Sunday, December 25, 2011

Where is Kshon?

HEY PEOPLE! So, Feliz Navidad, merry Christmas, happiest of Chanukah! All of this... 

Where have I been? I was recently in North Carolina, taking my SPI exam with the AMGA. This was after my climbing trip with Stephanie Maltarich, but before my flight to Argentina. In fact, I actually delayed my flight by a week at a very low cost... This allowed me to climb more, see friends in Asheville, and spend Christmas time celebration-type stuff with my parents and family friends in the immediate Manassas, VA area. Cha-CHING! This is what I have been up to. Quite simple, but complicated enough to explain... One often needs a flow chart or a wipe-off board with crazy NFL-looking Playbook-like scribbles to begin to put a chronology to my escapades... 

Speaking of Escapades... I do not plan on ice skating any time soon... however I did just receive this book for Christmas from mis padres, and I am totally siked to hop on some sick ICE when I am down south:

This book is an introductory book on Ice Climbing technique and training. Although I have gotten my "feet wet," with ice climbing, so to speak, I am at a point of self-education to make more sound decisions while moving on ice... 

I may even just write a book review here afterward, so stay tuned and check back for little lessons I generate here based on what I learn from the book!

So - what's next?!  You may be tempted to ask me... 

     Go ahead. 


....................... ........................... ........................... 

OKAY! I'll Tell you!

 I am going to fly to South America on December 28th, and then take a bus on December 29th from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. A 19-hour bus trip across the country is an inexpensive and romantic way to view the Argentinian countryside. 

 Once I am there, it will be time to a) Celebrate New Year's! b) Re-acquaint myself with friends in town, c) Climb a bunch, and d) Climb a BUNCH! 

 In addition, I will continue to paddle with PURA VIDA PADDLING. Paddling day trips and such with clients from around the world. 

 I DO  look forward to being in touch with each and everyone of you, so if you need to contact me, the best way to do it is through e-mail and skype. 


skype: kshon.     (with dot).

So, for now this is what I have for you. Stay tuned, be updated more with photos and stories... but until then, buena suerte y un abrazo fuerte!



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Buried Treasure Part Deux: "And by tomorrow, I meant..."

Hello there good people! We have to stop meeting like this:

  Here I am in Miami-Dade International, waiting for my flight to Buenos Aires. I am returning to La Patagonia for 3 months of adventure, catching up with beloved friends, climbing and instructing my longest OB course to date: 72-days. Wow.

 I recently have been using travel time as both a reflection period as well as a way to share- to internetically break bread with my friends and family- to share. to update them as to my whereabouts, my happenings, my next moves and my thoughts on it all.

 I am excited to see the "front range" of the Andes sub-range in a mere 48 hours, arriving to Bariloche by bus. I am excited to see the smiling faces of my long-far-away friends who have been bustling with life, managing volcanic ash literally covering our little town in a a few-inches thick carpet of fine pumice, a low tourist season where people are seriously considering if they are going to make it through their Spring tourist season as campground hosts, hostel owners, etc. Life in Patagonia is not easy, but it is beautiful, wild and filled with an amazing spirit. To live there is to be more connected with the land than in some other places I have lived.

One thing is for sure, I am developing a knack for being drawn to landscapes where the people and their culture inhabiting those landscapes are truly connected to the land in which they inhabit: Appalachia: from the hills of West Virginia, to the Highlands of Western North Carolina. From the expanses of the Yampa Valley in North Routt County, to the granite spires of Frey -- the people in these places have a long indigenous story, as well as modern development (which I guess, really, could be a lot of places in the world).

What exactly is this Blog about anyway?!!   Kshon - GET TO YOUR POINT -

Well.... Just saying -- Landscapes fascinate me, and the people connected to them inspire me. I am in a funky in-between where I fly circles around the world, going from predictable location to predictable location, as my life has taken on a rhythm which takes me to these beautiful recurring places. But, as I fly, I am a SUPER visitor. I am a friend to many, but a local to none. I flap my wings, circling above, but never landing long enough or deep enough to build a nest and have people call me one of their own.
Note, my friends love me, obviously -- and cherish our connection, I believe, AND I am still an adventurer who comes and goes on my own wavelength.

My wavelength is broad and adventurous... somewhere on the Red spectrum of light, while cascading down rapids and plummeting below only to splash up the steep granite headwalls where the table top pines cling for their sinewy existence....

