I hear a lot about the growing wealth gap in the United States, and in the world. The other day I saw a figure that equated the wealth of the 85 richest people in the world to that of the 3.5 billion poorest. Prominent economists throughout the world have presented various solutions to solving the wealth gap. One of these solutions is a world wealth tax.

I have no problem with extra taxes on the ultra wealthy. However, I believe that this solution, and all the other solutions presented by economists and politicians, are merely band-aids covering broken bones. These solutions do not address the root problem. They only attempt to ease some of the symptoms. I fear that this is a pattern common in contemporary civilization — applying quick, turn around solutions to solve superficial issues while ignoring the demon lurking beneath the surface. It is a willful ignorance present in not only economics, but also in health and education.

The underlying problem is the excessive materialism of those who can afford it (or can get loans to afford it).

The ultra wealthy continue to grow their wealth a breakneck speeds because they are constantly consolidating the production and distribution of goods. This statement is nothing radical. We have known this for millennia. And for millennia economists and politicians have said the solution is to either redistribute the wealth, the means of production, or both. Still, this ignores the underlying problem, excessive consumption.

What we need is a paradigm shift away from the blind consumption of yet another widget. The possession of material drives our lives. Instead, action should drive our lives. Continue Reading. There’s More!

This is not my usual gear review. Normally, I write the review after at least a few months of heavy use. This time, however, I returned the gear before I was able to use it because I quickly realized that the Koflach Degree just does not fit my foot type. I had heard a lot about the Koflachs of old, still performing well after decades of use, so I was bit a disappointed.

I just went through a long process of ordering and returning various sizes of the Koflach Degre, talking to dealers, talking with a Koflach rep, and reading all the internet reviews for the Koflach Degre that I could find. I learned a lot of information that is not publicly available and I consolidated the sparse and diffuse information available on the internet.

So even though I decided not to use the Koflach Degre, I believe that other people will benefit from the information I have to share. And hopefully this will help you to make a quicker and easier decision if you are thinking about buying the Degre. Continue Reading. There’s More!

On July 3rd Jim and I completed a new route at Fountain Bluff, and we believe it is the longest climbing route in the Midwest. The route is a 1,400 foot traverse of Fountain Bluff in Southern Illinois. We climbed it in 12 pitches. Neither of us are good at rating things, but we gave it a 5.8 R, which is basically the rating for any ground-up trad route we have climbed at Fountain Bluff.

The idea for this route evolved slowly over the last several years.

Fountain Bluff has a unique style of rock climbing. To be honest, it is not for everyone. The rock quality is highly variable. There are long stretches of “vertical vegetation” – that is, climbing up vines and what-not. A couple of years ago, when my friend Chris still lived in the area, we invented a term for it – Mississippi River Valley Alpine Climbing. Continue Reading. There’s More!

There is a great book, known throughout the climbing community, that goes by the title “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills.” It is the classic how-to book for climbers and continues to make its presence known in ever-increasing edition numbers. The 7th edition occupies a prominent place on my self.

The subtitle, The Freedom of the Hills, is an amazing statement, for in five simple words it embodies what climbing and merely being in the hills are for me—freedom.

Freedom is a powerful and loaded word; perhaps most infamous for the carefree way in which contemporary marketers, politicians, and revolutionaries kick it around like a well-worn hacky sack. Continue Reading. There’s More!

There are a lot of lists on the internet for the “Best Adventure Apps” or the “Best Outdoors Apps.” National Geographic made one of them. Frankly, those lists are horrible. Maybe the app creators paid the writers to include their apps. Or maybe they were just trying to appeal to a wide audience. Either way, none of the lists include any of the apps I use, and I spend about a 1/3 of every year in the outdoors, and on almost every trip the iPhone gets used. Some of the lists are so extensive that it brings to question list author’s credibility, because I just don’t see how they could have field tested each one under a range of conditions and seasons.

So, this is my list of mobile apps that I actually use while in the wilderness, whether it be a climbing, paddling, or hiking trip. These apps are not going to teach you how to do anything. Having them on your phone will NOT make you a hardman, an explorer, an adventurer, etc. These apps are going to help you to do whatever it is you do.

Additionally, there is no requirement that you must have these apps to go on an adventure or undertake an exploration. All these apps do is better integrate our primitive adventures (let’s be honest, a human in the wild is primitive) with our modern, technologically driven life. Continue Reading. There’s More!