What It Means To Fail

8 Dec


I was only 15 minutes from the summit. That’s what those two other guys we had passed had told me. In the faint distance, between a swirling hurricane of ice, the wind knocking me off my feet, and my ice axe disappearing into an abyss of endless powder, was the summit ridge. But I knew our location was the end of the line. In my head, I was terrified. I couldn’t see how far I was from careening off the edge of the trail, but I was putting all my might forward to persevere. That’s when our climb leader made the call:

We’re turning around.

I felt the judgmental eyes of my teammates, the ones who had been going strong, and here I am. The rookie. The one that ended our climb. That was story of my first attempt on Rainier in May of 2012. It was my first brush with what is an unfortunate, but necessary consequence of our work.


Failure is what no-one likes to talk about. The stories people love are about the successes, not the “almost made it”. While we live to fight another day, those lost moments, those last steps, and those small factors that can make or break an objective will drive an adventurer mad with passion and wanting. We have to fail in order to move forward. While I love talking about majestic windswept summits, smiles from the top, and celebratory moments, I’m going to explore the other side. The stories that have to be heard. The failures.

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The North Face Thermoball Remix Jacket Review

26 Nov


If there is one item in my closet that I cherish above all others, its my collection of puffy jackets. Whether I’m on a cold belay ledge, snowshoeing through the backcountry, or commuting to work on cold, short, November Seattle days, my puffys keep me toasty and dry all day long.

When the North Face told us they were sending their Thermoball Jacket to take on the last of the seasons high mountain adventures, I was stoked. It’s a jacket that so far I had only heard good things about, and as we traversed a long, windy ridge in Central Washington, it held up to its reputation.

What makes the Thermoball such a coveted piece of my collection?

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Giveaway! Win A Free Box From Cairn!

30 Oct



Now that I have your attention…

Mike Off The Map and Cairn are celebrating my blogs third anniversary with an awesome giveaway! You don’t get just one prize, you get a whole box of awesome outdoor swag.

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Three Years Of Adventure

28 Oct


On October 28, 2011, sitting in the library during a class break in my university, I launched Mike Off The Map. When I first started writing, it was meant to be a chronicle of my adventures and my travels. It was a simple travel blog that I didn’t think anyone would read and would be lost a few months later in a sea of experienced and professional bloggers.

When I started writing, I never thought about how much potential it had. I didn’t realize at the time that the site would lead me to some of my closest friends, or that instead of just typing out ideas for adventures, it would be the reason that I travel and explore. It’s taken me from a glacier in Alaska, the depths of the Everglades, and the summit of Rainier, sometimes if only to go looking for a story. In the end, and most importantly, I never imagined it would inspire others, to the point where I could be recognized in the middle of the Utah desert.

Two of my biggest fans

Mike Off The Map has defined my life.

I could sit here and recount how I found my voice, or how the blog encouraged my move to the Northwest, or the evolution from a Southeast boy who’d been climbing just over a year, to living a dream life of travel and adventure.

But I’m not good at patting myself on the back.

Instead I want to say thank you. Thank you to the outdoor writers, adventurers, and travel bloggers, who accepted me into the community. Thank you to my friends and my editors who gave me the opportunity to hone my craft, allowed me to post articles, and sent me biting critiques so that I’m forced to challenge myself and look always take my writing one step further. Thank you to the wonderful companies who I’ve had the honor of working with, and for lending me the gear to always search for wilder places and push my dreams forward. Finally, thank you to the readers. Thank you for coming to my site, sharing my stories, and encouraging the search for adventure, no matter where it is.

I don’t write on the site for myself anymore. I write it with a mission in mind: We’re all capable of looking for adventure and pushing our comfort zone to its limit. The world is meant for exploring, whether its in the mountains, on the trail, across the river, or on the faces of cliffs. Put words into motion, dream big, and travel far.

Thank you again for your undying support.


Gear Review: Montane Volt Fleece

15 Oct
Montane Volt Fleece - Quien Sabe Glacier - North Cascades National Park

Montane Volt Fleece – Quien Sabe Glacier – North Cascades National Park

Note: This review precedes my affiliation with The North Face. 

I carefully unwrapped my new Montane Volt Fleece from the shrink wrap and ran my hands over the coarse material. While it wasn’t exactly soft to the touch, but it was light. In alpine environments, where I am frequently, a mid-layer fleece can be the difference between trapping essential body heat, and getting dangerously soaked in sudden snow and rain. What I was looking forward to was having a piece that would be as essential at altitude as at camp and would push the limits of my sleeping bag.

The Montane Volt performed exceptionally over the course of my climbing season.

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#2DaysInSeattle: Seattle Has Issued A Challenge – I’m Taking It.

23 Sep


I’ve been challenged before. By friends, family, coworkers, and by myself. But when my city issues me a challenge, then I have to take it up. Every challenge is the same: Take an idea that you’ve never tried before, go out, accomplish it, and document the results. This week I was contacted by the folks over at Visit Seattle, the organization that champions Seattle tourism. Every year they invite different groups of people: coffee fans, foodies, and outdoor enthusiasts to the PNW to see Seattle and document their adventures through social media.

This year they had a new plan: Hand it over to the locals. That’s where we come in.

So what’s this all about?

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Introducing Cairn: A New Delivery Service For Cool Outdoor Products

18 Sep


Every year we see new products all across the outdoor industry. Every niche is filled, from hydration, to salves and balms, packaging, and the gear for outdoor exploration. Cairn is a new box-subscription service was developed with a simple idea: Get people excited not only about the outdoors, but also excited to use their gear. Each month, subscribers receive a box of specially selected items ranging from trail snacks, hydration devices, and even a hammock, all for only $25 a month. The products that the subscriber receives exceeds the value of the price, so people are actually saving money on some very cool gear.

Continue ahead to check out what I got in my box, and check out a VERY SPECIAL offer at the bottom!

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