Thursday, January 30, 2014


A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a quote that stuck with me. It reads "how much effort you are willing to put into the game determines how much fun it will be." I guess you could take that as a reference to a sport, but I took it more as a reference to life.

If you work hard, push yourself to do better and try to progress, you are naturally going to have a good time. If you're slacking, being lazy and not testing yourself then it is much harder to have self-worth and enjoy your experiences. Relationships, goals, school and work all become less of a burden when you take the time to put effort into them.

Lately I have been putting a lot of effort into my photography. It has been awesome! I have been progressing behind the lens which has in turn been pushing my limits as an adventurer too. I am wanting to get out and take interesting photos, so I need to find captivating subject matter.

That being said, I feel blessed to be living in such an outdoor oriented location. Within two hours in any direction of Bellingham there is access to world class skiing, climbing, biking, kayaking and hiking. Being so close to these natural playgrounds has allowed me to get out and explore the Northwest in ways that I have only dreamt of.

This weekend one of my dreams was realized. For as long as I can remember I have seen pictures of humans climbing up exposed, vertical rock faces, jamming their fingers and hands into cracks as they fight off the force of gravity. I was a little nervous to try a multi-pitch climb, but more than anything I was stoked! Kenny Frank and Gus Landefeld were nice enough to lead me up the Calculus Crack on The Chief in Squamish this weekend.


We rolled into Squamish, BC as the last sherbet rays of daylight dipped beneath the horizon. We passed a massive granite outcropping protruding out of the ground as we drove on the Sea to Sky Highway. The Chief was standing stoically, watching us enter its domain.

The Chief at night from downtown Squamish
The night air was warm as we grabbed food out of the car and walked to a cook area by the base of The Chief. Gus, Kenny and I enjoyed some dinner and brews while basking under the night sky:

Since it gets dark so early these days we were left with not much to do. We didn't want to go to bed, so we headed to downtown Squamish to exercise our legal drinking abilities at the Howe Sound brewery.

The Howe Sound Brewery, Squamish, BC

While sipping on some delicious local beer we met a nomad from New Zealand named Luke. He has been traveling for about the last decade, exploring all over the globe. He does carpentry as needed to support his lifestyle. For the past few years he has been living in his awesome gypsy wagon while traveling around the US and Canada. We were curious about his living situation so he invited us into his abode to share stories and a peace offering.

Gypsy Wagon

Luke and Gus inside the van
After exchanging memories with the wanderer it was about sleepytime.

I awoke to the eager duo opening the back of my Subaru where I was sleeping. Time to climb. We drove from our roadside camping spot just down the road to the parking lot for climbers, ate oatmeal and started off towards the Calculus Crack.

The difficulty of climbing route is called the 'grade' and it ranges from 5.0 which could be a ramp or steep section with good holds to 5.15c which is the hardest route ever climbed. Most intermediate climbers stick to the 5.7-5.9 range.

We hiked through the dank, green forest to the base of The Chief. The Calculus Crack is a 5.8 crack that shoots upward out of the forest. On the way up the first pitch we were able to use the trees as holds.

The first pitch

We found a little friend on the way up
I am glad that I was out there with Kenny. He was raised in southern Idaho in a climbing family, so he is very confident in his abilities. It is fun to watch a solid climber. The ability to cling onto the rock while placing gear into the crack is an art form. I have learned a lot from Kenny and Gus about climbing these past few weeks, they have kind of been my climbing mentors.

Kenny is a crack addict
It is pretty amazing what you can do with your body when you use willpower, determination and effort. The first time I looked at a crack route all I could think was, "you mean I'm supposed to climb that?" Crack climbing is interesting. You wedge your hands, fingers, feet, legs, or arms into the crack to secure yourself. For footing, you stick your foot in the crack vertically and then twist it until you gain purchase. It can hurt, but its better than falling.

I was a little bit puckered
The feeling of climbing is exhilarating, and multi-pitch climbing just magnifies that feeling. Even though climbing is nerve wracking, I can compare it to meditation. When you're climbing your whole being is focused on that one moment in time. Nothing else around you matters.

Gus belaying Kenny
Gus Landefeld
The last pitch was a low angle slab that we quickly scrambled up. As I untied from the rope at the top of the route I felt accomplished knowing my first big wall climb was complete. The boys and I exchanged our stoke and recapped the climb while overlooking the unique Canadian landscape that surrounds Squamish.

Climbing is quickly becoming a favorite activity of mine. It is one of those sports that brings you to places that you otherwise would never go. Pushing and pulling yourself upward takes a lot of effort and determination. It can teach you a lot about yourself such as; how you deal with stressful situations and how to overcome problems on the fly. Climbing is not the means to an end, it is just another way to explore the seemingly endless features of this globe that we live on.

Life is good. And I am realizing that the more effort I put in, the more rewarding it becomes.

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