Avalanche Retrospect

March 26, 2011: the day the love of my life dealt me a hostile, heartbreaking blow.  I have spent the past 25 years searching for a way to satisfy an endless hunger; a hunger that many of us share, one that occupies our thoughts often: the perfect run, in perfect conditions, with the perfect group of friends. I thought the hunger would never be satisfied and every season, I prioritized the pursuit of it; I expected it with every venture out. Until a year ago – when all priorities and expectations I had about skiing were lost.  I have spent the last twelve months trying to find them again.  

On March 26th, I was involved in a class 3-4 avalanche in the Manti/La Sal Mountains of Utah.  The slide was about 400 feet wide. The crown measured 6-8 feet deep in most places and was caused by a cornice collapsing beneath me. Two friends, both 200 feet away from me, and I were all caught and trapped in the avalanche as it ran 1000 vertical feet. I came away partially buried while my friends were completely submerged.  Two of us survived; one did not. Our friend slipped away the following day from his injuries.

When the cornice fractured, I was instantly thrown into a free-fall. I can’t remember having any visibility until the slide came to a stop. I don’t know if I had my eyes closed or if the powder cloud prevented me from seeing and from having any sense of where I was. I’m sure it was a combination of the two. My other senses seemed heightened at the time. The large chunk of cornice, carrying me with it, slammed into the slope. A shock wave of sound shot across the cirque echoing – deafening and fracturing.  It was like a starting pistol that initiated instant acceleration down the mountain.

Avalanche training rushed through my head, and I started flapping my arms. “Swim. Stay on top!” were the words that kept running through my brain, when all of a sudden the outside world rushed in as I heard the snapping of logs and trees all around me.  With those sounds, my mind shifted to other thoughts, questions, and doubts. “This is big! I’m going under any minute… I may not live through this! I have to see my wife and son again!”   Finally, the noise stopped though I felt like I was still moving.  The powder cloud began to settle, and I looked down to see my legs buried up to my knees. The rest of my body was above the snow and uninjured. I looked to the ridge to signal to my partners that I was okay, and in complete shock, stumbled my way over to a safe zone. The rescue that followed and its outcomes had its triumphs and heartaches, all of which are difficult to retell and relive still to this day.

The avalanche ended my ski season for the year. Even though it continued to snow and there were many perfect powder days left in Utah, I was not able to even entertain the idea of sliding on snow again that season. As the winter continued on for what seemed like forever, each day I found myself not skiing – just battling with my thoughts and doubts and a confused state of mind.  Primary thoughts were of my fallen friend and what we should have done differently to prevent the tragic accident. Secondly, I kept thinking about how I came away from such a large avalanche unscathed.  And thirdly, I kept questioning, “How will this affect my future?” Up to this point in my life, everything I had done or wanted to accomplish had been based around enjoying the outdoors and spending as much time as possible in the mountains, on rivers, and in the ocean. What if I’m too scared to get my life back on track? What if passions become consumed by fear?

The loss of a loved one while doing what you love


The friend I lost was a person who truly inspired me every time our lives brushed, whether that time was spent in conversation or outside pursuing life.  He had a way of making me feel that I could do anything – and if by chance I tried something and couldn’t do it, he would convince me that simply trying would make me ten times stronger.  It was impossible to say no to an adventure with him. He was a person who was very aware of the risks he would take while seeking out adventure.  He always knew that something unfavorable could happen or that there was a chance for failure, but this awareness did not deter him from giving 110% to every undertaking.  He was firm and self-disciplined when he needed to be, but he also recognized when levity and comfort were the best tactics for success. 

I thought about all of this when we were able to locate him and started digging him out of the debris pile with downed trees and large chunks of avalanche debris all around him. Finally, we uncovered his face.  It was blue, and he was lifeless. At that moment, the first thought racing through my mind was that if any person could recover from a situation like this, it would be him. His strength and tenacity could will him away from death.  Back to life. Back to us.  After we performed CPR for almost an hour, his heart was beating again, and he was breathing on his own.  We knew our friend could do it, always giving 110% even though he’d left us for a short time.

