The Dirtbag Diaries

The Dirtbag Diaries

United States

This is what adventure sounds like. Writer Fitz Cahall presents stories from unclimbed cliff faces, wind-swept ridges and the people who call the mountains their home.

Episodes

The Shorts--Double Vision  

"I looked like some mountain man's girlfriend, and sometimes, that's all I felt like," remembers Andrea Ross. "It was easy to hide in Darren's shadow--to let the world knock on his door first." 

But after an accident on Mt. Humphreys forced Andrea to draw on her EMT training and courage to coordinate a rescue, she reached a turning point in her relationship and the way she imagined her life. 

 

You can find more of Andrea's writing on her blog

081  

"Picture walking through a parking lot with a ski mask rolled up on your head and a pistol in your pocket. You're getting closer to the bank, your heart's beating faster, adrenaline's starting to rush through your head, and you can't believe you're about to do what you're about to do," says Roland Thompson. "When you're climbing a route you've never done before, it's a grade or two above what you're comfortable with, you're a few feet above that bolt you've got a dynamic move coming up--that adrenaline is definitely the same intensity, it's just cleaner." 

After serving 10-years in state and federal prisons, Roland discovered that he could satisfy his adrenaline craving and use his ability to stay calm in high-intensity situations by rock-climbing and snowboarding--instead of robbing banks. The outdoors also gave him what he had really been looking for all along: a sense of community. 

 

Roland is currently writing a book and doing public speaking events. Learn more at Iam081.com

Endangered Spaces--Katahdin Woods and Waters  

"The reason that I was able to do it is because I was incredibly naive," says Lucas St. Clair. "I had no idea how much work it was going to be, when I started. Not a clue." 

The thing Lucas did: work to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in the North Woods of Maine. 

We started this "Endangered Spaces" series for two reasons. First, we want to take a deeper look at a handful of important, active land battles. Second, and every bit as important, we want to follow the stories of a handful of people who, in their own, quirky ways, have stepped up to protect the threatened spaces they hold dear.

For Lucas, the endangered space wasn't the land he was working to protect, but the communities that surround it. 

 

The comment period for the 27 monuments on Zinke's list ends July 10th. Outdoor Alliance makes it easy to speak out for the places that are important to you

To plan your trip to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, visit Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.

The Shorts--Exit Strategy  

"Three days from the end of the trip, I started to panic," writes Emma Walker. "I still didn't know what to do with my summer, let alone the rest of my life. Inspiration, as I'd imagined it, hadn't struck. Now, I had to face the realization that I didn't have an exit strategy. This had been it, and it would inevitably end."

The summer after her first year of graduate school, Emma enrolled in an Alaska Pacific University Expedition Mountaineering course. She told her family she signed up because it meant she'd earn graduate credits to traipse around the Harding Icefield. But she also hoped the trip would bring some clarity on the bigger questions, like whether or not grad school had been a mistake and what she was still doing in Alaska.

No lightning bolts of clarity struck during her trip, but looking back a year later, she could see that, perhaps, her month in the Alaska mountains had given her the inspiration she needed after all. 

 

You can find more of Emma's writing at myalaskanodyssey.com or listen to her first Short, "I Poo: A Love Story"

Pedal Strokes and Perspective  

"As a brown woman, I stand out," says Mary Ann Thomas. "People came up to me just because they were curious, just because they were like, 'There aren't a  lot of strangers here, we're just interested in who you are as a person-- as a whole person.'"

Mary Ann is the daughter of Indian immigrants, she's queer and she had always lived  in the liberal bubble of big cities on the East Coast. When she embarked on a six-month, 6600-mile bike tour across the country, she worried most about the prejudice she might encounter as she pedaled through middle America. She was surprised to discover that the stereotypes she had to confront in a profound way were her own. 

Check out the blog from Mary Ann's trip, or find more of her writing here.

 

Picaflor  

When a bad breakup sent him spiraling into a deep depression, Tom Ireson fixated on an unconventional way to get his head straight:

"I really needed something to focus my mind on to pull me out of that," Tom says, "and about the biggest thing I could think of was to try and do a new route on a big wall." 

Not just any big wall, a big wall on the other side of the world in the remote and wild valley of Cochamo, Chile. When he latched on to the idea, Tom had never been to Cochamo and never climbed a big wall, much less established a new route on one. 

Today, we've got one for you about how, if you find yourself at the bottom of an impossibly deep hole, sometimes it takes an equally impossible goal to pull yourself out of it. 

 

If you want to hear more from Tom, check out his 2014 Short, 'Go For It'.

