On July 17, I returned from a blissful basecamp in the Cordillera Blanca to the bustling city of Los Angeles with a serious case of vertigo, gut rot and culture shock like I’ve never experienced before. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I felt the ground sink below me and the horizon shift and move away. All I wanted was a hot shower, a toilet I could sit on, and a warm, comfortable bed, but the California I dreamed of turned out to be a lot harsher in reality. Hot, dizzy, nauseous and disturbed by growling ghetto birds and ringing cell phones, I immediately took off to Palm Springs to connect with friends, soak in a salt water pool and relax under a cool mist. While this plan sounded rejuvenating in theory, the stifling heat, pungent aroma of burning flesh and bananas, and my black rubber flip flops melting onto the 200 degree concrete sidewalks rendered me speechless. Sick and strained between the two realities, I couldn’t eat, drive or express a complete thought. I had grown accustomed to the simple and secluded basecamp life and was seriously affected by the differences between the old and new. I never expected the transition from extreme high altitude isolation to sea level civilization was going to be this difficult and awkward.
It took a few weeks for my culture shock and oxygen induced delirium to disappear. However, while staring at the glowing red eyes of the car stopped before me in LA’s bumper to bumper traffic, I often daydream about the glitter of sunlight on frosted nylon tent walls. The heavenly smell of sweet mountain air. The taste of fresh Peruvian dark roast coffee made with glacial-fed water. The innocence of morning. The feeling of immaculate granite on my fingertips and warm sunshine on my chapped face. The sounds of laughter illuminated by dancing candle flames. The dazzling gold Milky Way arching over the glowing white peaks. The Cordillera Blanca was beyond my wildest imagination. I feel so fortunate to have experienced the life-altering influences of the majestic Peruvian Andes.
The last two months have passed by in a feathery blur. I have been traveling non-stop from the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City to the Monterey Historics and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to a climbing/paddle boarding/camping trip with Marmot and REI in Lake Tahoe to the Goodwood Revival historic race in England. During my three weeks of downtime in LA, I’ve taken advantage of the granite bouldering at Black Mountain and surfing in So Cal’s warm water.
Even though I’m now working on my laptop five days per week instead of climbing all day, I’m incredibly inspired by my current projects. Next week, I will travel back to Boulder, Colorado for the 2012 Adventure Film Festival. It’s a great honor to be the Producer of this year’s festival, founded by my dear friend, the late, great Jonny Copp. It’s incredibly rewarding to collaborate with our industry’s most talented filmmakers, photographers, athletes, artists and the inspired community who helps to carry on Jonny’s vision: Make Your Own Legends. If you’re in Boulder on October 4-6, don’t miss this magical weekend with over 40 outdoor adventure films, filmmaker and photographer workshops, interactive art gallery, live performances, parties and more.
Also, look for the complete story and videos about our high alpine Peruvian adventure, coming soon!