I'm adapting to a warming climate by learning how to alpine climb, since many big mountain ski lines around the world are quickly becoming rock routes. Training for alpinism gives me versatility- I can still summit the mountains of my dreams even if there's not enough snow to ski them (I plan to bring alpine climbing boots and ski boots on future trips). how are you preparing for a warming planet? #bigmtndreams #bugaboobootcamp Photo: @rob.lea
I love seeing puppies, food videos and scenic landscapes in my newsfeed, but I also like information that challenges my point of view. Our world is rapidly changing. Hot button topics are fueling a passionate divide between groups in America and the rest of the world. I'm concerned that social media is contributing to this polarization of humanity. I urge you to seek out opinions and media that you don't "like," that might make you uncomfortable, and delve into those topics too. Read more on my most recent blog post: http://www.carolinegleich.com/reflections-from-a-year-of-activism/ (link also in profile)
Over the past year, I’ve devoted more time to attending meetings and hearings on various environmental issues ranging from regional haze in Utah’s national parks, to the BLM’s coal leasing process, to the proposed national monument in the Bear’s Ears area of southeastern Utah. I’ve learned so much from attending these, but perhaps the best takeaway is the importance of hearing the opposition. It’s easy to feel headstrong and committed to your values on the importance of wilderness when you are in your own little bubble, but seeing people in rural Utah whose lives depend on coal mining and hearing their perspectives gives you empathy in the environmental battle. Likewise, it’s an opportunity for you to share your point of view with them. Confronting opposing views isn’t easy. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – to step into the belly of the beast with patience and hope instead of fear. Being on the front lines of these battles can be terrifying, until you understand we’re all there trying to preserve a way of life we’ve grown up with and we know and love.
See all those yellow shirts in the background? That’s the coal industry.
One of the biggest things I’ve seen happening in the world is that people aren’t taking the time to seek out dissenting opinions. Debates are becoming increasingly black and white. Hot button topics are fueling a passionate divide between groups in America and the rest of the world. We see issues as an “us against them” fight, rather than an opportunity to look an issue from a different perspective. Even if we don’t agree with the opposition, we still need to treat those with viewpoints with respect and empathy. And if we take the time to truly listen, there’s so much we can learn. I truly believe that together, we are stronger. Instead of having clear cut positions, there can be a spectrum of values – layers of grey in the normally black and white lines that are being cut.
The way we are getting our news is further polarizing us. Instead of reading newspapers, we’re getting it through apps. Those apps are streamlining the experience into what they think we will “like” to get us to stay on their sites longer. It makes sense that we get more of what we like. But it doesn’t progress us as humans. I think it’s setting us back. I listened to a really interested Freakeconomics podcast about the current state of the internet where they said, “Facebook shows us what they think we’ll like vs what might actually be important. The best computer scientists are working to keep you on Facebook for ten minutes longer. Most people’s feeds are dominated by happy news.” BTW, I highly recommend subscribing to Freakeconomics podcast. This post is in no way supported or endorsed by them, I just thoroughly enjoy listening to it, and I learn so much every time I do.
I love puppies, food videos and beautiful scenery just as much as the next person, but I also like to be challenged. I like to see and read things that make me think about something in the world differently. I urge you to seek out opinions and media that you don’t “like,” that might make you uncomfortable, and to delve into those topics too.
It’s just like the environmental hearings. If we can get inside the hearts and minds of people with opposing viewpoints, we’ll have a better chance of creating solutions that improve everyone’s lives. When we make assumptions about the way a person is, we lose an opportunity to ask them to tell their story.
At the coal hearing about reforming the BLM’s process for leasing public lands for coal mining, the room was filled with pro fossil fuel industry folks and coal workers. I ended up striking up a conversation with two of them, Mike and Brendan. They were from rural towns near Price, UT. Coal mining is all they’ve ever known. It’s the only job that is available. Mike told me he would work as a solar installer tomorrow if he could find work doing it. After I talked to them, I saw it as less of an “us vs. them,” battle, and instead as a battle of trying to preserve our jobs and the livelihood we’ve come to know. We both are going to have to make transitions – as the climate warms up, I’m going to have to become more versatile in my career. Snow is no longer something we can depend on, and I’m adapting by learning how to alpine climb, so I can still summit the mountains of my dreams even if they aren’t skiable. I’ll still be fighting for legislation that will curb fossil fuel emissions, to try and keep our planet from warming more, but I’m going to have to adapt. They too are going to have to adapt to a changing world as coal is being phased out. If we can talk about these transitions together, and prepare, it will make it much easier for both of us. And that was what our conversation was about. It’s a lot easier when you can brace yourself for an uncertain future and make preparations then when the rug is pulled out from under you. Having that conversation with Mike and Brandon that day really opened my eyes to how we can create win-win situations all around.