The rescue team evacuated him and transported him to the hospital where he would continue to battle for his life. It was calming to me to know that we didn’t have to leave a friend on the mountain. I was also comforted in seeing that he was continuing to work hard to succeed in his fight to see another day and another adventure.  The calm and comfort were short-lived as the following day; he passed away due to the trauma of the accident. His brain had swollen to the point that it was causing irreparable damage to his brain functions.  This was the first time in my life that someone this close to me had passed. The grief of this loss, along with the knowledge that I had been a part of the accident that caused it, weighed heavily on me then and has continued to sit in the background of my life today.

A funeral followed six days later.  The gathering of people who came to pay their respects was astounding. The power that my friend had to motivate me to push on and to succeed obviously was not limited to our circle of skiing and climbing friends. He had touched the lives of literally thousands.  I am sure each had experienced his influence in a different way and my friend probably never even realized it. The way he chose to live his life was at a level that shined high above the standard of an average acquaintance or friend. The power of that passion was recognized while he was with us and even now continues to fuel others to live feverishly, to try, to fail, and to learn.

Weeks turned into months and each day I continued to be inspired by my friend and his example of how to make the most out of life with the opportunities given.  Everyone is dealt a different hand here on earth, but no one is forced to give up. We retain the choice to continue to give 110% in all that we do.  Every day we can choose to push on and to become stronger despite the challenges that unplanned events and situations press upon us.

Chance, luck or destiny?

On the day of the avalanche, there were a total of seven of us in our ski party. Three of us were involved in the slide:  Mark, Garrett, and I. All three of us ran the entire length of the slide path. I came out on top and unscathed. Mark was fully buried except for one exposed hand. We were able to dig him out quickly, and he never lost consciousness. Garrett was fully buried except for the heel of his boot; his head was buried three feet under the snow.  By the time we uncovered him he was unconscious and not breathing.  How was it that I was only partially buried? Did I do something right?  Was I in the best spot possible? Why did I stay on top?  Why? Why? Why? How? How? How?  These are the questions that plagued my thoughts continuously in the months following the avalanche. Even today, when I let my mind wander on this subject, it causes many sleepless nights and moments of panic and worry.  The scenarios and possibilities of outcomes replay in my head and lead to endless “what ifs” that I will never know the answers to.

Is it healthy to ask questions, especially when I know I will never have an answer to them?  I often find answers that I justify in my head as truth.  But as time moves on, I find my conviction of this truthfulness slipping away and becoming just another void that cannot be filled. I often wonder how others deal with tragedy and grief. Should I categorize my experience as a lesson? One that I can pull valuable bits of knowledge and experience from for the rest of my life? Or do I work towards forgetting about all the pain and agony it has caused me so I can return to my passion of skiing with less fear and inhibition? I feel there are endless possibilities of how to deal with the memories and that a happy healthy medium must exist somewhere between these two extremes. The true challenge, one I believe I’ll be overcoming for the rest of my life, will be to find that medium and hold to it.  

Garrett was a very honest and blunt individual with only one fear: the fear of someday being trapped in a position where he would not be able to seek out adventures and share them with the world through his artistic talents as a photographer.  It was important to him to live and learn and share – with passion.  I often imagine the conversation we would have had if he had pulled through. I am sure he would have been very grateful that we helped him get out alive. But – he would be more concerned about what went wrong. Where did we cross the line? What can we learn from this experience? He would tell me that this experience has made us stronger and that we would be safer as we continue to explore all the possibilities in the mountains as they continue to teach us valuable life lessons.  Perhaps this is what makes the experience such a great tragedy. The man, the friend we lost, is the one who could have taught us the most about how to grow from a loss like this.

Skiing: the grace of the season

The 2011-2012 ski season in Utah has been called the worst in 30 years.  We waited and waited, but the snow never came. We had to make do with a rotten 3-inch base until the end of February. And when a little flurry of snow finally came, our base was so shoddy that no one dared to step onto a slope over 30 degrees. It was almost eerie to look up at all the great peaks and lines of the Wasatch and not see a single track on them or any sign of ski life anywhere near them. We were all happily skipping meadows and cruising low-angle treed runs. 

