Posts Tagged ‘Washington State’

Sunapee/Outward Bound Program:New Webpage

23/04/2009
MSI's New Webpage on Sunapee's OB Program

MSI's New Webpage on Sunapee's OB Program

The MSI/Sunapee High School/Outward Bound Scholarship Program, now in it’s fourth year gets a new webpage. There is a host of information: past recipients, donors, an overview and goals of the the program and where to find out more. The program is gaining some traction both with students, the community and with Outward Bound’s scholarship department.  Thanks to former Recruiter and Scholarship coordinator Charlie Reade who helped MSI’s Executive Director R. Richards set up the program, a number of students have had a trip of a life time.

Image: Brian Baily-Mountain Yoga

Image: Brian Baily-Mountain Yoga

On the webpage are pics from Brian Baily’s Rock/Backpacking course in Colorado, and Hanna Baade’s sea kayaking program on the coast of Maine. Baade was the first recipient of the scholarship which was first supported by Sugar River Bank. More recently, Rotary International (New London, NH) and other organizations are aiding the effort.

The program is one of MSI’s first “service projects”, aimed at giving back to the community in which MSI is incorporated, and the director’s hometown. In all aspects of MSI, we incorporate a service component, whether it be a board meeting, a program to Peru or at the administration level. Again this inspiration comes from Outward Bound and Kurt Hahn in the first place.

On Rappel: North Cascades, WA, USA

On Rappel: North Cascades, WA, USA

You can check out the web page, and who knows, you may even be inclined to jump on the bandwagon and donate!

Donations can be sent to MSI’s office at:

Mountain Spirit Institute
POB 626
Sunapee, NH 03782
USA

Living Close to the Land, A Lost Art?

22/11/2008
Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

By Randy Richards, Founder
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute
Images: R Richards

Alternative structures are getting more attention these days, especially with the spector of dwindling non-renewable petroleum products for building and heating materials. Simple living is more than an idealist notion. Cody Michaels, a longtime  friend and solo pianist extradonaire, just swung by my town for a performance at our local CoffeeHouse. His performance is a reminder that we actually need to live and  breath outdoors more. He and I went for a walk to the top of a hill overlooking Lake Sunapee just before his gig. We wer just in time to catch the sunset too. It seemed bitterly cold,  (read, There is no bad weather, just bad clothes), but it was worth it. Cody shared his appreciation of the wind whipping through the bare branches, and the artist’s light that cuts through the landscape at an obtuse angle this time of year.
Living outside has become a lost art for the majority of Americans. In my tipi days, I always enjoyed the circular living structure. Occasionally, when a visitor might bring a dog, often times, the a dog would go walk nerveously round and round along the inner walls of the tipi looking for a corner in which to sit. To no avail. Even our domestic pets are used to the square structures in which we all live. 

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

My tipi has been put up every year though,  for the Sunapee SunFest, but I don’t live in it any more. My yurt, now that is a cool structure. It’s toasty warm, and clean living off the grid with solar panels, gravity feed shower, composting toilet and a hand dug well. I’ll write more on yurt living in another post.  I had it up for 5 years in Sunapee, NH on Ryder Corner Road. The different reactions I received from different neighors was worth noting. The old time locals, who grew up on local farms thought it was the best thing, a great addition to the neighborhood.  Ohers were less clear about their feelings of the thing.

Yurt interior w/loft

Yurt interior w/loft

Reactions varied from polite disdain, a blank stare, or possibly a somewhat condescending chuckle. It’s only worth mentioning because as illustrated in the movie “Escape from Suburbia” we may be headed for voluntary simplicity whether we want to or not.  I’m not a Chicken Little thinker, however, watching the aformentioned movie made me sit up and take more notice. It might be worth your time.

A confession is due here. I’m not living as close to the land as I’d like. I’m not growing my own food, (although I do eat from friend’s gardens once in a while.) And I’m not in my yurt. However I forsee my partner and I taking action on this. I’m glad I have the background I do, having lived in my tipi and yurt. As Richard Louv says in his lecture and book “Last Child in the Woods”, my past experiences give me a touchstone, a reference point that helps me know my place in the natural world. My life is still more green than most, but I’ve still got goals to reach. I suggest you do the same. 

