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Birthday ChallengesBolt ClippingBouldering

My BDC- Long Term Beatdown

By July 7, 20142 Comments

“Just so you know, Georgie, I’ll be sprinting this one as fast as I can, since I’m training and all that.”

“No worries, you can go ahead of me.”

When you can barely breathe, its time to stop and smell the flowers.

When you can barely breathe, its time to stop and smell the flowers.

And so I sprinted up the first set of stairs on the trail that eventually gains 700 meters of elevation, bound for the 3rd Peak. About 150 stairs later, I was cooked. My legs felt like molten slag, and the air I was sucking didn’t seem to contain any oxygen, despite being at sea level. What began as running quickly turned into plodding.

“I think you’re hosing yourself by not warming up”

No shit.

And so Georgie and I huffed our way up to the pinnacle of the 2nd Peak, arriving exactly 36 minutes after we began the hike. There is a trail, you see, that goes directly to the 3rd Peak, but it is vicious. Roots and rocks. The type of terrain that eats inferior ankles for breakfast. There is no moving quickly over that kind of trail.

Vikki came along on this rainy Sunday. Learning the subtleties of the trail, where to run and where to walk.

Vikki came along on this rainy Sunday. Learning the subtleties of the trail, where to run and where to walk.

I think that, physically, the single hardest part of my birthday challenge will be this run, 36 minutes or less to the 3rd Peak. So why did we go to the 2nd? To see if the trail was faster, if longer. And it was. Despite lingering on the top of the 2nd Peak for a few minutes and dawdling over to the 3rd, we made it to the 3rd Peak in 51 minutes. That’s 1 minute faster than when I did the 3rd peak trail a few days previously. I think it’s the beta.

Also, warming up is the beta. Also, failure will likely occur. That is why I’ll try this element on my birthday, Day 1 of a 30 day challenge. Start it off hard. Also, give myself plenty of time for a second try.

The Schedule

Here it is, roughly…

BDC schedule

This is not a final schedule, as I will likely be combining some of the physically easier elements into the same day. But there are a lot of hard days that will require some rest afterward, and I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be able to recover enough from one thing to the other. This is an awesome mixture of hard tasks I might fail at (30 V-points, 36 minutes to the 3rd peak, 30 onsights), long endurance that I can do but that will cause pain and suffering (300,000 pounds in the gym, 30k run, 10,957 ft of elevation gain on a bike), and focus-demanding tasks (juggling, slacklining).

Interspersed, of course, are some fun and/or silly things that are more along the lines of celebratory. My parents and brother are planning to visit us on the weekend of the 9th-10th of August, and I’ve planned the blackberry-based-breakfast-bonanza for that Saturday.

My list of 30 Top-100's for the final day of the challenge. Based on the 3rd  Edition guidebook (2014).

My list of 30 Top-100’s for the final day of the challenge. Based on the 3rd Edition guidebook (2014).

Help in My Corner

We are lucky. Thanks to the awesome community that exists in climbing and in Squamish (two separate but overlapping communities), we have many resources beyond what fits in our trailer. The first night we were here, we had dinner with our friends Scott, Michelle, Paul, Natalie and Alex. Four of five are local, and Paul’s been here for five consecutive summers. Conversation was excited as we hadn’t seen each other since last summer, but then we talked about my challenge…a lot. Turns out that during the past few months they’d all been eagerly chatting about my challenge and how they might help. I mean, they probably talked about other things too, but damn, I was taken aback. I’m constantly surprised by how genuinely awesome Canadians are. And Paul. 

Michelle is recovering from injury and wants to join for easy problem day. Alex and Natalie have been hooked on mountain biking for a while now, and are psyched to keep me company on the trails (we did a ride the other day locally, and they even picked me up from camp). Scott kindly offered to litter throughout the forest for the next few weeks. And kitchens have been offered for the blackberry/breakfast feast I have planned.

This is the best part of a BDC: bringing people together.

Preparing in Squamish

I have a hard time getting motivated when we’re in a city for a while. What can I say? I have an easy time getting psyched to run around the forest when I’m in the forest. I have a hard time convincing myself to get away from a warm house and an easily-refillable French press and a stocked refrigerator and a full kitchen to run on fire roads. Life is healthy in the forest for me. I knew I’d be better out here at getting prepped than I would be back at home.

This summer has already been flying by. 2 weeks we’ve been here now, and although I’m excited about turning 30 and starting this whole big crazy thing, I’m anxious. Balancing the training, logistical prep, work days in town, and socializing is rough. And yes…these are all thing I want to be doing. Woe isn’t me. I’m just saying, it’s hard, like when you go for a long hike to a beautiful place….you want to be there but it’s hard.

The logistics are the hidden challenge. Finding 360 boulder problems easy enough to climb in a day is not easy. I’ve spent hours with the guidebook wandering the forest, brush in hand, cleaning off obscure V0’s and V2’s that haven’t seen ascents in years.

Another day, 360 V-points V3 or harder (in a day), is going to be likewise difficult logistically. I’m not sure how many of the climbs that I find easy when warming up will be nails-hard when I’m 7 hours into the day. But I’ve identified what I think are enough do-able moderates. Time will tell.


Finding 30 trails to ride was going to be hard until Alex and Natalie recommended going to Whistler. I studied the map and, lo and behold, there are over 30 trails there in the green and blue range, meaning I can bomb down the hill without worrying too much about smashing myself to bits. Now I’m just psyched about that (although it’ll be a long day…~10 hours of mountain biking with an hour-long drive no the front and back ends).

Ethan belays Georgie on the final stretch of the Split Pillar pitch, Grand Wall, Squamish. I watched from camp.

Ethan belays Georgie on the final stretch of the Split Pillar pitch, Grand Wall, Squamish. I watched from camp.

The major holes in my preparation revolve around trad climbing. I have no rack and I’m not used to seeking out trad opportunities. I’d rather go bouldering and build up my power base. I think I’ll be okay, but I just don’t know for certain. Therefore, doing the Grand Wall in 3 hours or less is another element that I’m anxious about. A practice run in the next week will help alleviate that anxiety.

So here we are, the calm before the storm. 3 weeks from now I’ll be running myself into the ground. 5 weeks from now I will be totally broken, but with a smile on my face. 7 weeks from now I’m hoping to be in the best shape of my life, thanks to this grueling schedule. Bring it on, 30.


  • Scot says:

    In addition to my help with the littering, I’ve got a plan for your bike/swim days that involves a lake instead of a pool.

    • Spenser says:

      Scot, you’re on. As long as that lake ain’t freezin’, I think it’ll make for a much better swim and a much better film too. Plus, I hear you have a chase boat AKA a drinking and heckling boat.

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