by Mark Newcomb
All lives have their share of abrupt turns, decisions made off a gut feeling or from the heart. Marmot’s made a few. The decision to go with GORE-TEX® well ahead of the curve. The commitment to a funky new fabric called DriClime® that re-wrote cool weather comfort. And the leap into PreCip™ that spawned a new genre of rain wear.
As for me, in 1987 I dropped Spanish and took Chinese because of a wooden Buddha sent by a friend from Taiwan. That random choice led, twenty years later, to the first ascent of 23,000 ft. Sepu Kangri in remote Tibet. On that very expedition an article in the Economist about the coming energy crunch led to a snap decision to return to school and study economics.
It took a few years to execute the plan, but here I am now plunk in the middle of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Economics and Finance. Ranked 12th in the world in environmental economics, professors here rush to class after skiing 15 km on the tracks above town to teach optimal control theory vis a vis models on pollution abatement and sustainable fisheries. Their work has contributed to the compendium of evidence on global warming that won Al Gore his Nobel Prize. Yet conversations about where to hunt or gather firewood are as common as discussions on the latest papers about the tragedy of the commons.
We’re at 7200 feet on this corner of the high plains. From almost anywhere in town you could sling-shot a rock into antelope country. Last winter the interstate past town was closed by wind and blizzards as many days as it was open. Here in Laramie I’ve supplemented my gear testing in the Tetons and on remote peaks with daily bike commutes to class and training excursions in the hills around town. On many days the weather is hardly less severe than what I’ve endured on the Tibetan Plateau.
So look back, but only for the thrill of knowing that a whole bunch more of what’s back there is still ahead. You just don’t know what, how and when.
Learn more about Mark Newcomb on marmotpro.com