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Big smiles and bigger needs – Uganda

As I sit in the departure lounge at Entebbe airport I have to wonder how large the income gap between this city and the villages around Iganga. I am guessing it is something akin to comparing a NY street beggar to a wall street professional. The children we visited were amazing and smiles and songs and dancing even when they had nothing and celebrated even the simplest things like new bed sheets and mosquito nets.

The Kikulu team will be spending the rest of the week capturing the stories and documenting the plight of these youngsters as they seek a better life. The many thoughts I’ve had of Africa in this trip cannot be condensed into many words but certainly I held back tears many times and my heart went out to all the families and children who have so little in such a corrupt place. I will likely spend many hours understanding what the US position is in aid here since my understanding before I left was it was largely humanitarian but being here sounds mostly military and never felt by the people of Uganda. The NGO’S here appear to be the only entities helping the people. From my brief reading I understand that the population doubles roughly ever 16 years and death is so frequent the people are largely inured too it. Perhaps that is because most women have 7 children with no ability to care for them. Polygamy appears still quite rampant and jobs are largely unavailable or must be purchased like a new car.

During my return I hope not to lose much of the learning I have attained in the last few days. I will continue to consider ways to bring attention and support to the third world and to understand how the first world and The Kikulu Foundation can best help.

Below are a few more pictures of this magical place while I assemble some more thoughts on such a wonderful visit to east Africa.

Regards from Entebbe Uganda

Just Brewing

Opportunity Cost vs. Capitalize

As each year goes by I find myself having more history to consider when making decisions that will impact tomorrow, next week, month year etc.  Despite having always been contemplative by nature this gives me more to consider when presented with each new decision.  Makes me think back to many of the things my first CEO related and his reference too how many of his decisions/ideas were the result of his having more history than I did as a young executive.  This post will not focus on work but may touch on it a bit since so much of my history comes from work and certainly that is where many significant choices have to be made with the most frequency and significance.  While many business decisions can be measured with simple statistics in hindsight, life’s other choices by and far cannot be.

These not so easy to measure decisions are often related to a person’s happiness quotient.  Some of the opportunity costs that set my path the last few years differ significantly from those of my friends and acquaintances.  While many people I know chose to have children and settle down early I have been far slower and while I do not know if this is right or wrong it has come with opportunities and choices.  Those costs are not necessarily negative and choosing one path over another just provides different growth options. Many people choose to buy a nice home, drive a nice car, raise children early in life, spend time helping their communities etc. and some go a different path.

I choose to travel, climb, race, experience things outside of my comfort zone, this resulted in seeing many parts of the world and undertaking challenges some people would not have any interest in.  I finished a book last night that contained a couple chapters on the difference between a Vacation and a Trip.  The primary distinction would be, a Vacation is a Type I fun while a Trip is often a mixture of Types II & III.  For an explanation of the types check out this  Teton Gravity Research article or this one from an REI blog post.  These Type II&III fun are often things I like to share on this blog but I do not see this as showing off but rather hoping to inspire others to do things that they find challenging or fun.  Oddly only a little of the inspiration I have experienced that stimulated me to undertake challenges has come from the internet.  More often the inspiration comes from personal account with the subsequent research coming from the internet as I plan a trip.  A couple of accounts of this include the beginning of my mountaineering career being stimulated by one of the lawyers at the office recounting his trip up Mt. Rainer, after hearing it I decided sure I could do that too, sounds fun.  Follow that with a meeting a few guys on a ice climbing trip who told me about Mt. Denali and that immediately became what I thought then would be an outlandish but exciting goal to attain.

These inspirations are where the question of choice vs. opportunity cost comes from.  When I decided to climb Mt. Denali I started off down the path with training and other climbs to prepare, then some friends decided they wanted to do it and since it would be far more fun with a buddy or two I decided to wait.  During the waiting year I needed to find some other training/challenge which resulted in a trip to Bolivia to attempt Huyana Potosi and a summit of Illimani.  The time and challenge down in Bolivia was awe inspiring and certainly made me rethink other high altitude climbs but I now see that despite my Denali delay being what I thought was a negative I look back now and realize it was worth the delay to get to do something else, i.e. opportunity capitalization rather than cost.

