After his historic first ascent of Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary famously said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Hillary measured his and Tenzing Norgay’s great feat not by the act of stepping foot into a previously unexplored physical realm, but rather by their leap into the unknown depths of their own psyches—to discover what happens when one commits to stepping out of their comfort zone.
Stepping Out of the comfort zone in many ways, is best facilitated through outdoor adventures. However, in today’s engagement-hungry and validation-fueled society, “showcasing where you’ve been” has become more important than seeking the unknown—a mindset that is causing countless people to rob themselves of potentially life-changing experiences by simply following the trends. This practice poses the question: Have we as a society become too comfortable and contempt with the familiar? How could we be affected if we sought to experience more?
In March 2017, Chris Brinlee, Jr. and Christian Lanley set out on a campaign to #CelebrateDiscomfort through a series of epic adventures in Alberta. How far did they go? Scroll down to learn more.
At the core of this campaign was two people with heart. Chris Brinlee, Jr. and Christian Lanley met for the first time in the Alps; their bond was quickly concreted on classic climbs like the Matterhorn, the Aiguille du Midi, and the Eiger—on the latter of which they experienced an unplanned bivy at 12,000’. They survived the night tied to each other on the side of one of the world’s deadliest mountains—hypothermic while shivering in the bitter cold; sharing an emergency bag. They made it out unscathed though; the result was a bond forged not by fire, but by ice.
Chris Brinlee, Jr.
A craftsman of content, a madman behind the lens, and an all around machine: Chris Brinlee, Jr. carries his tools deep into the Alps and other great mountain ranges around the world and returns with stunning shots and stellar stories to go with them. His beard is as fiery as his passion for his art. He also does a mean Aldo Raine impression. At least it might be an impression. It could very well be his actual voice. You may never know.
A lover of long walks on the beach and fruity drinks... Wait a second... Christian Lanley likes to suffer in the alpine. His favorite things are getting sandbagged by SummitPost with bad beta before tackling deadly climbs. He eats gummy bears for breakfast to feel the protein and sugar rush through his hot blood while scaling great mountains during all hours of the day and night. Christian doesn't quit, even when every ounce of his flesh hates him and tells him to stop. He's hard. Hard like the icy walls upon which his two tools bring great wrath with every single strike. And he don't drink no fruity drinks. He drinks water and beer. Not necessarily in that order, either.
The stories from Stepping Out were told through a variety of media including photography and long-form captions, vlogs, blogs, editorial features, as well as a short documentary video.
STEPPING OUT: EPISODE 1
Watch adventurers & storytellers Chris Brinlee, Jr. and Christian Lanley as they travel to Alberta in search of experiences that will enable them to #CelebrateDiscomfort.
EPISODE 2 (THE WAPTA Traverse)
Watch Chris and Christian as they take on Alberta's famed Wapta Traverse, which is often described as the most remarkably beautiful ski traverse in North America.
EPISODE 3 (THE CONTEST WINNER)
Chris and Christian partnered with their sponsor Cotopaxi, along with a couple of other brands, to hold a contest; the winner joined them in Alberta for a trip with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. This is that adventure.
Conjuring Magic on the Sorcerer
Alberta's Rockies offer some of the best ice climbing in the world. In addition to long and challenging multi-pitch routes, there are fantastic beginner crags and climbing areas, many of which can be top-roped, and accessed with a short approach - making Alberta a world-class ice climbing destination with something for everything.
Chris & Christian joined Yamnuska Mountain Adventures' program director Paul Chiddle on a climb of The Sorcerer - which could very well be the best ice climb in the entire world.
The Endless Chain Ridge
The Endless Chain Ridge is a 16-mile long ridgeline that defines a great portion of the skyline along Alberta's Icefields Parkway. Despite its prominent nature and seemingly easy access, the ridgeline had never been traversed - until Chris & Christian set out to tackle its first and longest contiguous segment on a journey into the unknown. Not only did they complete the first traverse of the ridgeline, but they also completed it in winter conditions.
Gear provides the backbone of an expedition; it can make or break a trip. A such, Chris & Chrstian carefully curated this collection of apparel and hardware based on their specific needs and style. This is what they use, why they use it, and where to buy it.
Cotopaxi Nepal 75 - $270
The Nepal 75 is Cotopaxi's biggest, most fully-featured load-hauler. It can easily handle all of the gear needed for multiple days in the backcountry - summer, or winter; it carries those loads with ease thanks to its robust and fully-adjustable suspension system. Chris & Christian have used it in alpine environments all over the world, including Alaska, Greenland, and now, the Canadian Rockies. It's tough, has plenty of pockets for organization, and it matches yellow ski pants.
Salewa Vultur Vertical GTX - $400
The Salewa Vultur Vertical GTX mountaineering boots were designed for confident movement through technical alpine terrain, vertical ice, and mixed climbing routes. They achieve this with a completely waterproof Gore-Tex lining, an aggressively-lugged Vibram outsole, burly uppers, and flexible ankles - the latter of which offer mobility while remaining supportive. Break-in period on the Vultur Vertical GTX took a bit of wear, but they were the most comfortable and confidence-inspiring mountaineering boots that Chris had ever worn.
Revo Pike Goggles - $230
The Revo Pike Goggles offer maximum peripheral vision thanks to their bold, rimless design. The lenses are photo chromatic (meaning that they automatically adjust to various lighting conditions,) polarized (to reduce glare) and feature an anti-fog coating - to ensure that they go as hard as you do. Thanks to those features, they are incredibly versatile; Chris & Christian trust them on every winter mission in the alpine.
Revo Traverse - $270
The Traverse is Revo's first foray into the glacier glasses market. At first glance, one may not even realize they were created with alpinism in mind. The lenses, which come in bright orange or blue, are a classic aviator shape wrapped in a matte plastic frame. Stylish perforated-leather shields wrap the sides, and rubberized temples and nose pads hold them in place while climbing or skiing. Put simply, they perform as great as they look.
During the Stepping Out campaign, Chris & Christian epitomized what it meant to #CelebrateDiscomfort - starting a movement on social media in the process. The outdoor community embraced this all-in approach; then adopted #CelebrateDiscomfort as a way to represent their own raw adventures.