Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note: The Carbon Cancer

Editor’s Note: The Carbon Cancer

Can we afford President Trump’s fossil fuel ambitions? Photo: Goddard Space Flight Center/NASA] ASJ co-founders Cathy Claesson and Matt Niswonger. After 16 years and 95 issues they are more committed to the adventure lifestyle than ever. In my last editor’s note I wrote about Donald Trump and the pros and cons of staying silent vs. taking a political stand. A few readers shared some pretty strong arguments for staying politically silent. After all, ASJ’s core mission is to unite California outdoor enthusiasts around a healthy, adventurous lifestyle. Given this, who cares whether you call yourself a Democrat, Republican or something else? However, for a variety of reasons – all outlined in the last issue – we cannot stay on the sidelines. Trump’s ambivalence towards climate change more than anything else has forced our hand. Simply put, rejecting science is unacceptable. The earth is round and burning fossil fuels is...
Editor’s Note: A Ripple in the Force

Editor’s Note: A Ripple in the Force

Our response to The Donald By Matt Niswonger Happiness is only found in the present moment. Good times mountain biking with the family in the Lost Sierra. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election it’s clear that California sees the world through a completely different lens than the rest of America. By a huge margin, we rejected Donald Trump and his pessimistic worldview. No hard feelings America, but we are headed in a completely different direction. Most Californians passionately rejected Trump’s divisive vision for our country. Now as he prepares to be sworn in as our 45th president he seems to be shifting his view and softening his rhetoric on certain campaign promises like putting Hillary in jail and building a wall along our border. Whatever. Changing your tone after the election only undermines the power of everything you say moving forward. California voters have made it abundantly...
Editor’s Note: Trump Wins

Editor’s Note: Trump Wins

Now you will experience the true power of the dark side Editor’s Note Alternate for Issue #94 One of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies is the epic battle between Yoda and the evil emperor at the end of Episode III. Finally discovering that Emperor Palpatine and the shadowy Sith Lord “Darth Sidious” are actually the same person, Yoda walks into the Emperor’s chambers in the galactic senate for the final showdown. Despite being known for his wisdom, Yoda is also a master of lightsaber combat and he’s ready for a street fight as he enters Palpatine’s chambers: “I hear a new apprentice you have emperor. Or should I call you Darth Sidious…?” Here Yoda reveals that he finally knows the evil secret of the Sith: Palpatine is a double agent who has been working to destroy the Jedi all along. Emperor Palpatine is shocked to see...
Editor’s Note: Uncomfortably Numb

Editor’s Note: Uncomfortably Numb

 The high cost of no risk By Matt Niswonger Photo: Fred Pompermayer Savage Arena is an autobiography about the life of an extreme athlete who embraces a lifestyle of risk. The author, Joe Tasker, was training to be a priest when he discovered climbing in his twenties and never looked back. After groundbreaking ascents in both the Alps and the Himalayas, Tasker lost his life in 1982 while attempting a new line on Mt. Everest. The book is an unforgettable look into the realities of extreme sports. What’s powerful about Savage Arena is that Tasker knows he is taking huge risks and heading down a path that will probably get him killed, and yet at the same time is completely comfortable with the choices he is making. Joe Tasker discovers his own true potential through extreme mountaineering, and while dealing with the suffering and fear of hardcore climbing comes...
Editor’s Note: The Void

Editor’s Note: The Void

A hard look at risk By Matt Niswonger Lukas finishing his knot at the base of Sunnyside Bench Regular Route (Cathy Claesson). Walking back to the car after leaving a restaurant I attempted to hold hands with my 12-year-old son Lukas. He held my hand for just a brief second and then yanked it away. Nothing personal, he’s just not that into holding hands with his dad in public. “It’s weird, dad,” he explained. I laughed. I find myself needing lots of affection from Lukas lately. About a month ago, while descending from a multi-pitch climb in Yosemite, Lukas almost fell off a cliff and died. I can’t get it out of my mind. So I just keep hugging him and reaching out for affection. Our chosen Yosemite adventure was the Sunnyside Bench Regular Route, a classic three-pitch 5.4 climb that is the easiest way to ascend into “Middle...
Editor’s Note: Dreams