I go to cool places. Beautiful places. Wild places. I am part of these peoples' lives. I adventure and teach people how to take care of themselves, others, and the world around them through challenging situations in unfamiliar settings....     I love that.

My wings flap and are not tired, for thy have a rhythm. AND -- I am spotting twigs here and there that will make my nest totally sweet. I am talkin' bout settling in to my rhythm with an arrival point in mind. I will soon be ready.

So - if you were wondering what goes through my mind while in an airport...trying to encapsulate my thoughts in a quick, online, digestible, type-able form....   that was it. Did you blink? Did you miss it? So'k go back and read it again, Its not goin' anywhere...

But you know what did?! A 48'' Sling with two carabiners when I was climbing with Stephanie Maltarich in Red Rocks - at Mescalito on the route called Dark Shadows. I will post the video when I have my mini hard drive back - it is packed in my checked bags...

Please know I miss you all, I am going to miss you over the next several weeks. I am reachable by SKYPE and GCHAT.

kshon. (with dot) is my skype name.

I will be posting pictures and videos from my adventures in Argentina- including NCOBS's International Leadership Semester Course.
Stay Tuned. Stay good. Be well...

Un Abrazo fuerte a todos,

De servir, poner tu mejor, sin parar,


Monday, December 5, 2011

Buried Treasure...

Time to cath a speeding plane. this update will be completed tomorrow.

Quick run down:

Air plane
las vegas
Red Rocks
Lots of Pitches
Buried Treasure
Hi Ben Gardner!
I missed you Kat!
Clmbing tomorrow? Sweet Place
Wow- 25 dollar boot rentals? But I have never ridden AT setup before
23 F, hundreds of cold smoke vert in my face!
Double Eject!
Bye Ben, will miss you Kat
Ben cant wait to climb again with ya
Drive Safe
Misssed you STEPH!
Hi Angela, so amazing to meet you
Hi cool person sitting next to me
we'll talk the whole flight. Weird. Cool.
Dallas Ft. Worth...wait, boarding already?!?!?!

More in a sec. ...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Post-season climbing Trip: 2011 Pre-Patagonia Departure.

So, I am sitting in Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Waiting for my 2:00 pm flight to Denver, Colorado. I am brewing up another adventure and this time, on my own time and terms.

   I am about to meet my dear friend Stephanie Maltarich for a week of climbing spread out between Moab, Utah and Red Rocks, Nevada. After having worked hard for 4 months outside of the Catskill Mountains of the Hudson River Valley for New York City Outward Bound, we were ready to leave the comfort of the Shawamgunks and head west to scale routes greater than 3 pitches. Take note, and have no doubt, the Gunks was a great training ground for our late-Fall climbing soiree.

   This of course is the preamble to a few other adventures I have in the chamber: Taking my SPI exam for the AMGA ( "SPI" stands for Single Pitch Instructor. If I pass my exam, I will be qualified to guide clients in 5th class terrain, while belaying them up to an anchor and lowering them back to the ground, managing their climbing site either from below, or from above. This is a major step forward for me in my "private sector" side of my outdoor education pursuits.

   Post Red Rocks, post Asheville (where I will take my SPI exam), I will then be heading to San Carlos de Bariloche in the Patagonia region of Middle-Western Argentina. Here I will commence with my love and responsibility to North Carolina Outward Bound, as I will be instructing one "Alpine Backpacking" course, and then serving as the "Proctor" for our 72-day International Leadership Semester Course. This course will start in early February and campaign on, sojourning boldly until the tail end of April...  This is a huge honor and undertaking to infuse continuity, personal attention, and high quality to my crew of students, which could be anywhere from 1- to 13 students. Enrollment numbers are still clicking away, so we will see how large my ILS Spring 2012 crew of students will be.

  In addition to heading to Patagonia for work, I also venture for reasons two-fold:
a) I love Patagonia. The landscape captivates my soul - it calls me, begs me to return. A bit dramatic, I know - but, well, go there yourself and see what it does to you...

b) I don't mind being a little personal here on such a forum as my blog for my friends. Last April, I ended a 2-year relationship with someone from Argentina who was very dear to me. So, I am excited to return to the land that I love down south to feel what it is like to be there and be single. To feel what it is like to take steps forward in a land that I know associate with heartbreak. I have such good friends there in Bariloche and I feel set up for success professionally, emotionally, and personally.

   Have no fear my friends, with such text-based content, specially content that i can admit is rather dry (being merely personal updates on my life full of dull facts), I will assuredly incorporate some great photos at the end of this post. My next few posts will be reflecting on my adventures in my more natural, creative non-fiction style of writing.

