Late-80s: The Aiguille du Plan above Chamonix. One of the French publishers picked this up for a postcard. I was pretty damn psyched about that.
April 1986: Ama Dablam in the foreground with Everest peaking over the south face of Nuptse in the background. Shot from Kangtega but I can’t recall which day or how high we were.
May 2012: Lac d’Annecy viewed from Semnoz. I was working in Paris and took a long weekend to pedal my bike around the area. So good.
Summer 1985: The Aiguille du Blatiere. I don’t think I ever saw the light quite like this during the next eight years I spent in Chamonix.
November 1984: Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte from a little cave beneath the north face of the Grands Charmoz.
1993: Les Drus and the Flammes des Pierres. From the first time I saw it, after learning my one of my climbing mentors died there, the Drus was always a tombstone.
February 1997: Off the Antarctic Peninsula, searching for icebergs safe enough to climb, we found icebergs too dangerous to go near, which didn’t stop us.
May 2012: Jacques Anquetil memorial at the Vallée de Chevreuse outside of Paris, where many cyclists have earned their speed.
October 2013: Guglielmo Rossi pedaling the Amalfi coast on a day when we rode from Castellamare di Stabia, through Sorrento, along the coast and back over the top via Pianillo. An amazing, unforgettable day.
June 2012: French Resistance monument on the Plateau des Glieres, Haute Savoie, France, reached by one of the most difficult climbs I have ever done on a bike.
June 2012: “Live Free or Die.” French Resistance monument on the Plateau des Glieres, Haute Savoie, France.
Winter 2014: Mount Superior, Utah. That winter I was skiing a lot late in the day and sometimes at night, both to ease the solar load on my skin and to see those very stunning sunsets.
August 2012: Searching out the emergency Coca-Cola to get us back to the hotel, somewhere south of Sofia, Bulgaria
August 25th, 2011: On the occasion of the Extortion 17 memorial service in Virginia Beach. A few good friends died in that helicopter.
September 2013: The Big Apple, minus two towers, plus one tower and a hole in the ground. Dylan Freed contemplating the whole.
June 1988: on The Karakoram Highway in Pakistan. We’d planned to fly to Gilgit and drive to Nanga Parbat base camp from there but a local conflict made us wait 10 days in Rawalpindi and then drive the road instead. There were some speed bumps along the way.
October 1984: Dave Kahn was my first climbing mentor. I was young, with more enthusiasm than sense. He steered me toward productive use of my energy. In the autumn of 1981 he sent me a postcard from Chamonix saying how he was blown away by the place. The card was of the Dru, where he was going when the weather cleared. I don't know what route he did but during the descent the rope hung behind a flake after a rappel. He was soloing up to free it when he fell and was killed. I found his grave when I first visited Chamonix in October, 1984 and left a Stopper he had given me on the marker.
1999 or 2000: Scott Backes, Jay Smith and I were doing “mountain safety” for one of Zack Snyder’s car commercials, this time it was Mitsubishi. The car was flown to the top of this mesa by a Sikorsky Sky Crane and driven by precision driver Tom Ficke. It was the wild west and – us climbers – were granted the opportunity to drill and trundle and smash to our hearts content in the interest of crew safety.
July 1990: With the massive bulk of (the then-named) Peak Communism dwarfing it, the north face of Peak Vorobyova in the foreground sticks in my memory for having nearly killed me.
October 1988: Shortly after leaving base camp on the Tibetan side of Everest one of the trucks inadvertently left the road. The antics that ensued were the source of great amusement and immeasurable frustration.
April 1998: Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte, Chamonix, France. Shot on Scala, luscious black and white slide film.
1988: I can't remember if we were coming or going and I suppose it didn't matter. We were either going to get away with it or we already had. Somewhere on the road to Everest, in Tibet.
The 80s, probably: The old Couvercle Refuge built beneath the natural cover of a huge boulder. I spent a few nights there, as it remains open in the winter and off-season. One of the best was when, after enchaining the north face of the Aiguille du Chardonnet to the north face of Les Courtes, Trevor and Tanya Petersen met me there with food and drink and the encouragement to keep pushing toward Mont Blanc.
Early-90s: For a while after he died and was interred in the Argentiere cemetery Philippe’s grave didn’t have a proper headstone. Then, one year, I went back and this beautiful, rough-hewn granite slab bore his name. I’ll never forget his enthusiasm and naivety, his simple desire to cut free of Paris and live full-time in the mountains as a guide. On a bad-luck day ambition outstripped his experience and he fell 700m off the Aiguille Sans Nom, breaking my heart and many others.
1989: The north faces of the Piz Cengalo and Piz Badile, which is one of the coolest. One of the classic six. A place I found solace after a friend was killed. A place I stroked ego. A place I twisted the knife in a dying relationship. Three separate visits. Three different experiences. The mountain is indifferent, reflecting back exactly what you bring to it.
1992 or ’93: Entrance to the cemetery in Châteauneuf-les-Moustiers above the La Palud-sur-Verdon. Cathy Beloeil and I bivouacked nearby a few times when we were rock climbing there. From the moment I saw these words I read deeper meaning into them. Of course, visitors to the cemetery should respect the dead and the monuments to them, but to me, it read, “Tourists, respect our dead … and our traditions, and what killed them, and …” A lot of my friends are dead, 60 or 70 as of this writing: climbers, soldiers, men with whom I shared both hardship and joy. It is difficult to explain to people who do not share similar loss or experience so all I ask is this: don’t trivialize their living or dying or the way we chose to live that led to it. Ask, yes. But don’t judge.
1999 or 2000: Working with Zack Snyder on a Mitsubishi commercial – ever wonder how they get the cars up there? I did. Now I know.
January 1991: At base camp below Khan-Tengri on the South Inylchek glacier, Kazakhstan. The average temperature during our four-week stay was -27 degrees F. When stated out loud, “We are going to the northernmost 7000m peak in the world, in winter,” it sounds insane. We couldn’t hear that madness at the time. We were only the second team to visit in winter and 80% of the first team were frostbitten during their expedition. The risk was … insane. And humbling.
January 2004: The original Gym Jones space was hidden away in the old Evolution Ski building on State Street in SLC. We can never go back. Nothing can ever be what it was. I don’t miss my ignorance of that era, certainly. I do miss the enthusiasm and the DIY punk ethic that colored every single thing we did.
May 2000: Oops. A bad day at the office that could have been worse. This 185 was flown out under a CH-47 and - believe it or not - made airworthy again. I’ve never been in one of these when it caught a tip but my friend Keli Mahoney went down in hers May 28th, 2003. Scott and I flew with her when she was with Geeting, then a few more times after she started her own company. She was brave, and often flew when other pilots wouldn’t. She was that good, and always had good fortune. Until that day …
May 2016: I got sick of the hotel after four months. I was fortunate to find an old converted barn 10 minutes from the gym, with magnificent fields and vistas all around. The English countryside is just fine.
May 2016: Hertfordshire, England. When I hear folks admit that self-discipline is too hard, and control out of reach I reply, “You need only change your values and desires to relieve yourself of the need for discipline. When behavior aligns with the objective the river flows and you swim with it."
November 2016: Farmington, New Mexico. Always watching. Listening. We accept the convenience and ignore the cost. Until the rent comes due …