Friday, October 12, 2007


I'm at about 30,000 feet cruising south with a plastic cup of wine, checking out a sunset over the Rockies and en route to Australia. A good place to think, and do what I most often do on flights--write. When I'm at home the phone rings, emails appear, and I can find an easy out. In a plane, with the headphones on, well, it's time to either sleep or write.

Alaska Notes:
The excitement of the heli-wash experience led my initial list of Alaska memories, but after over a week at home (yeah!) more memories are starting to pop into my mind. I'd never visited Alaska before, and that was a mistake. Alaska is amazing, and I was very lucky to see the southern end of the Chugach mountains both on the ground and from the air for a week straight. Every morning Dave King would show up with his A-Star and take us someplace amazing, where we would get to climb, kayak, paraglide, paramotor or whatever was in the script for the day. We flew over and landed on huge glaciers, grappled with crevasses, and generally had a fantastic trip with good people. The climbing community is small, and it felt almost like someplace I had been before do to the people I knew there and the close circles of friends I shared with the locals. I can't wait to go back, great people and place, thanks to everyone on the trip.

Training: the Joy of the Jungle Gym

I sometimes find myself sitting on a hotel or my own couch late in the evening with a long string of reasons why I haven't worked out: Travel, time, sleep deprivation, work, and my personal favorite, no "location" such as a gym or whatever. But I'd like to publicly hang the last reason out to dry: There is always a gym pretty close to wherever I am, almost anywhere in the world: a playground…

I've gotten really into playground "jungle gyms" in the last few years while traveling, there's enough to do at even a small playground to work myself into oblivion. It takes some creativity and the willingness to share with the other kids, but with some creative thinking a good jungle gym is a great "real" gym... Little kids bust out all kinds of swinging, jumping, stretching and just generally physical mayhem on their playgrounds, which is exactly what we as adults need to keep our bodies in reasonable shape. I do a sort of modified Cross-Fit thing my friend Josh and I started doing in Brazil a few years ago, heavy on the pushups, pullups, situps, and whatever else fits (often dips, handstand pushups, "knees to elbows" or whatever, just do it fast and give it hard, flowing with the different opportunities available in a new playground gym). Each new playground is a new gym, so things change. I love it when little kids start trying to do pullups and stuff while their parents watch, it's good for a smile every time. In the midst of a long drive home the other day (Portland to Canmore), I found a small but nice "gym" in Sand Point and went after it in the time I had.

A set of parents looked at me with concern as I did offset pull-ups on the support poles of the swing set alternating with situps while their kid swung and wondered why I was grunting so hard. Part of working out in public is letting go of inhibitions about being an "adult" and just getting it done. Like anyone, I'm sensitive to making a fool out of myself in public, but am I a fool for busting out front levers in public or are the often rather large onlookers fools? Or so I tell myself, it helps, and walking away from a five-round blast of improvised dips, lock-off traverses of the monkey bars, lateral raises on the chains and whatever else fits just feels GOOD. You don't need a Gold's gym with all the pneumatic bullshit and free weights, you just need to revert to being a kid and go at it like recess is over in 20 minutes….