Setting Goals

By Climbing, Trip Journal3 Comments

Wow, where to start? I sat down to write a blog post about what we’ve been up to lately, but there’s hardly any way to begin it because everything I want to address is linked forward and backward and sideways and it’s all exciting but still up in the air. Right now I’m sitting in the office of our friend Lindsey’s house, for whom we’re watching over things and collecting mail in Berkeley. We’re not far from Berkeley Ironworks, which is great because Vikki and I are working our way through the Rock Prodigy training program. This ain’t no kinda new year resolution, neither…see, we’ve got goals. We even spent several days in the gym in Chattanooga to get in our ARCing and hangboarding. Those goals I mentioned come with what I would call a good chance of failure. Vikki’s goal is to climb Midnight Lightning and Nat’s Traverse (both very solid at V8). I’m going to skip 5.13b-d and try to send Jumbo Pumping Hate (5.14a) at Clark Mountain. Yeah! Sports-climbing! http://vimeo.com/117974391 That’s nothing compared to the goal of a certain someone with whom we’ll be traveling to Clark. The spark that kicked off our training was Ethan wanting to train for Jumbo Love, a route he’s tried in the past with some success. We jumped at the opportunity to film one of the hardest and most impressive routes in America, and I got excited about the prospect of trying its younger brother. The three of us share a tendency to flit from one thing to another, so the theory…

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Spenser’s First Ascent in Bishop: Behind the Name “I Don’t Know Jack”

By Bouldering, Film2 Comments

Just over 2 years ago, I broke my heel by falling off of a tall boulder problem in Bishop, CA. Several weeks later, ambulatory but avoiding bouldering, I wandered up the hill from the Fly Boy boulder and toward the small dome that overlooks the rest of the main Buttermilks area. The guidebook indicates that there isn’t any climbing in the talus, which is why I’d never gone the additional 100 yards or so to the little peak. After a really neat arcing flake, I scrambled to the base of the dome proper, enticed by what appeared to be an easy solo-able route to the top. Upon closer inspection, the rock appeared somewhat suspect and the climbing insecure, so I traversed counter-clockwise toward the Peabody boulders until I had to squeeze through a little gap formed by some boulders. I emerged on a little patio formed by a flat granite platform encased on one side by a flat wall, and overhung by a sweeping 60 degree incline, blank but for one feature: a long seam running from the bottom to the lip of the overhang, with big holds on each end of it and a blank section in the middle. The top, visible from an adjacent block, appeared to have some holds too. The rock also appeared a bit suspect, which is, I thought at the time, why I’d never heard mention of this line, and why it appeared unclimbed. I mean, seriously. Bishop is synonymous with bold highballs. How could this pure, singular line,…

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An Ode to our French Press

By Musings, Stuff We're Psyched OnOne Comment

The alarm goes off. My eyes open, but I see nothing. With a flip of my hand, my beanie is gone and I am immediately aware of three things: I have crust in my eyes; it is time to get up; and it is frigid. Ah, the trailer life. Today might be the day after a rest day, and the conditions are going to be perfect for boulder crushing. Today might be a filming day, and we’ll be humping cameras and gear around. Today might be one of those housekeeping days, which we’ll spend in a public library or café staring at screens. I don’t care what day it is. What in the world could ever get me to throw the covers aside and forsake the only parcel of three-dimensional space in the known vicinity that is above freezing? You might think that classic boulder problems are motivation enough. Not so. If you can remember back to high school chemistry, you may remember a concept called “activation energy.” Before a reaction can commence, there must be an initial energy input above a certain threshold. Put simply, a fire needs a spark. Every morning I wonder what on our solar system’s green Earth could coax me from the cozy down cocoon, where I cuddle a tiny heater I like to call Vikki. And every morning, I need only turn my head to the right to see the answer to this vital quandary. Shining bright like a diamond, it sits proudly upon…

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Behind the Scenes of Alex Honnold’s Birthday Challenge

