Things can look weird when context is taken away. Forget for a moment that we’re looking at a boulderer trying really hard on a project and imagine this person is simply standing in the forest yelling at a rock to “Fugg off and die!”. Climbing’s great:
Last weekend ushered in the inaugural Steve Edwards Memorial Hurt, aka. the Grandeur Ten. No expectation could have even partially resembled the reality of this day long scramble-athon. It was, in a word, Steve-ish. It was mad Steve-ish and it hurt all over, body and soul. My goal was to, A: not be (re)injured and, B: do it. I did do it – kinda – and am, as far as I can tell, not permanently hurt. All nervous function has not returned to my lower half so we’ll have to see but I’m confident enough to declare me not critically affected in the physical sense. In all other respects it was perfect. It was awesome to be with Steve’s closest friends as we honored Steve with our suffering. It was exactly as I imagine Steve would have wanted, organically disorganized and fraternally collaborative.
“I don’t want it if it’s that easy.”
— Tupac Shakur
Ostensibly we are to trace the Grandeur Fun Run while accessing 10 distinct cliffs. To say Steve sandbaggs us in this respect is a bit gracious. While the official Grandeur Fun Run covers ~10 miles we hike more like 14, sections of which are not “civilized” (as Steve would say). The hiking wrecks me.
Wherever the Fun Run proper is supposed to start, Steve’s vision digresses from this point. Our route starts and finishes in the Edwards backyard, technically in the hot tub but that’s been removed.
We are challenged to climb one route at each of 10 crags along the main trail. No climb should be easier than 5.10a and no single grade should be climbed more than once, meaning we will climb one of each grade between 5.10a and 5.12b. This does not happen. For me, it looks like this:
departure, Steve’s backyard – 7:00AM Saturday, September 17, 2016
Feeling good. Ha. I pounded 6 liters of water the night before, two this morning and I’ve got four liters packed. There’s also a stash of water 2/3 in.
Grandeur Peak, Quarry, Roof Route 5.10
The diminutive Quarry crag is a short walk from Steve’s backyard, though not altogether easy to find. I flash the Roof Route through the ~4ft overhang on the right side of the cliff, after Hans put draws on. It is cold and early, the rock is fractured and unnerving, and I have no coffee. It feels about 5.13X.
Grandeur Peak, Reef, Leviathan 5.12a
I project this with Ben despite the ridicule of everyone questioning our decision to insert a 5.12 on route #2 of what would be a long day (The day would in fact be way longer than we could imagine and our plan is insane). It takes three tries to put a redpoint on it. It’s great. Ben is an animal and I’ll follow him to the loony bin any day.
Grandeur Peak, Rocket Reef, Riding the Rocket 5.9 PG13
This thing makes my feet hurt just looking at it. Actually climbing it is excruciating. I brought one pair of new Scarpa Boostics I just bought for overhanging Tor routes. Of course this rig is ~130ft of limestone slab. Micah puts draws on, I follow, on a 50m rope that is ~90ft too short, making for a crux descent. There’s like 30ft runouts here too. Brilliant limestone though, with a fantastic view of the Great Salt Lake basin.
Grandeur Peak, Upper Reef – [skip]
I think this crag is a triangular formation further up the same cliff band as the previous two crags. It’s way off the main trail, in gnarly bush, and we are running late so it gets skipped. It looks like really good limestone.
Grandeur Peak proper
Here we transfer Steve from Folgers can to the Heavens following a gorgeous ceremony by Steve’s wife Lisa. Corresponding with Steve’s unique and contagious brand of humor his ceremony mirrors The Dude and Walter’s tribute to Donny from The Big Lebowski. Let my friends know I want similar treatment.
The Grandeur is a surprisingly popular peak accessed by a ridegline path. Its popularity is a surprise because if you put a two mile trail in Santa Barbara, starting at 4,000ft and ending at 8,000ft, install heat lamps and outlaw switchbacks, people will pass the fugg out. Here, I’m passed by several dogs, children, a retired person, a guy with a bike on his shoulder, and a lady with an infant on her back – twice.
Millcreek Canyon, Code Blue Wall, Phil’s Rig 5.11c
This is the wall Steve suckered Phil and me into bolting a couple seasons ago. Over two full November days we each put ~18 bolts into two projects up the prominent prow of the Code Blue Wall. Those routes are not on the agenda today. On the far left is a 5.11c Phil put up, FA’d by Dale Goddard, last year. After three earlier crags and the hike from Hell I have to dig a bit to flash this one. At this point I’m fairly cooked so I want to rest before the next crag. Rather, I redpoint it a second time to get Micah’s stupid draws after he bails halfway up.
Millcreek Canyon, Church Fork Wall, The Dark Chrystal 5.12b
Now I’m super not refreshed. Spencer flashes this route on the far left and, being that I have a less than zero percent chance of doing the same, I also try to flash. Before reaching the left of the wall one walks past a few 5.10 routes – clearly too easy – so I bolt-to-bolt flail to chains at 30ft up Steve’s old project.
