Breakfast burritos may be staples of cooking in the great outdoors, but there’s more to it than just scrambling up a bunch of eggs in a pan and folding them into a cold tortilla. Whether it’s a harmless beginner’s mistake or just someone who has completely lost the plot, they’re starting out their adventure with a huge dose of mediocrity—not to mention a pan caked with hard-to-clean egg residue.
Through my many summers spent living as a simple rock-climbing dirtbag and winters spent as a inchoate ski bum, I’ve learned a few important things about life, but none have been as consistent as learning how to cook the Breakydilla (patent pending). This is one of my most treasured recipes, something I once learned from a seasoned alpinist one morning in a cold desert wash.
The Breakydilla isn’t hard or complicated to make, nor does it even remotely draw upon the principles of classic French cuisine. It’s almost comically easy to cook up, but it’s precisely this extreme simplicity that contributes to its pleasing aesthetic. The Breakydilla is less about breakfast, and more about creating a state of mind and place. Here’s how to do it.
In an era in which athletes are willing to take increasingly greater risks in front of the camera, is it ethical for brands to promote and benefit from this willingness? Clif Bar says no for its company. Is this an insult to the athletes, or are they onto something?
My new Tuesday Night Bouldering column in Rock and Ice No 222 is titled “Dead Sherpa Walking,” and explores some of the ethical questions about Everest’s commercial culture, particularly the one about whether or not it is ethical to continue guiding on the South Side, with the dangerous Khumbu Ice Fall, where 16 sherpa died this year. Here’s an excerpt:
These people aren’t dying “doing what they love”—they are working to give their children an opportunity to succeed in the West. Somehow, intent and motive are philosophically important in this regard. All deaths, in general, should not be regarded equally. The deaths of those who die in battle while serving a country are somehow different than those who crash their $100,000 crotch-rocket motorcycle in a coke-fueled blaze of inglory.
Sixteen sherpas were swept away while working to install the infrastructure Western clients “need” to achieve their personally fulfilling but otherwise insignificantly middling goals. The true inhumanity of this incident has been diminished, in my view, by the fact that the general public perceives the sherpa to be climbers who died in a mountaineering accident—and not as servants who were hired by a much richer group of people to bear the brunt of a risky situation for them—and then died in that service.
Sasha DiGiulian recently completed the first female ascent of a stunning 1,000-foot 5.14 in Sardinia called Viaje de los Locos, aka, the Mad Men’s Journey. Reeling in the wake of her father’s unexpected death, Sasha found comfort in knowing that her dad would be proud of her for pursuing her dreams.
Before Daniel Woods was an eight-time National Bouldering Champion with the hand strength of a vice-grip and the ability to casually perform one-arm, one-finger pull-ups, he was a puny little runt on his local junior climbing team who got picked on by his teammates.
In advance of the Psicocomp–the biggest, best climbing competition of the year–Red Bull reached out to me to write a primer for rock climbing terminology. They wanted an article that would help the general, non-climbing population understand what climbing is all about, while also getting the news out that the Psicocomp, organized by Red Bull athlete Chris Sharma, would be taking place in a live stream last Friday night.
The biggest, baddest climbing competition in the U.S. is happening at Utah’s Olympic Park this week, with the finals streaming live online on Friday night, August 8. It’s called the Psicobloc Masters Series, aka Psicocomp, and the format is simple: Competitors will race each other up a grueling, technically demanding, 50-foot-tall overhanging wall in a single-elimination format.
There’s just one catch: They won’t be using ropes.
That means that if (when) they fall, they will plummet up to 50 feet through the air, before plunging into just 12 feet of water — far from a soft or even all-that-safe landing.
Add in the fact that these climbers will often be leaping between their holds on the wall and their momentum may send them flinging in a tailspin through the air, and you begin to see how this competition tests it all: strength, skill, composure and cat-like agility. Only the best climbers — those who don’t freak out five heartbreaking feet below the top of the wall — will survive Psicocomp and stand on top
“I’m not going climbing till I hit 12,000 followers,” Mike chortled. He was being facetious. But he was also gazing into his iPhone as if it held the secret to growing a bigger penis.
“Mike,” not his real name, was about 150 “people” shy of hitting 12K on Instagram. I say “people” in quotes because, for all intents and purposes, they aren’t actually people; they’re just numbers. Multiplicative, addictive stats that ping up on your phone’s screen at random intervals. Like a spinning slot machine, the notifications are awfully transfixing and cause you to check your phone every 25.8 seconds.
Check out my latest column about escaping the social-media trap and just going climbing for experience in Rock and Ice 220, on newsstands now.
The inaugural Rock and Ice Writing Symposium was a big success. Fourteen writing students from as far away as Spain and South Korea descended on the climbing-media capital of the world, Carbondale, Colorado, for a weeklong writing symposium to learn the genre of climbing writing. Instructors included myself, John “Largo” Long, Jeff Jackson and Duane Raleigh. This was my first experience teaching a writing workshop, and it was great fun to see the students’ progression over the course of the week.
For me, the best part was getting to spend a week with Largo, one of my climbing and writing heroes. Hats off to all who attended, and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.
I recently got to help 3 Strings Productions put together a cool video profile for National Geographic’s online video website. I spent the day with Jimmy Olson, a third generation ice racer in Denver, who builds custom studded tires for Jeeps that race around the frozen lake in Georgetown, CO.
We filmed all day at his garage and I worked with Jimmy during the interview to try to help bring out the best storytelling lines for the voice over.