Saturday, January 28, 2012

Zines on Kindle

I've spent a good part of my week trying to figure out how to upload my zines into the Kindle system. It's been a whole lot of trial and error, but I'm happy to report that I'm close to having The Climbing Zine Volume 3, and Moonlight Dreamchasers, the 2012 Edition good to go for reading on Kindles.

This is very exciting for me to have a product available for e-readers, and honestly now that I've committed to doing it, I've wondered why it took so long for me to do this. I encourage all young and emerging writers to explore this option for their self-published work.

That said, I am still going the traditional route for publishing my first book, Climbing Out of Bed. Though it will take longer to publish this way, I believe the final product will be worth it to go through a traditional publisher.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be sure to post when the zines are good to go on Kindle.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Underwear Story and Patagonia

Well today has def. been the biggest game changing day in my writing career. Late yesterday afternoon, Patagonia published a story about my dream to become an underwear model on their blog, The Cleanest Line. It's a trip because I wrote the first draft of the 561 word story over four years ago, and submitted it to Patagonia to use. They liked it, but couldn't find a place for it. Late last year I revised and resubmitted the story to them. In 2012 there is a place for a funky, strange tale about underwear, hot springs, the ladies and some strangeness in Salt Lake City, Utah. The place is blogs! So word up to that.

The Cleanest Line is a dope blog, and I'm psyched they published the story. It's crazy to think my writing reaching the audience that Patagonia reaches. It's actually blowing my mind at the moment.

Just as I was about to hit click on this piece, a stranger taps me on my shoulder, I thought I was about to get kicked out of the library, but instead she says, "hey look at the sunset, sometimes i get too involved in my work to look up and I thought you might miss it." I was missing it. Wise words from that lady.

To read The Underwear Story, visit The Cleanest Line.

word and peace,
Luke Mehall

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Busy Being Born; a review of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I wrote this review for tomorrow's Durango Telegraph. Enjoy.

As I start this piece I can barely handle looking at the cover of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Jobs, the co-founder and longtime CEO of Apple, who passed away last October, was known to be harsh on those he felt weren’t working to their full potential, and even in death his portrait on the cover seems to hold me accountable for every word I’m about to write here.

Walter Isaacson has previously published biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, and he was courted by Jobs to write this exclusive biography. Initially Isaacson declined the offer, saying he might be interested in another decade or two when Jobs retired, until he found out that Jobs had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Jobs, who was well known to be a control freak, admirably put nothing off-limits, and didn’t ask to read a copy of the book before it was published.

Steve Jobs, the book, was written after extensive research on a man that some have said possessed the best and worst qualities of a human being. Isaacson conducted more than forty interview with Jobs, and a hundred-plus interviews of family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, colleagues, former girlfriends and foes. The result is an honest portrayal of an American icon who felt throughout his life that he was destined to die young, and in his own words wanted to “put a dent in the universe.”

Most Americans know a bit of the story of Steve Jobs and Apple, which is now the world’s most valuable company. Some will read this book merely for that fact, and some sage business guidance can certainly be found within the covers. The great joy of this book is the cautionary, very American tale of someone who changed the world during his short 56 years on the planet.

The Steve Jobs that changed the world was a product of California and the movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He loved Bob Dylan’s music, smoked marijuana, dropped LSD, refused to shower regularly, and walked around barefoot, while practicing and preaching about his fruitarian diet (which was his justification for not showering). He dropped out of college after one year, and lived in a garage without heat afterwards and dropping in on courses that interested him. A pilgrimage to India left a lifelong impression on him, especially the intuitive sense that the people he encountered there possessed.

Isaacson writes about this creative side of Jobs, as well as he does the technical side. While Jobs was swept up in mystical visions and cosmic vibrations, he also was in love with computers. He worked at Atari for awhile, and tinkered with electronics at a young age. At 12 years old Jobs looked up a founder of Hewlett-Packard in the phone book, and called him up for help with finding some parts for a frequency counter he was building.