Now I find another choice to make for Denali for next year, try it solo or try some alternative, in order to for my attempt at the highest mountain in North America to be with friends?  This is a happiness quotient question that I cannot quantify.  While these types of opportunity costs are just one small question related to one in the fun parts of life, it also shows how we all make decisions to balance family, career, fun and growth and who knows what the right answer is until you look back and say well that worked out or it did not?  Seems like with the right positive outlook and then hard work to achieve most costs can be converted to opportunity, guess thats the next plan I need to make.

As always will now post a few pictures from last couples months, clearly behind on my posts again but in summary they will start after Bolivia since I think that deserves its own post and I would highly recommend any climber or traveler head down there and head up some stunning peaks.  The time after Bolivia up to now will be home, Rainer, Maine, Cabo, California, and back to Maine.  Guess being this busy is why I have not posted in too long but hope to get back to it soon.

Nice time for a little jog at home

Taste of Dallas with a super villain, Todd David of Cattleack BBQ then one of his creations, the pastrami beef rib. Perhaps best rib I have ever eaten

Few pics up the hill and of the team on the summit of Mt. Rainer

Beach at home in Maine, waves on Monhegan Island, some north country views from riding quads, little post work time

Approaching and summiting Mt. Katahdin up the Helon Taylor  trail forget my Texas flag for my Katahdin summit picture again. I should write another post on my consideration of the the government threats on the designation of national monuments but its a bit of a political conundrum for me, nature vs. small government.

Anza Borrego Dessert hike

Went hop picking in Julian, CA. Homebrew preparation for the fall and some fun in the garden.

Visit to Baja for some quad riding and relaxing time

Some IM training back at house in Maine. This actually looks back at the point where sister was married just up the road from home.





End of the spring and Southbound 

Have gotten through a couple of my projects and even got to ride my bamboo bike. Not total success but thus far a great spring in Texas. See the bike below coming along just need to install the rear break and then pull the wrapping and get a nice finish on the frame.

Was little nerve racking on my first long ride on it but pretty fulfilling to have the wheels turning on my first bike build.

Other non work success this spring have been around preparation for Bolivia. After some climbing spending more time in the gym and plenty of stairs and few times outside I think I’m ready.  Considering I fly soon guess I am as ready as I will be. New boots new ice tool good rock gym times and all.

Coming home from the left coast this week I had a window seat for the first time in ages and took a couple shots which actually made me a little remiss for my time out there since I have not been able to spend enough time with my California family as I would like.

Now that I am headed to the right coast before going south I am having thoughts of anxiety, challenge, risk, reward, and ultimately much happiensss and accomplishment. The mountains in South America have now called my name for 3 previous times so to attempt a 4th and the highest altitude I have tried is a bit daunting, but I’m ready.  If this goes well I’ll be well on track for Denali, Ancongcaua and maybe in my wildest dreams an attempt at Mt. Everest for my 40th birthday.
Guess until then I need to make sure my flights are on time and my arrival in La Paz seamless so I can acclimatize and get away from mortgage land for a bit to refresh and refuel before what will be a challenging summer. For the next two weeks my guide service will be posting I believe and for anyone who would like to follow our program which is the first attempts in Bolivia ok long time just check here over next couple weeks.
For others check my Instagram, Just Brewing and if I have access I hope to post. As with the many times I’ve been abroad in last few years I’m unsure if I will be able to post or not but will try my best.  Wishing best to all for a wonderful spring.

Texas Spring Pros and Cons plus some projects

This weekend started so well Friday night date night for sushi after getting out of the office just early enough for a bike ride around the lake.  Then a relaxing pre-marathon day around Las Colinas, got in some fun bluebonnet pictures and cruising around the old non-air conditioned car and just in general enjoying the wonderful Texas spring.



