Moab - Utah
October 7th - 9th 2016
Well I have officially been alive for 8,030 days, and this chapter will conclude the same way it began...on my birthday. Amidst reaching many of my goals - I have come to find much of what I thought I wanted wasn't what I want after all. It's funny how life continually changes directions. Thirsty for answers of what could be, I sometimes forget to savor what is. So long as i'm moving forward and staying true to my character and values, I'll consider that the right direction. I'm finding myself more and more hungry for change and a new levels of growth. Stay tuned.
Until then...desert season.
A birthday celebration consisting of an escape to the sandstone bliss of the Utah desert was precisely what this girl needed. Cracked and bleeding hands, bruise covered legs, dreaded hair, and 100% pure delight.
Jackson Hole, WY
September 22-26, 2016
Have you ever met people that are so different from you, but you couldn't be more similar at the same time? I'm blessed to be able to work with many of these people. We each come from completely contrasting backgrounds but have managed to cross paths by a means of common passion. Nothing beats working with your favorite adventuring partners and conjuring up lofty ideas on a slow day. The moment we pull out the calendars and the pen hits the paper, reality formulates. And so...Jackson Hole. I had never been -therefore passing up this opportunity was out of the question. We will just overlook the fact that I would be returning to Denver only a few hours before a midterm.
This trip was short but oh so sweet. Jackson gave us quite the show as it was at it's peak with the most stunning array of fall colors. We experienced rain, fog, almost getting struck by lightning, more rain, snow, and sunshine. It was paradise. With a day hike up Death Canyon and an overnight through Paintbrush Canyon we savored the terrain ablaze with epic fall foliage.
I sometimes forget how valuable it is to slow down and not always have demanding objectives. Sometimes it's best to go without a particular goal in mind, and things always seem to work out. You just need to go. Why is it that the "going" is the hardest part?
Jackson was one of those places I've always seen and heard so much about which almost made me less inclined to visit. Yet upon immediate arrival, I was smitten. The terrain was so jagged and vast that the potential for adventure and exploration was overwhelming.
An odd feeling it was waking up to the golden sunrise illuminating the Grand - then ending the same day in an incandescent classroom setting. I wouldn't typically advise studying for an exam that is worth one third of your grade while on a backpacking trip... Who am I kidding, yes I would. You could say I bombed the exam....
But the Memories were worth it.
A Song of Ascents
" I lift my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from The Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber." -Psalm 121
July 29 - August 7, 2016
Leave your rent check. Final proofread on marketing paper. Respond to last emails. Send photo invoice. Don't forget chapstick. 30 mins left on laundry. Send debrief. Three more hours of work. Sharpen crampons. 7am flight.
ready. set. go.
I still await the day that preparing for trips will be a part of the process that I look forward to again. As for now they consist of endless checklists and making each free second in my day count. It's seemingly the most frustrating part of the process. I suppose that's what I get for being a full time student, working full time, and running a photography side hustle. Despite everything I have pulling at me - the moment my feet hit the dirt all of those stresses fade to black - once again i'm present. No matter how much I have going on in life, somehow I have always made time for what is important...living rather than existing. I'm confidant I will reach a point of greater simplicity in life soon. As for now it's a season of hustling to reach my goals.
This trip is especially unique for me as it's my first time to Washington, and more importantly my first "big mountain" on glaciated terrain. My boss Monique and I planned this trip about 5 months in advance with the initial intent of exploring Boston Basin and Forbidden Peak specifically. A week before we left we made a last minute decision to change up our itinerary and make the most of our time. We talked about keeping some destinations in the North Cascades then possibly tagging Mt. Baker as well. After enough back and forth I said to hell with it -
"Why not rainier?"
Monique immediately lit up...she didn't need to say a word. The decision was made. We spent the remaining months continuing to practice glacial rescue, self arrest, anchor building, and traveling on a rope team. This was new territory for me and a mixture of refresh and learning new skills for Monique. There had always been so much hype surrounding this particular volcano, so I was anxious to see her for myself. I'll never forget flying into Seattle and seeing Mt. Adams in the distance thinking that was Rainier. I thought to myself "oh that's pretty cool I guess." Then moments later I peered up from my book to see Rainier consume the entire window. My jaw dropped and my heart sank to my feet. I looked at Monique and she started laughing at me. I was going to stand on top of that. Hell. Yes.