In a way, this was a blessing for me and my attitude entering the season. I hadn’t skied since the accident, and I wanted to put my game face on and approach the season like any other. To use a combination of metaphors, I wanted to “get the monkey off my back and get back on the horse again.”  And though I was trying to have a positive attitude and get my stoke level up, inside I feared that I would never be as excited as I was before the avalanche. I feared that my anxiety and worry would drown my joy of being in the mountains with friends – with skis on my feet and looking out at the beautiful panoramas that surrounded me.  I have always enjoyed a challenge; exploring new areas and getting a little out of my comfort zone. But now, would that sense of being challenged turn into being uncomfortable with big mental blocks that paralyzed me? I knew this season would be an interesting one and that I could not enter it trying in any way to predict the outcome. 

Due to the snow and the terrible snowpack, I was easily convinced to stay home for the majority of the season. I would get out when I felt I needed exercise and fresh air. I was definitely not going out for the skiing itself. Having been raised in Utah and always having the best skiing in the world within 30 minutes of where I was residing, I admit I’m a powder snob; I don’t even try to pretend that 4-6 inches of new snow or less is enough to get me super excited about putting in a big day on skis.  I take quality over quantity any day, which is probably why I stay in Utah and love it so much.  In a typical season, I don’t have to sacrifice quantity for quality; we normally have an abundance of both.   

My first day back on skis was on Thanksgiving, and actually, it was one of the best days of the season for me. The snow was good, I was with good company, and I was skiing in a familiar location which was safe and comforting.  It was similar to the feeling of returning home and indulging in a big cheeseburger and fries after traveling abroad for a while and eating lots of food that I can’t even pronounce, let alone recognize. It just felt good.    

I let everyone on the first run drop in before me: I was nervous with the anticipation of how it would feel. I was also thinking about Garrett; how the light was good for a photo op and how he would want me to ski to get the best shot. I planted my poles and pushed away and began to turn through the condensed, creamy powder.  A tear formed as I remember why I do what I do.  Skiing brings a strong, healthy sensation that puts a smile on my face no matter what the conditions are.  That feeling is elevated when I’m with good friends, sharing the experience of what I love with those I love.  After only three turns, I knew that my love for skiing was still inside me. It may have matured or changed, but it was still there. I turned into where the group was gathered with a huge smile on my face. It just felt good.

Mid-season, I was feeling like the actual ski season had not really started. I hadn’t skied nearly as much as I usually do by mid-January. I knew I needed exercise and to get out and wander a little bit in the mountains. I left work early one afternoon and headed up for a mellow tour to check out what was going on in the backcountry.  I needed to clear my mind of all the other distractions of everyday life:  work, commitments, and general junk that no one really wants to think about.  I cruised to a location I knew was safe with plenty of options to get down no matter what the conditions were.  After about an hour and a half, I found myself with a friend – cruising along a divide boasting a great panoramic. To the west was the area we were going to ski, a mellow slope of meadows and aspen glades. To the east of the ridge was an infamous slope in the Wasatch. It’s famous not only for the great skiing but also for the regular, large slides it produces. It’s very similar in size and shape to the bowl where Garrett was buried. As soon as I looked over the edge, peering at the avalanche debris below, my heart sank. I instantly had to back away and sit down on the wind-scoured ridgeline. A rush of nervousness and panic filled my mind and caused a slight sensation of vertigo. I thought I had progressed a long way in managing the post-traumatic effects of the avalanche, but it had only taken one small glance to cause me to relapse. Will I ever ski an open slope over 35 degrees again?  Definitely not this season and possibly not for a while. It took a minute or two to calm my nerves and focus on what I was there to do; ski some mellow terrain.

