Dinner Guest

IMG_1879We had a visitor show-up the other night at dusk.  He didn’t seem at all skittish, so I would guess he has benefited from a few free meals from his human friends along the way.  Camden, fortunately, wasn’t there to greet him, but he did get a good whiff and has been eagerly searching for this elusive guest ever since… just faint footprints in the snow as his only lead.

Otherwise, I’ve been up in the hills quite a bit this week.  I was able to get in a few longer outings and late yesterday stood atop of peaks #46 & #47 of this training cycle by summiting Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′) & Mt. Flora (13,146′) on the Continental Divide.  I have one more week of training here in the mountains and then it is back to Denver to wrap things up, pack my gear and head out.  Two weeks from today, I will arrive in Bangkok on my way to Kathmandu.  It is hard to believe that it is nearly time…


40 Peaks in 40 Weeks – Check


Postholing up to the Continental Divide at sunset

At the confluence of my 40th birthday and discussions of a potential return to the Himalaya, I pledged to myself to climb 40 peaks in 40 weeks to get back in “Everest shape.”  This past week, I stood atop my 40th summit (actually 42nd now) and have had a lot of fun in the mountains along the way.  Not all outings culminated in reaching a summit so there were many more than 40 outings required to reach the final tally, but all helped me get back into the kind of shape I need to be in for this next adventure.  Since I began this endeavor last June, I’ve climbed well over 100,000′ in total and should add another 20,000’+ over the next couple of weeks as I get ready to depart.  All of this preparation will be critical as we attempt to climb 45,000’+ of vertical, all at altitudes over 15,000′ and as high as 29,035′, to reach the highest expanses of the earth…


A recent outing on Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′) w/ Camden, Charley Mace and Hocus Pocus

I want to thank my many climbing partners that joined me along the way and helped prepare me for the upcoming expedition to Tibet & Nepal.  There were 6 summits of 14-ers (what we affectionately call 14,000’+ mountains in CO) with Carla (as well as many more non-summit hikes); 10+ summits with my Himalayan partners, Mike & Matt Moniz; many ski & non-ski outings with Ben; one long traverse of 6 peaks along the Continental Divide with Colorado Bob; one terrifying experience on Mt. Jefferson with Craig, Mark and Oregon Bob; and a couple of memorable outings near Telluride with my brother, Mike, as well as my nephew, Will (his first big peak!), and my sister-in-law, Caroline (her first big peak!).  However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my most loyal climbing partner over this journey, who enthusiastically jumped at any opportunity to head into the hills and faithfully joined me on 17 of my 40 summits (as well as countless other outings in the hills), my fur-buddy, Camden.  My sincere gratitude to all of you for providing motivation, encouragement and inspiration along the way.  Climbing can be a very introspective and selfish endeavor, but the camaraderie formed by the shared experience of climbing with others is a big part of the reward.  Thank you.

Mountain Living


Byers Peak as viewed from rental near Fraser, CO

I moved to the mountains last weekend to put the finishing touches on my training.  The pup and I are staying in a spacious, one-bedroom rental for the month of March in Fraser, CO.  This move allows me to sleep at nearly 9,000′ every night this month, while getting out into the mountains every day to train.  The pup and I have already battled the elements (primarily wind & snow) most of our days here by doing backcountry ski outings up to elevations of 12,500′.  We’ll certainly do some bigger outings (both longer days and to higher altitudes – up to 14,000’+) as the work schedule permits.


