sustainableplay ...
Long-form storytelling at the confluence of people, planet, and play.
  • The Alchemist Nearly 40 years after writing “The Climber as Visionary,” climber Doug Robinson forwards a new theory about what gets climbers high.

    It was a crisp win­ter San Fran­cisco evening. Feb­ru­ary of 1968 at the Carousel Ball­room. Jerry Gar­cia and the Dead were deep into “Morn­ing Dew” to “Dark Star.” The band was locked in tight, and the crowd was locked into the band. Doug Robin­son, the 23-year-old wan­der­lust Cal­i­for­nia climber, he of com­pact build and mel­low mien and soft […]

    Brad Rassler May 19, 2015
  • Fall

    Dr. Jesse Lea­man, astro­physi­cist, knows the cos­mos. It’s his turf, in a man­ner of speak­ing. So we don’t inter­rupt as he explains the outer reaches of the uni­verse while wheel­ing through the Uni­ver­sity of Nevada, Reno’s Fleis­chmann Planetarium, where fel­low jour­nal­ist, Regina Reva­zova, and I have come to learn about the last 16 years of his life: […]

    Brad Rassler May 14, 2015
  • The Winter Of His Disbelief After 35 years of exploring, skiing, and documenting the Sierra Nevada, photographer and snow surveyor John Dittli thought he had seen it all. He hadn’t.

    I’m not a super­sti­tious guy, but really, I should have known. I’m no mete­o­rol­o­gist either, but after 35 years of liv­ing in the high coun­try, even I knew that depend­ing on how it set up, the weak El Nino the long-range fore­cast­ers were pre­dict­ing could mean dry as much as it could mean wet. Still, after […]

    John Dittli April 15, 2015
  • Art of the Wild: Gessner, Stegner, and Abbey

    The writer, pro­fes­sor, and envi­ron­men­tal provo­ca­teur, David Gess­ner, is loung­ing in his writ­ing shack out back of his North Car­olina house, a non-smartphone to his ear, a Ranger pale ale in his belly, and another in his hand. We’re chat­ting about the lat­est book, All The Wild That Remains, an encomium to two giants of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, Ed Abbey and Wal­lace Stegner. […]

    Brad Rassler April 10, 2015
  • The Jensen Archive

    Doc­u­ments and pho­tos, mostly from the Don C. Jensen Col­lec­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Wyoming’s Amer­i­can Her­itage Cen­ter. Although the con­tents have not been themed, they fall into three broad cat­e­gories: the four Alaska expe­di­tions, the Sierra / Pal­isades, and gear: mostly the Jensen pack. Peri­od­i­cally check back for addi­tions to the col­lec­tion. And for […]

    Brad Rassler March 3, 2015
  • Searching for Jensen

    Yes, I knew some­thing of the great moun­taineer Don Jensen; after all, I bore wit­ness to his Sier­ran legacy with every ram­ble up either fork of the Sierra Nevada’s Big Pine Creek. But I didn’t really know Jensen, nor did but a hand­ful of people. Last sum­mer, while intern­ing at Alpin­ist Mag­a­zine, I set out to dis­cover who he was. […]

    Brad Rassler March 3, 2015
  • Conservation Gone Wild

    The epi­thet “basic” was all over Face­book news feeds and the blo­gos­phere in 2014, and not only because Tay­lor Swift and Iggy Aza­lea dropped albums. The term floated around the hip-hop com­mu­nity for a few years until hit­ting main­stream social media thanks to a Col­lege­Hu­mor video that dished on “basic” via a short list of […]

    Robert Lugg February 10, 2015
  • The Ski Racer as Mensch

    Despite our small num­bers – about 0.2 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion* — elite Jew­ish ath­letes have, in fact, dis­tin­guished them­selves in all man­ner of com­pet­i­tive sports, and their achieve­ments have been assid­u­ously recorded by his­to­ri­ans who delight in track­ing these things.

