Great Climbs & Worthy Causes: Rock Climbing in Eastern Europe

Nina and Jeremy’s Big Idea Summer, 2020 Beranger, Savoie, France The choice of vehicle wasn’t simple. It had to be more than a camper van—reliable off-road and in remote parts of the world, and tough enough to transport a climbing wall (yes, you read that right), all of our rock-climbing gear, photography equipment, and oh yeah, also be a small apartment. Through a bit of luck, a lot of networking and some big decisions, on September 1st, 2020 our very own 1991 Unimog, which we immediately named Andrea, made it home to our village in France. For the last two years, my partner and I had not traveled abroad, for obvious reasons. As an outdoor photographer and a professional climber, Jeremy and I had shaped our lives around our travels…

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More than Bikepacking: How to Help Foster Environmental Sustainability

My introduction to bikepacking was unintentional, which is perhaps why it never felt like my two-wheeled adventures needed to focus on me. My first forays didn’t involve much more than a backpack filled with fishing gear and a tent, riding my 90’s era mountain bike down dirt roads toward reservoirs in Truckee and creeks in Davis, California, intent on fishing for the weekend. As an undergraduate in Bozeman, Montana, my lack of a driver’s license left me peddling up Hyalite Reservoir Road, touring skis strapped to my backpack as I rode that same bike from my dorm to a weekend basecamp. These days, I still avoid putting together routes based on their distance or elevation gain, choosing instead to find purpose in escaping from my normal routine at a slower…

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Choosing Mountains: Mountaineering with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Diagnosis: Traumatic Brain Injury Exhausted before it even started, my first expedition was one of survival. Constant changes in direction, diagnosis, and dialects across seven hospitals in three countries. 70% vision loss, cognitive chaos, murky memory and an abolished appetite—I was both lost for words and a lust for life following 26 stormy months in a constant climb for my life. Every step felt like an unsteady crevasse crossing, my medical team leading me from the edge of death’s doorstep into an avalanche of unknowns. Adrift amidst the losses, the only sign I could see illuminated was the mountains. They are home, comfort and constant. Mountains allow me to make sense of the confusion that surfaces amongst crowds and questions, stares and cities. Natural colossi—blockades to some, obstacles to others, opportunities…

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Crag Dogs: A Climber’s Best Friend (Or Worst Enemy)

When you punt off your project for the hundredth time in a row, having your dog at the crag with you can spell the difference between holding it together and bursting into tears. But it’s a double-edged sword. If you’re going for the send on your project and your crag dog spots a wild animal they want to chase, you need to stop, go in-direct or lower and handle your crag dog. Whether dogs belong at the crag is a difficult question with many different answers, and they may all be right. We’re here to help you make the right decision for yourself and your dog. Rules and Regulations It doesn’t matter if your dog is the best crag dog in the world, if the area’s regulations say no dogs—sorry…

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Cycling Around the World: Lessons from Living a Nomad Life

Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to be a grocer, or a general, or a politician, or a judge, you will invariably become it; that is your punishment.” Long before living a nomad life, I had wanted to be a software engineer. But when I became one, it felt like a punishment. It is not to say that a Ph.D. in computer science and a software development career in Germany were not dreams that came true. But those dreams were no longer mine. Now, I have no career, permanent address, fixed phone number, bank balance, spouse or kids. Everything I own fits inside my bicycle panniers. Every day is a new adventure. Despite all the uncertainties and difficulties I face on the road, I find a new home, a new…

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The Importance of Inclusivity in the Outdoors

I grew up sharing a deep connection with nature. I fell in love with the boundless beauty and felt its powerful spiritual and emotional healing benefits. As a black, queer human, I also observed a lack of diversity in many of these spaces that I treasured, which led to feelings of otherness and even moments when I had concern for my personal safety. These feelings inspired me to further explore the reasons why there is a lack of inclusivity in outdoor spaces, lands and activities that are a part of everyone’s culture and a right for all people. Growing up, I fell in love with chasing fireflies, riding my bike, climbing trees and creating artwork inspired by nature. This love expanded to coastal adventures, camping, canoeing and hiking in the…

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