It’s funny how most everything that you learn about life is based on a mistake. If not a mistake, then maybe an unfortunate situation. For a long time, I put work over friends and family. I would break plans constantly, all because I had this idea that if I just did one more job, it would set me on the path to success. And while I still wouldn’t consider myself successful in any right, and occasionally I have to break a plan or two, I realize that having a group of people that will support you in everything you strive to become is far more important than making that little bit of extra money.
Auyan-tepui, Venezuala - Mike Call traverses along the lip of a boulder just outside of base camp on location for the Point Break remake last October. A few days prior, I had taken a 45 minute helicopter ride from Canaima to the top of Auyan-tepui. Criss-crossing rivers, winding over the jungle canopy, I could see the camp in the distance. The scene was something straight out of a dream. About a dozen tents sat atop pallets dotting the rocky uneven landscape. It was free of vegetation, however a thick jungle was just a stones throw away.
I left the confines of the helicopter and was completely taken off guard by my surroundings. No longer was I suffocated by the thick jungle air, but instead had ascended into the clouds high above the valley floor. That evening, after I had met with Mike and the rest of the crew, we wandered off to explore the surrounding landscape. Giant sandstone boulders sat within sight of camp, however finding a route over was tricky. After working our way around several large chasms, we found an amazing array of boulder problems. Crooked relics formed for a millennia. Overhanging slabs that defied the laws of gravity shot out from all angles. It was perfection hidden in a hostile jungle.
Jeff Richards cruises through the top moves on Superman, a highball boulder problem in Joes Valley. I believe this was the same trip where Chad Parkinson basically broke his ankle falling off the same climb, but it wasn’t my fault because I wasn’t spotting.
Joes Valley, UT- One of the things I love about living in Utah is the rock climbing. Any direction you go, there is good climbing. Joes Valley, down near Orangeville, is one of those places. I first started going there about 10 years ago with one of the rowdiest groups of climbers I've ever met. Loud, obnoxious, immature, idiotic: All are adjectives I could use to describe us, however we all had fun, and that's what is most important. A couple years ago, we started hiking up random drainages to find new boulder problems. We had seen a particularly tall one from the road and had even walked up and looked at it, but it looked impossible, so we went on in search of other climbs.
Last year, Griffin Whiteside and I, along with some others, went back to it, and started cleaning it, brushing all the gunk off, making sure certain holds wouldn't break off. It was a necessary evil. A couple weeks after we had cleaned it, A group of us headed back up to it carrying large crashpads so that Griffin could try it. Nobody else had any desire to try it. It's tall and scary, thus the name #Tall. The moment I captured on Griffin's first ascent, is one of the critical moments on the climb. Your right foot swings out, something climbers call a barn door, and the weight of your body starts to shift. If you're not strong enough, your body will continue to swing to the side, your hands will pop off and you will land on your head and die.
The shouts of "come on" and "stick it" went quiet as Griffin's right leg started swinging back. He looked down in fear, eyeballing the landing. Chad, moved some pads around, while scott feebly held his hands up, getting ready to make sure he didn't land on his head. A breath escaped Griffin as he put his right foot back on. The screams from below started back up again as he finished the last couple moves to top out. Easily one of the tensest moments I've ever witnessed while climbing with some of the best friends i've ever had, except Scott.
Rainbow, California - Wandering among giants amidst a colorful sunset, Abbey Smith and Buck (Strong Man) Bronson find a nice tall boulder problem to finish the day on. Not too easy, not too hard, but high enough to get scared. Pulling for the top, A squeal emerges as a blown foot sends Abbey plummeting toward the earth. Minutes later, she is back on the rock, determined to put up more of a fight. After a moment of hesitation, she pulls the final move to the lip, topping out easily. Standing above the landscape, she pauses momentarily to enjoy the surroundings before scrambling back down in search of another problem.