Living closely to the earth not only makes sense, it can be much more fun than being in the rut of spending all those non-renewables.

Guiding, The Mountain Life

22/11/2008

Randy Richards, Founder
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute
Images: R Richards

R Richards at ice climbing school site, Mt. Baker, WA

The author, ice climbing site, Mt. Baker, WA

I was rummaging through my images the other day, and came across some pictures of guiding on Mt. Baker and teaching mountaineering instructors on Mt. Hood. What’s the difference between guiding and experiential education in the mountains?  The main difference to me is, experiential ed encourages, or shows people a way to better walk their talk.  It allows them space to try new things, physically, mentally an spiritually, in a new environment. The mountains, and a group of people climbing them,  can provide a vehicle for huge growth. Guiding on Aconcagua, Argentina, and in other areas of South America,  I noticed that groups and individuals , whether facilitated or not, go through huge experiences while at high altitude. If the organization has processes in place that allow growth within the group, both positive and challenging experiences can happen. It’s not guaranteed it will happen but may happen. It’s whether or not they have the OK to express what goes for them is the key.  This determines whether it’s a positive learning experience or not. We all will learn as we go through our life, that’s mandatory, it just depends on how one chooses to receive them these learnings, by blessings or lessons. I prefer blessings at this point in my life. Some individuals, after having prepared for the summits in the high altitudes, still weren’t lucky enough to have made it to the top.  

The Guiding Life

The Guiding Life

They either had a bad summit day, weren’t hadn’t prepared physically, had an unfortunate bout of altitude sickness or some other ailment, or of course, the weather kicked in as it tends to do on high mountains. Guiding, at least through some of my expriences working with certain guide companies,  wasn’t really set up to allow the full range of emotions that can happen in the mountain environment.  Big stuff went down too. Just think  back to the events that surrounded the “summit teams” on Everest during “the big disaster”. I recall John Krakaur’s comment in his book about Everest, that stated, “we were a team in name only”. More about this in another post.
Guiding is a big fun, but for those wanting a bit more depth to their experience, I’ve got a notion. We can delve into more of  who we are, while being out there with others.

Richards and clients, Summit Mr. Baker

Richards and clients, Summit, Mt. Baker

That’s why I started Mountain Spirit. Learning to respect the mountains through knowledge of safe travel, and learn from an exchange with the mountains, the spirit of the place. Our mission at MSI is facilitating connecting to one’s self, with each other and the environment. We’re well past the time where we can simply be observers of our environment, let alone be adventurers for adventure sake. (See my entry on Willie Unsoeld below).
More and more colleges are offering Adventure Education in there Health Department offerings. I was an adjunct faculty for an adventure education department for a brief time. The current state of our world demands that we better use our time and energy wisely if we’re heading to the mountains. I’ve given up downhill ski lifts for this reason. It’s bad enough I drive to the mountains, but at least I’d better use my own human power for my day to reach the top of the mountain.

Training Instructors, Mt. Hood, OR

Training Instructors, Mt. Hood, OR

Willie Unsoeld had it right when he said that we need to  get out there for  “our metaphysical fix”, which does indeed make the world a better place. When we come back we can be better contributors to society. I know, I’m a healthier, more well rounded person for my years in the backcountry.
So what’s this about “walking our talk”? There are countless guided groups, who are well cared for in the mountains,  as are spiritual groups that do shamanic work high in the Andes. Do the latter go there mostly to say they worked with a shaman in the Peruvian Andes? Does their study and knowledge help them to better interact in their immediate day to day lives?  Do they chop wood and carry water. I often wonder.

Summit Sunset Silhouette, Mt. Baker

Summit Sunset Silhouette, Mt. Baker

I’ll close with an oft quoted saying from Sun Bear, “If it doesn’t grow corn, I don’t want to hear about it.” Climbing mountains is certainly not growing corn in the literal sense, but if you approach it right, (read: right livelihood), than I believe you are indeed making the world a better place. Do the pilgrimage, just don’t use too much gas getting there.