Quick history lesson: Over four years ago we started putting fan photos on our Picky Bar wrappers. The first round of #lifepoints packaging debuted in October 2014, and each flavor went through 3-5 different iterations over the years, featuring everything from slackliners to Olympic swimmers to mountain summits to sunset cheers and even a hitch hiker one time. That was a fun one...
Sifting through #lifepoints on social media was one of the most fun, inspiring, and hotly debated tasks in marketing team history, and we couldn't bear to see it go when we redesigned the packaging last spring. So, we reimagined it! The images you see on our wrappers today are still inspired by real photos from real people, taking their stoke and recirculating it back into our Fueling Great Experiences credo.
The story below is from Chris Wright, a local Bendite (when he's actually home), member of our debut Picky Team class, and frequent #lifepoints tagger. His adventures have taken him all over the world, compiling accolades and tales with a voracious hunger, including this one that's now memorialized on Moroccan Your World.
We'll let him take it from here...
I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about it that gets me every time. It’s not the fear or the danger, and it’s not the cold or the tired. Nobody talks about it because there’s no glory or fame in it - not that there is in anything to do with alpine climbing really - but on every single big climb I do I think man, it is a pain in the ass to put your boots on. Don’t roll your eyes. I could tell you about the hard parts, about the long walk in, the heavy loads, the uncertainty of the whole thing. I could tell you about scratching through the cruxes, about the part where I take my glove off to stick my bare hand into an icy crack in the darkness, the rock bulging out over my head, the struggle packed into those moments, and how that struggle repeats as the days and meters add up. I could tell you all about the months of training, preparation, speculation and waiting for that moment up high when it all comes together, but that’s not the point. Instead I remember thinking how hard the little things always are. Specifically, I remember sitting up and pulling my boots on despite my entire body’s protest, grabbing my camera, and stepping into the light knowing that it would be worth it.
Boots on, approaching... not light. [pc Graham Zimmerman]
Let me backtrack. There we were in the sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and a night of some of the most demanding alpine climbing I’ve ever done behind us, an anxious fourteen hours of movement dissolving in the morning’s warmth as we took in the expanse. The word grandeur and all its cousins fall short in trying to describe the eternity of ridges, glaciers, peaks and valleys before us. We had come seven thousand miles and spent nearly two months of our lives to reach this moment. Six thousand meters above the Indian Ocean and three days into our attempt to be the first team to get to the top of a remote and unclimbed peak deep in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains, we had left our last camp in the fading light of the previous evening. We passed the dark hours in a blur as an unending mix of frozen rock, ice and snow moved slowly under the beams of our headlamps. We climbed at night to get through the vertical maze of Link Sar’s east face before it melted and came crashing down onto us. At this we had succeeded, and for our efforts we were rewarded with a giving sun and a broad ledge, a fine contrast to the biting cold that had gnawed at us as we swung our axes and tiptoed from one precarious spot to another. The dawn’s light had brought terror rather than relief as it crept above the horizon a few hours earlier, each dripping icicle reminding us of our vulnerability in this rarified world. No longer underneath the the mountain’s glare or worried for each coming second, we relaxed and relished the moment. We were visitors in the heart of one of the most beautiful battlefields on Earth. No shots had been fired through the thin air for years, and the absence of soldiers and civilians alike suited its natural quiet. On the other side of the valley were the soaring peaks of the Saltoro Ridge and the Siachen Glacier, the Indian army’s territory on their side of the disputed border. Below us was the Kaberi Glacier draining its way down through Pakistan’s side to feed the great Indus River, one of the most ancient and storied in the world. To our north was the famed Throne Room of the Mountain Gods, the hallowed hall of Concordia, the confluence of the mighty Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glaciers and home to four of the world’s fourteen highest mountains, including K2, the second highest on the planet and easily one of the most beautiful. And there we were, setting out our small tent, easing off our harnesses and crampons, safe for the moment as we rummaged through our snacks, munching down the edible reminders of home as we took it all in, each morsel we unwrapped nourishing our tired bodies and minds. And then we got the news.
Kaberi Glacier from advanced basecamp [pc Zimmerman]
We had arrived in Islamabad at the beginning of July and it was already late August. By the end of the month we would be on a plane home. In 2001, Steve Swenson - living legend and the man stood atop that enormous piece of turmeric (or is it ginger?) had first visited this valley, seen this mountain, and determined to climb it. He’d spent the intervening sixteen years waiting to get back, every year applying for permission, being turned down, and trying again. We were lucky to be here at all. We’d spent three weeks just figuring out how to get to the climb, learning to follow the ibex’s tracks over the hidden passes and to piece our way through the twelve thousand vertical feet between our basecamp and the top. Once we had found our way, we sat nearly two weeks in basecamp waiting for weather as the monsoon pelted the subcontinent, shrouding the peaks in cloud as we cooked in the heat, anticipation and dust down below. We had climbed through the route’s most difficult section, answering questions with rope-length upon rope-length of hard, scrappy climbing and now with only a thousand meters left we could see our way clear to the summit. There was still plenty of mountain left and we needed another two days to get to the top, but finally it was clear, the day still as a breath and everything perfect. Except it wasn’t. As we read the words on the screen of our satellite phone, the world became silent as we collectively deflated. I can’t recall exactly what our forecaster back home had written, but it said things like “incoming storm,” “heavy snows,” “closing window,” and “I’m sorry.” We needed another two to three days of good weather, and we only had one. No amount of discussion could outrun the fact that we had just two choices. We could keep going and climb into a storm, or we could use our last day of good weather to descend, to go down, and retreat. In the end it was no choice at all.
The tent, high point, and inspiration for the wrapper [pc Chris Wright]
Somewhere on that snowfield is a bag of things attached to a big chunk of ice. In it are a few pitons, a tent, a stove, a dozen Picky Bars, some chocolate, packets of powdered soup, and a pair of dry socks that I’ve never worn. Next summer I’m hoping I’ll get to see those things again. I’m hoping to stand in that same spot, and to look out not only on that glorious vista, but to see the words come through differently this time. I’m hoping they’ll say something like “all clear,” “weather’s holding,” and maybe even “you’ve got it.” I’ll never know until we get there though. Ask me again this time next year. Hopefully I’ll have a different story, one with a better, or at least happier ending. For now though all I’ve got are the memories and the photos, and every bar I unwrap to remind me. In a way there’s some poetry there. I am fueled by these memories just as I’m fueled by the what’s underneath the wrapper. The name is Moroccan, but my dreams are somewhere else.
Saltoro Kangri, the ridge dividing Pakistan and India [pc Zimmerman]
In addition to being an obsessive climber, Bend local, charter member of the Picky Team and an enthusiast of life-sized spices, Chris Wright is an internationally-certified AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide leading trips to climb and ski all over the world. You can follow his movements on Facebook and Instagram at @now_climbing, visit www.nowclimbing.com to join him on his next adventure or hire him for your own in Oregon or elsewhere, or just check back to see how round two goes with Link Sar next summer.