a tune… a haiku… an infrared loop


Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing by JEFF HIMMELMAN APRIL 3, 2014


Out the Montauk Highway, south toward the water, then a quick right before the beach and you’re there, at the Sagaponack house where the author and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen has lived for the last 60 years. The home used to be the garage and outbuildings of a larger estate, and there is an improvised, of-the-earth sprawl to the place. One side of the main house is grown over with ivy, and under the portico, in between two piles of chopped firewood, an immense finback whale skull balances on blocks. Just to the left of the front door sits a tree stump covered stupalike with shells and other found objects. After I ring the doorbell and rap a few times on the glass, Matthiessen emerges from his living room and waves me in.

He has spent much of his career going back in time — up to ancient villages in the remote reaches of the Himalayas, out to the vast plains of Africa in search of the roots of man — but now time has caught up to him. He’s 86, and for the last 15 months he has been countering leukemia with courses of chemotherapy. You can still see the intensity in his long, serious face and clear blue eyes, but there is an unexpected softness to him as he pads back toward the living room in an old sweater and stockinged feet. His latest novel, “In Paradise,” is being promoted by his publisher as his “final word,” but Matthiessen doesn’t want to talk about the book or his career in those terms. He has no desire for sympathy points. Though he did not want to dwell on it, he acknowledged that his medical situation was “precarious,” and a few weeks after our two days together his health would decline to the point that he had to be admitted to a hospital, with family standing by. It gave our conversations the feeling of stolen time.

       ~~~~    READ THE STORY    ~~~~

‘In Paradise,’ Matthiessen Considers Our Capacity For Cruelty

At age 86, Peter Matthiessen has written what he says “may be his last word” — a novel due out Tuesday about a visit to a Nazi extermination camp. It’s called In Paradise, and it caps a career spanning six decades and 33 books.

Matthiessen is the only writer to ever win a National Book Award in both fiction — for his last book, Shadow Country, and adult nonfiction for his 1978 travel journal, The Snow Leopard.

Matthiessen is filled with the vitality of past adventures as he leads a tour of his country-style home on the East End of Long Island. I visited him in March, on the day before he was to begin a round of experimental chemotherapy for cancer.

On the living room wall are a dozen large black-and-white photographs of New Guinea tribal warriors. The pictures were taken in 1961 — half by the author, the others by his traveling companion, Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared on that expedition, and may have been the victim of cannibals. Matthiessen wrote a book about that journey called Under the Mountain Wall — one of his many nonfiction chronicles of man and his relation to the natural world.

His new novel, In Paradise, is based on a different kind of journey — a trek into the Heart of Darkness. In 1996, Matthiessen, who is a Zen Buddhist, traveled to Poland on a meditation retreat. It took place at the former Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz. What he saw floored him — he recalls the barbed wire, the watch towers, and the crematoriums.

     ~~~~    READ OR LISTEN    ~~~~

Remembering an Old Friend, Ronald Maurice Funk, 1934-2013~~By Dick Dorworth


Ron Funk, right, and Dick Dorworth, left, in 2012. Photo courtesy of Dick Dorworth.

“Peaks and Valleys” is a Ketchum Keystone commentary column by Dick Dorworth.


Ron Funk lived his life with a fierce, incandescent spirit that touched everyone who knew him and with an insistence on his own terms that those same people adapted to according to personal taste and flexibility. Ron, as they say, did his own thing. And what a thing it was!

In 1952, he moved to Sun Valley from Portland, Oregon, to ski, work, play, grow, learn and create an unconventional life of following his passions. He left behind the painful chaos of a broken home and divorced parents with whom he never made complete peace; a paternal grandmother he loved deeply, who raised, supported and encouraged him in all his pursuits; and Mt. Hood, where he learned the skiing that defined much of his life.

He pursued alpine ski racing with venerable courage, flair and determination, and by the summer of 1955 had earned an alternate spot on the 1956 Olympic team. That summer, he went to Portillo, Chile to train and be ready in case an opening appeared by the time of the Olympics.

