Mixing Love and the Dangers of the Outdoors | the risk is worth it.

Today’s post was going to be about training for my return to climbing in the southeast, but those plans got derailed when I read about the tragic passing of Steph Davis’ husband Mario Richard during a BASE jump accident in Italy – my mind was overcome with heavier things, and thoughts about what it means to combine love and extreme sports.

For Mario and Steph, their relationship was bound by their love of BASE jumping. For Niko and I, it’s all about climbing. Each activity is unique, but they both share the same inherent dangers we subject ourselves to each time we decided to head outdoors for adventure. Every day is a risk when you live a life filled with daring leaps, long pitches, tall climbs, and ever-changing conditions.

The news about Mario instantly made me think about all the times I’ve worried about Niko’s safety while climbing. I remember when he bagged his first big trad summit, Cathedral Peak in Yosemite. I stayed at camp in Tuolumne Meadows while Niko and his crew journeyed towards the summit, and my standard girlfriend worrying turned into genuine concern as I watched threatening storm clouds roll over the mountains. I grimaced every time I heard a vicious strike of thunder, and spent the next few hours pacing in the rain, waiting for the sound of his return.

As he always is, Niko was totally fine, and returned to camp with grand tales of his experience on Cathedral Peak. Yes, they got rained on, and endured a hailstorm during the final pitch of the climb, but the only thing that mattered was the fact that he was back, safe and sound.

Luckily for Niko, I’m nowhere near as daring as he is, so I doubt he worries about me very much – but there is still always a certain dose of danger one has to consume when a loved one engages in any extreme activity. But what can we really do about it? Should I tuck Niko away in a little safety bubble to make sure he doesn’t do things like break a toe in Indian Creek or take a massive fall off a highball? I can’t, and I wouldn’t. Climbing makes our relationship what it is. We live to climb, and we love each other so deeply because we’re connected through climbing.
At the summit overlooking Lake Catherine in Alta, Utah. (Photo by Teton Sports)

There is always going to be that risk, but for me, it’s always going to be worth it. The memories Steph will have of her husband will be moments that most couples will never experience. Their time together was spent living life to the absolute fullest, no matter what – and that’s exactly how I intend to spend my time with Niko.

Live freely, adventure often, love wildly, and don’t worry about tomorrow – because if tomorrow doesn’t come, you’ll forever have the thoughts of everything you did do together.

I can’t imagine what Steph is enduring right now, and my heart breaks to think of one of my role models grieving for sure a loss. But I don’t worry for a second that she’ll be regretting a moment of her time with Mario – they lived their relationship as it should be: every moment was an experience, and every second was spent doing what they loved. Make sure you do the same.

* Thanks to Teton Sports for the shot of Niko and I from our hike out in Alta, Utah. 

On taking big risks, embarking on new adventures, and getting out there

So there is this guy I’ve known since high school. Handsome kid, hardworking college graduate pursuing a career as an investment banking analyst. I’m always flattered to see comments and ‘likes’ from him as I document all my adventures, but he recently surprised me with the biggest compliment I have ever received.

Yesterday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a declaration from him in my news feed. It read:

“Holy crap! I just told my boss that I’m quitting my job to go travel the world. I’m either insane or just made the best decision of my life…I’m gonna say the latter! Wow, It’s all happening.”

Naturally, I jumped to congratulate him on his bold decision. I told him the truth: He had just made the best decision of his life. His response?

He told me that I was a part of his inspiration to quit his job and head out on a journey of worldly adventures. 

That, folks, is what this is all about. Maybe it’s the obscenely early morning and the lack of coffee flowing through my body at the moment, but I’m admittedly a bit misty-eyed to think that I contributed even the tiniest fraction of motivation for him to take such a daring leap into the world. Inspiring others to embrace life as an adventure is the reason I document my trips, spend endless unpaid hours writing, and take photos of every glorious little moment that enchants my life. And apparently, it worked.

Readers, consider this a call to arms. I dare you to leave your comfort zones, ditch the doldrums you’ve resigned yourself to, and get out into the world. Evan is choosing a truly courageous journey to experience destinations far beyond our country’s borders, but any adventure will do.

Can’t quit your job? Take a sabbatical. Take a long weekend – hell, just take the afternoon off. Drive outside of city limits, head towards the mountains, and get some dirt on your boots. Life is calling, and you can either sit around and let it pass you by – or you can take advantage of the adventure that awaits you. Go. Be bold. Take big risks, they tend to reap big rewards.

Seriously, you can do this.

Evan, congratulations again on following your intuition and seeking a journey that will ultimately change your life forever. I wish you all the best of luck and fortune during your travels – and can’t wait for you to unveil your own travel blog so I can keep up with all your worldly adventures. I am beyond honored to have been even the slightest inspiration for your decision to get out into the world. Cheers, buddy!