Cloud Peak Backpacking Trip: Video Edition

On Monday, I wrote about having an Itch for Adventure that I just can’t Scratch. It hasn’t gotten any better. In fact, it’s gotten much worse.

Anh turned our 200-and-some pictures of our backpacking trip to Cloud Peak into an 11-minute video/slideshow, complete with text narrative, actual video interlaced, background tunage, and a horribly horrible introduction from yours truly.

Items of note:

1) My voice IS that nasally thanks to chronic allergies, but the crappy mic on the FlipCam doesn’t help me out at all either.

2) I was going through a long hair phase at this time. It’s not that long anymore. Promise.

3) She does an excellent job of portraying her pristine beauty and character in contrast to, well…… me.

4) Anh is amazing.



I Want To Be A Brand Ambassador

The title alone should warn you, but I want to be very explicit. This post is about me. I don’t like to publicly share my thoughts of myself, but I’ve found that waiting around to “be discovered” is probably the slowest way possible to “become discovered”. Short of showing up on some doorsteps, I think this is the fastest, easiest thing I can do right now to try help myself out. So, if you’re not interested in reading, seeing, and learning about me, here’s your chance to go check out some of my other bodacious posts. ;-p

Also, a special thanks goes out to my girlfriend Anh for encouraging me to write this, coming with and planning a lot of these adventures, taking 95% of the pictures I post on this site, and of course, putting up with me and cooking me homemade pho. Thank you!

I Want to be a Brand Ambassador

There, I said it. It’s out in the open and now everyone knows. I don’t want to be a brand ambassador simply for free swag or getting paid or going to tradeshows or super-sweet locales. (Though, none of those things will ever be turned down.) I want to be a brand ambassador because there are a lot of companies out there that I think are doing things really right. I think they treat their employees with respect and flexibility. I think their products are top-notch. I think their services really fill a need. I think a lot of them are doing a wonderful job of promoting outdoor and action sports. And I think A LOT of them are doing the right things for our environment. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that? Why wouldn’t I want to help them grow their business?

Why I should be a Brand Ambassador

I think I should be a brand ambassador because I literally spend every spare moment thinking about my outdoor endeavors, hopes, dreams, and experiences. If I’m not thinking about it, it’s because I’m actually out there experiencing it with my girlfriend, friends, and family. The only time I’m not thinking or living it is when I’m actively working…at work. But c’mon, who likes working?

I’m constantly brainstorming about how I can be better at the things I do and then take action. How can I be a better climber? How can I make it easier to get to the top of a mountain? Where else can I go? Who can I tell? How can I spread the word to the most amount of people?

One way I tell people is by writing. I mean, anyone can write, sure, but a lot of people tell me I write well. They have told me I should write more in the public eye. It’s surprising to me because I just write what I think. It comes naturally to me. When people compliment me on my writing, it’s one of the greatest compliments I can receive. I love writing, and I love writing about things I love.

I’m not shy. I already make random comments to unsuspecting strangers. I’ll talk to just about anybody if I have a reason, and it doesn’t feel awkward at all. I even have a couple YouTube channels just in case people need some entertainment in their lives: Athlete Creator and Dudes With Tents. As you can see, I’m not afraid to be a little bit nerdy, a little bit cooky, or completely open with my personality.

I walk the talk. I’ve mentioned my passion for writing and how much I think about making myself better, but I’m more passionate about actually making myself better. I’ve only been climbing for about 13 or 14 months now, but in that short time, I’ve progressed from top-roping 5.7’s indoors to leading 5.10’s outdoors (and maybe even a few “soft” 5.11’s). I competed in my first indoor climbing competition after only 11 months of climbing, and I finished 18th out of 43 climbers in the “Advanced” division (5.10b-5.11b). I believe I could have finished higher if I were more familiar with the format. I understand these are not earth shattering numbers, nor are they anything that will be published in any major media outlet, but they are a glimpse at what I’m capable of and what I desire to be.

