If you’ve never asked a 3 year old to guess your age, put that on your bucket list. I’ve been put anywhere from 5 to 100. They usually guess below 10 because you must be however old the other big kids they know are. If they don’t guess “big kid age,” they usually guess the highest number they know, because the older you get, the bigger you get. Little kids don’t understand peaks or primes of life. To them, age, strength, and “bigness” are directly proportional.
All those little kids are fucking right. I turned 30 last Saturday, which is supposed to be when all of your cell walls give up and your hairs gray and your butts turn into mud and your guts melt out through your mud. Instead, I sent The Hulk!
It’s been a long time since we have properly Rampaged. January and February were bittersweet, watching Eli climb every cool thing in Bishop while I sat on the sidelines. March through June was the long, hard trudge of the Spyder tour. July through November, the poor, unloved Rampage sat neglected in Eli’s parents yard under constant attack from wasps, and the cruel gaze of skeptical neighbors, while we stayed with friends in Portland. Finally, after all this time, we live not out of suitcases and rental vans, but out of our very own cardboard box on public property.
For the past two years, Bishop has been the first place we go after our stint inside the Amazon warehouse. The wildly three-dimensional settings of the Happies, Sads, and Buttermilks are a stark contrast to the cold, predictable concrete floors, fluorescent lights, and right angles of the fulfillment center. Showing up in Bishop always feels like your mom just came into your room and turned the light on yelling UP AND AT ‘EM because it’s time for your red eye flight to Disneyland. This year, it wasn’t an Amazon warehouse that we woke up from, but a dark period of doubt and aimlessness brought on by injury and whatever-fraction-of-life-crisis plagues you at 29.
Our friend Casey, one of the infamous Left Fork Pool Boyz, came to visit this week, and it has been one of the best weeks of my climbing career. Over the course of 5 days, and with the help of Casey yelling super loud, I sent enough long term projects to be happy for many seasons of climbing in Bishop. Enough to start getting to my head. Not only am I back from injury, but I’m stronger! Maybe I’m stronger than EVERYONE. Why wouldn’t I be able to just flash v8? I probably don’t even need this new crashpad Eli got me for my birthday, because I am never going to fall again! Am I the King of the World? Am I… unbreakable?
There is no way to tell for sure whether life imitates M. Night Shyamalan movies or M. Night Shyamalan movies imitate life, but the one thing we can be sure of is that my back hurts. The sending rampage I just completed ended with a pathetic fall off of Strength In Numbers (v5), which I landed wrong. It has been over a week since that happened, and I was able to climb again within a few days, but it taught me a valuable lesson in invincibility: I am not the actual Hulk. Not only that, but I’m 30 now, and perhaps I will keep getting stronger, but I will certainly continue to get injured. Much like the cicada grub crawling around in the deep ground for 17 years, even when it emerges, self-actualizing into a juicy flying idiot, lights will confuse it so badly that it crashes into a man’s forehead, knocking itself out. It awakens in a plate of spaghetti, desperately flopping, getting tangled in noodles, becoming increasingly tomato-flavored until a benevolent hand picks it out of the food and tosses it to the ground, where a fat lap dog scarfs it down before it gets to fulfill its only purpose: to reproduce. This is life; it’s not the land of hopes and dreams, it is an accidental battlefield, and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re the grub or the flying guy. How many sends do I have left before my joints seize up once and for all? No one can say, but I’m going to videotape every single one in case it is the last achievement I have to cling to for the rest of my sad, motionless days.
Please enjoy these humble send videos.