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How to Get Paid to Have Fun!

September 27th, 2012

Moon over Rio Grande Pyramid

Because I am a sponsored athlete and adventurer, people often ask me: “How do you get paid to have fun?” Well, the answer is simple: I just don’t agree with not having fun so if I’m going to get paid to do anything, it’s going to be something I like — a lot. Now, that’s just the fundamental philosophy behind why I do what I do, but the real “answer” per se is more complex and hard to fit into a box… I invest myself, my resources and a team of people that I work with into things I think others will like and that I like. So, believe it or not, it’s you (the reader) who inspires me to do this far more than my own adventures. It’s you who I hear and you who I want to hear from. That often means that I have to like things others may not like at all that are unrelated to the conventional definition of having fun, like finance, litigation and collections. So be it. Without making sacrifices or doing things that aren’t fun, I could never “get paid to have fun.” I will admit those less than fun details can be frustrating. I’ll admit that often I personally won’t stand to collect a single dollar for my efforts, that I just like accomplishing things and in doing so watching a team succeed and profit around me as a reward. I accept that what I do won’t make me rich, but I am able to settle for being proud to be a part of something, to contribute, to lead.

Case in point, just before Labor Day, I visited New York City on the beginning of what would be considered a vacation to me despite having a lot of business thrown in. As many people might assume a well-backed mountaineer’s visit to NYC would include, I wasn’t actually there on some cool lecture circuit to talk endlessly about myself or how my process for exploring mountains is going to save the corporate world faster than all the governments out there. I was just there as a working man in a suit (yes, like a black one that was ironed that forced me to ride in cabs because the matching shoes sucked and give me blisters). Just another dude in a suit in New York, I was there as a business person with hope that after I got through the security guards of a few ad agencies, I would be able to stand up for adventure-based broadcast television programming for our generation and not just be shown the door in 10 minutes. Not exactly a situation where you may think you’re going to find someone who not three months ago pulled off a first ski descent in the Himalayas and was rappelling off of three tiny pieces of gear to get home. Believe it or not, it was my second time in a month on a sales trip to NYC, but at least this time I had the early morning to run the big loop in Central Park before my meetings. Overall, it’s a beautiful park, I like the city… and it’s much easier to navigate than Kathmandu.

"Trail Running" in Central Park, NYC

As you do when you meet with the world’s decision makers on what makes it to TV and what doesn’t, I had a digitized and unflattering photo snapped at the security desk, stuck to my suit jacket and I was sent upstairs in buildings that seem higher than El Cap. In both meetings I was shown the door in 30 minutes, and like any other person out on the streets of New York, I was back at it again with the usual, “We’ll be calling you” response rolling around my head with all the other stresses of result production on the cue in a strained, risk-averse economy where we are hoping to pioneer some inspiring programs. You see, I don’t get paid to have fun, as a CEO and Founder of the company I represent in these meetings, I only get paid if I work hard enough to get the story of inspiring adventures (including my own) out there for you and for me and to convince people that adventurers are doing things of value that others want to see. I admit, it is a tough sell when it is easier to just exploit people as the current model of many networks so effortlessly eases along doing, but although the ad world would prefer you and me to sit on a couch and escape reality by eating yogurt, using soap or applying deodorant, they realize that there is something happening out there. A whole generation of us is on the move and experiencing life for ourselves and making headway in the world — we just aren’t on TV yet. That’s where I come in. I want the world to be inspired; I want the world to communicate; I want all of us who are out there living for the experience to be heard; I want to put that suit away sometimes and so I do… you inspire me to and so does broadcast television. I do this because I believe that every now and then when one of those people really does call on us, the team of people I work with will knock it out of the park and you the viewer will benefit. I do it because I am as unafraid of what challenges I will find on my way to the top floor of the skyscraper as I am approaching the summit of a Himalayan mountain.

