 year time frame are the first steps towards leaving our offspring a world as good as we inherited.

Check out Lots of good information!


Climate action day is 24 October. I’ll be in Breckenridge, CO for a slide show and am hoping for a day of nice climate awareness.

Life is nice here in the Gallatin Valley. Here Nancy and Jenni are celebrating laughter at the lake 🙂

fishing moma

The kids hiking…..


EV_invit v12

More on this in the next post…..

From a scientific standpoint summer officially ends on the 21st of
September. In the mind set of school age boys, summer ends when the first
day of school arrived. For Sam and Isaac this day arrived on Wednesday the 26th of August.

Regardless of my ministrations extolling the virtues of academia, the boys
find it to be the ultimate insult from grown ups. “You’re asking me to do

To which we reply, “It isn’t that bad and education is the best use of your time.”

Before school started we had some fine time together as a family. The dogs,
Happy and Leroy got a bath. The boys enjoy this, for the dogs it is about
the same as going to school. See expressions on the dogs and see the kids
outlook towards school. Same?

wash dog

The annual summer event for Gallatin County is the Sweet Pea Festival. The first weekend in August is just about the ideal window for the fragrant flowers. Part of the event is the parade. Lots of good stuff going on.


Children driving farm equipment.


Nancy riding Hijo in old west attire. (I think the gun she is brandishing is a toy.) edit: It is a real gun! It is an antique.

nikki & jenni

Nikki Kimball and my dear wife Jenni. Nikki is a world class ultra runner. The next weekend she won the Bridger Ridge Run, took ten minutes off of her previous course record. She is very fast. Go Nikki!

fire truck

Of course no parade would be complete with out a fire truck. Goes along with mom, apple pie and splitter hand cracks. No wait? What was that? Is there nothing more American than splitter hand cracks?

terry & jenni

Terry Cunningham is a friend who helps out with community projects. From changing the name of Peak 10,030 to Alex Lowe Peak and his endless work on the community boulders Terry gets after it. We are starting on boulder # 3 and have shared our knowledge with Jackson, Wyoming.

Our eldest son Max has been in the Bay Area working for The North Face on a summer internship. He has enjoyed being in a real office with real responsibilities and a real water cooler. Sam is entering the food chain for employment as many of us have – washing dishes.

sam food chain

It is a great way to learn the value of time and money. Isaac likes his Timex watches. He wears two of them – his signature as a 13 year old.

hammst synch

He’ll spend time synchronizing the two watches. He is quite familiar with the functions.

synch watches

Perhaps the biggest news in Gallatin County was President Obama’s visit for a town hall meeting on health care. Health care is a pretty big “mountain to climb” and Obama has been working with his team to bring reform to the insurance industry and health care providers. On a personal level I achieved two firsts:

1. Camping out for tickets &
2. Sleeping in an alley.

We pitched our tent and dozed through the night to be rewarded for tickets to this monumental event.

o camp

Senator Max Baucus of Montana is the Chair of the Finance Committee. He has huge order to bring consensus with in the Senate and keep as many people happy in the process. We’re thankful to have a person of his caliber representing our state.


This shot was taken at Belgrade meeting. Max speaking.


I thought President Obama did a fine job answering questions and presenting his plan for health care reform. After the meeting he went fishing (in the rain) on the Gallatin River. Our President is a hard working fellow. Quite an inspiration.

On a personal level I am returning to academia after a 23 year hiatus. My part time studies wil be focusing on glaciers, geomorphology and climate change. My goal is to add to the body of scientific knowledge in this area.

may_ca_mugs eye tooth

Mugs Stump :: Alaska :: 1989 ~ The spirit of the wind horse.

be good
be kind
be happy

It is the 5th of August, a nice day that occurs once a year. It doesn’t have huge social, cultural or personal significance. Perhaps it is a day like every other day. And if I can have every other day like today I’d be most happy.

Morning arrived with sunrise and a short run in the local park. The dogs were well into it, bounding through the tall grass and cooling off in the creek on the way back. I’m now in my office, which I enjoy. For lunch I rode home to visit the boys and cook up some scrumptious grilled cheese sandwiches. A quick reminder for the boys to “get after” the recycling and then back to the desk.

