Early-2000s: Rolando Garibotti near Washington Pass in the North Cascades. We were working on a Chevy commercial with Zack Snyder (who later directed “300”). The crew helicoptered an 80-foot crane up to film us climbing and falling. Later the pilot held one skid of his Long Ranger against the summit of South Early Winter Spire long enough to drop and then collect us (a few times) while we prepared the action climbing shot on the east face.
June 2000: Scott Backes in the ranger's Weatherport at 14k on Denali. We walked into camp after 63 hours on the go, having made the 3rd ascent of the Slovak Direct in a single push. In moments that paper plate will be covered with a giant, toasted Spam and cheese sandwich.
June 2000: Scott Backes and Steve House napping on the deck at Talkeetna Air Taxi after we flew out of the Alaska Range. We were all pretty wasted from having dug so deep on the Slovak Direct and we became opportunistic nappers.
June 2000: at the 14,000’ camp on the west buttress of Denali where a Nova video crew pounced on us and acted as if we should be excited to answer questions about footwear.
June 2000: Steve House and Scott Backes on the first icefield of the Slovak Direct. We’d been climbing for about eight hours when we found a tent platform chopped by Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore. It was free real estate so we stopped to brew up while the sun kept us warm.
September 2006: Mark Carter in the Tetons. I considered him one of my best military students: he understood and lived the "Light Is Right" ideal. He was killed in Iraq 12/11/07.
September 2006: Bean Bowers, who was helping Rolo Garibotti and I with a military job in the Tetons. I always loved Bean’s enthusiasm and his sense of indestructability. He had come through some epic adventures. Sadly, and to our loss, he wasn’t invincible. Bean did after a short battle with a rapidly metastasizing cancer on July 11th, 2011.
September 2006: Mark Carter and Bean Bowers in the Tetons. This block of training was outstanding, much of the cold weather improvisation and “light is right” teaching was later put to good use overseas. Sadly, Mark was killed a little over a year later, and Bean died four years after that.
2008: Vince Anderson filling the tank at Lily’s Family Restaurant in Anchorage prior to making a six-day strike on the Moose’s Tooth where he and a client made rapid work of the Ham and Eggs couloir, then Shaken, Not Stirred, and visited three of the peak’s four summits.
May 2009: Vince Anderson, Marko Prezelj, Mark Twight. After climbing Denali with some Navy personnel in 2009 we were at the Kahiltna airstrip when we heard that Marko was in base camp with a friend. We only had moments before our air taxi arrived so Vince and I ran up the hill, found him, shared some of his father's splendid honey liquor and then sped back to the waiting plane. Serendipitous and ... well, perfect.
October 2010: Ben Saunders, who has twice skied to the North Pole on the namesake road in Kent. I had one day off after teaching a seminar and knew Ben via the Internet. He linked us up with Yanto Barker, Darren Moore and Mark Lloyd for a nice ride (on a rented bike) into the English countryside for coffee and cakes.
June 2012: with Lieutenant Colonel Scott Pierce who was the CO of the Marine Combat Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton at the time. He invited me to give the keynote speech at the Dining In. I flew from Paris, gave my presentation, turned and burned back to the continent, landing in Bulgaria for the “300: Rise of an Empire” movie project.
January 2015: Steve House relaxed. Not up against it. Not burnt out from having been awake and climbing for days. Not pushing any limits. Relax and breathe.
August 2013: Ben Saunders in the Stonor Valley near Henley. He agreed to a big ride even though it would cost some of the calories he was trying to pack on prior to skiing unsupported to the South Pole (with Tarka L'Herpiniere).
September 2013: Speaking at a fund-raiser for the Little Warriors Foundation at the NY Distilling Co. in Brooklyn, NY. This is a fine, “nonprofit organization dedicated to providing outdoor adventure to the children of Fallen Navy SEALs and Naval Special Warfare Personnel.” I am happy to be a part of it.
Summer 2013: Clay Enos at the local burger joint. I first met Clay in Montreal when I was working on “300”. I was finding my legs in that world, and using the voice I found through climbing to express my training ideals. It resonated. When I saw him again a year later he had utterly transformed himself. I was stunned. And still, to this day, he surprises me with his creative, resolute thinking just about every time we talk.
October 2013: With Guglielmo Rossi on the Amalfi Coast. I was in Italy on a movie job and Andy Hampsten linked me up with Guglielmo as a local guide. We did some great rides, and the experience reminded me of how small the world is, and how united by sporting passion.
November 2013: with Bertrand Delapierre (on the camera), Michel Paccalet (boom), and Francois Damilano during the making of a short documentary about “Beyond Good And Evil”, a new route I climbed with Andy Parkin in 1992. Damilano and Francois Marsigny made the second ascent three years later, and the route has become a test-piece for all aspiring alpinists.
