Links of the Week (3/23/2020)

Climbing will be in the Olympics…you pumped?!

The inclusion of climbing in the Olympics is new, but the topic itself has been around for decades

Over 10 years ago I knew this would eventually happen. Glad to see it here.

Climbing in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds


Climbing will premier in the Olympics on August 4 at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, Japan. Prep for the venue is well underway.

First Look: The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Climbing Walls


There will be a total of 40 climbers (20 men and 20 women) competing at the Tokyo Olympics, and each country attending the games has been given a maximum quota of two competitors per gender. The climbers who have already qualified for the Olympics were selected through a series of Olympic qualification events, including the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Championships this past summer in Hachioji, Japan, and a more recent combined contest in Toulouse, France.

Meet the Athletes Climbing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


The sport of climbing and cinema go back a long way and there are dozens of great films to see, both from Hollywood and from climbers themselves.

The Hollywood climbing films range from sorta realistic to the absurd to downright cheesy. And the library of classic real climbing films is big.

​Lists like these are always fun. I think I’ve seen about half of these and my two favorite are probably Return to Sender and Cliffhanger. 🤣

25 Must-Watch Real and Hollywood Climbing Movies – Gripped Magazine

Apple and Patagonia Close but Continue to Pay Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

Companies with a clear ‘why’ shine during crisis…

My Dad works at an Apple store back in my home state. He actually told me about this before it hit the news.

Apple Closes Retail Stores Outside Greater China Until March 27th and Outlines Steps It Is Taking to Protect Employees

We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers. Our online stores are open at http://www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App Store. For service and support, customers can visit support.apple.com. I want to thank our extraordinary Retail teams for their dedication to enriching our customers’ lives. We are all so grateful to you.

Tim Cook

I am a self admitted fan of both of these companies.

When I saw that Apple and Patagonia were both doing this, I was reminded that there is a reason these companies have “fans” like me. As Simon Sinek says, they have a why at their core that is about more than the bottom line.

PATAGONIA CLOSES WEBSITE AND STORES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS, WILL CONTINUE TO PAY WORKERS

It is actions like this that help keep me and many others faithful to brands like Apple and Patagonia.

We should remember that, even when starting a blog, a vlog, or any endeavor.

Creative Intimacy

You ever wonder about who Albert Einstein hung out with?

Albert Einstein’s mind was the first to grasp the theory of relativity. William Shakespeare penned the timeless drama of Romeo and Juliet. Pablo Picasso’s brilliance brought cubism to the masses. Royal Robbins’ adventurous spirit drove him to the first ascent of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome.

image via Wikipedia (Pablo Picasso and scene painters sitting on the front cloth for Léonide Massine’s ballet Parade, staged by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 1917)

These geniuses of their time are all credited with amazing accomplishments. But did they accomplish these things solely because of their own brilliance or were there others that deserve some of the shine credited to these stars? An article in the New York Times dove into the myth of the ‘lone genius’.

We’ve all seen it.

image via Wikipedia (Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, Yvon Chouinard at the completion of the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan.)

At one point in time we have all probably revered those figures from the past who discovered a law of physics, wrote a timeless song, created a masterpiece of art, or (in my old circles) established a classic climb. Often times these creations and discoveries are attributed to someone of genius who was probably known for their solitude and is still widely pictured in that same light. Yet the Times article brings to light the partners, confidants, and even rivals that helped these men push their generations into the future.

Birds of a feather flock together right?

image via Wikipedia (Also known as “Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern”. The painting depicts (from left in back) Joshua Sylvester, John Selden, Francis Beaumont, (seated at table from left) William Camden, Thomas Sackville, John Fletcher, Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Samuel Daniel, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Southampton, Sir Robert Cotton, and Thomas Dekker.)

If you steer away from the cultural icons and spend a little time learning about those around them, we can find some interesting characters that also theorized, painted, wrote, or climbed along side these pioneers.

Highly recommend reading the Times article. It brings a new perspective on the team work and community that genius can require.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

Quotes to Live By (Fail Falling…)

If you climb, did you ever ask yourself why?

Barely started Royal Robbins’ second biographic volume Failing Falling and I already came across two profound sentences.

Climbing existed for its own sake and had no other justification. Its meaning came only from the effort I poured into it.

Royal Robbins in Fail Falling

I love it. This is going to be a good book.

