FD’s First Winter Program Report- Ouray Ice Climbing

The 2014 programs season has begun, and on ice no less! It was on this beautiful, thick blue ice that 10 returning First Descents participants Trese, Wonder Pants, Big Red, Navigator, Hulk, One-Wheel, Jeff, Hoover, Carin, and Kones accepted the challenge of conquering the frozen waters at the first ever First Descent Winter Program. They spent the week in the cozy mountain town of Ouray, CO being supported by an incredibly talented and dedicated volunteer staff Kerby, Switch and Irish Dancer. Their bodies were fueled with food prepared by some of First Descents finest chefs, Antelope Jamboree and Camomile. Led by the dynamic duo of Patch and Wildflower, this program shaped up to be one for the ages.

The amazing guides from the Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center, Book, KaPow, Muggsy, and Indiana spent early (cold) mornings hanging ropes in preparation for the ice ax swinging, crampon crushing send fest that spanned three days in the Ouray Ice Park. Split into teams of three, under the watchful eyes of the guides,  the assault on the ice was relentless. Not a single person backed down from any climb that was in front of them. No matter how tall the ice wall was or how tired their bodies were, they found their way to the top!

Their triumphs on the ice were only matched by the infectious positive energy and roaring laughter that could be heard though the Ouray valley as these incredible young adult survivors forged friendships that will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful to have been able to share this experience with this remarkable group of people!

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9 Reasons To Try Rock Climbing This Year

Not into our 10 reasons to try whitewater kayaking this year? Maybe rocks are more your style. Wildflower and Lucy came up with 9 reasons why you should find out.

1. Get a birds eye view of the world…from the side of a cliff.
Life can’t become much clearer than this.

©TonyCzech-7728 (1)
2. It’s just not normal.
We’re creatures of the ground. We don’t have sticky feet like lizards, or hooves like mountain goats to scale the side of the mountain. But we were smart enough to invent equipment so we can scale the side of a mountain. So we do. Who wants to be normal, anyway?

3. Your selfies just got so much better, dangling from 400ft. above the ground below.
#SOhigh #SOrad #OutLivingIt

4. Get SUPER HIGH on rocks.
The natural kind. Like the ones that Mother Nature created.

5. Learn to take life One Step and/or One Hand hold at a time.
That’s how you’ll get to the top.

©TonyCzech-7862 (1)
6. Grab a hand full of jugs!
Minds out of the gutter, pervs. These are jugs:

7. Laugh at all your friend’s wedgies.
Cause really, they’re inevitable in a climbing harness. Two thumbs up!

8. Because you’re afraid of heights.
Overcome your fears. Or at least try. You will never regret it.

©TonyCzech-7978 (1)
9. Because rock climbing is so much sicker than cancer.


FDtributaries CO Report- Breckenfest

This past weekend, 10 alumni, 3 rocks, 3 Base Campers and 2 FD staff braved the weather and traffic on I-70 for the first FDtribs event of 2014. And it was absolutely worth it. Snowflakes fell all weekend for a total of over 20″ in two days. We spent all day Saturday skiing and riding Breckenridge. And our new Executive Director, Wolf, proved he’s the leader of the wolf pack when he and Beast danced the jig to an Irish cover band in front of a packed bar during apres-hour. The whole crew spent the evening bunked up at The Bivvi – an upscale yet budget friendly hostel in town – feasting on Flatbreads pizza and hanging out around the fire – a few rowdy rounds of Cards Against Humanity may have been involved. It was an awesome weekend of FD adventure and community.
Much FD love,
Julie “Fruit Boots” Kinamore
In 2014, FDtrib events will be happening in Colorado, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Austin, Chicago, Orlando, Knoxville, DC, NYC, and Boston. Contact Fruit Boots for more information, julie.kinamore@firstdescents.org.

FDhealthy: Healing a Damaged Metabolism

This article was originally published on MindBodyGreen.com by Tamara Jacobi of Jungle Girl Health.

It is a great example of when assumingly healthy, athletic people are actually heading down a slow path to disease.



Being athletic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. I used to run for miles, restrict my caloric intake, and eat as little fat as possible. Then I’d do it all over again the next day.

The result?

Though I appeared fit and healthy, I’d actually destroyed my metabolism. By slingshotting my body into a cycle of stress-and-starvation, I had committed metabolic suicide. Due to regularly over-exercising and under-nourishing, my body was releasing a hormone called cortisol (the “fight or flight” response to prolonged stress), which prompts the body to store fat and triggers a drop in metabolism.

