I’m going to pull my best Ethan Pringle impersonation and do something I always swore I’d never do with this blog: apologize for not having updated it in a little while. I wish that the reasons for my absence were even a fraction as glamorous as Ethan’s usually are, which usually go something like (and I’m riffing):
Sorry for not updating, guys! You see, in the last two months, I’ve climbed on four different continents and haven’t really had time to update my site with my NOC list of V14’s and 5.14’s that I’ve been quietly killing off like a hired rock assassin.
No, unfortunately climbing has been, in many senses, as distant to my life as China. I’ve been preoccupied with much more pedestrian things, such as the 9 to 5 five and also buying and moving into a new house. I’m now a homeowner, and it feels very grown up of me to admit such a thing—but I believe that both work and the energy you put into where you live should always take a back seat to cultivating your true passions in life. This is one reason why Jen and I are hitting the road this weekend, despite the mountain of unpacked boxes and undone home projects under which we currently feel buried. We are going on a mini road trip up to Wyoming for a few days of climbing at Sinks. I’ll be sure to update my blog first thing Tuesday morning with a report of all the routes I DON’T send and other warm-ups that I botch in this sad state of my current form.
But in the meantime, please check out Chris Kalous’s cool new climbing podcast called The Enormocast, which is just getting off the ground. The Enormocast is the latest production to join Carbondale, Colorado’s global climbing-media powerhouse that includes Splitter Choss, Supertopo, Rock and Ice magazine, the 5 Point Film Festival, Alpinist magazine’s editorial arm, a ton of photographers and videographers, and, of course, Evening Sends.
Chris Kalous and I are, in many ways, living parallel lives a decade apart. We’re both Alex Lowe wannabes, we both studied abroad in New Zealand, and we both have deep insecurity issues that cause us to do things like write magazine columns or start podcasts about climbing. This year, Kalous did his 40@40 birthday challenge at Indian Creek, while I did my 30@30 challenge at Rifle. And now, we both play guitar, though Kalous has me sorely one-upped here because he is actually talented at it, and he is also in a rocking band that gets more chicks than a Kindergarten classroom incubator (probably a dozen or so).
Although everyone knows that I have a radio face, only my good friends know what an absolute bore it is to hear me speak in person. My way with words, if it can be said that I even have one, is best if limited to the word processor where I get to “redpoint” my ideas as opposed to just blather them all out, onsight. Thus, with the weight of my fumbling, uncooperative tongue sinking heavily on both my mouth and mind, I was hesitant to agree to an interview.
But Kalous is a persistent little fucker, and he kept nagging me to come on the show, and if there’s one thing that I hate more than embarassing myself, it’s being nagged. It ended up being fun, too, and I think Kalous did a great job with the interview. As opposed to him slamming me with hard-hitting questions like Larry King, we ended up having an interesting conversation about climbing. Mostly we talked about being a writer/satirist, and just a bit about who I am, where I came from and how I got started.
And despite my aural awkwardness, I think the interview came out pretty good. And it was so fun, in fact, that I look forward to going back on the show to talk more about climbing! I mean, it’s climbing. There’s SO much to talk about. I’m not kidding, either. But first, we probably need to settle, once and for all, whose birthday challenge was harder: 30 pitches at Rifle, or 40 at Indian Creek. Kalous says that his 40@40 wasn’t too bad, but Kalous is the Pei Mei fucking Zen master of Indian Creek, so I take that with a grain of salt.
And while I’m plugging, there are a couple other things I want to mention.
The new issue of Rock and Ice is on its way to subscribers right now. It’s our annual Photo Issue, and it contains some of the best, boldest imagery I’ve seen. But it also has my column, “The Tyranny of History,” which talks about the latest happenings on Cerro Torre. So much has already been written about CT 2012, but I hope that my article—which draws from over a dozen different interviews and gets to the bottom of the facts and what has actually happened on this mountain—adds some context and information to this very complex issue. Anyway, I hope that if you’re interested in CT that you’ll read my column and get me some feedback.
As an addendum to my magazine article, I had been planning to write a blog post here about Cerro Torre that I was going to call: “Cerro Torre For Dummies”—because this issue, like so many of climbing’s ethical quandries—is actually quite simple, when you break it down. (I.e.: Nobody approved of the way Maestri’s bolt ladders were installed; the route was done without the bolts; a fraction of the bolts were chopped; and a week later, the route was free climbed without the bolts. Seems pretty cut-and-dry, as in, what the fuck is everyone’s big problem?) Alas, I wasn’t quick enough to get my post up (due to general lethargy, as well as having to buy a house and then move into it), and Splitter Choss beat me to the punch. But at least I was scooped by another Carbondale outfit and not some butt-sniffer from Boulder.
Also, be sure to check out my friend Justin Roth’s new blog, The Stone Mind, which seems to be offering content that’s a cut above the usual chaff.
Finally, check out these new The North Face short- and long-forms from Camp 4 Collective. Tim Kemple brought me on to help with the writing and story telling of this TNF expedition from last summer to Newfoundland, where Mark Synnott, Alex Honnold, Hazel Findlay and James Pearson were to explore the climbing potential of a rad-looking granite big wall … but instead, were, essentially, hosed by bad weather. We tried to tell a story that is a bit darker than you usually hear told in most expedition videos these days—one where the characters don’t get to climb anything, but then happily go on about how climbing is such a great experience to them. I’ve been in those situations before, and even in the most beautiful, rare places in the world can start to seem depressing and entrapping when you deal with something unpredictable, like bad weather.
Anyway, check them out. I think we’re all very pleased with how they came together, and I look forward to working with Camp 4 Collective on future creative projects such as this. They have a great thing going over there!