“Enjoying the views” from the summit of Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′) on a blustery day

This jump in sleeping altitude coupled with having the ability to train at altitudes of 11,000’+ on a near daily basis will greatly increase my level of acclimatization and fitness prior to my departure on April 4th.  With our aggressive acclimatization and climbing schedule for the upcoming expedition, any benefits gained now will only help my efforts in April and May in the Himalaya.  However, as you can see, it’s not always pleasant up high, but I think the pup is enjoying our mountain time (at least most of it).  We refer to enduring harsh conditions as “conditioning” and climbing to altitude “training.”  Fortunately, here in Colorado, it is fairly easy to train and condition simultaneously on any outing if one chooses the right location.  Climbing/skiing on Berthoud Pass, particularly on the upper portions of Colorado Mines Peak, which is right on the Continental Divide and directly in the path of the prevalent westerly winds, almost always affords this luxury (this is just one of the reasons that, as climbers, we don’t linger long on the summit of most peaks).

IMG_1820And before anyone calls the SPCA, what a difference a day makes.  You can see that conditions, although still windy (look at that thick fur flowing with the breeze), aren’t always intolerable!  Even with bluebird skies, the wind is nearly always whipping above treeline on the Continental Divide.  At least he has that substantial coat to endure the “conditioning” portions of our outings… Unbelievably, he won’t have to endure, or be able to enjoy, our outings much longer.  It’s hard to believe that we move back to Denver in only 3 short weeks and that I depart for Kathmandu days later… 25 days from now.  Wow.  It is hard to reconcile exactly where all the time has gone since this trip was first discussed as a possibility a year ago with the fact that it is nearly time to pack bags, say “see you soon” to friends and loved ones, and head back to give the Himalaya another go… Regardless, I’m ready.



“Denver Broncos team photographer, Erik Bakke, left, with Carla Favaro and Jim Walkley. Walkley has climbed all but one of the highest peaks on each continent; he’ll climb the seventh, Mount Everest, in the spring.” (Photo: David Zalubowski, Denver Post)

I was very humbled recently when asked by good friend, Scott Esmond (who chairs the CO Make-a-Wish Foundation), to participate as a “celebrity waiter” for a Make-a-Wish fundraiser.  I was, of course, happy to help in any way possible for such a noble cause, but was a bit nervous about being touted as a “celebrity.”  Mostly, I was self-conscious of disappointing any big donors that would be “stuck” at my table vs. another, perhaps more-worthy-of-the-title celebrity.  Fortunately, Peyton and some other big, local stars weren’t in attendance, so that helped ease the pressure a bit.  Once I realized that my table was stacked with friends, I was able to relax and fully enjoy the evening.  I suppose it’s easier to “disappoint” those you know well as opposed to complete strangers!

Regardless, it was a terrific evening.  We ended up raising $220,000 in total for a great cause, significantly exceeding the initial $60,000 goal.  I am proud to have played even a small part of such a great event.  Special thanks to Scott & Laura Esmond, their wonderful parents, Ben & Suz Focht, and Rob & Annie Campbell for making it an extra special night.

President’s Weekend

IMG_1752We put in a relaxed training weekend in the mountains over President’s Weekend.  Although it is typically one of the busiest weekends of the year in Colorado’s high-country, we managed to avoid the crowds for the most part and enjoy a fun weekend of skiing, snowshoeing and relaxing (I am happy to report that it is actually possible to watch the entire 2nd season of House of Cards in a single 3-day weekend if one should be so inclined).  Carla and I headed up with the pup and spent a luxurious weekend at the Holiday Inn in Frisco, CO (that’s where you stay if you book late for the busiest weekend of the year).  We got in a great ski day at Breckenridge on that Saturday as we were pummeled by the high winds that make Breckenridge famous (aka “BreckenFridge”).  Perhaps, it was those winds that limited the crowds to a manageable level and allowed us to enjoy a day on the slopes without the typically horrendous lift lines.  Regardless, we were grateful.  We also got in a great snowshoe outing up Mt. Royal, between Frisco and Copper, and you can tell from the picture above just how much the pup hates the snow (snow baths rule!).