camp muir - base camp
Sunday, July 31st 2016
Completely new terrain. My heart was pounding as my boots hit the gravel with excitement of what was to come. We navigated through the misty meadows of Paradise completely consumed by wild flowers. With the words of John Muir echoing through my mind I felt completely vulnerable and awestruck by the newness of my surroundings. Rainier - so massive that you had to literally peer up at her. We trekked for 4 miles gaining just under 5,000ft of elevation. Upon our arrival to a bustling Camp Muir we quickly set up camp, made some dinner, then headed for bed around 3:30pm. Conditions couldn't have been better, not a lick of wind or a cloud in the sky. I felt spoiled and almost embarrassed by the good weather as I know this experience can be quite the opposite for most people. It almost felt too easy so far. I quickly dozed off praying for a seamless success come morning.
Sunday, august 1st 2016
That "morning" came all too quickly. Our alarms went off at 12am just as the wind started to beat down on the tent. Not wanting to get out of my sleeping bag I thought to myself for a moment "maybe I don't like this mountaineering thing after all." I found the will and crawled out of the tent and whipped on my mountaineering boots. We slapped on our crampons, downed some breakfast, roped up, and headed for Ingraham Flats by 12:45am. The first thirty minutes felt like the starting gates of the Kentucky Derby to navigate around the guided groups. All the while I was shaking the sleep off and finding my rhythm kick stepping. Once getting over our first ladder crossing we started winding through the glacier up to Disappointment Cleaver. It was interesting navigating through this terrain that you couldn't see outside of your headlamp. Simply following this trail (well established this time of year) with no clue what this terrain around you looked like, but faintly seeing the silhouettes of surrounding peaks. I felt like the darkness was coming in on me. Then Disappointment Cleaver. We kept our crampons on and stayed roped up to get through this chossy scramble as quickly as we could. It felt endless as our crampons were like nails on a chalkboard scraping the rock. The wind then began blasting dirt into our eyes as the we were nearing the top. Finally, snow again and I could see.
I peered up and saw a trail of headlamps winding for the summit dome. Now I really felt like an ant. The wind was ripping. We each had to keep a level head and ensure each foot/ice tool placement was solid as the terrain was getting steeper. We continued up the never ending switchbacks as we navigated around people being sent down. At one point we took a breather for a few seconds and I gazed out to see a horizon which was lit with scattered glowing red wildfires. It felt like I was in a war zone as the wind attempted to knock me over. As we gained a few hundred feet more the sun I never thought would come finally cracked the horizon. Alpine glow ignited our surroundings and brought complete and utter stillness. This was the only time I took my camera out of my pack up on our ascent.
Just a few hundred feet below the summit and my fatigue was setting in. It had been quite some time since we had seen another group. It was a contrast from practically jumping over groups when we started to now the mountain feeling desolate. Eventually a guided group started walking back down towards us. It happened to be Dave Hahn (most summits of Everest for a non-sherpa) and Monique knew him. He gave Monique a quick hug and congratulated me on my summit. That meant we were near and gave me just the second wind I needed. Just after 7:30am we crossed the crater to the dome reaching our 14,409ft of elevation.
WE DID IT.
After a successful descent that felt like it would never end, I have never been so relieved to reach freeze dried food and rip off all my sweaty layers. We rested up for a bit, downed some dried cheesecake, then continued to the base around 3:30pm. Luckily on the majority of the descent from Camp Muir to Paradise we were able to glissade and my knees were stoked. This added some comical relief to end our day. We reached the base by 6pm with all of the wandering tourists looking at us like we were unicorns. I really enjoyed peeling my sweaty socks off next to a herd of visitors trying to capture a view of Rainier through the clouds on their selfie stick.
These character building experiences are all the more important to me the older I become. They slap me down sometimes and make me realize that my day to day grievances are only a grain of salt in the ocean of experience I will have. But most of all these suffer fests help me to realize that the little things in life really aren't that bad. These experiences help me gain perspective and show me what i'm capable of. Whether it is climbing mountains, learning a new skillset, or just getting through the daily grind...I hope to keep pushing to do more and be more - always. The mind is a powerful tool when you allow it to be.