Then some archery practice to prepare for Spring Turkey, followed by a big pasta prep dinner and early to bed to be ready for my 5th running of the Irving marathon.   Now the cons part, there were hints of storms all day Saturday but I thought sure we would get a pass but at 5:30 race morning the email came in Race Canceled for weather.  Huge disappointment since this was to be my last big event before the big mountains in Bolivia this year.

Now watching the lightning flash out the window and wondering if the power will go out I get to just have inside work today rather than enjoying the beautiful Texas Spring, guess living here all my life I am used to the storms.  I have come to embrace the fresh washed feel after a driving storm, dislike the damage but love to see turbulence, even violence of the power of mother nature.  So despite the disappointment of not getting to race today on to other things, get a post up and finish my taxes since that would be another downside to spring.

Funny how similar my siblings and I are, sister is heavy into crafting these days and brother and I are wood working.  One of my woodworking goals is to learn more as I begin to build the house in Maine since i will try and do everything from flooring to cabinets myself.  our first project was taking a class to learn the use of routers and we did so last week making the box below which I guess I will begin staining today since cant really ride bike or climbing in a thunderstorm.  Check out some of the pictures and take my recommendation for going to Woodcraft if you wanted to take a class of learn more about woodworking.


The red oak cut beautifully and is heavy and clean.  The trench was the hardest cut and raising the top panel was neat to see the power and precision of woodworking tools. Then using the router to smooth all the edges was new to me since I always assumed that detail was done with a sander but make more sense now.

Now that the box is finished I need to settle on oil, lacquer, polyurethane, or shellac and am still uncertain but just want the finish to bring out the beauty of the wood rather than cover it up.  Now for a housebound Sunday, guess it is either bamboo bike time, home brewing projects, taxes or both of the above.

Even though I want to be out running my marathon today guess having time to write and work on other things is good too.

Best Wishes from a stormy Texas Spring

Starting 2017 – Goal Setting

Waking up this morning early to find there is unseasonably warm conditions in Southern Colorado was a bit disappointing since we are scheduled to ice climb there next weekend……  First world problems of someone who likes to escape from the flat temperate world of work-a-day Dallas.  All in all still going to give it a try just hoping the conditions improve.  Since it is already the 2nd week of February I am behind in publishing my goals for 2017 as always.  Going to keep the goals short this year since I fell so short last year and have not given them nearly enough consideration.

  1. Physical
    1. One significant event per month (min half marathon)
    2. Complete Ft. Worth Ultra in reasonable time (sub 5:15)
    3. Complete Beach to Battleship Half Ironman
    4. Summit both peak attempts in Bolivia (Illimani 21,122′ and Huyana Potsi 19,974′)
    5. Pikes Marathon again?
  2. Cottage Get foundation laid and formal time bound completion plan done
  3. 8 New books
  4. Register formal partnership plan for Investment Club
  5. 10 hours per month charity time
  6. Finish bamboo bike
  7. Learn to weld with my brother
  8. Take a Spanish class
  9. Make a decent batch of Sake
  10. Get a turkey with my bow


Seems like enough to try and get done, granted think I may write a separate list not for publishing for work goals since i have not tried that before.  Below is a quick couple pictures where i stand with the bike, hopefully can get that done this weekend so one goal would be down.


Best to all for a great 2017.

Not even moderate success in 2016

Below is my goal list from last year and where I ended up.  I was a too aggressive last year and clearly set too many unattainable goals so will need to do better this year.  I am hoping to have this years up by the weekend so at least get them set with in the first month of 2017.