Along with Olympic team members Bud Werner, Ralph Miller and Marvin Melville, as an unconventional adjunct to training, Ron attempted to break the world speed skiing record. He fell at 96 mph in that effort while wearing long thongs and bear trap bindings and suffered a seriously broken leg. For several years Ron was known as having the fastest fall in skiing history, a part of his daredevil reputation he did not enjoy because it implied a recklessness he did not embrace.

After the appropriate surgeries and rehabilitation he returned to a noteworthy competitive skiing career marked and marred by numerous injuries. Despite them, he became the first American to win the prestigious (and longest) downhill race in Europe, Switzerland’s Parsenn Derby, and became one of only 19 men and 6 women to earn Sun Valley’s Diamond Sun pin, likely the fastest standard race ever held.


Ron Funk, right, with friends at Lo Curro Drive In Boîte in Santiago, Chile, in 1963. Image courtesy of Dick Dorworth.


But it was in the world of ski films that Ron gained the most notoriety and is best remembered by the skiing public. Starring in Dick Barrymore’s “The Last of the Ski Bums” garnered him a review in the New York Times. Barrymore’s description of Ron in the semi-fictitious story line included “Ron Funk would rather ski than just about anything, and he hates to work.”

True enough, but Ron’s lack of a work ethic was not due to laziness or lack of energy, but, rather, his spirit and grand, if informally trained, intellect were soon bored by repetitious drudgery or selling people things they don’t really need. As mentioned, his spirit was incandescent, his terms passionate. He held many jobs: ski instructor, ski coach, ski school director, bartender, hod carrier, crafts fair art dealer, tile setter, laborer, bus driver and EST trainer—and he was notably passionate about and engaged with every effort…until he moved on to the next endeavor, which inevitably happened. He lived in Sun Valley, Bear Valley, Aspen, Donner Summit, Fresno, Battle Mountain, South Shore Tahoe, Seattle, Chile, Philippines and, in the end, Thailand.

A lifetime of injuries forced Ron to quit skiing several years ago. The last time he skied (in Sun Valley) he came off Baldy and announced that it was just too painful, and he spent most of the rest of his life living in warmer climes and riding his bicycle some 50 miles a day.

Next to skiing, Ron’s greatest love was for the female sex, and he pursued this passion with a libidinous spirit, intelligence, humor and tenacity that many (including some reading this) found irresistible. He was also smart, funny and tenacious. He was twice married, and somewhere in the world is a daughter he never knew.

Ron lived on his own terms and he died on his own terms, as he had told his close friends he would do when the pain became heavier than the joy of life. When he heard of Ron’s death, C.B. Vaughan spoke for many when he wrote: “Funk, what can we all say? We loved you, your spirit, who you were and the impact you made on all of us. You have touched so many of us and we all have fond memories of an individual bigger than life.

“Ron will live on with all of as his zest for life was contagious!! Until we all meet again, Ron, we love your spirit, your persona and you!!!!”

Another (lady) friend wrote: “My gosh. He will always be in my heart What memories. What laughs!”

Ron was my friend, brother, mentor and comrade in the adventure(s) of life for nearly 60 years. His influence on my life is incalculable. I’m glad and grateful he was here and sorry and sad he is gone, but his spirit lives in everyone who knew him.


Two Colorado State workers injured during avalanche mitigation on Loveland Pass…..



Two Colorado Department of Transportation workers were injured Monday morning when an explosive round blew up in the barrel of an avalanche-mitigation mortar in Loveland Pass.

The two, a CDOT explosives expert and a Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster, were airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. At 11 a.m., CDOT reported they were in fair condition.

“They were doing avalanche mitigation in Loveland Pass. They were very experienced crews doing the work,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

The workers were firing the projectiles at about 7 a.m. into snow in the Seven Sisters area that is known for steep chasms on the east side of the pass, Ford said.

The workers, who were conscious when loaded into the helicopter, suffered head and facial injuries. The CAIC forecaster also had leg injuries, said CDOT maintenance supervisor John David. The men’s families were notified, Ford said.

The names of the injured men were not released. There also was a third crew member who was not injured when the device, which CDOT said has fired over 800 rounds this avalanche season, exploded.