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing, FilmNo Comments

Damn y’all, 2014 is wrapping up. I am proud, excited, and honestly a little nervous to share the following video with you: Alex Honnold soloing 290 pitches on his 29th birthday. We shot over 3.5 hours of footage during the approximately 16 hours it took Alex to climb all 290 pitches. Since we can’t include it all, we’ll release a little outtakes reel soon, but I want to reiterate how much fun it was to shoot this day. Unlike a massive link-up or something like that, where the camera people spend all day getting into position for a few minutes of footage, Alex was on the ground almost as much as he was on the rock, bantering and joking and occasionally striking yoga poses halfway up a route. You can read the initial report by clicking here. And here are some more fun tidbits that didn’t make it into the film: The high in Squamish that day was 85°F/30°C, and the recent rains made for high humidity. That is why Alex did not wear a shirt between 5:20AM and 9:20PM, and why he is so sweaty and gross. 290 pitches in 16 hours is a little over 3 minutes per pitch. All day. If the pitches averaged 75 feet, Alex climbed 21,750 feet (over 4 vertical miles). The hardest pitch was #200, Red Nails 5.11c, which he onsighted. Alex consumed approximately 8 oatmeal cookies during the day. He said he drank about 4 gallons of water, but that sounds like a high estimate….

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The Crag Dog Blog

By Photo, Stuff We're Psyched On7 Comments

The hard-drives needed organizing. I needed a pick-me-up because it’s been raining for days. I love dogs and they make me happy. Spenser loves taking photos of them. I think that’s enough explanation. A few days ago I had some problems with him, suddenly he started barking at night, doing this for so long that he didn’t let us sleep. Luckily I found a page where they taught how to stop your dog barking at night time, I started practicing his method and since then I didn’t have that problem anymore. As with any pet wellness trend, when it comes to CBD for dogs, there’s a lot of information floating around online, one of the most reliable sites is Tasteful Space. Of course, you want to do what’s best for your pup, which leads to the question: What do I need to know about CBD oil? Dogs can also suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, chronic pain and more. You can get dog treats here on this website and help your pet feel better. Imagine how gorgeous dogs would look in hoodies. Get a cute adidog hoodie and give your pet a makeover.

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What The Hell Are We Doing?

By Musings, Trip JournalOne Comment

Our blog posts have been sparse, our photography even moreso, and our list of ticks has not grown. What gives? What happened to the “climb all the time can’t-stop-won’t-stop” never-ending road trip? That, dear reader, is the exact question we are trying to answer. Since we got rousted out of Canada back in the beginning of October, things have been hectic. That was right after I hurt my finger, and in the midst of trying to finish the edit for Alex Honnold’s Birthday Challenge. We spent time in Bellingham, Salt Lake City, filmed one last Birthday Challenge in Joe’s Valley, and found ourselves back in Salt Lake for Halloween. We did not party; we quite literally hid in the dark while children tried to get candy from us, while trying to work on a timelapse for the Honnold video. I don’t read many productivity blogs, but I would wager that 0% of them advise constantly interrupting your workflow with travel, changing your work surroundings daily, and keeping irregular hours. It’s Not That It’s Not Working, Exactly… You know when you’re projecting a route, and there’s a section in which you can do all the moves and even link most of them together, but you just don’t see it all coming together, ever? And then someone points out that you can use a drop-knee on most of the moves, and suddenly you realize you’ve been climbing inefficiently and, frankly, stupidly? This is what we have been feeling like. We work hard, we try…

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Filming with FIXE Hardware

By Climbing, Film, Trip JournalNo Comments

I kinda look like I know what I’m doing, right?! Leading the second pitch of Exasperator was the culmination to my ‘summer of yes’ (saying yes to opportunities that presented themselves). Trust me, though, I felt far from comfortable up there. We met at camp early one morning and walked to the base of the Chief. Standing underneath the Exasperator crack was awe-inspiring. It’s a beautiful, perfect splitter. It’s a crack that even people who don’t enjoy climbing cracks, or who do not climb at all, can appreciate. James Lucas climbed up ahead to put up a fixed rope for Spenser to film on. Kevin Daniels, the owner of FIXE Hardware, Spenser, and I began to make a plan. Kevin turned to me, You know, that second pitch is made for little fingers… My heart jumped into my throat – I thought I would be filming today, not climbing. My ‘summer of yes’ had taken me far out of my comfort zone. I had topped out the Chief twice and gone on adventures that I never thought would be part of my reality. It had been an incredibly fulfilling summer, and I couldn’t back down now. “Yea, I would be willing to give it a go. Why not.” Oh geez, what have I gotten myself into. Up to that point, I had done a few long routes following my friends up the classics such as Skywalker, Diedre and Angel’s Crest. About a week beforehand I had split leads on a Skywalker and Diedre, but I had never…