The Battles Within

Exploring your call of the wild…

Travel writer Tynan wrote a great article a while back that feels like he plucked it right out of my brain. As someone who still has a passion to climb as much as I can, yet can’t, there is always a push and pull balancing act that I bet almost everyone deals with in life. Tynan gives a good analogy.

A wild horse is a beautiful thing on its own, but isn’t very useful to a person. To create a symbiotic relationship with the horse, the owner must break the horse, training it to give up some of its wild instincts and replace them with conditioned responses.

I rode a horse a few weeks ago in Chile. She was generally well behaved, but had her quirks. Sometimes, riding along in the desert, there would be a tasty looking shrub. If we were walking slowly enough, she would stop and eat it. I’d have to yank on the reins to prevent her from doing it, but that didn’t stop her from trying again next time.

It feels like my brain is the same way. I train it over and over again, but it’s never completely broken. There are battles that I fight every single day, knowing that winning doesn’t mean eliminating those battles entirely, but just winning them more often than not.

I too never feel like I truly win that ever present war with my brain, but maybe I do win most of the battles day by day. In past years my wife has understood that “call of the wild” for me and would graciously take the kiddos for a week or so and say “Just go climb”. I’ve been able to take trips to climb Half Dome, El Cap, Leaning Tower, and other lesser known climbs.

While it has been a while since I’ve been able to climb, that call is still there. Today I encourage you to explore your own Battles Within.

Links of the Week (2/18/2020)

Little late this week…holiday weekend 🙂

The membership economy is a term that I coined to describe what I was seeing, starting about 15 years ago when I was working with Netflix and continuing into this massive transformational trend where companies of all types were moving from a model that focuses on ownership to access, from the transactional to the relational, from anonymous to known, from one payment to many smaller payments and from the organization talking at the customer and hoping they’re listening to multidirectional communication among customers and back and forth between the customers and the organization under the brand umbrella of the organization. So when you put all of those things together you have this kind of painter’s palette to reinvent your business model and that’s what’s driving this membership economy.

Interesting perspective from someone who used to work at a company that probably was the tipping point for the “membership economy”.

Business revolution: What is the membership economy?


In the first days and weeks of fatherhood, a man’s testosterone and cortisol levels decrease and oxytocin, estrogen, and prolactin levels surge, promoting an important bonding experience between a father and his newborn child.

Dad bod & dad brain


But I have to be real with you. I know this system works, but I still struggle with resisting the temptation to take shortcuts. Even though I’ve seen time and time again that developing my ideas first actually reduces the total time I spend creating, it’s easy to make excuses and say, “I just don’t have time for that right now.”

In my experience, this is the problem most people struggle with when it comes to creativity and productivity: they know what to do, but they have trouble following through and doing it.

This goes inline (in my opinion) with allowing kids today, the time to “get bored”. That’s when the creativity finds its way to the surface.

How and Why to Make the Time to Think


While inadequate gear in climbing’s early days created a mentality that “the leader must not fall,” modern climbers must embrace falling as a skill to reach their full potential.

As someone who climbed for over a decade…I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Overcome Your Fear of Falling: Part 1—Intro and History

Links of the Week (12/16/2019)

I’ve been itching to get outside and climb again recently…so there’s a theme to this week’s links.

(inspired by true, but much less glorious, events in my dog’s life)

This just made me smile.

My Dog’s Perfect Day – semi-rad.com


I’ve always been motivated by goals. Evaluating my past experiences and then setting ambitions for the future is one of my favorite aspects of climbing; it’s helped me push through the grades, from sending my first 5.12, Ejector Seat in 2005, to sending Jumbo Love, my first 5.15b, in 2018. Almost every climber has ambitions, but often we simply don’t know how to move forward or at what pace—and so, perhaps, we plateau. Fortunately, there are five simple ways to track your goals and encourage steady progress.

​2020 is just around the corner. You know what that means.

The Top 5 Rules for Effective Goal-Setting


We get it: The idea of having too much tech in the backcountry makes a lot of people cringe. After all, we go out there to get off our phones, wean our eyes off screens and literally unplug. But what if we told you there were a handful of battery-operated items that could actually enhance your time at the crag, on the route, or on the approach? Whether your loved one is a first-timer or a seasoned first-ascensionist, these are the tech gifts your favorite climber will want to make their off-the-grid experience even better.

​Too much tech? Pssshhh!