Not only was maintaining a healthy weight next to impossible, the scale was reading higher and higher numbers, my knees were aching, and I could feel my panic level rising.  I’d also set myself up for low energy, a lowered immune system, crazy food cravings, and very confused hormones.

Luckily, holistic nutrition has come to my rescue! A yoga retreat leader noticed my

distress and sat me down for my first holistic nutrition consultation. I quickly discovered that in order to get my athletic body back on track, I needed to embrace an entirely new perspective on balanced fitness and proper sports nutrition.

Healing my metabolism by re-wiring my brain and my body has been a long, challenging process. Simply eating quality, nutritious foods wasn’t enough.

Here are few key things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me emerge from a very deep metabolic rut.  These 4 simple tools can help you support your body and regain a healthy metabolism:

Focus on high intensity exercise. Those 10 milers that I used to run on a regular basis? Not a good idea! Alternatively, shorter sessions of high intensity, even for a short time (think high knees and sprints), do wonders for a healthy metabolism. High intensity exercise prompts your body to condition itself for max performance by burning your body’s stores of sugar and fat for up to 36 hours after your workout. After a high intensity session, I can practically feel my metabolism humming along.

Integrate regular yoga and strength training. Balanced muscle tone is key for a healthy metabolism and a healthy athletic body. More athletic styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa, strengthen and tone a range of muscles. (You know the poses that make your muscles burn? Those!) Integrating light weights into your fitness routine (up to 3 pounds for ladies, and up to 10 pounds for guys) is also a great way to promote muscle tone. You don’t necessarily need to bulk up (unless you want to), gentle toning is generally enough. In addition to being great for a healthy metabolism, strength training is also essential to bone health.

Count nutrients, not calories! The first thing I used to do when looking at a packaged sports drink, energy bar or diet food was zoom in on the calorie content. I’ve since learned that the ingredient list offers much more valuable information. Though calories are important, athletes need to shift their focus to the nutrient density of the foods they’re consuming. In fact, it’s a good idea to move away from packaged sports nutrition products altogether! There are so many amazing whole food options out there.

Enjoy healthy fats. I used to suffer from what I call fat phobia. Fat in foods meant fat on my body, or so I thought. It’s now fairly common knowledge that this isn’t necessarily the case! Particularly for athletes, healthy fats are not only essential for a healthy metabolism, they’re also vital to reducing inflammation, keeping energy levels high, balancing hormones, and more. I’ve had to re-wire my thinking around fats and I’m glad that I did! My favorites include avocado, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds!

The Must Have/Wish List For Your New Sport: Whitewater Kayaking!

Now that you’ve decided to try kayaking this year, here’s a list of the gear you’re going to need


1. Kayak – Brad Ludden Founder of First Descents Paddles Dagger Kayaks – you should too! Hint – buy used: Craigslist, Gear shops that have gear swaps, or Brad Ludden.

brad in dagger
2. Paddle- Straight Shaft or Bent Shaft. Find one that is your size. A lot of technology has gone into making paddles – for the beginner however, find one that you don’t mind watching float down the river after you swim is the best. Hint check Craigslist


3. Skirt – Skirts are everywhere and used ones work just fine. Follow Wildflower’s advice and only paddle with skirts that are FREE or check Craigslist or used gear shops for good deals on skirts.


4. Helmet – Get a NEW whitewater helmet because you never know the condition of a used Helmet. Check out the First Descents Edition Helmet at WRSI. We think it’s pretty rad.


5. Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – or life jacket. Get a NEW whitewater type 3 or 5 PFD. Just like the helmet you never know the condition of used PFD’s. Astrall and Stohlquist are among the favorites around First Descents.


THE 5 KAYAKING WISH LIST ITEMS- not a necessity, but would be good to have.

1.  Base Layers – Fleece or polypropylene material make for great base layers. NO COTTON ON THE RIVER. You can spend top dollar for name brand fleece or go the cheap smart way and raid your local thrift shop. We are talking $50+ compared to $2, people. These keep you warm and go under the next thing on the list.


2. Dry Top or Dry Suit – Dry Tops make flipping over a more enjoyable experience. Dry Suits are the Cats Meow if you know what we mean!! Kokatat dry tops and dry suits are top notch! And don’t forget, mango looks good on everyone.

dry suit

3. Booties – Whitewater booties are great! They protect your feet from the rocks and other things in the river. They also make a great cup for your beer after your swim! (see next two photos)

flower booty bear

4. Throw Rope- You should always have one of these in your boat and learn how to throw it correctly, your friends will thank you.

throw rope
5. GoPro – Because how else are we going to know when you drop your first waterfall….or more importantly when you take a swim and watch all you new kayaking gear float down the river! (see photo above).