Jobs got rich quick and young with Apple computers. His ego swelled and his demeanor became erratic, and this was part of the reason Jobs was fired from the very company he founded. He was an emotional rollercoaster and mean to people who were working for him. One phrase that is printed repeatedly in the book is Jobs saying, “This is shit,” to his employees.

The various dynamics in Jobs’ personality make for some interesting reading, but in the end he would have not been remembered if it weren’t for his tremendous successes. As with many successful people he learned from his failures. I was reminded of the Dylan lyric, “There’s no success like failure, but failures no success at all.” After his ousting from Apple he started another computer company NeXT, where Jobs indulged in all his instincts, good and bad. Most products didn’t sell well, but the company was solid enough that the failing Apple computers of the mid-1990s purchased it, and eventually Jobs became CEO of Apple. What happened at Apple, under his leadership from 1997 till his death in 2011, was the creation of products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad; products that led to Apple’s worldwide success.

In repose while staring back at Jobs on the cover of his book I look back and don’t really feel like I understand him, as a person. He was obsessed with his vegetarian diet, but didn’t seem to be a healthy person. He was enlightened but not content. Isaacson referred to him as “being driven by demons.” In the end, to understand Jobs may not be the point of this 500 plus page book. It is to read his story, to take the journey of an LSD influenced, hippie, computer guy, who founded a very American company in the most positive sense; a company that is worth billions and produces user-friendly, intuitive products.

Though this book is a clunker (reading it as an e-book would be more convenient) after finishing it, I still found myself curious for more of Steve Jobs, especially the philosophies he believed in, that guided his, and Apple’s way. As 2011 winded down Jobs was featured on the cover of many mainstream newspapers and magazines. Most offered small blurbs about his life and his success with Apple, but very few captured the essence of his brilliant mind and driven spirit. I dug around some more, and on YouTube came across the 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University that Jobs delivered not long after having surgery for pancreatic cancer. The address is the best commencement speech I’ve ever heard: beautiful, inspiring, and concise. The entire thing is worth a watch, and I’ll leave you with a few words from his speech here.

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. You’ve got to find what you love, and this is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How we do...Creeksgiving dance-off

Check out this awesome Creeksgiving dance-off footage from Phillip Street and Timmy Foulkes TV.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Outdoor Retailer (OR) Show Part II, rappers, rejuvenation room, and the latest and greatest

Well, our first OR show was memorable to say the least. I'm in a hazy state of recovery at the moment, and I know plenty of ya'll are out that attended are in a similar state. Speaking of states Utah is a weird state. I think it always will be. In a way for me though Utah is a home away from home, especially in the red rock desert, and sometimes in Salt Lake City. I lived there for awhile and wrote my first zine there, so it is an important place in my life. That said, here's some photos and thoughts on the great Salt Lake City, Outdoor Retailer Show.

We didn't really know what to expect at the show. Shaun Matusawicz and yours truly simply went into this with the attitude that we would promote The Climbing Zine, cover it on my blog and otherwise study the scene. A recon mission; getting set up for success and experiencing the show fully in the Summer. Some highlights after rolling in Saturday afternoon: hip hop MCs, DJs, and good beer. Beautiful people, passionate folks who love their jobs, and of course, the freshest gear on the market. It had the vibe of a great party, in the midst of like-minded people On Sunday everything was really mellow, and we learned about companies like Sherpa, chatted about the latest gear Petzl and Black Diamond have in the works, checked out some really cool running sandals from Luna Sandals, met some people at Mountaineers Books that I hope to work with more in the future, ran into PR Man and Rep Todd Walton that I collaborate with at Deuter, and discovered that there is a functioning dog harness on the market. Who would have known? Next time we'll do much more, and at the last minute we discovered there was a rejuvenation room. I could use one of those now.

La Sportiva beer. Good marketing if you ask me.

Chatting with Justin Roth of Petzl. Justin was super psyched on The Climbing Zine. He used to be an editor for Urban Climber, we're going to do some reviews of their latest headlamps and some climbing gear when we launch our website, in a month or so.

I think this headlamp from Petzl is going to be a game changer. It will be released this summer, and we'll be doing a review in the near future. Among the dope features is the ability to change with the amount of light that is needed, more when its really dark and less with it is lighter, or you are reading something close to your eyes. Def. the coolest headlamp I've ever seen. Can't wait to get one on my head!

