Isssue 4 is launched!

•June 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Exciting news!  Issue 4 of Alpine Athena is up!

Karen amid the boulders at the base of Cho Oyu, 1996. Photo Marg Saul

We’re kicking off June with a brand new issue of Alpine Athena, Issue 4. There’s wonderful tribute to one of the pioneers of women’s climbing Karen McNeill, who at the end of May, 5 years ago never made it home for Mt. Foraker. Read on about this amazing woman in Curly Abroad. There’s also a inspirational profile Dara Miles wrote on Guide Emile Drinkwater and an interesting interview we at Alpine Athena conducted with Sterling Rope owner Carolyn Brodsky. Also to round out the issue, there’s a few gear reviews on some great Black Diamond, Deuter and First Ascent gear. And we’re excited to annouce that the release of Margo Talbot’s new book All That Glitters, hitting the shelves June 6th. Look for our review of this book in the July 1st Issue of Alpine Athena.


Black Diamond ATC Guide

•April 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Black Diamond ATC Guide. Photo courtesy of Black Diamond.

The new Black Diamond ATC Guide is a new, improved version of the ATC Guide. It’s still the same guide that you know and love, just lighter and a larger auto-block release hole to accept a smaller carabiner. Both are excellent improvements on a belay/rappel device that was already a standard of the industry.

See the rest of the review on Alpine Athena.

Welcome to Alpine Athena, a woman’s climbing magazine

•April 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m sad to announce that I’m going my separate way from Vertical Woman.  It was a short lived, yet enjoyable partnership.  I wish those at Vertical Woman nothing but the best, and much success.  Much of the climbing content you saw on Vertical Woman is coming with me as the back issues of my new women’s climbing magazine, Alpine Athena.

Alpine Athena is a core-focused woman’s alpinism magazine dedicated to the woman climber, alpinist and mountaineer.  The publication strives to be the leading voice for the woman climber, whether she’s an alpinist, boulderer, rock climber, ice climber, or mountaineer.  To tell the story of her dreams, passions, goals and accomplishments, whether they be for a peak in a foreign land or a boulder project at her home gym.  To address her unique needs in this time of quickly evolving gear and skill sets. To be a resource to help her raise her climbing to the next level. And to be a community; a focal point for female climbers to gather around and connect.  Alpine Athena, as it’s namesake implies, honors the inner warrior in every woman of the mountain, peak and crag.  Her weapons may vary, but her strong, powerful spirit is the same.  Whether she dawns pair of rock shoes, mountaineering boots, or ice climbing boots; her beauty shines through her strength, determination, and wisdom.  It is a free monthly online publication, with weekly Friday gear reviews adding to the extensive and rich content of each issue.

I’m excited to be launching with a very meaty Issue 3 that is filled with new content.  So if you were an avid follower of Vertical Woman, there’s a long new issue filled with all brand new material for your reading enjoyment.

Issue 3 is filled with many not-to-be-missed articles.  We are very proud to headline this issue with a our Feature article Bi-Polar Odyssey, a moving and compelling article by Margo Talbot, taking the reader on her journey of self-discovery, healing and leading the hardest ice of her life.  Get to know top guide, athlete and lady of adventure Caroline George in her interview. There’s a Gear Care Guide to help our readers keep their manky gear clean, in good condition and in its top-performance condition.  All those articles are just the tip of the ice berg.  Issue 3 is filled with many other articles that will keep you up-to-date with important climbing events, reviews on the latest gear, information on upcoming books and helpful resources.

A little injection of inspiration and hope

•March 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today, while finding links for Dave Hahn, RMI and IMG for an article I am writing, I came across this old Times article from 2007.  David Hahn, part of the First Ascent Team and RMI Guide, and his sherpa, Phinjo Dorje, risked themselves to save the life of another climber at 29,000 feet on Mt. Everest.  It’s an amazing story of bravery; and a true testament to Hahn’s and Dorje’s integrity as climbers.  Check it out for a dose of inspiration and hope:

Great Job Lance Mackey! Another Great Iditarod!