I hang out at all the cool spots. Ok, some of them are cool; some of them are visited out of necessity. During the week, you can find me climbing at either of the two most popular climbing gyms in Minnesota: Vertical Endeavors – St. Paul and Minneapolis. I climb there 3-4 times per week. On weekends, spring through fall, I typically visit the few crags found in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to the lack of mountains, these crags tend to be very busy with potential for a lot of visibility. I’m not much of a runner, but there are endless marathon opportunities nearly every weekend. The largest is probably Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. I don’t mind wondering around in a sea of humanity regardless of the event. When winter comes blowing at my door, I don’t hide inside. Winter simply means “winter camping”. Granted, the parks aren’t quite as busy, but Minnesota shines in the winter. There are tons of cross-country ski trails right in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro. The American Berkebeiner is located just a few short hours east in Wisconsin. We are the state of 10,000 lakes, which yield way more than 10,000 ice fishermen. The Hockey Hall of Fame is located just a couple hours north of my apartment. Red Bull’s international Crashed Ice tour even made a stop in St. Paul this year. Needless to say, my activities in the outdoors are fueled for 12 months out of the year and Minneapolis/St. Paul is anything but a “dead zone”.

Some of the more notable places I’ve visited in the past 12 months outside of the previously mentioned locations include the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the Superior National Forest, Red Rocks located just outside of Las Vegas, Cloud Peak in the Bighorn Mountain Range in Wyoming, The Black Hills of South Dakota, and the red rocks of Sedona, AZ. Trips planned for the coming summer and fall include returning to The Black Hills for 8 days of climbing and camping and a trip to Colorado to summit Long’s Peak. I can assure you, there will be more that I just haven’t been made aware of yet.





Getting back to the technical side of things, I’m quite profficient with all social media. You’ve seen my excellent work with YouTube. I’ve also been using Facebook since 2005 and Twitter since 2009. I use LinkedIn for my professional networking as an engineer (though, I’m hoping this allows me to not be an engineer for much longer). I’m familiar with Google+ but haven’t used it much myself. But, once you’re familiar with one platform, it doesn’t take much used to get used to any of them. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, forcing me to know much more about physics and electrons than anyone should care. But it also means that I am exposed to new technology and new software all the time. I’m exceptionally good with technology, right down to writing my own Microsoft Visual Basic scripts.

Basically, I’m an open book. My personality appeals to a variety of people. I grew up in a town of population unincorporated and now live in a city of over a million. I can go to the local VFW, or I can hang out in a swank luxury lounge and talk to people with more money than I’ve ever made. I love sharing my life with others, doesn’t matter who they are as long as they want to listen. Also, and I don’t mean to be completely conceited here, but let’s face it, people respond more favorably to attractive people. Social experiments and surveys prove this over and over again. I take care of myself, and I’m proud of the body I’ve built. I think I’ll leave it at that because talking about myself anymore in that way makes me feel dirty.

If I were a brand ambassador, all of that energy of sharing my life, all the writing and technology skills I posses, would then be put to good use, sharing the great qualities of the brand(s) I represent.

What being a Brand Ambassador would mean to Me

Being a brand ambassador would mean that I would have a reason to be my crazy, cooky, and sometimes odd self for a reason. It would mean I get to connect people that are already crazy about a sport with a company looking to enrich their experience with that sport.

What I’ve found through “the evolution of me” is that I really really enjoy making people’s lives better. Whether that means helping them reach an athletic/aesthetic goal, sharing my personal experiences that they may also be going through, or connecting them with the right person or company that can truly help them out, I love helping people that want to be helped.

Being a brand ambassador would also give me a reason to be even more loud and outspoken when I go on adventures (but in a good way, I assure you). For that matter, it would give me a reason to go on more adventures to tell people how I got there and who is enabling me to be at such a great location, doing what I love.

I may only be 28 and not accomplished anything newsworthy, but I have already learned that life is about experiencing it, not “just getting through it”. I got through playing 3 years of college football. I got through owning investment property at the age of 23. There are many things I’ve gotten through that could have been done better and more enjoyable. I don’t want to get through life anymore. I want to live it. Being a brand ambassador would truly enrich my life. Not just with material possessions, money, or travel, but with helping people enrich their lives….as well as my own.

If you’re interested in contacting me, please feel free to connect through email, Facebook, or Twitter. I’m almost guaranteed to respond faster than you’d think. If you need more links to click, here’s my personal landing page that will get you to anything I linked here and more!

David Sandel

I certainly I hope I hear from you!

