My journey into the mountains has been ... unique. I discovered a love of high altitude on a semi-spontaneous climb of Kilimanjaro three years ago. At the time I was completely sedentary - working an office job that I hated and living very much indoors. I didn’t feel capable of anything great back then, but the pain of pressing ever uphill that Kilimanjaro required awoke something inside of me that had been asleep for a long time. I discovered I was capable. (And also discovered a sick love for the unique misery that is climbing.) Thus began a three-year-and-counting journey towards Denali.
Denali has become my Ithaka.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
The pursuit of Denali has required many leaps of faith. I started with barely an understanding of what a glacier is and have since fallen in love with those tragic bodies of ice... learning how to pitch my first tent among them in a snowstorm on Rainier, admiring their terrifying beauty up close while on a heartbreaking summit turn-around on Mt. Baker. I started my own photo business along the way to share the wonder of being small in a huge landscape. I started an instagram project to share my training progress and inspire others to get outside. The journey has been sweet and I still have so much to learn.
That’s why I’m applying for this grant. I lack the climbing proficiency to do Denali the way I want - calling the shots; leading my own expedition. Summer 2019 I am planning an extended exploration of the Cascades; spending more time on the ice learning how to navigate crevasses and read avalanche conditions. I’ve already taken two mountaineering skills courses, climbed Rainier once and am planning to sign up for some ice climbing instruction in Rocky Mountain NP this winter (another possible grant use). I have a solid foundation that I want to continue to build on. The plan for summer 2019 is to climb Mt. Baker, the Himalayan-esque knife ridge of El Dorado Peak, the remote and stunning Glacier Peak, and top it all off with a return to Rainier; this time by the more technical Kautz Glacier route. Obviously this is a very ambitious set of goals - requiring lots of prep physically and logistically. If chosen, I would use the funds from the Blake Croxdale Climbing Grant to pay for trip expenses such as a guide, travel costs or gear for this trip or the aforementioned ice instruction in the winter.
I believe I am a worthy recipient of this gift because enabling me to climb in the Cascades will have a much greater reach than just one person. It’s a partnership. I intend to share my training program and knowledge through an instagram platform I share with a professional trainer; empowering other outdoor-lovers to build strength for their pursuits. First and foremost though, I am an artist, and I’m looking forward to the photos I will be able to create out there. Photos that inspire others to take care of our one, beautiful earth. I would love to be able to share those photos with the Pack Rat community.
Thank you for your consideration!