Friday, August 30, 2013

Straddling the Divide...

The current TailWinds Magazine has my feature on climbing and ruminating high on the Continental Divide... Colorado has been a healing place, good for my soul and for recovery.

There have been some rough patches in the last few years for sure and finding my place among the mountains again has been crucial. It helped that the current issue of TailWinds had a wellness theme - timely!
Climbers descend from the summit of South Arapaho, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado ©Bennett Barthelemy

I have missed the opportunities to guide and share booted trail and roped cliff-face with new and inspiring people as well. Colorado has given that back to me too. Today, a day off, I will explore a new trail with Maureen and find a little altitude, perspective and peace. Share smile, a laugh, the welcome burn in our legs and the endorphin buzz...

The article was very cathartic and an important personal piece for me to tease out of the fleeting hypoxic reveries...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gambling With Ghosts

Each trip starts as a great mystery. As a guide there are too many levels to comprehend at once. A Sherlock Holmes game of questions to ascertain distant facts and cold memories ensues. A phone call. A confident voice at the other end, humor and bravado to hide the innate fear of the unknown.
 It seems no matter who they are they take a pounding. The playing field levels quickly at 12,000 feet. Triathletes and marathon runners, cross-fit fanatics and even excited 12 year-olds with boundless energy feel the slow pound behind the temples. Nausea sets in, knees seem to quadruple in age on the return.
Then there is the weather factor which no one really seems to respect in the Rockies-and many learn the hard way as pounding rain and electricity explode in minutes from blue sky. Many hike past in Levis and a cotton hoodie, shorts... Too casual. They start strong. Then in gasps it slowly leaks out as the miles and hypoxic reality exacts its penance. Stapled stomachs from recent gastric surgeries are talked about, surgical scars on battered knees become visible, drug addictions and recent rehabs. Tender feet in the supposed broken in boots begin blossoming with ripe blisters. But the shocking thing is not the late admittance to being human. It is the ability that these people have to carry on, despite the odds. As a guide perhaps the best part of job is witnessing individuals beat incredible odds and send rock routes, reach summits... Every work day I am witness to minor miracles of the human spirit. The power of wilderness to engage the ability to go beyond perceived possibility is magical...

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Carousel Of Happiness Delivers

In the small mountain town of Nederland there is a tourist attraction. It is much more than that. It lives up to its name, "The Carousel Of Happiness". It was the vision and construction of one man - a Viet Nam veteran - that as the story goes received a music box carousel from his sister while serving and made a vow to return and in the mountains he would build a carousel. He is said to visit it almost daily to grease the ancient cogs that had been rescued from Great Salt Lake where it spun for decades in the early part of the last century. He still carves adding to the magic menagerie of creatures.

The carvings are in fact quite magical and leaping from some fantastically colorful dream and hypnotic in their mechanical sway. It truly was nearly impossible not to smile when mounted on a carved mermaid or moose. Original paintings spin along the top edge, idyllic scenes from the turn of the last century. The period calliope plays a happy tune and you can forget the world for the couple minutes spent revolving into some antique dream where life was much simpler. You can slip for a moment back into childhood. For $1 a ride its a really good deal...

Maureen and Bennett at the Carousel of Happiness ©Maureen Eversgerd and Bennett Barthelemy

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wind Portrait...

Jackass Pass, Wind River Range

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Cirque

19 Years ago I first stumbled into the Winds and over Jackass Pass. Far too long had passed and I finally returned to the Cirque of Towers just two days ago. As magical as ever... And great to share it with someone so special. We climbed Mt. Mitchell, something I had done a lifetime ago on a solo trip where I managed to also tag the summit of Pingora. Strange, so many years gone but I was still so full of wonder and infused with that same youthful energy that seemed to have not waned and ounce. A place of great magic for sure. One of my all time favorite locations, thrilled to get back... hoping to return again soon...
Maureen Eversgerd enjoying her time in the Cirque, Wind River Range WY. ©Bennett Barthelemy

Maureen Eversgerd enjoying her time in the Cirque, Wind River Range WY. ©Bennett Barthelemy