Meet The Last Adventurer
Chris "The Last Adventurer" is a expert outdoorsman who specializes in Mountaineering. When he is not climbing mountains and enjoying all things in beautiful California you can find him sharing his knowledge on his blog The Last Adventurer or sharing his wealth of knowledge on his Pod Cast over at In Ice Axe We Trust (IIAWT.com). On top of all these things, moving forward, Chris will be a regular contributor on Explore The USA. Since he will be contributing, we thought you might want to learn a little bit about him, so we thought we would ask him a few questions.
How did you get into Mountaineering?
Even though I was raised in San Diego, California, I was lucky enough to be a member of a great Cub and Boy Scout Troop that did everything from the standard hiking, camping, and backpacking to more exotic things like sailing, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering and more. Even though I loved all of the activities that I was exposed to through the Scouts, mountaineering quickly became my favorite.
What is the highlight of all your years mountaineering?
If I'm being honest, I don't think I have one definitive answer to that question. I've been lucky enough to climb with some great mountaineers, and I've also been lucky enough to climb on three continents. I've been in some very remote spots and seen some amazing things; and I've also been fortunate enough to stay healthy enough to climb some of the biggest peaks in North America multiple times. Even though it sounds a little cliche and cheesy, I'd say the highlight of my career is that I've had a career that's allowed me to experience everything that I have, which I am grateful for on a daily basis.
What advice would you have for people just getting started?
Be prepared. No, really: be prepared. While other sports may debate which one is the toughest, let me assure you that mountaineering is the toughest sport. It requires physical fitness. It requires mental toughness. It requires the ability to learn a variety of specific important skills; and it requires the ability to utilize those skills in dangerous conditions. It also requires a plethora of other things, both tangible and intangible; but most of all, it requires a person to be utterly self-reliant at times. It is also a sport where in certain cases, unpreparedness can and will lead to serious injury or death. It is not for everyone; but if you are interested, do the research, do your homework, learn the skills, and be prepared to be challenged - and be prepared to meet that challenge.
Tell us a little bit about your fascination with Ice Axes?
Hahaha, that just sounds weird and creepy. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not have any rooms full of ice axes or walls full of ice axes. I believe I own three right now, and when I'm not using them, they go in storage along with the rest of my wilderness gear.
Has an Ice Axe ever saved your life?
Where are your favorite climbing areas and why?
Well, I've lived most of my life in California, so I have to admit that I have a California bias. For me, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is and always will be stunning, and there's many great spots there. But, even outside of that, there's many great locations in the state that I could reference, along with plenty from the Western United States.
What is your fitness and nutrition regime before and during a trip?
Oh man. Talk about a loaded question. In terms of full disclosure, I do not have a background in nutrition nor am I a dietician. I imagine that anyone with a professional background in either of these areas or in sports medicine would be much better qualified to provide specific information than me! In terms of fitness, I am an active individual. When I am not mountaineering, I spend a lot of time running, both on and off trail, and that core strength has benefited me greatly as a mountaineer. Also, as I've aged, I've mixed in a lot more cross training activities, such as hiking and resistance training to strengthen my body and maintain my current levels of fitness. In terms of nutrition, I'm loath to say it, but I do not have a specific diet prior to trips. On trips, I do not get enough calories, mainly because its impossible to take in enough calories to replace what is being burned. This means that after a trip, I definitely allow myself the luxury of some overly hearty meals. The best least objectionable tip I can give about all of this is that as a mountaineer, hydration is key, and that's something I will promote!
What are some of your top tips for efficient packing?
Don't use a suitcase when mountaineering. Ok, that's probably only funny to me. Um, the standard tried and true tips in this field are indeed the best. Pack only what you need; don't over pack; and place the weight down close to the bottom, or near the bottom to adequately utilize the hip belt on your backpack.
What would be your top gear recommendations?
Now I just feel like I'm being vague and evasive with some of these questions when I'm trying to give good advice, but honestly, it depends on what time of year it is, where you are going, and what exactly you are doing. It is my belief that the best mountaineering gear is made by Arc'teryx, and I've used their gear for a long time with great success. However, there are many other great companies out there as well, including Outdoor Research, whose gear I just tested over the winter of 2013-2014 as part of their #ORInsightLab program. The nice thing about 2014 is that there's plenty of great gear that has been developed over the last twenty years, and continues to be developed today. So I recommend that, and of course, always carry an ice axe.