In the past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City. The bi-annual convention is like a massive toy store. I imagine this is what the North Pole must be like. All the elves scurrying about with the best in toys. From climbing gear (my fav), to boats (bright colors), to rocking Timex goodies (a reminder I should train more) to the collection of friends. This is the best. Catching up with the tribe.

My friend Doug hosted a dinner, a welcome respite from the trade parties. It was great. Apa Sherpa from Thame, Nepal bro ught his family up to the bar-b-que. Apa is a totally humble fellow. He has climbed Everest 19 times and is looking send # 20 this coming spring. He works at a machine shop in Salt Lake City – his three children attend school in SLC. He is a great guy.


Apa and Yangjee watching the kids play air hockey! The tow headed blond is Owen, Lynn Hill’s little guy. He liked air hockey.

Lynn Hill – one of our generation’s best climbers and the first person to free climb the Nose on El Capitan came by. Here the three of us are hamming it up for the camera. I felt quite unworthy as I am a far cry from Lynn when it comes to free climbing and a mere mouse when compared to Apa. Fun none-the-less!


After the trade show I headed north to the Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jimmy Chin, David Breashers and I guide a climb each summer for the Rowel Fund for Tibet, part of the International Campaign for Tibet. Our goal is to support Tibetan arts and culture in hope of preserving Tibetan culture. We had a splendid time. The day before our summit attempt we were treated to a nice mountain storm. Beginning at lunch the clouds descended upon us and pelted us with hail, snow, lightening and thunder. Nothing quite like mountain weather to make you feel alive.

sunrise grand

At sunrise one can see the shadow of the Grand Teton reaching out into Idaho. Are these not reasons enough to get outdoors?

Once back in Bozeman we rallied the kids for a day of hiking, climbing and huckleberry picking. Here are the kids laughing at the base of the Gallatin Tower.

kids aug 09

The best part of getting outdoors with the kids is the parental units get a chance to play. Here is Scott, Andie and Bridgette’s dad, pulling down on Bowling for Buicks. A thin and pumpy .12a.

scott bowling

Rick Ridgeway came by for a visit and we hauled out the carts we walked across Tibet with in 2002. Memories came flooding back!

Rick_shaw 09

Rick is working on the Freedom to Roam program. The goal is to preserve wildlife habitat & corridors so animals will be able to migrate. Well worth a look:.1992_baffin_016

Till we visit again,

Onward, Upward and Outward

So here it is the 14th of July and I am at the dining room table as Sam and Isaac cook up some tortellini carbonara. My right wrist is a bit sore I just did a full end over end on my fixed gear urban assault bike. Much as I wish I was chasing Lance Armstong through the Pyrennes I was simply riding home from the Farmer’s Market when the canvas shopping bag full of garlic got caught in the front wheel.

Over I went and I landed on my hands and cut my foot. No big deal. I just imagine what the mega pile ups in the Tour de France are like. Spokes, de railers, handle bars akimbo amongst a stack of finely honed athletes. Hats off to those guys.

And go Lance. You are the man. As we say in climbing, “Send it!”

Back to the more pedestrian reality of my day to day existence. On Father’s Day our family got together with the Pope family. Ben is a nascent senior in Bozeman High School, as is our son Sam. Maddy is Jenni’s best friend and Chris is my friend. Chris is one of those unsung heros we have in every community across the world. A champion for the just and fair. He is also involved with the local parking garage and public transit. You take these things for granted ~ yet there is stacks of work that goes into making these things happen. Much of it volunteer.

Here we are hiking up the lower slopes of Baldy Mountain with the verdant Gallatin Valley in the background.

lowe & pope family father's day 09

Hiking is just about perfect. It provides us a chance to breathe fresh air, exercise our bodies, walk (which is what humans have spent 100s of thousands of years perfecting and some how we are loosing this to the automobile) and most importantly a chance to process the never ending stream of information and data that our minds are bombarded with. Hopefully these words and pictures are a welcome relief and in some way relaxing.