So now you’re geared up and ready to go! But before you do… there’s one last thing you should know. Brown claw.

brown claw

20 Ways To Be Inspirational

Just in time for the New Year…“20 Ways to Be Inspirational”…something to think about for adding more positivity to our lives for the New Year! 

(Article from elephantjournal.com)

inspirational photo

What if we were to live each day as a new day, with the belief that anything is possible?

On any given day, we look to certain people or places for inspiration. We gather up ubiquitous quotes and sing songs that speak to our souls, or scroll through bookmarked websites with a mass index of articles to put us in a motivating mood. Have you ever wondered how those quotes and songs were written? Or how the mere essence which permeates from certain people—simply living their lives—can be intoxicatingly influential?

We are envious and ask ourselves, “How can I be like them?”

We should never compare ourselves to one another, but for those of us who are seeking to be inspirational or positively infectious, here are 20 things that can be integrated into our daily activities:

1. Smile! Not only does it show optimism, but it gives people the warm and fuzzies. Even to strangers walking on the street; they could be having a terrible day, or a mediocre one. We can brighten a single moment with our pearly whites.

2. Listen to others. This one is hard for some people because it’s easy to get excited and interject when we have something to add to the conversation. Wait for someone to finish speaking, whether in a group or solo session. They will feel appreciated and heard, which may inspire them to do the same for someone else.

3. Be kind to someone. It’s easy to do something nice for a loved one, but what about extending a helping hand to someone that really needs it? This can be difficult as most of us expect something in return, even if it’s just a thank you. Do a random act of kindness for an individual (maybe even a stranger) and don’t expect anything in return.

4. Open a door for a stranger. Chivalry is not lost and doing something as small as holding the door of an elevator can remind people of this.

5. Exude confidence. To the bold men and women who own who they are and what they do, you are inspiring. We can embrace confidence in ourselves by acceptance and love of our minds, bodies and souls because it truly shows.

6. Be proactive with being happy. Happiness is extremely overlooked. People depend on someone or something to make them happy, but it can be lost after a moment.

We must figure out what it is in life that brings us pure and honest joy. This could be an activity, hobby or employment. Whatever it is, search for it high and low. What better way to be inspiring than creating our own happiness?

7. Laugh! Laughter is infectious. Once we find humor in something, it’s hard for our surroundings to not be drawn into the hilarity of the moment. Laughter is a great reminder of happiness and just makes people feel good.

8. Try something new. Get out there and do something you’ve always wanted to do or never thought you could! Showing our adventurous side can give a small nudge of motivation to others—who were perhaps too afraid—to do the same.

9. Be vulnerable. It’s scary, it’s heartbreaking, it’s a million emotions to be vulnerable, which is why a lot of people tend to shy away from it. However, opening up and expressing feelings that are so close to our heart is inspirational and radiates strength in who we are.

10. Stand up for our beliefs. This is a pretty common way to inspire people. To try and make a difference by voicing our opinion and morals takes courage. People sometimes run away from controversy or don’t think they alone can be influential.

11. Take charge of your life. We all get lost at one point or another, but some of us never find our way back to center. Realizing we need help or want to make a change is incredibly inspiring, as so many of us can get stuck and not find the motivation to get out. Taking the necessary steps to get our lives back in control is uplifting and a great example to those who want to do the same.

12. Be genuine. We are unique; each and every one of us. Don’t conform to society  just to feel accepted. It isn’t being truthful to ourselves or to the world.

13. Fall in and out of love and then back again. Heartbreak is given a bad connotation because, well, it means our heart is broken. It’s sadness, it’s loneliness, it’s unrelenting hopelessness that makes us wonder if we’ll ever find love again. But from heartbreak comes knowledge and growth. We’ve learned to love and we felt the most amazing emotion humans can experience.

To be able to open our hearts and let love in again is something to cherish and makes love only that much more tender. To see someone be strong, overcome their heartache and let the love of another in again is inspiring.

14. Gratitude. Acknowledge what we’ve been given in life and be grateful for every moment. Being grateful  through our words or actions motivates people to look at themselves and be thankful as well.

15. Passion. When someone sees we are putting in hard work and devotion to something, it shows our passion, which—through example—can trigger others to find their desires in life or to work harder at what they love.

16. Have no regrets.  This one is tricky because how do we know if we’ll regret doing something before we do it? It’s not so much that we make the right decisions, but accepting the fact that life happens and mistakes are made. We can all wish we had done something differently, but what will that accomplish?

