Month: January 2015

The Birthday Challenge

You don’t have to be a sponsored climber to feel like a total badass. Haven’t you ever topped out a climb and felt like a complete champion? I know I have. It could be an airy 5.9 lead 2,000 feet off the deck, redpointing your first 5.11c, or having a climb so dialed that you don’t need to think twice before slotting that red C3 below the crux. You realize that there are people out there crushing harder than you, but for that one moment nothing could knock the sunshine from that ear-to-ear grin. This is the feeling I was after when I started planning my first Birthday Challenge. The Birthday Challenge is an arbitrary game played within the climbing community. The rules are simple: climb as many pitches as you are old to some degree or variation. The details are left for you to decide – sport, trad, top rope, free solo, routes with “poodle” in the name – the possibilities are endless. I first heard of this challenge when the video 35 was released almost a …

Lost in Translation

A couple weeks ago Adam and I received a call from his mom. She had just watched a segment on the news about a climber named Tommy who’s climbing a new route up El Capitan. “Isn’t that the climber you saw while you were in Yosemite?” Adam and I looked at each other – the news? The Dawn Wall had made the news? A couple days later I spoke with my parents. They had watched a similar segment on TV. And so it went – every family member or friend I talked to asked me, “Did you hear about those climbers in Yosemite?” I was baffled that Tommy Caldwell’s and Kevin Jorgeson’s push on the Dawn Wall had broken into mainstream media, not because the attention wasn’t well deserved, but because it is extremely rare for our community to capture the attention of non-climbers. But, as I said, it can be difficult for outsiders to understand exactly how our sport works. As a result, climbers, including myself, have felt a full spectrum of emotions in …

Holiday Polenta with Mushroom Sauce

Living in a van comes with sacrifices – you probably don’t have access to an oven and you definitely don’t have room for a dishwasher, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice eating healthy, delicious food. And when it comes to the holidays, many traditions revolve around food. Every Christmas my Grandma and Mom turn our kitchen into an assembly line of mixing, kneading, and filling. They create 100 of the most sought after cheese raviolis, from scratch. I realized it would be a bit ambitious to try and recreate these steaming cheese-filled pockets of bliss in the van, so this year I tried to keep the Italian tradition alive by making the next best thing – polenta. Polenta with Mushroom Sauce 1 tbsp safflower oil (or another oil of your choice) 1 package pre-cooked polenta (slice into 1/4 inch slices) 1 package pre-cooked polenta (slice into 1/4 inch slices)1 tsp. minced garlic (or substitute garlic powder) 1/2 onion, diced 1 cup mushrooms, diced 1 can tomato sauce 3 pinches dried herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme) Parmesan …