New friends in strange places.
I had a similar experience at the Bear’s Ears meeting in Bluff, UT. We had to start lining up to get a seat inside the meeting building hours in advance (in triple digit degree heat!). Next to our group of environmentalists and outdoor industry folks in line was a group of men and women from Blanding, UT, who had taken Protect Bears Ears shirts from the tribes and put an X through them. I tried to talk to them to see if we could find common ground. Often, starting up the conversation with these folks is the hardest part. It’s a lot easier to stand next to each other in line, awkwardly not saying anything and having no interaction. We had a civil conversation. We were polite and respectful – sharing stories about what we did for living and the kinds of experiences we grew up with. I learned more about the intricacies of the issue. I didn’t change my position, but it challenged my way of thinking about it, and that’s the crux of all of this. We have to force ourselves to confront dissenting viewpoints. And we have to try to avoid making stereotypes about groups, because that harms everyone. It’s not just environmentalists vs. natural resource extractors. We’re climbers and campers and skiers and hikers and mountain bikers and tribes and non-profits, moms, dads, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, ATVers, hunters, gatherers, gravel extractors, archaeologists, anthropologists, mountain guides, miners, developers – all with interests to protect and people to support.
Our world is rapidly changing. The way we access our news, the way we access the wilderness, how we power our grid – the only certainty is change. But how we react to change and deal with crises will define us. I urge us to seek out opposing viewpoints in the news and the information we consume, to be brave in a time of uncertainty, to understand our values and have a commitment to them, but also to seek opportunities to find common ground with our adversaries and acknowledge them. We all want to be heard and acknowledged. And whether you are on the winning side or the losing side, to keep hope for the vision of the future we want to create.
Here’s the other thing I’ve learned
We need more environmentalists and outdoor recreationalists joining these conversations, showing up to the meetings and getting involved in these efforts. The thing is, the oil and gas industries spend so much money lobbying, if we don’t show up, you can almost guarantee they are the only ones who are making their voices heard. Their industry is incredibly well-organized, and they have tons of experience being effective lobbyists. We have to keep pushing ourselves to organize and execute strategic campaigns. I hope you’ll join me at the next hearing, or contribute comments or write an op-ed to support the next campaign.
It's not how hard you go- I'm learning that the real crux of being an endurance athlete lies in how well you can recover. In the past week, I've been on the road almost non-stop, from Mexican Hat and Bluff, UT to high in the San Juans of CO, back to SLC and then back down to the desert and the slot canyons of the San Rafael Swell. All the hours in the car (and pre-dawn wake ups) have me feeling run down, so this weekend, my goal was to chill. It's easy to over commit and burn yourself out, but the real accomplishment is finding the right balance of work, play, travel, family and all the other joys of life. Grateful for the opportunities to travel, but stoked to be home now putting my feet up for Pioneer Day Weekend! #poweryourpassion @jaybirdsport #recoveryisaweapon
After the Bears Ears meeting, @brooke.froelich and I went straight to the high mountains – to meet up with 16 other wild women at the Opus Hut in the San Juan Mountains. Usually, I get outside with a mix of men and women. I grew up competing with three brothers, and I don't personally need to be in a gender segregated group to overcome athletic challenges. That said, being in this group of strong, passionate women filled a void for me. I felt what it was like to have sisters, and it rejuvenated my spirit. The best part was the contagious giggling. Huge thanks to @boldbrewteam for organizing this event and to all the ladies who came out. Photo: @brooke.froelich
We gave ourselves to the mountain in a different way this weekend by attending the Bears Ears public meeting and showing our support for strong protection of the land. My head is still spinning from the experience and it's taken me some time to decompress, as it was a physically and emotionally taxing day. Around 1500 people came out in 102 degree heat. We had to wait a long time in the sun to get into the hearing room. Once inside the packed community center, the conversation was as heated as the temperature. I was grateful to have an opportunity to speak near the end of the meeting. The room was filled with a sea of light blue showing support for environmental protection of Bears Ears. We had many strong voices and they were heard. Huge thanks to everyone from the environmental groups, the tribes and outdoor industry who showed up to have this conversation. On a personal level, I'm especially thankful to @rob.lea and @brookefroelich, who supported me throughout the long, sweaty day. I hope our work will keep this view unchanged. #protectbearsears
