“Have you ditched your inactive, corporate nine-to-five job to follow your real PASSION? Are you now a surf instructor, rock climber, caterer, or florist?” (Yes, yes!) Then maybe you can star in the upcoming online series “Appetite for Life.” Rock climber Ari Menitove’s A4L includes peanut butter sandwiches. In a one-year span he ate 1,003 of them, in what he calls a tribute to an American Classic. “Like the Butthole Surfers say,” he said, “‘It’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do.’ I almost ruined something totally delicious. But I didn’t.” If the current economic projections hold true, millions of Americans may soon consider Menitove a visionary. “We are masters of our own destinies,” he added.

AIG and the banks…oh, never mind.

Mixed climbing masters of the Alps conquered monster waterfalls in the ice kingdom of Norway, only to be rebuffed by the Norwegian Alpine Club: “It is totally unacceptable for climbers to claim a right to choose their own style and ethics when climbing in Norway.” Hint: don’t drill in Norway. Except offshore.

Superalpinist Josh Wharton won the Ouray ice comp. Ice comp star Ines Papert made her Himalayan debut, where she and Cory Richards established a bold and difficult (WI5 M8) new line on the north face of 6,093m Kwangde Shar in winter.

Starbucks unwittingly solved the single-push alpinist’s second-day energy shortage: instant coffee singles “bursting with rich, aromatic, full-bodied flavor.” Next up for the bivy-bound: instant margaritas.

“Out of the pan and into the fire,” said Michael Kennedy, an all-time alpine badass and new editor of the resurrected Alpinist magazine. Old editors never die, they just take showers.

The Alps enjoyed a phenomenal ice season.

The Chinese put a straightjacket on visas for journalists in Tibet. New visa rules are wreaking havoc on Britain’s circuses. “Our Mexican clown is stuck in Mexico, so we’ve got a trapeze artist pretending to be a stooge just to get everybody out of trouble. It’s a mess,” said the owner of the Great British Circus, who has resorted to recruiting last-minute substitutes. Hint for out-of-work gritstone climbers: from crisis comes opportunity. Simone Moro and Denis Urubko sidestepped the 8,000-meter circus by making the first winter ascent of Makalu (8,463m).

In Chile’s Cochamo, Mountain Fellowship Fund grant recipient Sevve Stember and friends explored a new valley and opened three routes on a previously untouched 500-meter wall, and Swiss climbers established a 1,200-meter 5.12d.

The U.S. switch to all-digital TV turned into a cluster, with many ’Mericans pissed off ’cause cable TV is their inalienable right. Obesity continues its epidemic rise in children who spend too much time in front of the idiot box and in weekend non-warriors who sit and bemoan “getting old.”

Indefatigable 42-year-old Will Gadd climbed new ice and mixed routes, up to 1,000 feet each, including M12 and WI5. “There’s just something about getting out and doing nothing useful that I find wonderfully engaging.”

—Kelly Cordes

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January 2009
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