Nearing the end of the ski season in Utah, we were finally graced with what this great state is famous for POWDER.  Almost three feet of fluffy white stuff fell in just three days. It was almost too late as most people had already put their skis away for the season and started pedaling bikes. The best part about the storm was that the snowpack had settled substantially, and the new snow was staying put and was safe to ride.  It was a Monday morning, and I could not believe I was sitting at work. I could focus on work-related things for about 3 seconds at a time before my mind would wander, thinking about what conditions were like up Little Cottonwood Canyon. I finally convinced a friend to bail from work early and head up the canyon with me. We skied a slope that was around 32 degrees. Each turn, I was greeted with another face full of snow. My teeth were hurting at the bottom of each run like I had just bitten into a thick Popsicle. This was due to the huge smile plastered on my face and the snow continually rising up off my tips and blowing past my chin and cheeks.

The day grew late and the sun set on our glorious runs. We came prepared because we knew we were experiencing what could be the only truly good day of the season. We pulled out our Ultra headlamps and made two more laps by starlight with a little help from our friends at Petzl. Each lap became a little slower. We could tell we had not had a day that really merited multiple laps yet this season. It was the end of March and I was having my first powder day of 2012. We weren’t skiing anything scary or risky. We were only concerned with a slope angle steep enough to keep our momentum up and the ability to turn around and make another quick lap. No big bowl, steep chute, or committing line was present. Only great snow and a good friend, and the day quickly became the best skiing of the season. Maybe my priorities have changed, but if a day like this one in late-March becomes my focus, I am okay with that. It just felt good.

Will this day become the theme of my ski passion for the rest of my life? I don’t believe it will. I know that there will be a day when avalanche conditions, snow conditions, partners and confidence levels will all align again, and I’ll have the opportunity to ski a steeper slope without anxiety. I believe the search is still on, and it may require more patience, a new search method, or perhaps a shift in the ultimate goal. No matter what changes, the means to that goal will remain the same. I need to get out, explore my options, learn from my experiences and keep my mind open to new opportunities. I still believe this will lead me to the perfect run, in perfect conditions, with the perfect group of friends.


Thoughts in the Wind

Late last August Becky and I spent the night in a tent at 11,700 feet. We left the trailhead at 1pm when it was 75 degrees and gorgeous. When we arrived at out campsite, there was a standard alpine breeze and it was refreshing after our 4,500 vertical foot climb. I was tired but invigorated by the view of our objective for the next day. I thought it might be hard to sleep because i was so excited. But I figured I was tired enough that it would not take me long to fall asleep.

Bek saddle

Shortly before sunset, the wind picked up. It was as if all of a sudden it discovered that it was driving well below the speed limit so it stepped on the gas to over compensate for how slow it had been going earlier. It quickly became a steady  30 mph wind with gusts  up to 65mph. With each shake of the tent, I could feel my chances of sleep quickly blow off the side of the mountain and into the sky.

So there I laid at 8:30pm. trying to figure out how to fall asleep. I thought I would share the thoughts that ran through my head for the next 8 hours before my 4:34am alarm went off.
8:36pm – I bet I will be asleep by 9.
8:38pm – Do I have to pee? I just peed. No way I have to pee. Stop thinking about peeing. The more I think about it, the more I will have to pee. I don’t want to go pee in the wind again.
8:45pm – I can’t believe Becky is already asleep. I want to talk to someone. Should I wake her up? She would be so mad at me.
9:00pm – I wonder how many people camping around me are actually sleeping. It is so windy! I wonder how much wind it takes to blow away a tent with 2 humans in it?
9:45pm – I just heard Eliza giggle. I wonder if I can go sit it their tent and chat. I am bored.
10:08pm – Yeah I have to pee. Dammit. I am going to hold it until morning. I can hold it for 6 more hours right?
10:17pm – These earplugs are not doing anything. Who makes these things anyway? I know I just got a box of 20 for $3 but my fingers do a way better job at this.
10:32pm – Is the wind stopping? Nope. Not at all. Pretty sure this tent is going to rip in half!
10:46pm – Yep I have to pee. And If I hold it, I will never get to sleep. But I don’t want to pee in this wind again. It just vaporizes as soon as it hits the air. I feel like the risk of a mess is to high.
11:01pm – Fine I’ll go pee! Just stop thinking about pee!
11:03pm – (Now outside my tent in my underwear in the wind) Ahhh! it is so windy!
11:18pm – Maybe these earplugs are keeping me awake. I am going to take them out
11:21pm – (Now without earplugs) What is happening?!! I feel like I am going deaf! It is so loud!
12:03am- My mother in law would disapprove of this whole situation
12:37am- Is Becky faking sleep? No way she is really asleep.
1:05am – Did I just fall asleep? Nope. Guess not.
1:40am – “If I was you, I’d wanna be me too, I’d wanna be me too” THIS SONG
3:11am- You think Becky has slept enough that she wouldn’t be mad if I woke her up to make out? I am super bored!
3:43am – DAMN YOU PEE! I am not getting out of the tent again!
4:34am – Snoring.
I finally ripped myself out of the tent around 5:30 and enjoyed one of the windiest, but most incredible sunrises of my life. With hesitation we finally started climbing. And on about 1 hour of sleep, we summited, descended, and I drove the back to Utah. Finally getting to sleep around midnight the next night. Now that I am sitting here in my quiet bedroom,  I have to say that it was probably my favorite night of the summer.
summit GT

