Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Matter of Luck

There are an amazing number of instances that I have noticed this summer seeming to indicate that luck is a big part of our life's successes. This year's Tour de France had two that I remember now. First, Lance Armstrong was having a strong race in the early stages and even though one of the oldest racers, he was a favorite to win. However, on a day where the course traveled over some rough patches of cobblestoned-road, Armstrong crashed losing valuable time. Later in a mountain stage, he had three crashes and it seemed to me none of them were avoidable or were his fault. This ended his chances of another Tour victory. Farther along in the race, Andy Schleck was poised to make an attack to gain time on rival riders when his chain slipped off his gears. The Tour winner Alberto Contador took advantage of the mishap and finished that stage in the lead. Had his chain not slipped, I feel as though Schleck would have won.

Earlier in July, I was personally in a race where two soloists lost their place in the lead when they got a flat tire in the road biking section or broke the chain on their mountain bike. The winner of the race was very deserving and his achievement should not be shaded in any way, however it was on the tails of misfortune that he came out on top.

I've been preparing very hard this summer for the upcoming hunting season this Fall. It has been sad to not be able to hunt in at home the past several years while going to school in Abilene. My parents bought me a bow for graduation and I've been becoming more and more accurate as the months have passed, increasing my chances of killing an elk since bow season happens during their rut, when the bulls are bugling and looking to build their harem of cows. In the 9 years or so that I've been old enough to hunt, I have never killed an elk. Yet there are people that kill a bull every year. Somehow it doesn't seem fair, maybe some people have more luck than I do.

Reflecting on these three examples, I realize that there is an inevitable amount of chance in everything we do. Tires get punctured, the wind blows arrows askew, etc. If you do something long enough, I can almost guarantee that luck will seem to be with us sometimes and fighting for our opponents at others. What sets those who seem to consistently in the lead at the end of the race are those who give themselves the best shot. In other words, being in the right place at the right time has just as much to do with the win as does your good luck or someone else's bad luck.

Contador was in phenomenal physical condition and raced strategically well enough to take the lead. The winner of the local race could not have won the race even which his opponents' flat tire and broken chain had he not been training for the competition and been close enough to the lead in the first place. Sometimes you luck out and stumble upon a herd of elk, but if you spend enough time scouting, locating, and target practicing, you can better take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.

So I don't think I can quite say that luck doesn't exist. However, if you put in the time and effort, you should be able to make your own.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 Glacier Challenge

Participants in the Glacier Challenge (in our crew, from left to right): Warren Lane, Zachariah Deister, Erik Schliebe, Colter Lane, Chris Deister, Neil Schliebe, and Zach Perrin.

Congratulations to "Family Friendly," a team of some guys from church, and Zach Perrin for an awesome completion of this year's Glacier Challenge. The team took 9th out of 35 teams and Zach finished 13th out of 21 solo racers (not bad for a 15 year old doing it for the first time. Hard core!)

More information about the race and results from this year and previous years are posted at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Climbing and Skiing

I don't imagine there are too many places where you can rock climb and ski in the same weekend, let alone the same day. Dad and I were able to do both for two weekends in a row! On June 19th we went to Kila's Crag in the morning and then zipped off to the Jewel Basin for some spring skiing. The next week, we drove up to Stone Hill on Lake Koocanusa on Thursday night after work climbed until dark, slept in the back of Dad's truck (complete with new sleeping platform), and woke up to climb until it got too hot on Friday. The whole trip was solid, putting up a total of 5 moderate routes, 4 of which were traditional leads, and doing some anchor building/lead climbing practice. The "Chip Off the Young Block" climbing team is gearing up for some alpine ascents of some technical peaks in Glacier Park this summer, notably St. Nicholas and B7 Pillar. Then on Saturday we drove up to Logan Pass to ski Bird Woman Falls Basin with Brad, a friend from school, and Randy, a friend from church. We wound up circumnavigating Mount Clements and skied down from the saddle between Clements and Cannon, the Krummholz Route and then down the front between Oberlin and Clements back to the Visitor Center. Incredible couple of weekends!
Dad and I on the ridge of Mount Aneas before some great skiing.

Randy and Brad enjoying some sunshine and snow while skinning over the Hidden Lake overlook trail.

The "Chip off the Young Block" climbing team in action.

Brad in the foreground with the Krummholz Route shown in the background (the strip of snow in the center of the picture).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beyond the Mountain

I just finished reading 'Beyond the Mountain' by Steve House, currently the premier mountaineer in the world. About a month ago, my Dad and I were fortunate enough to attend a presentation by House at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake. He was in the Flathead Valley to update his Wilderness First Responder training for his job as a mountain guide. It's quite an epic story actually: House was leading a pitch on Mount Temple in British Colombia when a rock broke under his ice tool causing him to fall 80 feet, pulling all his gear in transit. He sustained several broken ribs, cracked his pelvis, collapsed one of his lungs, and messed up some vertebra. His summer plans of climbing came screeching to a halt and he was forced to think about guiding instead of doing his own adventures to pay the bills. Amazingly the accident was in March and we were watching him walk around and give a power point presentation in the middle of May. Talk about a fast recovery!

I was very impressed with both Steve's presentation and the book itself. The first time I had really been "introduced" to Steve House was a recent article he wrote for Climbing Magazine called Green Mountain Manifesto. In the article he is pretty demanding in his call for the climbing community to become more green specifically in their treatment of the mountains themselves. His biggest issue is with fixed ropes, particularly on Denali, and climbers leaving trash behind. It's a tall order to fill, and even House himself falls short and he seems to express that in the article.

The book is very introspective. It was written after House nearly killed himself and nearly destroyed a friendship attempting Nanga Parbat. He began to rethink why he climbs mountains; what he gains from attempting to reach the summit. The style is autobiographical and tells tails of past climbs, including a year studying abroad in Europe where he became hooked, on the road to becoming the best climber in the world. I can relate most to the incredible relationships he talks of building while trusting each other on the sides of immense peaks. Most of my closest friends are those that I have spent a lot of time tied to them with a climbing rope. All in all I would highly recommend 'Beyond the Mountain' to anyone seeking their own reasons for climbing, whether it be 10 ft boulders or 8000 m peaks.