A Life Athletic

A Life Athletic

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stuff for Sale

Whatcha want?

I'm in Colorado right now, and so is this stuff. But it and myself will be headed to the Eastern Sierra by Thursday. And I can send things, if you pay the shipping.

Petzl Aztar Hammer. Used. 

 Marmot Col Membrain Sleeping bag. -20f rating. size long. Used just 4 nights. Retail $650. 

Brooks Range Hybrid Sweater. size medium. Retail $270.

OR Rumor Hoody, Used. Size medium.

Brooks Range Ultralite Guide Tarp. Retail $160. Well used, fully functional. 

Suunto Ambit 2S Watch. Used very lightly. Retail $350.

Northwest Alpine fleece hoody. size Medium. Used lightly. Retail $110. 

Scarpa Maestrale ski boots Size 27. Medium use.  Retail $700.  $275

La Sportiva Spectre ski boots. Size 27.5. Brand new, never used. Retail $600. $300

Thermarest prolite plus. Regular length. Retail $110. Virtually brand new.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Colorado Thunderstorming

Out and about… a lot. Not interwebbing so much lately… But I cooked this up. Enjoy your summer, wherever it is.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Valdez Video

Just finished this little number. Nothing fancy, just some highlights.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Alaska Gear 2014

In continuing the series of blog posts on the gear I use out and about, I present the list of what I'll use on forthcoming Alaska climbs. The main event is a five or six day alpine-style climb of the West Ridge of Mount Hunter. Check out the Smileys video for a little perspective:

West Ridge of Mount Hunter, AK from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

I cooked up similar lists for Sierra winter climbing, ski mountaineering, and more traditional backcountry skiing. I'll enumerate here climbing equipment for the multi-day endeavors. Additionally, and unlisted, we'll have a comfortable base camp kit, and some ski gear. So, without further ado...


  • La Sportiva Spantik boots
  • 2 pr Darn Tough Socks
  • Long underwear bottoms
  • Outdoor Research Cirque Pants
  • Patagonia Leashless shell pants
  • synthetic t shirt
  • OR Rumor Hoody
  • Arc Teryx Nuclei Hoody
  • OR Axiom shell Jacket
  • Feathered Friends Volant Jacket (incidentally, we awarded this the OutdoorGearLab Editors Choice award…)
  • IronClad Cold conditions gloves
  • Black Diamond Rambla gloves
  • Black Diamond Jupiter mitts
  • Buff
  • Fleece hat
  • Light colored glasses
  • Dark colored glasses

Tech Gear, etc:
  • Petzl Sarken Crampons. 
  • Petzl Sum'Tec hammer and adze pair.  
  • Rack: 
    • 5 slings
    • 5 cams
    • 5 nuts
    • 8 screws
  • Belay device and associated 'biner
  • 3 more locking carabiners
  • 12 foot 7mm cord
  • Double length sling
  • Petzl Micro Traxion
  • CAMP Blitz Harness
  • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet
  • Rope. Double 60m. 
  • Black Diamond Compacter ski pole.
  • First aid/emergency kit.
  • Two liters of water
  • Half a liter of some hot drink 
  • Iridium Extreme Sat Phone. 
  • iPhone loaded with relevant maps, gps app, emergency phone numbers, camera, route beta, guidebook photos, etc.
  • Food- Just add water dinners and breakfasts.  Fill a 1 qt ziploc with energy candy and bars etc for each day.  About 1.7-2.0 pounds per person per day total.  
  • 21x40 inch chunk of new, flat closed cell foam.  No egg-crate shapes, no ridges.  Just flat foam.  HTFU. 
  • Extra small Thermarest Prolite if I'm feeling extravagant.
  • Feathered Friends Spoonbill bag. This little number will save us pounds and pounds...
  • Black Diamond "Can't wait 'til" Firstlight.  
  • Jetboil and 2 oz per person per day of fuel.  
  • Food- Just add water dinners and breakfasts.  Fill a 1 qt ziploc with energy candy and bars etc for each day.  About 1.7-2.0 pounds per person per day total.  
  • All packed into Hyperlight Mountain Gear's 4400 Ice Pack. 


I've been working, and writing, and skiing my brain out the last couple months. Just not documenting it here. Here's the "catch up".

For work:

I worked every day in February.

Some Alpine guiding.
Venusian with Pieter

U Notch with Joe

Some ski guiding. Dunderberg with Chad:

I taught some avalanche skills.

Level One course at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare
Training Center

And wrote tens of thousands of words for OutdoorGearLab.
March was even more varied:

More ski guiding, this time in the Mammoth area.

Joshua Tree with Chad and Allie

I taught "MultiPitch Efficiency" at the Red Rock Rendezvous.
And then proceeded to be very inefficient on some personal climbing.
I didn't work much in April. But what I did do was badass! A week of ski touring around Valdez, Alaska should be on every skier's list.

You don't see this sort of sight at most ski destinations...

Coco and Torrey brought high-level downhill ski skills and unprecedented toughness to big and wild AK!
The weather in AK often looks like this. Helis are grounded and film crews steer clear. But touring skiers have the run of the place in this flat light.

For fun in the mountains:

I cooked this up back in early February: http://www.wildsnow.com/12403/sierra-backcountry-skiing/

I managed to grab some fun missions in March.

