sustainableplay ...
Long-form storytelling at the confluence of people, planet, and play.
  • 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

    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

    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 […]

    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. By […]

    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
  • 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 […]

    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 […]

    Brad Rassler January 12, 2015
  • 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 surmounted 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 scrum of reporters seeking a statement from […]

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

    IF YOU’RE 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, […]

    Brad Rassler August 7, 2014
  • David Beck: Architect of the Sierra High Route

    I’M SCHLEPPING A 65-POUND PACK up Symmes Creek Gorge, playing Sherman to David Beck’s Mr. Peabody, helping him escort seven clients on a ski tour of California’s Sierra High Route. We’re just an hour into the first day’s climb of 4,000 feet, and I’m stressed, spent, and wondering why I agreed to be Beck’s Sherpa […]

    Brad Rassler March 25, 2014
  • On Earning One’s Turns

    There were articles about backcountry skiing on those pages. Or rather, upon closer examination, a series of screeds. Here was a rant about initiating an early “lead change” to carve the perfect telemark turn, and another about how to lay down the perfect skin track

    Brad Rassler October 14, 2013
  • From Trash to Ash to Stash: Copenhagen’s New Waste-to-Energy Ski Slope

    MANY A DETROITER’s first ski turns were on a mounded landfill in southeastern Michigan called Mt. Holly, which provided vertically deprived midwesterners with just enough of a pitch for some glide. Holly was indeed the pariah of the local ski hills; it was unattractive, lacked vertical drop (350 feet) and its former incarnation as a […]

    Brad Rassler October 9, 2013
  • The Patagonia Catalog’s Unforgivable Whiteness

    I wondered about Patagonia’s color-blindness and general reluctance to celebrate the black, brown, yellow, red, and the graying outdoor athlete, especially given the company’s stance on social and environmental diversity.

    Brad Rassler September 11, 2013
  • Euell Gibbons: No Grape Nut He

    THE AUTHOR AND FORAGER Euell Theophilus Gibbons once served as the folksy face of Grape-Nuts, the breakfast cereal that contains neither grapes nor nuts. The television campaign featured Gibbons delivering his now-famous “Ever eat a pine tree?” line, which catapulted him from darling of the back-to-nature movement to an unwitting victim of America’s pop culture. The […]

    Brad Rassler August 26, 2013
  • In the Wake of the Aleut

    Eagan, a lithe and youthful 61, describes his solo journey by sea kayak down an especially thuggish stretch of the southeastern Alaskan coast. A Class 5 whitewater boater, accomplished mountaineer, climber, and free diver, Eagan called on all of his training to accomplish the quest, which took him five years to piece together.

    Brad Rassler August 8, 2012
  • Running Talus: Profile of Doug Robinson :: Climbing

    For the better part of a day I’ve been drifting with Doug Robinson through his life, flitting from the Sierra to the Winds, from the Himalaya to the Eastside. Twilight filters through the windows of his Kirkwood, California vacation cabin and a flurry of snow dusts the window panes. Robinson sits exuding calm, all five feet five inches and 150 pounds of him, supple and lean at 51. He gives me his all with laughing blue-grey eyes, and latches on to every question, smiling at the memories that tak

    Brad Rassler January 17, 2012
  • Andy and Brad’s Eastside Adventure

    Originally published in California City Sports. I WAS DISTRACTED BY maniacal laughter coming from my partner. I turned and beheld a man transformed. Andy and I had spent the last 16 hours gallivanting through the Eastern Sierra, climbing vertical ice and overhanging rock, pedaling wind-blown highways and boulder-strewn trails, cross country skiing a 6-mile circuit of high-altitude […]

    Brad Rassler April 19, 2011