We went back to the aircraft carrier boulder to see if our stunt doubles could finally send the V6- and V11 boulder problems they had been working on respectively. It would have been the hardest boulder problem either of our stunt doubles had ever sent outside. Mico’s stunt double had been one move away from sending, so there was a lot of hope there. All he had to do was catch and hold onto a rather sharp lip after launching himself from shitty little crimps with less than ideal feet. My stunt double had some extra work to put in but miracles are always possible, that’s what makes them miracles. We got a late start (characteristic of our time in Leadville), stopping in town to pick up a Leadville sticker for my beloved sister. By the time we got to the boulder, we had two hours to warm up and finish the problems before we had to leave for Denver to visit Mico’s geat uncle. We tried so hard and got so far and kept pushing back our departure time. We kept trying to bust through that ceiling, but by the time 2pm rolled around (an hour after we said we’d leave), we had time for one last attempt. I, though a move closer to the top, was still nowhere near sending. Mico, after exhausting all methods for reaching the lip statically, had resolved to try the jump and hold on really hard method. He went for gold, launching himself at the lip, and managed to grab it with his left hand. He held on for a fraction of a second while his legs swung out and I prayed for a spotting miracle, before slipping off. Safely on the ground, he was clutching his left hand, admiring a medium-sized flapper on his middle finger.
Because of his perfect genetics, this was the first flapper Mico’d ever gotten, a testament to the sharpness of the lip. Lesser humans would have been ready to throw in the towel, but not Mico. He wanted to give it one more go. Unfortunately, we had just finished our roll of tape. All the tape we had with us was on his and my hands. Stellar, supportive, beneficent, goodlooking person that I am, I immediately volunteered the tape on my hands. It was a shirt off my back moment. If he sent the problem on the next attempt, I would have felt like I’d just sent V11 as well. If this were a movie, this would have been the moment where everything came together, and against a ticking clock and bleeding hand, Mico sent. Sadly, there was no camera crew; everything in this blog is mostly nonfiction. His final attempt was unsuccessful. My spotting, on the other hand, was very successful. We got back in the car to Denver, pausing only at a supermarket for lunch where we each purchased a tub of ice cream. I did a good job with my pint of chocolate sorbet. Mico, however, struggled to finish his quart and a half of Reese’s peanut butter cup ice cream and had to throw in the towel somewhere around the quart mark. We think we’re going to give the ice cream a rest for a little while. Consuming it in such quantities is very exhausting.
Some people (our parents) have pointed out that this is a blog about our CLIMBING trip but there is no evidence of us actually climbing. You caught us. We have a confession to make. The reason there are on videos of us climbing is not out of concern for safety; it’s not because we feel the need to leave a brake hand on the rope while the other is leading a difficult pitch or because we think it’s a valuable use of man power to have one person spotting the other on a boulder problem. No. As many of you have probably already guessed, the reason that we don’t have footage of us climbing is because we have not been doing any climbing. It’s an emperor’s new clothes type deal. It sounds really badass to say that we’re going on this awesome climbing trip, and at the end of the day it’s all about image and personal branding. We’re realizing that our fans are too clever, so the videos below are to throw you off the scent. We paid some very convincing stunt doubles to climb a V6- and a V11. I’ll let you guess which stunt double was climbing which climb.
We finally met a real, live Bear. This particular Bear was Ariel’s dog, a large, black sled dog. Bear is the product of an unplanned pregnancy in a female Iditarod racer. He was too big to be a good Iditarod dog (preference given to smaller dogs that consume less food and are better endurance runners), so Ariel and her husband Patrick ended up adopting him from the humane society.
Ariel took us bouldering at a place near her house. The sandstone was soft and friendly, but I still managed to leave blood on every boulder we climbed. This resulted from a combination of sloppy foot placement/poor technique and the web of scabs covering my legs and arms. Whether it’s thin skin, “bad genes” as Mico likes to call it, or a sloppy way of moving through the world, the result has been that my body is almost more scab than skin. When climbing, I invariably end up upsetting one or more of these scabs, so I come off the wall with a trail of blood leaking down my shin, my inner thigh, etc. This constant reopening means the scabs aren’t healing, so I’ve decided to start naming the perennials after people in my life. It’s hard to say which ones will last, so I haven’t named too many. There’s the Jon Chen Knee Scab, named for Jon who once told me about a knee scab he had that took over a year to heal. There’s another called Mommy located on my inner bicep. We’ll have to wait an see which others stand the test of time.
I’d long known that the place to look for potential offspring names was the American west. There are a lot of names to admire, a lot of names you can imagine giving to tykes, names they will thank you for later in life–Blythe, Laramie, Cody, Phoenix, Odessa, Mesa Verde… the list is virtually endless. But there is one name in my mind that has always stood head and shoulders above all others, a beautiful, polysyllabic name that screams “hello I am a badass” like no other. You’ve probably guess it from my description (or the title of this post), but the name is Durango. Initially Mico and I weren’t going to go through Durango, which nearly broke my heart, but due to a very slow packing day yesterday and learning that a friend I’d met in Alaska (also a climber) was now based in Durango, we rerouted. We broke up the drive, arriving in Flagstaff around 11pm. I suffered a heart attack that night when I heard footsteps near where we were sleeping. My first thought was serial killer, but when I noticed the figure creeping toward us in the dark had four legs, my second thought was bear! Fortunately for us, on closer inspection it turned out to be a friendly relative of Bambi. We were still alive in the morning, so we went bouldering at Priest Draw. After that, we hit the road again, stopping briefly at the four corners. Well, actually, we drove by it the first time, but turned around five miles down the road because there’s really a very limited number of times you find yourself in the four corners in your lifetime. While Mico waited in line to squat on piece of metal that indicated he was in four places at once, I purchased frybread from a dude about our age. He explained that frybread is consumed with everything from sugar and cinnamon to mutton. We got the cinnamon sugar topping. After a snack and a selfie, we drove into Colorado with a beautiful sunset at our backs (much to Mico’s irritation because he wanted to take pictures). We’re arriving in Durango a bit later than we’d hoped because we failed to account for the fact that Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings.
We had been laboring under the assumption that the bear crossing signs were just a formality, a reminder to drive the speed limit. Today we learned that this is not the case. There really are black bears on Mt. Lemmon. You’re probably thinking this realization came through a daring mano-a-mano combat in which Ceri singlehandedly wrestled the bear that was trying to maul Mico. Sadly (or maybe not sadly but certainly more boringly), this information was gained when Eva informed us that there are bears in the area. Since we had previously assumed neither bears nor serial killers resided in the area, we are now concerned the the presence of one makes the presence of the other more likely. Hence forth we will be sleeping in shifts. Let’s hope we get to make another post.