  1. Tear Down the cottage and lay foundation for the new one.  This includes cutting down the some of the trees that will be used in the building and sourcing any other family resources that can be incorporated into the new house. — Cut down the trees and cut into initial flooring and set out for drying.  The tear down did not occur until Jan 23rd so missed this one but not by too much time. — 45%
  2. Buy no pre-packaged beer for the house, i.e. only drink what I make home brewing.  While this may sound silly, it presents a planning challenge long term since if I was not ready I would have to wait a month to drink a beer I made, granted I get a carve out for growlers which are still gaining in popularity in Texas. Point of this is part environmental for less waste and part discipline. — Did well but not perfect, for the most part beer brought into and not made at home was in growlers reducing waste and forcing planning and new recipe creation and getting them prepared at home.  Would say 60% success here
  3. No fast food, take out, or food delivery to the house.  So have to either cook which I love to do or go out to eat. — 95% success hard at times but worked out 
  4. Write and adhere to a budget — Failed to write, did live to an internal budget but need more discipline around fiscal responsibility  
  5. Complete another Ironman and set a new PR doing so better than 13:12:35 for full course.  Signed up for Mallorca Spain in the fall so training is starting now— Completed Mallorca despite some logistical problems and a horrible weather day for racing with a ton of rain while climbing the only mountains on the bike bourse.  Still a fun day despite missing my time by half hour.  
  6. 3 New countries  –– Only two sadly finished at 36 countries life time
  7. Spanish Level 1 –– Complete fail
  8. Paint a Self Portrait — Looked hilarious but completed
  9. Baby sit for Nick and Winnie – Not solo
  10. Take at least one class to learn something new — Only if I count work so this is a failure as well

So last year not so good on the goal front.  I still did some pretty amazing things that I would like to continue but the goals were set poorly last year so will need to work on that in 2017.  I am already envisioning some wildly challenging things so look forward to a great 2017.





More delayed blogging

So many months since my last post.  After a busy spring and summer I think I am finally finished traveling for the year aside from some work trips.  My travel was pretty frequent this year and got to visit some new places starting with Mexico City then ten days on the glaciers on the flanks of Mt. Denali.  The flight into the Alaska range started what turned out to be a fun learning experience as preparation for an eventual attempt to climb the highest peak in North America.

Starting in Denali National Park, taking off from Talkeetna over the low lying plains and rivers gives a neat perspective of Alaska.

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Then into the range.  The plane has to split peaks so a day with limited cloud cover is a must to get in or out of the mountains.


Landing on skies on a glacier takes some skills, think landing with no breaks so you have to land uphill.  Early spring the landing area

is down glacier at the Kahiltna International Airport but later spring the crevasses open and the airstrip moves up glacier making the return to base camp that much farther after the 2+ weeks it takes to attempt Denali.

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Just learned that pot is legal in Alaska after seeing these ski mountaineers with their bong attached to life saving gear on harness.


4 nights in our camp here with the pink dome being our posh, i.e. dinning tent.

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During the seminar we hiked out of camp most days attempted two other climbing objectives when we had clear weather.


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Learning snow anchors and pulley systems was integral prior to being dropped into a crevasse for training and then pulling each other out. Fun and informative day at snow school.

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Dragging sleds is how you move gear on Denali and it take some practice for sure.

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This is the only living thing I saw aside from climbers and guides once we landed on the glaciers, no stone, no earth, just ice and mountaineers.

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One day I will hold the flag up on the peak behind me above 20,000′ training complete.

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Need to spot some pictures from the half marathon in Mexico City and from some of the wonderful cycling this summer then Portugal and Ironman Mallorca but will be later in the month.  Kikulu market time hoping our fundraising goes well this quarter.  More posts to come after my hiatus.  Lots of training and brewing talk to post on.


Before departing….

Laying in bed this morning I was thinking it will be last warm comfortable  night for awhile makes me wonder why I think mountaineering is a fun endeavor? The stories will last a life time but the pictures will pass. Seeing Alaska again reminded me of the wonderful trip I took with my father and brother so many years ago. The pictures below are river sunset in Talkeetna Alaska and from the Coastal trail in Anchorage.

That last trip was back to the days of film photos and I found this one of Luke and I almost 20 years ago on my first trip to Alaksa. 

Almost time for breakfast then packing at the hangar and waiting for a weather window to fly on to the glaciers. Hoping this weather holds and we go.

Getting gear loaded and looking positive. Getting pretty excited.

