Today: James Didier, a mountaineer and also a chemistry teacher at Buffalo, Minn., High School. Among Didier’s alpine adventures are a summit of Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia. At 18,510 feet, Elbrus is Europe’s highest peak. Didier has plans to be a certified alpine guide.
As a longtime admirer of the late Anthony Bourdain, I felt it was time to read the book that put him in the spotlight, “Kitchen Confidential.” Outspoken and always unfiltered, Bourdain had an approach to food that seemed more authentic than any cooking show could do justice. I’m also reading “Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful” by Trudy M. Wassenaar. I was inspired to read this not only because of my career but also my love of fermented foods and the process. My appreciation really goes beyond food alone and includes my love of life, to which we would have none without microorganisms. We should feel more indebted to the microscopic universe and be more curious about our interactions with this invisible world.
Chuck U’s art has stolen my heart since I first discovered it six years ago. I follow him on Instagram and enjoy seeing his current pieces. A lot of people know him for his work with a northeast Minneapolis brewery, but, in general, the guy makes mesmerizing stuff.
Every year I go to a Banff Mountain Film Festival screening, showcasing a number of films about the outdoors. That, along with other screenings hosted by Midwest Mountaineering, constantly inspires me to try new things. The number and quality of the climbing films coming out are staggering. I’ve been watching the films of adventurers like Alex Honnold, Margo Hayes, Kilian Jornet, Adam Ondra, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Tommy Caldwell.
The Moth Radio Hour has amazing stories told by real people. My fiancée and I have been going to their StorySLAM live events for a year now, and it’s such a treat! I aspire to get up on the stage and tell a story soon.
My time is consumed with learning something new or brushing up on a skill. Lately, I’ve been practicing guitar, learning piano (slowly), improving my Spanish and working on some kind of culinary endeavor. I like fermenting things!
I enjoy running, but I’m pretty dormant in winter. This fall I’ve been practicing swimming and rock climbing, specifically bouldering. I suppose I’m staying fresh for my next big alpine adventure, but climbing at Minneapolis Bouldering Project is enjoyable in and of itself. As a teacher, I try to improve on my skills as much as I can during the school year so that when summer comes I can be as productive outside as possible. A couple lists that I’ve been working on include summiting the 50 high points in the United States and finishing off the Colorado “14ers” — the 53 peaks in Colorado above 14,000 feet. I’ve climbed 30. It’s a great reason to make a trip to Colorado every year.
(Note: The number of 14ers ranges from 53 to 58 depending on the source of information. The Colorado Geological Survey says there are 58.)