The lightweight Luna Sandals. Shaun's feet on the right and on the left is Barefoot Ted, a guy who is a character in the best selling book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall that works for Luna Sandals. We met this crew through our good friend Amber.

Amber hanging in this structure in the lobby. Not really sure what this was all about, but maybe this is what it is all about.

We changed out some Mormon propaganda since we were in the neighborhood.

A Ghost Bike in the city, a tribute to fallen cyclists. word to that!!!

I was digging on this car. I've seen it around, I think it belongs to one of the Yoga Slackers crew. Much props to a fellow owner of a ghetto car with stickers and spraypaint!

It ain't over till you're safe back home. It was a long drive back to Durango, but all in all Shaun and I agreed it was a very successful OR show, and we're psyched to return in August for the full experience.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh Are You? Our First Day at Our First OR Show

Representing The Climbing Zine crew, Shaun Matusewicz and I hit up our first ever OR show today. We arrived into Salt Lake City after driving through lots o' snow on the mountain passes. It was raining as we rolled in, but then turned to big fat flakes of snow as we headed into the Salt Palace Convention Center. No doubt we were both thinking of our good friend Adam Lawton, who recently died in an avalanche. Adam's home was Salt Lake, and I know he would have been proud that we were representing The Climbing Zine at the OR show.

We didn't really know what to expect, and we're treating this first show as a recon mission for the future. We have big plans for The Climbing Zine and hope to attract the biggest sponsors out there for our publication. We know this will take time so for this show we're soaking it all in to see how things go down within the industry.

We really enjoyed ourselves. We chatted with some really friendly people within the industry, and saw some climbing rock stars in person (Chris Sharma, Lynn Hill, Dean Potter). We got to check out some new gear, and drank several varieties of good beer (sometimes a rarity in Utah :). Most of all we received a positive welcoming from the various folks who checked out The Climbing Zine, and we truly know we have a future in the climbing world. It's only a matter of time before we reach a large audience. We're taking our time with this, because we know all good things happen in good time. And, we are PSYCHED for tomorrow.

(This is where I stayed last night and woke up this morning, the Castleton Tower campsite. I love waking up here, and wished I could have started the day by climbing this. But alas, I didn't have a partner, and had to meet Shaun in Crescent Junction by 10:00 a.m.)

Shaun having some fun.

Super cool new magnetic locking beaner from Black Diamond that will be released this summer!

Lowe Balls and Tri-Cams oh my!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rock and Ice article from the Archives

This is an oldie but goodie. A piece that will appear in my upcoming book, Climbing Out of Bed, and was originally published in Rock and Ice Magazine. I was stoked to see they had it posted up online, as I was doing some research for my book.

READ "Naked Disco Dance Party in J-Tree" from

Monday, January 16, 2012

The start of a new project...

It's a new year, and time to start another new project. This is the start of something new...enjoy!

photo by Jonathan Byers

In a world that had lost its way we sat together at a cliff. It was just the two of us, there, at that moment. Our other friends, the others in the tribe, they were just around the corner, still climbing on the red rocks. We sat together, intertwined, as we shared a beer. Our love was just beginning, yet comfortable enough to know that, here, exactly where we were at this moment, was everywhere we ever wanted to be, as we sat silently, watching the sun set.

Her love and comfort was unexplainable, the greatest thing I’d ever known. As they say the best things in life are free. I hoped she felt the same about me, and by the way she opened her lips to kiss, it was enough of a hint for me to believe she did.

The sunset was dramatic, first a hint of orange and red, and then a dominating red across the sky. Red rock cliffs and towers loomed in the distance, and an occasional bird flew by. I looked at her face and then kissed her lips. I knew at that moment nothing could ever compare to this. So I remained in the moment and kissed her again.

I loved him then, and I had a feeling I would love him forever. Thank God I’d finally found a good, honest rock climbing man. The males in the mountain town culture are diamonds in the rough. I was happy to be growing older, and to be meeting older men. We grew together that evening when we sealed our love in our beloved red rock desert.

