An Iowan who works in the sporting-goods business has had first-hand experience with many of the products. Brian Block of Ames is a mountain-climber…who studied his avocation in Iowa. He started with a rock-climbing course put on in Wisconsin by the “Iowa Mountaineers,” a club he calls one of the most heralded in climbing history, even though “we are one of the flatter states, for sure.” The Iowa Mountaineers have been around for over thirty years, and Block says members have logged more than 75-thousand “climbs.” He says there’s a lot you can learn on the ground before a climb begins. Block says you can learn lots of basic techniques like tying knots, moving around on a mountain, and the answer to the question “How did the rope get UP there?” adding that a climber’s much safer on the mountain with a good base of knowledge to work from. Block got started climbing on the stony hills of Wisconsin but in 1999 and 2000, found himself climbing Mexican volcanoes. One was erupting while his group was down there, something he says will upset parents who hear “a volcanoe’s erupting.” He’s got some great photos, and says it wasn’t as bad as the reports made it sound. Two weeks from now Block will speak at Jester Park near Des Moines about climbing Mount Denali, the Alaskan peak originally named Mount McKinley.Denali is the Alaskan Inuit name, and Block says the mountain’s 20-thousand, 320 feet, give or take the snow layer at any given time, and he adds it’s special challenge to climb just because it’s so far north. Block says it’s “extra cold” and climbers have to carry oxygen. He says he’s always liked “extreme adventures” and hopes to keep exploring new things all his life, with “so many things to do and climb.” He says with four or five things in the works, he just has to wait for permits and in some countries for civil unrest to die down. With plans to climb the Himalaya mountains and more in Alaska, Block says though the world seems to get smaller all the time, “there’s still so much that’s not done.” Block works as a representative for several companies that sell sporting gear and clothing, and he travels to many shows and is working on getting some of his writing published. For more on the “Extreme Outdoor Adventurers” series of lecturers, see the website at