Summit Selfie

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Biggie

In America there is a fascination with things being big. My friend Tim visited from Australia this spring. He was told that everything in the USA was bigger. He confirmed to me it was true. We just love our stuff big. This is fine in a lot of cases. I am obsessed with quite a few big things. I love big mountains, big waves, big dumps (think snowstorm), big fish, and big burritos and corn dogs.  There is nothing wrong with finding something you love and wanting more of it. So why is it with our focus on large things, do we let the little things really control our lives and push us around. We are bigger than that, right?


My Nephew not feeling big after falling in the river. 

I run experiments on my kids all the time to test the effects of the little things. They are harmless, mostly pointless, but very entertaining.  I will make dinner and slide in ingredients that have some nutritional value. Something my kids are very much opposed to. You know basically anything that is green, grown in the earth, or not spent the last 18 months in a box. My goal is to hide these ingredients in things I know they can’t resist like cheese, cream in any form or fry sauce. But no matter how good I am and how much camouflage I use, my kids will always find the smallest  green spot, point at it, yell, and make an outrageous claim that I am trying to kill them.  The littlest thing can ruin a completely fine meal meant to nourish them and make them happy. What they don’t ever seem to understand is that I am only trying to help them a little. And if they would just look away for a second, they would not even notice and could carry on with their happy life of making fart noises at the dinner table.

I start to wonder how we get this way as humans. We develop pickiness and let little things start an avalanche of drama.  I am just as bad as my kids. Food does not get under my skin. I will eat anything that is not going to give me a parasite. But my wife can attest that I have plenty of quirks that most people would look at as so trivial. My guess is that we just lose trust in the universe and begin to think that everyone has a hidden motive to try and beat us down or screw us over. Where in reality it is all in our mind and we love to turn little things into big things. Bigger than they really are or should be.

As we continue down a head spinning political arena over the next few months, the picky little things continue to pop up and grow into big things for about 48 hrs. But in the large scheme of things, they are no more than green spec in a large delicious feast that can potentially give you a full belly and smile on you face.

Can You Sense It?

Typically when I walk into a public restroom, my mind is focused on one thing. TOUCH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. If you think too hard about all the potential creatures living on the floor of a truck stop bathroom on I-15, you get a little lump in your throat. If you stand and stare at the shiny, silver flush lever on the urinal and everything that it has seen in its lifetime, you might start to get a little dizzy. But when you approach the sink, covered in little pools of water, a small pile of soap under the dispenser and crumpled up paper towels that are overflowing the garbage can, you just get that nice anxious feeling inside. You know,  where you want to just leap out the door and get the hell out of there.

I am not a clean freak by any means. I am not a germaphobe. In fact most people consider me to be quite liberal in my hygienic practices. But I have spent a lot of time on the road this summer which means a lot of time away from the safety of my own private bathroom. I have noticed that there is an  increase of automatic sensors in public restrooms. You know the ones that flush for you, or turn on the water for you. I suspect it is to help remedy the anxiety described above. I can just imagine the sales pitch from the representative of the top bathroom sensor company.