The previous post was from London. I had a part of a day to explore the city and I choose to visit the British Museum Founded in 1753, it is home to artefacts and art from around the world. “The Marbles” are one of many fascinating windows into history on display. The Marbles, in the classic sense, are the friezes that adorned the top of the Parthenon in ancient Greece. In the early 1800s they were rescued or stolen (depending on how you interpret history) from the majestic building and brought to the United Kingdom. The Marbles have been in the press recently as the newly opened Acropolis museum is asking for their return.

british museum

Far be it from me to decide on this matter for I merely a mountain climber. What I did notice at the British Museum were the people from all around the world enjoying the art and history under one roof.


My view is to have museums of this caliber around the world displaying a similar range of history. Imagine the great museums around the world that would share their prized collections so that all could see the variety of humanity. That being said, I do feel a portion of the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens, Greece and their new museum.

bm clocks

Also on display were a variety of time pieces. Being a bit of a watch and clock aficionado it was fascinating to look at time. Reliable time pieces were very key in the quest to discover longitude, the east west position on our planet. The transition from big clocks to multi functional time pieces like the Timex Expedition WS 4 is rather amazing. I wonder what the motivation was to create a fairly quotidian scene of farm life out of gold with a integral clock. Then again I climb and I have no sensible explanation why I do that silly and dangerous activity.

Climbing is dangerous and this brutal reality reared it’s head this past 5th of July when the sport lost John Bachar to a solo fall. John was one of the driving forces in climbing – a steadfast traditionalist he eschewed the practice of rappel bolting climbs preferring to tackle a section of rock from the ground up. He also took the art of ropeless climbing to another level. John will be missed and I extend heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his son, family and friends. The following link is a tribute to John on the climber’s forum.

Antarctic Sunset

Thanks John for the inspiration.

somnambulism :: noun :: sleepwalking
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French somnambulisme, from Latin somnus ‘sleep’ + ambulare ‘to walk.’

I am not a sleepwalker, an afflicition that must be a bear to tackle. It is a fairly accurate description of what my body goes through when I travel continent to continent. Mid day I feel like I am asleep so I am a sleep talker. In the middle of the night i wake up and not one for the telly I walk around. Walking when I should be sleeping.

The flight across the Atlantic Ocean never ceases to amaze me. Just 100 year ago the concept of 8 hours in the air at 32,000 feet would never have entered into the minds of humans. When my mother came over post world war II it was in a steel ship with a trunk full of possessions. Not in a jet that flies at an altitude no life exists. We temporarily leave the tender world of blue and green below us and sail in a modern way on the jet streams of existence.

I’m here in London to introduce the WS 4 to the UK market. Cotswold’s, the retailer is hosting two slide shows, – one in Preston and the other in Covent Garden. Compared to the bucolic landscape of SW Montana London is a busy busy place. The weather has been warm and unseasonably different than what most people recall. The nce hotel I’m in is 100 years old – big massive thick wall, old school windows and no central AC. Which I like as I windows are a fine way to adjust the temperatures. Except that it is so warm it is as if I am sleeping in the tropics. Just lay out on the bed and sweat all night.

Here are some images from the El Cap climb ~ El Corazon.

alex driving

I climbed with Alex Honnold. He is 23 and way strong. Sends 13 like easy street.

albatross climbers

These guys were on Flight of the Albatross. Friends from the tribe of climbers.

el cap

Looking down the crag! This is soo much fun!

alex sending

Strong Youth!

looking down

Cool Perspective….

rad ledge

Happy Camper…..

rain avoidance

It was clear most of the way up. It started raining on the last afternoon. We were very wet by the time we made it to the summit.

jenni garden

Speaking of rain… this is Jenni in her garden. The plants love the rain…. as does Jenni.

Hope all is well……

Well not that you might find it here on the Return to the Outdoors blog, rather the internal question that most of us think about once a day.

Or maybe even more than that.

