My alarm was set for 6:00 AM, but by 5:43 I knew there was no point in trying to sleep any longer. I got dressed in the dark, caught a glimpse of my unwelcomed mouse roommate scurrying under my door, made a thermos of tea, and tossed my climbing gear into my hatchback before driving out to Denver Bouldering Club for a morning solo session.
Last year while I was living on the road, my dear friends Vikki and Spenser teamed up with EpicTV to start a climbing birthday challenge video project. So far, they’ve featured Alex Johnson and Carlo Traversi, with birthday videos from Alex Honnold, Steve Edwards, and Spenser’s own 30-day birthday challenge in the pipeline too.
So much in my life has changed since the day they sealed the deal and returned to our dirtbag camp declaring “We’re going to do your birthday challenge next October!” – but the promise of a radical week reuniting in Joe’s Valley to film me making a fool of myself on some boulders has brought it all full circle. I may not have my van anymore, but dammit, I’ll always have Joe’s!
Here’s the thing: I haven’t been climbing very much. Aside from scrambling on chossy sand piles in Ibiza and traversing dirty holds in the La Foixarda tunnel in Barcelona, I haven’t really climbed in at least a month.
Oh, but there’s more to my birthday challenge: I’m also going to climb 26 V-points – in all three climbing areas at Joe’s Valley. That’s 26 V-points in the Left Fork, 26 in the Right Fork, and 26 in New Joe’s.
All in 26 hours.
Is there a really high chance I’m setting myself up for failure? Maybe. Am I absolutely out of my mind trying to become stronger than ever in less than two weeks? Absolutely. But has this challenge made me fall madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with hard bouldering again? You bet.
I chose a $75 24-hour access membership to Denver Bouldering Club over buying groceries for the month, and plan on spending every single morning (and some evenings, too) training to increase my overall endurance and specifically prepare my body for the two boulder problems I am most motivated to vanquish. When I’m not at the rock gym, I’ll be doing pull-ups in doorways, and workouts in my bedroom, and bike rides along the Cherry Creek path.
This birthday challenge might be the most insane thing I’ve ever committed myself to – but I think I just might be able to pull it off. I’ll be arriving in Joe’s Valley on October 13th, and the challenge begins the evening of the 15th, then continues for 26 hours until I a) admit defeat or b) crush the hell out of as much sandstone as humanly possible. Either way, it’s going to be an amazing journey.