17. Live in the present. Take advantage of the now. We miss out on so much when we hold on to the past or worry about the future. People who remain in the present embrace life for what it is and seize the moment.

18. Apologize or accept an apology. Whether we were in the wrong or were wrongly scorned, just let it go. By acknowledging we were in the wrong or listening to someone admit their faults, apologies are a form of closure and conscious effort to validate someone’s feelings. We hold onto our pride by holding a grudge. But if we simply let go, now that is inspirational.

19. Bear no judgment. Acceptance is a beautiful thing and society can be so quick to judge. Keep an open mind and be kind. This can lead to so many wonderful ways of life.

20.  Incorporate challenges. We can all get comfortable, which can lead to physical and emotional instability. If we live every day as if it’s a new one and that anything is possible, we will feel so much more accomplished.  By accepting a challenge in different situations, we can acquire so much more in life than if we were to allow ourselves to sit on a plateau.

Being inspirational doesn’t mean we have to be on The New York Times Best Seller list or have our own show on daytime television. As flat out ridiculously awesome as that would be, simple things that improve our well being and happiness are what will truly inspire people.

I encourage everyone to be inspirational today. Believe. That’s inspiration we can count on.


A Time For Wisdom with Daryl

The epic flow of life is ever present and we are all just stepping into and out of it as time goes by.  These past months have been challenging with the hard news of more than just a few of our friends and FD alum fighting for their lives with cancer as the mortal enemy across the fence.  I am just a little exasperated and it is never easy to understand why this happens.  We just try and find the love and support to give and the patience and presence to lend a broader shoulder to our fellow humans and simply “be” with the bad news and the people at the epicenter of that news.
I think I write this as a way to find solace and meaning for myself as I struggle to find the path to understanding (or at least try and understand) what my FD alum friends are battling.  In essence, it is a letter to myself to continue to be present in my own life to outlive it not just for myself but for those that can no longer do just that.  Fifteen years ago, at the inception of First Descents, I do not think that I really understood the implications of what it would be like to make so many good friends, to meet so many beautiful people that understand how precious life is, and then lose those people from my life.
I am being selfish here because I do not know any other way.  I have said nothing of the loss experienced by the closest family and friends of our alum (and all YA cancer survivors that have run out of time) for that is beyond my scope of ability and the pain is too great to acknowledge.  I can only manage my comprehension and hope to be as much of a rock as possible while I can.  However, for my part, the number of losses does grow as the years go by which the other side of the coin as I am lucky enough to attend our programs in the first place.  It is a game of numbers really but the silver lining in it all is that I have been touched by so many amazing YA survivors, the people they consider “rocks” in their lives, and the wonderful people that have hearts so big they continue to volunteer for this amazing organization year after year.
Ultimately, I am still searching for the light.  Untold numbers of FD alum have approached me over the years asking for my wisdom in dealing with the loss of fellow FD alum that we just spent one of the more amazing weeks of our life with and I feel impotent and ineffectual as I can only share some tears and my own sadness.  The feeling is raw but I know that I can only be with the pain and the remaining friends and remain abashedly honored that I am inside of this circle of trust.  Yet, my answers seem void and still the circle of life rolls forward.
It seems to all come back to recognizing that life is about struggle and sometimes that struggle comes with such definite consequences that it almost seems unbearable.  But in the end, we all must walk that road and we have both what is within us as well us those that surround us to make it through another absurd and beautiful day.
Love and Light,

10 reasons to try kayaking this year

1. You’re scared.

vJYXgx on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

I was. The first time I ever got into a kayak I think I was shaking. But that’s the point, isn’t it? To be so scared of something, do it anyway, and feel that sense of accomplishment and badass-edness after!

2.There’s no time like the present. 


Of course we’ve all heard this saying before. But it really is true. If we don’t take the time we have now, the health we’ve been blessed with, and the opportunities we’ve been granted, we will one day regret it. And who wants to live with regrets?

3. Because it’s RAD. Oh, and Brad Ludden is a kayaker. He was Cosmo’s Bachelor of the year.

brad on Make A Gif

White water kayaking is hands down one of the most difficult sports on the planet. Not only can you say you whitewater kayak, but you’ll become part of a group, part of a culture that is unlike any other you’ll ever experience. Oh, and did we mention Brad Ludden kayaks?

4. Once you try it, everything else just isn’t…kayaking. 


And it’s true! After you hit your first big rapid, your life is never the same again.

