Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Mountain Gazette

As I'm sure readers of this blog will be surprised to learn, someone out there is actually willing to pay me for this dribble.

I'm not kidding.

My third article was published this fall in the Mountain Gazette, a magazine with a colorful history dating back to the likes of Ed. Abbey and George Silbey in the 70's. I've always been a fan of the MG, and was flattered last year when they published an article by myself and Glen Griscom chronicalling the life and times of Jonny Love...a present for his 40th birthday. On the plane to Ecuador, as I was sadly thumbing through my last MG for what I knew would be a long while, I noticed they were soliciting article for the "Bar Issue." Well, if there is one group with plenty of material for something like that, it would be Team Hideous, my group of climbing buddies. The link that follows is the result of a cathartic explosion of prose on the airplane to Ecuador, and in the first few days of living here.

Thanks to Jonny Love for sending me four copies of the mag all the way to Ecuador, and thanks to my editor, M.J. Fayhee for actually appreciating this shit.

And a bit about the magazine, from Summit County's Summit Daily News:

Defining A Magazine

Fayhee cultivated the Mountain Gazette's following by transcending the way many people look at mountain country. Instead of a quick recreational fix or, “How can we make some money here?” he aimed for an honest publication. His understanding of the West and its issues, inflicted with his good-natured and often dead-serious crankiness, quickly generated fans.

Staff surveys show readers to be Baby Boomers or Gen Y’ers — either 40-plus or in their 20s. There's a perception it is “a beer drinking, ball scratching publication,” as Fayhee puts it, but 44 percent of fans are women.

The simplest practices done blindly in mainstream magazines are turned on their ear in the Gazette. Quotes and photographs on the contents page make a reader stop and think. Advertisers run quirky ads that make sense only to people who live in the mountains. House ads — those in the magazine advertising itself — make fun of consumerism or light of cultural norms. Even the standard note about recycled paper content is changed each issue to a laugh-out-loud funny statement about recent news events.

For those who know him, the magazine is a true reflection of its editor. Reading it is like sitting at a bar with the man, after he's had a few beers but not before he's had too many.

Like his understanding of the mountain West, choosing stories for the magazine is visceral for Fayhee. He doesn't solicit submissions and instead of picking one story at a time, plans an issue as an “organic entity,” with each piece being part of a whole.

“I just go with my gut feeling,” he said, recounting a story about ravens chosen for a recent issue. “As soon as I read the first five paragraphs I said, 'OK, this is a Gazette story'.” But he didn't explain why.

Ironically, the Gazette started as a hard-core recreationists' magazine. Called the Skiers' Gazette in the early 1970s, it ran interviews with famous skiers and stories on technique. Then it got into climbing, and then it evolved into a counter-cultural lifestyle publication. By 1974, it changed to its tabloid size and became known among writers as a place to experiment with their style.

“Writers knew they could get away with almost anything,” Fayhee said of the mid-'70s. It died in 1979, at a time when many writers jumped ship to work for the better-paying and up-and-coming Outside and Backpacker magazines.

Today, the magazine's content and readership naturally reflect a combination of its history and how it has evolved. There are writers from the old days, who Fayhee committed to publish at the onset as long as their stories remained relevant, and readers who remember the old product and were happy beyond belief to see it once again on shelves. Then there are the new writers, like Michelle Murray and Brad Frank, who were “discovered” in the pages of the Gazette.

“We keep finding writers out there who seem to be Gazette writers,” Fayhee said. “Seems like every year we get another two out of the blue ... And that's been the cool thing.”

What is even better, according to the 50-year-old editor, is the crop of 20-somethings reading the new Gazette who weren't exposed to the old one because they're too young.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cars, autos, coches, it´s becoming an obsession

After posting some pictures of cars on the 4X4-geek discussion board ¨I-H8-MUD¨ I became a bit intimidated in the buying process. Replies to my posting included:

I don´t believe those turn signals or seats are original...
Everything down there is a bondo-buggy...
Looks too shiny, what are they trying to cover-up?
It´s missing emblems, big warning sign...

There are simply too many cars I don´t know of, on top of a market I am unfamiliar with.