David said he has been with CDOT since 1985 and had never known of even a close call when such mortars were being used. He added that the men were heeding protocol by moving behind their vehicle before the launch and that if they hadn’t, there “probably would have” been fatalities.

“We are taking this situation very seriously and will be looking into how to improve the safety of our crew members during avalanche reduction practices,” said Regional Transportation director Tony DeVito in a news release. “The safety of our crews and the traveling public are our top priority and we ask you keep these gentlemen in your thoughts today.”

The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the scene, CDOT said.


An email from John Brennan producer of the Falcon GT Avalauncher that was involved in the accident.


There was an in-bore detonation in a Falcon GT Avalauncher today while the Colorado Department of Transportation was doing control work. I was close to the site so I spent about four hour there. I just got back home. Two gunners were injured. They had a truck bed mounted launcher and were using a second truck as their blast shield. I don’t believe it is my place release information before the Department of Transportation releases it, but from internet information the injuries are serious. Our prayers and best wishes are with the injured. The investigation is only in its rudimentary stages so not much information can be gleaned currently. I was unable to get close to the Avalauncher. The Avalauncher fired when they triggered it and the projectile detonated near the Breech end of the machine. They were using CIL Orion Classics. I was told they were the current version with deeper cap wells to accommodate the #12 caps that were being used. I understand that CIL Orion will be sending a representative to Colorado shortly. They were shooting well under 200 psi. In my opinion ALL Avalauncher operations should be suspended while this investigation continues. By this I mean any brand of Avalauncher so as to see what comes out of the investigation of the projectile system as well as the Falcon GT Avalauncher. I will update as soon as possible. Forward this info to all it may help. John Brennan


The avalanche folks at Alta are saying sub-standard explosives,

including avalancher rounds, have been a problem lately. Apparently

these explosives are manufactured in South America. 

From a friend in Utah.  J.R.


jerry avalauncher round

avalauncher work









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Photos by Jerry Roberts & Noel Peterson





old school launchers

San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast~~Friday, April 4, 2014~~08:00



There’s a building ridge of high pressure over Colorado today with warming temps and clearing skies. Later in the day, clouds will begin moving into the forecast area just ahead of the next large trough of low pressure on the west coast as it pushes into the Great Basin then later into the San Juans on SW flow.

We should see the beginnings of the storm tonight in the San Juans then it picks up Saturday when the trough moves overhead. Elevations above 11,000′ should see between 4-8″ of new snow favoring southwest aspects.  As the trough moves east the flow shifts to the north (back side of the trough) favoring the northern Colorado mountains and the north side of the San Juans. By early week a large high pressure ridge builds lasting late into next week.



Sit Next To Rosa Parks At The National Civil Rights Museum


The Montgomery Bus Boycott exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum features a vintage city bus. Visitors can go inside the bus and sit next to a figure of Rosa Parks.

In 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis became America’s first major museum to paint a broad picture of the civil rights movement. Its content hasn’t changed much since then. But this Saturday after a nearly $28 million renovation that took 18 months, the museum will re-open with a new design that aims to appeal to an older generation as well as a post-civil-rights-era audience.

About 200,000 people each year file into the courtyard of what was once the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. They gaze at the second floor balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before he was assassinated.

That site marks the epicenter of a cultural earthquake. Executive director Beverly Robertson said it was time to take a fresh look at the civil rights movement through the eyes of the people who gave it life.

“We recognize that it was the everyday regular old person who said, ‘I’m going to take a stand for justice,’” she says. “And they stood up, and they spoke out and they made a difference.”

To inspire the conscience of a younger generation, the museum first had to find new ways of getting inside its head. Over 20 years ago, its founders covered the walls in text to make up for what they thought was missing from history books. But students today, with Internet access and shorter attention spans, were skipping past big chunks of history.

“We had to blend history, technology, information boards, artifacts, audio, video to create what we believe is an engaging museum,” Robertson says.

