Archive for August, 2011

Pressing On

// August 29th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

Sometimes I find encouragement in the strangest places.  This week it has come from an issue of Costco magazine and an article called “Don’t Give Up.”  In light of the current state of the world from natural disasters, to economic meltdowns, and global governmental instabilities I have learned that it is not wise for me to put my faith in myself and my abilities to fix it, or even those of man and government, but rather to keep my faith focused on God while doing my best to not give up.  In Romans 5:3-4 we are told that suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance to character, and character to hope.  From drought, to flood, to unemployment and rejection, poverty and failure we need to press on knowing that our character is being molded and that in the end there is hope.  We should never lose hope.

In the mountains I have seen this with an” if at first you don’t succeed try and try again” attitude.  It took over 25 years of effort for Everest to first be climbed; Chris Sharma to achieve the first ascent of Realization – the world’s first 5.15, attempted his route likely close to a hundred times.  The Costco article gave me some real world examples of pressing on and maintaining hope, a daily dose that I needed and want to pass on.  Examples are: Walt Disney being fired from a newspaper because he lacked imagination; Thomas Edison was fired for being non-productive; Albert Einstein was expelled from school and called “adrift in foolish dreams”; The Beatles were told that guitar groups were on the way out and denied a recording contract; Fred Astaire was told he couldn’t act, sing, and could only dance a little; Charles Schultz had his comics rejected from his high school newspaper.  Wow, what the world would have missed out on if these guys had quit and denied the blessing that comes from perseverance.

Today I am telling myself “don’t quit, keep pressing on and moving forward with good ideas, don’t let naysayers have the final determining word.  Keep the faith and focus on the fact that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.  Persevere and rejoice in the suffering, for from that will blossom character and hope.


The Tenth Mountain

// August 23rd, 2011 // No Comments » // Leadership, Skiing

Army trek from Vail to Aspen

What do the founders of Nike, Aspen, the Sierra Club, Vail, and the National Outdoor Leadership School all have in common?  They all served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
Fire on the Mountain is the documentary I just watched on this group of elite mountain troops and it has made a lasting impression on me.  It would be wrong to say that the film itself has made the impression, rather it was the subject of the film.  What impressed me was the spirit of these men and the legacy that they have left behind.  These men embodied courage, bravery, camaraderie, ambition, a pioneering spirit and values that made them successful in the campaign against Nazi aggression and also in their lives after the war.

In watching this film it made my heart glad that there were men like this that would stand strong for America and what is right.  In nearly the same moment, as my thoughts wandered, I became a bit disheartened thinking that in our world today there may no longer be men like this.  Then I turned my focus further inward to ask myself – am I like this?  Well I do know that character is not something we are born with, but something that is forged over time, I for one am thankful that I still have time and pray that mine might be shaped into something like that of these men I admire so much.



Fire on the Mountain is available on Netflix

Philip Yancey Shares Some Wisdom on Pyramid Peak

// August 12th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Climbing, Events, Interviews

This past week I had the opportunity to participate in an event at the Snowmass Chapel with renowned author Philip Yancey.  On Saturday night he shared about his recent book Prayer and on Sunday night I was given the mic to share about some of my adventures.  Both nights were well attended events thanks to the marketing efforts of the chapel, but even more fun was the climb Philip, his wife Janet and I completed on Monday morning.  We were on the trail by 4:45 a.m. and five hours later we stood on the summit of Pyramid Peak (14,018′) with a few others and a few goats.  The video above shows the humor and wisdom I witnessed on this glorious cloudless day.

Longs Peak Memorial Climb

// August 11th, 2011 // No Comments » // Climbing, Events, Hiking

The Diamond

Caution: I am weird
I fast because I’m hungry
I run because I am thirsty
I die every day because I want to live
I lead because I follow
I give everything away to become rich
I am weak and broken so that I will be strong
I see more when my eyes are closed
I’m in love with someone I haven’t seen
I love the unlovely
I am honored when people mock me
I embrace these foolish things to become wise
I will walk whole heartedly out on any limb He requires,
because even if He lets it break, He can teach me to fly.