Mount Washington Summit

Following those meetings, the next day I found myself in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, at the base of Mt. Washington — the beginning of a two day vacation. See, I hitched a ride with some friends to NYC and then we found ourselves tagging this sweet and storied East Coast summit as they continued an ongoing business summit to New hamsphire. That is how I keep my sanity, knowing folks who are driven like me but more successful and able to fit in goals I admire. One of my friends is a high pointer (people who climb all 50 of the United States’ highest points) and Mt. Washington’s 6,288 summit was #49 for him. He is a high level broadcast executive who works hard and travels a lot and who has found a way to “get paid to have fun” too and keep others happy around him. This rounds out a life filled with a lot of pressure to produce big business results. People like that are bigger inspirations to me than the next guy who wants to climb Trango Tower and base jump off of it. It seems like there are a lot of us out there who want to see the world from a lot of places, but it is the few who may not have soloed the Eiger but have achieved a balance that I am now learning from, people who came to climbing after starting careers and have made it to their 40′s, 50′s and 60′s and are still full of goals despite having completed long-standing goals like the 54 fourteeners, 50 state high points and 7 summits. Without these friends driving me, how else would I be able to claim in the same year that I did my first-ever 50 mile ultra marathon, that I stood on the point on Earth closest to the sun (20,561′ Chimborazo), the site of the highest recorded wind speed in north America (6288′ Mt Washington), bagged a fist ski descent in the Himalayas (21,509 Chulu West), Heli skied in Haines, Alaska and then spent Labor Day on the summit of Rio Grande Pyramid in the San Jauns.

Wait, what was that last one? Rio Grande Pyramid. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? It is about as cool as a peak ascent can get and it is a far cry from NYC!  The bottom line is, I don’t get paid to have fun, I work hard, I knock on every door and I am as curious about how things work as I am about how to get up mountains. Somehow, finance became a tool in that process, but certainly not a driver alone. So if you want to get paid to have fun, well, I can only suggest you do something you believe in and that you don’t give up. Only you can answer what that is and how long you will have to try at it to succeed. The only advice I have on that is that I hope you pick the right partners in your fun endeavor because it is pretty awesome to watch a team reach the top and know you were part of something bigger than an individual’s vision or a solitary moment on a summit, the process is the fun and the process to me is priceless.

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Guiding in Chamonix

September 5th, 2012

With Chris and Gavin from the UK on the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps at 15,782 feet, a couple weeks ago.

Guiding in the Alps surrounding Chamonix is the norm for American IFMGA guides. Over half of America’s 80-something fully certified guides are here this summer. Why? Not because the pay is great. The plane ticket here is expensive and the dollar is lame against the euro. It’s also not because the US doesn’t have great rock for guiding. The western US has some of the best rock in the world. It’s not because Chamonix is the birthplace of mountain guiding, either. We’re here because the guiding is AWESOME! With our customers we can zip to the alpine on a tram and climb impeccable rock all day, then whisk back to a comfortable town where guides are socializing and living their normal life. Small, non-knee crushing backpacks are another bonus.

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Window of Opportunity: Tackling Seven Summits From Ophir to Telluride, Colorado

August 16th, 2012

It is funny to me how goal setting can be such an indomitable force. Sometimes I have to strive for something really impossible just to find my motivation, while other times I’ll set my sights too low and be greeted by successful dissatisfaction. I’ve found that balance is harder than executing, especially when the factors are out of your control and dictated by nature. But not this summer… this summer in the mountains has been one of the best, and it just keeps on giving.

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Taking It To Another Level: Skiing The Himalaya to Trail Running in the Rockies

August 14th, 2012

These tracks are the first ever skied on Nepal's 21,607' Chulu West, a route that has 5.4 alpine climbing to reach this broad basin that is the lower portion of a 3,000-foot ski descent in one of the best and most visible basins in all of Nepal.

In May somewhere along the Annapurna Circuit’s long, winding, dusty road, I began to believe that after a safe and successful slaying of snow on two peaks that I had finally achieved my goals as a Himalayan mountaineer. This shouldn’t be that shocking since I have spent ten years pioneering first ascents and descents in the world’s highest range with narrow-minded focus and more than a handful of narrowly missed catastrophes blending the good times with the bad and no regrets for how we did it. This insight was forced upon me in January, when my friend Jack died in my climbing partner Jon’s arms and then I decided to take a day off from filming heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska and my friend Rob died on a routine run guiding clients. The number of passionate people I have seen meet their demise in the mountains now takes up two handfuls of digits and that is likely too close for comfort, and forces me to ponder my own fate.

