Bryce is a mountaineer, hiker and adventure seeker living in the Republic of Korea. While he feels most at home in the mountains his goal is to be physically fit and mentally prepared for adventure "at any elevation, on any continent and at any time." In June 2018 he'll be climbing Pequeño Alpamayo (5410m) and Chachacomani (6074m) in Bolivia to provide research and exposure for the non-profit U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX). Check out his byline in Elevation Outdoors!
Name: Bryce Mitchell
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Sport: Mountaineering & Hiking
Where do you live now?
I live near Seoul, South Korea.
What was it like growing up in an outdoor family and participating in Boy Scouts? Was it good preparation for joining the military? I was blessed with parents that understood that in order to expand a child’s confidence, they’d have to let go a little and allow me to face challenges. The camping trips from my childhood weren’t always fun or easy. As a child, I remember being nervous the first time I left home without my parents, freezing when I attended the annual Klondike winter camping trip, being terrified when told I’d have to pass a swim test before a trip. These were challenges that my parents and mentors helped me overcome. As I matured my confidence grew. I’m thankful for these childhood experiences that helped me overcome adversity. I think that can be applied to life and not just the military.
Do you have any memorable trips from your childhood?
When I was 15, my dad, brother and I went on a 90-mile canoe trip in southern Ontario, Canada with our Boy Scout troop. We fished, explored, avoided mosquitoes and made life long memories. Between the hours of canoeing and portaging (carrying your canoe overhead as you transition from one lake to the next) it was tough work but I loved almost every minute of it. I still remember thinking what life would have been like for an old French-Canadian fur trapper exploring the wilds of Canada. That trip taught me to work hard outdoors.
How long have you been competing in triathlons?
I competed in my first triathlon back in May 2016. I was stationed in San Angelo, TX and was looking for something to keep me busy while away from the mountains. My buddy, Ben Yokley, had competed for several years so naturally he became a great training partner. For me, triathlons have helped me to transition from being a short distance sprinter and hurdler in college to longer distances. They also keep my cardio in shape for when I do return to higher altitudes. I love cross-training because I tend to get bored with the same exercises. Triathlons have become a perfect way for me to stay in shape.
Can you talk about cross-training? Between climbing, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, cross-fit and triathlons you stay busy! How do you plan your goals for each season and tailor your work-out regimens? What about healthy living?
My fitness vision that acts as the foundation for planning my goals is to be able to physically thrive in the midst of whatever stressors at any elevation, on any continent, and at any time. It’s definitely a lofty vision but it’s what I set out to achieve when I’m planning my goals. For me that has naturally led to cross-training. I hate spending a whole weekend cooped up indoors so I try to get outside and have fun. For me, all of those activities are very enjoyable, even when the workouts are tough. As for planning my goals, I often plan a future event like an alpine climb or triathlon and then design a training plan to prepare. At the end of the day, the way to prepare for anything is to just get outside and move. As for healthy living, I try to eat more spinach, kale, fruits, vegetables, salads, and lean meats. I’ve also tried to cut out unnecessary and empty carbs and sweets. Those small changes have drastically increased my energy and ability to recover.
What does it take to be confident navigating in the back-country? For someone who hasn't grown up spending a lot of time in the Outdoors what advice would you give?
I’d say be prepared and pack your ten essentials as a baseline: map, compass, extra clothing, sun protection, flashlight, first-aid, firestarter, water, knife, and extra food. Also don’t forget to tell someone you can trust where you are going and when you plan on returning. Be specific with details, it could save your life. I also like to always adventure with a buddy. If you run into a dangerous situation, two to three minds are better than one. If the group has studied up and prepared beforehand, they’ll be better able to cope with the challenges of the journey.
Is back-country balling on a budget a thing? Is it possible to enjoy back country sports without spending exorbitant amounts of money on technical gear?
My gear closet has grown slowly over the years. I advise people not to spend a ton of money on gear for a sport they are just beginning. Test rental gear or your friend’s gear, find out what works for you. Buying used items is also a great idea. Watch for off season sales too. But for certain items like cold weather gear and protective equipment for climbing, I always try to buy top of the line.
Can you tell us about Team USX?
Team USX is a non-profit that stands for U.S. Expeditions and Explorations. It strives to provide active-duty service members and veterans the opportunity to continue serving through research driven expeditions. In other words, USX combines motivated veterans, organizations requesting scientific research, and the alpine environment into one great expedition. Through this partnership, USX expeditions have traveled all around the world completing scientific research in austere conditions at high altitude for the advancement technology and human understanding. They also provide funding for veteran’s advocacy groups and PTSD research. If you’d like to find out more, you can visit their site (https://www.usx.vet/) or reach out to me.
How active is the climbing community in South Korea?
The Korean Peninsula is 70% mountainous. In the short time that I’ve lived here, I have found an active outdoor community. Every day of the week you’ll see hundreds of hikers along the myriad of mountain trails around Seoul. As for climbing, there are hundreds of outdoor routes and indoor gyms. A great resource for those new to the region is Korea On The Rocks (KOTR). It’s a site dedicated to providing information for all the foreign rock and ice climbers in South Korea.
What are your goals for 2018? Any upcoming regional trips?
I’d like to continue training for my first IRONMAN 70.3 in July. It’s a race on the beautiful Korean Jeju Island. My brother, Adam, and I are also planning our first trip to South America. We’d like to climb two mountains in the Bolivian northern Andes and spend time exploring the highest capital on earth, La Paz. I may also take a short trip to Japan and hike Mt. Fuji. Other than that I plan on exploring Korea, improving my climbing, and enjoying life in Asia.