Following Rainier we spent our rest day in Seattle. This being my first time in Seattle I have to say putting myself in the middle of Pike Place Market wasn't the best call. Talk about sensory overload. Luckily this was followed with SUPing on the harbor, longboarding, and tacos! After some R&R we headed north for the Cascades. Unfortunately our good weather window promptly closed upon our arrival. We had to bail out on our objectives in Boston Basin after getting rained out on our super steep and sketchy approach. So what would we do next? Buy some candy bars + a six pack of course. We found a cozy little camping spot near Diablo Lake with some scenic day hikes as an alternative. Plans don't always work out the way you want, but it's good to keep moving forward regardless. You never know what you'll find!
I'd say we did alright.
Until next time washington
Lone Eagle Peak
July 11th-12th 2016
Lone Eagle Peak has been a trip I've been dreaming about for years now. She first caught my attention when I stumbled across Jack Brauer's Long Eagle Reflection photo as I was seeking some mountain inspiration. Come to find out this tantalizing peak was in my very own backyard. This objective has always been pushed to the back burner when it came time to plan a new trip. Fortunately the stars finally aligned when myself, Ryan, and Nick were seeking a weekday getaway.
Originally, standing upon her summit never even crossed my mind. With my slow development into a climber, the ways in which I wish to experience these alpine settings have altered. It's rarely enough to simply sight see anymore. I now wish to immerse myself in these places and take full advantage of the experiences these environments can provide. Ryan of course was game when I brought the idea up, and that's all I needed for determination to set in. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my feet wet in alpine climbing before my upcoming Washington trip and Ryan was a perfect mentor.
Pictures don't quite compare to standing below a mountain you've been drooling over for so long. When we first came around the bend and my eyes met that summit my heart flooded with a degree of fear.
Eventually those nerves transitioned into excitement once we found a cozy little place to call home along Crater Lake. Ryan and I set off right after our arrival to do some route finding as we were very uncertain about what the descent was going to look like. We made it back to camp just as the sun was about to sink and cooked up some quick dinner. The boys were straight to bed by 9:30pm. I couldn't miss out on a good photo opportunity and evening quiet time so I headed for the water to take some night shots despite the alpine start that was awaiting me on the other side.
That alpine start came a lot sooner than expected after a restless night in my hammock. We crammed some food in us then quickly began our approach to the base of the North Face. I started out by telling myself not to look down...then eventually became more comfortable and confident in the process and exposure. Eventually we reached the final 150ft crux pitch which was a great way to end the day on this fun 5.7 "money pitch" followed by a quick scramble to the top. Once upon the summit we signed the summit register and savored the view with some snacks. The terrain was so jagged and steep as it jutted straight out of the ground.
Happy Independence Day
Summit County, Co
July 4, 2016
I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such a uniquely diverse group of people. My friend group is extremely eclectic but all are undeniably motivated in their own lives. Not everyone has it figured out. We are young, and it's a continuous journey. Nevertheless these people never cease to provide me with a great deal of inspiration. Though we are all so different, we are able to relate on one common denominator.
In whatever avenue it may be, we all are driven by creating a different life for ourselves. A life that positively impacts others, is true to who we are, and follows the road less traveled. It's my favorite experience to bring new people together who otherwise would likely never meet. The dental assistant, the entrepreneur, the artist. the mountain guide turned businessman, and then there is me...yet to be determined. Either way I find great peace, for I know I am a jack of all trades and that's okay. I hope to continue to fill my life with these relationships which shape and pour into me. Here are some shots from enjoying Independence Day together is Summit County. We rushed up after work to enjoy the last of golden hour, watch the fireworks, spend the evening in Keystone, then rush back to work the next day. It's crazy to think this time last year I had just walked into the madness of Dublin, Ireland. Now I spend it enjoying the tranquility of home with friends new and old.
Green River, Utah
June 5-6, 2016
I break from scribbling these scattered words and gaze upon a silvered man across the patio. I am flooded by a taste of peace which the coming days will surely bring. He sits across from his aged and sickly wife. She can't say or do much anymore, but she doesn't need to. His charcoal dances across the paper as he blends and smudges the lines with his thumb. He breaks from his stroke and assists his sweet in sipping her coffee. With a subtle smile he returns to his page.
I can only imagine what these two have seen and experienced together. Despite all their years upon this earth their love for each other has only strengthened - even a stranger can see this. I felt humbled to think of how my story has only just begun to be written. May my preparation for adventure become the habit of my mornings, and not simply a result of my youthfulness. May I feed into others lives the way this man has loved his wife all these years. May I keep my feet grounded and my eyes always gazing towards the sky and always chase the moments that give me the greatest joy.