•March 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This year the  Iditarod was won by someone new, John Baker.  And did it in record-breaking style with both the fastest time and as the first Alaskan Native tribesman to win.

But, that takes nothing away from Mackey’s race.  He did remarkably well  against huge odds – his team suffered from illness and injury early on; having only 9 dogs for most of the race.  Lance had to drop Maple, his superstar lead dog and last year’s Golden Harness winner, early on in Rohn.  When he crossed the finish line in Nome he only had 7 dogs.   A musher must have 6 or more to still compete in the Iditord.  Lance had one more than he needed.  What’s more important is that they looked happy and healthy.  They were strong, and all but one had never been to Nome before.

In typical Lance Mackey fashion, when asked if he was disappointed that he didn’t win number 5 in a row, Lance flipped the question on its head.  As Lance saw it he had a good race.  He got 7 new veterans and one new leader out of the deal.  Since Nikolai, his remaining leaders “gave him the middle finger” (as Lance put it); so a dog name Wilson, tail wagging the whole way, led the team in single lead to Nome.

Being that Lance is the 4 time defending Champ, that’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back Champ, reporters all along the trail kept asking if he was worried, if his hopes for a 5th win were dashed, if he was disappointed he didn’t win.  Basically, trying to make this Iditarod seem like a failure.  What I love about Lance Mackey is he can take a negative situation, flip it around and see it in an incredibly positive perspective.  His perspective on life and positive outlook on situations is something to be admired.  As to that “loss” this years, here’s another classic Mackey-ism.

“The top 15 guys and some of the ones behind me have been trying to beat me for the last four years,” the four-time champion told ADN after finishing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 16th place.

“They all got their shot at once,” said Mackey, who arrived at the finish of the 1,000-mile race with seven of his original 16 dogs.

“So now it’s over with,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

Lance ,we love you!  You remind us to keep focused on the positive and dump the negative. That there’s an accomplishment in everything.  You remind us to take life a little less seriously, be a little more proud of ourselves, enjoy each day more and to above all us do it with good humor and a laugh.

Lance congratulations!  All your fans are so proud of you!  You had another great Iditarod!  You will always be the Incredible Lance Sir-Wins-A-Lot Mackey!  And I will be here next year rooting for you and your amazing dogs as you go for another dog truck and a 5th win.  As for those bragging rights….as you so eloquently put it in an interview during this Iditarod – you’ve accomplished so many “impossibles” (winning back to back Yukon Quests and Iditarods, twice, beating throat cancer, finishing with 15 dogs during one horrendously stormy Iditarod, and winning 4 back to back Iditarods, including the year after Larry retired), no one can ever take that away, you will always be Great and have all the bragging rights.

If anyone knows how Larry’s doing drop me a line or comment.  He has his own fan following and since he’s been retired we miss seeing him on the trail and would love to know how the cute Champs doing in retirement.

Off Topic: Radiation is being carried from Japan to the West Coast of the US on the Jet Stream. What can we do?

•March 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

As the nuclear reactor partial meltdown continues in Japan and we move dangerously close to a full meltdown, the Japanese are trying a few desperate measures, such as dumping water from helicopters on to nuclear reactors, to stave off an even bigger disaster.  The world watches with held breath.  And no more so than here on the West Coast of the United States.  Numerous d-day for radiation figures have been floating around.  Some scientists predict that in the case of a full nuclear meltdown it would take 10 days for the radiation, traveling on the jet streams, for 750 rads to reach the west coast of North America.  How much radiation we’re hit with also depends on the winds and how the reactors melt down.  But, what can be said is that the radiation has already arrived and being reported in LA and probably soon Seattle, if they’re even testing here.