The new exhibits immerse visitors in major chapters of the movement. They can sit at a segregated lunch counter, in a courtroom, or on a vintage city bus next to Rosa Parks. News reports and famous speeches fill the air with urgency. One highlight remains the same: the hotel room where Dr. King spent his final hours. For curators, the biggest challenge was relating all of this to a post-civil-rights-era audience.

“For an older generation, the master narrative says that we are moving toward overcoming — for a younger generation it is that we have overcome,” says Dr. Hasan Jeffries, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University.

    ~~~~    READ MORE/LISTEN    ~~~~

San Juan Mountains 24 hr. Storm Totals~~ Thursday, April 3, 2014~~11:00

Moist and energetic flow continues to favor RMP and north for snowfall, with widespread sluffing in the Gorge.

Snow totals as of 7:30 this AM.
24 hr snow/water
Monument 10″/.7″
RMP 7″/.5″
Molas 5″/.45″
CB 9″/.75″

The Existential Photographer/Selfie

(apologies to Vivian Maier)

Leica 75-1000852

Aspen artist, photographer, gentleman, skier extraordinair~~Bernie Arndt


Bernie Arndt as a teenager.  Billy Roos center.


San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast~~Monday, March 31, 2014~~09:15



If you compared snow accumulation with dust from yesterday’s storm, there is probably 1″ of mud. The ferocious winds carrying desert grit (SIGN OF THE TIMES) did a lot of damage to our snowpack that will help melt our Snow Bank prematurely this spring.  The weather this week into Thursday looks like a spring mix. Wind/snow/rain/sleet with occasionally warm temps. & clearing skies.

By tonight the jet will push the next low pressure trough into Colorado on SW flow with precipitation favoring the central & northern Colorado mountains leaving the San Juans warm and windy with possibly another round of dust, but not like yesterday’s event.  The NW trough will be the weather producer through Thursday, morphing from a closed-low to an open trough bringing the SJ’s unsettled spring action with more wind and some moisture. Maybe see 2″ of new by tomorrow.




San Juan Mountains Weather/Dust Storm Update~~Monday, March 31, 2014~~08:25

pink-capsThe mountains received more wind than snow out of this storm. An unhealthy dose of dust accompanied the ferocious south winds yesterday, late afternoon into the evening. Wind speeds have decreased, but remain gusty. Yesterday 1 hour averages ranged from an amazing 50-61 mph with several hours of gusts into the 90s and a peak gust of 102 mph. 




Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come


Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times


YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.

And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty. In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday.

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U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, a new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence in the scientists’ summary of their work.

As NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, The Guardian says the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the report “the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.”


    ~~~~    READ / LISTEN    ~~~~



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One Documentary Later, Rumsfeld’s Inner World Remains ‘Unknown’


Donald Rumsfeld, shown here on a 2006 visit to Iraq, was the Secretary of Defense during the beginning of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Errol Morris spent over 30 hours interviewing Rumsfeld for his latest documentary.

Filmmaker Errol Morris is famous for trying to get inside other people’s minds and understand the motivations behind the choices they’ve made. In his most famous film, The Fog of War, Morris sat down one-on-one with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to talk about the decisions McNamara made in Vietnam. During the course of the conversation, McNamara makes the stunning admission that some of his actions amounted to war crimes.

In his new film The Unknown Known, Morris takes the same approach with Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense who oversaw the U.S. war in Iraq. He saw with Rumsfeld for hours and hours of interviews. But this time, his results were different — and much more disappointing.

Morris talks to NPR’s Rachel Martin about why Rumsfeld, despite being cooperative and sincere, was a frustrating, difficult man to interview.

                               ~~~~    READ/LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW    ~~~~

The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (Part 1)

When I first met Donald Rumsfeld in his offices in Washington, D.C., one of the things I said to him was that if we could provide an answer to the American public about why we went to war in Iraq, we would be rendering an important service. He agreed. Unfortunately, after having spent 33 hours over the course of a year interviewing Mr. Rumsfeld, I fear I know less about the origins of the Iraq war than when I started. A question presents itself: How could that be? How could I know less rather than more? Was he hiding something? Or was there really little more than met the eye?

