February 24, 2011

Interior AIDS Association March First Friday

I have been working in a practicum at Interior AIDS Assocation during this school year. IAA has been developing a creative outreach program which will gradually be transitioned into the hands of community members, artists, agency clients and staff. The March First Friday is coming right up and it should be a good one. Lillian Misel and knitting friends have been dropping off top quality handmade knitted items for silent auction with 100 percent of proceeds going to IAA. In addition, new work as well as work from Rebecka Del Castillo and Jessica R. Pena's BFA graduation exhibits will remain up through this first friday. 25 percent of sales on these amazing items will go to IAA.

Click here for my recent digital story from the RurAL CAP workshop in Anchorage, designed to recruit participants in our Creative Outreach events. Stories of this type can be quite useful for communicating a personal story or a message of prevention. 

Come support a vital area nonprofit. I'll be there for anyone who wants to talk climbing as well!

Click here for the link to the event. Please come on out and support the agency while drinking wine and eating tasty food. We will have available information about all of the services that we provide, and can get folks set up for a free, anonymous HIV test during the following week if anyone is interested.

Share the link with a friend - it takes investment from the community to make these things a success.

Bridwell Recollections and Predictions


Jim Bridwell is a bad motherf*^$r.

February 23, 2011

2011 McNeill-Nott Award: Off to the Neacolas!

Ben Chriswell and I just heard from the McNeill-Nott Award committee - it seems we have won an award for attempts on big new routes in the Neacola Mountains! 

In 2004, I met Sue Nott at the Canadian Rockies classic Pilsner Pillar while climbing with my good friend Heike Schmitt. While I sweated and grunted my way up a wet, icicled-out and overhanging variation on the right I remember reflecting on the different experiences that she and I appeared to be having; she was dancing (while I grunted) her way up the standard Pilsner while chatting and laughing with her friends - one of whom is now my friend - patient, crushing Black Diamond rep Roger Strong.

In 2005, Freddie Wilkinson and I stayed in Sue and Karen's giant Mtn. Hardwear basecamp dome after our 55-hour repeat of the Diamond Arete and traverse of Mount Hunter- Freddie later thanking them by sending in a couple burgers from Talkeetna. It seems I now owe them - again - and I guess I'll just have to pass on what I can of their  desire and motivation to developing climbers just as they did.

In 2006, Greg Collins and I were shut down guiding clients on Mount Hunter during the same weird wind event that created the avalanche conditions we hypothesize killed these two strong women in May of the same year. We had a storm drop snow consistently from the South, and then a major wind event - from the North - causing some incredible windloading on southerly aspects. At the time we considered it quite unusual and dangerous, hoping Sue and Karen were hunkered down in a snowcave where the spur tops out, or on their way down the Sultana (NE) Ridge. Sadly, it was not the case and their belongings were located a couple of weeks later.

Ben and I had resolved to check these peaks out no matter what, but are excited to be able to put more of our focus into the climbing and less into worrying about whether we'll be broke when we get back to town. We have good beta on one 8300 foot peak with a couple of gorgeous 4000 foot granite buttresses. We are also aware of an 8900 foot peak with a steep 3000 foot wall nearby. Steve Gruhn has since researched and informed me that Joseph Carl and Joan Firey climbed the 8300 foot peak via the South Face of the East Ridge and named the peak Citadel in 1965. So, at least we know the best way to try to get back down!

Here is the link to the American Alpine Club announcement. 

Thanks again to the American Alpine Club, and the McNeill-Nott Award (funded in large part by Mountain Hardwear). As always, I hope this years crop of AAC award winners do their best to carry the spirit of the strong departed with them. Wish us luck!

February 18, 2011

IAA Creative Outreach Digital Story for HIV/STD Prevention

I just got done participating in a really cool three and a half day STD/HIV prevention digital storytelling workshop with RurAL CAP as part of my work with Interior AIDS Association related to the UAF-UAA Joint Psychology Ph.D. program. Certainly, the best part of the workshop was sharing stories with the other participants. Some of the personal stories were incredibly powerful, especially those of two HIV positive, strong Alaska Native grandmothers. I hope to be able to provide a link to the other participants' stories when they are posted to the RurAL CAP website. The other participants are proud to share their stories. In terms of public health related conferences/workshops that I have been to, this offered immersion and the opportunity to be quite creative. I post it here because I share a little of my personal journey from full-time climbing into the helping professions.


Interior AIDS Association Creative Outreach Digital Story from Samuel Johnson on Vimeo.

February 6, 2011

2011 Copp-Dash Inspire Award Open for Applications

The 2011 Copp-Dash award is open for applications! 

The award folks asked that I repost this to encourage folks to apply for the award for the upcoming climbing season. Of the various awards that I have applied for and/or received over the years I have to say that this is the coolest one: An excuse to learn new skills in the context of climbing - It helped me motivate to work on in-field expedition art while in basecamp, make an expedition video, and create a multimodal presentation with which to motivate other climbers. The latter ideas are really the point of the award - I always work to motivate local climbers up here in Alaska to seek out first ascents in our home state and abroad simply because we know the conditions best, and spend a lot of time out in country whenever we can. In the end, we didn't climb what we hoped due to conditions, but had a successful expedition nonetheless. In addition, it motivated me to share my creative side with the world through Avid Abstracts, my fledgling art company.  Here is the link to the 2011 award info. 


February 1, 2011

Alpinist Free Solo Features

I've been thinking a bit about free soloing as it is something I used to do relatively regularly. Generally, I never really free soloed 'hard' (in excess of 5.10 or WI5) climbs but did always enjoy pushing myself in this mode of climbing expression- especially the winter I was in the Canadian Rockies, or in the Italian and French alps around 2004-2005. Over the years, some of my favorite climbing moments have been on free solos. As I was thinking about this, I thought it might be a good time to revisit these old Alpinist features on free solo specialists! Here is a link to the Alex Honnold feature, and here is a link to the Guy Lacelle feature for some inspiration and perspective. Some of you may have seen these before, some not. Either way, I hope you get a chance to visit or revisit these perspectives from two world-class free soloists.

Janet's Wedding Sandwich Newfie Climbing Video

A video from Janet Bergman, Sarah Garlick, and Kirsten Kremer's climbing trip to Newfoundland. Good climbing and good laughs!