Sean, Dale and I skied Banner Peak. In a day. From June Lake. Hard stuff. 

With a little spin drifted down climb in the middle.
The work trip to Joshua Tree wasn't all work...
Nor was Red Rock...
Scott and I scored a short coverage window on some Mammoth area classic lines.
I got wicked sick in the middle of March. Laid low for over a week. I rallied out of bed for a solo mission to Virginia Peak.

Early April brought a round of fresh to Mammoth. Just in time for Meagan's visit. She said it was just as good as Rossland.
And the weather cleared out in time for a couple weeks of family fun on Mammoth Mountain. Thomas Greene photo. 

Finally, Meagan and I escaped to the corners of Yosemite for some Mount Lyell action. We had an eventful trip, to say the least...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inyo National Forest Plan Revision Process

Whether your passion is guided mountain travel, either as guest or guide, new-route rock climbing, ice climbing, or any of the other ways in which we enjoy our mountains, the Inyo National Forest (INF) wants to hear from you in their latest journey through an upper-level planning process. If you want increased access for commercial mountain guiding (or decreased access)... If you want more ice climbing in the Eastern Sierra (or less ice climbing)… If you want to be able to continue new-route rock climbing development (or crack down on new-routing)… Take an active role in what's going on over the coming weeks and months.

In a few different ways, I've recently been inspired to take a more active role in the democratic side of public land management. I play and work on Forest Service land. I am involved with various efforts to advocate for and facilitate climbing and other recreation on our Eastern Sierra public lands. In the process of engaging with the public comment and planning process, I've learned a few things that may help you in your own participation. If you are so inclined, here is a step-by-step tutorial on the most recent step in Inyo National Forest planning, with an admitted bias to what lights my fire. Formal information from the Forest Service is housed here. I find the bureaucratic presentation a bit confusing. Hopefully I can demystify things a little bit.

First of all, what is going on right now is a revision to the Inyo National Forest overall plan. Basically all of the mountainous terrain we recreate on in the Eastern and High Sierra is on, or requires passing through, the Inyo National Forest. The "Forest Plan" is an overarching, general document. The "constitution" of the Forest, if you will. This document will not include specific directives. It is, however, a document that will guide and structure the course of upcoming specific decisions the Forest Service will make.

The process of revising this 26 year old plan is a multi-year project, undertaken in conjunction with neighboring Forests as well. Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests are all using a new method of plan writing that is supposed to better encourage public participation. The procedure includes online, interactive phases and occasional public meetings.

Inyo National Forest Draft Assessment

As of right now, mid-January 2014, the plan revision process is about halfway through. The Forest "assessment" has been completed. This pdf  holds the entire INF assessment. Essentially, the assessment is exactly that; it's a summary of how things are right now. Information of interest to mountain athletes and professionals is found in Chapters 6 and 9. (Pages 102 and 134, respectively)

A few excerpts from the Assessment stand out as relevant to us:
"Studies have clearly shown that local economies in this area are very dependent on tourism and recreational activities, and any changes in the level of these activities would have an effect on the economy."
"In 2010, travel and tourism related industries comprised almost 50 percent of jobs in the counties bordering the Inyo NF."
"Unmanaged recreation can negatively impact ecosystem health, for example, through the spread of invasive species, overfishing, and degradation of water quality. Examples of unmanaged recreation include development of rock climbing routes at newly discovered crags..."
"There may also be increased future desire for outfitter/guide services in wilderness as part of the overall increasing demand for recreation on public lands, and an aging population who want more amenities during their visit."
"The decline in agency budget and increasing public demand creates greater need for collaboration between the Inyo NF and partners, including private businesses, outfitters and guides, local governments, non-governmental groups and volunteers."
"Stakeholders also highlighted a demand for additional outfitter and guide services authorized under special use permits."
The most extensive mention of technical pursuits in the Forest comes under the topic of "Emerging Recreation":
"Rock climbing and mountaineering are popular recreation activities on the Inyo NF" 
Preliminary "Need to Change"

With the assessment basically complete, the Forest Service is now taking comment on aspects of Forest planning in need of change. From the assessment, the agency has distilled and consolidated the issues into six "Areas of Emphasis". One of these six is titled Sustainable Recreation. The issue, as the FS sees it, is that "declining federal budgets constrain the ability of the agency to meet current demands for recreation opportunities and access." What that means for backcountry users is that the FS cannot fund trail maintenance, visitor information services, and wilderness rangers. It also means that law enforcement is limited. Finally, it means that permitting commercial and special recreational uses is delayed or completely suspended. 

Right now, through January 30, the Forest Service is taking comments in response to this "Need to Change" document. Peruse it and compose some thoughts as to how the "need" can be better clarified and how you envision the changes being prioritized and implemented. Send an email with your comments in this vein to R5planrevision@fs.fed.us. If you comment by this Friday, January 24th, your comments will be considered for inclusion on the agenda of a series of meetings held the following week. Regional Forest Service staff will be touring next week to three locations to further gather public comment on the Need to Change. Here on the Eastside, the meeting series stops at the FS Administrative office in Bishop on Thursday, January 30 at 5pm. I'll be there in the big building on Line Street between the hospital and the DMV. There's free food, they say.