IMG_1777We also had the pleasure to catch-up with friends while we were in Summit County for the long weekend and helped good friend, Ryan Chreist, usher in his 40s.  Don’t worry, Ryan, I hear 40 is the new 19.  It was great to see Ryan and his wonderful wife, Liz, as well as Bill & Dana Licko, Robb Moody, Randy Chreist, Adam Sexton, Amanda McAllister and everyone else.  I only wish that we had planned our day better so that we could have stayed longer to enjoy the good times a bit more.  Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to all celebrate together again before too long (certainly upon my return in June at the latest!).

Catching-up w/ Family and Friends

IMG_4088I had the opportunity to catch-up recently with the immediate Walkley clan (pictured at left in Telluride this past summer) over a frigid weekend in Minneapolis at my brother’s place.  We survived the sub-freezing temps and even got to watch my 10 year-old nephew dominate his basketball game (they won).  Thankfully, the game was played indoors!  It was great to see everyone and I certainly appreciate my parents flying in from temperate Charleston, SC, so that we could all be together for the weekend.  I look forward to seeing everyone again in Jackson, WY, over the 4th of July.

IMG_1736I was also fortunate to catch-up with childhood friend, Michael Rhea, on his company ski trip to Vail.  It had been so many years since we had last connected in-person that we couldn’t remember when the last time was that we had crossed paths (“at someone’s wedding at some point in the past” was about as close as we could surmise).  Michael had generously invited me to present my “Seven Summits” adventures (the climbing expeditions I’ve done on the highest peak on each of the seven continents) to his GE Capital team and their key clients.  We had a great time and then the next day skied an aggressive 20,000′ of vertical on great snow under bluebird skies.  What a great couple of days.  My thanks to Michael for putting it all together.  Hopefully, we can do it again next year! I’ll try to bring back some good photos and stories from this go-around in the Himalayas to warrant a repeat performance.

60 Days Until Nepal


Click for more pictures

It has been an exceptionally hectic start to the new year, but all is progressing as hoped so I certainly have no complaints.  It is exactly 60 days from today that I will arrive in Kathmandu with my teammates to start this epic, 3-mountain adventure.  It is hard to believe how quickly the departure date will be upon us.  This is the pre-expedition anticipatory time where we spread out all of our gear, check everything, then double-check it, contemplate what we’re missing, fill-in any gaps, do the Dr check-ups, get loaded-up on prescriptions for the foreseeable medical challenges that could arise, ramp-up the intensity and frequency of our training, etc.  Throw-in spending time with your girlfriend, raising a puppy, launching a new company, connecting with friends and family before departing, and the schedule fills-up fairly quickly.  Again, no complaints though.

Upon arriving back in CO after spending Christmas with the family in Charleston, SC, Ben and I headed into the hills just before New Year’s for a particularly frigid ski ascent of Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′).  It was so blustery that the frozen spot on my nose (the same spot I froze on Everest in 2012) turned a nice, solid white again.  Fortunately, Ben noticed and I was able to protect it to prevent any permanent damage, but it appears that this spot will require monitoring in blustery conditions from now on. We followed that outing with a solid and spirited New Year’s Eve celebration at his mountain chalet in Heeney with a terrific group of people.  It was a special way to ring in yet another year.

Soon thereafter, I was fortunate enough to get out with my entire Himalayan climbing team for an outing on Mt. Epworth (11,843′) deep in the James Peak Wilderness Area in CO.  Willie came out and joined Mike, Matt, and me for several ski laps on the peak where we found great snow.  The avalanche conditions have been sketchy out here as of late, so we picked some safe ridge lines and stayed away from the avalanche-prone faces and couloirs and had a great time on an absolutely bluebird day.  I also attended the big Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City with the climbing team, thanks to Mike & Matt, where we formalized some details with our gear sponsors and attended a National Geographic celebration of their current and past Adventurers of the Year winners, where Matt was honored.  Things are coming together nicely for the trip and it was great to spend more time together as a team.