Bears ears Meeting update. Showed up at 9 am, waited in 95 degree heat for two hours to get a spot in this room. I'm not going to lie and say that attending these meetings is the most glamorous part of activism. It's not. It's uncomfortable. It's slow- it can take all day- The crowds can be intimidating and at times it feels like a battleground. Preparing a thoughtful statement requires research and preparation and practice. No matter how many times I practice, my voice quivers when I start to speak. My hands shake. It's a huge adrenaline rush. But I'm stoked to be here and make my voice heard. #protectbearsears
The Bears Ears region is home to more than 100,000 cultural and archaeological sites, the majority of which have never been studied by archaeologists. If we don't #protectbearsearsnow, we might lose these stories of human history, and that has implications for people all over the world. In college, I majored in anthropology, and the lessons I learned from studying our ancestral roots help me everyday, professionally and personally. For more reasons to protect Bears Ears, check out my blog for the @wildernesssociety, link in profile. Photo: @forestwoodward
The Bears Ears region is a 1.9 million acre area of public land in Southeastern Utah. It is home to more than 100,000 cultural and archaeological sites, as well as world-class climbing (Indian Creek) and outdoor recreation opportunities. If you're anywhere near the four corners region this Saturday, come join me at a public meeting in Bluff, UT. We need all hands on deck to tell secretary Sally Jewell how important it is to #protectbearsears, for culture and for climbing! Link to rsvp for meeting in profile. Photo: Josh Ewing @patagonia Hit me up if you have any questions!
The way to create change is through hope, compassion and persistence. Apathy is the biggest enemy. You'd never start up a hard climb thinking "there's no way I can do this, I might as well not even try." It takes persistence and belief in the outcome. Sometimes progress is slow and painful. But even if you're creeping along, you're still going up. If you stay focused on your goal, you'll eventually achieve it. It might not come easily-But you'll never get anywhere if you don't try. When I post about environmental issues, I read so many comments where people express hopelessness. But there's so much we can do- we have to focus on the steps forward. photo: Sierra Blauvelt leading up a scary chimney pitch in Indian Creek. #protectbearsears
Action alert: this Saturday, July 16, come join me in Bluff, UT to #ProtectBearsEars. The Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is holding a public meeting and we need outdoor enthusiasts to come and make it clear that we this landscape protected while preserving access to climbing and other low-impact outdoor recreation! Link to event in profile or go to protectbearsears.org/meeting/If you're a first time activist and have any questions, comment below or send me a message! I highly encourage you to come. You can make a fun adventure weekend out of it! I'm happy to help you craft your messaging for a sign or to make a public statement! Let me know how I can support. If you want to get more involved on this issue- here are some of the non-profits working on it: @americanalpine @accessfund @wildernesssociety @protectbearsears @utahsierran (any others that I'm missing?) Hope to see you there! Photo: @rob.lea
Places I pooped: the Bugaboos. The view from the outhouse at the Kain Hut is one of finest. I don't normally like to discuss these things, but I wanted to take the opportunity to start a broader discussion about human waste in delicate alpine areas, as well as commend the @alpineclubcan for doing such a good job at managing waste in the Bugs. Have you ever seen those signs for dog owners at the trailhead that say, "there is no poop fairy?" Well, the same holds true in the alpine. Glaciers are receding at unprecedented rates (last summer, in Peru, certain areas I visited felt like giant, open sewers), snow melts. The alpine is becoming more popular, someone may turn over that rock. Bottom line, #leavenotrace. If your alpine climbing playground doesn't helicopter out 18 barrels of poo a summer like they do in the Bugaboos (thanks Canada), get a wag bag and pack it out yourself. I promise they aren't bad! They actually give you a certain freedom. And, as a climbing and mountaineering community, let's keep the conversation around poop going. There are some clever ways to be proactive about this to keep our water and views nice and clean.