New love is perhaps the greatest thrill in life. I’d loved and lost many times before this man, and there was the possibility in my mind that this rollercoaster cycle would continue for my entire life. Then here he was, this lover, yogi, dirtbag, all rolled up in a package, that seemed to be just for me.

But this sunset, in some ways I wished we could just become one with it, and go where it was going. We were new lovers, but in our thirties experienced enough to know sustaining love was a greater challenge than any climb we might attempt together. We had new love, in an old world, a world that needed love more than anything else.

Our friends hiked around the corner to find us content and in love. I would have never thought of it like that then, love is a bold proclamation, but now I know it was love, and I know we were content and in the moment. The group, two other couples that had been couples for some time now gave us a look of happiness, contentment, even a hint of jealously at our new found love. Spiritual seekers of love are always waiting for this moment, to establish a connection of the divine in the outdoor world, a moment that berths hope to every dream that is still alive in one’s heart.

Just like that the sun was setting further down, the red and pink went away and a purple hue hung on briefly. We packed up our backpacks, as we hiked down the cliff, weaving and turning down the red rocks and dirt.

Fire. Fire is the first thought when we return to camp. The cool air of the desert night cries out fire. So we build a fire, and we all huddle around it before we cook dinner. We savor the feeling that we built from the day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Casper by Greg Pettys

I normally only post my own writing on this blog, but I wanted to share this piece by Greg Pettys. He wrote this for Adam Lawton, our dear friend who was killed in an avalanche on Friday, January 6th in British Columbia. Greg has a very unique talent, and I, for one, hope he continues to write and share his words with the people. Thanks Greg!


The night before I received the call, an angel visited me. With candles lit and incense burning we spoke of death. How was I to know He would come so soon?

That night you made your last turns
The hippies in CB met in an alley,
Making edgy plans, as we always do.
You know, to take over the world.

Of course your last visit would be in the form of snow.
That’s what you were;
Casper. White.
A pillar of crystalline purification.
An ever flowing, ever changing, reminder to re-new.

So we ski. It’s what we do.
Somehow we ski now!!

But I remember the tattoo on your arm
I remember the colossal turns you made on Our Hill.
On an alpine board! Who does that?!?!

Waking up early every morning,
Skipping class and prioritizing Life.
Hitching up to our backyard,
Wild-eyed and filled to the brim;

The stoke.
The humility.

The hair.

We never made it to Burning Man,
But you were the first person to speak of it.
You always were.
We found our own though.
In Klaus’s janky g-ride,
Cruising down a hill of sudden death alongside Purple Mountain,
In search of Digiorno’s,
We stumbled into...

And you made your own,
In Utah of all places!

But Crested Butte was always your true home.
You were here first.
Paving the way,
As you always did.

Always showing up right on time.
For a pristine fall bike ride into the yellow,
For a Grand Reverse,
Or conveniently when me and one of my girlfriends
Were heading to Orvis!

(And I respect your advice good brother,
…I will do what I can.)

I can’t recount all the spontaneous road trips.
Into the mountains.
To Red Rocks and beyond.
Phishin’ deeper,
For answers to Life’s most profound mysteries.
Managing to balance your aid of your beloved “troubled youth”
With the aid of your clearly off-centered bretheren back home.

You skied fast and took chances that most of us dare never take.
Riding the “white wave” with style and grace,
…Well, maybe not style,
But I sure did dig those touring flannels!

Shredding the nor.
G-narring the shread.
Praying in our own way while freaking out the squares
In a sacred canyon
Made unholy by man’s greedy desire.

The river flows with or without us brother.
This never was our act.
You knew all along that we were just actors in Gods great production.
But rest assured good pirate, the heady shroud will still fly high…………..

Friday, January 13, 2012

Skier Boyz Blog

Some great Adam Lawton stories and reflections have been popping up at the Skier Boyz blog, and I for one am grateful and appreciative of the posts. Thanks ya'll.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Last Thoughts on Adam Lawton

Adam Lawton has been in my thoughts for all my waking hours since he was killed in an avalanche last Friday, January 6th in British Columbia. I’ve wanted to write about him since it happened, but I’ve been unable to. There is a time and place to write, just like Allen Ginsberg once said, “I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.”