The media for the most part has played down the seriousness of the situation.  Calling on doctors, and nuclear scientists and experts to confirm that if you ain’t glowin’ green then it’s really not that serious of a matter.  They claim the radiation levels won’t be high enough to raise any concern.  That goes right along with the theory that eating some level of toxic material, if it isn’t enough to put you in the hospital right on the spot, then it’s not really THAT harmful for you.  Never mind the fact that it’s toxic, or radiation or poisonous.  We’ve become a society where ingesting harmful chemicals is normalized, and that’s scary.

We poison our bodies on a daily basis, accepting that some level of harmful chemicals isn’t really that harmful.  And we wonder why we’re stressed, feel sick, feel off balance, feel run down, or worse – why cancer, tumors and other serious diseases is on the rise.  You are what you eat and you are your environment.  It’s sad, today, how many Americans put premium gas in their cars but feed themselves from grocery outlet or a box meal.  Does it bother you when you can’t pronounce or have no clue what two thirds of the ingredients list on your “food” is?

So the short of it is, even “some” radiation is bad for us and we should be concerned, both about the short terms effects but also about the long term increased risk of cancer.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to make my health better in the face of the radiation that’s now in my environment.  And there are steps we can take.  I wanted to share this, so those of you reading who put your health as a top priority and are concerned about being exposed to radiation can also benefit from this knowledge.  Here are a few recommendations I have gathered:

I think that antioxidants are the most important thing you can do, in addition to some sources of iodine. I suggest Co Q 10 or ubiquinol, or other high-potency ones. A big issue with radiation are the free radicals. I suggest keeping up with your reading and being mindful of the source.

Okay so — as far as I can figure, the key is going to be antioxidants. You have to do total system support under this kind of situation. Good antioxidants, in addition to concentrated fruit sources (currant juice, etc) are uniquinol or CoE…nzyme Q 10; melatonin; esther C and so on. One of the issues with radiation is free radicals. If you do kelp — a great food — it has to be super duper pulverized, get the finest grain that you can. Mainly though it helps to keep your magnetic field as clear as possible. I would recommend as many of those high focus all the way in blotto orgasms as possible to keep your energy field clear and in balance. you probably won’t read anyone else saying that.

From Eric Francis, Investigative Journalist and Editor of Planet Waves


In addition to dietary things I’d highly recommend some kind of movement that cultivates qi sensitivity. Yoga, qigong, internal martial arts, other styles I don’t know as well help move stuff through your system to break up qi blockages and prevent harmful materials from gathering in tissues that don’t get proper movement. A Tai Ji form for example or a sequence of Yoga postures moves you through various combinations of pressure and release so that all your parts receive more circulation of blood, lymph and qi. Also in particular Bagua circle walking is a powerful immune enhancer because of the way your pelvis basically opens and closes as you take each step, and then change directions so both legs experience being the inside leg and the outside. Your biggest lymph nodes are right there in the inguinal crease so the relaxed but firmly rooted motion of walking the circle stimulates them and helps keep them clean.

In addition to movement, sitting and breathing with mindfulness of posture and a lengthening and deepening of the breath can increase your internal awareness while the deepening movement of the diaphragm helps move stuff through your internal organs instead of collecting in them because of shallow breathing. The diaphragm isn’t only for breathing, it’s part of the system that gently squeezes all your soft inner parts to aid circulation of blood and qi.

From a long time practicing martial artist and qigong/yoga practitioner.

I will add more suggestions as I find them.

Great on the ground Iditarod coverage – Follow Kyle Hopkins

•March 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Kyle Hopkins has been reporting from on the trail for the past 4 or 5 days.  He’s been at every checkpoint when the leaders have arrived.  He bravely talked to top musher after top musher in the halls of Takotna, though it probably helped that they were too distracted by the fabulous steak and pies to say no to his interviews.  He’s brought race fans a tremendous amount of content.  Don’t feel like the 1 minute long snippets that the Iditarod Insider is enough, check out Kyle’s video interviews with the mushers.  He not only gets quite a bit of camera time with these mushers, but also asked insightful questions.  He asked what you, the fan at home, is wondering.

Great job Kyle!

Check out his blog here.