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Birthday ChallengesClimbingTrip Journal

Birthday Blunder

By October 23, 2013September 29th, 20185 Comments
The first problem of the day: Bob Barker Cut My Dog's Nuts Off (V1). Seemed like a good place to start? ;) [All non-Polaroid photos by Quinn Dannies]The first problem of the day: Bob Barker Cut My Dog's Nuts Off (V1). Seemed like a good place to start? ;) [All non-Polaroid photos by Quinn Dannies]The first problem of the day: Bob Barker Cut My Dog's Nuts Off (V1). Seemed like a good place to start? ;) [All non-Polaroid photos by Quinn Dannies]

My first problem of the day: Bob Barker Cut My Dog’s Nuts Off. Sure the name is a bit long, but I liked that it was an easy problem (that I hadn’t done) and was tall enough to screw my head on straight for the rest of the day. All non-Polaroids by Quinn Dannies.

I am finally sitting down to finish digesting my 27th birthday challenge that was over a month ago (ahem, September 13th). What the heck took me so long?!

Thinking back, I definitely needed about 2 days to recover post-challenge (mentally & physically). Then, the rain came and we booked it out of Squamish and begin our charge across the US, seeing who and what we could, but mostly just driving.

What was the rush? I had a date I couldn’t miss: meeting five of my best college girlfriends in Charleston, SC for a reunion weekend. I’m officially back and settled in Boone, NC, nestled between two tabby cats-who-act-like-dogs (my favorite). After reading the latest The Morning Fresh post today, I realized I was out of excuses so here it goes!

The Challenge:

27 kilometer bike ride. 27 (all new) V-points. 27 Polaroids.

For this post, I was planning on taking a cue from my dear friend Alana and get straight to the good stuff: Highs, Lows, & Heroes. Bam. Then, as I was re-writing my ticklist into this post, I realized something that I thought was impossible: I only did 26 V-points. I read my notes over and over again and, sure enough, there was 1 point missing… I ran (seriously) out to the trailer and asked Spenser if I was crazy. How could I have F-d up the counting? Even more silly, I clearly remember Sloppy Poppy bringing my V-point count up to 13 (a memorable number). This means I messed up the count in the beginning of the day, before I was even mentally exhausted enough to have an excuse! Also of note, I’m pretty proud of my math capabilities, so this counting blunder hit me pretty hard.

After Spenser and I racked our brains for the solitary missing point, we could only come to one conclusion: I F-d up. No one caught it and I would have never realized this mistake if it wasn’t for this blog. After realizing this mistake, I knew I needed to fess up and finish my post because, in the end, it doesn’t matter. To me, my birthday challenge was still a success, and you can bet your booty I won’t be messing up the count next year!

That is not the face of a girl who failed, or something like that.

Pure joy after finishing my first birthday challenge. Celebrating with a cider.

I was extremely hesitant to do a birthday challenge. Usually, I enjoy doing what I want to do on my birthday and that does not involve pushing myself to my physical & mental limits.

Maybe that’s why most of my birthdays have been less-than-memorable? Seriously, I can’t remember a single one of them.

The birthday challenge is a great way of reminding yourself that you are alive. It also sets you up well for the next year… What do I need to work on? What am I doing well? How far can I really go? Spenser said it best:

it’s the entire point of an arbitrary goal.

The start of the day.

The start of the day. 8:45am at Bean Around the World (so Spenser could have a cinnamon roll while he waited). The 27km bike ride was just enjoyable. It was a perfect day in Squamish, the rain had subsided just in time. I picked out a path that was not going to take it all out of me, I still had 27 V-points to take down!

A great hidden gem

A great hidden gem, White Bread (V1). That large block that my left foot is on should not be there, but it is. And it’s solid.


Old and Serious. This problem was all about not making the same mistake I made when I fell off it weeks before. As I was about to take the first step onto the slab at the top, I just kept thinking… “I’m going to mess this up again, I just know it.” Just as I was about to transition my foot, Spenser yelled up at me, “I think you want your foot a little lower on the smear.” He was right. I stepped back, carefully replaced my foot, and sent. First big test of the day complete!

Old and Serious 1

Old and Serious.

Making the stretch.

Palming down to make the reach.

Precise footmatch.

All stretched out!

Sloppy Poppy. I’ve lost count how many times I fell off the top of Sloppy Poppy previously. To day flash felt so good. On my birthday, I wasn’t taking any chances. Spenser scrubbed the slopers for me, while I made sure I knew every step of my beta. This was the apex of my focus.

Sloppy Poppy.

Sloppy Poppy. HUGE thanks to Quinn for taking photos while Spenser was on spotting duty!

Slingshot. The last problem of the day. I calmly did it first go, with no BS. My birthday challenge was done and I was elated. My body was tired but my mind was reeling, especially from the emotions of how I took down Slingshot. I was so happy to end on a high note.

This isn't Slingshot, but this would be another high of the night.

Another high of the night, me on Left Brain. It begins with a massive move from jug to jug. I missed the jug and landed on a crimp next to it, but kept going. Being the second to last problem of the night, I couldn’t waste energy or time trying that move again.


Tim’s Sloper Problem. The first fail of the day. I felt amazing after doing Sloppy Poppy, so I decided to try one of the hardest problems on my list. I had never been on Tim’s and a rather large group of friends and friends-of-friends gathered to try the problem with me. Everyone was yelling beta and I felt completely out of control. Of course, everyone was just trying to help, but it was overwhelming. I made incremental progress with each go and continued to work in, when I probably should have walked away after giving it a few goes.