Lygon Stevens




View from Summit of Chasm Lake

To stand on the summit is a privilege not a victory.
No one can conquer a mountain,
it is impossible and does not exist.
All people are mountain climbers but not all people will climb.
This truth does not change for any person:
The privilege of standing on the summit only lasts a few minutes –
no one can linger there.
Keep pushing on and learn that victory comes in the day to day,
not the product of the day to day,
not the few moments in which the pushing upward ends.
Victory and glory come from conquering oneself
not the mountain. Lygon Stevens

We began our climb at 3:45 a.m. after a sleepless night for me.  An alpine start on Longs Peak after I had delivered a presentation the night before to  a group eager to raise funds for a good cause.  The funds the year before went to a gal who with $1,500 dollars started an orphanage in Nepal that now serves 250 kids.  Wow.

In the darkness we began with a prayer offered by Lygon’s brother Niklis, who was also caught in the 2008 avalanche on Little Bear peak that claimed his siter’s life.  Up the trail we went covering different routes as different teams dressed in the neon colored T’s of the event took on the 14,259′ challenge .  Hundreds of others were also on the mountain that day and as they asked about the bright shirts we were able to share about the testimony that Lygon’s life was.

It was a joy to become acquainted with the Stevens family and especially Nik as we climbed that day.  John Trousdale of filmed for as we ascended on this cold and windy morning.  But as the sun appeared we felt the familiar warmth of hope that it offered in contrast to the cold that we felt.  New friendships and insights were gained as we shared stories – some tragic, some humorous, and all offering perhaps just a little more peace and understanding as the passing of a loved one brought worlds and lives together that would not have otherwise met.

Thanks Stevens family for letting me in and sharing your mountain with me.  Climb High.

John Trousdale, Eric Alexander, Niklis Stevens

Lygon Stevens Memorial Climb

// August 4th, 2011 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

I am headed to Loveland and Estes Park for  the 4th Annual Lygon Stevens Memorial Climb. It is incredible, the ever-expanding waves of Lygon’s story as they continue to circle around the world. As we have seen Lygon’s small steps and precious words multiplied in the hands of the One who transforms lives, from small beginnings to farther shores than we ever dreamed, we invite you to take up the challenge to step out. Reach for what’s ahead. Press on. Climb high. Stay near to the One who takes your steps, your courage, and your strength and multiplies them in ways you may never imagine. Live near. The return is worth it.


Friday, August 5

Resurrection Fellowship – 6502 Crossroads Boulevard, Loveland, CO (map)
4:00-6:00 – TAG Expo A variety of outdoor organizations will be set up with demos and info in the Atrium. A great time to meet some really cool, amazing people and become familiar with the folks that offer recreation, vacations, backpacking trips, gear needs, and yes, perhaps even your rescue.

4:00-6:00 – Registration and Sign-In Pick up your t-shirts, Chili Feed tickets, summit banners, maps, and stuff. A limited number of t-shirts and Chili Feed tickets will be available for purchase. Bring your backpack for a pack check if you are unsure of your preparation needs.

6:00 – 7:30 – Climb High: Live Near  2011 LSMC Kick-Off Rally Be inspired!!! Hear Lygon’s story. Gear up for your challenge: Adventurer, author, and climber Eric Alexander will stir you with his stories of climbing Mt. Everest with his blind friend, Erik Weihenmayer. Open to the public so come early.

Saturday, August 6
Climb, hike, run, walk, or roll! Rocky Mountain National Park. Start times vary. See Climbs below.
2:00-6:00 – Chili Feed Large Pavilion near Lake Estes. (map). Hearty nourishment for all. Whether you stood on the summit or strolled the streets of Estes, $5/person. Tickets required.



The feat! This year we have some favorite climbs from the past (is this your year to try Longs Peak?) as well as some new ones. Start times are given as suggestions to provide climbing companions and fellow summiteers. The idea is to pick your hike or climb then meet at the trailhead at the given time. Set your pace and go for it! When you reach your destination, celebrate! Lift your voice and arms and thanks to the heavens! Sign your summit banner and take a picture to document your climb. Rest up – you’re only halfway done! Head back down to the Chili Feed.


Each climb will have a climb captain to answer your questions and offer help. Maps and trail guides will be available at the Kick-Off.*


There is something suitable everyone. Challenging , Cruising, or Chiilin’


Longs Peak #1 – – Loft Route (14,255’) 13 miles roundtrip, 5,300’ elevation gain. More difficult.


From Longs Peak Trailhead, this trail passes through Goblin’s Forest, then splits off from the Keyhole Route at Chasm Junction. The trail continues on past Chasm Lake and the Ship’s Prow, up The Loft to the saddle between Mt. Meeker and Longs. The trail then passes around The Palisades where it rejoins the Keyhole Route for the Homestretch. This is an advanced route requiring route-finding skills, and there are no alternate destinations. Start time 3:00 am.