“You see here bud, I can get you set up with the whole package. Urinal, soap, sink , towel and toilet sensors. To keep your bathroom cleaner, healthier and maintenance free.”

In theory, it sounds great, I can go to the bathroom where hundreds of other people go to the bathroom and not touch anything but myself.  But there is just one problem. I like to call it the “senseless sensor shuffle”.  You all know what I am talking about. It is like the sensors get a mind of their own. And they want to ensure you know that they are in charge of the general hygiene of the population.


Let me walk you through a scenario:

You are at the toilet, no where near being done with your business, the toilet flushes. You are a little scared, but composed. You walk to the sink to wash. Hold your hand under the faucet to get them wet. Water comes out. You slide your hand under the soap. Nothing. You do it again. Nothing. You wait for the person next to you to move so you can have access to their soap. Swipe your hand under the second soap. Success! Lather. Hopefully for 20 seconds or more but you are already getting anxious to get out of the bathroom because this is just taking too long. You put your hands back under the faucet. Nothing. You pull them back and repeat. Nothing. You move them side to side. Nothing. Now you are waiting for the person next to you to finish because you can clearly see that their faucet is working. Standing, staring at yourself in the mirror, with nice soapy hands thinking about how rich you would be if you could invent something that would make you never have to go to the bathroom again and save you the embarrassment these sneaky sensors have caused you. Finally your turn. You place your hands under the sink! Nothing! You pull your hands back, close your eyes and say a little prayer in your mind to the Deity of your choice. Slowly you slide them under the faucet and like a volcano that has been dormant for thousands of years, it erupts! Spraying hands clean of all soap as well as your forearms and the crotch area of your pants. You quickly move toward the paper towel dispenser next to the over flowing garbage can, wave your hand under it aaanndd? Nothing.  Forget it! You give your hands a shake, spreading water on the floor and wall next to the door and bust out into great wide open using your foot to kick open the door like a secret The Rock in any of his fantastic movies.

Of course the anxiety level is compounded when supervising a 2 year old during this entire process. I know people are worried about the future of this country right now. But as long as the people that invented those bathroom sensors don’t get put in charge, we will have hope for a brighter future.


Let go, Literally

I got “LET GO”. Or was it “RESTRUCTURED”. Or “LAID OFF”. Oh wait, I remember now. It was “GETTING CANNED.” Regardless of the term they told me or how I describe it when I talk to people, I can’t really help but get a smile on my face, puff out my chest and feel like I have accomplished something. Yeah you heard me right.  Being let go and subsequently mentally letting go just feels good.

Laid off

I had a really sweet role at an outdoor company for the past few years but nothing lasts forever and they restructured the company at the end of May. The initial response of everyone that I tell is a frowning face, with a furled brow and an immediate apology. I think they are confused when I return the response with a smile, a high five and a statement that usually includes the word “stoked” about 7 times.

In todays world, losing a job or throwing a curve ball in your career path is heavily frowned upon and usually considered a bad thing. I beg to differ. In fact, the week following my “DISMISSAL” I was more stoked than I had been in a longtime. Not because I hated my job or the people I worked with. But because the future is uncertain and that is exciting. You know when you go on an adventure or a first date or try a new restaurant, there is something that gets your heart pumping. it is the unknown that lies ahead. And thanks to my being “CANNED” I got to feel that feeling about how I will spend most of my waking hours in the future.

My first decision was to take the “advice” from that day from my former boss and the poor HR representative from the corporate office that had to come tell the 15+ people that day that they were being LET GO. “I am sorry Pitt but we are going to have to LET YOU GO.” That term bounced around in my head for a few hours until the lightbulb finally went off. Let go, I can do that. I am going to let go of the more common reaction to what just happened to me. To the expectations of those around me and what i should do next. To the worry and scurrying about trying to find the next job.  I am going to slow my roll and enjoy what was just handed to me.