   For now? You are stuck with the play-by-play of what I had been up to, and what I am about to be up to. The Twilight Zone of my life: those funky in between transitions where most of you see me nowadays. Those two days that I am in Manassas visiting my family, or when I text you that I will "be in town tomorrow, what u up to?! Want to hang out?"

   Your patience is so deeply revered and appreciated in our friendship and kinship. I am a professional adventurer who is constantly circling. I will light one day, as Eagles do, but for now I dry my wings in the sun. 

OOps! Time to board a plane. Photos in a jiffy!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What now?

This was the question I started off with back in May, when I had then recently returned from Argentina. Freshly single. Freshly returned. So much was raw and ready to be thought over and since then so much growth has found its way to me front step. I'd like to fill you in on where I've been and what's new...

The quick version of my summer is that I returned to the US from South America to work at North Carolina Outward Bound School. I did. It was amazing. I was surrounded by good friends and could really focus on doing a job well done with my profession, while also picking up the pieces from my former relationship and make new sense about what I wanted in my life.

Throughout the summer I had ongoing conversations about potential employment with New York City Outward Bound. In July, I committed to joining the NYCOB team (which meant I would forfeit my eligibility to be considered "seasonal staff" in Patagonia this season).

I definitely saw the benefit in the opportunity to work with urban kids from Expeditionary Learning School of NYC ( , here is a link to NYCOB's website ( and so I made the decision to be in New York for the Fall. I just finished my 8-week stint there and had been living in Queens/Fishkill New York for 4 months. The season was long, challenging and amazing all at once! Keep posted for more photos to come from this Fall!

What's next for me?

- 5 day climbing trip in Nevada with my close friend Steph Maltarich, a week in Asheville preparing for my SPI (Single Pitch Instructor Exam), and then a flight to Argentina, where I will instruct a 14-day Alpine Backpacking course, and a 72-day International Semester course.

Stay tuned for more...

For now that is all. Expect more regular updates now.



Monday, July 25, 2011


After a long spell in Argentina, I know see what nearby "peaks" are beyond the clouds of my recent return from South America. I left Patagonia with much material for reflection and am again ready to write some thoughts out for Summits Beyond. I look forward to offering some of these reflections as I am making new sense of my next steps in this crazy expedition called "life."

Soul Searching is like routefinding of the mind, heart, and spirit. Well, after taking a sit-down break, I am now ready to recommence my journey. With steps forward, I will be posting what exactly all this mumbo-jumbo means...

Stay tuned, and join me in the journey.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Patagonia Update # 3



We just returned from a weekend in Chile, where we visited the hot srpings of Puyehue National Park, the cities Osorno and Puerto Montte. It was a blast! Below are some pictures I took and a few I scrounged from the internet to try and convey the beauty of these places.

Osorno, for me personally, was lack luster. I am sure the town has some amazing history, but it lacked the qualities that attract me to an area of high population density. The main themes were big malls and mega grocery stores, ''Am I back in the US?'' I had to ask myself... blah!

Puyehue, really nice. The hot springs vary. There are modern enclosed pool-type of hot springs, and there are outside flows of thermal waters cascading into human-carved pools. We opted for the indoor ones because they wer eless crowded. But, the next time around? We want the most ''natural'' looking that we can get.

I'd like to come back and visit the park itself more, do some hiking around the border of Argentina and Chile. In fact, I have found a new climbing goal - its called ''Pantojo'' or by some ''Pantoja''. It is a 1,000 foot volcanic plug. More on that below.

Puerto Montt was beautiful in many ways: It touches the Pacific Ocean (my first time to the Pacific in the southern hemishpere-the only other time was in Seattle visiting my older brother), it has houses and other buildings in a slew of pastels and other vibrant colors, these categories remind me of many a classic fishing town I have visited: Seward, Alsaka; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Kennebunk, Maine; Seattle, Washington. I have seen a few. The personal downside, which I won't spend to much time on, is that I found a lot of things representative of the yearning to be like Yankee Gringos. That's right. I said it. Their is a three level shopping mall with KFC, Pizza Hut, and lots of other stores that are similar to those we find in the US, but, instead of being a touch of home... it came off more as an urgent wanton of the Chilean people to try and emulate USA as much as possible for simply the comfort of their south-bound tourists from the north. It was almost like an attempt to immitate a land with an economy that they so desire, while forsaking their identity as a beautiful, tranquil little fishing town in the southern most reaches of the conitnental western hemisphere... So the store fronts in the mega mall and the urban planning of neo-shopping complex meets olde-towne fishing village remain dissonant in my mind, while I am still excited to return to eek out the parts of Puerto Montt that speak to me more... We were a bit rushed because we were 4 hours away from the Argentine border and they close at 9 pm. So, we had to boogie out of PMontt if we expected to arrive back safely in our own beds in Bariloche for work onMonday morning. Mission accomplished. I also found a cool hooded sweater, which was an un mentioned personal mission for me in Chile. The best hooded sweaters? Are made in Chile. Check.