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My Friends Are Awesome

By Musings, Stuff We're Psyched On3 Comments

I was once told that you are the average of your five best friends. It’s a cute saying and is probably quite accurate for most people, although it may speak more to humanity’s tendency to self-segregate. I’ve found that my friends tend to be on the more adventurous and quirky side, though to be honest I may have sought those friends so that I can be pulled up by the collective average. Over the course of our nearly three years on the road, we’ve encountered our fair share of adventurous spirits and inspiring figures. The ones that impress me the most, though, are the ones you and I have never read about. Sure, we expect the Wide Boyz to thrash themselves and then pull off a heroic ascent by the skin of their teeth, with much suffering along the way. But who wants to do all that without any sponsor dollars riding on it? Ryan Tetz does. He participated in an experimental bike race that had to be shortened mid-race so as not to kill all the riders (most of which dropped out anyway), and he was one of the only finishers. He’s currently in the middle of a 6-week hellstorm of hurt, 6 extreme endurance challenges in a row. He just finished pedaling his bike across Yosemite National Park, en route to Nevada from the Golden Gate Bridge. He started at 6:26 am in Marin, and reached the Nevada state line 27.5 hours later, braving, among other hardships, a nighttime descent of Tioga Pass with…

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Beware the Fake Ass Bloggers

By MusingsNo Comments

We are, to use the parlance of our times, psyched. We live on the road, we’ve met great people, and, like the shirts with the smiling stick figures, life is good. But that doesn’t mean we can’t complain. And since we really don’t do it very often, it seems fair to, every once in a while, call out certain behaviors that will ultimately result in us losing our psyche. Today, I’m going to call out Fake Ass Bloggers. This is a tear-down in the name of public service. The formula is simple. Privileged twenty-somethings get a taste of camping, or visit the Grand Canyon on a family trip. They like it and start a blog. Suddenly, a couple of strangers comment on their posts. Oh shit. Now there’s a following. Before you can blink twice, another social media hero is getting people PSYCHED to get outdoors! This would be great, if that’s where it stopped. But our outdoor hero is ambitious. Our outdoor hero wants some free stuff. Our outdoor hero wants more exposure. What’s wrong with that? you might ask. Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you. The outdoor industry is obviously keen to get as many people hiking and biking and climbing and eating 7-dollar-a-bag space food as possible. “Outdoor” is like the magic modifier that makes everything cost double.  You see, normal humans will venture off the pavement with whatever they normally wear and eat, modify it as they see fit, and still have enough money to stop at Whole Foods…

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Fun is Life and Death

By Birthday Challenges, Musings, The InteriorOne Comment

“I am deadly serious about us having fun” – Michael Franti, In The Middle I think one of the secrets to happiness and success is to take the non-serious things in life seriously, and the serious things less so. Or, since we are the ones who decide what is serious and what isn’t, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that one must allocate their gravitas wisely for the sake of happiness, and survival. Proper Seriosity Birthdays generally fall into the non-serious category. How many times have we “celebrated” someone’s unique, fleeting existence on this planet by sitting in a crowded restaurant, lucky to be within earshot of the birthday boy or girl? How many birthdays do we let pass with little more than a few cheap “you’re old now” jokes? Answering for myself: many. As a child, comforted, cared for, and complacent, my birthday was an occasion for gifts. As an adolescent, I craved little except simple, good times. My birthday falls during the summer, and more than anything I remember wanting my birthday to be more like any other summer day than any other summer day, which at the time meant 2 on 2 basketball, deli sandwiches, and MarioKart 64 (or sports on network TV). Birthday Challenges are the opposite. We take a silly day and make it silly hard, and we try like hell to complete some silly goals. We even train for them. Why? Well, that’s a very involved question, but a short answer might be, “to…

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Back to America, Back to Birthday Challenges

