Thursday, January 30, 2014


A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a quote that stuck with me. It reads "how much effort you are willing to put into the game determines how much fun it will be." I guess you could take that as a reference to a sport, but I took it more as a reference to life.

If you work hard, push yourself to do better and try to progress, you are naturally going to have a good time. If you're slacking, being lazy and not testing yourself then it is much harder to have self-worth and enjoy your experiences. Relationships, goals, school and work all become less of a burden when you take the time to put effort into them.

Lately I have been putting a lot of effort into my photography. It has been awesome! I have been progressing behind the lens which has in turn been pushing my limits as an adventurer too. I am wanting to get out and take interesting photos, so I need to find captivating subject matter.

That being said, I feel blessed to be living in such an outdoor oriented location. Within two hours in any direction of Bellingham there is access to world class skiing, climbing, biking, kayaking and hiking. Being so close to these natural playgrounds has allowed me to get out and explore the Northwest in ways that I have only dreamt of.

This weekend one of my dreams was realized. For as long as I can remember I have seen pictures of humans climbing up exposed, vertical rock faces, jamming their fingers and hands into cracks as they fight off the force of gravity. I was a little nervous to try a multi-pitch climb, but more than anything I was stoked! Kenny Frank and Gus Landefeld were nice enough to lead me up the Calculus Crack on The Chief in Squamish this weekend.


We rolled into Squamish, BC as the last sherbet rays of daylight dipped beneath the horizon. We passed a massive granite outcropping protruding out of the ground as we drove on the Sea to Sky Highway. The Chief was standing stoically, watching us enter its domain.

The Chief at night from downtown Squamish
The night air was warm as we grabbed food out of the car and walked to a cook area by the base of The Chief. Gus, Kenny and I enjoyed some dinner and brews while basking under the night sky:

Since it gets dark so early these days we were left with not much to do. We didn't want to go to bed, so we headed to downtown Squamish to exercise our legal drinking abilities at the Howe Sound brewery.

The Howe Sound Brewery, Squamish, BC

While sipping on some delicious local beer we met a nomad from New Zealand named Luke. He has been traveling for about the last decade, exploring all over the globe. He does carpentry as needed to support his lifestyle. For the past few years he has been living in his awesome gypsy wagon while traveling around the US and Canada. We were curious about his living situation so he invited us into his abode to share stories and a peace offering.

Gypsy Wagon

Luke and Gus inside the van
After exchanging memories with the wanderer it was about sleepytime.

I awoke to the eager duo opening the back of my Subaru where I was sleeping. Time to climb. We drove from our roadside camping spot just down the road to the parking lot for climbers, ate oatmeal and started off towards the Calculus Crack.

The difficulty of climbing route is called the 'grade' and it ranges from 5.0 which could be a ramp or steep section with good holds to 5.15c which is the hardest route ever climbed. Most intermediate climbers stick to the 5.7-5.9 range.

We hiked through the dank, green forest to the base of The Chief. The Calculus Crack is a 5.8 crack that shoots upward out of the forest. On the way up the first pitch we were able to use the trees as holds.

The first pitch

We found a little friend on the way up
I am glad that I was out there with Kenny. He was raised in southern Idaho in a climbing family, so he is very confident in his abilities. It is fun to watch a solid climber. The ability to cling onto the rock while placing gear into the crack is an art form. I have learned a lot from Kenny and Gus about climbing these past few weeks, they have kind of been my climbing mentors.

Kenny is a crack addict
It is pretty amazing what you can do with your body when you use willpower, determination and effort. The first time I looked at a crack route all I could think was, "you mean I'm supposed to climb that?" Crack climbing is interesting. You wedge your hands, fingers, feet, legs, or arms into the crack to secure yourself. For footing, you stick your foot in the crack vertically and then twist it until you gain purchase. It can hurt, but its better than falling.

I was a little bit puckered
The feeling of climbing is exhilarating, and multi-pitch climbing just magnifies that feeling. Even though climbing is nerve wracking, I can compare it to meditation. When you're climbing your whole being is focused on that one moment in time. Nothing else around you matters.

Gus belaying Kenny
Gus Landefeld
The last pitch was a low angle slab that we quickly scrambled up. As I untied from the rope at the top of the route I felt accomplished knowing my first big wall climb was complete. The boys and I exchanged our stoke and recapped the climb while overlooking the unique Canadian landscape that surrounds Squamish.

Climbing is quickly becoming a favorite activity of mine. It is one of those sports that brings you to places that you otherwise would never go. Pushing and pulling yourself upward takes a lot of effort and determination. It can teach you a lot about yourself such as; how you deal with stressful situations and how to overcome problems on the fly. Climbing is not the means to an end, it is just another way to explore the seemingly endless features of this globe that we live on.

Life is good. And I am realizing that the more effort I put in, the more rewarding it becomes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Juneuary Adventures

Balance \ˈba-lən(t)s\:
A state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.

Balance is something that is necessary for all aspects of life. Balancing work and play, time with friends and time for yourself, enough sleep and enough fun. Is balance ever really achieved though? And if so, how can you tell?

In photography, balance is essential. This last week I have been consciously focusing on balancing the objects in my photos. Arranging the elements in the field of view to create an ascetically pleasing image is a process that takes thought and training of the eye. I have found that the more I have forced myself to look for balance, the easier is has become.

Here are some photos I took this week that have some form of balance:

Since winter quarter started, I have been trying to juggle school and adventuring. It has been hard arranging my schedule to fit in both, but I am starting to get the hang of it. Hopefully as this quarter goes on I will be able to keep getting outside, seeing as I don't have a ton of schoolwork.


