Little Bandera Hike before school starts

The views from the top...if it wasn't raining you could see Rainier right there!
The views from the top…if it wasn’t raining you could see Rainier right there!

  I know I said I wasn’t going to organize any more hikes, but I organized one more to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of our MBA program!  Also, I got married over the weekend, so a gentle, relaxing hike was in order.

  I decided on the Little Bandera Mountain hike, which was vaunted by Seattle Times as one of the 10 best hikes around Washington by Karen Daubert from the Washington Trails Association.  I’ve done several others on her list and was not disappointed.  This was apparently one of the best near Seattle (on the I-90 strip), so there were pretty high expectations.

  It did not disappoint.  We pulled off of Exit 45 and immediately got onto this really pitted gravel road that would bottom out a low-clearance vehicle.  In my Tacoma we did the 3.8 mile stretch of washboard road like a champ, but I ended up spilling some of my McDonald’s coffee.  Luckily, the heroic efforts of my truck-mates saved the day with some emergency napkin triage.  

  The hike itself was really, really easy on the first 2 miles or so, and then the last 1.5 miles was…pretty steep. 

Mikey's expression says it all
Mikey’s expression says it all

  So…yeah pretty steep moves, and with the steady rain and wind it felt a little like the Mist Trail in Yosemite Valley.  Fun!

If you see this, you're near the top
If you see this, you’re near the top

  We got to do some nice scrambling around on the rocks to get to our destination…a little more than necessary because we did get lost for a couple of minutes until we relocated the trail.  The top was just a clearing with a small cluster of trees lining the trail, but the views were indeed fantastic.  Would probably be amazing on a clear day!

  We celebrated with the traditional drinking of beers.  This was a great hike, I agree with the rated “medium hard” difficulty from WTA.  Not crowded at all, compared to the other hikes I’ve done on I-90.  I will be back!

Look at the smiles! It's because they're on their way down :D
Look at the smiles! It’s because they’re on their way down 😀

  To find out more about the hike, visit the Washington Trails Association page!

Is this the start of the outdoor club? Thoughts on Little Si

  After an invigorating career day at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, a couple of us MBA students decided to go do a sunset hike at Little Si, just off of exit 32 on Hwy 90.  We tore up Little Si in about 40 minutes, and then sat around at the top for a while and watched the sun set over the Olympic Range.  We were hoping to catch the Aurora Borealis, but we didn’t know that there was no way we’d be able to see it.  

  A couple of us are thinking about starting an outdoor industry club here at the University of Washington.  With such amazing companies in the local area and so many opportunities for fun in the outdoors – why hasn’t anyone done this before?  The opportunity to start something new and pass something down to future generations is also extremely tempting and motivating.  We have an Olympic biathlete, a Colorado ski patroller, and a ton of other talented folks with a passion for the outdoors in our midst.  Why not us?  Why not now?


Failing and Loving It: Lessons from Climbing

Because gym climbing doesn't look awesome, here's me on an easy problem that's photoshopped to look tougher.  
Because gym climbing doesn’t look awesome, here’s me on an easy problem that’s photoshopped to look tougher.  

Epic Flail

  I’ve been at this problem for weeks now.  It’s rated a V4, which is just outside of my current skill level, but if I can do it it’ll mean that I’m back to my pre-deployment peak condition.  

  It’s a sit-start problem, so I start sitting down with my hands in a hold and my feet toed into the two tiny chips that count as footholds.  I breathe slowly to calm my heartbeat, visualize myself as pro climber Chris Sharma, and I swing onto the problem.  The first two moves come easily, and I flow through them like a choreographed dance.  My entire body moves efficiently, precisely placing each finger or toe on the next hold without any excess movement.  I get to the first tricky part: a very high reach onto a sketchy sloped pocket.  I walk my feet up to the wall to reach the highest toeholds available and launch myself upwards, while simultaneously reaching with my left hand.  My left hand somehow finds purchase inside this sloped hold, and my right hand quickly shoots up next to my left.  I walk my feet up again, and I place my right foot onto the last remaining toehold.  I look up at the next move: the end of the problem.  I psych myself up again, forcing myself to remember to breathe and try to slow down my heartbeat.  My handgrip won’t last much longer in this position so I have to move soon.  I give myself another second or two, then focus all my weight onto my right toe and get into a crouch on the wall.  With an exhale of breath, I explode off of my right toe and my right hand shoots up to reach for the final hold in one dynamic motion.  The top part of my fingers feel the top of the last hold for a fraction of a second, and I do everything I can to hold on.  