Top 2019 Tech Gifts for Climbing


Imagine reading any of the above sentences to yourself 10 years ago. Each of these scenarios would’ve seemed unbelievable in December of 2009. And yet, as we close out the past decade and head into a new one in 2020, together these examples construe a rather accurate rendering of what the sport of climbing has become.

​I started climbing in 2004. 15 years has drastically changed how the sport is seen by the public. Climbing movies now are much more than following Timmy O’Neil around in Utah. (Although my favorite climbing moving may still be Return to Sender) This article gives me hope that Climbing isn’t becoming to tainted by the mainstream.

Sex, Death, and a Decade of Climbing in Review | Evening Sends

Your life won’t flash before your eyes

Yosemite Valley. El Capitan. My foot had just slipped…

Yosemite Valley. El Capitan. Salathe Wall. The Ear.
“F@#k this.”

mountain

“F@#k!!!”

Numerous variations of that phrase left my mouth more times than I care to recall while I climbed behind “The Ear””. An aptly named rock formation, it is artfully featured about 1,800 feet up the face of El Capitan, and appears to constantly eavesdrop on every creature in Yosemite Valley…

…except on that day.

That day there was no way that The Ear could even hear the blare of an occasional car horn over my violent mutterings and free-flowing curses. It wasn’t out of anger that I spouted those profanities; it was due to the fact that I was at least 40-50 feet above my last piece of protection and if I fell, I would fall onto any number of ledges below…like a pinball that is haphazardly pulled by gravity towards its final resting place. Needless to say, I was scared out of my f@#king mind.


Back in 1958, the first ascent of El Capitan (via “The Nose”) sparked a “Golden Age” of climbing in Yosemite that led to many of today’s classic big wall routes. Throughout the 1960s, local climbers lived in Camp 4 and pioneered these climbs up the granite monolith of El Cap, which watches over the Valley floor to this day. The Salathe Wall, first climbed in 1961, is considered to be second only to The Nose in its popularity, classic style, and all-around big wall beauty.

Image via iamountaineers.org

Over 50 years after that first ascent, Josh and I were preparing to climb the Salathe Wall, a 35 pitch route (about 3500 feet) up the southwest face of El Capitan. We had been planning this trip for almost a year and our excitement was at a fever pitch now that the time was finally here. We had meticulously checked our packing list numerous times to see if there was any way we could reasonably lighten our load since we knew lugging a 60 pound haul bag up El Cap would expend precious energy and slow us down.

Any climber that had crossed our paths over the past year and even whispered the words Salathe Wall had been peppered with questions of tips and advice, a couple of which really paid off during our climb. With our year-long preparations finally complete, we settled down in the birthplace of big wall climbing and attempted to sleep before our climb.

sunset in Yosemite Valley

The inside of “The Ear” is commonly described as having a Bombay shape, or what is essentially an upside down “V”. What this means for climbers is that they can’t climb away from the most dangerous part of the pitch (the opening to the abyss below) because above them the climb narrows to about 3-5 inches. If you can picture a tiny person climbing from behind an earlobe towards the outer part of that ear, then you can somewhat picture what the climb is like. The intrepid souls that decide to brave this climbing crucible have to do this without any substantial climbing gear protection, risking life or lots of broken limbs.

(If you see the picture below, you can see what the pitch looks like. That last piece of protection at the lip was my last piece. If you look close you can see me hidden in the shadows above.)

(Now, there is climbing gear that allows for some mitigation of this risk, but it was climbing gear that we didn’t have with us…much to my chagrin.)

What this meant for me was that I had to traverse the middle ground of this upside down “V” looking for tiny edges to grab and small ledges to put my feet on while hoping that I didn’t slip or grab the wrong one. In fact, I was trying so desperately to stay away from the opening below that I couldn’t even turn my head to look around due to how narrow the space was up higher. I would have to ease myself down just enough to look behind me, or even just to look at my feet, and then turn my head back around and slide back up into the unwelcoming space above that was trying to spit me out.

Never once in my climbing career have I actually feared for my life while on a climb…

…except on that day.

As I thrutched my way along behind The Ear, I did my best to stay as focused as possible. After what felt like an eternity of feeling around for good ledges in the direction I needed to go, I found an edge that I could actually hang on to. It was not what I wanted, but I had no other choice. I had to move onward and leave the tenuous comfort of my current stance or inevitably fall from exhaustion.