Otherwise, I’ve been getting out with the pup fairly regularly for longer outings when time allows and sticking pretty closely to the daily training regimen that served me well last time around, although I’m keeping more weight on my bones for the sheer endurance we’re going to need to get up all 3 mountains.  Those extra reserves should serve me well and, let’s face it, it’s been fun putting on some extra pounds.

To round-out my training, I am moving to the mountains, near Winter Park, CO, for the month of March so that I can sleep at ~9,000′ every night and ski up to 12,000′-13,000′ on nearly a daily basis.  This should accelerate my pre-acclimatization and get my lungs and legs ready for the challenges ahead.  Once we arrive in Kathmandu, we will cross the border into Tibet to get to Cho Oyu base camp (15,000’+) as quickly and safely as possible, so any and all of this pre-acclimatization work should serve me well.

I’m off to see my entire family in frigid Minneapolis this weekend (from frigid Denver – we’ve both been well below 0 as of late), which should serve as some good, cold weather conditioning!  Special thanks to my parents for leaving the balmy 80 degree days of Charleston to brave the arctic cold of Minnesota.  I am certainly grateful for having such a supportive and close-knit family.

Winter Came Early to CO


Click picture for more pictures from the weekend

Craig made it out last weekend (12/12-15) for some fun in Colorado’s early winter conditions.  The weather was determined not to cooperate, but we didn’t let that hold us back.  We went straight from the airport to some close-in ice in Clear Creek Canyon, where we met Bob, and had a full afternoon climbing ice.  We descended our route as the sun retreated behind the canyon wall – just ahead of the need for headlamps.  Craig and Bob did some more ice and mixed climbing on Friday, while some of us aspired toward a paycheck.  On Saturday, Ben and I were able to re-engage on the fun and after a few false starts made our way to Berthoud Pass to skin/ski a few laps to salvage what we could on a cold and blustery day.  We put in several good laps and a couple of thousand feet of vertical in a biting wind.  We retreated after a few hours to Murphy’s in Silverthorne and then on to Ben’s mountain retreat in the mountain metropolis of Heeney, CO.  On Sunday, 55+ mph winds kept us off of our intended climb and ski descent of James Peak, but we skied the beautiful Dry Gulch basin, which will require further exploration.

We had a lot of fun and it was great to see Craig back in his element and charging hard, as usual.  You can’t keep a good man down (or Craig, for that matter), so hopefully we’ll get him back out for some more mountain fun in early 2014.  Looking forward to his return trip already.

I am now back in much warmer Charleston, SC, for the holidays with my family.  I am grateful for what was an eventful 2013 and excited for what 2014 has in store.  I hope your 2013 was all that you could have hoped for and more, and that your 2014 exceeds all expectations.  Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all my best to you and yours for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Enjoying the Early Colorado Snow

1424449_10202163585908915_854200601_n We have been enjoying great snow here in Colorado since early November, and I have been spending a fair amount of time playing in it as my departure to the Himalayas creeps ever closer (only 16 weeks until we depart for Kathmandu)… crazy.  At left, is a picture of my young climbing partner, Matt Moniz, pulling a back-flip (yes, intentionally) on Berthoud Pass only two days after Halloween.  Matt, his dad, Mike, and I have been on a few early-season, backcountry outings on Berthoud Pass to climb up and ski down the likes of Russell Peak (12,300′) & Stanley Mountain (12,521′) as well as Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′) & Mount Flora (13,146′).  Everyone is feeling strong at this point in the training cycle, so it is time to step things up and get our bodies ready for the challenges that await us on our expedition.

