It seems to be a trend that most of the people I interview on my blog have been connected to me over the internet. This is also the case for Andy. I was drawn to his backcountry photos on Facebook through a friend of a friend. He was happy to participate in my local interview project and answered a few questions that I sent him.
Andy was born and raised in Utah. He plans to live and die here, as well.
When he was little, he read the book “Daniel Boone,” and though he doesn’t remember the specifics of the this particular story, it sparked an obsession in him to learn more about mountain men and Native American history. This literally opened the doors to a new outdoor lifestyle and he began spending as much time in the mountains as he could.
Andy scored a young management position at a social media marketing agency in Salt Lake called Friendemic. This company provides Andy with a lose schedule that allows him to take advantage of good boarding days on the mountain.
“They get that I won’t be on time if it is a powder day.” He says, “I am really grateful for that.”
I asked Andy about his most difficult outdoor adventure. His response was a bit generalized toward difficulties of the backcountry, but was also a great insight to some of the things you deal with mentally when you are really pushing yourself in the mountains.
He explains that when you look back on trips and adventures, it is hard to remember the bad parts because the good memories always stand out.
“You forget the moments of dehydration, nausea, fatigue, and pain. It isn’t a worthwhile trip until you have had to ask yourself ‘What am I doing here?’ or ‘Why am I doing this to myself?'”
He continues to say that preparation is the best way to avoid difficulties on the mountain, but it seems that every objective throws unexpected obstacles in your path.
I asked him how long he has been doing adventures, and he began by talking about how adventures are different for everyone and they change and grow with the person taking the adventure.
He says that not too long ago, an adventure was loading up a backpack with baloney sandwiches and heading into “The Gully.” It was a large open area near his childhood home. His friend and him would explore this land for hours!
He points out that his idea of an adventure has changed quite a bit since “The Gully” days of his childhood, and he hopes that they continue to change as he keeps pushing himself in the backcountry.
Today, some of Andy’s favorite adventure spots involve places that are new to him. He describes a recent trip to the Sawtooth mountains in Idaho where he found some the most amazing rock climbing routes that he has ever seen.
In the winter, he says the Wasatch has some of the best snow, steep lines and fun terrain! He has to remind himself sometimes how great the things right in your own backyard are, as well.
Andy says that he has some pretty big goals in Alaska and Patagonia. He thinks they are realistic, but will take hard work and training to get there. He hopes to keep pushing himself in the mountains for a long time, but his family always comes first.
Most of the dangerous situations Andy has gotten into have been because of ignorance. When he first got into the backcountry in the winter he didn’t have any avalanche safety knowledge and actually just got really lucky that nothing bad happened to him.
It is interesting looking back on some of the things you did before you were properly trained and realizing how dumb a situation was at the time. But you just didn’t realize the danger because you weren’t aware of it.
Andy quotes a friend, Jim Knight, on the subject, “Every time you go out you take a bean from the luck jar and put it into the experience jar. Eventually luck will run out and all you have to depend on is your experience.”
Andy’s advice to people getting started is perfect! I feel like I learn so much from these interviews, and the advice is always something that pertains to me and really struggle with.
He says, “Quit waiting for people to teach you everything. Dive in and figure it out. It isn’t rocket science.”
Andy’s advice is that everything in life is simple, you just have to break it down into small enough steps and you can accomplish great things.
Again, I really appreciated Andy’s new perspective on a lot of things during this interview process. He has some great tips, more stories, and some seriously impressive photography on his own blog: Living Earl.