  Another fraction of a second later, I’m falling.  Another failed attempt at this problem.  I give myself a couple of minutes to rest, and I repeat this process again.  Over, and over, and over.  At least 10 times over the course of an hour.  Every time, I fail.  

That’s lame, why do it?

  Climbing is special to me because it rewards repeated failure.  And within the special subset of climbing that I do (bouldering), I get to fail often, and fast.  In a way, failure is the point.  In climbing, the fastest way to improve your technique is to climb at or near your limit.  There’s no substitute for being on the wall.  Nothing compares to the feeling of being on the route, where you have to do a special kind of gymnastics just to slowly move upward.  You learn something new on every attempt, and your body discovers different ways to solve the problem.  By failing fast, failing often, and learning from your mistakes, you can accelerate your own growth within the sport.  

  I believe in the educational power of failure.  It translates well to learning snowboarding tricks: the more jumps and attempts you can fit in on one session, the faster you’ll learn.  In my experience with advanced research and development, you want to test as often as you can so you can learn from the results and get some insights.   Thomas Edison supposedly said: “I have not failed.  I’ve only found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”   

  Repeated failures are the price we pay for eventual success – and the more you invest in a problem and the more you pay, the bigger the payoff.  The feeling of climbing to the top of a problem that you’ve been working on for weeks is priceless.  The feeling of landing that new snowboard trick.  The feeling of reaching a new level of mastery in your skill or profession.  It gives meaning to all the hard work, and makes you even hungrier for the next one.  It builds your resilience in the face of discouraging conditions and challenges.  It’s the feeling that makes you want to shout at the top of your lungs and punch the air.  


  There are, however, a couple of things I wouldn’t want to fail on: skydiving and bungee jumping.  Those activities teach a lesson that you won’t walk away from!

Winter 2014-2015 Outdoor Industry Recruiting/Conferences

You must always be ready to interview, folks!  Photo courtesy of Martin Moreno
You must always be ready to interview, folks!  Photo courtesy of Martin Moreno

  Are you interested in a career in the outdoor industry or action sports?  If so, you might want to check out online resources like Malakye or Outdoorindustryjobs and throw your resume out there.  But we all know that online resume databases can only take you so far, so take it up a notch by going to one of Malakye’s “Shmooz” events – free job fairs for the outdoor industry.  While this isn’t an MBA-specific job path, it’s an opportunity to learn about the industry and get that foot in the door!  And remember, Foster MBA students get up to $300 reimbursed for travel to job conventions, and I think snowboards/skis fly free on Southwest (just saying).  They tend to have these events in conjunction with major industry conventions.  I’ve outlined a list of the conventions where Shmooz events have been held in the past, the scheduled 2015 dates (as they come available), and estimated times when you can register to Shmooz.  

Note:  The Shmooz itself is free, but if you’re not in the media (personal blogs don’t or in the industry, you can’t attend the industry conferences.  You can, however, go do some post-conference networking while enjoying some Wasatch powder.  I’m counting on some forward-thinking snowsports company to do on-mountain interviews.  Somebody get on that!

Winter (check in December):

Agenda (5-6 Jan 2015, Long Beach, CA) 

Categories include lifestyle, streetwear, contemporary, women’s, accessories, action sports, outdoor, footwear, and both surf and skate hardgoods. The show also includes peripheral marketing events, industry parties, and the Agenda Emerge conference. Agenda Long Beach is attended by 10,000+ buyers, media, distributors, and influencers from 49 states and 50 countries. If you are only able to attend one trade show this year, it should be Agenda Long Beach!

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (20-24 Jan 2015, Salt Lake City, UT) 

Discover new winter sports products, apparel and gear. This popular outdoor gear trade show featuring the best of the sports market, is held twice a year so leading outdoor industry manufacturers can introduce winter and summer outdoor products. Attracting thousands of buyers, top winter and summer sports manufacturers and the newest innovative outdoor gear, this outdoor market is the place to be! 

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

SnowSports Industries America Snow Show (29 Jan – 1 Feb 2015, Denver, CO)

For six decades, the SIA Snow Show has been bringing the entire snow sports market together in one place, making it the most important trade event for the entire industry. Showcasing the latest trends, innovations, product lines and styles, the SIA Snow Show represents the only global event where over 1,000 brands are presented in an authentic environment both on and off the snow; all powered by the passion and culture of snow sports.

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

Summer (check in June): 

Agenda (TBD July 2015, Long Beach, CA) 

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (4-8 August 2015, Salt Lake City, UT) 

Summer Market is committed to delivering the widest and most comprehensive outdoor buyer demographic that has open-to-buy and a passion for the outdoors. Summer Market is the largest outdoor sports show of its kind, and caters to a specialty audience. OR Summer Market takes pride in the outdoor conference offerings – providing education to retailers, reps and manufacturers to improve business.