Editor’s Note: Dreams

The high price of selling out Self-portrait of Matt Niswonger’s shadow and his hanging camp high on the east face of El Capitan in Yosemite during a solo ascent in 2002. Shortly afterwards he gave up on his dreams and was a shadow of his former self for nearly a decade. In early November 2002 I was climbing the sheer east face of El Capitan in Yosemite. Safely tied to my hanging camp over one thousand feet high, this was day four of a six-day solo ascent. The route was called Zodiac and climbing it alone was a personal dream. A mile away, my wife Cathy was standing on the valley floor watching me through binoculars. In her arms she held our baby son Nils. She could tell something was wrong so she pulled out her phone and called me. “I’m out of water,” I explained. “Okay, so what...
Editor’s Note: A Surfer Girl

Editor’s Note: A Surfer Girl

Raising powerful girls in a world of boys Photo: Nelly Recently I was giving my daughter Mia a ride home from school when she mentioned that a classmate said something that made her feel bad. I asked her to elaborate and she got quiet and just stared ahead. Concerned, I asked her what was wrong. She told me that a boy in her class had called her a surfer girl and it made her sad. I stared at her and we locked eyes. Why the sad face? She could tell I was pretty concerned. “He was only saying that because I have blond hair. I’m not a real surfer girl,” she said, fighting back tears. “I’m really bad at surfing and I don’t like it.” It was heartbreaking to hear these words. “Of course you are a real surfer girl. I have pictures of you standing on a surfboard....
Editor’s Note: Winter Returns

Editor’s Note: Winter Returns

Are you willing to play? Jacob Dore’s pole gets after it in some sweet Tahoe pow (Devin Ebright). As storm after storm pounds into California we are finally aware that the winter of 2016 is legit. For many of us, this presents a problem. The problem is that after a few lean winters we have grown lazy and unmotivated. As the Sierra snowpack continues to accumulate it’s almost like we don’t know what to do. Having spent so much time eulogizing about the death of winter and the good old days of skiing and riding in California it’s almost like we lost the ability to actually go skiing or riding anymore. Backcountry lines that haven’t been skied since 2011 are now just sitting there … waiting. Compounding the problem is that the surf has been incredible all up and down the coast. Spots that normally see small crumbly waves...
Editor’s Note: The Paris Effect

Editor’s Note: The Paris Effect

Why peace is more important than ever After my last editor’s note about communication an ASJ reader sent me a link to an interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn. They were discussing what he calls compassionate listening. Feeling moved, I really got for the first time in my life that listening could be a form of healing that passes from one person to another. Watching Thich Nhat Hahn provided a key insight. Like many people, I often wrestle with a vague sense that something is wrong. Even while running or mountain biking or surfing – activities that generally make me feel peaceful – I sometimes catch myself thinking about the past or the future through the lens of “something is wrong.” As a result I am often not able to engage in compassionate listening with the important people in my...
Editor’s Note: Listen Powerfully

Editor’s Note: Listen Powerfully

An empty mind is the secret to inspiring communication Recently I spent a weekend in San Jose taking an intensive professional development seminar aimed at increasing my communication skills. What I learned demonstrated once and for all that my entire history of communicating with others has been lacking in effectiveness due to some basic assumptions that are false. During the course of the seminar I fully appreciated—for the first time in my life—the extent of the opportunity I have been missing because of poor communication skills. Career, relationships—everything hinges on good communication and the fact that I have been walking around thinking I am generally a good listener was a huge personal blind spot that has no doubt cost me a lot in personal effectiveness. At some point during the seminar I had a breakthrough. Being a good listener is not about politely waiting until it is my turn...
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