The Shorts--Let Joy Rule Your Life  

"I used to go climbing in the same way people would go to a well, a source of life equally routine and sacred. It would fill me up--leave me refreshed and full after a hard day in the mountains," writes Keith Erps. "After Ryan's death, climbing appeared dark and ugly. I wanted to love it, but had to find a new answer to the 'why' questions."

For many of us, the relationship we have with the outdoors stretches back longer than most of our friendships. But what do we do when what should have been a type one fun day in the mountains turns into the worst day of our lives? How do we redefine our relationships with the activities we love?

 

Ryan's family started a scholarship in his name to help underserved youth get outside. You can donate here

You can find more of Keith's writing here

The Bet  

Matt Muchna and Peter Journel are best friends, and complete opposites. Matt is spontaneous. Peter is a planner. Matt is an idealist, Peter in a realist. And a few years ago, they made a bet: Peter bet that Matt couldn't climb one of the highest continental peaks for less than $3,000. If he did, Peter would pay him back for the trip. 

"When I made this bet, I had maybe two or three pairs of cut off pants that were now shorts--or jorts--a pair of sandals, and maybe six or seven pretty nice Hawaiian shirts," remembers Matt. "And that was it." 

Today, producer Francesca Fenzi brings you a story of mountain climbing on a budget, friendship, and idealism versus realism. 

 

You can find more of Francesca's work at: francescafenzi.com

The Shorts--Catching Hope  

"Every day on the mountain and every night at the bar, drinking and partying was as much a part of my life as skiing," remembers Paddy O'Connell. "That is until, of course, they became the only part." 

We've heard the stories of addicts who found salvation in the outdoors and the outdoor community, but that's not the way the narrative arcs for everyone. For Paddy, recovery looked less like slashing pow turns with his ski-bum buddies, and more like a game of catch with his dad on the back lawn of a treatment facility in Minnesota. 

Bears Ears  

Josh Ewing's metamorphosis from climber to climber-activist and the battle to protect Bears Ears.

The Fear is Real  

Loosely speaking, there are two kinds of fear. There's the fear of external, objective hazards--like getting caught in an avalanche, or taking a bad fall climbing or getting mauled by a grizzly bear. Then, there's the internal, more slippery kind of fear, like the fear of not being pretty enough, or not being popular enough or not being perfect enough. 

When Kat Cannell embarked on a 350-mile, solo horse-packing trip through the mountains of Idaho and Montana, across snowy mountain passes and through a large swath of grizzly bear country, she had to confront both kinds of fears. She realized that maybe conquering the fear of having a head on with a grizzly and conquering the fear of not being pretty enough really isn't all that different.

 

This April, Kat and activist Katelyn Spradley plan to ride 900-miles from the Washington Coast to Redfish Lake, Idaho, following the path of Idaho's wild salmon up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers to their spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Basin. Learn more at RideforRedd.org, or follow the trip on Facebook or Instagram

Leaving the Races Behind  

If you travel down to Ushuaia, Argentina, you might just find a bus plastered with a massive photograph of Sam Evans-Brown. In that photo, he's sprinting, shoulder to shoulder, with Olympic cross-country ski-racer Martin Bianchi in the final stretch of the 2008 national ski championship of Argentina. 

Today, Sam brings us the backstory to that photograph--a story about a split-second act of kindness that altered the course of Martin's life, and about figuring out when it's time to leave the races behind. 

 

Sam hosts the podcast 'Outside In', a show from New Hampshire Public Radio about the natural world and how we use it. 

A version of this story originally aired on 'Outside In'. You can find "Don't Cheer for Me Argentina" here.

The Shorts--The Chute  

"'Oh, shoot', my dad muttered for the tenth or fifteenth time in the last five minutes. Then, he burst into exhausted chuckles," remembers Deron Daugherty. "I looked up the chute that we were trying to march out of: thirty degrees of slop, several hundred feet to go. 'Shoot', I agreed, and laughed, the dark laugh of those initiated to the secrets of redlined exertion. Type 2 fun before I knew its name. 

When Deron's uncle coerced him and his father on a trip to Vasey's Paradise, an oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, they had no idea what they'd find down there. They didn't know about the chute. They also had no idea what truths they would uncover about one another, the bonds that would form between the three of them or how long those bonds would last. 

The Year of Big Ideas 2017  

No matter who they voted for, right now, a lot of people in this country would agree that things could be better. In the long term, if want thing to go well or if we want to move forward or to grow, then two, almost evenly divided, sides of the country can't remain at intellectual war. 