With my back against one wall and my hands pressed out against the other (similar to how one might climb up a chimney), I slowly crimped (fingertip grab) a small edge out to my left and began to shift my body weight. Looking like a mime behind a glass wall, I slid my left foot outward towards what looked like a long 1/2-inch ledge that might be good enough for me to shift onto. And it was. I released a drawn-out breath between pursed lips as I prepared to move my right hand. However, I was wedged so tightly in this space that I couldn’t turn my shoulders.

I had to slowly drop my right hand down to my waist and windmill it back up towards my left hand, akin to a slow and deliberate Peter Townsend style guitar strum.

image via Guitarworld.com

Again, success!

Last, I needed to move my right foot over and hopefully move on towards safer climbing. I began to move and – BOOM! – my foot slipped and my body started to follow…


Time slowed and my heart skipped a beat as it tried to leap from my chest to somewhere safer than behind my sternum.

Every basic human instinct in me was screaming that I was about to die…

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

I’ve never truly had a freak out moment while climbing and this time was surprisingly no exception. I would later reflect on this moment and be amazed at how, when you have absolutely no choice but to keep moving, then you do. It’s just that simple. I don’t know too many climbers who have been in situations similar to what I experienced (mostly because its best to avoid them at all cost), but it gives you a whole new perspective on what your limits truly are.

I also noticed that my life didn’t flash before my eyes.


image via switchbacktravel.com

My left foot skipped off the tiny edge it was on and tried to follow my right foot down towards the distant valley floor. I don’t recall what I said to El Cap at that moment, it probably wasn’t nice.

But I hung on.

As adrenaline consumed my entire being, I was able to keep my body tense enough to quickly get my feet back on to that long 1/2-inch ledge. I did my best to control my breathing and refocus because even though I had saved myself from being spit out of that shadowy nook, I wasn’t done yet.

mountain

I continued as I had before, slowly looking for the next holds to shift my hands to, with my feet meticulously following along their tiny, long ledge. As I finally reached the outer part of The Ear, larger hand holds appeared above me, allowing me to grab onto something substantial as well as place gear to protect a dreaded fall. It felt like I had been encapsulated in this dark space for hours but it had probably been closer to 15 or 20 minutes. I was done! As I belly flopped onto the ledge above, there was another climbing duo taking off ahead of us (doing a variant of our climb) and the guy closest to me just looked over with a knowing, wry smirk. He must have heard my obscenities that were meant for El Cap.

I’m sure he understood.

Salathe Headwall Pitch…a couple hundred feet above The Ear

I set up our anchors and Josh promptly jugged the line up to my new ledge. (Jugging is ascending a line so you don’t have to re-climb a pitch.) He congratulated me on a pitch well done and laughingly stated that he was glad he didn’t have to climb it. (He had just climbed the Hollow Flake earlier: much more difficult than what I had done, but I appreciated his modesty,) I said thanks and told him that I’d never climb that pitch again.

Ever.

I still feel that way.

Atop the summit of El Capitan, Josh and I are happy to be done climbing, at for least a little while.

Links of the Week (10/28/2019)

Heady stuff this week.

What’s it really like to be an editor at Climbing? I just picture you guys out on the rock all day, doing pitches, testing free gear, hanging with pros, traveling to the latest, greatest crag, snapping photos for the Gram, and then maybe checking your email every now and then. But what’s it really like—are you guys more desk jockeys or rock jocks?

​I’ve wondered the same thing.

Ask an Editor: What’s It Really Like to Be an Editor at Climbing Magazine?

It usually takes more time to convince people that your technology has changed the world than it does to invent a world-changing technology. This is easy to overlook because we implicitly assume a technology began around the time we started using it. But most were created years, even decades, before they caught on.

Another fantastic article from the CollaborativeFund.

Why New Technology is a Hard Sell

After much discussion, they decided that a key component of the mind is: “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” It’s not catchy. But it is interesting, and with meaningful implications.

The most immediately shocking element of this definition is that our mind extends beyond our physical selves. In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves. Siegel argues that it’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions.

​While this is venturing waaaay in to the realm of uninteresting for most people…I find this kind of stuff fascinating.

Scientists say your “mind” isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body

Yvon Chouinard, billionaire founder of outdoor apparel firm Patagonia, has traditionally shied away from politics. But things have changed for the rock-climbing, fly-fishing outdoorsman since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office

This is a man (and a company) with conviction. 🤘🏻

Patagonia’s Billionaire Founder To Give Away The Millions His Company Saved From Trump’s Tax Cuts To Save The Planet

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