Thai Verzone

Anchorage

i came here to climb mountains

The first reason I came to Alaska, my dad was working up here. But I’ve always been infatuated with the mountains as well, and I was really eager to come to the mountains. I was in high school at the time, and I had just-- just getting into my climbing world-- and just fell in love with adventure and the frontier. And so, when I first came, it was to kind of chase the mountains. ... I came here to climb mountains and explore new places, and it was very stimulating and a lot of freedom involved with that.

 

a common connection & thread

I think I travelled around the world a lot, and I wasn’t really sure where I was going to settle. But eventually I just kept coming back to Alaska, coming back over and over, and felt most comfortable here. Probably [reason number] one: the love of the mountains, and inspiration; and two, a community of people who have similar interests in that, and I feel like I can relate to that. I relate to the community. And probably [number] three: being in Alaska and that community and loving the mountains, there’s also a harshness to Alaska, which sometimes makes you not want to be here, and so it makes a community that also travels a lot, and knows the rest of the world. So it’s kind of a mix where living here allows the side of adventure and the frontier, in kind of a very raw place, that’s hard to find in the rest of the world, 'cause things are getting developed so much. But being in the backcountry in Alaska, you really witness and experience the raw world, as if you were in the Ice Age. Or just true wilderness. But at the same time, with it being hard, you know: winters are hard, people travel. So it makes a very worldly community, that people know various places in the world, so I can talk to people about being in South America, or in New York or being in Europe, or Africa, and so there’s a common connection and thread to the rest of the world, but still connected to this raw place. I think that’s pretty special.

  Verzone with daughter Maia and wife Ana boarding an Alaska Air jet.

Verzone with daughter Maia and wife Ana boarding an Alaska Air jet.

My Sense of the Importance of Community

I think, coming here [to Anchorage], wanting to be connected to the wilderness: part of it is to be able to share that experience too, even if you’re not in the wilderness together. The community appreciates that. Having those elements of the wilderness is the big part, but in some ways, if that’s what you mostly do, then you’re not getting that kind of social time as much. So you really rely on the community to get that social time; or maybe living in another part of the world, most parts of the world, the social part probably comes automatically-- there’s just tons of things going on and you probably need more alone time and wilderness time, because you don’t have that so much. Where, here, you have a lot of wilderness time relatively easy; but the social, urban side is a little more challenging to get your dose, your balance, in a way. So, in a way, it can make a pretty tight community.