Called to the Wild Book Launch!

Hear more about the release of my 40-day outdoor devotional and how this project came together.

I’m excited to share more about my outdoor devotional, Called to the Wild, which I recently published through Sea Harp Press.

The subtitle is: “Biblical reflections on faith, perseverance and surrender from one adventurer to another” and you can now purchase it on Amazon as well as other retailers.

You may be wondering, how did this all come together? I’d love to share more about this project and more about the inspiration to write it.

How this came together

This project has been in the works for several years. The short story is that I love Jesus, I love outdoor adventure and I like to write. So putting this together was a pretty natural outflow of that.

I share the full story in the book’s introduction, but briefly, when I was a river guide in college, a friend gave me the devotional, “In Quietness and Confidence” by David Roper. This book motivated me to study the Bible and connected with my passion for outdoor adventure. Roper offered some words of recommendation for my book…which was an unexpected surprise 🙂

I wondered if someday I might write something similar to Roper’s book, though more in my voice and also with stories about rock climbing and whitewater kayaking.

I started writing some devotionals about nine years ago (this project probably took longer than it should have), and then I wrote the bulk of them while going through cancer in 2016 and 2017.

The writing process proved surprising for me. My writing strength has always been as a journalist, and so I had to give God time to develop my devotional writing—which is a much different form, and challenging to say the least. It’s almost like writing mini sermons.

After finishing the manuscript (and reaching remission), my goal was to try to find a publisher to produce it. However, after reaching out to a handful of publishers, and hearing “no” or the dreaded no response, the project stalled.

A “chance” meeting

Then, after moving back to Colorado Springs, I rejoined a local climbing gym and ran into a ministry friend, named Eugene, who works for the publisher, Sea Harp Press.

We talked about ministry and Hope Has Arrived and eventually about writing. The subject of writing a devotional came up, and I mentioned Called to the Wild. He asked me to send it to him and the rest is history.

My goal with this project has not been to make money, but just expand the reach of my ministry. Note that 100% of the profit from this (and I’ve been told it will be modest) will go to my cancer nonprofit, Hope Has Arrived.

More about Sea Harp Press

This quote pretty much sums up the purpose of Sea Harp Press: “To be much occupied with Jesus.”

Sea Harp is a division of Nori Media, which houses several different publishers including Destiny Image and Sound Wisdom.

Besides newer authors like me, they also publish classic authors, including A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon and G.K. Chesterton. It’s a little humbling and frankly kind of ridiculous to be listed in the same sentence as these legendary Christian writers and thinkers, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to be one of Sea Harp’s newer authors.

My Sea Harp friend, Eugene, is not just a passionate about books, but he also loves outdoor adventure, especially rock climbing.

It was important to me to work with a publisher who understands outdoor adventure…that many people don’t see sports like rock climbing or backcountry skiing as “extreme” or risky, but more so a passion and a way of life—a blessing that God gives us.

More about the launch

You can buy the book on Amazon, and it will also be the featured book on Sea Harp during the month of May.

If you want to read some sample chapters ahead of time, you can also do so on Sea Harp’s website:

Called to the Wild (a daily reading)

Searching for the Good Life

Hiking and Prayer Disciplines

.99 Ebook promo

From now until April 30, you can get a copy of the Ebook on Amazon for just .99!

If you pick one up, I’d really appreciate it if you wrote a review on Amazon. That’s a big part of Sea Harp is offering it so cheap—to get some reviews.

As a previously unpublished author, getting some positive reviews will really help me get the word out there. For any help you offer, I would be sincerely grateful.

Whether you are a friend or future friend who might read Called to the Wild, I hope you enjoy the stories and that some make you smile or stick in your memory. I especially hope that the book inspires you to get outside, love of God’s Word and especially love the Guide Himself.

Yours for trusting the Guide, 

-Chris Lawrence

Storing Your Backcountry Skins

How to store and keep your backcountry skins ready to ski another season.