To me, freedom means having space to roam in the most beautiful, wild places. Currently, our US public lands are under threat- 19 states have legislation on the table to privatize and sell our public lands to the highest bidder. The most patriotic thing you can do is to be an informed, active citizen – to educate yourself about issues that matter to you, vote accordingly and speak to legislators about your values. Stand with us and protect #ourwild – check out ourwild.wilderness.org to learn more (link also in profile). @wildernesssociety
Today I woke up with the idea – let's ride bikes to Lake Louise. We took a quick look at the map, estimated it was around 80 miles, and said let's give it a go. 109 miles later I completed a big summer goal – to ride a century. I know for some people that isn't that big of a deal, but for me, as a new cyclist, it was a milestone. The ride today was 2x over the distance I've ever gone, but I couldn't imagine a more beautiful place to do it. Canmore to Lake Louise and back- and it was the perfect way to celebrate #canadaday! #iamspecialized @iamspecialized_wmn photo: @rob.lea
Less than a month after doing his first trad lead, I knew @rob.lea was ready for the Bugaboos. He stepped up to the challenge in a big way on Bugaboo Spire by getting on the sharp end for a 50m 5.4 pitch that started here. In the snow and ice conditions we climbed it in, it felt more like M4. Way to send, Rob. #bugaboobootcamp
Bugaboo Spire, on the summer solstice, starting under a full moon on the 100 year anniversary of Conrad Kain's bold first ascent. We didn't make it to the summit, but being up on that ridge on that day with @rob.lea, breaking trail through the snow, was a dream come true. #bugaboobootcamp pushed us as a team, and I'm so grateful we stepped up to the challenge.
We were the only people in the world who were disappointed by the fact that the Going-To-The-Sun Road was opening today. I had been dreaming of biking the road before it opened for weeks. And we got to Glacier National Park one day too late. Not wanting to ride the road with traffic, we salvaged the day by going for a hike high up off Logan pass, with no trail and no people. Sometimes plan b isn't so bad. #bugaboobootcamp #bigmtndreams
My dream is to climb and ski the biggest mountains in the world. Being a good ski mountaineer requires so many different skills, and one way for me to develop and improve my skill set in the off-season is alpine climbing. Tomorrow, @rob.lea and I are going on a road trip – first to Glacier National Park then to the Bugaboos and the Canadian Rockies to do some road biking and alpine climbing! Stoked for #bugaboobootcamp! #bigmtndreams Photo: @acpictures
Facing fears. I'm quite terrified of bad weather when I'm in the mountains, especially wind and rain and lightning. So when we saw these clouds sneak up on us on the second pitch of outside corner, I had a mini panic attack to myself while belaying. One thing I do to stay calm is to focus on my breathing to slow my respiratory rate. Four seconds in, four second hold, four seconds out. It helps for leading too! Thankfully we finished the route without feeling a single raindrop. But I still have to work through that fear every time I encounter bad weather when I'm outside! Facing fears is a big part of achieving #bigmtndreams. It's never comfortable to go to that place but there's a lot we can learn when we do. Photo: @rob.lea
One of the most gratifying aspects of climbing is being able to share it with people you love! I'm so impressed at how quickly @rob.lea has picked up climbing! Here he is doing his second multi pitch trad lead, yesterday on the mega-classic outside corner. #bugaboobootcamp continues – soon, we will take these skills to much bigger mountains. Will we succeed in climbing the #linesofourdreams, or will we get benighted and have to spend the night on the route? Only time will tell…Photo: @jonathon.spitzer
Summit of Wolf Creek Pass with @kimmyfasani yesterday! I've been on a few trips with Kimmy, and I've always admired her, not just for her snowboarding and athleticism but for her tenacity and unwavering spirit in all aspects of life. Whether she's doing a triathlon, hard sport route, long alpine climb, century road bike ride or riding steep Alaskan spines on her snowboard, Kimmy crushes it (and she's my same size, so we see eye to eye on most things). Give her a follow to see what I mean!
It's hard not to be happy on a bike. Whenever I start pedaling, I get this childlike sense of wonder and glee. I can't help but giggle a little bit, especially when I hear the joyful hoots and hollers of my friends @brooke.froelich @alynicklas and @alygeisler through the forest. #iamspecialized @iamspecialized_wmn
#bugaboobootcamp continues! Trying to get myself back in alpine climbing shape. While climbing can make you a better ski mountaineer, skiing doesn't do much to build forearm strength. Thankfully, it's easy to forget about all that in a setting like this. I'm just stoked to be on the rock! Photo: @rob.lea
Today's workout: riding my bike to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. 11.5 miles (18.5 km) and 3,743' (1140 m) of vertical gain. I love so many things about road biking- the leg burn on the steep climbs, going from the heat of the city to the snowy alpine and the mindful meditation it takes not to crash! It's great cross-training to help me reach my #bigmtndreams! @iamspecialized_wmn #iamspecialized