Thanks for Another Award, NATJA

I’m happy to share that the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) took a fancy to my story about Iceland. The No-Nonsense Guide to Exploring Iceland by Camper Van, which I penned for RootsRated, earned Honorable Mention in two categories in the 27th annual NATJA Awards Competition:

Honorable Mention: Destination Travel – Online Publication

Honorable Mention: Sports, Recreation and Adventure – Online Publication

I find myself in good company. You can see all of the winners on the NATJA website. Congratulations to all.

2018 NATJA Awards Honorable Mention

Check Out My Interview with NATJA

I’m honored that the North American Travel Journalists Association selected me as the featured journalist of the month. Here’s my interview with them. You can also check it out on the NATJA website.

What got you into travel writing?

I’ve always loved to travel. And I’ve always loved to write. My professional writing career started 25 years ago when I worked for an environmental education company that makes exhibits and signs for parks, zoos, and wildlife areas. I remember writing about rainforest plants and animals from Indonesia and wanting to go there. Later I worked in the bike and outdoor industries, doing marketing and communications. I would carefully plot out my vacations to be able to explore as many parts of the world as possible. My husband and I even took a year off to travel. Then about five years ago, I realized I could put all of my experience together to become an outdoor, adventure, and travel writer. I am now living at the perfect intersection of all of my interests. It’s amazing to see now how everything I did all those years led up to this day, although I didn’t know this is where I was going.

What’s the most challenging part of travel writing for you?

Undoubtedly it’s pitching stories. I can have the best idea in the world, but if I don’t tailor it perfectly to the right editor and the right publication and tie it perfectly to their editorial calendar, then I can’t sell my story. Sometimes I feel like I’m stabbing in the dark.

What’s the one thing (equipment or personal item) you can’t go without on the road?

My little spiral-bound notebook that fits perfectly in the side pocket of my pants. I’m constantly whipping out that thing to jot down notes. With travel writing, it’s helpful to record thoughts, ideas, and sensory details in the moment. A lot of times experiences are so packed, the details get lost if you don’t write them down.

What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

I’ve had so many amazing and memorable travel experiences, its tough to whittle it down to just one. Kyrgyzstan was an especially interesting one. I went there earlier this year to go backcountry skiing based out of a yurt camp in the Tien Shan Mountains near the borders of China and Kazakhstan. For a week, my husband, four friends, and I slept together on the floor of a yurt and went skiing with guides from 40 Tribes. A couple of local villagers tended camp, cooking traditional food and giving insight into their lives. It was total immersion into the landscape and culture, and it pushed me mentally and physically.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

Be persistent, don’t take rejection personally, and for goodness sake, make sure you can write. If your grammar skills are lacking, take a course. Dangling modifiers are painful.


I Won Some Awards!

Who doesn’t love an award? I’m smitten to share that the North American Travel Journalists Association recognized several of my stories in their 2017 awards competition. The competition, now in its 26th year, honors the “best of the best” in travel media. I won two bronze awards and two finalist awards.

Bronze Awards

Category 102: Destination Travel, Online Publication

Category 107: Travel Series, Online Publication

  • Bronze: Avery Stonich, “Israel Adventure Series,” RootsRated

This is a series of six stories I wrote for RootsRated:

Finalist Awards

Category 142: Sports, Recreation and Adventure – Online Publication

Category 191: Trade Travel Article

You can see all of the winners here: #NATJAWINNERS2017. Congratulations to all of my esteemed peers.






Now is the Time to Visit Nepal


I have tears streaming down my face as I read the comments on an essay I wrote for National Geographic Travel about my profound experience in Nepal last fall. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to this magical country and help inspire others to visit and help Nepal recover from the devastating earthquakes that hit last year. Here are some of the comments that moved me most:

“Reading articles like this makes me even more proud to be a Nepali. This article indeed brought tears to my eyes.”

“It was amazingly written from the top to bottom, last paragraph brought my tears down. Thank you for sharing your experience, thanks for the love towards Nepal and Nepali. Yes we really are suffering from so many things but this will really help Nepal for sure. Million Thanks again.”

“Thanks for showing the world that how Nepalese people are living with positive attitude despite of devastating earthquake and the cruel Indian economic blockade. We have fighting spirits and will continue to live in a positive attitude. I am a tour guide since last 14 years. I’ve seen lots of ups and down but still I am positive that we will have more people as visitors as the world loves Nepal not only for its natural beauty but also for the simplicity of people, honest people and kind people.”

“Namaste! This is a beautifully pieced together experience that puts a sober picture in your head. Thank you Avery!”

See all the comments at the bottom of the article on National Geographic Travel: Why Now is the Time to Visit Nepal.

If you’ve ever considered a trip to Nepal—or even if you haven’t—plan one now. You will help the Nepali people and, without a doubt, enrich yourself.



Here are some stories I wrote about Nepal:

Why Now is the Time to Visit Nepal (National Geographic Travel)

Nepal on the Rebound (Outdoor Industry Association)

Help Nepal Get Back on Its Feet (Outdoor Industry Association)

More coming this spring. Check back here or follow me on Twitter to see them when they publish.


Insider’s Guide to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

Photo by Kevin Krill

Photo by Kevin Krill

The countdown is on: Thousands of ski racing fans are set to descend on Colorado for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which take place in Vail and Beaver Creek from February 2-15. For the unintiated, this is a pretty big deal in the ski community. The competition is second only to the Olympics in size, with more than 600 athletes from 72 countries making the pilgrimage to battle it out on our snowy slopes.

Learn more in my insider’s spectator guide to the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships on RootsRated.

