March 22, 2017

Disgruntled Dicussions Pod Cast *language alert*

It has been a while since our last post, and we sincerely apologize to all of you for the lack of updates and communication. There has been a lot in the works, including a podcast radio appearance on the Disgruntled Veterans Radio- Disgruntled Discussions podcast. Please click the link below to listen in. I was brought in during the second half, so if you'd like to skip ahead please feel free. We will be updating more frequently as the date for the start of Expedition You Are Not Alone draws closer.Let us know what you think in the comments below.  Like and share our page with your friends and check out the resources for your military family in the blog with the hyperlink in the upper left hand corner.
DV Radio Podcast

Exploring The Outdoors

For my peers and myself the natural world is inviting and exciting. We have the ability to push our limits and surpass the limitations of what we thought we were capable of. Maybe it's spending an extra night at a campsite, or hiking an additional mile. Progress is made by going pushing past our comfort zones, and stepping into a new level of self understanding and perhaps even a new level of self appreciation. When we can see ourselves in a new light then we can see how to better treat ourselves. Maybe next time we won't drink that soda because we want a full nights rest to be able to feel energized to hike a newly discovered trail. Perhaps we'll stop consuming harmful products and take better care of ourselves so we can fully envelop ourselves into an experience that we once weren't  capable of enjoying as much because our mental and physical status was thwarted by junk.
Rattle Snake SL2 mtnGLO
For Some people getting out and exploring can be as simple as just going for a walk in a new spot in town, or for others it could be climbing the highest peak in the world from a never before climbed route. Each and every person has their own limits, and no there's no right or wrong. Just what is within the capabilities of each individual. No matter what or where the adventure takes you, just remember to get out and push your limits. After all if you want to get somewhere you've never been you'll have to do something you've never done.

If you fill up a water bottle, get a few food bars, carry a flash light, and taken the unpaved road who knows where you'll end up. It may just be the start to a new adventure and perhaps to a new idea of how to pursue to remainder of your life. Even if you don't climb the highest mountain the world, you can climb your highest mountain by doing something new and exciting. Always remember to take pictures so you can see where you've been. This might give you an idea of where you're going.

Happy trails from us to you and safe travels in all your adventures.

December 07, 2016

What Does It Mean to Explore?

There are many reasons to want to Explore. For some it's to get out and just find some place new to themselves, or to the world. To others it's a path of self discovery and understanding. For me well, that's a tough one. I explore the world because I fear exploring myself, but every time I go exploring I end up exploring myself. Does this make sense? Exploring for me is a distraction that becomes the focus. To get some where you've never been, you'll have to do something you've never done.  In order to achieve this I must place myself where these situations are at the forefront. Physically I want to be stronger, mentally I want to be tougher, and emotionally I want to be more balanced. Climbing and mountaineering are the epitome of this awakening. You must have the physical ability to carry heavy loads and move your body weight. You must endure mental torture by being placed in very intimidating and unnerving circumstances. Hanging from a rope inside a Crevasse, or leading a near a pitch with questionable gear placement tests an individual and their ability to withstand stress, and execute near flawless decision making. Exploration gives a sense of understanding for ourselves and the world around us. There are several famous quotes by highly regarded individuals in the field of adventure and travel, yet they all seem to lead to the same conclusion: Live life the way you want because this is the only life we know we have. This planet is our home, therefore to not leave your own city is the same as never leaving your bed.
To know who you are you must first know why you are. Once you have your why the rest will follow. If someone were to ask me what's my why I would say "Because I hate my life, and this at least gives me something to look forward to. I get to help others by helping myself with much needed therapy." When I am outside I feel a sense of belonging. A feeling that I actually fit in somewhere.When you're above 16,000 feet the world feels different. It has a voice that resonates deeper than just sitting at sea level. At this elevation you have to breath with purpose, and meaning. Every step you take has value because it could be your last. The very actions you took for granted back at home in the safety and security of your bubble are now all you cling to as a reason to come home alive. We take so much for granted because it's easy, but when you're outside, in the air, things change. We begin to change. With that I leave you with this: Be the change you wish to see in others. It's not my quote, but I love it.

