Bliss 101 Premier

July 3rd, 2014

Roughly 100 guests attended the show at Bliss 101 gallery in Encinitas on Saturday. The event was hosted by the crew at Bliss 101 and was held to celebrate our new partnership. Many of my images are now on display in the gallery and are all on sale with a 10% discount through this holiday weekend.

Huge thanks to everyone who came to the show, your support made for an awesome event, thank you!

Recent Media

July 3rd, 2014

Huge thanks to the San Diego Union Tribune, and La Jolla Light, who both featured me in last weeks newspapers.

Two of my images were run in the La Jolla Light along with some quotes, and the Union Tribune ran an interview on the entirety of page two. Appreciate all of the support from San Diego.

La Jolla Festival Of The Arts

July 3rd, 2014

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the La Jolla Festival of the Arts. There were over 100 artists from all over the states displaying incredible work from sculpture to painting. To be accepted into the festival you must submit an application to an experienced jury, hence the consistent high-quality art in each booth.

I’m very honored to have been awarded “Best of Show” out of 22 professional photographers at the festival!

Spring Is On Fire

June 1st, 2014

Arrived back to San Diego just in time for a beautiful week of weather, with temperatures at the coast hitting 90 degrees. The high pressure is creating the off-shore wind direction that surfers love, but those dry winds have also been fueling some of the worst fires San Diego has seen in years.

Because the fires have been burning down homes, there are mandatory evacuations in place. Most schools have been closed, so all of the kids have been seeking refuge from the smoke and heat at the beach.

I returned to lifeguarding La Jolla the day after my flight arrived from Kathmandu because of the needs of the service. Right off the bat, my crew and I had to save drowning victims, and treat serious medical patients. As you can tell by the photo, the beaches have been packed, and with our spring staffing (half of the guards on roster as peak summer months), we’ve had our work cut out for us.

I think it’s awesome that people have the beach to retreat too, but wish that everyone respected it. Each evening as the crowd thins out, there are piles of trash lining the otherwise pristine shoreline. Groups such as the Windansea Surf Club and other gracious individuals have been walking the beach picking up after others.

Stoked to have such an incredible city, job, and friends to come home to.

Photo: Courtesy Michael Sangiolo (beach shot), and San Diego State University (fire shot).

Chopper Out Of Lukla

May 24th, 2014

Lukla is known as the most dangerous airport in the world. When planes are permitted to fly in from Kathmandu, pilots have to negotiate mountain peaks, storm clouds, and strong wind gusts, before landing on a short strip with a steep incline. There is a vertical cliff below the approach and a mountain wall on the other end of the short runway. The planes are small and old, without any radar. The airport and planes have even been blacklisted by many Europeans, from what I hear is at the request of their governments.

On our way back from base camp, a storm rolled in. By the time we made it to Lukla for our scheduled flight, the airport had been closed for seven straight days. After waiting in the airport all day to see if our flight would go, we were denied. That put us at the back of the queue, behind seven days of other passengers waiting to depart. If we took the chance and hung out in Lukla waiting for our next flight in seven days, there would have been a good chance of missing the flight again, and having to wait and additional seven or so days before the next opportunity of flying out.

(Video footage of a plane crashing into the vertical cliff at the foot of the runway, killing everyone aboard, while trying to land).

The only other way to get out of Lukla is to walk three days down the mountain for ten hours a day, before driving a jeep for 17 hours on a twisted road to Kathmandu. Luckily, Lhakpa Sherpa, our family friend, has a cousin who files helicopters for a living. We were able to work a good deal out with him, and we were picked up the following day. When the chopper arrived, we were able to give Lhakpa and his wife a ride with us to Kathmandu, so they were able to make a family wedding and take care of some other business in town. The chopper ride was exciting, flying over deep valleys and nearly clipping gusty mountain peaks during our hour-long ride. Stoked we were able to finish our trek helping our friends in an action packed ride to Kathmandu. We even made our international flight the following day.

Mt. Everest Base Camp

May 24th, 2014

After eight or nine days of trekking many miles from Lukla (10,000ft), our crew made it to the peak of Kala Patthar (18,300ft), where we were lucky enough to have crystal clear views of Mt. Everest and the surrounding chain.