Visit to Utah, Success on San Jacinto, planning for Denali

Since I am rushing to get ready for my first big trip of the year I will not write much about the pictures below but am happy to report I have fallen in love with the state of Utah and that I went back and achieved the summit of San Jacinto despite the same snowy conditions that turned us back before.

Below are pictures from Utah, did some running around the capital and the temple, some hiking in southern Utah visited a few breweries and went bob sledding in a suit and bowtie. Wonderful weekend trip and the majesty of the Arches was mind blowing. thumb_IMG_3277_1024 thumb_IMG_3281_1024 thumb_IMG_3406_1024 thumb_IMG_3411_1024 thumb_IMG_3459_1024 thumb_IMG_3412_1024 thumb_IMG_3332_1024 thumb_IMG_3318_1024 thumb_IMG_3325_1024


Then back to Souther California for another snowy attempt at the highest peak in the San Jacinto mountain range, this time went better since we avoided the wrong turn at the switch backs that got us so far off course before.  Started with an interesting brewery in Redlands CA, then a great hike, flag on the hill, great view before the storm rolled in plus shameless selfie in the cold.

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I will eventually get to posting about my five year mark and our growth culture at the office, the half in Mexico City, jumping out of an airplane, and the kick off to Ironman Mallorca training since those have been keeping me busy the last few weeks but need to get ready for Denali.  Time to go through my packing lists again and get ready to head to the airport.  Since I have a free morning there tomorrow will snap a few pictures and write about the small fortune I spent on high altitude cold weather gear I had to get despite living in a hot flat state.  For dispatches from the training expedition seminar we can be followed here on the RMI Blog.



Failure on San Jacinto

Having decided that a Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley, Alaska) attempt is in my future I decided to begin peak bagging when at all possible.  To start this journey I decided to take a weekend and head to Idyllwild, CA.  Idyllwild is at about 5,400 feet and is the kick off for the route of San Jacinto peak which is the highest in the San Jacinto mountain range and goes in via Mt. Marion.  Having heard this was the best way up I was pretty stoked to give it a shot in the winter despite not knowing the trail or if it was marked up high to avoid the few feet of snow pack.  Despite it being in the high 80s in Palm Desert the night before I still expected some snow on the trail.  For preparation there really was only a couple trail reports from weeks earlier, all before the heavy snow fall in early February, so I could have been more prepared.

We headed out of Palm Desert about 04:00 expecting to check in at the ranger station and get our permit before dawn, here was my first failure.  In my packing rush I failed to grab my head lamp  and during the busy work week preceding the climb I had not gotten nearly enough sleep.  So looking over the various warning signs at the Idyllwild Ranger station the commentary about the need for ice axes and crampons and the lack of trail marking made me nervous from the start.  Due to the lack of light before dawn and lack of proper snow/ice gear we decided to doze in the car for an hour and grab coffee before hitting the trail after the sun rose.  The trail is not supposed to be that long, being close to 6 miles from the winter road side parking to the summit, it is still tough considering it rises almost 5,000 ft in that short distance.  I will not pour through all the detail of the hike up but rather display what it was like in photos below.  It was tough considering we mostly just looked for other foot prints in the snow to find the trail which ultimately was not a good strategy leaving us shy of the peak by 3/4 of a mile and about 1,000 vertical feet.

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The trail marks were few and far between since all the cairns were buried sort of like this sign.


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We had a predetermined turn around of 12:45 at the latest since I really had no desire to risk being stuck out in the snow overnight with no gear, little light, and few if any real trail marks. The peak seemed so close but with 2-3 feet of snow pack and no real map, gps, or trail marks we just did not know how to get there fast enough.  This coupled with the extreme vertical in semi-packed snow made everything over 8,000 ft a real challenge.

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Reaching the bottom after the failure with an hour of daylight remaining was hard on the ego but reinforced that mountains are about the journey sometimes and not always the peak.  I learned more about myself and what I can achieve based on my level of preparedness, even when that preparation falls woefully short.   I would be curious so see the trail again in more favorable conditions but guess that will be another trip.


Utah is up next.