To my brother

I really hesitated posting this for public viewing for a couple of reasons. It’s not written in the best style; I had a lot on my mind that night and it could be rewritten so much better. It’s extremely vulnerable, and reading it touches nerves in places I’ve worked hard to wall off. I also never planned on making any of this public when I wrote that last paragraph. However, it provides an accurate (if somewhat abbreviated) snapshot and timeline of the last eight years, as well as a glimpse at my daily training as I started to gain strength again after so many years on the sidelines.

1723 on May 8, 2014

Another note on the futility and senselessness of letting ego get involved with climbing in regards to comparisons and inferiority complexes based on route grades. At least in hard alpine climbing, route grades are, at best, general indicators of the first ascentionist’s experience. Climbs in the mountains are so susceptible to changing conditions by the very nature of being alpine routes; one party could report 300 meters of straightforward 5.10 rock climbing, while two weeks later, a party on the same route could encounter verglass-coated M7 and WI5 under cloudy skies and high winds…obviously they would experience a radically different climb.

It all comes back to the fact that, in order to find true satisfaction and contentment in the alpine realm, an alpinist must turn his gaze fully inward…not to be ignorant of evolving standards and the progress of the sport as a whole, but to ensure that the process remains purely for the purposes of personal growth, evolution, and joy. Only then can true peace be attained.

Enough waxing eloquent about abstract conceptual bullshit; here are facts:

CARDIO: 10 miles resistance bike 32:49

CIRCUITS x3:

  • 15x pushups
  • 1 French pullup
  • 5x box steps w/ 30# each arm
  • 15x pushups
  • 8x 30# goblet squats
  • 15 second L-hang, any holds
  • 10x lunges
  • 75x flutter kicks
  • 8x curls each arm w/ 35# dumbbells

STRETCHING: full body

And so the streak of winning or surviving (depends on your perspective and your definition of each of those words; “living” and/or “existing” could probably also be substituted or added) continues, much to the chagrin of that pathetic, weak little bastard part of me that tried to get me to skip my workout and go piss away money watching a movie. Motherfucking asshole…I showed him.

Tomorrow will be even better and more productive: 100/100/100 in the morning, climbing at Vertical Endeavors after work, and then a run after climbing to close out the day. If I’m lucky, the shitty forecast is wrong (currently calling for rain, rain, and more rain) and I’ll get two days up at Taylor’s Falls (plus circuit training and cardio both days of course) before a rest day Monday. Then train hard Tuesday and Wednesday and fly out Thursday. Fuck yeah.

I am super stoked to finally be hopping on a serious route with my bro. We have been talking and dreaming of this since before he graduated high school. I’m not sure either of us truly believed it would ever happen…backpacking trips, sure, but I was dead-set on a career as a SEAL and Matt was climbing the ladder in the massive cluster-fuck of a system that is the Chicago city government. By the time I was out of the Navy and fixated on climbing everything I could see at Taylor’s Falls (sans ropes in the beginning), Matt was too out of shape and locked into a marriage and the accompanying compressive lifestyle to do much more than offer encouragement and financial help in obtaining gear…a rope, two Black Diamond Alpine Bod harnesses, and a handful of nuts and ‘biners. Actually, this latter contribution likely saved my life, so its significance should not be at all underestimated.

I climbed that summer in Taylor’s Falls, as well as taking a trip to Montana where I met up with Skew (thank you rockclimbing.com). After meeting Krzysztof while bouldering in T.F. one August day, I moved to Montana for seven months to learn how to ice climb…all to take “Kris” up on his offer to climbing with him in the Tatras the next March. This I did, and after a brief two month stint back in Minnesota, I moved back to Bozeman for seven more months. That August, Loren and I climbed the North Face Direct Route on Granite Peak, the pinnacle of my climbing career at the time. God, it was amazing.

Only four months later, I lost my job and fled back home to Minnesota…partially to chase a girl I would end up marrying and then divorcing. But now I wonder if a part of me knew I was pushing too hard, too fast to survive my self-induced learning curve. I was soloing hard ice routes at a desperate pace, trying so hard to prove I was worthy of something. Through it all, my brother watched, encouraged, loved, and in some ways probably envied. But he always believed in me.

The next six years saw a flurry of activity very unlike the preceding twenty. Desperate to achieve in some venue and lacking the mountains I had abandoned, I centered my attention and efforts on Amway and Kristi. Ultimately, I failed at both…willingly at one of them. But while the full weight of my failure and its accompanying shame was crashing down on and around me, a curious thing happened. My brother packed up his life, said ‘bye to the city, and moved to the mountains. And he started to get strong.

Matt, if you’re reading this, I’m dead and gone. I suppose I should have had the guts to tell you more often while I was alive, but I love you…for so many reasons, many more than are listed in the paragraphs above. I hope we climbed a shit-ton of hard routes together. Hell, I hope you never get a chance to read this. But if you do…I love you, bro. Live long and climb the fuck on.