FOLD. ROLL. PACK. ZIP.
March 12, 2016
Not all days in life can be filled with excitement
And that's okay.
What's important is realizing there can still be purpose & clarity found in the simplicity.
A Southwest Loop
January 4th-8th 2016
I would always laugh at people when they told me that life becomes a lot harder the older you get. I've always thought to myself "yeah well i'll show you". Though part of me still maintains that mindset I can't help but be amazed be the lack of time I'm developing. Moments to myself require sacrifice, work, and dedication to obtain anymore. I managed to snag a few days off before classes started. My friend Jacob and I loaded his car with gear for every adventure you could imagine. We had a lofty itinerary that of course needed some adjustments as conditions proved unfavorable to some of our objections. Regardless we made the most of every free moment we had. Our loop started at Zapatta Falls, then Wolf Creek, then home base for climbing in Ouray. Who said vacations were for resting and relaxing anyways?
Climb. ski. climb. repeat.
Reflecting on 2015
January 4th 2016
Two years ago I decided to move back to Denver from Grand Junction because I wanted to struggle more. I know this sounds odd, so let me clarify. I never considered myself a person who would thrive in a college setting. Giving up four years of my life to gain a piece of paper was not something that was appealing to me. I spent my first year of school in Grand Junction going through the motions of a college student. Though it was an amazing time of travel, adventure, and meeting new friends, I was missing something deeper. Therefore, I moved back in the hopes of pushing myself and finding something greater in what I was passionate about, as well as more purpose behind my degree. Little did I know I would obtain the struggle I was seeking tenfold.
My world was shaken on January 24th when I awoke to a phone call that I never thought I would receive. One of my best friends had passed and I felt like I was in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. In that moment I learned what it felt like to lose a brother. This numbing feeling was something that was impossible to shake. Walking about my days in a complete fog I was unable to carry out conversations with people and broke down every moment I was alone. Despite this pain I knew that there was beauty to be found within this time. By God's grace I managed to continue to make it through school, work, run a non-profit fundraiser in Spencer's memory, do photography, and scrounge up a few moments in the mountains to decompress from it all. I owe everything to my friends and family who supported me during this time. Without them I would have shattered. Such a blessing it's been to see the impact of Spencer's life rise from the ashes of his death. New friendships were formed, old friendships were once again found, motivation was ignited, and purpose was sought.
DON'T LET THE DAILY GRIND FOG YOUR ABILITY TO CHASE AFTER WHAT YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT. FIGHT FOR THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER.
Not only was 2015 one of the most trialling years of my life, but it was one of the most rewarding. I have always been a person who takes on more than she should. This year I was shown a new level of strength I was unaware I possessed. 2015 was a year full of valuable lessons that have shaped who I am and how I wish to impact the lives of others. I now have a stronger grasp on my capabilities, limits, fears, and the direction in life I wish to pursue. I am so thankful for all the blessings that surround me. Here is a little recap on some of my favorite moments from this past year:
Wishing many blessings to everyone in their new year.
November 29, 2015
I recently jumped on the other side of the camera for my very talented friend Mike Larremore. Mike is an established Denver photographer with a true gift for portraiture. As someone who is still trying to create a path for my future, I completely value these relationships that help direct me. It's so important to soak in the lessons of life those around you have to teach. Mike always says "the day you decide to do photography full time, is the day you file for bankruptcy". Despite that reality for many photographers, Mike hasn't looked back since making the leap and has been extremely successful because of it. As for me, photography is still just a form of expression I enjoy. I have not yet reached a level where I would like to pursue it full time, but you never know what the future holds. For our shoot we played on the yoga mat gathering some images for a fitness startup he is currently working with. I was eager to help him out because health is something that is very important to me.
My view on health is quite simple:
"You get out of your body what you put into it."
It's amazing how simply being conscious of what your body is telling you can change your lifestyle and attitude towards the world around you. Some of my greatest passions in life are skiing, rock climbing, and exploring the mountains. Keeping myself in shape is crucial to being able to pursue these things. What a tragedy it would be to no longer be able to do the things I love due to physical ailments. By no means am I a calorie counting health nut...but I do think it's important to be aware of what we put into our bodies. If I work for my body, it will work for me.
