Consistent Humbling

I did my first lead climbs at the Gunks, in New York. Back then I was feisty, eager, and adamant that I could pull anything off. After my first lead tying off trees for pro, I decided I was ready for more, hopped on a climb, placed two pieces, and took one of the biggest whippers of my life. On … Read More

Two Weeks In

There’s the retired schoolteacher who spent four years, or two stints, in the Peace Corps in southern Ethiopia. He remembers the people. The food. The peace. The young woman who traveled overland from Kenya and to the Red Sea, across the contested boarder in the back of jeep, just to see if she could. She wants to know how to … 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

Ethiopian Birr

As of January 2nd, 345 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) was the equivalent to $37.99. On that day my publisher set the price for my book and now, a month and a half later, my book is stamped with both prices on the back. The ETB price comes first and this, and the very fact it is on my book, makes me … Read More


The call comes in the middle of my third cup of coffee. I load into the car and wonder just how much space 500 books will take up in my wagon. It’s industrial where I am going; gray buildings of concrete and steel compete with each other for light. Is this the part of life that makes you an adult? … Read More

An Honest Workweek

Yesterday my book got on a plane in Dubai. It’s headed to the US as I write this and, theoretically, on Thursday, I get to finally see it. In two weeks shy of one year, Vertical Ethiopia went soup to nuts. That is fast for the book world, right? And even faster considering this: my publisher is Ethiopian in a … Read More