August 16, 2016

When The Walls Cave In

Gripping tightly to the handle bars I feel the wind speed pick up. I take one last look over  my right shoulder, there's no turning back now. 1,450 feet of climbing has just been completed. 3,000 feet left to go. I am going for it, 23 miles of consistent uphill. What am I doing to myself? Why am doing this to myself? Because someone has to. Because someone has to stand up and say "Enough is enough. We are Veterans, and Warriors. Just because we can't be who we were, doesn't mean we can't be who we want to be." I keep repeating a mantra in my head from a old 90's Disney Movie. "I see pride, I see power, I see a bad ass mudda, who won't take no crap off of nobody." I wish I was being watched by a coach, or someone who see's potential in me, but for right now I have to see potential in myself. I am tired, and sore. Everything hurts...My soul is hurting. Why am I doing this? All the goals have been postponed, all the money, climbs, work, and dedication has been for nothing. Or has it? I get an extra year of training, with some serious climbs and rides planned for the next year. If I can keep my head above water, and Pedal Steady.

June 02, 2016

packing for the Cascades When I'm packing for a trip it's important for me to prioritize. I start by organizing my shelter(s). For this trip I need a few different shelter systems. I always carry my Zirkel UL- It's light, packable, and extremely comfortable. I also carry my Q-Core sleeping pad, and the Bedroll. What's going to be switching out is the Bivy, the Rattle Snake, and the Battle Mountain. I like using the Bivy for quick naps at altitude, and the Rattle Snake works great as a day use tent, and for quick overnight trips. The Battle mountain is an expedition type tent, that is primarily used high altitudes, and extreme winds.
 The second items I pack are my clothing. I sort them out according to layers. since I'm already wearing my base layer, I just need to prep for the condition at hand. From Left to right I have my soft shell layers, then my insulating layers plus a down parka, and on the right are my hard shell layers. These can easily be swapped out depending on my body's thermo regulation. You never want to be too hot or too cold, so being able to quickly adjust to the environment is vital to the success of any adventure. For the Soft Shells I use Outdoor research, same goes for the insulating layer, the down parka is the Big Agnes Shovelhead. This thing is a heat machine, and will handle some pretty cold temps. For the shell I use a Gore-Tex Jacket, and non Gore-Tex bottom.
No kit is complete without the right tools to get the job done. When out climbing mountains it's imperative to be adequately geared up. It literally means the difference between life and death. when I'm doing solo mountaineering climbs, I bring the essentials. Ice Axe, Crampons, and of course boots. I use 2 main types of boots depending on the conditions. The Spantiks are double boots, capable of being used for snow boarding, as well as high altitude mountaineering. The Trango Cubes are used for really solid alpine assents where I don't expect to spend too much time on the mountain, and the weather is warm enough to where my socks will provide the majority of the insulation. The ascendance are mainly for mountains where I am likely to encounter fixed lines, and I can clip myself into a fixed rope system with the use of a sling (not shown). 

