October 30, 2017
Tell us how you came to love the outdoors.
My father has been backpacking long before I was born, and I’ve always looked up to him and loved hearing the stories of his adventures in the mountains. He took me on my first real backpacking trip in high school into the Olympics’ Enchanted Valley and I loved it. But it wasn’t until after high school where I truly fell in love with the outdoors. It was on a multi-day trip into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness where I found myself surrounded by nothing but towering peaks and rugged rocky terrain, I came to realize how big and powerful those mountains were and how truly small they made me feel. Out there, all the problems in my life I seemed to think were so large suddenly didn’t appear so big. It was a real turning point in my life, where I no longer cared about things that didn’t matter or what people thought of me, and shifted my focus on what really wanted to do in life.
What is your favorite piece of equipment?
That’s a tough one, I don’t know if I can just choose just one so I’ll name some of my top favorites. I love my Outdoor Research Ferrosi softshell jacket because of how versatile it is. I’ve used it on misty morning hikes to snowboarding on clear cold and windy days on Washington volcanos. Another honorable mention is my Jetboil stove, it is the only piece of equipment that can quickly cure my hangry self after a long day in the mountains. I also really like my Komperdell C3 carbon trekking poles. Weighing just 6.7oz, but making a huge difference on long treks.
If you had an all-expense paid trip, where would you go and what would you do?
Oh boy, where wouldn’t I go? I’d do a European tour going from north to south, stopping in Iceland for some epic snowboarding in the north fjords and driving around the island. Then to Norway to do some sightseeing around Lofoten. Next to Germany for delicious beer, and then to France to do some hiking/mountaineering in the alps. Then down to Italy to soak up the sun and relax. Hey, you didn’t say just on place right? Ha!
Well if you did, any one of these destinations would be incredible.
Tell us about an epic adventure you’ve had.
Hard to pick, but I think the most epic ones come from the unexpected. One of my favorites was on a winter climb of Mt. Ellinor, a popular and easy hike in the summer and a blast to climb in the winter. I was convinced to accompany two of my friends on the climb despite the inclement weather conditions. I’ve been there many times, so I was expecting a total suck fest for not much views, especially with the given weather. Not to mention it had snowed the day before, so I was itching to go out and snowboard elsewhere. But after the steep 1000 vertical foot climb up the .4 mile avi chute, we emerged from the clouds and to find the entire Olympic range in front of us, glistening in perfect and fresh snow, and behind us to the west was a never-ending sea of clouds being lit up by the cold setting sun. We were the only ones there, completely awestruck by what we were seeing. An unexpected, but truly epic day.
What are some challenges you’ve faced when trying to capture photos while you’re outdoors?
Well, living in the north west, rain happens a lot, so keeping my equipment dry and the often-low visibility conditions that comes with rain is a challenge. Most of the photos I take are on the go, so actually stopping and taking the time to check if I got the shot just right isn’t really something I do a whole lot. I’m out there to climb mountains, the photography comes with it. Sometimes this leads to an out of focus shot, or one that in hindsight could’ve used a change of settings. Another challenge with that is the cumbersome task of switching lenses while on the go. Sometimes a peak will reveal itself out of the clouds for only a moment, and if I’ve got the wrong lens for the moment I’ll have to stop and try to switch it before the clouds come back. But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s best to just enjoy it while it’s there in front of you.
Tell us about a lesson that you’ve learned from Mother Nature.
I’m not really sure what to call this lesson, but what the mountains consistently do is put you in your place. Whether it’s being awestruck at the beauty of the landscape, or getting your ass handed to you after a failed attempt of a difficult or dangerous peak, the mountains will humble you. You’ll come back a little more appreciative of what you have, and appreciative of this place we call earth.
What’s your biggest pet peeve when exploring?
Bluetooth speakers. Nothing worse than having your quest for solitude interrupted by someone’s obnoxious and often very out of place tunes on the trail. If you’re on your own and music is your thing, headphones are great. But if you’re in a group, try enjoying each other’s company and the quiet of nature.
Also, seeing people or groups of people who disrespect the environment, littering, walking or camping on fragile vegetation, or burning campfires in no fire zones. No bueno.
Describe your ideal adventure.
My ideal adventure goes like this; Hike deep into the wilderness and set up camp at a pristine alpine lake, get up early and get a sunrise summit on a nearby peak, come back down to camp, jump in and relax. The next day, hike out and drive to the nearest brewery for some recovery burgers & beer.
I’m lucky enough to live on a place where this ideal adventure can be done almost every weekend!
Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant mouse?
Big mouse, I’d be so agile and just run up all the peaks!
If you could have a drink with any famous person, dead or alive, who would it be with and what would you drink?
I don’t know if photographer Chris Burkard drinks, but I’d love to sit down and have a beer and hang out. Not only is his photography amazing and a huge inspiration for me, but also his outlook on life and adventure. He says, “There are no shortcuts to joy… Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit,” and that couldn’t be truer in my experience. The value of your hike, climb, or photographs increases exponentially when you are forced to earn it. Talking with anyone who understands this is bound to be a good time!