Learn to Ice Climb

Photo courtesy Dan Chehayl

Photo courtesy Dan Chehayl

Chatter about the world’s top ice climbing spots will always circle back to Ouray, a sleepy town in southwestern Colorado where more than 20 years ago, a few visionary climbers started teasing streams of water down the walls of a steep, shadowy gorge.

Since then Ouray Ice Park has blossomed into an ice climber’s dream-come-true, where ice farmers carefully tend hoses and showerheads to cultivate a mile-long network of magical ice.

Ice climbing is a delicate art of ascending frozen flows using ice tools and crampons. It’s slow and methodical, requiring careful pick and foot placement on ice formations that range from dangling fangs to chandeliers of fused icicles and lumpy mushrooms.

Learn how to give it a try in my Adventure 101: Ice Climbing in Ouray article on National Geographic Travel.

In Search of the Steep and Deep

Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley

Photo courtesy Taos Ski Valley

I’ve been an alpine skier since I was about eight years old. Until a few years ago, I hadn’t given backcountry skiing a fair shake—mostly because an avalanche safety class I took back in the mid-90s scared the shit out of me. I wasn’t sure I was up for the risk. Plus I sucked at telemarking. I bought really skinny touring skis and never could nail a good turn on them. So I retreated to the comfort of my alpine boards and spent the next 20 years happily ripping it up inbounds.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I had an amazing day in the Jackson Hole backcountry (on my alpine boards, bootpacking). My soul was so stirred up after that day, I thought I better give the backcountry another look. After all, backcountry gear has come a long way. So I got a sweet alpine touring setup from La Sportiva (yay, I can make alpine turns!) and retook the avy 1 class. Armed with this knowledge, great gear, and some friends who are willing to help show me the way,  I’m on my way to becoming a skilled backcountry skier. Some day. There’s a lot to learn, that’s for sure.

Yet there are still plenty of days when the lifts call. When you don’t want to deal with hiking. Or the avalanche danger is so high, you’d rather not take the risk. That’s when it’s nice to know you can hit some rad inbounds terrain without having to worry so much. (Caveat: inbounds avalanches do sometimes occur, so you should never fully let down your guard.)

The good news is that alpine resorts are seeking ways to feed that hunger for big-mountain terrain inbounds. Take Taos Ski Valley, for example, which this season is opening the Kachina Peak lift to haul skiers and riders up to terrain that was previously accessible only by a sweaty 45-minute slog. Some lament the easier access. Others celebrate it. Either way, it’s more terrain for everyone.

Other resorts are also finding ways to provide backcountry-like experiences within their boundaries. Read more in an article I wrote for Outside, my first for them: In Search of the Steep and Deep: A growing demand for big-mountain, backcountry-like terrain is prompting resorts to up the ante inbounds.

Get Your Ski Boots Dialed

Larry's Bootfitting

Larry’s Bootfitting in Boulder is something of an institution. For decades, Boulderites have been paying homage to Larry Houchen and his bootfitting prowess. Back in the day (think 20+ years ago—yikes!), when I first had Larry fit me, I could swear that he was squeezing me into a boot that was two sizes too small. Turns out, he was actually finally fitting me right, so my boots wouldn’t start slopping around after five days.

Direct power transfer to the ski: that’s what you need. A boot that fits right is snug and comfortable, allowing you to control your skis with ease.

There’s no need to suffer with uncomfortable ski boots. Go see Larry, the bootfitting legend of Boulder. His place is more like a clubhouse than a ski shop—where you go to get your boots fitted and end up sticking around for a beer.

Read more in my article on RootsRated: Get Your Ski Boots Dialed at Larry’s Bootfitting.

Feed Your Ice Climbing Stoke at the Ouray Ice Park

ice climbing

Earlier this week, I ventured to the Ouray Ice Park to try ice climbing for the first time. What a blast! Ascending the frozen walls, I was mesmerized by the beautiful, varied textures of the ice, and the chink chink sounds of my crampons and ice tools. The art of ice climbing is methodical and meditative, as you move one hand or foot at a time, tapping in holds. It’s challenging, fun, and so gratifying. I think I might be hooked! I have to give a big shout out to San Juan Mountain Guides for giving me a great introduction to the sport.

Next week is the Ouray Ice Festival, a great chance to try ice climbing, hone your skills, or watch the pros. Read all about it in an article I wrote for RootsRated:

The Largest Ice Climbing Festival in North America

Big. Fat. Blue. The stuff of frozen dreams. For months, ice farmers have been carefully coaxing magical slabs, pillars, and fangs to life in preparation for the 20th annual Ouray Ice Festival, which takes place January 8-11, 2015, at the Ouray Ice Park in southern Colorado. Park workers are now scurrying around like elves, putting the finishing touches on plans for four days of ice climbing clinics, demos, competitions, and parties that will fire up everyone from ice junkies to newbies.

Read more…

Train to Crush It in the Mountains

Alpine Training Center

Photo courtesy Alpine Training Center

You know those people who get all evangelical about their workouts? (Think Crossfit.) Well, I hate to admit that I’ve become one of them, thanks to Alpine Training Center (it’s not Crossfit). It all started this fall when my former ski house roommate issued a challenge to a few of us that went something like this: “I’ve been doing this really great ski conditioning class and I think you should, too. In fact, if you want to be able to keep up with me on the mountain this season, you better sign up!”

Enough said. Challenge accepted. So I buckled down and endured two months of absolutely the hardest ski training workouts I have ever experienced. And it paid off. On my first ski days of the season, when my legs would typically be burning, I felt awesome. So, of course, I thought I should spread the word of the gospel to the masses with an article.

And by the way, once you’ve tasted the Kool-Aid, there’s no going back. I am an Alpine Training Center junkie for life now. Forgive me if I talk about it too much.

Read  the article I wrote for RootsRated: Train to Crush It in the Mountains.