The problems, headaches, and pain that are sometimes (often) part of running a business will still be there tomorrow. However, the perfect ice conditions, or the feet of new snow on the mountain may not.

 
That being said, chances are you will almost never get to participate in your chosen avocation ever again because all of your time, money and mental energy is going into making your business successful. Maybe this changes? I don’t know I’m still in this phase almost four years on. 
 
People are awesome and they will help you. Just ask. 
 
There will always be assholes and haters, but they are the exception and not worth your time to think about or engage.
 
Dogs are cheaper than therapy.
 
Not everyone is going to like what you do/make/sell and that is totally ok.
 
The world is a huge place and there are (most likely) people in other countries that are interested in buying what you are selling. Export.
 
Do credit checks on your customer. Sales are great but if you have to spend a bunch of time trying to collect, wave your margin goodbye. Slow paying customers will seriously mess your shit up.
 
Ideas are great, but they are worth nothing without action and implementation. If ideas alone were worth anything we’d all be bazillionaires.   
 
So if you have an idea whether it be for a business, project, career change, whatever, just get started already. No one is going to hold your hand and do it for you. Anything worth doing is hard, scary, frustrating, time consuming, terrifying, and almost certainly contains moments of high stress. It may also: contain periods of boredom, cause you to question your sanity and may at some point even kill you.
 
All that being said, if the alternative is to never pursue anything meaningful I think the consequences of that are much more dire.   

Dude, where’s my humanity?

December 15, 2012

A year after the September 11th terrorist attacks Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy gave a speech and I have kept a part of that speech with me ever since:

Since it is September 11 that we’re talking about, perhaps it’s in the fitness of things that we remember what that date means, not only to those who lost their loved ones in America last year, but to those in other parts of the world to whom that date has long held significance.  This historical dredging is not offered as an accusation or a provocation.  But just to share the grief of history.  To thin the mist a little.  To say to the citizens of America, in the gentlest, most human way: welcome to the world.

And for a short while as a country we mourned and we shared the grief of history, and there was a feeling that maybe we would get it. But we didn’t get it. Instead of what should have been a time for introspection and deep reflection we lashed out. We became fearful and insular and destructive. We stomped on the ideals that made our country great and became a beacon not of freedom and liberty, but of blind nationalism and venomous jingoism. We waged wars that continue to this day that have killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people, many of them children.

In the Gospel of Matthew it is written, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Violence begets violence and because of the cycle it perpetuates, it is not isolated to far away places where it can be conveniently ignored. Instead it manifests itself in the all too common, all too tragic events like the murder of twenty school children this morning. And we throw up our hands in despair every time this occurs, and we ask ourselves, “How could this have happened?” And our president goes on television and weeps. And much hand wringing ensues and politicians bloviate and religious charlatans claim God struck down those poor children because we don’t allow prayer in school. Each time this happens we lose a little piece of our humanity.

My history is one of loss. And while I cannot cry for my own pain, I weep for the families left behind and futures that never were. I see pictures from Connecticut or from Northwest Pakistan and I see the grief on a father’s face as he holds his child’s bloody body and I am heartbroken.  I know what the pain of loss feels like and I feel it deeply for each and every one of these families, regardless of what country they reside in. And I wonder how we can let violence reach those who should be the most protected. And I think about how much those father’s have in common, how they are connected by tragedy, how we are all connected by these tragedies. And if it were possible for each of us to realize our humanity and to, even just for one minute, practice empathy and hold another’s pain as our own, that maybe there would be reason for hope.  

In the coming days I fear that our leadership will prove themselves to be the cowards they are. For to answer the question of how this could have happened would require a frank and honest reflection that America is currently incapable of. Instead, while the victim’s families attempt to pick up the pieces, the partisan bickering will commence and each side will accuse the other of politicizing a tragedy, and the twenty four hour cable channels will feed off the pain and then the holidays will come and go and, like every other similar tragic event, our attention span will wane and it will fade into memory.  Nothing will change and In a matter of hours, days, weeks, or months more children will be blown up or shot or killed in some other unimaginable way and the cycle of violence will continue.

And with each of these events, in the most horrific, most crass way, we say to the citizens of the world: welcome to America. 

Bringing it back!

November 12, 2012

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Postjock is making a come back. Stay tuned!