What gives my life meaning? Family – be it my parents, siblings, wife and children, they most meaningful part of my life. To be with them, to laugh with them, to comfort them and to accept them is what being human really means. As the boys gain knowledge about our planet and their existence and my parents adjust to bodies that have seen eight decades I realize that I am somewhere in the middle. To be this link bewteen three generations is pretty darn cool. It seems at times there is a bunch of responsibility. How not to let this responsibility eat away at life energy? Get outside. Breath the freah air, rolls around on my bike, stop and check out the wild flowers. Yup, these things bring meaning.

Last week I climbed El Capitan with Alex Honnold. At 23 he is half my age and twice the climber. Getting stronger each day he is. Where as the health & fitness tables say I’m loosing 15 % of my strength each year. Just say no! Do more pull ups, push ups and sit ups. They are called ups because they bring you up.
This is a good thing.

Sam & Max Dolomiti
Sam & max in the Dolomites

The family on the porch.

The days alternate between clouds & rain or sun & wind. Either scenario is fine. Just still find myself bundled in a sweater as I ride to and from the office.

Last weekend we had the grand opening of the second Bozeman Boulder. It is located near the Bozeman Pond and is open to all. We had a bunch of families attend. A grand success. We are hoping to begin construction of the third climbing rock this summer.

Have you checked out It is a climate awareness group that is focusing on the part per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. We are at 387 ppm and pre industrial revolution we has a level of 250. For the quality of life we enjoy a level of 350 is ideal. Hence the Check it out, get involved and share the message.

At the Telluride mountain film festival we were energized by a variety of speakers. Be it glacial reccseeion by James Balog or the over fishing of the world’s oceans by Paul Watson of the the Sea Shepard threre was plenty to learn about. The take away? It begins with you and change is one step, one day at a time.

My resolution after Mountainfilm – ride my bike or walk to the office, get involved with and help reforestation projects. Trees in Montana or the Himalaya – they are the same. They give us life. Watching a tree grow gives us life.

Getting ready to visit the UK and Cotswolds – a Timex dealer that is launching the Timex Expedition WS 4 on the fair isle of Britain. Looking forward to a bunch of fun.

el cap

The Capitan. 1000 metres of fun.


Jenni’s art. This is titled “Ride On The Wild Side”.

heidi ramamdan belay

Heidi Wirtz climbing in Morocco. She is a happy person.

Mother’s Day. Jenni and I are enroute home from the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado The Denver airport has the standard “hub hub” of a hub, yet there is an air of kindness that is, by my estimation, the overall feeling of goodwill that Mother’s Day generate.

Like you’d have to be a complete looser to bark at the ticket agent Mother’s Sunday.

Are we responsible for the well being of our planet and the humans & animals we share it with? This theme pervaded the weekend festivities. The work of ophthalmologist Geoff Tabin and his goal to eradicate cataract blindness in the developing world, Kevin Hand and the Cosmos Education program which brings science education to Africa, Mark Godley and the Big City Mountaineers – bringing outdoor skills to inner city youth, and Brad Ludden and the First Descent kayak team working with cancer patients and kayaking. The panel was lively and focused. The overarching sentiment was that as citizens of the US we have an obligation to help make our world a better place. The reason? We are 4 % of the world’s population living a lavish lifestyle. We consume 25 % of the planet’s resources. The world would implode if all 6.7 billion inhabitants lived at the level we do. Big houses, multiple automobiles and inter continental flights all lead to this.

jenni m day

Jenni and the basket Sam made for her. Nice loving son:)

big wave

The city of Glenwood Springs built an outdoor water park by moving the boulders around to create waves.


This fellow was riding a SURF BOARD! He was on the wave for many minutes. The cold water required wet suits.

ron hayden lynn

Rob Raker, Hayden Kennedy & Lynn Hill. We climbed in Rifle that day.

The following post was lost in cyberspace. I wrote it on a small phone on the side of Kinabalu at our Easy Camp.

