Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I had another great season in the climbing program at Thacher.  Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the San Gabriels and our beloved Los Padres were our playgrounds, our training medium and our solace.  I miss this group already!  Looking forward to the spring climbing season.  For now it is the opportunity to develop aerobic capacity, work on our local trails and hope for snow in the hills.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

From Santa Rosa

Six glorious days backpacking on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands National Park.  These islands truly are the Galapagos Islands of California.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Mind Game

In preparation for the spring climbing season, I went over some of my notes from the fall and was reminded of a series of interviews with Olympic/World Cup skier and NFL football player Jeremy Bloom from the Podium Sports Journal.  I have found these interviews, albeit brief, to contain insight and bits of wisdom that have been helpful in the sports I pursue.  For example, while riding the Tunnel Trail recently in Santa Barbara, I distinctly felt that while the technical nature of the trail requires certain physical skills, the mental side of riding the trail well, and safely, is perhaps the most important.  I focus a lot on teaching the mental game to my students, although I do find it to be one of the more challenging things I instruct.  In other words, I don't have clear metrics for determining the effectiveness of these teaching tools, but I believe that they make all the difference in the world.  The following video gives a sense of these mental skills.  I you will find it useful as well!

Monday, February 3, 2014


I enjoyed seeing this Vimeo featuring Will Gadd.  If you haven't read his blog, I highly recommend it.  There is a lot of wisdom, insight, inspiration and humor in what he says.  I also really like how much he discusses safety and technique in the mountains.  Really good stuff.

MOVE from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cold Springs and Tunnel Trails

A great morning spent with Weston, Kevin, Grant, Jon and Quincy riding the Cold Springs Trail and the Tunnel Trail in Santa Barbara.  A mountain bike is another great tool for interacting with the landscape and getting to some incredible locations.  I am reminded of the sentiments expressed by Galen Rowell on the topic of man in the natural world, which is something that has always inspired me in my climbing and photography.  Mountain bikes are a way to have similar interactions with the trail, the chaparral and the geology that comprise the mountains.  Not unlike mountaineering, a demanding trail can result in similar levels euphoria and require the type of focus that makes you feel as if time has slowed down.  I am especially appreciative of these opportunities in light of the absence of snow in our mountains.  It has been surprising to me to feel a similar sense of engagement and satisfaction from mountain biking as what I am used to getting from skiing.  Most likely a good portion of that has to do with the incredible trails that are just out my backdoor.  Skis have been traded in for knobby tires, and I am enjoying the ride.

 The Tunnel Trail in the Santa Barbara front country - and a rare smooth section - the Tea Fire burned through here in 2008.
Jon Chang dropping into a section on the Tunnel Trail that characterizes the rocky and technical nature of this trail.  Jon has improved a ton in his riding over the past three years.  He really commits to the terrain and just goes for it.  We first rode together when he was a sophomore at Thacher on a 107 mile backcountry bike packing tour of the Los Padres.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

An inspiring bike and mountaineering tour through Kyrgyzstan -- The Road From Karakol

I just watched the short film of Kyle Dempster's solo bike and mountaineering tour of Kyrgystan in 2011.  The adversity he faces and the adventure he experiences are absolutely incredible.  There is something about the rawness of the footage that really grips the viewer.  I was on the edge of my seat.  What is more, the shots of beautiful mountains and skylines containing even more remote ranges speaks to the desire to simply get out there.  Above is the trailer for the 25 minute film.  I hope you enjoy.

Horse Flats - Angeles National Forest

Trail work and mountain bikes

'Tis the season for trail work.

A touch of rain has been helpful with some recent trail rehabilitation efforts around here.  Not only has the precip loosened up the clay soil to a degree, but it has also helped when working to compact and reshape trails the trail tread.  Below are a couple photos from a recent effort to rework an area that has been chronically eroded.  My hope is the drains will reduce gully erosion through this area and make it safer and more fun for the horses, runners and mountain bikers that frequent this trail (the Huntington Trail in the east end of Ojai).  The trail isn't a flow trail, per say, but it has some nice flowy sections interspersed with small drops through rocks.  More work needs to be done to manage erosion and re-cut a few sections, but it is all ridable and a fun trail for doing laps.

What is more, three mountain bikers from the Thacher School have been hard at work developing a downhill mountain bike trail not to far from the Huntington Trail.  You can view Jon, Grant and Quincy's mountain biking blog here and also see a short video of a test run down the same trail here on pinkbike.com.  These guys have put in countless hours on this trail and are making a huge contribution to good mountain biking trails in Ojai.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Breakfast Club Trail Run - Twin Peaks, Ojai

The above photo is from one of the best dawn patrols I have done in a long time.  Twin Peaks is approximately 1,900 feet of climbing from the trailhead and requires around 35-40 minutes of sustained uphill running.  On top one is treated to views of the Pacific Ocean, the Channel Islands, the Oxnard Plain, Santa Monica Mountains and one of the best perspectives on the beautiful Ojai Valley. We left around 6 AM, Grant (in yellow) made us tea and scrambled eggs (he brought a camping stove along with Sierra cups, utensils, water and eggs) before we surfed the trail back down and headed to our classes.  These young men, Cooper, Grant and Jackson, have such a zest for life and are among my heroes.  Also along were Jim and Donald from Thacher.  Thanks guys for an awesome morning adventure!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia

I rode in the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Beverly Hills over the past weekend.  It was a great event with an incredible tour of the Santa Monica Mountains after starting on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  I haven't been able to get in more than one road ride a week due to a busy coaching schedule in rock climbing and traveling for rock climbing, but the ride still went well.  All told it involved 90 miles and over 10,000 ft of climbing (I am a little surprised by the total vertical gain, but I'll trust Strava on this one).  There was a hill climbing time trial competition about halfway through the ride on Piuma Road.  I managed 17th overall and was 2nd in my age group.  Not to bad for a rock climber I suppose!  

Thanks to the event organizer for putting together a great event.  Most importantly, however, I have to thank Hammer Nutrition for the superb endurance fuel and the invaluable advice and strategies that they provide on their website.  They knowledge I have gained from Hammer Nutrition about how best to prepare for an extended effort, whether it involves rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, mountain biking or road cycling is tremendous.  It has helped me a great deal over the years.  Lately I have been really impressed by the Endurance Amino, which I first began to use on backcountry mountain biking forays.  The fuel I don't go without, however, hasn't changed: Perpetuem, Endurolytes and Hammer Gel.

Looking forward to a climbing trip to the San Gabriel Mountains this weekend.  The cooler temperatures are bringing about perfect temperatures for rock climbing.