Inspiration at 19,341 ft

The inspiration for my blog started three years ago. I was sitting on my couch, recovering from ACL and meniscus surgery.  I moved back to New Mexico for my surgery, so that my parents could help take care of me while I was a helpless, injured ski bum. If any of you have had surgery, then you know that recovering from an injury can be a long, frustrating and painful time. It especially can take its toll on people mentally. Sitting on my ass for days on end, incapable of doing really anything (for the first few days I couldn’t even go pee without assistance) started to really drive me crazy or at least put me into a wacky head state. This was especially true for me as I was used to being outside and exercising daily and recovering from my injuries prevented me from doing my favorite activities. 

So, there I was, cranky, helpless and in moderate pain. My mom, who was the one helping me go pee, has always set out on her morning ranch chores early and would come back by 11 am, just in time to make some tea and watch the Price is Right. Since I was stuck on the couch, I would watch with her. Watching the Price is Right almost every day made her an expert at all of the games. My mom would yell at the TV faster and more accurately at the contestants on the screen, always quick to call out their mistakes when they made the wrong decision. It was a good time, sitting there with my mom and my furry animal friends. 

The part that really drove me crazy, however, were the commercials. The Price is Right is prime daytime television, meaning that the commercials are targeted to people who have nothing better to do at 11am, aka the retired and crazy. The commercials consist of life insurance policies, medications with more side effects than cures, life alert, extra-large buttoned cell phones and my favorite… Publishing Clearing House Sweepstakes. The sweepstake promised that you could be the lucky bloke who won $7,000/ week for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. The commercials showed past winners opening their front doors to a check that was so big that they definitely couldn’t deposit it through the drive through window at the bank. 

Watching this commercial over and over, combined with the fact that I was extremely stir crazy, brought me to the point of entering the sweepstakes. I didn’t know if it was actually a real thing. I mean, it seems so ridiculous. $7,000 / week for the rest of my life is more money than I can really wrap my head around. It is basically endless money.  

In order to enter the sweepstakes, I had to type in my email address. And three days after hitting submit, my email was completely full of junk adds. I received so many emails with advertisements for other contests to enter and products and services to purchase, I was drowning in the emails. It didn’t take long to get really fed up with it, and so, I decided to make a new email that I could use to sign up for sweepstakes. One that I didn’t care about being filled up with junk. All the while, I was sitting there, applying to sweepstakes, always just wishing I could go skiing, dreaming about the endless money and the endless powder I could chase with that money.  And that’s how the email and name, skiingistheanswer, was born. I wanted to be the winner of those checks.

The Price Is Right was over at noon, and I had the rest of the day for, well more sitting around the couch with nothing much I could do. So, I did what I do best: dream. I sat there thinking about what I would do with $7,000 / week. {having that much money would be a responsibility }The first thing that came to my mind was obvious. Duh, I’m going heli skiing! Then, I started thinking about who I’d take with me on my trip.

Which of my ski buddies would appreciate this trip the most? But, I was like, well damn, with $7,000/ week, I could feasibly take all my friends heli skiing. I would just have to spend a few weeks not spending and let the money build up and I’d have enough cash to take whoever I wanted with me!

As I continued to dream, I realized that I also have friends who I want to take on awesome trips who don’t ski. So, to be fair, I would open up to more trip ideas.

In my countless hours of dreaming, I devised a system for my money. I decided I would come up with an application form, in which the friends I wanted to go on trips with, could fill out letting me know: 

  1. where they wanted to go  
  2. what they wanted to do and
  3. who they wanted to bring. 

The budget would be 7,000/week (but, of course I would be willing to spend more as long as it was worth it and welI, planned properly). I would then review and approve of their dream trip, with the only stipulation that I get to come with!  I got it in my head, that my full-time job could be planning awesome adventures for me and my friends. Oh what a sweet life that would be….

Fast forward a year and a half later.  I was standing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro just as the sun began rising with a group of my really close buddies from college. Words do not do justice for how awesome this felt.

6 months before this moment, one of my close friends from college proposed a trip to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro all together.  His family used to be involved in a travel tour company and had the ins to get us trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The deal was, if you can get yourself to Arusha, Tanzania, then he will take care of the rest. 

The trip ended up being better than what I could possibly imagine. I got to spend 8 days hiking up and around the highest peak in Africa, with 5 of my closest friends. Friends that I no longer get to see more than 1-2x times a year at best.  There was no cell service or distractions, it was just us, the excessive amount of porters, our guide and this beautiful foreign landscape. It was everything I had dreamed about while sitting on the couch daydreaming about the sweepstakes. 