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

Fall (check in August):

Interbike (September 2015, Las Vegas, NV)

The Largest Annual Gathering of the Bicycle Industry in North America.  The Annual Interbike International Bicycle Exposition is where the bicycle industry gathers to to celebrate, educate and conduct the business of cycling. 

Previous year’s Shmooz event info

Cascade Pass to Sahale Glacier Hike

The view from the parking lot of Mt Johannesburg (and its glacier) is already intense!
The view from the parking lot of Mt Johannesburg (and its glacier) is already intense!

Friday, August 29 2014

  I first found out about Cascade Pass on a list of the top hikes in Washington State from the Seattle Times website.  It’s tough to find a good list of top hikes that I agree with, but that one I definitely agree with so far!  Alpine meadows, gorgeous views during the entire hike, and a glacier – what’s not to like?  It’s also located in the North Cascades – a region I’ve never been to before because it’s 3 hours from Seattle.  It’s securely within day trip range but still an all-day commitment.  I decided that this will be the last hike I’m going to organize with the Foster MBA crew before school starts, and I was determined to make it an epic one.  Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse – the sign that summer is finally coming to an end.   

  My hiking partner for the day was a fellow full-time Foster MBA 2016 student and my climbing partner, Emily.  We drove up from Seattle around 6:30AM with the hopes that the weather would be better in the North Cascades.  We drove through the rain for about 3 hours until we got to our destination. The last 45 minutes or so was on a gravel road, kind of rough but not a problem for the Tacoma.  The website said that normal ground-clearance cars can make it up the road, and I don’t disagree – there are just two negative radius uphill turns that might give people some traction issues.  The road itself was picturesque; it wound through beautiful mossy woods and over several fierce creeks, past a couple of campgrounds.  The parking lot at the trailhead was misty, and clouds above were moving fast. The clouds broke through just enough to see an amazing view from the trailhead. Across the parking lot was the glory of Mt Johannesburg and its mighty glacier, which was still rumbling and cracking in the late summer — a not-so-subtle reminder of the power of nature.

  The first part of the hike up to Cascade Pass was just a moderate set of switchbacks.  The fog kept chasing us the whole way up until we left the forest and we got above the treeline, about an hour into the hike or 2.25 miles in. The last bit was over a field of scree and talus all the way to the pass. Foggy for the most part here, but occasionally the mist would part and you got a glimpse of the open air below you.  

Emily is super stoked about the foggy views!
Emily is super stoked about the foggy views!

  When we got to the pass, we met a father and his two sons with 70+ lb packs resting in the little stone circle that marked our lunch spot and first turnaround opportunity. They weren’t super stoked about the weather because they were planning on doing the 25 miles to Stehekin, a village that’s only accessible by plane, boat, or hike.  In fact, almost every single person on this trail was doing a multi-day backpacking trip.  I don’t know about you, but camping in the rain is where I draw the line unless I’m purposefully making it a sufferfest.  We broke for lunch here at about 11:30 and cracked open some beers before the wind and rain really picked up. We had to move up trail to avoid the weather, and just stood around on the trail trying to stay warm, clapping our hands and stamping our feet.  The area off of the trail is very fragile and delicate, so we just had to eat lunch out on the middle of the trail.

  Flickr and other sites showed a magnificent view of Cascade Pass in the sunlight, but all we could see was fog and clouds.  Luckily for us, the sun broke through the clouds just momentarily and we were able to see the magnificent view of cascade pass…for a moment .

The view from the Sahale-Cascade Pass junction.
The view from the Sahale-Cascade Pass junction.

  Totally worth the wait!  We got brave and decided to see how far we could go on the Sahale Arm towards the glacier. We held our beers as we hiked he steep incline up to the glacier, but the rain and fog got worse. The rocks started to get slippery and the dirt became soft and started to slide right under our feet. After about 20 minutes of this we decided to turn back and retreat.  

  We’re glad we turned back! The weather didn’t get much better and we lost all the views. This hike really made me appreciate the hot summer days we’ve been enjoying so far in Seattle. Despite the weather, this was an amazing hike and it gave me a reason to return, possibly as a multi-day trip.  Wasn’t too steep or difficult, but definitely not a nature walk either.  There is a campsite on the glacier that looked very promising, and should have some of the best views in Washington.  People also bring skis/snowboards to let gravity do some work on the Sahale Glacier, too.  Next time!

Cascade Pass guide, courtesy of Washington Trails Association