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

Purple Flying Skies. Namibia 5

People here call Namibia “Easy Africa.” The roads, when they’re tarred, are great. You can get a fully kitted out 4X4 with bed linens and a lantern. You can car camp at the base of that mound of granite pictured there: Spitzkoppe. It was what brought me here in the first place. Kate and I have spent the past week … Read More

To Do: Go To Namibia. Namibia 3.

Courtesty of Petzl: Check out their new Website. I’m five days out from a five-week expedition. I have eight lists. On a one-to-one completion rate, the odds are not leaning in my favor. Right now I’m supposed to be working on my connections. That right there, to the left, that’s all the draws and anchoring material I’m bringing to Namibia. Five weeks … Read More


It’s snowing in Boulder, Colorado today. I just came from the desert. Before that I was ice climbing. Three nights ago, I had a dream that my van would not slow down on a New Jersey off-ramp. Even inside of my dream I recognized the symbolism. Determinedly, I brought in the “decelerator” to my mechanic and asked him to fix … Read More

An Inbox President

I’m three months behind on my reading. I catch up in random coffee shops and doctors offices along the path of my current road trip. This is why it took me until last week to realize that I stand to risk being like George Bush. I know. A January issue of the New Yorker told me so. Maybe if I … Read More

Going Local

I-70 stretches 449 miles across Colorado. I’ve been plugging away at this stretch of highway for thirty years. It houses a portal to every memory I have. Somewhere in my mind I think that I will have finally grown up when I can drive I-70 without a combination of sweat, tears, and laughter in an empty car. But it isn’t … Read More

Where I’m From

The other night, while speaking in Amherst, I was introduced as living in North Conway. Just like that, three months in, and I am from New Hampshire. The woman who introduced me had no problem uttering this statement; good thing she is not me. I came east on December 1st, and for the next month, when people asked me where … Read More

Transient Connections

I spent the weekend part inside the future of my past. The Pacific Northwest was my first landscape of adulthood—it was where I learned how to be an independent woman and climber set free by the snowy peaks and the soft earth. Back in the beginning, I lived in Bellingham, WA. I came out there in 1996—a time in my … Read More

Inside the Wheels

I leave in an hour for Cleveland and Vancouver. I am going back into book tour mode. Last year, when that was about my only mode, I would try to climb each time I came home to Boulder. I would text potential partners the moment my plane touched down at DIA. Three, sometimes four leads in, I would get a … Read More