While the skiing season is far from over—at least in Colorado—it’s also a good time of year to begin thinking about how to store your backcountry skins properly.

Thus begins that exciting but awkward time of year when you feel pulled between a variety of outdoor sports: should I climb, mountain bike…or should I still ski?
The answer is YES.

Damaged backcountry skins

Taking care of your backcountry skins might not seem like a priority in the late spring or summer, but in a few short months, it certainly will be.

When the snow begins to fly again, it can be a real bummer when you unfurl your skins and realize they are toast—they won’t stick or the glue has rotted and leaves sticky residue on your skis, like honey. Kind of like the anti-wax. Been there done that (see the above example).

Backcountry skins wear out over time, but exactly how long should they last?

How long will skins last?

This can be a tough question to answer, but manufacturers, like Dynafit, say their skins, made by Pomoca, will last up to 150,000 vertical meters, which equals nearly 500,000 vertical feet. That’s a lot of vertical gain!

Let’s break this down a bit, because math is hard. If you ski 5,000 vertical feet every time you go out, you would get about 100 days out of your skins. Or, if you do more like 3,000, then you would get at least 150 days.

However, if you don’t store your skins correctly, you will certainly get less!

For me, I measure the longevity more so in years. Typically, mine last about five seasons.

Storing your backcountry skins correctly

That’s why proper storage is key.

Here’s my top tips on how to store them:

  1. Store your backcountry skins in a cool, dry place. In other words, don’t use your garage or storage shed. Once it is heats up, your garage will get blazing hot, and the fragile glue on your skins will quickly age. Definitely don’t leave them in the back of your truck, for similar reasons.
  2. Dry them out thoroughly before storing. This might be obvious, but you want to make sure they are plenty dry before tucking them away for a summer hibernation.
  3. Use a skin protector. It’s important to put the skins on skin protectors, or plastic sheets so they can get some air but also have contact with the edges of the skins. Here’s a video that explains more.
  4. Store them away from dirt, pet hair or other debris. The more debris that collects on the adhesive of the backcountry skin, the less sticky they will be.
  5. Consider storing them in the freezer. Not everyone has this option. In my house, we quickly run out of space. But when you put them in the freezer, the temperatures never fluctuate. It’s like your backcountry skins forever live in Narnia…they will last a long time because it’s forever winter. One can only dream of such things…

Skiing “The Goods” at Goodwin Greene Hut

A trip to a remote 10th mountain hut included great powder skiing and brotherhood.

The Goodwin Greene Hut near Aspen holds the reputation for being one of the most remote and difficult huts to find.

I quickly understood why as my friends and I struggled to find it as darkness descended on a cold evening this past February.

In total, the route ascends 2,800 vertical feet over 6.5 miles, which can be challenging with a loaded pack and hauling sleds.

For this trip—now my third in a 10th Mountain Division Hut (technically part of the Alfred Braun Hut System)—it seemed fitting that I went there with a crew of mostly veterans: Airforce. Living in Colorado Springs, eventually you will meet some good people from the stars and stripes.

This trip served up excellent powder turns, brotherhood and also some thoughts about legacy.

Dusk and desperation

Our group of eight left the trailhead at about 11 a.m., which seemed a reasonable start.

But after six hours of slogging with two sleds, which were proving more of a hindrance than a help, the hut was no where in sight. Soon the temperatures plummeted and the winds swirled forebodingly.

One of the guys, an accomplished combat medic, seemed to sense the urgency.

“We gotta find this hut,” he said. “Now!”

His words jolted us awake like a cup of stiff cappuccino. Indeed, we needed to find our shelter. Temps already dropping into the single digits!

A buddy, nicknamed “Q,” and I cruised ahead to scout, while the other six wrestled the cumbersome sleds.

After skirting a large peak, we followed some trail marker wands that started descending, which didn’t seem right—especially when you know you may have to ascend the same vertical again.

We continued down the drainage toward a clump of trees.

