“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”Theodore Roosevelt
It was an honor to be a part of such a badass team. Kyle McCabe, Mike Helt, Joel Zerr, Dave Wetmore, Bret Johnston, Sarah Shaw, and myself formed the setting crew for the Salt Lake City UBC pro tour stop.
Our undertaking: nine maddeningly sweltery days on top of a parking garage in downtown SLC. 3 am was not an uncommon bedtime only to scrape away our eye-crust by 9am. Our only reprieve from this body wrecking schedule was a few hour nap during the peak heat.
Each day, the hours stretched on and our skin grew thinner, but we all just kept working hard, heads down, and the next thing we knew we were tearing down the wall.
It is always a crazy experience: having to spend so much time dedicated on those problems with the rooftop all to ourselves.
But once the crowd assembles and “the show” is finally on, it’s all over in a whirlwind. Your mind races back to that immense amount of work executed by the team and how it is now nothing more than an assemblage of memories, web videos, empty “fiveten sodas,” and wall parts. Everything gone in a matter of hours: ready-packed to head to the next stop, where the process will repeat once again.
Once the ego-encrusted outdoor industry tempest had passed, Joel and I found ourselves en route back to our home in Reno, NV. During that seven-hour haul through the Nevada desert, my mind was constantly consumed with the thoughts of all the new climbs that were waiting back home.
I couldn’t wait to get back into the hills and find some new climbing. There is nothing like setting for a comp to make me drool for real rock and to remind me just how ridiculously lucky I am to live in an area that is so full of undeveloped bouldering potential.
Finally home again, I went exploring for some new climbing with my buddy Ty Fairbairn. That day we managed to put up some nine first ascents.
One of the new boulders we discovered looked like it could have some cool climbing on it, but the landing needed a lot of work. So, one afternoon I went out and put in some manual labor.
With a fancy new landing, this previously random block was now a full-fledged badass project.
A few days later my girlfriend Allyson Stronach and I went to go check out a river cliff that my buddy and I had scoped a few months prior. Getting down into that river canyon was really exciting and as I rapped down to clean the wall I was pleased to discover several lines on the face. It took an hour and forty-five minutes to scrub and chalk the easiest of the lines. With sunlight dwindling I just wanted to get up a line on the face and top the thing out. After some serious psyching up I began to traverse into the line. The first 10-15ft of climbing is in the no fall zone, if you were to fall you could try to jump out and miss the ominous slab below and hit water. But as far as I was concerned, there was no falling.
And all this became abundantly clear as I committed to the first sequence. I had to commit to a match with a body swing that could have resulted in me pinballing off of the slab below. So I committed to the move and let out a yell, more out of fear than from difficulty, and realized that I was still on the wall, my echoing scream dissipating into the still dusk air. My mind went blank except for a heightened awareness of the rock’s texture and the smell of freshly brushed lichen and chalk. From that point onward, I functioned like a machine, just breathing and moving with deliberate execution. Standing on top of the wall peering down to the water, I was awash in relief that I had not taken a big fall into the water or taken a short fall into the slab and then water. I was in disbelief that I had actually sacked up and climbed the face.
Before my send glow could fade like the sun moments before, I began to imagine the harder lines on the face and what they might entail, but for now my day was done and I could relax till the next venture down the river canyon.
There is nothing like finding a new line. The climb reveals itself to you as you clean holds and try to piece it’s puzzle together. And once the climb has been completed, it is often remarkably different than you would have initially guessed. For me, establishing new lines is a very different climbing experience; it’s not about chasing numbers, or doing a problem so you can tell everyone what you did. It’s not even about completing the lines that you painstakingly clean up. It’s about seeing what the rock has to offer and being willing to take whatever you are given. Some days we establish nothing harder than what we dub “slickfoots” (climbs fit for sessioning in approach shoes, an ode to John Gill if you will). While others clean up to yield long standing projects that we may never be able to climb. Anyway that you look at it, it all boils down to the stupid act of climbing and enjoying it for what ever it brings you.
I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love and I am thankful everyday.