By Birthday Challenges, Trip Journal2 Comments

We pulled into our usual campground in Joe’s Valley, Utah in the wee hours on Thursday morning. We ended up staying in Salt Lake City longer than expected to finish some editing, and Katie was sleeping, curled up in the back of her white Scion coupe, when we arrived. “Should we wake her up?” “Absolutely” We knew we couldn’t wait. We ran and pressed our faces against the side window of the small white car. Unable to contain our laughter, we promptly woke Katie up and she squealed with joy as she unlocked her car and jumped out. This reunion was a big moment for all of us. We met Katie and her then-boyfriend, Niko, at the Food Ranch in Joe’s Valley in April of last year. They were in the midst of their year-long road trip and we became fast friends (an understatement, as Katie wrote in her post “suddenly we found ourselves huddled around a fire with strangers who would become family overnight”). They helped us film 5.10 vs. LaSportiva that Spring and we continued to meet up on the road as much as possible for the remainder of their road trip. We desperately wanted them to stay on the road so that we could continue to travel together forever…but, you can’t always get what you want. Katie is now persuing her career in the outdoor industry based in Denver, CO. Niko is managing the local climbing gym in Talahasee, FL. Things change, but our love for these two, together and separate, is…

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Hyperextension of the Volar Plate

By Gym Climbing, The Interior, Trip Journal5 Comments

You know the sound that is created by pulling masking tape off of a wall? That, apparently, is a pretty good approximation for the sound of tearing ligaments. It was on Sunday, September 28th that I got my finger painfully stuck in a slot, hyperextending the PIP joint of my left middle finger. I went down the dark rabbit hole of internet research, fully convinced that, at the least, I’d broken my finger and contracted ebola. On Wednesday, October 1st, I saw Dr. Vedder at the University of Washington Hand Center at the Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle, WA. My close friend Evan, graduate of UW’s Physician Assistant program, recommended their clinic; he’d gone there when he injured the medial collateral ligament of the PIP joint of his ring finger (I think that’s what he injured…). I was checked in quickly, X-rayed quickly, and diagnosed within 45 minutes of walking in the door. I can’t really express how refreshing a breezy trip through check-in was. I knew I was in the right place when the nurse who took my height and weight remarked, “ah, another rock climber.” The X-ray showed this: Dr. Vedder tested my collateral ligaments and was not concerned about those, or that I had fully torn the volar plate (which would require surgery). He said I had partially torn it (which explains the tearing sound), and sent me off to the therapy room. It turns out that the key to recovering from this injury is movement. Scar tissue will tend…

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My Very First Finger Injury

By Trip Journal4 Comments

It looked like you had a rubber hand for a second. – Michelle Yalowega The Squamish Music Festival was big this summer, so big that every single hotel in town was sutffed to the gills with spirited fans of Eminem, Arcade Fire, and cheap colorful plastic body ornamentation. Even AirBnB rentals were booked. My parents and my little brother Eliot had set aside the weekend to visit Squamish, but without a place to stay, the trip had to be rescheduled, because of the injury, but for this we used the best legal resources from this useful reference to help us with this. We look forward to having people come to visit us wherever we are staying. We get to play hosts and guides and show them around an area we’ve come to love. Unfortunately, this was not to happen this time around. The festival happened, the forest didn’t seem to notice, and Highway 99 went back to being mostly empty. A few weeks later, we solidified our plans to stay in Squamish through the month of September, and my parents were able to plan another weekend. In need of some non-climbing conversation and some fancy meals out (well, the latter isn’t exactly a need, per se), we eagerly awaited their arrival, double-cleaning everything and anxiously checking the weather. On Friday, September 26th, we awoke to another dreary, soaked day. It had rained fairly consistently for two weeks, and most of the summertime camp-dwellers had left; only the die-hard and the…

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Latest Video: Kelowna Boulderfields

By Bouldering, Climbing, Exclude From Site, FilmNo Comments

At the end of June this year, we decided to travel to Kelowna, British Columbia to attend the Rock the Blocs Boulderfest. Outdoor bouldering comps are a guaranteed good time. This one did not disappoint and we decided to shoot a few boulder problems the day after the competition. Kelowna Boulderfields: Ripe for the Picking from The RV Project on Vimeo. I’m especially excited/anxious to release this video- it’s the first edit in a long time that I’ve done the majority of on my own, making it an incredibly personal project. After the initial frustration and exasperation ebbed, I remembered how much I truly enjoy the editing process. It became my “I’m back in the editing game” piece. Although it took an inexcusably long time to complete, I am happy with the finished product. I even got to beef up my After Effects chops and create a map graphic (a full day of work for 9 seconds of video… somehow totally worth it in the end). Next up for me is finishing up a film about Spenser’s first ascent in Bishop, CA this past April. With rain in the forecast after this weekend, we’ll hopefully be getting a lot of editing done in the next week. Quite the line…here’s a screenshot.