Keeping the Psych

July 2, 2010

The psych is an elusive beast.  It is the motivation to keep going month after month, year after year.  Not to be a whiny Oregonian, but I believe climbers (especially of the alpine variety) in the Northwest have it especially difficult when it comes to keeping the psych.  There’s so much to shut us down: the terrible weather, the really good beer, heinous bushwhacking, super long approaches, the terrible weather, the rain, the copious amounts of snow in the mountains, the rain, you get the idea.  Marcus told me last year that the best part about winter climbing in the Cascades is that your tick list always stays the same because you never actually get to climb anything.  It’s funny because it’s true.  It’s also what makes climbing in the Northwest so special.

In my mind the year seems to end when it’s finally time to hang up the ice tools for a few months and focus on other things.  This past weekend I swung my tools into the perfect snow of Mt. Rainier’s Liberty Ridge and looked down in the early morning light.  My friend Matt climbed below me and presented the perfect picture bathed in the soft light of sunrise.  I didn’t have a camera, but I didn’t need one.

I’m psyched as I reflect on the past year and look forward to a future filled with mountains, ice, rock, laughter, friendship, love and madness.

Louisiana Gulf Memories

June 11, 2010

Though I can’t remember exactly where we were, I do remember the tremendous fishing.  I remember my dad and the early morning wakeup and  the long boat ride in the salty morning air.  I remember the hilarious and warm charter boat captain.  Some of the best fishing we had was directly off the oil rigs.  When we got there the workers would play music over the  loudspeaker system and we would pull up red snapper after red snapper.  I definitely remember the delicious eating in the weeks after we returned to Chicago.

In the ensuing fifteen years I’ve often thought about going back, and am disappointed that I never did.  The Gulf is devastated now.  While the direct responsibility lies in the hands of BP, their subcontractors, the MMS, and the rest of those that pushed for lax regulation of the oil industry, the truth is that we all own it.  Oil is involved in nearly every facet of our lives.  I’m not sure where our country and our world goes from here.  It is a finite resource and will at some point run out.  The fact that BP was drilling in water as deep as they were is indicative of the fact that we’ve already drilled and recovered the easy to access oil fields.  The time to start transitioning away from oil was thirty years ago. That didn’t happen, obviously.

The harder and more difficult the oil is to extract, the more likely events like the Deepwater Horizon spill are to happen. Perhaps as a society we’ve become willing to accept the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico as collateral damage resulting from our way of life.  The ridiculous slogan “drill, baby, drill!” makes me uncomfortable.  It makes me uncomfortable because I want to abhor those people, but I am forced to look at my own actions and realize how big a part of the problem I am.

Last Tuesday morning I drove an hour and a half up to Mt. Hood by myself to go skiing for a few hours and thought about what an excess that was.  And I thought about the thousands of miles I’ve driven and flown over the last ten years to go climbing.  And all the petroleum based products, from my synthetic clothing to my plastic helmet, that I use.

The truth is that I feel like a hypocrite.  I am disgusted by our dependence as a nation on oil, but am myself an addict.  I don’t WANT to stop.  I love climbing and skiing, traveling and getting out and more often than not oil is involved in some way.  But I can still smell the Gulf air and I remember the fishing and the wildlife, the beauty of the bayous, and am deeply saddened when I see pictures of the devastation.  Is it worth it?  Will we be able to escape our oil dependence before it’s too late?  I’m not entirely sure that we can, but I do know that in order to stay sane I’m going to have to do something to change my own relationship to oil.

My friend Tyler Adams is part Smith Rock historian, part old route restorer, and full on lover of the perversity that is Smith adventure choss climbing.  Tyler does a lot of work replacing old bolts and late last year he told me about a route he had re-bolted above the oft climbed moderate Bunny Face.  The route, Methuseulah’s Column, sounded like everything that Bunny Face is not: runout, dirty, scary.  In fact, Watt’s original guidebook describes it as, “Plagued by bad rock and poorly-spaced bolts, this unlikely line was the first bolted face in the Dihedrals.  Avoid Methusuelah’s if you want to live to a ripe old age.”  Perfect!

In late November I headed up Bunny Face with the intention of checking out Methuseulah’s. The runouts were intimidating from below, but feeling strong I headed up  and soon found myself clipping the anchor with relief.   The climbing was bold and serious, even with new 1/2″ bolts and modern sticky rubber.  The route was visionary when Dean Fry established it in 1973, on lead, well before bolted routes became the norm at Smith.  Fry established a number of other serious routes in the park.  Most have seen few ascents and many haven’t been repeated, while some have become very classic.  His most repeated first ascents include New Testament, Zebra and Moonshine Dihedral.  He also made the first free ascent of the ultra-classic Karate Crack.

