All human life is spent trying not to fail at any more things. Reassuringly, nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. So even she fails, and we get seasons. Failing can take infinite forms: burning food, hurting yourself, and letting everyone down. Generally, barfing is a sure sign of failure. You take a risk, you fail, and puke comes out. When walking into the boulders, hikers ask about our crash pads. With bright eyes we explain that they are for rock climbing, and they say, “Oh, in case you fall, I get it!” But there’s no “in case.” It’s inevitable, climbing is falling. I should say, “They are for falling off rocks.” Maybe you can’t identify with any of this because you’re not a walking train wreck, you have a shiny golden face, and all your wheelies are eternal, but you have definitely failed at something, and will most definitely fail at something else again.
If all those internet trolls wondered why Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were wasting their lives doing something as useless as climbing the Dawn Wall, then boy are they going to be disappointed in me. There’s nothing like a glued-together cave problem with a drop-off finish in a world class bouldering area to make you question what the hell you are doing with your life. Fortunately, if you look into the cave with the right kind of eyes, you will find the definitive answer to soothe any existential crisis: Going sideways, to that glued jug, DUH.