So, this year, we bring you our annual Year of Big Ideas, but with a twist. With the current state of our country, asking people about their personal goals to get rad outside didn't quite feel right. Instead, we went out the simple/utterly confounding question: How do we move forward? 

Today, our friends, contributors and listeners weigh in with their thoughts and goals on what we do in 2017 and in the years to come. Happy New Year!

The Shorts--Vanlife  

"I have now officially sold out," writes Chris Kalman. "I work more than I climb. I pay rent and sleep in a house I'm getting rich off of writing--so rich, in fact, that I do my grocery shopping inside the store now." 

Today, we bring you the story of Chris's life through the eras of three vans, "Ford," "Chevy" and "Van," to his current, nameless fancypants car. How do you reconcile a dirtbag soul with changing goals and dreams? 

 

You can find more of Chris's writing at FringesFolly.com

To Infinity  

Chad Kellogg. September 22nd, 1971 to February 14th, 2014. Seattle climbing community legend. Dear friend to many. And the toughest guy around. 

"For Chad, not eating and shivering on ledges--that was like skiing powder for him. It was just that fun," remembers Jens Holsten. 

Today, we take a look at what gets left behind when someone like Chad leaves us, and what grows in that vacant space. 

In part one, we hear from Jens, Chad's climbing partner, good friend and mentee during the final years of his life. 

In part two, we follow Ras Vaughan and Gavin Woody as they pick up the torch on a project Chad dreamed up, but never completed: the Rainier Infinity Loop. An idea so grand, it seemed almost inhuman. 

The Shorts--The Skin Track  

With a professional ski guide for a dad and a skin instructor for a mom, Nina Hance learned early how to set a steep skin track and charge hard. At 20, she started to work toward her ski guide certification and got a job as an apprentice guide for a heli operation in Alaska. Imagine her delight when, her first week of college, she met Olivia, climber skier and aspiring avalanche forecaster: the ultimate female adventure companion. 

"She taught me how to party hard, and I made her wake up early for powder days," says Nina. "Whether in deep conversation over a bottle of wine, swapping leads on a multi-pitch, or giggling in the skin track, we couldn't get enough of each other." 

Then, one morning, Nina awoke to a phone full of missed calls from mutual friends, and the terrible realization that she would have to find a new way to love the mountains. 

coMOMdo  

"As a mom, you have no book that tells you the right way to take care of your kids through bad times," says Bonnie Elozory, mother of four. 

For seven-years, the Elozory family weathered a relentless streak of bad luck. With no instructions on how to pull her family out of the muck, Bonnie got creative. When her husband nudged Bonnie to rekindle her dream to hike the Appalachian Trail, she latched on to the idea. And decided to take the kids. 

"Oh my gosh," Bonnie remembers thinking, "this is going to save our lives."

 

*This episode contains discussions about assault. If you're listening with young ears, or have sensitive ears, you may want to skip this one. 

 

Click here to read Bonnie's blog from the trail.

What's Next?  

"This is the part that I never anticipated: the boots have taken on a life of their own. They've just worked magic with people," says M'Lynn. "I'd like to see Paul's boots continue to be an inspiration, continue to get people off the couch and out into the fresh air and paying attention to what they're doing with their lives."

Paul's boots have now covered all 2,189-miles of the AT. All three pairs have summited Katahdin. Now, we've got quite the collection of size 13 hiking boots at the office. And we agree with M'Lynn: we think it would be a shame to let them sit in the corner and collect dust. 

For our third and final episode on the Paul's Boots project, we bring you the story of thru-hiker Alex Newlon, who carried a pair of boots the entire length of the AT, and we have one last ask for you: 

Where do these boots go next? 

Email ideas to boots@ducttapethenbeer.com

 

Watch the full Paul's Boots film.

Listen to the first Paul's Boots episode and the Update from the Trail episode

Tales of Terror Vol. 7  

This is our seventh annual Tales of Terror episode. Over the past seven years, we've read a lot of scary stories about things that happen out in the woods. We've discovered that there are all kinds of frightening things that can happen out there, but there are two ingredients that, mixed together, seem to lead to a terrifying experience more often than anything else: 

1. Going out alone

2. Trying to go to sleep

Today, we bring you three stories of what happens when you try to go to sleep alone in the woods. First, we'll hear from Ryan Taylor, then from Jason Prinster and then from Duct Tape Then Beer's very own Isaiah Branch-Boyle. Happy Halloween, everyone. Maybe go camping with a buddy. 

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