Berkeley Backpacking Biz - Old School, New School, No School

Victor Ichioka - My First Trip to Outdoor Retailer.

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Robert Link, Jamling Norgay, Scott Darsney

It was sometime in the mid 90s. Having come to Mountain Hardwear from being a book designer, I was totally ignorant about Outdoor Retailer and all that that event entailed.

Luckily, my office mate, Theresa L'Esperance (locally known as Tree) knowing that I was a greenhorn thoughtfully gave tickets to a few events so that I wouldn't be totally marooned in Salt Lake. One ticket was for the JanSport party which featured musical performances by Arlo Guthrie and Buckwheat Zydeco (how's that for a show biz name?).

I arrived just after Arlo had finished, and I gravitated to a grassy hill overlooking the stage. It was sunny and warm with a slight scent of weed in the air. Lots of folks had beer and/or food in their hands and were circulating about with lots of smiles and laughs. I soon found myself amid a group at the top of the hill that included Jamling Norgay, Robert Link, Scott Darsney, and Dr. Bob Kaufman. It suddenly struck me that here I was schmoozing with four guys who had each summitted Mount Everest. I thought it was a pretty striking introduction to the outdoor industry.

Then I looked at the four of these guys and noticed that they were all smoking cigarettes. So it was also my introduction to the ethos/style of high-altitude mountaineers. There's some lesson in here about preconceptions versus reality but whatever it is, the memory of that moment has stayed with me.

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