I am home at last. The past few weeks have rapidly slipped by and I find myself back in Boulder again, marveling at how another trip has come and gone so quickly.
Our last few weeks in Spain were spent in the company of very good people, making new friends and reuniting with old ones. We climbed at Oliana a few more days, giving Sam a chance to finish up Mind Control (8c+) while I tested my power and succeeded on the bouldery Pecos Pardos (8b), before heading to Rodellar to see my good friend and roommate Paige Claassen and Neely Quinn, along with Clay and Rosie Cahoon. We climbed there a few days, Sam getting his onsight game on while I flailed on everything I touched. I was still enjoying myself, but beginning to feel the wear from travel and climbing almost everyday for the past 6 weeks. Tired and unmotivated, all I wanted to do was go home.
We gave Joe a mullet, so he’d fit in.
Our plush apartment in Rodellar (15 euro a person!)
We flew home and had 24 hours to re-group before departing again. In that time, we did a photo shoot with Keith Ladzinski and Elly Stewart for The North Face. That night, Sam and I packed the astrovan and drove 12 hours through the night to the small town of Caldwell, Idaho. Caldwell is home to the College of Idaho, where Sam attended university and coincidentally; also where Matthew Barney was giving the commencement speech at 10am the next day. We had decided a few weeks before that it would be a good opportunity for Sam to visit his old school, and for the both of us to see Matthew, whom we have both become close friends with since the art project I participated in just over a year ago.
We realized that the travel would be epic, and that there was a chance we might not be coherent enough to appreciate Matthew’s words of wisdom, but what else were we going to do? Stay at home to try and recover from jetlag? I think not. Sam and I took turns driving, ingesting caffeine and sugar, and listening to “This American Life” (an Iphone ap I highly recommend for long drives). We arrived at the college at about 9am, and wandered around in a state of foggy delirium for a while waiting for the ceremony to start. It was bizarre, especially in the state I was in, to be in a place I’d never visited before and had no connection to; watching a bunch of random strangers graduate college and take their first steps into the “real world”. I took it in as such: a stranger on the outside, looking in.
On the road.
As expected, Matthew’s speech was insightful, personal, and interesting. He spoke of his personal connection with nature and it’s influence in his life. He encouraged the students to embrace failure, not as a means to gain success but as an end in and of itself. I like this idea, that failure has value and meaning even if it never eventually results in success. It encourages creativity and risk-taking. I’ve always been afraid to fail, but maybe I’ve just been looking at it the wrong way.
After the speech, we visited Matthew’s father’s house in Boise. We went for a hike, saw 5 grey-horned owls, and had a bbq. We slept in the van in their driveway. It was the best night of sleep I can remember.
The following day we drove to San Jose, California. Sam’s good friend Beck Kloss just moved there from Minneapolis because he got a job with eBay. We visited him for a day before driving to Yosemite for some design meetings with The North Face. We spent four days there, discussing product and new ideas, and we even took some of the designers climbing. After our meetings, Sam and I climbed the mega-classic route “Serenity Sons” with Alex Honnold and Matt Segal. It was superb. We went bouldering the next day and Sam completed Midnight Lightning, the most historical boulder problem in the world.
Sam on the Summit
Alex on King Air
The following week we spent in the Bay area; helping Beck move in, climbing in the gym, wining and dining in the Mission district of San Francisco, and visiting The North Face headquarters. When it was time to leave, we drove to Salt Lake City, Maple Canyon, Carbondale, and then Vail to watch the Bouldering World Cup. I was super proud of my best friend Angie Payne for making finals;)
Women’s Finals highlights by Louder than 11
Men’s Finals highlights by Louder than 11
3,000 miles later, the astrovan took us back to Boulder. It’s fully summer here now. Apparently we missed a rainy, cold spring, replaced by 90 degree heat and cloudless skies. I have been climbing in the gym (i.e. sweating and suffering)
since I’ve returned, scrambling to prepare for the next big adventures: New York City for the UBC pro tour Bouldering Competition and Outdoor Nation event; and Arco, Italy for World Championships.