I wasn’t sure if were on route, but then we saw it: a small blinking light near the trees.

Someone had installed a solar light on a wand, which signaled the hut was nearby.

Past the trees, we found it.

About 30 minutes later, we were all sitting inside with the stove blazing and hot tea flowing.

More about our group

Like a lot of trips, our group was a hodgepodge of friends, and friends of friends. But in this case, most were Airforce. Something unique about this trip was that this core of friends sought to honor a fellow cadet who passed away unexpectedly in 2009 named Luc Gruenther.

I did not meet Luc, but from hearing about him, I saw a good picture. As a young husband and father, he served as an F-16 pilot and was a standout in nearly everything he did. As an outdoor athlete he quickly mastered rock climbing, pushing grades of 5-13. One of his sayings that his friends still quote is: “Whatever you do, don’t suck at it.”

And from what they tell me, he lived those words. I’m thankful for his service and sacrifice for our country, along with my other friends who serve.

The skiing

Speaking of remembering people, the Goodwin Greene hut is named after two Colorado skiiers who died in a climbing accident: Peter Goodwin and Carl Greene.

Today, the hut that bears their names serves as an amazing launching point for powder seekers.

The next morning, we set out around 9:30 or 10 a.m. and quickly found some.

We skied several north facing shots that led down to the Bruin Creek drainage. Although somewhat short, the powder proved in excellent condition, with a fresh six inches from a few days ago.

In total, we skied roughly four laps over five miles and at least 2,000 feet of elevation gain, which was a great first day.

The second day was even better.

The goods” at Goodwin Greene Hut

This time, we explored some north/northeast shots just north of Gold Hill.

One clarification, Gold Hill is much more than just a “hill.” With a summit of 12,359 feet, this craggy peak (see above) sports an incredibly steep north and northeast face that is quite avalanche prone. In the spring, I’m sure it skies phenomenally. But this time of year, it would be what surfers call, “death on a stick.”

After a long tour up to a small lake, we hit a short line, and then farmed, or skied repeatedly, one particular area with sub 30-degree terrain.

That was a good start, but soon Travis, who has a six sense for finding good snow and lines, discovered some even better shots east of us that we named Couloir A, B and C.

These proved the best runs by far. Each hovered around 30 degrees, with much more consistent steepness.

Our woops and shouts echoed in the drainage as we skied a few laps on these couloirs.

On one lap, the guys paid homage to Luc by spreading a few of his ashes—a fitting tribute, and something they have done on other trips, too.

Brotherhood lessons

Which got me thinking.

I was inspired by how my companions continued to honor and remember their friend, even 14 years later.

Legacy questions

This brings up a question of legacy: if I were to pass away suddenly, beyond my family, how would my friends—my brothers—remember me? I think those in the military often do this better than the average person, but still there are lessons to be learned.

Legacy isn’t always just theoretical. We all will leave one—some sooner than others. Everyone’s life is fragile—far more than we ever would like to admit.

Seven years ago I could have died young when I faced stage IV cancer. However, through prayer and God’s intervention, I miraculously recovered and lived to ski another day. For more about my story, read The Fear of Losing It All.

We would like to think that our tomorrows are guaranteed, but even the best of us don’t always live as long as we hope.

For those still here, all we can do is try to live these days the best we can. Sometimes that might involve some course corrections in marriage, parenting, friendships and our spiritual life.

For me, I seek to live a life that honors God first and foremost, and let the good of that relationship trickle into every other relationship. As Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all of these things will be added unto you.”

Following these words is the best way I know how to be the kind of friend, husband, father, coworker, and brother worth remembering.

Wrap up

On the fourth day, we packed up and left the Goodwin Greene hut—tired but rewarded.

This year’s 10th mountain division hut trip were once again epic. The skiing and camaraderie proved top notch, as were some of the lessons beyond skiing.

I can’t wait for the next hut trip, even if includes a tedious approach.