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Alpenglow Turns 10!

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition

Alpenglow is now 10 and damn it feels good!

Ok, actually, that is somewhat stretching it. My legs are sore, my shoulders are sore, I got too much sun and I ate so much food that I was past the point of a food coma. But boy was it worth it.

Alpenglow is a very special crew. I am the newest member on the totem pole and all weekend I watched them climb with awe, did my best to keep up in the paddleboard race, and just enjoyed the ongoing jokes and banter between everyone. Slightly itimidated, I kept reminding myself that this crew has known, worked, and played with each other for years. But they are honestly the most down to earth, fun people I have ever worked and hung out with! Everyone brought a little something to the table whether it was Emily Turner coaching us as we climbed on Snowshed on Donner Summit, Adrian as he mastered Nagelspielen (I’ll explain what that is), or Aaron providing constant comic relief as he trembled on a paddleboard (sidenote: Aaron is a fantastic skier, climber, and overall athlete and it was with great joy that we watched him figure out paddleboarding in a speedo).

Another awesome part of the weekend was getting to hang out with the people I don’t work with – the friends, the family, and definitely the guy that brought the paddleboard that sent Aaron flailing. Thanks Ben Mitchell for that awesome show! And congratulations on winning the paddleboard race. Ben Bergeron, good job coming in (crashing in?) as runner up! Adrian’s sister Michelle brought her crew along including her boyfriend Eric, her son Illerdon, and his girlfriend Julia. It was inspiring to watch Adrian teach Illerdon and Julia some pointers as he pushed them to climb a beginner route called Composure – and they each reached the top! Tim and Julie Harrington, Emily Harrington’s parents, also came out from Colorado to join the fun. It was their first time in Squaw during the summer and from the determined look on Tim’s face as his daughter yelled pointers at him climbing on Donner Summit…I am pretty sure they had a fantastic time. Ben Wheeler showed up with his smile and his camera and thanks to him, we have amazing pictures documenting the whole weekend, including sneaky shots, like the dog stealing food off a plate at Squaw’s High Camp and the shenanigans of our BBQ at Bear Rock.

The party at Bear Rock was as entertaining as it gets. Emily and Jesse have this game called Nagelspielen – where you flip a hammer and have to hit the nail into a tree stump. Sounds boring right? Not when you have thirty people playing and a bottle of Woodford Reserve is being passed around (thanks Ruben). Sarah and Brett were surprisingly awesome at it too…expecially because they had the guts to do it in flip flops and they both nailed it. No pun intended. I also have to give a big shout out to Kendra, who was part of Nagelspielen but also made the food for our BBQ. Holy food, was that delicious. Luckily I know where she works. After the run and hike we all did earlier that day, we needed that treat.

Pre-BBQ, half of the party went on a trail run from Sugar Bowl to Squaw and the other half hiked up Shirley Canyon to swim at Squaw’s High Camp pool. Brian Warren, Tim, myself, Aaron, Lindsey, Illerdon, and Julia all set out at around 11 as a group and figured out the trail mile by mile, only getting lost once. Oscar the dog, who was leading the hike, proved to us that while he can carry the biggest stick on the mountain, he actually has no idea where he’s going. Our hiking crew stuck together and talked about everything from social media and business; to paddlboarding and Lindsey’s successful first-time climbs the day before. A beginner, she climbed a 5.6, 5.7, and a 5.10 by the end of her first day so cheers to you Lindsey! Adrian, Emily, Monica and the rest of the group said the run, snaking across the Pacific Crest Trail, was beautiful but strenuous. From the looks on their faces, they were happy to dig into the french fries that were waiting for them when they arrived at High Camp.

After all this exercise and being on the go, we needed some rest. We headed to Patton Beach where we set up beach camp near Waterman’s Landing. I’m just going to say…I love that place! Nestled in Carnelian Bay, right on the lake, it serves food, drinks, and paddleboards! Well, you can rent them. The morning started off right with pastries and coffee from Sugar Pine Cakery in Tahoe City and lead into a day of sun, swimming, and paddleboarding. We decided to pitch Adrian against Emily in a paddleboard race and that idea caught on pretty quick. Pretty soon, all of us were posted up on the shore cheering everyone on as we paddled, one-by-one, out to the third buoy and back, striving for the fastest time. Lucky for us, the breeze picked up and the water got choppy, making it just sketchy enough to be exciting.

The whole weekend was so much fun. And while we did fun things, I now realize it’s the people we did those fun things with and the adventures we shared that make Alpenglow special. This morning, as she was packing for her flight back to Spain, our expedition doctor, Monica Piris, said “I know it sounds cliche, but truly, one of the things that makes Alpenglow so special is that we are like a little gang of friends. We don’t just work together, we hang out together, and that is what makes us so unique.” Her words summed up Alpenglow’s 10 Year Anniversary Weekend perfectly and left me thinking that I am lucky to have stumbled upon this crew of great friends, co-workers, and teammates. I am truly excited for what is to come, because based on the past weekend in Lake Tahoe, I can only imagine the next ten years of excitement that will be Alpenglow – both here and in the big mountains.


*photo credit Ben Wheeler