5. You can impress your friends with the size of your Boof! 


Don’t worry. You’ll learn what a boof is. Real quick.

6. Flipping isn’t scary it’s just a chance to check out aquatic nature.

dory on Make A Gif

(Don’t be scared to flip. There are so many beautiful fish just waiting to take that swim with you. And your friends will be there to help you, too.)

7. In kayak culture it is completely acceptable to wear a one-piece mango suit.

mango suit on Make A Gif

And let’s be honest. Mango looks good on EVERYONE.

8. Sit AND be fit.

sit and be fit

Yep. You heard it. Get totally ripped, while sitting down…and possibly drinking a beer. Count me in!

9. Kayaks are pretty colors.

Eddy Flower, Montana Camp 2010

It could potentially be the most colorful sport on the planet.

10. Kayaking is so much sicker than cancer.


FDHealthy: Four incredible natural treatments for chronic inflammation

Turmeric_main_0127(NaturalNews) The more progressive side of modern medicine is quickly learning that the root cause of many contemporary illnesses is none other than chronic inflammation, a lingering immune response caused by poor diet and other factors that, if left unchecked, can damage a number of important systems throughout the body. Your endocrine (hormone), central, immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems, to name the most common, are all threatened by chronic inflammation, which ultimately has the potential to manifest itself as literally hundreds of different diseases.

“Researchers are linking inflammation to an ever-wider array of chronic illnesses,” wrote Newsweekreporter Anne Underwood in a 2005 piece on the growing inflammation-disease link. “Suddenly medical puzzles seem to be fitting together, such as why hypertension puts patients at increased risk of Alzheimer’s, or why rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have higher rates of sudden cardiac death. They’re all connected on some fundamental level.”
So what can you do to help fight the pandemic tide of chronic inflammation, which is said to be responsible for causing up to 80 percent of all doctor visits in America? Here are four amazing natural treatments that science continues to show possess unique anti-inflammatory properties, without causing any harmful side effects:
  1. Curcumin (turmeric). There are easily hundreds of published studies that demonstrate turmeric’s amazing anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin, which is widely believed to be the primary active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to help treat and prevent conditions like indigestion, prostatitis, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and a number of others. In fact, by directly modulating inflammatory cytokine levels inside the body, turmeric helps protect against a vast array of debilitating illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
“What distinguishes curcumin is its ability to reduce inflammation through at least ninety-seven different biological mechanisms,” writes Jack Challem in his book The Inflammation Syndrome: Your Nutrition Plan for Great Health, Weight Loss, and Pain-Free Living. “To date, no other substance has been discovered or developed with such far-reaching anti-inflammatory benefits”.
2) Boswellia (frankincense). Similarly, the boswellia plant, from which the aromatic resin frankincense is derived, contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds known as boswellic acids. These substances inhibit the activity of leukotrienes, which are inflammation-causing chemicals in the body. Studies have shown that taking boswellia can help treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and asthma, among other conditions.
3) Spirulina. This increasingly popular blue-green microalgae variety is poised to become the next big thing as far as “superfoods” are concerned, and for good reason. The anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina are already well-established, and continue to be affirmed by major studies, including a 2012 study published in theJournal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. This particular study found that spirulina helps modulate a number of transcription factors linked to causing inflammation, effectively exerting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity when consumed.
4) Vitamin D. Is there anything a little natural sunlight exposure every day cannot cure? One of the easiest and most powerful ways to prevent inflammation-related disease, vitamin D, which is naturally produced in the body as a result of exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, is crucial for quelling chronic inflammation. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show that a lack of vitamin D, which can also be obtained through high-quality vitamin D3 supplements, is associated with hundreds of illnesses ranging from autism to cancer.
“Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, arthritis and prostate cancer, who are vitamin D deficient, may benefit from vitamin D supplementation to get their serum vitamin D levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml),” says Elena Goleva, author of a 2012 study that found vitamin D supplementation can help cure chronic inflammation.
Sources for this article include:


The Gift That Keeps Giving

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Looking for a way to truly give back this holiday season? Give the gift that keeps giving, and change the life of a young adult fighter/survivor. We have many different options for everyone so pick yours today!

Amazon Smile- .05% of your purchase on Amazon, through Amazon Smile will benefit FD.

Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea- .50 cents from each bag will come back to First Descents. Get your java on!

Club W Wine- $20 will come back to FD for every new member that buys a 5 pack of wine!

Donate- Shake things up a bit, and donate in someone’s honor!

Throw a holiday party!- Your holiday party just got a little bit better this year by benefitting First Descents.