Currents: Mountaineer James Didier of Minnesota

December 13, 2018 GMT

Today: James Didier, a mountaineer and also a chemistry teacher at Buffalo, Minn., High School. Among Didiers alpine adventures are a summit of Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia. At 18,510 feet, Elbrus is Europes 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. Im 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 Us 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. Ive 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 fiance and I have been going to their StorySLAM live events for a year now, and its 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, Ive 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 Im pretty dormant in winter. This fall Ive been practicing swimming and rock climbing, specifically bouldering. I suppose Im 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 Ive 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. Ive climbed 30. Its 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.)

Bob Timmons