Sign me up now!

Directions to Longs Peak Trailhead – see below

Longs Peak #2 – Keyhole Route  (14,255’) 15 miles roundtrip, 4,855’ elevation gain. Difficult.


The Keyhole Route to the summit of Longs Peak is the traditional route. Beginning at the Longs Peak Trailhead, it passes through Goblin’s Forest, splitting off from the Chasm Lake trail at Chasm Junction. Passing around Mt. Lady Washington, the trail then ascends to Granite Pass and into the Boulder Field. At this point, participants may choose to stop, watching the climbers on The Diamond, or to continue on to Mt. Lady Washington, the Keyhole, or the summit. Continuing on through the Boulder Field, the trail follows a tough quarter-mile climb to the Keyhole. Entering Class 3 climbing, the trail crosses the breath-taking northern slope Ledges into the Trough, then into the legendary sidewalk-sized (read: exposed) Narrows, then scrambles up the Homestretch to the summit. Start time 3:00 am.

Sign me up now!


About Longs Peak

Longs Peak is known as the monarch of Rocky Mountain National Park, majestic at 14,255’. From its football field-sized summit, a 200-mile, 360-degree panoramic view is possible. You may see Pikes Peak 100 miles to the south, Medicine Bow Range north in Wyoming, the Continental Divide to the west, plains to the east, and Chasm Lake 2500 feet below. At many points along the way, the Longs Peak Trail offers stunning vistas making for several worthy destinations. Rest stations will be set up at the Chasm Junction and the Boulderfield.


Directions to Longs Peak Trailhead

Take Highway 7 south from Estes Park for 7.5 miles. Turn right (east) to the trailhead .95 miles. Limited parking is available at the trailhead though it fills up by 5am. Additional parking along the road. There is no park fee for entry to this trailhead. There is no park entry fee for this trailhead.


5 Lake Loop: Bear-Helene-Odessa-Fern-Cub (10,662’ max) 12.5 miles, 3,336’ total elevation gain. Strenuous.


For the been-there-done-Longs bunch, or you just want something besides rocks, here’s a new challenge of endurance with great beauty. Bear Lake, Lake Helene, Odessa Lake, Fern Lake, and Cub Lake are conveniently linked by a well-maintained trail system to form an unforgettable loop – 12.5 miles – through RMNP’s upper-montane and subalpine zones. Begin the journey at from the Bear Lake Tailhead and venture to extreme highs and lows across a range of terrain and ecosystems. Start time: 4:00am.

Sign me up now!

Directions to 5 Lake Loop/Bear Lake Trailhead

From the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on U.S. Highway 36, continue west about 0.2 miles and turn south on Bear Lake Road. Follow this a little over 9 miles to the large parking lot where Bear Lake Road ends. Park entrance fees required.


Longs Along the Way – Strenuous.


You may select any stop along the Longs Peak Trail on the Keyhole Route. Chasm Lake (11,800’, 8.4 miles rt), the Boulderfield (12,760’, 12 miles rt), the Keyhole ((13,160’ 12.5 miles rt), Mount Lady Washington (13,280’, 8 miles rt) – all are excellent and worthy destinations with views that more than satisfy the eye. Rest stations will be set up at Chasm Junction and the Boulderfield.  Start time 7:00am.

Sign me up now!

Directions to Longs Peak Trailhead

Take Highway 7 south from Estes Park for 7.5 miles. Turn right (east) to the trailhead  .95 miles. Limited parking is available at the trailhead though it fills up by 5am. Additional parking along the road. There is no park fee for entry to this trailhead.

Twin Sisters (11,428’) 7.2 miles roundtrip, 2477’ elevation gain. Strenuous.


On the eastern boundary of RMNP, this climb gives you the opportunity to grab two peaks in one shot in a truly Rocky Mountain experience. If marching through lodgepole pines and scrambling from cairn to cairn on scree in the hot sun and wind provoke you to a challenge, this is the climb for you. See Longs Peak, Meeker, Estes Cone, and Estes Park in unparalleled views. Start time 7:00 am.

Sign me up now!


Directions to Twin Sisters Trailhead

The Twin Sisters Trailhead is located 5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. There is a large trailhead sign for the turn-off on the east side of Highway 7. Parking is available at the trailhead and along the road. N o park entry fee is required.


