White Mountains, NH 2019!!

Check out the trip report under Past Trips for our short trek to the incredible White Mountains in New Hampshire!



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How to Prepare for Mountaineering


If you are like me training for mountaineering will get mundane after a while.  This is especially the case when the next trip is 4-6+ months in the future.  It seems the further out the trek the worse off the motivation will be.  In order to be ready for a multi-day outing you need to train your mind and body for the arduous task.  The gym won’t cut it!  You need some real world challenges to keep you motivated.

For me personally I took up bicycling when my youngest brother sold me his Cannondale CAADX in the Summer of 2017 to train for a trip to Colorado.  That got old too until I picked up the app for my phone called STRAVA!

You can’t beat good old competition to motivate results!  Granted, segment runs are only part of the fun the real thrill comes from riding with friends and family.  Cycling provides a phenomenal low impact way to gain fitness and build lower body muscles, boost endurance, and train your mind to stick with it on those long rides.  I continue to be amazed at the results in my running and climbing without the aches and pains from jogging.

More than a few people have steered away from bicycling for fear of reckless motorists.  This is an understandable concern, but the risk can be mitigated in quiet county locations such as where I live.

I encourage everyone to at least give it a try!  Borrow a friend’s bike or check out your local bike shop for a loaner.  Blue Stone Bike and Run is one great place to start.

And while you’re at it check out some of my stats on STRAVA:

Segment Details via STRAVA


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Future Mountaineers 8/2018

Summary: Over the summer my wife traveled to Colorado while I kept the kiddos for the week.  I took them up one of the longest and most rewarding hikes in the area: The Priest.  I logged their time via STRAVA.  They did great!  All but the youngest did it on their own.  This is where it starts with good memories with dad.


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Enjoy the Journey


After a busy week it is nice to spend a solid weekend with the family.  I sometimes forget how important the time spent is.

On Sunday we took a walk in the wonderful Winter Storm Gia as meteorologists have decided to call it.  25 degrees, plenty of snow coming down, wife, and four kids headed out to inspect the road and just enjoy our time together.

Before I knew it I had already pulled a solid lead ahead of the wifey to look back and hear her say “Why are you always walking in front of me?”  I know she’s right.  I should slow down and be with them.  So as I walk with her I’m analyzing why I just have to walk so briskly all the time.  My mind is always on the destination and feel pushed to get there.  The journey is completely lost with eyes locked on the distant destination.  Before I know it the children will be grown, the smiles and laughter and fun times all in the past, the meaningful memories and simple times gone.

So my message to all the passerbys is to enjoy the journey on the way to the destination.  It is more than worth it.


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Virginia Ice – January 2018

It doesn’t happen that often, but when local ice develops because of unusually cold temperatures the brothers jump on it!

We had been watching the forecasts and as soon as the kitchen faucet froze I knew it was time to go climbing.

Overnight lows all the way down to -3 made for a very brittle experience.  Thankfully the wind only came on now and then.  It would have been a terrible experience on a windy day at those temperatures!


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The Man who started it all


I grew up in an old farm house out in the county.  Most winters we had no heat in the bedrooms and all of us brothers can attest to waking up with the glass of water by our beds frozen solid.  It makes for happy memories and tough bodies.  I wouldn’t trade that real upbringing for anything!  Its interesting though how those cold nights created in me an absolute love for the bitter cold.  It makes me come alive now.  We had a woodstove downstairs that eventually evolved into gas logs.  The central part of our house being the kitchen and den area were the main areas of congregation and coming together as a family.  At home we came together as a family for meals and for recreation.  We did a lot together there and often dad would take us up and out into the hills as well.

I can still remember vividly rubbing dad’s heals raw on some hikes that ended after daylight had faded away.  It was a rush to be there in the wild with dad climbing down to the water falls or exploring the hills in a Land Rover.  There is something about being with your dad during those early ages that instills and awakens in a child a love for the hills– a recognition of the Freedom of the Hills.  I often wonder if its built into everyone to enjoy the mountains or if its in our DNA.  Our great grandfather, Jakob, came from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and no doubt was surrounded by mountains.  Did he also enjoy climbing and passed it on down the DNA tree?  Did dad awaken that bit of history through exposing us to the hills?

Whatever the case, three of the five boys are bitten severely by the bug.  Dad is to blame.  I have already made steps towards instilling the Freedom of the Hills in my children as well.  It will be interesting to see how my four children take to it.