March 26, 2016

Expedition You Are Not Alone

Destination Denali Expedition You Are Not Alone Epyc Adventures Active Heroes
Expedition You Are Not Alone is an event to raise awareness for Veteran Suicide, PTSD, and individuals looking to inspire and motive others. Active Heroes is a Non-Profit Organization on a mission to support Active duty personnel, Veterans, and their families through physical, educational, and emotional programs providing coping skills and eliminate suicide. Alex Tufail is a wounded veteran, and wants to raise awareness for veterans who suffer from mental illness, and he is bringing light to the 22 veteran suicides a day With help from The You Are Not Alone Project: A Public journal, and Active Heroes. They are in the business of helping people find their passion for life, and providing programs to aid those affected by PTSD through outdoor adventure and exploration. Together they are hoping that all those involved from Veterans to civilians will participate in reaching out to others who are in need of support. The Expedition Starts at the US/ Mexico Border in San Diego county, and ends at the Summit of the highest mountain in North America; Denali.  We hope to pave the way to self-discovery through writing by placing Geo Caches in the form of Journals along the expedition route that others can find, and leave their mark on our mission. The journal project is to let individuals know that they are never alone, and that no matter if a life situation is amazing or tragic, lonely or full of love; they are forever connected and their words will become proof of that.
Section 1: Bike
The Biking Section of the event takes place from Tecate, California at the US/ Mexico Border, to Talkeetna Alaska. This portion of the event will take 140 days to complete and will cover 4,578 miles.
Section 2: Climb
The climbing section is being attempted by the western Route of Denali via the West Butress Route on the Kahiltna Glacier. This 26 day climb will start at the base of the glacier, and peak on the South Summit of Denali and end with a decent via the West Buttress route. Alex will be flown off the mountain from there and will be brought to Talkeetna .
Event Outcome:
Our end goal is to raise awareness for those that feel they are forever alone. We want to enhance the perspective of the outdoors, and to give people something to work towards as an intrinsic motivator. We understand that everyone wants to have their own experience in nature, but for those that are afraid or disgusted by the idea of being outside we feel this project might be a turning point for how they view themselves and the world in which they interact with.
Expedition You Are Not Alone EPYC Adventures Destination Denali Pedal Steady Pedal Steady Destination Denali

March 25, 2016

Route for Expedition You Are Not Alone

This is the route that the Expedition will follow, as I journey from Mexico to the Arctic Circle, and back to Denali.

Cycling Prescott to Seligman and Back

To most families, Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and togetherness, and of course to be thankful for all the wonderful times and moments they shared throughout the year. However, for people such as myself, when all is quiet, and the wind blows over empty roads, it is a time to get outside and test some gear. The mission was simple enough: to cycle from Prescott to Seligman and back in 3 days. The total distance was 164 miles, and over the course of 3 days and 2 nights; it proved to be a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The forecast over the next 3 days was supposed to be 55 as an average high and 17 as an average low. 
Moderately sunny with winds at 15mph was to be expected for day 2. I started at 8am, I needed the Sun to come out and help melt all the frost that had been accumulated throughout the night. I cycled for 46 miles before coming to a stop at around 6pm. It was getting dark and I wanted to conserve the battery on my light, and I didn’t feel 100% comfortable about cycling a new road that I had never been on, in the dark. I knew it was going to get cold, but it got so cold that all the gear was covered in ice.The Zirkel  kept me warm all night long, and so I wasn’t aware of the freezing temperatures that were taking place outside of my shelter. The tent held up really well in the winds I wasn’t even remotely rattled or shaken. 

For being such a light weight tent I thought for sure we would be sacrificing a little rigidity for weight, but I was happily mistaken. The tent held up like a champion. Most car camping tents can’t even compare. My life saver was the down jacket. That thing kept me warm all morning while I’m drying out the gear, and working on defrosting my water supply. The biggest issues ended up being that all the water froze overnight. I wasn’t able to thaw out all the gear and food until 10am on day two. A later start gave me a huge disadvantage towards day light hours. I knew that I was going to be riding through the night, but thankfully I made it to Seligman by 3pm and was able to start riding back home at 4. I knew that I had covered close to 90 miles by the end of the second day, and I was tired. I was so exhausted and it was so dark that I just found a spot to sleep by making sure it was flat, and I just blew up the sleeping pad and fell asleep right on top of it without even setting up a tent, or any type of shelter. If it had rained, I would have been on another level of hurt.