Estes Cone – (11,006’) 6.6mi roundtrip, 1606’ elevation gain. Moderate


The trail to Estes Cone begins at the Longs Peak Trailhead then splits off after .5 mile. Hike past aspen groves and a wooden bridge over Inn Brook to the remnants of a log cabin and mine – the old Eugenia Mine site. Pass through Moore Park meadow (think wildflowers) then up to Storm Pass. Switchbacks take you above tree-line to a series of cairns leading to the summit of Estes Cone. A stunning 360* view awaits! See Longs Peak, Meeker, Twin Sisters, Estes Park, Lumpy Ridge, and the Continental Divide. This is the least strenuous of our climbs which includes a summit. Start time 8am.

Sign me up now!

Directions to Estes Cone/Longs PeakTrailhead

Take Highway 7 south from Estes Park for 7.5 miles. Turn right (east) to the trailhead  .95 miles. Limited parking is available at the trailhead though it fills up by 5am. Additional parking along the road. There is no park fee for entry to this trailhead.

Calypso Cascade and Ouzel Falls –  (9,366’) 5.4 miles roundtrip (1.8mi one-way to Calypso Cascades, 2.7mi one-way to Ouzel Falls) 866’ elevation gain. Easy/Moderate


On the southern end of the park, the Wild Basin Trailhead is the start of this lovely hike through waterfalls and along rivers (read; tumbling waters everywhere). Grasses, wildflowers, bridges, and a sweeping view of Longs Peak are some of the highlights. Facilities and tables at the trailhead. Some back-country campsites are along the trail. Start time:9:00 am

Sign me up now!


Directions to Wild Basin Trailhead

Take Highway 7 south from Estes Park for 12 miles. Pass Meeker Park and look for signs to Wild Basin on the right (east). Park entry fees apply.




Sprague Lake – (88720’) .8 mile, 10’ elevation gain. Easy. Handicap accessible.


A nature delight! All abilities will enjoy a this scenic upper-mountain lake. There are numerous benches and turnoffs along the well-groomed path which provide inspiring, panoramic views of the Continental Divide. See Hallett, Otis, and Taylor peaks rise to the west, brilliant in the morning sunrise.  Anyone wanting to fish will enjoy well-stocked waters and an accessible (albeit often crowded) 13 acre shoreline. The nearby picnic area has restrooms, fire pits, and tables that can accommodate larger groups. A campground is nearby for those wanting to camp overnight. Start time: 9:00am.

Sign me up now!

Directions to Trailhead

From the Beaver Meadows Park Entrance, go .25 mile then turn left (south) on Bear Lake Road. Follow this 7 miles to the Sprague Lake turnoff.

*The Lygon Stevens Memorial Climb is a non-guided event. While we try to make your experience a more enjoyable one, you, the participant, are responsible for your own safety, scheduling, and equipment.


A Peak Experience

// August 3rd, 2011 // No Comments » // Climbing, Hiking

I just returned from a week in the peaks with a group of high school graduates from Indiana, a 63 year old mentor/Supermom, and a bearded Appalachian Trail through hiker who paused 300 miles short of completing his goal to join this trip and climb two stunning peaks here in Colorado.  The trip was a huge success because we all returned with our bodies and friendships intact, that is not to say we didn’t have our trials – because we did.  Altitude sickness, vomiting, a divided group on Buckskin pass, allergic reactions, middle aged skinny dippers, and no water filter were just a few of the initial setbacks.  A recipe for disaster?  Nope, this group adapted, worked together, found solutions, stayed positive, helped each other out and made the most of the mosquito infested wilderness to experience what one student said was “the most fun I have ever had.”

There were lessons in this for everyone:  From the experience of pushing ourselves to our perceived limits and reaching a difficult summit (a lesson that things/rewards in life do not come without hard work and perseverance), to learning to walk in faith and trust in the Lord and to trust those around us.  We had evening devotions and discussions on moving forward in life towards college and what to expect, how to stay morally grounded, avoid distractions, set priorities, and live a life of faith in a secular college environment.

I was able to teach techniques for traveling safely on steep snow, and how to stop in case of a fall and even how to answer nature’s call.  The group selected my book The Summit as this year’s read which was fun for me as I heard certain stories and quotes coming back at me throughout the trip.  Time like this, to be free in the mountains offers one the chance to be free from the outside world and reflect inwardly and upwardly at the things which are most important in life.  For a few days we all had this opportunity.  Take a look at my Flickr site to see more photos and videos of our trip.

The Group on Snowmass