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Home in the Valley (Home with the Family)

Last month I celebrated 10 years of marriage with my woman.  Kelli and I were married on October 27th, 2007 in Harrisonburg and spent a wonderful honeymoon in Colorado for several weeks.  It seems the mountains are always at the heart of what we do together.

This year we had the family and climbed, hiked, and spend good time around the valley.

We even managed to get out on a date to Hidden Rocks then went downtown to Staunton for some amazing Pho at Snap Dragon on East Beverly.


I’m often called to the mountains, but its my wife I yearn to be with.  There are a few songs that make me think of her.  One in particular stands out:

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home (Official Video)

“Home is whenever I’m with you.”

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On the edge


Have you ever been to a far off place or to the edge?  It seems that all I can think about when I am here are my loved ones– especially my wife of ten years this October 27, 2017.

The back story: Recently I traveled to Colorado and left my family behind to climb in the Rockies with two of my brothers.  I actually have four brothers.  Two are domestic and two are wild when it comes to the mountains.  We had a grand scheme to climb Capitol Peak and a whirlwind 27 hour window.

We took off from my Aunt’s house at 7 or 8 or so Thursday evening and finished the trip back at her house at 11 or so Friday evening with a two hour bivy in the middle.  Pretty rough!  Needless to say we were wiped out.  Check out the photos and story here.

At one point in the climb I became aware of the sheer drops on either side of the ridge that plummeted down unforgivingly a thousand feet or more.  The wind whipped at me and the snow came in waves off and on.  I am a mortal man and felt I had enough looking over the edge slick as it was.  I admitted defeat and sat there looking down the path I had come.  In my head all I could think about was my wife and the sheer beauty of her friendship.  The view is incredible and my body is warm beneath the layers.  I could sit here for a while.  Home calls.



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Leaving in a couple of hours

Once again the mountains are calling.  My boss is gracious enough to let me have a few days off from our very busy logistics schedule to tackle the freedom of the hills.

Today is my youngest brother’s birthday.  To celebrate he wanted to climb the Crestones in Colorado.  Weather has other plans for us and is currently dumping snow on them.  We are now going to climb Capitol Peak via the Capitol Lake Trail.  It will be a lot of work with 17 miles round trip and over 5000 foot elevation gain for some descendants of an Austrian.  We will fly out in a few hours from now.

I can’t help but feel excitement at the opportunity, but also a sense of dread leaving my wife and children.  Its an odd feeling that twists my insides.

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A Commitment to Safety

Where I work we were encouraged to write a safety commitment letter.  This is what I penned out based on my work experience and our most recent mountaineering adventure to New Hampshire in February 2017.

As most of my co-workers in the 2440 building know I traveled to New Hampshire at the end of January 2017 to climb in the White Mountains. It has become a favorite spot for me and the climbing team I go with. We partake in classic alpine ascents on the Presidential Range in some of the worst weather imaginable as well as partake in the more technical side of climbing called “ice climbing”. This technical climbing involves ascending frozen waterfalls sometimes hundreds of feet vertically with wild exposure for the climber. We spent time on Frankenstein Cliffs and on great frozen routes called “Standard” and “Dracula”.This year I made an observation with a close climbing friend. The two of us noted that the climbing party had several jokesters and more than enough smiling faces. However, we observed that as any one of the members began the climb up a column or frozen face the smile would instantly be replaced with a very serious expression. With this observation in mind I did a self-check: what was I feeling while climbing with hundreds of feet below me on a frozen waterfall? I can tell you I felt no fear, but in its place a steady, grinding, intense focus realizing that what I was doing was very thrilling and dangerous and needed all of my attention!

The party did not lose track of keeping safety measures in place in all of these excursions and verbally and physically checked on each other’s wellbeing and equipment. We would examine the figure-8 knots attached to our harnesses; critique each other’s placement of anchors; provide feedback to belay positions; teach new alpine belay techniques to aid the newer climbers. We all recognized that alpine and technical ice climbing is a very serious business, and we all consciously chose not to take the gift of life for granted.

Working with this logistics company has opened my eyes to what we often take for granted–driving. Statistically speaking driving is the single most dangerous activity in which any American can be involved. Thousands of people die every year in automobile related crashes…but, wait; that great tune just came on the radio so let me reach over to turn it up and take my eyes off the road for just a few seconds… With all of this in mind I wish for myself, my driver group, and my family that we all would assume that same sense of danger inherent in ice climbing when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle and recognize that life is a fragile thing!


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