Those of you who knew Adam are feeling his departure in one way or another. He was a great man and a great friend, the type of individual I wish there were more of in this sometimes harsh world. He was a light. He was a leader. He encouraged thinking and questioning, but never spent so much time doing those things that he annoyed or did not live to the utmost extent. He loved skiing, running, biking, climbing and floating down rivers. He loved women. He loved good food. He loved yoga. He loved life and shared that love so much that it grew exponentially in all our hearts, and will continue to grow.

I first met Adam at Western State College of Colorado in 2000, and we’d been paired up to deliver a presentation on Leave No Trace for a Recreation class. I couldn’t even begin to recall the specifics of what we discussed during our meeting in the College Union, but I do remember that he possessed a lust for living, and a hunger to learn more about the world and pursue that knowledge in an experiential way. I got a feeling that we were both in college, in Gunnison, not simply to get a degree for a certain amount of knowledge of a career path, but to access higher learning in the great outdoors, with a community of people that shared this hunger for living life to the fullest.

Over the years Adam and I grew closer, and in a roundabout way, we ended up sharing all the same friends in the Gunnison Valley. Good, like minded people have a way of finding one another. I remember one day in Crested Butte, he was describing his life, “I feel like every day is the best day of my life. I thought yesterday was the best day of my life, and then today was the best day of my life.” It was just the opposite of the scene in Office Space where the main character is describing every day as being the worst day of his life. The mountains were Adam’s rightful home, and he was happy in the mountains.

Eventually Adam moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to pursue an even higher education, at a graduate program at the University of Utah, and the powder of the nearby Wasatch Mountains. I remember him quoting another skier, “the license plates don’t lie,” talking about the slogan written on the old Utah plates, “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

I passed through Salt Lake City in my post-collegiate wanderings of the west more than once and Adam was a most hospitable host. He always had various new friends and new stories to tell. One year while passing through Salt Lake I ended up running out of money there, and had to get a job to make some money. His hospitality never wavered and he let me crash on his couch as often as needed. He introduced me to everything that was great about Salt Lake: the library, the vegan restaurants, the Tibetan Buffet, the Bayou Bar, the buildering of the city, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and so much more. He even got me excited about cross country skiing (I should note I am not a skier). He loved skiing so much I am in awe of how he also excelled at climbing, biking, running and river activities. Last I talked to him he was excited about the idea of long, ultra-running races. He always seemed to remain passionate about skiing, while also doing something new, and he always wanted to share that passion.

Adam was interested in so many things, and now in retrospect I wish I’d taken notes about our conversations. He had an open mind, the true definition of an open mind, maybe so much that his mind was continually expanding. He was certainly into mind expansion. His heart was ever expanding as well, and I think the greatest advice he ever told me was to breathe.

We’re all grieving over you Adam, and I felt the huge loss of your departure in the weeping of all our shared friends as the news was broke that you’d been killed in an avalanche. Everyone is dealing with it differently; people deal with death in different ways. In some way we’ll never be the same without you. We are better for having known you. The world is a better place because you lived. We hope to see you again, and your spirit is always with us. I can feel it right now as these tears spill onto my keyboard.

Adam Lawton

We lost a kindred spirit last week, by the name of Adam Lawton. He was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia. I've been at a loss of words to write about him, but I know in time they will come. I thought the tears would stop, but again this morning they return. I hope everyone out there who knew Adam is going through all the emotions that arise, as well as reaching out to their loved ones. We have a community of support that is there for us, and after our mourning it is important that we allow Adam to continue to inspire us! I feel your spirit Adam!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Indian Creek Campfire

Photo by Jonathan Byers. We will be using some of his photography in the next issue of The Climbing Zine.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's 2012!

"All good things must end," we've all heard that one, but I got a new one, for this new year, new age, "All good things must end, but all good things must begin as well." Whatever you're dreaming my friends, there's no reason not to go for it this year!

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