I TOOK ON the responsibility of organizing and planning the annual Rifle Clean Up this year, and I approached the event with the goal of making it more fun than it usually is.
In years past, the clean up party involves a day of clean up projects and ends with beer, food and climbers standing around the community house in the dark, listening to music from an iPod and shining headlamps into each others’ eyeballs. I knew the potential for more fun was there.
The Rifle RendezSPEW went off on Saturday with a clean-up that involved removing about 100 pounds of old razor-sharp aluminum/nylon quickdraws; rebuilding trails and belay stations; adding a picnic area across from the Project Wall; trundling a 500-pound block poised over the road on a new route that hadn’t been properly cleaned; selectively Perma-Drawing routes; anchor replacements; a novelty competition: the GNAR-inspired Game of SPEW (Send Points for Elitist Wankers); and a costume party where people dressed up as Rifle routes, won TONS of gear at a raffle, ate burgers and drank beer to their hearts’ content, and danced to music spun by a fog-machine-wielding DJ.
We raised money for the Rifle Climbers Coalition, a group that updates hardware, manages new routes and is making a long-term effort to open access to the front half of the canyon. It was a rad event with such a cool, active and caring community of climbers that I feel really proud to consider myself a part of.
Fun is a funny thing, however, because there always seems to reach a point when you can have too much fun.
For me, however, that point began when my friend Jesse Mattner of CAMP—a company that generously donated hundreds of dollars of steel carabiners and quicklinks, not to mention a chalkblock and ultra-light full-size biner for every attendee—produced a bottle of Maker’s Mark late at night. This resulted in a group of us getting Myrtle-Beach drunk and carousing around way past the biological bedtimes of an average/mediocre 30-year-old male like me. The rest of the night was as black as the moon-less sky. Still dressed up as the Rifle route Merry Maids (5.10a), I somehow found my way to my tent, where I sweat-slept the remaining hours of the night in the warmth of a braided blond wig.
Needless to say, climbing the next day was out of the question. I spent the morning with my disgruntled, infinitely-smarter-than-me girlfriend—who didn’t drink the night before in order to try to send her project—and we tidied up after the party. Jen soon left to go climbing with another friend, while I went to find Jesse, who still hadn’t emerged from his tent:
Since Jesse wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I left the crag to go into town and meet up with my friends Jonathan (aka JTron), Brittany (aka Dirt-BAG) and Sam (aka The Prince of Unnecessary Darkness, aka the Notorious P.U.D.) at a steam sauna, where we hoped to purge ourselves of the toxic sludge clogging our chi.
JTron and BAG are addictively fun to be around, and I think that I’ve figured out their formula for always having an infectiously good time. Having fun is simply a matter of taking everything to the next level. For example, take something that has a normal level of fun, like bowling or going out to see a movie with your friends. Now, amplify that existing fun by adding in some kind of competition—gambling, racing, arm wrestling or drinking challenge—and you’re already on your way to having a much, much better time. Most people don’t think like this because they consider a nice little Sunday game of bowling to already be more than enough fun—but this is the genius of JTron of BAG.
We sat outside the spa in Glenwood Springs—recently named, coincidentally, the “most fun city in the U.S.”—when we saw one of those things that you wish you could see every single day, because it fills you with such happiness, but alas, never seems to happen as often as you’d like. A girl backing up an SUV at Mach 10 slammed into a parked car behind her. The impact sent both cars reeling off the ground, like two battling lions standing on their hindquarters. After a few minutes, the passenger, another girl, got out of the car and screamed angrily at her friend, “You really f—ked that car up!”
At that, we died of laughter. Already the day was fun.
I did everything in my power to rid myself of my hangover. When eating healthy and sitting in a health spa only mildly helped, I tried eating unhealthy at a restaurant, where they didn’t have sparkling water like I wanted, so JTron ordered me sparkling “yellow water” (beer), which I begrudgingly drank.
“We should go play mini golf,” I suggested as the next event of our fun-filled day.
“Dude, you don’t even need to convince me,” said the Prince of Unnecessary Darkness. Sam has been actually trying to get me to play mini golf with him for the last five years, but for various reasons it just never happened.
“The only way I’m going to play mini golf,” JTron said, “is if we all put in $10. Winner takes all, no questions, no take-backs.”
We made our way over to the mini-golf course, though not before the BAG bought everyone tequila shooters. No one actually wanted tequila shooters, but this brings me to another observation about what it means to have fun: Sometimes having fun means doing things you don’t actually want to do.
The stakes were high. We spent about 20 minutes just picking our equipment, choosing the shiniest balls, taking practice swings with every club there.
“OK, let’s establish some rules here,” JTron announced on the first tee. We established a running order, that furthest away would putt first, and that you had to play it as it lies, even if it’s off the course. Plus, you could rack up an infinite number of strokes. We argued over the rules for about 10 minutes and then began to play.
Everyone did well on the first hole, but the second hole—a crowned mound that your ball would frustratingly roll off—provided everyone trouble. On hole three, JTron’s ball went out of bounds. He tried to chip the ball back onto the course, but just dug the club into the ground.
“Two, three, four, FIVE, SIX!” Sam said, counting his misses.
“Those don’t count,” JTron pleaded.
“That’s intent to hit the ball. That f—ing counts!”
Already, the rules were being changed and made-up as we went along.
“Hey, watch the language!” JTron said. “You’re burning too hot, dude!” Then JTron connected with his ball, but it ricocheted off a concrete railing and was sent 50 feet over a fence into a pool.
“Ten, eleven, twelve for losing the ball …”
“OK, shot time,” JTron said. “We take a third now, a third on hole 10 and the last third on hole 17.”
“This is the best day of my life,” Sam said, taking a swig. Everyone’s faces grimaced in pain.
Sam and I were tied for the lead until I reached a loop-de-loop that seemed obvious, but completely screwed me over. I ended up 10 feet behind the tee, chipping the ball toward the metal loop, which sent my ball ricocheting directly back into the rough over seven times.
“MOTHER!” I yelled.
“Watch the language!” JTron said. “Shot time.” We stood in a circle, grimacing.
The camaraderie fell apart on hole 15. Sam was in the lead, and JTron and I began employing croquet tactics to knock Sam’s ball further away from the hole. The Prince of Unnecessary Darkness claimed that we were cheating, and his tantrum culminated in him taking a full John Daly swing at JTron’s ball, which sent it soaring 50 yards through the air and off into the woods.
“Thanks for ruining the best day of my life!” the Prince of Unnecessary Darkness yelled.
“That’s too hot!” said JTron. “You’re burning too hot!”
“I’m taking my $10 back,” the Notorious P.U.D. whined. The day’s capacity for fun had clearly pinnacled.
The game ended with Dirt-BAG as the winner (though it was contested by Sam), but we all felt fine with giving her the money since she bought us lunch and the shooters anyway.
Next year, the goal is to take the RendezSPEW to the next level … but as JTron advised, do it in a way that doesn’t burn quite so hot.