Upon arriving in a new country, first things first: Always learn how to order the local drink. You’d be surprised how far you can get with a combination of English, charades and confidence.
The destruction of bouldering areas, as a result of their rising popularity, is a topic that often comes up when I visit one of my mentors, Fred Nicole. We talk about how this is a necessary evil in the progression of the sport … though we still miss the times when there were fewer people out at these rare, pristine bouldering areas.
When I was 16, my father, a geologist for Shell, took a job in Scotland. But at that point I had already decided to drop everything else and just focus on climbing. Instead of going with my family, I stayed and moved in with my climbing partner Brent Luchsinger. Being on your own at 16 quickly taught me how to make things happen for myself, instead of waiting for Mommy to do them for me.
On the summit of Wilson Peak in Southern Colorado, Brent noticed my hair standing on end. We had no time to do anything before the lightning hit. It was a very quick, cracking pop.
Being struck by lightning actually wasn’t too painful at first. But then my head started to swell and my eyes started to bleed, and I had the worst headache of my life. I’d love to say this was some kind of turning point, but it really just boiled down to a shitty day in the mountains.
I was always drawn to highball bouldering because it tests your mind as much as your finger strength. Unlike with regular bouldering your decisions have real consequences, something I consider to be an essential part of the climbing experience.
Highball bouldering, however, is now ancient history for me. It was worth it until it wasn’t worth it. The first time I broke my ankle was because I was brave. Were I to break it again, I would be stupid.
My biggest failure is working hard to reach a point where I was climbing well, doing 5.14b routes and V14 boulder problems, but not having the discipline to stay there for very long. Now I don’t climb anywhere near that level, and that makes climbing less fun. That’s just the truth. Climbing is painful and frustrating even before you drastically reduce your ability level.
The proudest stuff I’ve done, such as The Thimble in South Dakota and Icarus Direct in Hueco as well as my own FAs, are now warm-ups for Kevin Jorgeson. He literally warmed up on one of my proudest FAs.
I used to climb as a way to compete with other people. Now I find myself motivated by travel, the social aspect of the sport and the simple pleasure of moving over stone.
Being a filmmaker, especially one who is reviewed, taught me to look forward, always toward the next vision, the next project, instead of backward at the successes and failures of things I’ve already done.