Edge Dweller

You might not believe what I’m going to tell you. You might—if you have read things I have written in the past months—think I have some perverse law of attraction with tragedy. But maybe the truth of it is that I am trying to turn the tragedy around. When you find a dead body on your second day of vacation, … Read More

Whispering Into A Roar

In conjunction with Climbing Magazine and climbing.com. Read online HERE. This is a story without a conclusion. Maybe that will change by the end. At this point, I’m not betting on it. Four weeks ago, I wrote a piece about trying to understand death in the face of more death, and in spite of life. I thought that, by writing it, I … Read More

Screaming Uncle at a Whisper

A joint blog with Climbing.com Sunday, August 16th was Craig Luebben’s funeral. Four weeks ago, Craig was the last person I saw at a memorial. We had a long conversation about risks, coming home, what makes it worth it, and what makes you stay. We talked about how tired we were of going to climbing funerals. We talked about how much … Read More

Calling Shotgun From the Other Side of the Sea

My dog Osito’s breath smells like a combination of dead chipmunk and poop—even though I know he has had neither in the past three days. I’ve been watching him non-stop. It’s how I make up for being gone. I landed back in Colorado last Friday, spent all day at a memorial service on Saturday, got a migraine Sunday, and drove … Read More

Exotic Normalcy

I’m sitting at a table under a grape vine, with a reverse pyramid of identical green fruit dripping from the vine. I’m in Spain. Even breakfast seems exotic. I’m here for work. No one really believes me. Not even the gas station attendant. I walked inside his small shop to buy a Coke this afternoon and he asked me how … Read More

Days of Grief

It’s 8:45am in Minnesota and I am about to go to my third memorial service in as many days. The venue keeps changing, the people keep changing, but the medium is the same. Last Thursday, Andrew Swanson and John Mislow were killed on Denali. The week before, rescuers found Jonny Copp and Wade Johnson’s bodies at the base of an … Read More

Working in the Void

Yesterday I finished up work on a grant application that took me five days to complete. It was 2:30 pm. I pressed send. It disappeared from my computer. I looked at my dog. The New York Times recently had an article about family and office roles mixing at work. The piece explained that all of the issues you have at … Read More


My mother tells me she would be happiest if I were living down the road from her in Montana. Next best, would be in a city with a major airport as a writer. Next would be a city without an airport. But nowhere in her formulation is me living as I do right now. I don’t really want to hear … Read More

Hometown Crowd

I had a deal with myself when I went to pick up my book at the airport. If something went wrong, if it looked awful, if I could not face it, I was going to Sri Lanka. Mexico would have been more logical—easier, closer, tacos. But Sri Lanka was the deal. That was almost a week ago. Last night, instead … Read More