First, I went to the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City. I wasn’t going to go, but then something kind of important came up, so I did. It was pretty fun. I hung out with some friends I don’t get to see very often, like Brittney Griffith, who’s really awesome and currently in Spain right now with all my other lucky friends!
Amy Pickering, Brittney, and myself
Awesome dog at OR that everyone took pictures of. But I made mine totally different using an iPhone ap.
Then, Sam and I drove to Ouray, CO; where we hung out with Uncle Boone (Speed). He’s not really my uncle but I think it’d be awesome if he was. David Clifford, Nelson Carayannis, and Ben Garst also joined for a spell, to film some ice climbing with the infamous RED camera.
Sam climbing the ice while Boone shoots pretty pictures.
Self-portrait from the bottom of the canyon.
Then, I went home and hung out in Boulder for a while, which recently makes me feel anxious and unsettled. I get bored and begin to think I’m worthless and unproductive. I’m beginning to have trouble staying in one place with no steady routine to keep me occupied. On top of all that drama, I’ve developed an aversion to the climbing gym that I can’t seem to shake, which leaves me at a complete loss about what to do……I know, I know, what a classic ”first world pro climber problem”! By the way, I’m totally kidding. I didn’t want to be accused of complaining too much, so I thought that making fun of myself first might be an appropriate defense mechanism. Hope it worked. As spoiled and fortunate as I am, I honestly do find it abrupt and unpleasant to skid to a sudden halt when I’ve become accustomed to moving from place to place all the time. Guess it just takes some getting used to. But I didn’t have time to do that because I left again.
Jon Cardwell at the Sundowner. Fun night out with a huge crew of climbers.
Awkward photo of me and Angie Payne on a hike in the Flatirons.
This time, a bunch of us went to Vail for the Teva Winter Games. There was a crazy mixed climbing comp there. The format was kind of like the Duel at the Arco Rockmaster, where two climbers race head-to-head on mirrored routes and then switch. The climber with the fastest combined time proceeds to the next round. There were only three women in the comp so we just competed against the men. That was really fun, except that all three women were eliminated in the first round. There was a women’s final at the end but we (myself and Dawn Glanc) both ended up falling, which was unfortunate and made us both feel kind of lame. Oh well. My disappointment lasted about five minutes, until Sam climbed in his final round right after me. He absolutely killed it, never faltering through all five rounds, taking home a long-awaited and well-deserved first place.
The Men’s podium
Then, I went to Bozeman for an innovation trip with The North Face. I was with TNF athletes Conrad Anker, Peter Croft, Jim Zellers (snowboarding pioneer), the good people who work for the Innovation Department at TNF, and some folks from the Mayo Clinic. We went ice climbing and backcountry skiing in Hyalite Canyon, tested out new gear, and brainstormed new ideas. We camped outside and hung out in a tiny cabin for meals and socializing. I hadn’t skied in 8 years, and was initially pretty hesitant and scared; but by the end of the day I felt competent enough to try and keep up with the more experienced group. It felt refreshing to be doing something new.
Early morning Downtown Bozeman
Dinner time in the cabin.
Skinning up and skiing down at sunset. Phenomenal.
It was way below freezing at night and I barely slept, attempting to toss and turn the chills away and cradling my metal water bottle filled with boiling water in my arms. But the good company I was in during the day made up for my solitary discomfort at night. In one animated discussion, we started assigning climbing grades to other activities we do. Conrad gave our Hyalite winter camping experience a grade of 5.7, compared to camping on Mt. Everest which he said was around 13b or so. I think he’s a sandbagger, and using the “old school” grade system, because he said that the skiing we did was only 5.8; while Zellers gave it a solid 5.10. Then someone accused me of using “Colorado grades”, which I think was way off-topic, and I’m still not even sure what that means. Peter, who never fails to have an opinion, thought the whole game was a bit stupid, and that we should focus our energy on more important subjects, like why Bishop is better than Hueco. Silly banter and bullshit aside, it was a real treat to be able to spend time with these guys. They are legends in their respective fields and have all remained so undeniably relevant today, still doing it with limitless passion and energy that should inspire us all to follow our own paths with such fervor and ambition.
Now, I’m back in Boulder again and staying busy. I actually have quite a few things to do. Preparing my slideshow for the upcoming Hueco Rock Rodeo (March 3-4), organizing my mess of gear that has gone from a relatively simple sport climbing kit to ice,mixed, and alpine climbing paraphernalia, and deciding on the best training regime to bring my winter camping redpoint level up from 5.7 to the mid 5.13 range before May. Wish me luck.
Staying warm with Conrad’s XL Himalayan Parka (I had another down jacket on underneath).