    Brad Rassler February 2, 2015
  • Abbey’s Back

    Although it’s been nearly three decades since Edward Abbey drained his last can of beer and flung it onto a For­est Ser­vice byway, his sua­sive prose and thorny legacy still thrive within cer­tain enclaves, includ­ing those of the dis­af­fected youth, thank good­ness, who seem to arrive with each gen­er­a­tion like the hardy grasses that poke through buck­led con­crete; by the time they find Abbey they’ve dis­patched their Thoreau […]

    Brad Rassler January 23, 2015
  • The Pied Pipers of Pow

    I ski because Allan Bard and Tom Carter told me to. Any­one who banked a tele­mark turn in the Sierra Nevada in the go-go 80’s knows those names and their legacy; Bard and Carter were climb­ing and ski­ing part­ners, busi­ness part­ners, fel­low guides, co-conspirators, and the mas­ter­minds of gob­s­mack­ing tours across the Range of Light, the lat­ter of which they did on cross-country skis, […]

    Brad Rassler January 12, 2015
  • Running Safely On Snow and Ice

    An ortho­pe­dic tragedy struck my fam­ily this past year, and as with all acci­dents, it was sur­pris­ing and sud­den. My niece, Ari, a recent col­lege cross-country and track ace, was vis­it­ing Boston last win­ter. She headed out for a run when she slipped on a patch of black ice and went down hard. Diag­no­sis: a broken […]

    Brad Rassler December 21, 2014
  • To Dye For

    In the out­door retail world, color plays an impor­tant role in all prod­ucts, espe­cially apparel…Regrettably, there is a part of the color process that until recently has not received the kind scrutiny it deserved. It is the sig­nif­i­cantly neg­a­tive impact the tex­tile dye­ing process is hav­ing on the envi­ron­ment, the work­ers and the bot­tom line.

    Brad Rassler November 15, 2014
  • Sur La Table with Tahoe’s Monstraciously Voracious Bears

    An exer­cise in empa­thy for Tahoe’s bad news bears. Once upon a time in the Tahoe National For­est, there lived three exceed­ingly well-mannered bears. The three wee bears assumed they’d be hiber­nat­ing soon, but couldn’t be entirely sure, though the days had been get­ting shorter and the nights were very cold (as was to be expected in autumn). But the changeable […]

    Brad Rassler November 3, 2014
  • Heretical Pilgrims, or You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

    On the evening of Novem­ber 12, 1958, War­ren Hard­ing, Wayne Merry, and George Whit­more climbed to the top of Yosemite’s El Cap­i­tan, hav­ing made the first ascent of the 2,900-foot Nose route — a cam­paign of 47 days spread over nearly 18 months. When Hard­ing, the leader, returned to the val­ley floor, he was approached by a […]

    Brad Rassler October 31, 2014
  • On the Sustainability of Summits

    If you’re one of the 1,200 climbers attempt­ing Denali’s pop­u­lar West But­tress route next year, the nearly two met­ric tons of human waste you’ll col­lec­tively dump into the Kahiltna Glacier’s crevasses will emerge in the abla­tion zone in about 2085, accord­ing to a 2012 study spon­sored by the National Park Ser­vice. When it does, it […]

    Brad Rassler August 7, 2014
  • On the Edge

    SO IT’S MARIN COUNTY in the 1960s, see, and there’s this great all-star dis­tance run­ner by the name of Wes Hol­man. Wes was the pride of the North Bay; he was hun­gry and fast and he even qual­i­fied for the ’64 Olympics in the 10K. Hol­man was poor. He spent all of his time train­ing. Back in those days, there was […]

    Brad Rassler May 22, 2014
  • A Son of the Circus

    Alright, alright, alright. The body walks, runs and then sits and grum­bles. Falls to the chair. Rises to run. Falls. Rises. Falls. Rises. And the con­se­quence of all that stand­ing up and sit­ting down? Sore glutes. That’s what makes this project com­pelling: I’m train­ing for my life rather than for a mere event. I’m com­pet­ing against myself […]

    Brad Rassler May 11, 2014
  • Kam K. Leang’s Vertical Ventures

    UNR’s MECHANICAL ENGINEERING pro­fes­sor Dr. Kam Leang and three of his clos­est friends were skin­ning up the throat of an Arc­tic moun­tain slope last year dur­ing a 10-day ski tour of Norway’s Lofoten Islands. The set­ting was oth­er­worldly: they were sur­rounded by castle-like peaks ris­ing 1200 meters from the North Atlantic, with the promise of open-slope […]

    Brad Rassler April 29, 2014