This trip showed me two important things, A) adventuring to foreign places with friends is better than you can imagine and B) it’s possible to make this happen. If my friend could make this happen, then why can’t I? 

In the time between this trip and launching my website, I did a lot of existential thinking and figuring out how I wanted to spend my time. What am I going to do with my life?  In the “self-help” and soul searching books I was reading, a common question asked was if money wasn’t an issue, what would you do with your life.  The advice was then to go make that happen and the money will come. This question was relatively easy for me to answer, since I had already done most of the heavy thinking while sitting around waiting for that check of 7,000 to show up on my doorstep. 

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have traveled a lot. For a long time, I felt guilty about it, especially around my friends that didn’t have parents who made traveling possible and important part of life. I walked around holding on to this as my secret guilty, traveling privilege. A lot of the time, I didn’t have the means to travel with friends or family. So, I did a lot of traveling on my own.  Traveling solo is awesome and important and I recommend everyone tries it at some point. But traveling is definitely better when you get to share it with people you love. And there is also a limit to what kind of adventure you can do when you are by yourself. 

So, with endless money, I would ski, travel and adventure as much as possible with my friends. The question then became, how am going to make this happen? 

I knew being sponsored for being the best/gnarly/coolest/daring skier wasn’t the route for me. My relationship with skiing has always been about my love for it, rather than my skill. The idea of pushing my skiing for the sake of competition never appealed to me. So, I could cross that idea out. And for some reason, I didn’t end up winning the lottery or the Clearing Publishing house sweepstakes (is it even real???).  And I certainly wasn’t going to dedicate my time to any type of career or money-making scheme that would cut into my ski time so… I decided to go with route that is suited more to my skills and what I enjoy doing . And something I’ve always been good at is being a contrarian. Looking to go places and do things outside of most people’s peripheries and experience. Thinking outside the box … AKA skiing in places not associated with snow and skiing. Places a little more off the beaten path, where it might not be be overrun with tourists (an experience often encountered while traveling these days-  days of wifi). I was also looking for something where I didn’t have to sacrifice either of my two loves (skiing and traveling). 

The seed of this idea was planted a few months before I tore my ACL during the fall off season. I traveled to Israel with the Birthright foundation (a free trip for anyone from the ages 18-27 claiming to be Jewish).

After the guided part of the trip ended, I extended my trip and headed off to the Golan Heights in the northern part of the country to pick peaches on a farm in exchange for housing and food. 

Unbeknownst to me, I was actually heading to the town of Israel’s ski area. When I got off the bus, I saw a billboard with some Hebrew letters and a picture of a skier. It was summer, so I couldn’t go skiing. But a little light bulb certainly went off in my head. I had never known there was skiing in Israel.

A few weeks later, I headed to Cyprus, to get a little beach time in before ski season.

One day while I was there, I decided to take a day to drive around the interior of the island country located in the middle of the Mediterranean.

To my surprise, while driving around (on the other side of the road), I also found signs directing me to the ski area. So, here I was in another country I never associated with skiing, realizing that it does in fact have skiing. Maybe even decent skiing.

So, on this random trip, I learned about two new places in which I could go skiing. And I began to wonder what else was out there….. 

Unfortunately, this idea got pushed to the back of my brain when my trip ended early due to health issues. The health issues ended up lasting for a couple of months and severely compromised my body so that by the time I had figured out what was wrong and started healing, I ended up tearing my ACL. 

At the time, I just thought life sucked. Getting really sick and then finally getting better just to tear my ACL. How fun. However, now I see that it was Universe, Ullr and the Snowgods were just conspiring together to put me where I needed to go. 

This little seed of the skiing possibilities had been quietly growing roots inside my dreams after that trip to Israel and Cyprus. The seeds finally sprouted in my frontal cortex and into my consciousness after an amazing summer that consisted of summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and through hiking the 250 Miles of the John Muir Trail ( check out my story about how tearing my ACL taught me about manifesting) . It was a summer that helped me turn all the pain and turmoil of the past couple of years into a silver lining. I learned the power of manifesting, positive thinking, and self-love, which happens to be the skills I need to turn my dreams into reality. A reality where skiing(with friends)istheanswer

So, my question is, Who wants to go heli – skiing?

Scroll through to see how much fun my friends and I had on our trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Last Camp, night of summit.