Anyways, if you haven't experienced dense, dreary fog then you haven't spent much time in western Washington. This weekend I needed to get out of the grey so I went on a few outings. Above the fog the weather was incredible! It has been a weird warm January.

Mt. Erie

The fog surrounded us as we headed south on I-5 towards Anacortes early Friday morning. Kenny Frank, Brooke Warren, Gus Landefeld and I decided to hang up the skis for a day and go climbing. As we drove up Mt. Erie the sun started to peak through the dispersing fog. When we reached the summit the fog hung just below our feet, creating an ocean of clouds with mountain ranges as islands. We took a few moments to revel in the morning's glory and warm up in the sun before descending back into the fog to climb.

Happy Birthday Gus!

As the day went on the fog blew off and the sun came a shining. It ended up being spring-like, we were even climbing with our shirts off! I am fairly novice at climbing so I spent most of my time getting better instead of taking photos.

Sunset coming back from an awesome day of climbing


Mt. Baker Summit Fail

Sometimes things just don't pan out. As was the case of this weekend's attempt to summit Mt. Baker with Olin Wimberg and Brandon Clabaugh.

Olin and I left our house in Bellingham late Saturday morning to rendezvous with Clabaugh at his place in Kendall. There we grabbed his snowmobile (sled) and threw our gear in the back of his truck. Once loaded we set out for Baker.

We parked the truck at snowline and unloaded all the gear. As Clabaugh pulled back on his sled to unload it, the handlebar broke in half. 

Clabaugh gypsy-rigged the handlebars so we could ride up the road a mile or two to the trailhead. It was quite the process getting everything going that morning, but finally everything came together and we made it to the start of the man-powered climb.

We wound upward, skiing for about three miles through old growth forest while crossing creeks and dodging patches of exposed dirt and rocks. As the trees began to dwindle and the skinning got steeper we started to encounter bulletproof ice. We looked at each other with apprehension before continuing upwards, but went on anyways. A few seconds later, Clabaugh's skis slipped out from under him and he started sliding downhill out of control. Luckily it was at the beginning of the steeps, so once he hit a mellower slope 100 feet down he was able to stop himself.

At that point Olin and I had had enough of skinning so we strapped on our crampons and began to boot pack the last 500 feet to camp. Clabaugh decided to boot pack also but didn't put his crampons on (really sketchy... but... he is from Colorado). Struggling, we made it up and over the icy pitch to the site of our base camp.

Olin, not stoked on the conditions or the hike up
At that point it was about an hour till dark so we made camp and cooked up some dinner.  Over potstickers and ramen we discussed plans for the morning, and the outlook was not favorable. See, we are skiers and not experienced mountaineers. And with Mt. Baker being the ice rink that it was, it would have been extremely unsafe for us to try and climb. Also, the main goal was to ski Mt. Baker and that would have been virtually impossible given the conditions.

Even though the rest of the mission seemed like it wasn't going to happen, we still enjoyed camping up there in the mountains. As we were sitting on our snow bench bullshitting, the clouds above us broke off and revealed the night sky, littered with twinkling stars. It made me think, "why don't we sleep under the stars every night?"

The three of us crammed into a two person tent and tried to get some sleep. Throughout the night the wind was howling and at one point the tent was so far bent over that I thought it was going to collapse. We woke up in the morning to the same terrible ice conditions so we decided to call off the summit attempt.

Instead of just calling it a day and skiing back to the car, we threw on our crampons, set our eyes on a sun-laden peak and trudged upward for about a thousand feet.

After a good little hike we made it to the sun. We cracked a beer and took in the glory of the surrounding jagged peaks of the North Cascades.

Then, it was time to descend. Ha ha:

The glissade (I guess you could call it that) down to camp was quite comical. We decided to leave our crampons on and keep our feet up. It was a fun experience, but next time I'm going to remove my crampons and avoid flying down the mountain in starfish position.

Back at camp we ate the rest of our food and packed up to head down. The ski ended up being one of the sketchiest experiences of my whole life. Since the mountain was a sheet of ice, anything that was steep was almost impossible to set an edge on. We had to traverse across a ridge till we found a mellow slope down to the trail. Dodging trees, jumping creeks and skirting past patches of dirt, we flew threw the forest back down to the trailhead. Then we continued skiing on the road back to the car.

All in all it was a failed summit attempt, but not a failed adventure. We still got out of the fog to soak in the beauty of Washington's mountains and make some memories.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Back to the good ol' blog! Its been a long time since I have updated this beast. For most of the summer and fall I didn't shoot much due to not having a camera. I nutted up around Thanksgiving and bought a Canon 6D with a 24-105mm lens. It has been sick! I'm stoked to once again have a camera in my hands all the time.

On Facebook I mostly post ski photos, so this post will be a dump of photos showcasing my other work! I have been working on taking more portrait and lifestyle shots. The beautiful Virginia Faulker-Monks and I went out to shoot some photos a few weeks ago down by Bellingham Bay. It was a cloudy overcast day which made for some soft lighting.

It was fun getting out and shooting with an old friend! The colors of her jacket popped like crazy against the bleak background, making for some awesome contrast. I love taking portraits! It is challenging working with models and getting a person's body positioning and looks dialed. But when it all comes together you are left with a clean finished photo.

Here are some other portraits/lifestyles I have taken recently:

The man, the legend, Tait Trautman

Ted Cook, long time ski patroller at Schweitzer mountain/badass

Every week I try to go down to the bay with my friends to soak in the glory of Western Washington. It is usually grey and cold but what do you expect, its Washington.

Birch Bay

Foggy lens

Here are some nature-scapes from my recent adventures

Home sweet home

And some other random shots that I liked:

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Little Bear Mountain, WA