19 episodes

Hi, I'm Nick. I like to write and podcast about technology, adventure travel, and other interests.

Nick Roberts Nick Roberts

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

Hi, I'm Nick. I like to write and podcast about technology, adventure travel, and other interests.

    Climbing Mt. Baker

    Climbing Mt. Baker

    If mountains have a vibe, Baker’s was “quiet stoner” compared to Rainier’s “Type-A caffeine addict drill sergeant.” It was a welcome relief. The crowds were massively thinned out by comparison, the vert-gain-per-day was about three or four thousand, and we had two nights in large, comfortable tents, rather than a noisy wood box covered in tar. My guide Henry said the key reason for the fast-paced Rainier regime is that the mountain aggressively tries to kill you when the sun comes out, especially later in the summer. The threat of Baker shedding rock or ice in the afternoon just isn’t as high, so the timetables are much more loose. For instance, were able to “sleep in” until 3:45am for our summit push.

    With the Easton Glacier route, you’re looking at about 7,000 feet of total gain from Park Butte Trailhead, a summit elevation of about 10,780 feet and a total distance of approximately 14 miles out and back.

    My Gastro Gnome meal: https://www.gastrognomemeals.com/product/spicy-italian-sausage-rigatoni

    License code: GEAHAZ9XM9ORDPBZ

    • 9 min
    Climbing Mt. Shasta

    Climbing Mt. Shasta

    Our summit bid was in doubt until the moment we set foot on it. Leading up to and after our climb, foreboding cumulonimbus clouds sailed around Shasta, strafing the surrounding landscape with lightning. I also almost lost the mental battle against pain from my blisters and fatigue.

    My climbing partner was another Nick. He and I met at a wedding about a month ago in Santa Barbara. We were seated at the same table at the reception and hit it off after he mentioned he had climbed Denali. It felt a lot like Nick was a version of myself three years into the future, having worked his way from guided trips on Shasta during the pandemic to technical climbs in the Alaska Range. We made plans to try Shasta together shortly thereafter.

    Music: https://uppbeat.io/t/revo/pathfinderLicense code: D3JHFFFZJ5JW4HJW

    • 10 min
    Climbing Mt. Rainier

    Climbing Mt. Rainier

    I set out from Bend, Oregon, this past Wednesday morning and began the five hour commute up to Ashford, Washington. The whole time I was driving, I fretted about the weather. Rainier, like most big peaks, is known for unpredictable and rapid changes in its atmospheric attitude. Looking back on my experience, I feel like I cheated a little: We summited with cloudless skies and mellow winds. For many climbers, the weather is an obstacle to surmount not unlike the glaciers and vert that make Rainier the challenge that it is.

    When I pulled into Ashford I was thinking about all of the climbing legends who’ve been through this place: Ed Viesturs, Mark Twight, Jim, Lou, and Pete Whittaker, among many more. Rainier is a test piece. It’s the place where countless climbing careers begin, and some tragically end. As Twight says “the mountains have teeth.” One of the worst accidents in US mountaineering history happened right here in 1981, where 11 people were killed when the Ingraham Icefall fractured and avalanched down the glacier. It was the very same route we’d be attempting.

    My friends and I went with the four-day climb through RMI (Rainier Mountaineering Inc.), which dates back to 1969 and was one of the first guide services operating in the vicinity.

    Music: https://uppbeat.io/t/zimpzon/calm
    License code: 9IVKCMGYJXZNZTCH

    Thumbnail photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash

    • 11 min
    On rationalizing my leisure time

    On rationalizing my leisure time

    During our high-velocity nomadic year, I resolved that I would vent my pent-up gaming energy on a long binge whenever I pulled my PC back out of the storage unit. But part of this resolution was that I'd be careful about it and select finite, story-driven games. This highly-relatable piece on video game addiction from Eric Hoel (thanks to my pal RobG for the link) makes this "finite"/"infinite" distinction about gaming that I'd internalized but hadn't put into words before.

    I learned back in college that League of Legends, Starcraft, or World of Warcraft-types of games consumed my time, my motivation, and, ultimately, me. My first battle in League of Legends was fun but also revealed just how much I sucked. Instead of shutting it down and doing homework, I cracked my knuckles and decided I would level up. That's the moment where these things can go wrong, because there's no end to that project. It's an infinite-type game. The addiction starts because you get good enough to win, but then the game places you in rounds with increasingly competent players. The time investment required to start winning against better opponents grows and grows. If you stay committed, something else in your life has to give: Relationships, grades, job, etc. For many players, it's a toxic spiral into a bad place.


    Eric Hoel: https://erikhoel.substack.com/p/when-video-game-addiction-strikes

    Protestant Work Ethic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_work_ethic

    • 5 min
    A review of our year on the road

    A review of our year on the road

    I'm slowly caffeinating and jotting notes for this piece while taking in the morning glow. As the sun crests the Mule Mountains, the golden light spreads itself over the gulch that clutches old-town Bisbee, Arizona. My wife's family lives here and we're visiting again for the holidays. I wrote about this place earlier this year, before all the craziness of 2022. It's a strange and storied old copper mining settlement near the border of Mexico, just north of Naco. The scene out of the window in front of me is peaceful, and it reinforces that I haven't had enough of these kinds of moments lately. This year of nomadism was terrifying, beautiful, and probably the most intense period of introspection in my life thus far.

    Car/gear walkthrough video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_C7pBzorlY

    Grand Teton video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_uGaZREfic&t=1s

    • 9 min
    Climbing the Grand Teton

    Climbing the Grand Teton

    In January of this year I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air which documents the tragedy on Mount Everest in May, 1996. Krakauer happened to be part of a doomed expedition and recorded the disaster, wherein eight climbers died on the mountain over the span of 24 hours, in excruciating detail. I realize now that seeking out mountaineering challenges in the wake of that reading is probably a strange reaction, but most of the book is not about the tragedy itself, but the context and lead-up to it. A good chunk of Into Thin Air investigates why people become obsessed with mountain climbing. For many, including Krakauer, it’s about achievement in a very pure and physical sense. You either get the summit or you don’t. That stark line between success and failure, and the terrible beauty of big, deadly mountains has an allure that I cannot deny.  I’m not going to pretend that this expedition was anything akin to the rigor or peril of something like Everest, but it was my first, proper mountaineering expedition, and fraught with many of the same dangers one finds in any significant alpine endeavor. Nearly half of our party of twelve clients did not summit for one reason or another, though everyone returned to the trailhead safely.   

    I set out on this adventure with my dad and my flight-instructor-turned-great-friend, Jason.   

    https://uppbeat.io/t/richard-smithson/search-lightLicense code: J4UBGNVRDUPNZBK4  https://uppbeat.io/t/vens-adams/adventure-is-callingLicense code: ENDHVU1JXMEC9OZO

    Photo Credits for Grand Teton stills (in videocast version): Fiona Foster David Herring (Unsplash) Toan Chu (Unsplash)

    • 26 min

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