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It’s My Birthday & I’ll Abstain from Doing a Birthday Challenge if I Want To

By Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

Today is my birthday. And… I’m not doing a birthday challenge. After a summer of challenges, I’m burnt out. For me, the most difficult aspect of Spenser’s challenge was an inability to plan ahead. With the unpredictable weather Squamish is infamous for, plans always hinge upon a smile from up above. I couldn’t stand waking up most mornings not knowing what the day had in store for us. Our plans inevitably fell apart, our back-up plans often had to be reworked. I’m tired of planning. It’s not that I feel burnt out with the birthday challenge idea. I’m still really psyched for you to do a birthday challenge. I also had a great time and learned a lot from mine last year. It’s just not what I want to do this year. Other than not having to plan, I have no clue what I want to do and, since we have to go to Vancouver to take a friend to the airport in the morning, it’s surprise Vikki Vancouver Birthday! (Brought to me by Spenser.) You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t written in a while. Now that Spenser’s challenge has been over for a weeks, I’ve had time to digest what the hell happened this summer. It’s been an incredible whirlwind, with some of the highest highs I’ve ever felt. Usually the highs are complemented by concurrent lows, but for the past few months the scale was tipped. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been fighting and crying. Disappointments, headaches, and times…

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Carlo Traversi’s Birthday Challenge- Insane

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing, Exclude From Site, FilmNo Comments

Folks, I’ve done some bouldering, and I’ve pushed my limits. I’ve even done a few harder problems, up to V11. I’ve also done literally hundreds of boulder problems in a day. I’ve been at it long enough to genuinely surprise myself from time to time. What I have no freaking chance of ever doing is doing a fraction of the hard climbing that Carlo Traversi does for his 26th Birthday Challenge. Attempting 26 boulder problems V5 or harder in Colorado meant doing an awful lot of harder climbs, since the bouldering skews in favor of the higher grades there. This is partly why his ticklist (below) is so totally absurd. Plus, I think Carlo just enjoys climbing hard climbs and making it appear effortless. Of course, it’s not all good…anyone who’s bouldered knows how important it is to have skin in order to complete a problem. And guess what happens to your skin after a dozen hard climbs? Will he complete his challenge? Press play to find out… 1. The Kind V5 2. Mr. Wimpy V7 3. The Kind Traverse V11 4. Crack Line V7 5. Whispers Of Wisdom V10 6. Storm Shadow Stand V10 7. Unnamed V6 (Cube Boulder) 8. Unnamed V5 (Cube Boulder) 9. Unnamed V6 (Cube Boulder) 10. Real Large V9 11. Hi Fi V11 12. Arete V8 13. Tommy’s (Other) Arete V8 14. The Donut Thief V9 15. Veritas Assis V11 16. Stripes V8 17. Menwax V7 18. Bulgin’ Out V8 19. Child Of God V10 20. Suzuki Boulder V5…

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30-Day Birthday Challenge Wrap Up

By Birthday Challenges5 Comments

So…done? SO done. How done? So done that I couldn’t muster the energy to write this until, what are we now, damn near two weeks out from my finish date. The last thing I updated anyone about was our trip to Salt Lake City to film and support Steve Edwards’ 54th BDC. He has since begun chemotherapy, and you can follow along on his wild ride by clicking here. So that was Monday, when we got back. Monday night, kinda late, like 1AM. We were tired. Day 24 (Tuesday)- 30 Pitches Led on Gear The next day had rain in the forecast, so we woke up relatively leisurely to head into town and grab sustenance. Consistent showers had our spirits down, but hashbrowns and pancakes brought them back up. While we waited for the world to dry, we planned the rest of the remaining BDC week by reserving a bike for the bike park, arranging to stay with Scot and Michelle at Alta Lake, and staring at the Chief in hopes of divining three easy ways up the face. At around noon, the rain ceased and, though the air remained humid, a decent climbing afternoon began to take shape. Vikki and I drove to the Smoke Bluffs to attempt 30 trad leads, with gear borrowed from the ever-psyched Eric Wolff. Honestly, the day was fairly uneventful. I did 30 different routes, with a Vikki belay for each. I didn’t fall, and managed to plunge pieces into cracks rated as high as 5.10. The…