On the morning of the third day I found out the temperature had reached a low of 13 and I didn’t even realize it. The sleeping bag is well insulated and the pad is also insulated that even below the temperature rating for sleeping bag, I was still able to comfortably sleep, and wake up feeling rested. Just like the morning of day two I had to get a late start because of the gear freezing. This time however I was smart enough to put all the water in the foot of my sleeping bag, so that it wouldn’t freeze. The sleeping bag had accumulated dew throughout the night, and at the coldest time it had frozen that moisture. The down held up perfectly, and within a few hours of sunlight everything was dry, and I was ready to roll. It was going to be an easy, but very cold 50 miles. For the first half of the day I was riding with the Shovelhead, and I didn’t even feel the cold. I had finally made it home by 4 pm on Saturday. It was the first time I was able to actually train, and test out the gear that would be traveling for over 4500 miles from Mexico to Alaska. The next big trip will be after a climb of the 3rd highest peak in North America, and I will love to test out the gear at altitudes greater than 14,000 feet in elevation.

Climbing pico de Orizaba

Standing at 17,333 feet above sea level; the summit was within reach. Calling me and taunting me to continue. The glacier had become Solid water ice, and became impenetrable with ice axes and crampons. It was at this moment a decision had to be made, and it was an easy call. My first thought was “there are old climbers, and there are bold climbers.” The summit isn’t going anywhere, and I can always come back with more suitable conditions arise. I have been waiting almost a year for this moment. Roberto “Oso” and I had been in contact over several months and I was prepared for a solo expedition on Pico de Orizaba; the highest mountain in Mexico, and third highest in North America at 18,491 feet. This was my first formal mountaineering experience as a Solo climber. I had an acclimatization climb to 15,600 feet. Sierra Negra was absolutely awesome, and I was feeling strong at the top, and ready to get on Orizaba. We left the Hostel at 8 am, to hopefully be at the hut before noon. It was a grueling off road ride that seemed to last forever. It was everything you could expect from a tiny mountain community.

The Hut is a busy little shack that sits at the base of the climb at 14,000 feet. This 3 storied structure looked like it was ready to come down, but none the less it was home for the next 3 nights, and I loved it. As fate would have it I met some other American’s from Denver and Cambridge. What started out as a solo ascent turned into a good sized 3 team project on the mountain, it was comforting to know someone had my back. The Colorado team consisted of 6 climbers, and the Massachusetts team had 2. We started prepping for the summit with an acclimatization climb to the base of the Glacier just to get a feel for early afternoon weather conditions. On the descent I wasn’t sure if there was enough energy left within me to push for the summit the next day. After making the decision to continue on with the help of some Tequila and a worm, it was time for bed. I figured if I could drink at 14,000 feet and feel fine, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to give it everything and try for the top. It was 3am, we had an hour to gear up, fuel up, and head out.

We gathered together, said a few words of encouragement, and headed up the trail. The moon light shining above us with clear skies and constant breeze made for a beautiful, yet frigid morning. Our goal was simple, to reach that base of the glacier by 6:45 just as the sun was rising, and asses an efficient route to the summit. We ended up traveling directly up the middle of the glacier where the incline is an average 45 degrees. Near the top it tips 50 degree. We had come this far that breaking point happened at different times for each of us and I called it at 17,500 feet. The wind was starting to pick up, and the night before the readings at the base of the glacier pushed 80mph. When we were descending the glacier we had been hit by 50mph winds. I was ready to go home, and I still had to get down. Back at the hut, I wanted a nap I had slept in my Zerkil 20 bag and on my Q-Core pad for the past 3 days, and it still felt fresh. I know for a fact that a huge part of my success on this mountain was being able to have genuine quality sleep and comfort. The level of comfort is unmatched by anything else I have ever tried. If comfort is a crime, then I am guilty.

Roberto "Oso" Flores  Orizaba 
Mountain Guides
Big Agnes Zirkel  UL20

Disgruntled Dicussions Pod Cast *language alert*

It has been a while since our last post, and we sincerely apologize to all of you for the lack of updates and communication. There has been ...