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Walking With Warriors

August 5th, 2012

Know the poorest of the poor are among your neighbors, in your neighborhoods, in your town, in your city, perhaps in your own family. We must look first to our own streets. — Mother Teresa

Last month, five climbers and I went to climb Mt Kenya for Challenge21 in hopes of raising money and awareness for Water For People. Through the process, we learned far more than we had anticipated.

The dynamic Kenyans we met demonstrated that the first place to make a difference is in our own neighborhoods—in our own country. For those with greater wherewithal the help can and should extend further. In the big picture, our greatest hope is to educate as many people as possible in the areas where our world is struggling and losing balance: clean water, sanitation, wildlife poaching, climate change, poverty, illiteracy etc.

Pete McBride and Jake Norton teamed up to film the trip. Their talent is exceptional with stunning imagery that captures the path of water from its origins on Mt Kenya, which supplies the country with 70 percent of its water, through the bush to the city where it runs dry in the slums. This film will show even those in the first world that there is a lot at stake as we lose our watersheds.

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Life at Elevation: Navigating the Cordillera Blanca Range with 20

May 17th, 2012
I have been a part of a variety of backpacking experiences. Time and again, it is assured the group will bond in a unique way. The backcountry strips us of traditional interactions, of blinking lights and honking horns. Give it 48 hours… then, you start adjusting to the efficient method of packing, and hoisting your pack, making a pillow out of your down jacket and remembering to look up, and around to the mountains and streams, instead of simply the feet that are transporting you there.

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Friday Round Up: Ski Hard, Be Safe and Love the Life You Live

February 24th, 2012

Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each week. We call it the Osprey Round Up… Happy Friday!

The snow is falling in the West and if you’re like us, you’re probably getting your gear ready for the weekend ahead. But with the loss of four more incredible people in last weekend’s avalanches in the North Cascades, our excitement is bittersweet. For all of you who have loved and lost someone in the mountains, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Ski hard, be safe and love the life you live.

PHOTO via Evan Stevens in British Columbia

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High Pressure Bonanza at Rogers Pass, British Columbia

February 13th, 2012

Inversion in the Pass

From my last post you might think that all it does is snow up here in the Selkirks of BritishColumbia. Well, usually it does and for most of January it sure did. Alas, last week the snow hose shifted its focus, and squinty eyes and sun burned noses returned to the mountains of BC.

With my father in law, the original owner of my backcountry ski lodge Valhalla Mountain Touring, in place as the hut keeper, I knew I needed to get out of my neck of the woods and go play in the big peaks of Rogers Pass. A quick 2.5 hour drive from home (not including the snowmachine ride to my truck and the half-hour ferry ride inland), Rogers Pass is the number one place I go to play when I have some time off.  If you haven’t been, its time to change that, as it is host to some of the best road-accessed ski touring in the world, hands down.

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Turns All Year for 5 Years

November 2nd, 2011

It started 5 years ago. The goal is to ski every month of the year, through all of the seasons.

On summer when I was climbing Rainier, I noticed skiers coming down the mountain. We had just finished slogging up
and down the standard route, upon arriving at camp Muir, there we’re skiers climbing up and skiers skiing down. Being a skier first. I thought to myself “why am I not doing that?”. At that moment it all changed and skis have become a crucial piece of gear whenever I make a trip up into the mountains.

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Re-booting With Mountainfilm on Tour in Rapid City

April 6th, 2011

Mountainfilm Tour 2011 Elks Theater, April 1-2

By: Markus Jobman, Osprey Adventure Envoy Team

Once in a while you need to step back, pause and re-boot. Look at the world around you and the everyday life that each of us lives. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness. We get busy with careers, friends, obligations and adventures — and sometimes we forget to just stop and see what is going on and really enjoy what is around us.

This past weekend we took a break. We attended Mountainfilm on Tour. It is a celebration of what is around us: life, adventure, nature, mountains and the thrill of enjoying it. We attended the tour in our home town of Rapid City. For the third year in a row, Mountainfilm’s tour event acted as a fundraiser for the Rapid City Urban Orchard Project, an organization that works with the Department of Parks and Recreation to plant apple trees in green spaces throughout the city and organizes volunteers to care for them after they are planted.

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