Saturday, January 02, 2010

Ouray!

I'm back in Ouray, Colorado, home to the most extensive collection of ice climbs in the smallest area anywhere in the world. And the approaches are under ten minutes from the town! The Ouray Ice Park is the best place to climb a lot of ice in the world I think, a truly remarkable expression of ice and human enterprise coming together. Plus the San Juans spike above the town into the blue sky, it's just a stellar place to be and one of my favorite spots of all time both for the geography and people who live here. I have a lot of history here over the last 15 years or so both from the ice festival and summer outings, it's a home away from home for me really.

Anyhow, yesterday I went out and ran solo laps on the route I'll be climbing during the endless ascent effort, Pic of the Vic. It's a great line, everything a good ice climb should be. Bit of a shaky pillar start, varied, just really nice climbing. I only did 30 laps, but the climb is about 140 or 150 feet high so that's around 4,000+ feet (I'm going to use imperial units 'cause this is the USA). I felt lousy. No way around it. Every athlete has good and bad days, for me yesterday was brutal. My feet kept blowing, everything hurt, it was a sucker punch to the head kinda day as far as the climbing went. But it was good to see some old friends, and it's hard to maintain a bad attitude in such a beautiful place, with so many psyched people swinging tools. By the middle of the session I'd just accepted that today I was going to suck, and sucked it up. As the park emptied of people my headlamp and I moved through the darkness on our own yo-yo path, and there was some peace. I was surprised when I hit the top of the canyon a couple of times; I'd just been climbing, moving, not thinking too much. I was on a self-belay so there was no one to talk to once the last people were gone, just the canyon and me. It hit me that I'd never been in the canyon without lots of people; in the darkness it felt different, closer, larger. Yet another side of a special place.

I walked home in the dark a happy man. A bad day of training in a beautiful place beats hell out of a good day of just about anything else. I have seven days before I try and climb as much ice as I can in 24 hours. The thought is, honestly, horrifying. I know that special circumstances bring forth special efforts, but yesterday's effort took me about four hours give or take. That's one sixth of what I'm up against in terms of time. As I sat in a nice restaurant eating shrimp with a glass of wine last night I thought about the fact that I'd still be climbing if yesterday were the first 12 hours of the climb. As I lay in bed with a small child jumping on my head I thought about the fact that I'd still be climbing. Hell, as I'm writing this it's less than 24 hours after I was climbing yesterday. I simply can't imagine what the Endless Ascent is going to feel like. Bring it.

6 comments:

Gordon McArthur said...

Dude, you can do it. If i have to rap down half way and heckle you (payback!!!) then i'll do so. But you got it. We should hook up this week, for climb, food, whatev.

Gm

Dansk paragliding said...

Nice idea Will, I wish you all the best with the project !

Cheers from Mads S, Denmark

Anonymous said...

A perfect challenge for an exceptional cause...As Sue would say, "way to go Will!!!" en

Cully said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cully said...

Good luck, Will. Dig deep when you need it. Will send all positive energy your way from Rjukan...

Steve Edwards said...

This is what happens when I forget to look at your blog. I totally missed this whole event. Thanks to this I can read about your prep as if I'd been paying attention the whole time. Super inspiring. I've got to find something big to do this year. Bring it, indeed.