TRONADOR. (album link)

I went to Mount Tronador (translation: The Thunderer), with three friends a few weeks back. We went as a team of four with the goal of summitting Peak Argentine. This was a true gift for me because I was able to hang out with three Argentine friends, all who speak fluent English, but who are also awesome at helping me hold myself accountable, so of course we spoke almost entirely in Castellano. Amazing. No, on top of speaking entirely in Castellano, I was on the sharp end of the rope- in the lead, route finding through the crevacced glacier fields and all.

We started our hike from Pampa Linda and made our way to Refugio Otto Meiling. The ''refugios'' (translation: Mountain Hut) are not some primitive escape from the rain. They are a fully stocked small-scale Andean hikers lodge sponsored by Club Andino Bariloche and the managers of each refugio receive a hefty concession for operating them. This ain't no tin roofed bivouac in the middle of nowehere. Ok, well, yes, it is in the middle of nowhere, but you can find sleeping accomodations upstairs, a full kitchen with amazing meals, local beer, Argentine wine, a candle-lit
intimate atmosphere where friends share stories of their day on the glacier, or the trek up from Pampa Linda, and where locals play the Argentine all-time favorite card game Truco.

The short story is... we didn't summit. We made it to a place called ''La Entrada'' or, the entrance to an area known as the ''Deprersion.'' No this doesn't mean we all became instantly very sad, and therefore had no cahrisma with which to summit, the Depression is a lower flat spot that scientists believe was part of the throat of the volcano that was once there. Tronador was three major peaks: Chilean, International, and Argentine. All three are right next to each other, thus stratifying the border between the two countries, and the trail to Picco Argentino stands where there was once a towering volcano, spewing ash into the air, with its approach trails that are now known as the arms of Lake Nahuel Huapi. more on this guy later...

We didn't summit because the snow was pretty ''blandito,'' or thin. It was like walking in medeival golf shoes (crampons on plastic double-lined boots) through a marsh of Mashed Potatoes. Can you imagine doing that for 5 hours? So, we could have made it to the summit, returned to basecamp as night was to fall, only to be wasted of energy, unable to cook dinner with only enough sense to lie there and hope that someone would make our feet feel better.
Or, we could call it an amazing experience in judgement and decision making after considering our then-currently delicate balance between exhaustion and ahtleticism (sometimes int he mountains the two can mix so subtly it is hard to tell which one you are actually experiencing). We returned to camp happy, hungry, and yearning to return the following spring (November, December) to give it another go.

I personally feel great about the outcome. We went for a walk on some glasciated terrain, roped up and everything, and we could practice what we all need to practice the most: Route finding and decision making skills. Was I a bit dissapointed that I didn't get to use my new Black Diamond Cobra Ice tool? Yes. Will I live to use it again? Yes. So, all in all it was an amazing trip getting to know Diego, Letticia, and Esteban and sharing some good times with them. Woohoo!

BUILDING A HOUSE. (album link)

Something I didn't mention
is that I helped some dear friends work on a strawbale house they are constructing here in Bariloche. Eric and Erica are my friends, and they invited three gringos: Dan, Scott, and Tyler to come help. Those guys own a company called BUILD IT GREEN in New Hampshire, USA. They have since become good friends, and I look forward to seeing them next year, when we install the bales of straw, or ''Fardo'' as it is called here. ''Well, if you're buildin' a strawbale house but your puttin' the bales in next year, what the heck did ya do THIS year?!?!?!'' Well, we laborously unloaded to semi-trucks full of fesh cut Oregon Pine from 60 km south in a beautiful little town call El Bolson (More on Bolson later). We then maticulously measure them and cut them to form the Tennon & Mortise structure that serves as the skeleton for the straw bales. This wat of building if a very antiquated form of building houses (and furniture too!). It is a shame that we don't build like this more often in the States. In the US, we have tons of culdsisacs with amazing houses. But the fact is, these houses are built to last 13 years and then they start to fall apart. The crime of it all is that development builders in the States ACTUALLY PLAN FOR THIS. They know your house will far a part somewhere between your second mortgage, kids going to college, and you gazing towards retirement.