I’m currently in Colorado at the 5Point Film Festival. Located in Carbondale, the festival honors those inspired adventurers who have turned their own individual desire into a determined mission to help others. My dear wife Jenni and I are here to present the Khumbu Climbing School and working with Dr Geoff Tabin at the Himalayan Cataract Project. I’ll snap a few images and post them here.


Tropical Big Walls
It has been two weeks since I left Montana Jenni and the boys. The snow
on the last day is a far cry from the rain we are experiencing today.
Then again we are 39 degrees closer to the equator. Goes with out saying
rain is our constant companion. Not a day passes with out showers. Not
the type that involve soap and warm water rather the variety that soaks
us through and through. Staying dry is a challenge.

Mt Kinabalu is the highest peak in south east Asia and as such is a
destination for hikers and adventure seekers. The standard route is 8.5
km of trail winding up the steep southern escarpment. We have passed
through several levels of forest, all dictated by altitude. The lower
cloud forest is home to colorful singing birds and a canopy of hardwood
trees. Our camp at the head of Easy Valley is at 3857 metres is just at
the edge of the alpine zone. Similar to the northern latitudes the plant
life is stunted by wind with robust leaves and hardy flowers.

Our climbing goal is a 2000 meter granite wall first ascended by a
Spanish team 10 years ago. Progress has been good so far – we’ve climbed
seven very steep pitches. Today is a rest day before we camp on the wall
with portaledges (aluminium cots clipped to the cliff allowing a nights
rest. We’ll start in the morning and make the best of it. Funny thing is
we are here in the “dry” season. Which begs the question of what the
“rainy” season must be like. Hard to imagine more moisture.

This morning Alex Honnold and I hiked to the summit of the Low’s Peak.
It was refreshing to encounter a bunch of hikers getting out for some
exercise and fresh air. It was nice to share the views with them.

Our team of Mark Synnott, Kevin Thaw, Renan Ozturk, Alex and Jimmy Chin
is having tons of fun. Check out for
some action updates.

Over the past year I have been putting the WS 4 watch through the paces.
From the Himalaya, to the Rocky Mountains and to Malaysian Borneo the
instrument has been a reliable companion. Glad to have the WS 4 along.

Till the next dispatch have fun, be happy and take time to get outdoors
and get the good tidings nature has to offer.

Your intrepid explorer, Conrad


Spring in the Rockies is a capricious thing – snow one day, rain the next and then vibrant life affirming sunshine every few hours. The grass sprouts, flowers poke their petals of attraction out for the bees and the birds announce sunrise with a symphony of cheer. Even Happy and Leroy, our trusty dogs know spring has turned the corner as they graze on the thick leaves of grass. Nepal Everest Mystery

Just a week ago I was in Malaysian Borneo in the state of Sabah, 6 degrees north of the equator. Today I’m half way to the North Pole at 45 degrees. What a change these 39 degrees of latitude makes. From the tropical rain and cloud forests of Kinabalu to the open plains and coniferous forests it is amazing a to see how much our planet changes. Temperature and precipitation are the two main agents of these different climates. After our climbing journey ( ~ eight action packed video dispatches) we spent a half-day swimming, snorkeling and lounging on the beach. The warm ocean was home to a variety of tropical fish and a few patches of coral. Perhaps the best part were the large lizards (monitor) that lounged about looking for scraps under the picnic tables.
To counter act jet lag, Jenni the boys and I ventured off to Bridger Bowl, our local ski area. The lifts have been dormant for three weeks, yet an abundance of snow allowed us to click into our randonee skis. After a nice hike uphill we were rewarded with a fun ski back down. This was a most nice way to start a Saturday.
While in Borneo a PBS / NOW documentary titled “On Thin Ice” aired on the 17th of April. With host David Brancaccio boojbhasa-in-the-rain
we investigate the shrinking glaciers on our planet. The loss of glaciers is the most obvious manifestation of a warmer planet. If you are so inclined you may watch the program via the PBS.ORG website. Look up NOW and “On Thin Ice”.

Let me know what you think….

Till the next installment ~ find happiness in all you do.

Conrad and team checking in. We are fine & finding happiness everywhere.