I think I´ve found the solution. Our friend, and boss, Susan has a brother-in-law who buys and sells used cars. For 100 dollars he will help us look, check-out, and (hopefully!) negotiate for a car. Seems like a wise investment.

In the meantime, check out some of the new options. Some of these cars are amazing, and were never imported into the states! Too rugged for our collective refined tastes I guess...

Nissan ¨Patrol

Land Rover Defender

Landcruiser FJ73

Landcruiser FJ70

Landcruiser FJ75...WOW

Landcruiser FJ40, tricked out!

And for my Dad, a 16 valve, Alfa Romeo...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Birthday MOM!

Love You!

Closer to the Cumbre (Summit)

After the hedonism of an all-u-can-eat Christmas Eve buffet, a week at the beach, and more than a couple New Year's Eve cocktails, Erin and I decided to repent with five days on nearby Cotapoxi.

I had been on Cotapoxi earlier in December with Andrew Clinkingbeard, but his leather boots became too cold, and we turned around fairly early into the summit day. I was determined to get closer to the summit this time...

While not technically hard, Cotapoxi's 19,000 feet is demanding. Lots of people climb Cotapoxi every year with guides. $300 bucks, physical stamina, a mild penchant for suffering, and some good weather will get you to the top of this, one of the tallest active volcanoes in the world. We spent a couple nights in the park acclimatizing on nearby Rhuminaui, and then went for it Saturday night at midnight.

Most of the folks we started with turned around within an hour, the weather was truly horrible. It wasn't really raining, but the moisture from the clouds kept condensing on us, and freezing in the 40mph wind. But, you never know, the weather could get better. We pushed on, following a friend of mine who was guiding a large group. Two other climbers joined Erin and I, and it was nice to have some company on the mountain with Blaze and Dominic, two Polish students from Yale ignoring their dissertations and climbing instead!

At about 18,000 ft. we threw in the towel. Even if we made it, there would be no view from the top, and the weather was getting worse, nearing a white-out. I still haven't heard from my friend who was guiding, he pushed on with his clients toward the summit. I hope he's okay.

Some brief observations for my climber friends:

  • Not a bad climb, never more than 40 degrees, though I hear it nears 50 at the top
  • Normal time is 6-7 up and 2-3 down
  • The refugio is at 15,400, so it's a big day to the summit
  • Most of the bridges were well covered, it was sometimes really hard to tell where the crevasses were
  • Saw a "guide" with a poncho on, yeah, like the orange ones you wear to a football game
  • Many guides do not have helmets for their clients, seems odd
  • Bad accident the day before our climb: guide and client were glissading with crampons on! They went for about 300 meters out of control, and, the client broke her ankle. Luckily some SOLO guys from VT were there, and did a good job of splinting and evacing her. Glissading with crampons!?!
  • Most people don't acclimatize, but there are tons of great peaks around Cot. to do so on!
  • The refugio is expensive, and full of clients suffering from AMS, not very pretty
  • Much better is to stay at Hacienda Tambopaxi at 12,000 feet until your summit evening. 6 Dollar camping, amazing dinners, and hot showers!

Now playing: Morphine - Thursday
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 7, 2008

Would you buy this?

1978 Toyota FJ Landcruiser.

You see, the thing is, if you´re vacationing in Ecuador, you really don´t need a car. Public transportation will, eventually, get you anywhere you need. But, if you´re a climber, wishing to visit remote regions, with only a weekend to do so, public transport begins to wear on you.

So, do we risk buying a car almost as old as ourselves, but known to be as solid as a tank? Asking price, $5,800. What would you do?

Oh, and as I´m researching these vehicles, this nifty shot popped up on wikipedia, just imagine the fun we could have...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nothing says New Years...

like dinner with friends...


cross dressing as a widow and begging for money from cars...

and, of course, beating and burning effigies of political figures

You know how the saying goes, "in with the new, and beat the shit out of and burn the old." I gotta admit, it sure is better than Champagne and Dick Clark.

Hope you had a great New Years! Erin and I are off for another shot at climbing Cotapaxi before we return to work next week, hope you too are having some adventures and having a great time.


Now playing: The Jesus Lizard - The Best Parts
via FoxyTunes