The Problem With Having a Platform

I had a very odd experience this winter, where a stranger told me one of my own stories. It sourced from this blog; although he did not know that. Briefly:

I was out ice climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park with a new partner. It was our second time out together, and we were still getting a feel for one another, as humans and as climbers. This involves a lot of discussion of life, philosophy, and (mostly) previous climbs. My partner asked if I had climbed the Diamond, perhaps Colorado’s most famous alpine wall, to which I answered: yes, I had.

It’s not too bad but you’ll need to move fast, I said to him. Yeah I’ve heard, he says. My favorite story of the Diamond is some guy is up there, pitching it out, going all slow, when suddenly Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell just simulclimb by! Leaving them in the dust.

That event happened to me and my partner Beth, the first time we climbed the Casual Route. I mentioned it in the trip report I published here on this blog, and on Medium. Thanks to SEO, and because lots of people are interested in climbing the Diamond, those posts see a good amount of traffic (and they will see more this summer, as we enjoy Diamond season). Somewhere along the way, this person had read that post, or discussed it with someone else who had. My own story was getting away from me; taking on a life of its own in my community.

This was a thoughtful a moment for me.

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The Wind River Range

“Remote” backcountry place popular with climbers, backpackers, and fisherfolk.

I write “remote” in quotes because there were easily over 100 cars in the Big Sandy Trailhead parking lot when I arrived. A bit shocking after an hour spent driving in on “Am I in the right place?” kind of dirt roads.

The Trip: Drive (8 Hrs) > hike (5 Hrs) >camp (4 days) > climb 1,000+’ faces (x2) > hike out (4 hrs) > Drive home

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Castleton Tower — North Chimney

Rock climbing is going through some changes these days, with the explosive rise of indoor climbing gyms, joining the Olympics as a competition sport, and the popularity of bouldering. It’s easy to be confused when someone tells you they’re a ‘climber’ — this could entail any number of different activities.

At its most basic, climbing involves using gymnastic ability to reach places generally considered inaccessible by humans. And there is nothing that fits this definition better than a desert tower.

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The climb will not be televised!

I bought a GoPro last summer for a specific project. It has been rarely used since. Nothing against the GoPro – it’s a tremendous camera – but using it changes the context of things.

Climbing is one of a vanishing number of modern situations where you can feel free of cameras and expectations. Your buddy might bust out the phone for a quick photo at the belay, but in general the nature of the activity prevents obsessive documentation. All the really great climbing photos are taken by a third party, usually planned well in advance.

We brought the GoPro out on a recent outing in RMNP thinking we might capture some really badass mountaineering footage.

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2020 in Climbs

Normally I write a “year in places” post, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent much of this year at home, in Colorado and other states of the American West (WY, UT, CA). A look back on the year thus involves a bit less horizontal distance, and a lot more vertical!

Most of these climbs involve 5-10 miles of hiking in addition to the technical climbing. This isn’t Europe, and you can’t ride the telepherique to your objective. Here, you gotta walk.

These are the major climbs of the year.

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