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Alex Honnold’s Birthday Challenge: A Year’s Supply of Climbing

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing7 Comments

I can’t contain myself, this is just one of the coolest things ever and I have to get it off my chest. After talking about my 360 boulder problem day, Alex Honnold decided to do a Birthday Challenge. To reword that slightly: one of my biggest inspirations was inspired by me. It’s weird, because he’s also a friend and he treats people like equals (in other words, is a normal human being…normal-ish, anyway). If I complain about people being ahead of me on a route at 8am, he dryly observes that the sun comes up at 5 (fair point). If he makes fun of my challenges for sounding heinous, I have tons of ammo to fire back with. And as I reported the trials and triumphs of my various hard days, he began toying with the idea of doing 290 pitches on his birthday, August 17th. It sounded really hard: 10 hours of climbing means roughly a pitch every 2 minutes. After a little bit of discussion, which included talk of the logistical difficulties (travel between routes, passing other climbers) and what would hurt most (feet and legs, followed by hands), he seemed to dismiss the idea. A few days later, Stacey mentioned that he’d gone through the guidebook and counted pitches on the Apron routes. We knew it was on. He’d been bitten by the challenge bug. Sunday 5AM We meet in the Apron parking lot. The sun is not yet showing itself, but some morning stratus clouds lend a dull blue-grey…

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Day 23 (Still)

By Birthday Challenges, Trip Journal7 Comments

It is with a very strong passion that I hate the TSA. You may not agree with me. Maybe you think that being made to take off your shoes, dump out your water, and stand in a microwave somehow makes us collectively safer. Maybe you think that safety is the most important thing in life. I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion, and mine is that the TSA is only good for making complete idiots feel safer. Moreover, only complete idiots think that safety is more important than things like fun and adventure. Goodness. I haven’t even started and I’ve digressed. I’m typing this from a small chair about 6 miles higher than where you’re reading this from. The chair is hurtling north through the rarified air toward Canada. We’ve just departed from Salt Lake City, where we had flown on Friday to support an original birthday challenger. This guy: Steve Edwards, AKA Manny Varjak, Emmanuel Overdrive, and a load more pseudonyms based on various films.  So, I’m still on Birthday Challenge Day 23 because, well, we changed our plans. You see, we had  to fly out to Salt Lake to support this particular challenge. I should back up just a bit so you know why. Starting when I turned 24, Steve and I have had a bit of a rapport over email regarding birthday challenges and climbing and coffee and other things essential to living a decent life.  He lives in SLC. We went to the winter OR…

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Day 22- Writing on a Rest Day

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing, Trip Journal14 Comments

Since the last post, I’ve done a few things. Day 14- Win and Lose I fully expected 30 free throws to be the hardest (least likely) element. Not so much when I first thought of it, but upon subsequent thinkings, it only seemed to get harder and harder. Will Wolcott kindly pointed out that, if shooting at an 80% rate, I stand a way-less-than-1% chance of succeeding at 30 consecutive free throws. I countered that each shot was not an independent event, statistically speaking. There is such a thing as being “on fire” and “in a groove” and whatnot. F the haters. I’m gonna make baskets. I spent an hour looking for an indoor basketball hoop in this icy land of hockey, and found one at the Totem Hall, a community center for the First Nation folk of Squamish. I shot free throws in an empty gym for the next 2.5 hours. At first I improved. I went from streaks of 8-10 to streaks of 12-15, hitting 18 in a row a couple of times. Then it all went to shit. My eyes stopped working properly and my focus waned. Best to call it a practice round. Besides, I had another challenge to attempt. So that was the lose part. The win part is way better. When Jeremy and I did our “test” run up the Grand Wall a few weeks back, it took us 5:40 because we were stuck behind slower parties. We figured that if we hustled and…

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