January 2015: Angie Nelson in her old massage studio. While her hands weren’t as demanding as some other practitioners who have worked on me, Angie’s insight into spirit cut deep enough to foster permanent change.
February 2015: Shawn Kingrey at the Sleater-Kinney show in SLC. They are Riot Girl OGs and even after a long break from touring they put on a show I won’t soon forget.
2015: Josh Vert at caffe d'bolla. I still don't understand the physics of how it happened but the coffee was fantastic.
March 2015: Ben Staley shooting the beautiful natural light at Cal Coast Strength and Conditioning in Ventura, CA.
March 2015: The brilliant artist, Mason Brown with Josh Vert at the Déus “Emporium of Postmodern Activities” in Venice, CA.
March 2015: Brian Enos. I was driving from Newport to Albuquerque so Tempe was on the way. I timed it right, and the local social schedule was open so he and Candis invited me for dinner, drinks and a night of fellowship. I hit the road early, maybe still a little drunk but refreshed and energized as every visit with Brian always leaves me.
March 2015: “You’ve never had a Irish Car Bomb?” Candis was incredulous and so popped my cherry. It was the start of a memorable evening, much of which I forgot.
March 2015: The train passes Brian’s house. If they are up and partying they always step out to greet the conductor. Petey and Garn soft-focused.
June 2015: Michael Joseph Gross, relentless interviewer, tireless wordsmith, and dear friend in Buckhead, GA.
2015: Ben Saunders treating me to traditional Sunday dinner at the Dew Drop Inn near Henley. Although the walk to the pub didn’t merit the calories I wolfed down, it was a great afternoon.
2015: Rob Jones was in England to see his girl and do a little training. Our paths crossed first several years ago when he sent me a photo of him finishing a marathon on his prosthetic legs - something the docs said he would never do. He has been proving them wrong ever since.
December 2015: Kurt Johnstad, staunch ally for 22 years, which makes him one of my oldest friends. And means we have been through a lot together.
December 2015: With Zack in his incredibly cool gym on the Warner Bros lot in Burbank. Step through the office door and into one of the most beautiful urban sanctuaries I have ever seen - sanctuary need not imply quiet.
January 2013: Steve House in Little Cottonwood Canyon three years after the fall that nearly killed him. He and I had been through a lot together. I was amazed at how he recovered from that accident and who he became as a result. What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger but the funny thing is that it might just be what ultimately keeps you alive.
January 2016: Clay Enos eating a cold post-workout omelette in our rough-industrial gym at the Warner Bros studio near London. It really was a filthy place but the more people worked hard in it the more powerful it became as an environment. Proving again that we can change what surrounds us with our effort and its results.
December 2013: Lisa taught me about dogs. She taught me about love. I like living more because of what I learned from her, and what we shared. I may be a better man. Probably. But maybe not. Our best energy let us finish each other’s sentences or have no need for words. Our worst energy was competitive, a struggle for power. When balanced, these extremes were incredible.
November 2015: Dylan Freed contemplating mass gain, and the incredible Reuben sandwiches at Feldman’s in SLC. I’ve watched him grow up, well, since he was ten. He is both gifted and cursed - as genius often is - but better balanced than any of us could have hoped for.
March 2015: Ben Staley. I learned who he was from a portrait he shot that I saw on his Twitter feed, then on Instagram. I looked at his website and loved his story. It turns out the girl in the portrait is a writer, and editor. She helped me with some words. Anyway, Ben and I started a conversation. It’s going well.
Summer 2015: Enele Tauteoli at Gym Jones. More often than not our students become our teachers. And quiet water always runs deep.
February 2016: Jason Momoa with his director’s hat on, making beautiful scenes come to life near St John’s, Newfoundland. As a climber, I inspired him. As a friend, he got me to start climbing again. Funny, logical circle, ain’t it?
November 2015: Life often puts us in contact with strange and beautiful and unexpected people. We have only to open eyes and mind to see them, and to learn from them. I was fortunate to meet Danny Huston on a job in London. A man I won't soon forget.
February 2016: Selina Sekulic heading toward the North Atlantic. Cape Spear: as far east as you can get on the North American continent with dry feet.
November 2016: After 14 months of seeing each other once per month and sometimes being apart for longer, I am reunited with her.
November 2016: Joe made the trip to SLC to see Peter Hook. Beforehand he showed his Euro-style by ordering a Campari with soda - and hold the soda. “Just a little bitter - like me,” he declared.
October 2016: Zack Snyder in the House Gym Leavesden, aka Workshop 11. Pre-workout coffee was a ritual for almost ten months.
November 2016: Sometimes the cure for post-race nausea is beer. Cheering up after the Trail Marathon Nationals in Moab.