Current Location:


Betting on the Future
The current economic climate has us, as citizens of Bozeman, focused on jobs. Jobs are an indication of a vibrant economy and a where we are as a community. Jobs, as economic metric, equate to growth, but moreover they mean stable families, happy people and a healthy community. Montana state legislators are continually looking to create new jobs and retain existing ones. Coupled with the goal of reducing government spending the 62nd legislative session has a pretty tall order. By my estimation, job creation requires an investment, from citizens, businesses and government.
As citizens we have the opportunity to make our will known that we support job creation at the ballot. The Elementary and High School Fund Levy on the 3rd of May is specifically an investment in our children and, by extension, about jobs. One may wonder, what is the connection between jobs and education?
Put simply, education creates ideas; ideas spur innovation and innovation is cornerstone to a growing economy. Our education system aims to create curious, disciplined and hard working citizens that plug into our economy. If we want to create jobs we need to accept that fact that we need to invest in the driver of jobs – our public school system. With this connection in mind we have no better example of than the Bozeman School District (BSD7).

In 2010 -11 BSD7 has led in a diversity of measures. The football won state – the first title in 93 years. The girl’s cross-country team has earned its fourth consecutive state title. The wrestlers wrangled the first state championship in 39 years and the students in automotive shop won the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. It’s comforting to know these students will graduate and work on our vehicles, making life safer for all of us. There are 8 National Merit Finalists, an award bestowed upon the brightest and most promising students. Paul Anderson, who teaches biology at the high school, is Montana State teacher of the year and is one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. This is the first time since 1953 that a teacher from Montana has made it this far. Three BSD7 schools are state recognized Blue Ribbon Schools, a recognition that comes with dedication and perseverance.
This value to the community isn’t free. We have to believe in the service and quality of our education system and support it as such. The Elementary and High School General Fund Levies are this opportunity.
If these levies pass, our tax requirement would decrease. The school district will be retiring the temporary mill levy for Hyalite Elementary School, as it fulfilled its mission. If the levies do not pass, taxes would decrease slightly more. Either way we will see a decrease in tax. This small windfall needs to be reinvested into the education system. The current request, if approved, amounts to an overall decrease 72 cents per $100,000 of property value. With state school funding yet to be determined we need to approve the funding measure to ensure that our schools continue to be leaders in the state and in the nation.
Sound investments take time. Solid returns do not happen overnight. If we want to be a growing community education is a safe bet. Companies looking to relocate or expand often look at the value a community places on education. The recent comment by the former CEO of Intel to Arizona lawmakers on how de-funding education affects business development is a clear reminder that business needs an educated workforce. If we want to be a magnet for business development and the jobs that come with it, a vote for the school levies is the right decision.

My dream mountain.

My reality (just joking with a ton of love!)


In light of the GOP disbanding the Committee on Global Warming the following article is an example of a species trapped by climate change. The warming of our planet is a fact, an observation one backed by straight forward science. One may debate the cause as either anthropogenic or natural, yet the hard fact is the planet is warmer.

From the press release of John Boehner:

“We have pledged to save taxpayers’ money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who becomes speaker in January.

“The Select Committee on Global Warming was created by Democrats simply to provide political cover to pass their job-killing national energy tax. It is unnecessary, and taxpayers will not have to fund it in the 112th Congress,” Steel said.

Oh well. We’ll have to look to China and Germany for innovation and political will to address climate change.


The sun dips lower on the southern horizon till solstice on the 21st of December. Each day we loose two minutes of sunlight. The sun, low in the horizon, is less powerful and the reduced energy forces adaption upon all living things. Trees, now dormant, have shed their leaves preparing for the bite of winter. Birds, by and large, fly south on their annual migration for warmth and a place to raise their off spring. Bears endure by hibernating, burrowing in to stave off cold and hunger. As the ultimate tool users, we humans bundle up with tools sourced from the earth’s resources. From flight to hibernation to complex material systems each species has a unique way of adapting to seasons. How each of these species reacts to seasonal change is an indicator of future adaptability to a warmer climate.