Sitting atop Kala Patthar was a surreal and spiritual experience for me. We had the mountain to ourselves. Just when we thought it couldn’t get more incredible, the fourth giant avalanche of the season came crashing down thousands of feet from the face of Neptuse (Everest’s neighbor mountain) onto the Khumbu glacier, in a thunderous roar. I caught the entire natural phenomena in a sequence, which I’ll most likely print for an upcoming photography exhibit, or use in an editorial.

Last month, the first avalanche of the season killed 16 Sherpa who were climbing supplies up the Khumbu glacier to climbing camp one and two. It was the worst tragedy in Everest climbing history. The deaths brought mainstream attention to the fact that Sherpa climbing guides and “Ice Doctors” who have the most dangerous job of all (creating a trail by setting all of the fixed ropes and ladders, and hauling all of the food, oxygen, and camping supplies for foreign climbers), have been getting taken advantage of for decades.

The Sherpa community got together a few weeks ago and decided none of them will climb Everest this season. Shortly after the decision was made, two more avalanches fell in the same area as the first, onto the climbing path of the Khumbu icefall.

Hopefully the foreign climbing community will come together to support the families of the desist. I’m glad the Sherpa community is honoring their lost brothers by letting Mt. Everest be for a while.

The mood at base camp was somber, however, we were still taken in with gracious hospitality for tea and soup, by Lhakpa’s Sherpa family. The spirit and strength of the super-human Sherpas is indescribable.

Lhakpa Sherpa and I at Mt. Everest base camp.

Porters Of Nepal

May 23rd, 2014

Shame on me for ever thinking I’ve been tough and rugged. I’ve been schooled by a culture of men that are half my weight and height, who posses tenfold my power.

Porters are mostly made up of Nepalese decent, and are typically in a separate caste than the Sherpa. Porters make a living of roughly $750 USD a year carrying everything from raw meat to refrigerators on their backs, up the worlds tallest mountains. They get paid by the kilo, and therefore load up their baskets to maximum capacity. Porters typically weigh 100 lbs, and carry loads as heavy as 220 pounds. They carry these supplies from 10,000ft, sometimes all they way to 18,000ft, over the course of six days, walking 10hrs a day.

Occasionally porters will have the opportunity to carry a load back down the mountain, but often times only have the chance to make a living carrying supplies one way on their missions. Each night they sleep huddled around small fires burning in freezing temperatures. The only personal supplies they bring with them are the clothes on their backs. They don’t have the dirtiest, or the gnarliest jobs on the planet, but they are one of the toughest cultures I’ve ever interacted with.

While we were there, one porter fell off the trail and died. We watched as a helicopter carried his body to Kathmandu from Namche.

Mountains Of Nepal

May 22nd, 2014

Raw nature is beautiful and humbling. Nothing like staring at the peaks of the tallest mountains on earth to make you feel insignificant. In reality, we are just a speck of dust spending the smallest sliver of time as humans visiting the universe. Maybe our energy gets recycled back into the great mystery when we die, but who knows.

These peaks separate China dominated Tibet from Nepal.

Namche, Nepal

May 22nd, 2014

My dad’s been friends with a Sherpa family living in Namche, Nepal, for nearly a decade. Was so excited to have the chance to meet them. Lakhpa Sherpa guided us from Lukla (most dangerous airport in the world), to Everest base camp. Doubt we would have made it to base camp in good health without Lakhpa, he is an incredible human. Was very lucky to have the opportunity to integrate into Sherpa society and get a local feel for the way a deep-rooted Sherpa family lives.

I took these photos in Namche, a community where Lakhpa and his family live. It takes two days to walk there from the airport. Only other way to transport goods there is by helicopter when the weather is good, but it’s incredibly expensive to do it that way, so everyone walks everything in… and I mean everything and anything you can think of.

Kids walk up a steep hill for over an hour each way to get to school each day. At over 11,000 feet of altitude, it’s not easy.

Trekking Nepal

May 22nd, 2014

These are some photos I took along the seven day trek from Lukla village toward Mt. Everest base camp.