• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?

    By Jerry Oser

    One of three chalk boards that Jerry Oser staged around Bishop, California. [Photo: Jerry Oser]Before I die, I want to_____________.

    What would you scrawl in that space if given the opportunity and a stick of chalk? Something about someone? Places you want to visit? Faces you yearn to climb?

    This question wasn’t my idea. The artist Candy Chang thought it up and described her experience in a much-loved TED Talk a few years ago. A blank exterior wall of an abandoned building in post-Katrina New Orleans became her canvas when she painted it chalkboard black and stenciled over and over, “Before I die, I want to_____________.”

    She provided chalk with hopes that passersby would fill in the blanks, and soon the spaces were rich with wishes as people shared their dreams in this public space—an act I tried myself and found amazingly cathartic. There is something very liberating about writing a personal yen for all to see. I also found I took a first step toward solidifying a dream or two, such as “write that bloody novel you’ve got bouncing around in your head!”

    I loved the idea, so I set out to bring Candy’s concept to Bishop, California—to see what climbers had to say—in the form of three chalkboards, for three days, in three different locations around town. Surely our lot would have a particularly firm grasp of mortality, given our passion for the vertical, and fill the blank with profound thoughts.

    Personally, when I force myself to think about my life and things I’d still like to accomplish, I tend to think I’ve got all the time in the world, and will remain agile and vigorous way into my future—I’ll just climb El Cap next year. There’s a disconnect between how I want to live my life and how I’m living it. Yeah, I’m dreaming big … as I binge-watch Netflix. Surely I’m not the only procrastinating climber who imagines that someday, I’ll do something great.


    "Climb El Capitan with Lynn Hill" "Climb V13"






    Before I die, I want to . It’s such a simple statement, unless, of course, you fill the blank with something like “master the viola,” or “climb the Dawn Wall free.” Yet if you take it to heart, really think about it—and not fill the blank with a quip about who you want to bone—it’s quite profound. You could die tomorrow. What’s in your bucket?

    These are what they wrote. Before I die, I want to:

    Be kinder, be Joe Kinder, Live!!!, climb Heavenly Path, destroy ISIS, change the world, kick a$$, surf Mavs, Succeed, Live #yolo, Surf Docs, climb on every continent, deep water solo in Spain, never stop traveling, send Evilution, love big and send big, finish my sandwich, get a puppy, CrossFit, go to all the continents, tell Zach he’s soft, see a volcano, swim with whale sharks, go to Font with my crew, go to Nationals, become a climber, keep on breathing, love, fish, Sleep with Marty, Live, see the world at peace, climb a big wall, live life, keep on climbing, see God, send Hero Roof, travel to a foreign country, bike to Wyoming, visit every Disneyland in the world (it is a small world, after all), see a jaguar, see my family, abolish religion, build a cabin in the woods, fish at Tierra del Fuego, touch Puccio’s shoulders, enjoy my life, fly a wingsuit, be free, see my kids grow up, send the Mandala, drive across the US in an RV, climb El Cap, climb in Bishop with my boys, send Son of Claudius Rufus, ask Chairis to marry me, save a whale, understand each other, Live, be a teacher, put a dent in the universe, go to the moon, hike the Roper Route with my daughter, play wiffleball with my kids, live in Italy, be the best I can be, climb V-13, accept my finality, see N’Dama again, drink ten thousand shots, create art, climb V-3 in Bishop, run an ultra-marathon, climb El Cap with Lynn Hill, climb Midnight Lightning, live in a van, climb harder than you, live—really live, push my limits, go to jail for something I believe in, feel ready to die, send Powder Keg, send a V-12, run the JMT, bake a really awesome pie, learn quantum mechanics, be fearless, know myself. Before I die I want to-fu.

       Reading these makes me smile. Dreamers, realists, wise guys, humorists, deep thinkers; we are all kinds. It’s a little hard not to measure the items, to judge them, to check off the ones I’ve done. But that would be missing the point. These are not mine to tick or critique—I’ve got my own fish to fry.

    What people wrote had value—with no right or wrong, and no one’s answer any better than anybody else’s. The ideas are all the same—personal dreams made public. Perhaps the only sorrow in all this death talk would be to really mean what you wrote, and then not see it to fruition.

    Before I die, I want to. Think about it, fill in the blank, share it, and then—make it happen.


    Jerry Oser, an attendee of the first Rock and Ice John Long Writing Symposium, lives, writes, and climbs in Bishop, California.

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