Many people associate the phrases the known known, the known unknown and the unknown unknown with Rumsfeld, but few people are aware of how he first presented these ideas to the public. It was at a Pentagon news conference on Feb. 12, 2002. Reporters filed in to the Pentagon Briefing Room — five months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq. The verbal exchanges that followed provide an excursion into a world no less irrational, no less absurd, than the worlds Lewis Carroll created in Alice in Wonderland.

      ~~~~    READ 4 PART SERIES OF INTERVIEWS    ~~~~

A Borderline Where Women Bear the Weight


Moroccan women face a dangerous daily toil, carrying large bales of duty-free goods back from the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla.

MELILLA, Spain — It was 9 a.m., and hundreds of Moroccan women, many of them older, were already at work, bent over and straining, trying to inch up the hill to the border post here. Many had bundles as big as washing machines lashed to their backs.

Dozens of others, too afraid to go farther, waited off to the side with their packages, exhaustion and defeat on their faces. Up ahead, men in yellow baseball caps, some using their belts as whips, tried to control the surging crowds with little success.

“My children need to eat,” said one of the women, Rkia Rmamda, who was watching the mayhem and sobbing. “What am I going to do? I need to work.”

There is probably no more abrupt economic fault line in the world than the fences that surround Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s enclaves on the North African coast. Here just a few rows of chain link and barbed wire separate the wealth of Europe from the despair of Africa. So faint a barrier it is, and so tempting to breach, that migrants from Africa regularly try to swarm the defense. The latest attempt was a coordinated assault by about 800 people who tried to scale the fences on Friday.

      ~~~~    READ/WATCH    ~~~~

THE NEXT PITCH by Peter Lev~~~A Mountain Memoir~~~Part III

Today, Sat. March 29, {early this week, it’s usually every Sunday} Rōbert Report will share Part III of The Next Pitch by Peter Lev & each subsequent Sunday morning, serialized just like the old pulp fiction novels of the 50′s or getting the NYT on your weekend doorstep, until the story is told. Or you can read it all at once by simply going to the hyperlink at the bottom of each week’s posting. I look forward to sharing Lev’s mountain adventures with you and believe you’ll enjoy the ride, this very cool trip with a real mountain person.




by Peter Lev


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Valhalla Canyon, far below Rick Medrick in Exum guide mode in the mid-1960’s, near the summit of the Grand Teton on the Owen Route in early season (in those days only the clients wore helmets). We learned the guiding craft from the more senior guides. It was very much a master/apprentice system. The main senior guides whom I worked under were Bill Byrd, Jake Breitenbach, and Barry Corbet. I learned Exum-style guiding efficiency and the many things which could make the difference between enjoyment on a climb for a client, or between life and death, including that of the guide. I also learned that when one is in a guiding situation, one has certain safety parameters to operate within, whereas – maybe – if you are climbing on one’s own, one might be more willing to push the envelope a bit. This was all part of my mountain education.

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Al Read, in guide mode 1960, leading the Double Crack pitch high on the Exum Ridge, Grand Teton

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This photo dates from the early 1980’s, and shows a group of Exum guides of that day going through the paces of the annual June training clinic. One’s peers also become mentors, whether one is conscious of it or not. Just like any population – or any group of climbers – there are different personalities. I found that with some of these guys (no women allowed in those days) I simply had a hard time and just couldn’t work with them. Bill Briggs was one such person, though socially and as friends I liked Bill, and Bill was hard not to like. Bill is in the foreground stepping down (we were all supposed to follow him). Bill was a great talent and was the first to ski the Grand Teton, but I just couldn’t handle Bill’s ‘style.’ To me, Bill was what I call a ‘guru’ personality, meaning around clients he was always on stage as THE GURU. When guiding, everyone around Bill had to dance to that tune due to the force of his personality, which for me was overwhelming. After a while I asked Glenn Exum to not send me out co-guiding with him.