The follwing has been flagged for being an aside and an environmental opinion. It has been flagged as such to ease your flow of reaqding. If you've got the time, give it a read... if not? Hope you'll be able to when you've got more time...
That span of 15-20 years is when your house is in dire need of an update, not to mention thats when you'll be making the most money you'll ever make in your entire life and coincidentally when you also want to switch from your laminant floor to a nice hardwood. You'll probably go to Lowe's and select a model of hard wood floor that came from Indonesia or Northern Canada, both of which are great options... the thing is that the amount of transport that flooring has seen from the time its timber was felled until your walking on it in your house is such that the carbon foortprint of your new floor that you could only purchase after selling your third vehicle to kid down the street for his 19th birthday has made a significant envionmental impact between your house, your neighborhood Lowe's, and its original plantation from where the mass-grown trees originated, that the sun now shines brighter over Patagonia because of carbon dioxide emissions from a saw mill in Japan that actually set the flooring to size. Sheesh! Globalized Economy means Earth-sized environmental considerations to carefully ponder!!!!! Pardon my rant...

The truth is that we do have a structure that requires us to find parts from really far away. Sometimes thats really a cool conept, like having really quality cars from Japan, or Diesel to fill them with from Saudi-Arabia, or Gold to line the particle boards that are in the computer that regulate your cars operations from South-Africa. All of this is really a step forward for society. AND, when we all start to realize that this is one model of commerce,and that it just might be creating excessive pollution for our world...hopefully we have thought of a back up plan?
Of course Global Warming is a natural cycle.... I mean, so are Glacial periods people, and believe you me- I love ice ages.... seriously. Without them? I could enjoy summitting Tronador... But, also, the natural reaction to a period of cold is a period of warmth, but we humans are adapting and evolving and developing our own technology at a rate that may just aid int he altering of our climates ability to regulate itself. Puede Ser.
I digress.....

Building the structure of the house was real fun, here is a link to some photos of the process...


Since moving to Bariloche, I have found some work as an assistant to the guide for a company called PURA VIDA PATAGONIA ( Technically, because I do not have a DNI (similar to seocial security number) or an Argentine ID, I can not qualify to take the exam with the Prefectura (Argentine Coast Guard), or the exam to be a certified National Parks guide. Therefore, for now, I am guiding, but with more of a helper's capacity in terms of final-call decision making. This is a really good place to be. I can gain more professional experience, I can observe others and their decision making process, and I can help out good folks who want to guide clients through an amazing Patagonian experience.

Pura Vida Patagonia conducts many types of Sea Kayaking trips, and for right now, I am helping with half-day trips (an excursion of about 2 to 3 hours). Clients show up, we show them how their equipment works, how to saely exit the boat if it flips over, and what do to afterward. This is conducted in English or Spanish or both. I have needed to give the safety talk in Spanish. So, as my spanish improves, the comedy of my safety talk will hopefully one day decrease (and at least I can still laugh at myself). We paddle about, have a snack and return and that is all in a day for me. it starts around 1:15 pm and we finish putting gear away around 5:30 pm. There are many more fine details to it, but we can talk about them in person when you come visit!

MERIDIES ( is the second business I have been helping. recently we completed a three day adventure with clients from an agency called Adventure Travel. We sea kayaked for a day, wnet on a day hike to Cerro Llao llao, and then we summitted Cerro Challuaco with 10 clients. I look forward to helping Meridies int he near future.

I also have a dream to conserve Patagonia through education. I will implement an education program to local kids here in bariloche with a dual curriculum. !) To teach chuldren of Bariloche how to conserve energy and reduce waste in an urban environment through common sustainable living techniques for energy, water, and waste minimization. 2) To teach children of Bariloche what natural world exists outside of their urban zone in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi through real-time experiences in the surrounding Patagonia wilderness. These experiences will include bridging connections between the urban and wilderness areas of Patagonia.

I feel that education is the key to resource management and through a carefully planned curriculum, we can all conserve this beautiful place together.


There are more adventures to come. Watch for photo albums and more! Such as my Outward Bound courses down here!...