The sun we loose in Montana is gained in the southern hemisphere. Summer is just around the corner on the planet’s coldest and driest continent, Antarctica. Winter ice is at a minimum and the long days set the biological clock in motion for the wildlife of the frozen continent. One denizen, the Adelie penguin, is a flightless bird that has evolved to its state in the absence of land-based predators and a rich marine environment. The waddling tuxedo like birds have adapted to seasonal change with a generous stores of fat. As humans we have an affinity for animals that resemble us. This anthropomorphic adulation has been popularized in film and zoos. The adelie, as all penguins, are adept swimmers. The krill and similar small marine organisms keep the birds healthy. Seals, orcas and two of the many animals that then feed on penguins. Whereas flighted birds fly for the seasons the Adelie’s adaptation involves fattening up before the onset of winter and huddling together.
The temperatures recorded on the Antarctic Peninsula have increased 9 degrees in the past 50 years. Warmer winters, with fewer freeze days, when combined with warmer waters result in less seasonal ice. Seasonal ice provides a home for the adelies and is at the source of their food. Algae and plankton grow on the underside of the translucent ice, which feed larval krill, which in turn are the food stores for the adelies. Is there a correlation between the shrinking ice and the adelie population? Steve Forrest, Research Associate with the Antarctic Site Inventory, is convinced warmer climates are affecting Adelie populations. He notes, “Lack of ice is driving Adelies on the Antarctic Peninsula to breeding extinction.” He has been studying adelie population on Peterman Island, and at about 20 other sites with Adelie penguins along the Antarctic Peninsula,for the past 15 years. Petermann Island populations have a recorded population loss of 57% since the 1980s. Each year the population declines 15 to 20%.
The result is, there will be no Adelie penguins breeding on the Peninsula in the next 20 years. In this changing and warmer climate, Adelies, adapted to ice and cold, are limited in their options. A raptor in the Rockies can fly from New Mexico to Alaska to find the right climate. The breeding grounds of penguins with nearby krill populations are fixed, and once they no longer serve the Adelie, the species faces extinction, trapped by climate change.

The temperature induced challenges facing penguins and polar bears are irrefutable indicators of a warming planet. Because of this heat, earth faces the steepest extinction rate in 65 million years. The species that survive this extinction will have to adapt quickly. For humans to survive we need to ramp our adaptation skills. We adapt with tools, efficiency and new technology. By focusing on how we can invent a more sustainable existence we’ll be ahead of the curve and leave future generations the opportunity that the previous generations have left us.

Are we a plutocracy?

Plutocracy : noun, government by the wealthy; an elite or ruling class whose power drives from their wealth

As a nation we are living beyond our means. The current national debt (how much the government has borrowed and owes) is somewhere in the vicinity of $13.4 trillion dollars. I have no idea how many times to the moon and back 13 trillion dollars would amount to; suffice it to say it is a figure that is beyond the comprehension of most Americans. The national deficit (spending more money on an annual basis than it takes in) has been constant since 1969. If you and I were to run our households in this manner it wouldn’t be too long before we were in bankruptcy. As recent demonstrations attest, he fiscal state of our government is front and center in the 2010 mid – term election.

In 2001 & 2003 the Bush Administration passed tax cuts across the board for US citizens. The previous tax code under President Clinton started at 15% for the lowest wage earners and was tiered up to 39.6% for the wealthiest. The Bush tax breaks moved the taxes down on a sliding scale to 10% for the lowest income earners to 35% for the wealthiest in our nation. These tax cuts provided taxpayers $1.7 trillion in additional income through 2008, money that otherwise would have gone to pay for government services and debt reduction. Unless the Bush tax cut is reinstated it will expire at year-end. The question our federal lawmakers face is should we let the tax breaks expire, extend them for two years or make them permanent. How our elected officials choose to vote on this matter will affect each citizen and the long-term health of our nation.

President Obama has indicated he wants to keep the tax cuts in place for the 96% of citizens earning less than $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 for a household. Taxes for 4 % of the population defined as rich would increase. If implemented, the net gain over a ten-year period would amount to $700 billion of additional tax revenue. To set this in an annual context, $700 billion is what we spend on defense. This amounts to $1.9 billion spent 24 hours.

Economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez analyzed income between 2002 & 2007. In this period 99% of Americans saw their income grow 1.3 % per year, which is below the annual cost of living increase of 2.8%. For the remaining 1% of our population, the wealthiest, their income increased 10% a year. The Bush tax cuts favored high-income households who saw an increase in real dollar terms and also as a percentage of income. As a result the top 1 % of our population captures 23.5 % of our nation’s total income. Contrast this with the 13.2% of Americans living in poverty who earn less than 1% of our nation’s income. If these tax cuts were such a stimulus to our economy why are we mired in a recession? Obviously this is a very complex equation, yet the tax cuts have not panned out to the economic panacea they were promised to be.

In 2008 the average net worth of our Senators was $13.9 million. Congress checked in at $4.6 million. Increasing the tax 4.6% on the wealthiest (as it was in the 90s) isn’t going to put our elected officials and the wealthiest in the poor house. The additional revenue from those who have benefited most from our free market system will nudge our government closer to fiscal responsibility.

The logical way towards a balanced budget and reasonable debt is to decrease expenditures and increase revenue. Will our elected officials have the courage to raise their own taxes?

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Editorial Submission :: 2 July 2010
© Conrad Anker

“While action is not without cost, the costs of inaction are greater. What is the cost of a trout stream whose waters are too warm to fish?”
U.S. Senator Max Baucus

Senator Baucus framed the importance of climate change in a way that we in Montana can identify with. While we live in the green vale of the Gallatin, we might not think that the climate is changing. May was wet and chilly and local snowpack is still gracing the peaks that define our valley. For Montana this was the fourth coolest on record. Yet on a global scale May 2010 was the warmest since humans began record keeping in 1880. 2009 was the second warmest year for the northern hemisphere and the warmest for the southern hemisphere. The first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record. The data is gathered from more than a thousand meteorological stations around the world, Antarctic research station measurements, and satellite observations of sea surface temperatures. The net result is that the temperature is rising 0.36 degree Fahrenheit per decade. Overall temperatures have risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, with the majority of the warming occurring in the past three decades.

Climatologists specifically study the weather over a period of time. Weather creates climate and trends over time give provide a clear measure of temperature. 97% of these atmospheric scientists attribute the increased temperatures to human based activity. Our voracious appetite for energy comes at a cost. The emissions that result from their combustion, notably carbon dioxide, are insulating the planet and trapping heat. The resulting conclusion is that climate change is anthropogenic. The fact that we are in a stage of rapid warming is undisputable.
Earth’s climate is always changing. It has changed dramatically over for the past 4.5 billion years. Some attribute the recent warming to natural causes, a normal variation that has no connection to human activity. Paleoclimatology is the study of the climate taken from the entire history of Earth. By using records found in ice sheets, tree rings, corals, sediment and rocks scientists can understand the constantly changing climate on Earth. The consensus from the Geological Society of America is, “The warming of the last century is unusual in both speed and size, and cannot be explained by natural factors, except for the modest solar contribution during the first half of the century.”

The trout streams mentioned by Senator Baucus and the pine beetle infestation that is ravaging our forests are two examples of a warmer regional climate. On a global scale Canada and Russia might benefit from increased crop yields. This would be offset by crop losses at lower latitudes where many plants are at the limit of what they can tolerate. For the 80 % of the world’s population that lives on less than 10 dollars a day the intense storm cycles, rising oceans and decreased crop yields will make their existence even more troublesome.

As a citizen of the United States as ask myself what can we do? Our education system leads the world in innovation. The same determination that landed man on the moon in 1969 needs to be applied to energy sources, energy conservation and human well being. The clean energy economy has potential to employ millions of people and make our planet a better place for future generations. On a personal level we can strive for good energy practices, while understanding that none of us, by our very existence, will achieve perfection. These small steps when pulled together and combined with a comprehensive national energy policy will get us on the track towards being better stewards of our planet.