Brad Rassler Brad Rassler, Editor-in-Chief of Sustainable Play, lives and writes in the Tahoe Sierra.
  • Sacrifice, Grief, and the Outdoor Athlete in the Time of COVID-19 IN JANUARY, I came across a snippet about a deadly virus cutting a swathe through China’s Hubei Province. I was roughing out plans for the new year. China was far away. The news was easy to ignore. By March 11, COVID-19 news was erupting from every conceivable outlet. Social media feeds, including Facebook, lit up. […] 1679 words April 22, 2020
  • Nordic Norms, or Finding Friluftsliv Here’s what I figured: Karoline’s tale was part of a bigger picture, a sort of Norsk version of how life should be lived, what with that rapturous and idiomatic notion of friluftsliv, the joy found in an outdoor lifestyle, and allemannsretten, the ability of every Norwegian to free-range across the land, fences be damned. But in pursuit of what? Their bliss, apparently. 7720 words December 20, 2019
  • Your Favorite Extreme Athlete is Moonlighting as a Motivational Speaker “THE JOKE IS ‘Hey, I’ve climbed Everest; now I’m a motivational speaker,’” Conrad Anker told me after I observed that there’s been a noticeable uptick in climbers – many of them former dirtbags and non-Everest types — delivering positivity platitudes and business bromides to Fortune 100s and other paying audiences. Anker, an alpinist of some […] 4114 words January 28, 2019
  • The Public Ownership of Fred Beckey Immortality of narrative is dependent on the mortality of beings,” humorist and ecocritic Michael Branch told me one day when I described Beckey's career. “I mean, that’s how our stories really fill the holes that our lives occupied. Physical death is the first day of the rest of your life if you’re a folk hero. 13028 words October 30, 2018
  • Snowmaking in the Time of Drought THAT THE SIERRA might not be so very nevada one day might have been inconceivable to the Spaniards who named the range, or to members of the Donner Party who struggled through house-high drifts, or to those World War II-era entrepreneurs who built ski lifts reaching to the tops of Mammoth Mountain, Tahoe's Slide Mountain, Mount Lincoln, Heavenly Peak, and Squaw Peak. But Sierran snow seems to have become more fickle. Although there have been the hallelujah winters 4937 words February 17, 2018
  • Ashes into the Shadow of Arrows “There is a Paiute proverb to the effect that no man should attempt the country east of the Sierras until he has learned to sleep in the shade of his arrows. This is a picturesque way of saying that he must be able to reduce his wants to the limit of necessity. Those who have […] 1142 words September 11, 2017
  • Figures on a Landscape IN AN OBSCURE WASH in the high Mojave stand two domes, their north faces steeped in shadows. Four friends scrutinize the rune-like creases on the northeast face of the northernmost monolith, searching for a path up the steep wall. They are young, in that boggling interval between adolescence and manhood. Much later, they’ll remember the time as a golden age, […] 4011 words June 9, 2016
  • The Natural IN THE PREDAWN HOURS of a recent summer day, Peter Mayfield walked through the skeletal remains of Manzanar, the mothballed World War II Japanese internment camp located hard by Highway 395, in California’s Eastern Sierra. Seven miles distant, in serpentine repose, lay Mayfield’s objective for that day: the Himalayan-scaled northeast ridge of Mt. Williamson, with […] 3304 words June 3, 2016
  • The Majesty Polarity IN THE LAST DECADE OF THE LAST CENTURY, the videographer, writer and bon vivant Michael Strassman spied a line on a certain Minaret in the High Sierra, a slab-to-knife-edge buttress so obvious in its stegosaurus-like sweep from snowfield to summit that he double-checked the usual sources to ensure that his efforts would result in a first ascent. […] 2180 words February 22, 2016
  • The Greening of Alex Honnold GO AHEAD: ASK ALEX HONNOLD about his unprecedented solo ascents, and watch how he reflexively flips the toggle switch to autopilot. He’ll rhapsodize about climbing – sure he will – he loves scaling walls — but he’s painfully aware of how these conversations swirl into dialogues about his putative dance with death. In a recent interview on the main stage of the […] 4674 words November 7, 2015
  • The Adventure Gap and Narratives of Inclusion The reality is that if you have a constituency of voters who have no direct relationship with the natural world, why would they ever vote, allocate federal tax dollars to support it in perpetuity to the future the way it is now? 5063 words September 29, 2015
  • The Alchemist IT HAPPENED ON A CRISP 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 […] 5677 words 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: […] 3395 words May 14, 2015
  • Art of the Wild: Gessner, Stegner, and Abbey 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. The […] 6973 words 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 […] 1148 words 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. By […] 4947 words March 3, 2015
  • Abbey’s Back THOUGH 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 […] 1491 words 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 […] 651 words January 12, 2015

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