Black Mark. I was tired after Tim’s, but this was close by and the second hardest problem on my list, so it made sense to try it. I knew I could do it, I just kept missing the hold on the last real move. I was depressed afterwards. My body wouldn’t listen to me. It was frustrating…and it was getting late. After failing on Black Mark, I looked at my list disheartened. Nothing on the list felt possible anymore. We scratched most of the list after this and went on a hunt for easier problems.

Impermanence. This was likely the most stressful part of the day. It was dark and we were trying to just find boulder problems I could do at this point. Doing problems that I had also never done before had proven to be the most difficult part of the challenge. Spenser found this low-ball in the guidebook and said it was a V1. I eagerly got on and quickly found myself back on the ground- I couldn’t figure it out. It did not feel like a V1. Spenser looked at the book again and said he had made a mistake, it was actually a V2. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it another go with V2 try-hard. Again, I ended up on the ground. I was confused and frustrated. Spenser chimed in, apologizing profusely and stating this was actually Impermanence, a V3 (it’s really not his fault, the forest is tricky at night and I was in no shape to find problems for myself at this point!). For 3 V-points, I figured I should give it a couple more goes. I struggled to the top after multiple tries. My left foot blew, my right foot blew, a hand popped off. It was a fight, but I won! After I sent, Quinn described this as the “TV show moment” of the day- this problem was just drama-rama from start to finish! It was also the game-changer, after this send, I only had 6 points to go. Much more manageable than the 9 I had left just a few minutes earlier.

Casualties of the day.

Casualties of the day. My favorite Verve pants and my legs.


Spenser. What can I even say? He was the inspiration for the challenge. He spotted me from 1pm to 1am. Oh and by the way, he also brought me specially-made gluten-free cinnamon rolls from a local bakery. He gets the raddest of the rad award.

Spenser presenting me with a cinnamon surprise!

Spenser presenting me with a cinnamon surprise! Isn’t this picture absurd? Absurdly cute! HA!

Fuel for the day. Cinnamon rolls & Mexican Cokes.

Fuel for the day. Cinnamon rolls & Mexican Cokes.

Friends. The kind that keep you honest, but never let you fail. I’ll specifically mention Quinn & Tomer, who were there ’till the bitter end, but I had an amazing crew of Squamish climbers with me the entire day that I am incredibly grateful to.

The Canada Van. They had to leave the day of my birthday, but stayed behind until I got back from my bike ride to say goodbye.

The Canada Van. They had to leave the day of my birthday, but stayed behind until I got back from my bike ride to say goodbye. JC, Zack, and Jered- thanks for being awesome neighbors all summer!

What I learned about myself:

– My ability to hold back tears is pretty impressive. This goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge that a bad feeling can go away just as quickly as it emerged. Just stick it out and focus on the objective.

– The same friend’s support can be helpful and detrimental. It’s all about how you react. I guess this translates well to life in general.

– I need to limit my goes on problems that are at my limit, eg, Tim’s. I had a plan to give the harder problems a 5-try limit, but that went out the window. I think it was partially my pride– I reallly wanted to do Tim’s. I really wanted to do Tim’s in front of all those people. Looking bad, I really wasn’t as close to completing the problem as I thought. Damn pride!

– Most importantly, my birthday taught me was that I’ve never tried this hard. That realization made me sad at first, but better late than never on this sort of thing, right?

Chilling back at camp post-challenge.

Goofing around back at camp post-challenge.

I wrote in my journal before going to bed the night of my birthday and what I wrote has stayed with me. After the challenge was over, I felt proud of myself. I knew I tried my hardest at the goals I had set forth. I really did my best. But…I wasn’t satisfied at the end (maybe it was my subconscious telling me I was missing a V-point, but I’m thinking not). I just thought,

 That was it?

Here’s my idea. What about doing something bigger on your birthday? Your birthday is the one guaranteed day of the year that you are considered special. Hooray, you were born today! What does this mean? Really, that you can get away with way more on your birthday.

I couldn’t believe that there were other people (Quinn, Tomer, Spenser) still supporting me at 1am when I was finishing up my V-points. So, what else could I get away with on my birthday? What can I get other people to do?

I think it was really awesome to use your birthday as a way of getting what you want. This year, I wanted to challenge myself. Next year, I want to do something more. Something meaningful. Whatever that means. But with just a bit of planning, I think the birthday can be a day of helping other people. Again, I’m not sure what that means quite yet, but I will be thinking about it throughout this year. A challenge more akin to the one Spenser did in 2010, when he ran a marathon and raised over $17,000 for the World Food Program. New birthday challenge: coming up with a goal that will leave me feeling completely satisfied on September 14th, 2014.

And, just for the records…

FINAL TICK LIST (in order of sendage, all at Grand Wall Boulders):

– Bob Barker Cut My Dog’s Nuts Off (V1)

– White Bread (V1)

– Fraggle Rock Dyno (V2)

– Hand it Over (V1)

– Old & Serious (V3)

– Sloppy Poppy (V4)

– Choss-a-Block (V2)

– Adam’s Apple (V1)

– Lowdown (V2)

– Impermanence (V3)

– Clean Cut (V2)

– Left Brain (V2)

– Slingshot (V2)


‘Till next year!


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