When climbing with my wife, there is one thing she always does when she reaches the top of a climb. She pauses and says, “Hold on, I am going to take in the view from here for a minute”.   I think to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that.” It is so easy to get caught up in moving on to the next thing. The next project, the next adventure, the next step, the next job. And once you get to the next thing, you spend most of your time wishing you were still on top of that climb, enjoying the view.


One of my first views after letting go

No, I don’t have a lot of money saved. My 401k has just enough in it to pay for one ski pass and an overpriced burger from the lodge.  But if I wait until I have more than that, I will miss some things that are happening right now. There will always be jobs to be filled and emails to be sent and paychecks to collect. But there may never be another summer to freely chase adventures with the family and catch up with long lost friends or even just spend an entire afternoon playing monopoly with my six year old.

So for all of you that are asking me how the job hunt is going or what I am going to do next. I have one response. “Hold on, I am going to take in the view from here for a minute.”

– Pitt

House Remodel

Here are some amateur before and after photos of our house remodel. We bought the home from the original owner; the Mrs. lived here for 42 years. We were very impressed with the superb condition it was in. There are many things we loved about it when we first walked in–the floor plan, the large, bright windows, and we like the use of space. It is 2900 square feet. 3 bedrooms, 2 bath on the main floor and two-thirds of the basement is an apartment. Our family fits nicely in the space we have now, with potential to take back the apartment space if we ever want it. We also love the fact that it has central air (a first for us), attached garage, and “master suite.” The updates were mostly cosmetic, with some minor upgrades to the electrical. We are really happy with how everything turned out, not really wishing we had done anything different at this point.












Some details: We did not do this on our own. Our very talented contractor and friend Pat Larsen from American Fork headed up the project and did the work for us. One of our favorite features is the concrete countertops, Whitestone Concrete in SLC is the way to go if you’re wanting to do concrete. And thanks to Uncle Val for the beautiful work on our hardwood floors.

Grit – Adventure #4

Since I have become a father I have been constantly thinking about what is the most important lesson I can teach my children. There are so many great qualities you want your kids to have. Love, Charity, initiative, integrity, positive attitude. All are qualities that we admire in our loved ones and heroes. All are qualities that I hope to develop and then pass on to those that I am responsible for.  Through my pursuits outside, I have come to realize there is another quality that I really admire but gets mentioned much less in the descriptions of those we look up to. It has many names, perseverance, toughness, go-getter, badass. Really what it is though is just plain grit.

The climb

If you Google grit (let’s be honest no one looks it up in a Webster’s dictionary anymore), the first definition is “a) Small, loose particle of stone or sand.” You know the stuff that causes you to fall to your death when walking across a stone slab. Or the stuff you find in your teeth and the corners of your eyes after a long day in the desert. It’s the stuff my wife complains about finding in the sheets when I crawl into bed pre shower after a day in the mountains or at the beach. Grit in this sense, gets a bad reputation. But if you look at the other meaning of grit, it is one of the most valuable things in the world.




Grit is hard to describe because in every person it is a little bit different. To some it is determination, others it represents perseverance. And when it comes to our hobbies, people call it passion. Regardless of how you define it, it is a word that we use to describe someone we admire. I recently took Emmett on his first backpacking trip. It was my idea, I sold him on it and the night before I could see the uncertainty in his eyes. I knew very well that this trip could go either way. A complete success or we might never get out of eyesight of the truck. Emmett is almost 6 and has never hiked much over a mile before. I tried to lower my expectation and ensure that we just have fun no matter what.

On the last day of the trip as we packed up our backpacks and said goodbye to a new important place for us, I teared up thinking about how well he had done and what his little mind and body had accomplished. 3 days, 15 miles, 3200 vertical feet and countless moments of laughter and stoke.


Some of us get crazy ideas in our head and there is some strange force that helps us to make them a reality. Some call it determination, perseverance or passion. I call it grit. Now that my son is almost 6 I see his personality and passions developing each day. And no matter what drives him in his life, I hope that he has the grit to make his ideas accomplishments.

– Pitt