In early February Tyler and I headed to Smith to attempt a new route.  A bird closure thwarted that effort and with heavy packs loaded we headed up to The Wombat to attempt an old Dean Fry aid route called C.L. Concerto.  The route takes an amazing line up the impressive Northwest face of the formation.  Not having much experience with aid climbing I found the thin crumbly seams of the first pitch a little worrisome.  Forty feet up I blew a large beak and lobbed twenty feet onto a cam , ripping an entire screamer.  Short February days and cold conspired against us.  The sun disappeared behind the Cascades and it was time to head down.  The following two days brought more cold and snow and no possibility to climb.  Two weeks passed and we headed back to Smith hoping to finish the route.  I completed the first pitch  and the following day Tyler began the crux A4 section.  Very thin, steep nailing on horribly hollow rock had me a little frightened just belaying.  I was happy for the new half-inch bolts in the anchor and cleaning the pitch I was deeply impressed by Tyler’s aid prowess.  Once again the sun began to set and we fixed ropes.  Another two weeks passed and we returned, jugging back to our high point.  I began to lead the final pitch.  A static fall onto a good pin when my third piece ripped hurt my psyche.  I was climbing slowly and the cold and wind combined to create a most unpleasant experience.  With relief I pulled over a bulge and began easy but runout free climbing to the top of the ridge.  As the sun set Tyler finished cleaning and  led off towards the summit of The Wombat.  It took us five weeks to make the third ascent of C.L. Concerto and standing on the summit was quite satisfying.

From Top: Nailing on the first pitch, A4 second pitch, finishing second pitch, Tyler raps, third pitch

Dean Fry was pushing the limits of Smith climbing during the short time he was active there.  Almost 40 years later his climbs remain an impressive testament to his strength and vision.  In 1973 heading back from Smith to his home in Corvallis, Fry was tragically killed in a car accident.  The routes that he left us are a gift and his memory will live on in the climbers who choose to follow in his footsteps.

Getting Out

October 28, 2009

I groaned and rolled over as the alarm released a series of deafening high pitched beeps into my sleeping ears.  3:00AM, why am I doing this to myself?  I shut my eyes and drift back to sleep.  Half an hour later I wake up and realize that I’m supposed to be across town at Marcus’s house in two minutes.

We roll through Hood River on the way to the North Cascades.  “It’s not raining now,” says Marcus.

Hours roll by under an increasingly menacing sky.  The forecast calls for a “significant hydrological event” on Friday with up to an inch of rain, then the models show the weather clearing for a brief window on Saturday, and then more crap weather on Sunday.  If we can just approach during the rain on Friday, we’ll be all set to climb the route when the weather window materializes on Saturday.  Desperation really, but such is the mindset of the North Cascades alpinist come autumn.

Marcus tells me, “You know, when you didn’t show up at 3:30 I thought maybe you had decided to bag it and went back to sleep.  I was getting ready to do the same thing when you showed up.  It’s like a game of chicken, I’ll go if you go…”

The rain in Leavenworth is torrential.  We stop at the faux Bavarian pharmacy and buy four dollar ponchos.

We keep driving and the rain doesn’t stop.  The gray sky is oppressive.  The rain isn’t warm.  It is a bone chilling, hypothermia inducing type of rain.  We should be sleeping in and then hanging out at a coffee shop with our significant others.  Instead we’re at the trailhead packing.

Marcus puts his poncho over his head and pack.  I laugh and throw mine on.  Marcus says, “No pictures.”

We walk up the trail for miles.  It isn’t long before everything is soaked.   The pitter patter of raindrops on cheap plastic occupies my thoughts.  We arrive at an alpine meadow not far from our objective and set up the tent.  The mountains are socked in, their tops hidden under a shroud of gray.

That night the rain never stops.  It pounds our small nylon shelter until water starts to sneak in the seams.  Drifting in and out of sleep, I am annoyed by the fact that my butt is wet.  Eventually the loud rain gives way to the soft whisper of snow hitting tent fly.

We wake up with the alarm but the stubborn gray skies remain.