Between climbs.

My name is Matt Christensen and I live in Provo, UT, but I am originally from San Jose, CA. I am a professor of Chinese at Brigham Young University where I have been for the past 19 years.

My earliest forays into the outdoors were car camping with my family when I was very small. We went to places like Mt. Madonna and Big Basin State Parks, not far from our home in San Jose, CA. My first real backpacking trip was when I was 11 years old. My dad, older brother, older sister, and I who each invited a friend to go along backpacked from Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite to the Valley in 5 or 6 days. It was a very memorable trip and I was really hooked on the backcountry from that time on. Over the years I backpacked a great deal in the Sierra Nevada range with scout groups, friends, and family members. Climbing seemed a natural progression from hiking and backpacking. My first technical climbing was in 7th grade at Castle Rock State Park in California (at that time it was not a State Park). I spent quite a lot of time climbing and bouldering at Castle Rock, as well as trips to Pinnacles National Monument and Yosemite Valley. I bought my first rope and rack as a freshman in high school. During high school I also spent many weekends surfing in Santa Cruz. Our favorite spot was called “The Hook” at the end of 41st Avenue in Capitola, just south of Santa Cruz. I also spent time skiing during my high school years and during my junior and senior years I took two memorable road trips with friends to ski the powder in Utah. Alta was my favorite place to ski in Utah. I also had a road bike and enjoyed cycling.

I started ice climbing when I was a college student in Utah. My friend and I taught ourselves how to ice climb up at Stairway to Heaven in Provo Canyon. We also spent nearly every weekend on cross country skis, rock or ice climbing, camping, climbing a peak, mountain biking, or just about anything else we could think of doing in the outdoors. We prided ourselves on not being home on Friday evenings watching the very popular television show “Miami Vice.”

Over the years I have added trail running (marathons, 50K, and 50 mile races), flat water kayaking, and fly fishing to the list of things I like to do in the outdoors. I have been commuting on a bike for the past 27 years. When I started having a family, my wife and I decided that we would never buy a video game consul, and we would limit watching the television. Our kids begged for years to get an xbox, or whatever system and we never did. Instead we bought bikes, and x-country skis, and kayaks, and backpacks, and basketballs, and so on. I think it has been a good thing over the years. I have always tried to get the kids outdoors as much as possible, even if it was only a trip to the local park. For the most part, I am against motorized travel in the backcountry. There is nothing more annoying than to have a loud, smelly snowmobile racing by when you are out on skis on a quiet day in the mountains. Same for  ATV’s, jet skis, off road vehicles, etc.

There is never enough time to do all that I would really like to in the outdoors, but occasional weekend trips go a long way in maintaining my sanity and building and maintaining a connection to the natural world. In the end, it often doesn’t matter what I do in the outdoors, just that me and my kids get out and on regular basis.

In this blog I share some of the adventures in the outdoors that I have had and continue to have. Hopefully it will motivate you to get out and enjoy our beautiful, natural world.

I suppose it goes without saying that I really like photography as well.

Feel free to contact me at: matthew_christensen (at) byu.edu

Check out my other blog on Chinese, China, intercultural communication, and travel at:


I also have a blog dedicated to fat biking. It is here:


and my book club blog at:



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