Chuck Pratt, bald and in the green turtleneck standing in the middle back of the group, was someone whom I admired greatly and tried to imitate, both as a climber and guide (no chance of imitating his greatly superior climbing ability, however). Chuck was a master of simplicity and he significantly contributed to many of the Exum guiding techniques at that time. He was also a pioneer Yosemite climber, and in the 1960’s was considered by many to be the most talented rock climber in the country. He was also a very solitary person, but always seemed open to my visits and questions.

Jack Turner, seen standing behind Briggs to the right (in photo), was a gifted climber and congenial guide. He eventually became president of Exum Mountain Guides and deftly guided the management of the company through a painful transition from an aging ‘old guard’ to a younger group of new owners. Today he is a successful author.

Al Read, seen in the front far right of the photo, was the person who brought me to Exum in August 1960, as we had been climbing partners on a number of Teton climbs, including a new route on Mt. Moran’s No Escape Buttress. Later in 1963, we also were participants with other Exum guides Rod Newcomb, Jed Williamson, and Fred Wright, on our successful East Buttress Denali expedition. Al and I became very good friends, and were so for many of our Exum years. In 1978 Glenn Exum sold the business to Al, Rod, myself and Dean Moore (who we eventually bought out). Al became president of Exum and held that position for about 15 years, succeeded by Jack Turner. Sadly, a variety of circumstances arose during the later years of Al’s tenure as president which resulted in some Exum management disagreements. After so many years as friends, Al and his wife Susan and I had a falling-out. I wish I could have my old friend back.

Herb Swedlund is seen in the photo to the right of Jack Turner and in front of Pratt. Herb had also been a climbing mentor for me during my early visits to Yosemite. He was a very talented person on many other levels and had originally studied to be a concert pianist. However, he proved to be a very difficult person who became crazier over time, and a nasty racist who Glenn Exum even had to call out on one dramatic occasion. In the early 1970’s it was amusing to guide with him. For example: Herb to a client who was sliding dangerously down the snow slope above Spalding Falls on the way to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton; “That’s right, just do it any old fucking way!” The client (a woman) was so shocked she recovered and arrested herself in the nick of time. Ten years later Herb was beyond the pale, and this kind of comment – and much worse – wasn’t funny anymore.

Don Mosman, seen on the far left in the photo, was a very tall, big, strong, and arrogant person—a bully in fact, as far as I was concerned. He was a talented climber and guide, of course, but not someone easy for me to be around.

Partly hidden in the background of the photo are two good friends and great guides, Dave Carman to the left, partly hidden behind Mosman, and Jim Kanzler to the right, between Herb and Al.

Jim Kanzler and I had lived and climbed in Montana in the late 1960’s. We also worked the rock climbing program together at Minnesota Outward Bound in the late 1960’s. I believe Kanzler was the first to import and use ‘nuts’ or chocks from Britain. As far as I was concerned, Jim was ahead of his time in the climbing world. Sadly, Jim suffered lifelong with many demons from his family past. He killed himself in 2010.

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Dave Carman and I developed and ran guide training courses at Exum for aspiring guides in 1970’s before the current national certification programs took hold. The photo above is on the summit of Mt. Owen during an early season guides training course, with the North Face of Grand Teton in background. We also developed the rock climbing program, along with Kanzler, at Minnesota Outbound School in the late 1960’s. I ended my guiding career at Exum in 2005, and continued on as a Director and partner until 2009. Dave and I officially retired together from Exum in 2009. This occasion called for a big bash at the Climbers Ranch, in summer 2009

                                  ~~~~    PLEASE READ MORE OF LEV’S ADVENTURES    ~~~~


San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast~~~Sat, March 29, 2014~~~10:20



A pleasant but windy day on tap with increasing clouds later this afternoon & tonight. Much like our Wed/Thur storm, vicious winds will again create another dust event putting desert grit in the air & snow mixing with Sunday’s precipitation. Currently a Gulf of Alaska system is merging with a low off the NW coast bringing moisture, colder air and typical spring weather into next week.

This unsettled atmosphere will impact the San Juans, favoring southwest through west facing aspects beginning Sunday afternoon/evening and continuing into Monday.  We could see 3-6″ of new snow from this spring storm.  Models are not in agreement on handling the next low pressure trough that is forming by mid-week, but show unsettled and wet weather through most of next week. Really enjoy the uncertain spring mix in our southern mountains.