Steve on The Dark Chrystal for his Birthday Challenge:
It’s about to get dark. Bob says we’re ~8 miles in. No way there’s 2 miles remaining (there’s much more than that). The group splits up. I’m with Ben, Micah and Natalie.
Millcreek Canyon, The Stitches Wall – [skip]
Meltdown. It’s been dark a couple hours. Lisa left arrows marking the final few miles of trail back to the house. We’ve found a couple.
There’s No Trespassing signs next to water towers, people (Police?) approach with flashlights, we take off. Probably not the trail. Gnarly cliffs on the left. Ben took off down the trail. Hopefully he’s not dead.
My knees are pissed. Good, my surgeon was worried about ankles. The left knee, formerly the good one, started hurting before the peak. That was ~10 miles ago. We hear Ben yelling something. Not dead.
Crawl down a slope to a random neighborhood.
arrival, Steve’s backyard – 10:00PM Saturday, September 17, 2016
My body is crazy wrecked. I eat like half a pizza and go to sleep. It should be noted I do not drink a single beer. I’m sure I’ve never been THIS tired before.
These Aussies make rad videos: Young Bloods Spearfishing. Free diving and spearfishing and surfing and shredding around the tropics are awesome activities that, oddly, rarely transfer to video in any sort of entertaining way. Watching these guys’ videos is like replaying what happens in my mind when I’m stuck at the office. The visuals at least. My mind plays different music.
The Grandeur Ten is Steve’s challenge for us. Truth be told, Steve Edwards has left me enough challenges to fill the remainder of my life. Since cancer took him away this year the vacuum he left is filling with inspired feats to honor his legacy. For those of us he affected the objective is personal, endless and simple: do rad stuff. Something like that. Steve left us one specific challenge that is communal, the Grandeur Ten. It’s something to do with hiking and climbing and it is guaranteed to wipe me out. Those are the available details. So to train for the climbing bits, I’m doing this on the Beastmaker 2000:
As of last Thursday I was going through this routine at body weight. It is pumpy, milking the small crimps and 35° slopers exclusively.
There is hiking involved in the G10 proper. That’s going to be tough. I went over my options with the surgeon a few days ago, considering I’m ~1 week officially out of the boot (may it burn in hell), and we agreed it will be interesting. I’ll be in Salt Lake City next week to give it a go.
I will try to document something great. Andree. She is uncomfortably great. I will say ‘she’ but know that traditional gender definitions do little to describe ‘her’. In fact, to experience Andree is to question your own identity.
About a decade ago I was bouldering at Pine Mountain with some folks I can’t remember when someone unremarkable whispers, “Is that Andree?”. I knew just about everyone in the small Santa Barbara climbing community so I looked up expecting either a familiar face or someone to re-file under forgettable. Rather, I was introduced to my life’s epoch. I said nothing. I think she was wearing Army fatigues and a tank top. Who knows. There was a look on her face that is to this day difficult to explain. It was not happiness. She looked mildly annoyed or a bit underwhelmed with Earth. I don’t really remember what happened after that.
Dre came over to train, of course, one-arms in my garage this evening. It was, of course, awesome. Imagine Prince strolling into your local gym to pound out several plates on the bench press. It is an awkward sensation to have someone simultaneously redefine your understanding of physical power and sensual desire. It is to experience, in a word, Andree.
Given how much regular pull-ups suck it is a bit surprising how good one-arm pull-ups feel. Babes dig ’em, they’re super fun, everybody wins. My friend Andre, who is both into babes and a babe herself, is all about one-arms. Coincidence?
One-arms and babes are a natural segue into barbells and boobs. On the complete opposite end of the awesome spectrum is cancer. I found out about BarbellsForBoobs.org shortly after my friend Steve (Stainless) Edwards was cut down in his prime. If you’re talking barbells, boobs, and punching cancer in the face, you are definitely speaking my language.
Some do not, to be sure, but I have basically an anatomically complete frame. And it all works fairly well (big shout out to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital). So while my passion for beefing arms, coupled with a disdain for leg activities, serves me well at the cliff I do acknowledge the utility a complete physiology affords. I do, after all, need to transport myself to said cliff. I should do some Olympic lifts. How better to reinforce all the physiological systems from tip to toe? There are probably some equally good exercises but let’s agree that the snatch does incorporate all our stuff. Furthermore, one could argue that those of us fortunate enough to benefit from the bump in weight loss missing limbs/organs affords would benefit even more from developing a holistic craft like Olympic lifting. By the way, this is truly awesome to behold:
So there, I have no excuse. I am also encouraged knowing I have never regretted rounding out my fitness. I have also never regretted lifting weights. Anyway, it’s settled. Remaining obstacles look like this:
My ankle mobility is fully fugg’d from non-use, broken legs, ignorance, etc.
My hip mobility is fully fugg’d from sitting professionally.
My shoulder mobility is markedly improved but technically still pretty fugg’d in the front-rack position.
I look at this list as a litany of reasons to get after the Oly lifts. Truth be told, I do enjoy activities beyond hangboarding and look forward to fixing my mobility issues. Here’s the plan: