Hi everyone, it’s been a couple months since I wrote the last ChasingSunshine post - and there’s good reason for it; lots and lots has happened.

Here’s the cliff notes version:

  • Moved out of Boulder and full-time into Merlot-The-Van with Paul

  • Climbed all over Yosemite and the Southwest in the fall

  • Got my US green card - I’m officially a permanent resident!

  • Doubled down on guiding by formalizing Aurora Women’s Expeditions as a Colorado LLC and adding several new expeditions to Nepal, Argentina and Tanzania for 2019/2020 - go check out the expedition schedule.

  • Agreed new 2019 partnerships with LEKI, LOWA, and GU

  • And: making lots of plans for the coming months and years.

Now scroll on for the more detailed update and all the photos that I never get around to posting on Facebook, too.

If we’re friends on social media you may already know some of this, but let me start from where I left off a few months ago.

After winning the Ouray 100 and setting an FKT (fastest known time) on the Pfiffner Traverse within ten days from one another, August was the time for a summer holiday! Paul and I love far-out adventures, but this time we stayed close to home: a ~2hr drive took us to the Indian Peaks where we climbed magical Lone Eagle Peak, a Colorado classic that had been high on our combined tick list for a while.

Having enjoyed a few days of climbing in perfect sunshine, it was full steam ahead towards a singular goal: moving out of our Boulder apartment and into #MerlotTheVan by October 1. While Paul was wrapping up his obligations at Nite Ize and working frantically towards his final day of employment (gasp…), I worked equally frantically to build out Merlot from scratch and get us moved in.

Merlot, in case you’re curious, is a 2003 Ford E350XL with a great amount of character and equal amounts of rust. In true going-for-broke dirtbag fashion we decided against buying a Sprinter van or Promaster, opting to spend less money upfront ($7k!) and more money on repairs.

We got everything done on time and launched headfirst into vanlife on September 29, with not much on our minds other than wanting to spend as much time as possible together, outside, climbing and adventuring, and evading bad weather. Of course October isn’t the greatest time to be looking for barefoot and shirtless summer days, but we got to enjoy many beautiful weeks in and around Yosemite, Joshua Tree, as well as in the deserts of Nevada and Arizona. I didn’t achieve my objective of climbing El Capitan with a partner different than Paul (who was up on the big stone for 10 days to send the rarely climbed Heartland 5.10 A4), but spent lots of time on Washington Column and also helped Paul, Wayne Willoughby and Chris Van Leuven with their single-push adaptive ascent of Zodiac in November.

With winter settling in across the western US we finally found ourselves playing hide-and-seek with blizzards, below-freezing-temps, and the ever-elusive calm and sunny conditions. Enter the holidays, and family visits across three countries and two continents with lots of smiles and celebrations, great meals, and plenty of leisurely walks and sunny skiing.

And last but not least!! I became a US permanent resident and promptly doubled down on Aurora Women’s Expeditions (AWE) to turn it into a proper business. I’d been hoping to do this for several years but wasn’t able to do so prior to obtaining my green card, so I am now doubly excited to have everything up and running as a small Colorado business. The inaugural expedition schedule includes trips to Aconcagua, Everest Basecamp and Island Peak (this trip is open to men as well btw, and will be co-guided by Paul!), and Kilimanjaro; more to come as time goes on.
If you are interested in any of those climbs or know someone who you think would enjoy a women’s trip… please share the love! Aconcagua 2020 only has one spot remaining, but the other two trips still have plenty of availability. And if you can’t think of anyone who would be interested, I’d love it if you at least check out the AWE website, let me know what you think, and subscribe to the AWE newsletter.

Finally… a nod of gratitude to my outdoor industry partners for 2019: I’m excited to be working with LOWA Boots, Backpacker’s Pantry, Leki USA, and GU Energy. And I am equally stoked to be thinking about and working towards all the big projects that are bubbling up towards the top of my list: more speed records in the US and Nepal, putting work in on some first ascents, and prepping a big polar mission. So much time, so little to do! But first, off to Argentina for an AWExAconcagua climb starting on Saturday - if you like seeing photos and realtime updates from the mountain please follow along at the new AWE Instagram account @awexpeditions. Much love and I hope we cross paths somewhere in the great outdoors this year!


PS / *** technical note: If you’ve enjoyed getting expedition field notes in the past, please be aware that those are all moving over to the new AWExpeditions website which means that you need to (re-)subscribe over there in order to continue receiving updates from the mountain in your inbox.