Annie: On the Long Road to Alta and Beyond

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Annie Dolomites

All smiles in Italy's Dolomites. Photo: SK, 06/2009.

Work hard, ski hard, eat well, and be mindful...for ourselves, the living Earth, and our shared future.

I am an adventurer, a skier, a cook, a linguist, and an aspiring freelance writer, with a focus on travel, nature, and the outdoors. For the full story (and then some), visit goingglacial.com. You can reach me at goingglacial AT gmail DOT com. Thanks for reading!

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I was always instructed while growing up that college would represent the best four years of my life. My two years as an undergraduate at Stanford University in northern California's Bay Area stoked enhanced critical thinking capabilities and an incurable desire to learn foreign tongues, but left me unconvinced as to the notion of college being the pinnacle of our experience. (And recent findings like these further chip away at my confidence in the quality/content of "education" imparted at our institutions of higher learning.) While I was certainly content enough with my college experience and prepared to complete my degree, I surprised even myself by determining to take my curiosity, my passion for exploration and the outdoors, and my capabilities in Italian, French, and Spanish on the open road...at least for awhile.

July 2010. After a very brief stint at a writing job in London, England, I retraced my footsteps across the Pond, and relocated to Alta, Utah (elevation 8,750', population variable, currently at around 50), a small mountain town outside of Salt Lake City famous for its fluffy and abundant powder snow that adorns its skier-friendly slopes every winter and spring. I was fortunate to find a job opportunity with Friends of Alta, the small land trust organization for Alta that strives to protect the area's open space character and vital culinary watershed. Not to mention that extended employment in Alta would soon enable me to spend upwards of 170 days on the slopes... After almost a year in Alta (and an astronomical 724 inches of snow received during the 2010-2011 ski season), I can fondly report that my participation in Friends of Alta's stewardship efforts has enabled me to experience Alta as an active and engaged member of the community, with ample opportunities to transform my personal sentiments and deep-rooted connection to the area into indoor and outdoor efforts to help sustain and nurture the local environment.

October 2010. In mid-October, I embarked on what would soon reveal itself to be a six-week-long period of adventure, illness, and Mother Nature's most colorful show of weather in Bhutan and Nepal. (Explore my blog archives for words and photos with the gruesome details.) I certainly found each country to be replete with culturally stimulating experiences and craggy peaks of jaw-dropping beauty. But as my brother (the famous SK, check out his impressive inventory of photo credits) and I battled insufferable fog, Nepal's finest corruption, and resultant weeklong plane delays in the rambling village of Lukla, the gateway to the Khumbu/Everest region, I experienced on overwhelming urge to return to and revel in the splendor of my home mountains. Upon finally escaping Lukla's interminable grip, I returned to an Alta emblazoned with fluffy mounds of powder snow, the fruits of generous early-season snowfall.

May 2010. May 22, 2011. Did you ski today? I sure did. After 170+ days on the Little Cottonwood Canyon slopes (and a few Tahoe turns in March during the epic 200 inch dump there), I feel ready to soak my pale skin in some summer sunshine and to leave the States again--although I am fairly certain that my imminent adventure abroad will once again rekindle my seemingly perpetual urge to explore the wilds of the American West. Click here to learn about my upcoming thru-hike of the Via Alpina (~1,000 miles and 463,000 vertical feet of ascent across the Alps in Italy, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, and Monaco) during the summer of 2011 in partnership with mountaineer, cinematographer, and photographer David Breashears. Stay tuned for dispatches from along the trail this summer.

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