Hails from: Fingerlakes Region of New York
Favorite destination visited? A few raft guide friends of mine invited me down the Grand Canyon a few years ago to participate in a 24 day winter trip down the Colorado River. I had visited the canyon from the rim(s) a variety of times, and even hiked down into the canyon a bit. I had no significant whitewater experience and the river was flowing at 24,000 cfs for about a week. I paddled most of the rapids (including a few of the big ones) in a inflatable kayak, preferring the freedom and exploration possibilities over the big rafts. I ended up swimming through a bit of Lava Falls, after choosing a bony left line. It was a memorable trip, great people, and for me, a full adventure. Experiencing the canyon from the bottom looking up was a magical experience, I’ll never forget.
Where is the top destination that you have yet to visit? I am fascinated by remote places and to this end, I’ve been dreaming of a 4WD-based film adventure through Central Asia for a bunch of years, with a good film friend of mine. Use the 4WD as a way of reaching really remote places, then use mountain bikes to extend our reach even further into the hinterlands.
What inspires you? Growing up in a rural part of New York State many family hikes and camping road trips forged my passion for the outdoors began. In college I learned to climb rocks and trees as well as camp in the backcountry. In the summer of my sophomore year of college I discovered the work of Galen Rowell during a summer spent in the High Sierra. It was that summer, working on trails crew for the USFS, that I became inspired to create images of deep wilderness.
After I graduated college, I spent a solid decade traveling working as a mountain guide. Between guiding gigs, I would venture, often solo, back into the mountains and continue to cultivate my passion for photography. During these years I visited over 70 countries! I’m still quickly excited by the possibility of visiting and exploring new destinations. I love travel, and jump at any chance I get to explore/learn about a new place. I have boxes filled with Lonely Planet Books, and have a strange affinity for memorizing airline route maps. I also love topographic maps.
Favorite Mountainsmith product: Hands down the Parallax. I’ve beat the hell out of the thing, it still holds up perfectly. In the nearly 2 years I’ve owned the Parallax its been with me to over 20 countries, on about 100 flights, probably a thousand miles hiked and held up perfectly fine. I like how it protects my equipment, has good access and is durable enough to last multiple years.
What item do you bring on your trips that others would find extraneous, but you consider it to be absolutely essential? I’m a minimalist by nature, but have been known to hike with paperback travel guide books into the backcountry of destinations not related to where I’m currently found. For example, I hiked a guidebook to the islands of South Pacific into a high basecamp in the Peruvian Andes years back on a mountaineering trip.
If you had a superpower, what would it be? I’d love to be able to fly. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about falling off of tall things, or airline prices, which would allow me significantly more mental space to develop other ideas.
What is playing on your iPhone right now? Matire Gims and his album Subliminal
Favorite backcountry meal? Link to recipe? When I used to work as a mountain guide, I did a lot of baking with a FryBake, and one of my favorite things to make was cornbread with a twiggy fire. Here’s a link. These days I like to keep things simple in the backcountry, as I’m often out there with another objective.
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Mountainsmith Blog Contributions: On Assignment at Home | A Photo Essay