Humans’ First Appearance in the Americas

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In Piauí, Brazil, archaeologists say stone tools prove that humans reached what is now Brazil as early as 22,000 years ago, upending a belief that people first arrived about 13,000 years ago.

                                  ~~~~    WATCH VIDEO    ~~~~

Amid Chants of ‘¡Huelga!,’ an Embodiment of Hope Hero Worship Abounds in ‘Cesar Chavez’


Michael Peña as the title character, who led a grape boycott in 1965, in “Cesar Chavez.”


“Cesar Chavez,” directed by Diego Luna, is a well-cast, well-intentioned movie that falls into the trap that often awaits film biographies of brave and widely admired individuals. The movie is so intent on reminding viewers of its subject’s heroism that it struggles to make him an interesting, three-dimensional person, and it tells his story as a series of dramatic bullet points, punctuated by black-and-white footage, some real, some simulated, of historical events.

Michael Peña plays Cesar Chavez in a forthcoming film directed by Diego Luna.Cesar Chavez Film to Avoid Immigration DebateJUNE 12, 2013
In spite of these shortcomings, Mr. Luna’s reconstruction of the emergence of the United Farm Workers organization in the 1960s unfolds with unusual urgency and timeliness. After a rushed beginning — in which we see Chavez (Michael Peña) arguing in a Los Angeles office and moving his family to Delano, a central California town, before we fully grasp his motives — we settle in for a long, sometimes violent struggle between the workers and the growers. Attempted strikes are met with intimidation and brutality, from the local sheriff and hired goons, and Chavez and his allies (notably Dolores Huerta, played by Rosario Dawson) come up with new tactics, including a public fast, a march from Delano to Sacramento and a consumer boycott of grapes.

As is customary in movies like this, we see the toll that the hero’s commitment takes on his family life. His wife, Helen (America Ferrera), is a steadfast ally, but there is tension between Chavez and his oldest son, Fernando (the only one of the couple’s eight children with more than an incidental presence on screen). Fernando (Eli Vargas) endures racist bullying at school and suffers from his father’s frequent absences. Their scenes together are more functional than heartfelt, fulfilling the requirement of allowing the audience a glimpse at the private life of a public figure.

We also venture into the household of one of Chavez’s main antagonists, a landowner named Bogdonovich, played with sly, dry understatement by John Malkovich. He is determined to break the incipient union, and the fight between the two men and their organizations becomes a national political issue. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (Jack Holmes) takes the side of the workers, while the interests of the growers are publicly defended by Ronald Reagan, shown in an archival video clip describing the grape boycott as immoral, and Richard Nixon. Parts of “Cesar Chavez” are as rousing as an old folk song, with chants of “¡Huelga!” and “¡Sí, se puede!” ringing through the theater. Although it ends, as such works usually do, on a note of triumph, the film, whose screenplay is by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton, does not present history as a closed book. Movies about men and women who fought for social change — “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is a recent example — treat them less as the radicals they were than as embodiments of hope, reconciliation and consensus.

Though Cesar Chavez, who died in 1993, has been honored and celebrated, the problems he addressed have hardly faded away. The rights of immigrants and the wages and working conditions of those who pick, process and transport food are still live and contentious political issues.

And if you read between the lines of Mr. Luna’s earnest, clumsy film, you find not just a history lesson but an argument. The success of the farm workers depended on the strength of labor unions, both in the United States and overseas, and the existence of political parties able to draw on that power. What the film struggles to depict, committed as it is to the conventions of hagiography, is the long and complex work of organizing people to defend their own interests. You are invited to admire what Cesar Chavez did, but it may be more vital to understand how he did it.



New Movie ‘Cesar Chavez’ Spotlights Chicano Movement Organizer

March 28, 2014 5:00 AM  Twenty years after the death of activist Cesar Chavez, he remains one of the most well-known Latino leaders in the U.S. He inspired the Chicano movement in the 1960s and 70s.

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