IMG_1601This past week, we experienced the arctic blast that blanketed much of the US, but we used the opportunity to do some conditioning (getting used to tough conditions – i.e. frigid temps, snow, wind, etc.) as well as some training.  At least that’s what we tell ourselves to feel better (right, Bob Berger?).  Ben and I headed out this past Saturday in below zero temps with our pups (Camden & Tank) to climb Bear Peak (8,461′) in Boulder.  It’s not a terribly tough outing typically, but being a steep, snow-covered, 3,000′ climb to the summit in frigid temps, it more than met our needs for the day.  We made quick work of it and retreated from the summit to the warmth of the Southern Sun brewery for some much-needed electrolyte replenishment (beer) and nourishment (buffalo burger).  Another good day in the hills, even if my eyebrows completely frosted over (more pictures of the outing available by clicking either of the pictures above).  This outing, combined with the other ones over the past month or two, puts my total summits at 30, which leaves 10 peaks to go with 16 weeks until departure.  I think that will prove to be good training down the stretch as the Himalayas loom large on my horizon…

This weekend, Craig is coming to Colorado for some backcountry fun.  He has recovered nicely from this summer’s incident on Mt. Jefferson and he will be joining Ben, Bob and me (and maybe the Monizes) to climb some ice, summit some peaks and ski some lines.  More on that adventure to follow…

Himalayan Trilogy – The Return


Lhotse (27,940′) – 4th highest mountain in the world

It is official.  I am heading back to the Himalayas in April of 2014.  If at first you don’t succeed, dream-up an even more ambitious adventure and try, try again.

I knew that I would return to the Himalayas at some point with visions of climbing Ama Dablam and possibly attempting Everest again.  I just hadn’t contemplated returning so soon.  However, when opportunity knocks, you have to be prepared to answer.

I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been invited to join a very strong, small team with an ambitious agenda for the spring of 2014.  We will be attempting to climb 3 of the 6 highest peaks in the world in one push.  We will start with an attempt of Cho Oyu, which at 26,906′ stands as the 6th highest mountain in the world.  We hope to summit in early May and then head back to Nepal from our camps in Tibet.  Since we will be acclimatized after our time on Cho Oyu, we will await a good weather window and then attempt Everest (29,035′) and Lhotse, the world’s 4th highest peak at 27,940′, in back-to-back days.  If fortune really smiles upon us and the conditions are right, the plan is to ski, the as-of-yet unskied, Lhotse couloir on the descent.

The team is comprised of Mike Moniz, with whom I climbed on Everest last year.  Mike successfully summited Everest on 5/26/2012 and then turned around and summited Lhotse 24 hours later, so this is not uncharted waters for him.  Mike wanted to return to the Himalayas to climb with his son, Matt, who is an extremely gifted young climber and skier who has been named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and is Mountain Hardwear’s only youth athlete.  In fact, this trip is really Matt’s dream-child (click to see his article in National Geographic).  Rounding out the team and leading our efforts is climber extraordinaire, Willie Benegas, who has summited Everest 11 times, put up first ascents in the Himalayas and Andes, and holds speed records on Aconcagua, Fitzroy and others.

This is an ambitious agenda that has never been done, so we go into this fully understanding the challenges that await us and the amount of fortitude it will take to succeed.  I am very confident in the team’s strength and skill, so hopefully we will experience some good fortune to go along with that to help us on our journey.

So, to that end, my training is starting to ramp-up.  I haven’t been in the hills as much as I would have liked lately, but that will change as the departure date draws nearer.  The extreme rain and subsequent floods in early-mid September kept me out of the hills and then I was home for my mom’s birthday celebration and to deliver a well-received Seven Summits presentation to Gibbes, etc. and Kiawah’s One World speaker series (my first paid gig as a speaker).


Rappelling off the 3rd Flatiron

This past weekend, I ran a 1/2 marathon and then had a great climb up Boulder’s 3rd Flatiron with the 2014 Himalayan Trilogy team.  It was great to get us all together and start dialing-in our communication, technical systems, gear, etc.  I’m sure we’ll do more outings as we prepare for our early April departure to Nepal.  This weekend, Craig, who is recovered from our epic on Mt. Jefferson earlier this year, is coming to CO to climb with Ben, Bob, Mike Moniz and me, so it will be great to get back into the hills and to climb with this group.  More on the upcoming expedition and some of the training outings over the next few months to follow.