Howdy. Thanks for checking out the site. I’m Nate Bender, a trail runner and environmentalist from Missoula, MT. The bulk of writing here centers on running and scrambling in the mountains, but I also dabble in rock climbing, rafting, and backcountry and cross-country skiing…most of the usual outdoors suspects.
Outside of the mountains, I’m pursuing a joint MBA and MS in Resource Conservation (expected ’21) at the University of Montana. I am passionate about the impact that concepts and tactics from marketing, communications, and behavioral science can have in driving behavior change within conservation and other environmental issues.
The blog’s name comes from advice my great-uncle gave me years ago when I asked him for help choosing a career. He cheekily paraphrased a Buddhist koan and told me I’d only ever find happiness if I was able to “climb all ten mountaintops and return home before lunch.”
Sometimes I interpret it as an impossible task. So if it’s impossible, it’s best to be judicious in choosing the challenges you tackle if you’re going to make it work with the rest of life. Quality over quantity.
Other times I feel it’s more about the appeal of a challenge you haven’t quite done yet; something right on the edge of possible. Climbing ten mountains before lunch seems impossible, but maybe it’s not. Maybe pushing towards those edges helps you learn things about yourself and the world you never would otherwise. I’m drawn to those rare, fleeting moments of surprise and awe when body or mind displays a level of previously unknown strength or perseverance.
- Ran five days / 80 miles raft-supported down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The combo of raft support and wilderness is unbeatable.
- Norris – Scenic Death March Traverse, GNP, MT – FKT (15:10)
- Mission Mountains, southern traverse (17:00)
- Unfortunately this was an injury-plagued year with a bulging disc in my low back that shut down everything from July on.
- Montana 12ers highpoint challenge – FKT (102:44:19)
- IMTUF 100 – 6th (23:53:05)
- Zion Double Traverse – 2nd FKT (25:00:19)
- Ouray 50 Mile Endurance Run, CO – 3rd
- River of No Return 108K, ID – 4th
- Idaho 12ers highpoint challenge – 2nd FKT (37:44:00) (now 3rd-fastest)
- Ouray 50 Mile Endurance Run, CO – T-1st
- Mt. Borah, ID – 01:45:00 car-to-summit
- Le Grizz 50 Mile Run, MT – first ultra; successfully did not die.
UD makes top-notch gear for self-propelled mountain adventures and they are passionate supporters of mountain adventurers of all stripes, from folks on the mainstream Skyrunning circuit to people chasing their own esoteric and badass dreams. I’m proud to be on their Ambassador team. Check them out here.