Tag Archives: Big City Mountaineers

October 23, 2017

10 Really Cool Outdoor Adventures With Kids

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By Michael Lanza

Want to guarantee that your kids are always excited about getting outdoors as a family? Find adventures that excite them. We adults tend to look for nice scenery, but that, by itself, isn’t always going to fire up a school-age child or teenager. No matter what their age, kids want to engage with the outdoors—to get dirty and wet and climb around. By thinking a little more about trip planning, parents can find places and activities that inspire everyone scenically and experientially. Continue reading →

July 16, 2017 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 16 and 14, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

January 15, 2017 Star Lake and Mount Madison, Presidential Range, N.H.

Two Letters, Three Fathers, and a Reminder of What’s Really Important

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By Michael Lanza

About 20 years ago, when I was living in rural New Hampshire and syndicating a weekly outdoor column in newspapers across New England, I received a letter—yes, a letter, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service—from a guy who lived near me, offering himself as a hiking partner. He was a few years older than my father. But there was something about his letter that prompted me to write back, and it sparked an unusual friendship centered almost entirely on our hikes together.

But one detail of Doug’s life story inspired me the most: He had retired from his corporate job early, in his mid-50s. In other words: He had decided to make enjoying life his top priority. I’ve had many reasons to think about that philosophy and about Doug recently, and to contemplate the things that are truly important to me—which, in our fast-paced, hyper-connected culture, can be all too easy to forget. Continue reading →

May 31, 2016 The East Face of Mount Whitney, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Roof of the High Sierra: A Father-Son Climb of Mount Whitney

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By Michael Lanza

On the long, uphill hike toward the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, in the middle of April, the alpine sun and wind behave like a couple married for far too long, who take their frequent disagreements to extremes that make everyone else uncomfortable. The sun offers us a hug of much-needed warmth one moment, only to later leave us wilting in its inescapable, unrestrained heat. The wind arrives at times precisely when we crave its relief from the sun’s thermal oppression, and at other times entirely unwelcome, an icicle knifing into bone. We alternately wish for and desperately try to avoid both of them.

But at this moment, somewhere well over 11,000 feet above sea level on the east side of California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, the wind is definitely not our friend. And the sun seems willfully deaf to our silent pleas to show us a little more love. Continue reading →

April 25, 2016 Below the East Face of Mount Whitney, High Sierra, California.

3-Minute Read: Climbing Mount Whitney

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By Michael Lanza

At 6 a.m. last Sunday morning, four readers of The Big Outside, my 15-year-old son, Nate, and I, led by three mountain guides from Sierra Mountaineering International, left our high camp at 12,000 feet below the East Face of California’s Mount Whitney en route to climb the Mountaineers Route. I shot the photo above shortly after we left camp. Four-and-a-half hours later, we all stood at 14,505 feet above sea level, atop the highest peak in America outside of Alaska. Continue reading →

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