Yoga has been a great source of stress relief through my bustling college days. It also has been excellent for working my patience, tolerance, and not to mention strength building. Being limber is key in my pursuits. Not only does it provide an advantage in climbing, but it also helps to promote healing and prevent injury. I have become passionate about yoga because of the self reflection and peace of mind that it provides. It's a wonderful coping mechanism when life starts to wrap it's claws around you. Not to mention it's purely affordable and convenient. Once I starting actively contributing to my health, I was amazed by the difference I saw. I had more energy going about my days, I remained a more positive person, and it truly did become habit rather than work. Now that the holiday season is in full effect, ensure you take time to slow down and give back to your body what it has given to you.
It's the little things in life that can make a big difference.
Check out more of Mike's work ---> www.mikelarremore.com
When Plans Change Memories Grow Stronger
October 8th - 11th 2015
I will admit, I love birthdays. I find these days to be the perfect excuse to get the people I adore together to knock off some bucket list items. This birthday was especially unique as it was my 21st. Most people choose to spend this day getting so intoxicated that they don't remember it. For me I hoped to do something in a true Victoria fashion that was actually worth remembering. And so myself, Max and Mike set off for Telluride to do what we do best...find the fun.
The trip began with winding up the ever beautiful Yankee Boy Basin just out of Ouray. Somehow we managed to get Max's giant Tahoe all the way to the top. Once we arrived we created our home for the night. We were sandwiched between Gilpin Peak (pictured in our group shot) and Mt. Sneffels, our morning objective. The evening was spent lying on the ground, tea in hand, watching the stars dance above us. Views like this can't be described. The vastness that lies above us when gazing at a sky like that consumes me with a great feeling of possibility. Feeling so small, yet realizing all the potential the future holds.
Well before the sun cracked the horizon line we awoke and made our morning coffee and oatmeal. Then we were off. Conditions could not have been better. We were the first ones on the mountain since Sneffels had received her first white dress of the season. The skies were perfectly blue bird, which made for optimal summit views. This was Mikes first 14er and I was so excited to share this one with him because it's one i've wanted to do for a while now. This hike was short, but oh so sweet. Not too technical except for the free climb to the summit. I was so proud to watch Mike push past his fear of heights. I could not have asked for better company to share this summit with. These two boys kept me laughing my butt off the whole way through.
After our climb we took Last Dollar Road into Telluride and camped closer to town this night. We were lucky enough to still get some excellent colors during our stay. This particular weekend can often be hit or miss. We found a nice little camp spot, hung the hammocks and made new our home. We celebrated my birthday and Mikes first summit with a feast. We cooked beer brats, grilled veggies, potatoes, and carrot cake to top it all off. The evening was spent reminiscing, sharing dreams, struggles and aspirations. These are the moments that I cherish most in life.
My friend Dana from Grand Junction came to meet us on Saturday. The boys were feeling a bit under the weather so myself, Dana, and her boyfriend hiked up to bear creek falls. This was a perfect little day hike only being 5 miles round trip. I definitely recommend it especially because you can walk to the trail head from town. After our hike we checked into our hotel and finally showered up. We had a wonderful group dinner at High Pie Pizza then headed to the saloon. We danced and laughed until we couldn't walk. The night was perfect. Have you ever been filled with so much joy you kind of want to cry? This night was that for me.
On our final morning before departing Telluride we felt the need to squeeze in one last adventure. The Via Ferrata. This was another thing i've wanted to do for years, so I couldn't find the will to let it pass me by despite fighting a hangover (thank you wedding party and champagne). We met our new friend Stretch at the saloon the night before, and he joined us on our traverse. It was so great having Stretch there to teach us about the history in Telluride. He informed us that at one point the Telluride valley was stripped of trees because of the mining, crazy huh? Stretch is a raft guide in Buena Vista in the summer, and lives in his camper in Telluride in the winter. People like this inspire me so much to not make excuses as to why I can't do things. I'm really starting to learn that people will always try and talk you out of doing things, but if it's what makes you happy then you need to go for it. If you don't, you're doing yourself a great disservice. Everyone's definition of happiness and contentment is different. Some are simpler than others. Who are we trying to impress anyways? For me, my experiences and the relationships in my life are how I gauge my happiness. Weekends like this don't just happen. It takes work and sacrifice to create these moments. After going to school and working full time I realize that these moments wont happen unless I make them a reality. It's so important to create time for yourself. This is the only life we get, so we may as well enjoy it a little bit!