Calico Basin "Cut Your Teeth Crag" 5.7 sport

Keeping it Clean

What does the rock care if it is broken or chiseled or drilled, or painted or marked or scarred - it's just a rock. When you look at a cliff face or mountain what do you see? Just a pile of rocks? Let me tell you what I see, because I can hear you all so earnestly asking...

I see a landscape that has been meticulously crafted and constructed by a passionate and devoted artist. An artist who masterfully works in oils, water, sand, wind and colors and angles so precisely to reflect light and create shadows perfectly at any angle. More valuable than the greatest oil paintings, ornate silk Persian rugs or magnificent tapestries. To me a landscape of cliffs, rocks and mountains is a priceless work of art. But unlike the paintings, sculptures, and silk rugs that are forbidden to be touched, felt or walked on this, the ultimate work of art, is made to be experienced by every possible sense.

I feel a simple peace in natural landscapes. A peace that otherwise only comes in the most special of man made structures. I feel drawn to live outside and feel the raw earth in my hands. It is a search for balance and priorities that must be skewed that keeps me indoors so often. Why do I have a desk job?

For me climbing is one of the activities that allows me to feel closest to that beautiful work of art. Probably since it is literally inches from my face most of the time. While climbing there is a focus where everything else seems to naturally fade away, like in silent meditation but it isn't forced, my mind is just... clear. When else in life do you get to experience that?

Sometimes, especially when leading a climb I am not so aware of the rope or gear being placed in the cracks, but all my senses are trying to pour through my hands and feel every surface of rock, every break, every smooth varnish, until I find a hold and begin the search again. Ok, sometimes I am very aware that I am really high up and the ground is really hard and far away.

I realize that this probably sounds like a hyper romanticized expression of what rock climbing actually is, and that it might be just hindsight that provides this sense of expression. The point is that I have a strong love for this Earth and its landscapes and feel that these are gifts given to us, and that we are obligated to use them to help us explore ourselves. Since I hold nature in such high regard, I have strong feelings about how we are charged to care for this work of art.

Royal Robbins, one of the early pioneers of rock climbing, especially the big walls of Yosemite has also spoken poetically of this experience, "We’re at the base of a three-hundred-foot arch. We must pass it. That means surmounting an overhang beetling with convolutions and jutting corners. In other words, a crag. And we are cragsmen! Much better to be a cragsman than a mere rockclimber. A crag still has an air of adventure about it. A rockclimb is mostly technique nowadays. So we go crag climbing. First it’s back and foot, then bridging in a shallow groove. Loose rock is treated gingerly and the key is a slotted nut at the lip of the overhang. The door opens and it’s a new world—firm rock, cracks, hollows, spikes, and knobs. Joy comes in a rush as the muscles work swinging upward in balance past an occasional runner. The easy going is interspersed with bits of questioning calling for quirky answers. A hand jammed and the opposite foot set high in a hole and move up in one fluid motion pivoting and changing the jam to a lieback and reaching for the next spike above. When you do it right, it feels right."

Royal is also known for his advocacy of 'clean climbing' meaning to climb in a way that leaves no trace, a way that does not require drilling the rock or defacing it in any way. What does the rock care? Well, the rock doesn't but I sure do. After all for me, this is not just rock, it's an experience. I would want everyone to have the same natural experience that I have had. Do nothing that might detract from the work of art, keep it clean. As serious as this all might sound, you've also got to have fun. If challenging myself is the first reason to climb, having fun is a very close second.

Mostly I think this post is a reminder to me that I need to get outside more. Hopefully you can also get something out of it, if not, lets go climbing and maybe I can show you what I mean.





Airplane Philosopher

Flying south from Seattle, you must always sit on the left side of the plane so you can watch the amazing Mt. Rainier float by below you, and see the rugged snowy mountains and deep green forests slowly give way to dry hills then flat lands patched together with crops of grain and the irrigation channels off the Columbia river. Seeing all that on a clear day in the spring is quite a gift. Seeing the massive prominence of Rainier from below at Ft Lewis then high above from the plane distorts one's perspective of it. Something about flying on an airplane always makes me get philosophical, it probably has to do with seeing everything from a different point of view.

Having to travel vs. getting to travel for work. It feels so good to leave a site on Friday knowing you don't have to go back. At least not for this project any more, for now all the problems that were once yours are now the customers and you can feel good that somehow you convinced them to sign off on the system officially completing the contract and earning enough money to do it all over again later to someone else. Beginning the trip on Monday usually brings some excitement and anticipation for the opportunity to experience variety, to see something new even if it is just another hotel and mid class sedan rental car. Sometimes you have time after working at the site to go for a run or drive around and find interesting places to see: a beach, the forest, mountains, cities, museums and the occasional movie your family wouldn't want to watch anyway. Not this week though, after a few 13 hour days you might stop caring about variety and just want to sit and stare at the wall.

What does it mean to have confidence in the things you do and create? What does it mean to take pride in your work? Not the kind of pride that comes from thinking you and your stuff is better than everyone else but the pride that comes from knowing that because of your work, other people will get to feel a little better about their work, or be impacted in another positive way, and the confidence that what you produce will continue to deliver for a long time.  I really want to feel that kind of pride and confidence. That is what motivates me to get better, to train and practice and study, that is why I feel so frustrated and angry when I don't achieve it.

Why do we ever deliver anything less than what we want? Maybe what we want isn't actually what we say it is. We might say that what we want is to feel pride and confidence, but our actions might say we only want to appear to others to be very busy and capable and successful by making lots of money. Is that really what we want? Do we really care more about how others perceive us than delivering our best quality? Ok, you've got me on money, yes I want that.

What do you want? I have learned that the price to pay for wanting to appear very smart and capable and do a lot of different things at the same time is internal frustration and anger. So if you're ok with that then congratulations, you know how get what you want and are willing to pay for it. You have arrived. But the things we want change. Sometimes I want a sandwich and sometimes I want tacos.

What is the price for feeling pride and confidence in your work? I'm not 100% sure but I have a feeling that a big part of it is time. I don't know how much time but it is a lot. Way more time than we think it is. How much time during a day do we spend working toward a single objective?

Perspectives change, sometimes you see the mountain from far below and other times from high above and so what we want also changes. Today I want that sandwich, and to feel pride and confidence in my work. Hopefully this perspective lasts. I can usually go a few months before it changes again. I should probably try to think about ways to keep it longer but eventually I have always lost it and can only get it back when the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

I feel good about figuring out what I want for myself but I believe that if we have a team, a team that also wants what I want then we will be able to get back some of the time cost, it's like a 15% team discount and the Success Store.

Everything has a cost. You won't figure out what the cost is until you try a few different things. You won't figure out what you want unless you try a few things either. Today I want to feel that pride and confidence in what I do but maybe I'm settling for airplane peanuts. Actually this flight is a pretty rough one, doesn't look like I'll get those peanuts after all.

Grand Canyon Trail "Run"

The Grand Canyon -  just a few pictures and a video from our trail "run". Only about half of it was actual running for me, the downhill half. I decided to film some of it with my chest mounted Go Pro. If you can take 25 minutes of camera shaking you might be able to see some beautiful views, if not here are some of my pictures. In the words of John Westley Powell "The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, not by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combine must fail." And as much can be said about an attempt to hike up the rims.
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnwesley187489.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnwesley187489.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnwesley187489.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_wesley_powell.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_wesley_powell.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_wesley_powell.html
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_wesley_powell.html











Kaibab Trail river crossing

Skeleton Point