Climb or Die Inside

Nachoclaws resting against a tree at Lost in Space. Image by @mikeloudman

More than yelling at nesting raptors, stomping on native plants, or even littering, my favorite part of climbing outdoors is recklessly assuming I know the story behind the names of boulder problems. I can see the Hulk’s face in the Happy Boulder, even though I’m certain Peter Croft just indiscriminately names everything ‘The (Incredible) Hulk.’ Clearly ‘Go Granny Ho‘ was FA’d by someone’s strong, slutty grandmother. We spent the last half of June and first half of July orbiting Lake Tahoe, and in the Lost in Space area, I found a project called ‘The Gerbiler.’ Deciphering the meaning of that name took exactly as long as figuring out how to start the problem. It’s a roof in a dirty, wet, mosquito-filled cave, so I thought, “Hey, gerbils are rodents, this is a gross cave…?” That didn’t make a whole lot of sense so I gave it up for the moment, assuming there was an inside joke I would someday be in on. While I was having trouble starting the problem someone yelled, “Feet first!” They were joking, but that always sounds fun, and I wasn’t getting anywhere going head first, so why not? read more

Stay gold, Nachoclaws.

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. read more

#whatsadawnwall

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. read more