Gear Review: Arc’Teryx Atom SV Hoody

Here’s some unneeded background info: I was motivated (and unable) to write this review a week and a half ago when the Arc’Teryx social media rep replied to one of my tweets and asked to see this review when I was done. Then life got in the way, and it never happened. That made me sad. Fast forward to last night, and I’ve been notified that I won their monthly gear giveaway contest! Woot woot (as my fellow nerds used to say, or do they still say that?)!! So, once again, Arc’Teryx is on my mind. Let’s get to it…

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Hiking Cloud Peak: A Picture Recap

I may update this post later. Actually, I’m pretty sure I will. I’m just being “Dave” right now. (P.S. “Dave” is my alter-ego in which I sit on the couch all day and don’t do much of anything.)

So, with that said, here’s a shit ton of pictures. (P.S. There were 749 pictures. These are the best 255. Sheesh!)

Pre-Trip Planning Cloud Peak: Hiking and Backpacking Food

In an attempt to climb to the top of Google’s search results for “Cloud Peak”, I present you with the 2nd post in this undetermined number of installment series. So, I ask you…

What food do you bring hiking/backpacking/mountaineering?

Obviously the food needs to be light-weight, calorie packed, and need not be refrigerated. So far, this is what we have planned:


“Rice tacos” (taco meat (with other ‘stuff’) over rice instead of tortillas)
Chicken noodle soup

All will be dehydrated ahead of time. (Which reminds me, I need to start that today. Yikes.)


Homemade Lara bars
Cliff bars
Beef Jerky


Super awesome oatmeal mix
Dehydrated egg mix (maybe)
Instant coffee

This will obviously be enough to get us through 5 days and 4 nights, but I’m a bit concerned with the [lack of] variety for snacks and breakfasts. I am not a huge fan of oatmeal to begin with, so eating it for 5’ish days really doesn’t sound too great. My homemade Lara bars are super amazing, but I can only eat so many of those before all the sugars and sweets from the chocolate and dried berries start to mess with me stomach. Jerky is also good in limited quantities. I’m not sure I want/need all that sodium in a place where water availability is a concern.

So, as we venture up Clould Peak, what are some other backpacking food suggestions?


Pre-trip Planning for Cloud Peak Wilderness Area and the Black Hills

In a little less than 4 weeks, I, the sole contributor of this website, will be embarking on an epic journey out West to Cloud Peak in Wyoming and back to the Black Hills in South Dakota with my girlfriend. She will be providing the tent. Again.

As of right now, we plan on leaving for Cloud Peak on Sept. 2. We should get there by Saturday morning and sleeping along the shores of Mistymoon Lake all day Sunday to get ready for our summit. Right now, the plan is to leave basecamp late Sunday night so that we can watch the sunrise over the mountain range.

I talked to someone at the main office, and he mentioned that there are no marked trails inside the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, which is separate from the rest of Bighorn National Forest. This could be interesting. No marked trails and no beaten pathways since, you know, it’s on a mountain, and it’s really hard to beat a pathway into rocks. He also mentioned that snow is a possibility.

Let’s also add that Cloud Peak is a “Thirteener”. Meaning, the peak is above 13,000 ft. This should be interesting as well. I don’t think I’ve been above 3,000 before. I’ll be sure to bring several barf bags for altitude sickness.

Last addition: bears, beets, Battlestar Gallactica. Ok, not all of that stuff. Just bears and cougars. The park dude told me there have been no negative animal interactions….but not “no animal interactions”. So I guess that means we’ll be singing Britney Spears whilst we hike up the mountain to let Yogi Bear know we’re coming.

Mistymoon Lake with Cloud Peak looming ominously in the backdrop

Let’s add all of this up:

Mountaineering n00bs
Hiking at night
Possibly in snow
With no trail maps or obvious pathways (we have a topo map)
Amidst bears with large talons

If that doesn’t sound rad to you, I don’t know what else I can say. You. Need. Help.

Anyways. We’ll hike back down that sumbitch, take another day to recover, and head back to the car. At which time we will embark on the second half of our journey back to the Black Hills for some rock climbing. (I may also try to convince my tent provider to stop in Deadwood, SD.)

Depending on how well we can actually stick to our mountaineering schedule, we may get to climb for 1 or 2 days. It will not be as epic as last time because we won’t have our most awesome guide, Steve, with us. This means I’m going to have to buy a Black Hills Climbing Guide so I can figure out which routes have existing anchors. And of course, which routes we actually have the ability to climb. That’s kind of a big deal.

And that’s it. That’s our tentative plan for Cloud Peak and the Black Hills as of now. Obviously I will have another photo-bomb and recap for you when we get back.