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Preserving Mexico’s History of Climbing: Interview With the Makers of Sueños de Altura

Mexico has a rich climbing history that dates back to the 1940s.

For various reasons, the origin stories of the sport hasn’t been well documented, and unfortunately, many of the pioneers are moving on to eternal multi-pitch pastures, taking with them the tales of the past.

Thanks to Rebeca Zuñiga and Jhasuá Medina, documentary filmmakers and climbers, la historia is being preserved in Sueños de Altura (High Dreams).

The duo behind Pez Leon Docs worked their way backwards in creating the first long-form documentary about the history of climbing in Mexico. For the past few years, they’ve been dirtbagging around the country filming contemporary climbing feats. While interviewing veterans in each locale, they slowly began to uncover the long past and intrigue of earlier generations.

The documentary is expected to be finished by the end of the year (2020). Read on to learn more about their project, and if you want to support the final production, consider contributing through their online shop.

Please note, I translated Rebeca and Jhasuá’s responses from Spanish to English using my rudimentary understanding of the language, translation tools, and ultimately, a review from my friend, Daniel, a budding professional translator (i.e., please excuse any errors). Where it made sense, I altered the responses for readability.

“This is one the first climbing books written in Spanish (1948) and It became the basis of the knowledge for Many Mexican Climbers.” Photo courtesy of Pez Leon Docs


Aaron: What inspired you to start creating documentaries about climbing in Mexico? 

Rebeca Zuñiga y Jhasuá Medina (in Spanish): Nosotros estábamos muy inspirados por la escalada por que además de ser un increíble deporte que te permite explorar tus límites y enfrentarte a ellos, te motiva a viajar otros lugares, a explorar otras fronteras y a descubrir lo inimaginable; aunado a esto y en nuestros viajes encontrábamos en México un paraíso de roca con mucha historia y muchas generaciones que dejaron un gran legado en todas sus rocas.

Y así fue como empezamos a atraer este pensamiento a nuestras vidas y asi fue como llegó Sueños de Altura.

English (EN): We were very inspired by climbing because as well as being an incredible sport that allows you to explore your limits and confront them, it motivates you to travel to other places and explore other frontiers and to discover the unimaginable; coupled with this and in our travels we found a paradise of rock in Mexico with a lot of history and many generations that left a great legacy in all the rocks.

And so it was that we began having these thoughts and from them, Sueños de Altura came to be.

Rebeca and Jhasuá. Photo courtesy of Pez Leon Docs


What is your background? Have you always done creative work?

Jhasuá:  Soy originario de Colombia y desde muy joven la escalada ha sido un pilar importante para mi vida, estudié geografía pensando que sería la mejor herramienta para la exploración y más tarde estudié fotografía y cine para poder contar esas historias de alturas, y de lugares remotos que era lo que realmente me interesaba. Desde entonces he realizado diversas producciones de cortometrajes en documental y ficción buscando siempre aportar una mirada distinta pero que a su vez permita entrar en esos mundos que solo pocos pueden alcanzar.

EN: I am originally from Colombia and since I was young climbing has been an important pillar for my life. I studied geography thinking that it would be the best tool for exploration, and then later I studied photography and film in order to be able to tell the stories of the heights and of remote places that were what really interested me. Since then I have made several productions, including documentaries and fictional short films, looking always to provide a distinct look while allowing the viewer entrance into these worlds that only a few ever reach.

Rebeca : Yo vengo de otra rama, la Administrativa-Contable. Entonces para mí ha sido un gran reto entrar en este mundo pero a su vez mi experiencia ha permitido que este documental crezca pues desde la producción estos proyectos se convierten en grandes empresas.

En muchos sentidos el documenta ha cambiado mi estilo de vida desde que empecé soñar.

EN: I come from another branch (of industry). The administrative and accounting [side of things].

So for me, it’s been a great challenge to enter into this world, but in turn my experience has allowed for this documentary to grow since producing these projects turns into huge undertakings.

In many ways, the documentary has changed my lifestyle [because] since [then] I [have] started to dream.

Rebeca and Jhasuá in Africa: “Thanks to ‘Por La Tierra Originaria’, we could get to know natural beauties and incredible people.” Photo courtesy of Pez Leon Docs


How did you get into climbing? What do you like about the sport? 

Jhasuá: Yo empecé desde muy joven en los gyms de escalada donde aprendí lo técnico, pero solo hasta que vives una gran aventura en una lejana montaña y sólo dependes de ti para sobrevivir es cuando de lo más profundo aflora el espíritu guerrero de lucha y de sacar (sic) todo lo que traes para poder seguir habitando estos mundos verticales, es ahí cuando todo cambia y pasa de ser la escalada un deporte, a convertirse en una filosofía de vida, en una religión.

EN: I started very young in the climbing gyms which is where I learned the technique. But, it’s only until you live a big adventure in a distant mountain and depend on yourself in order to survive; when from the depths of your being a warrior spirit rises up and brings out everything you carry within in order to continue living those vertical worlds.

It’s there that everything changes and the climbing passes from a sport to a philosophy of life, into a religion. 

Rebeca: Cuando empecé a escalar empecé a verlo solo como un deporte que me hacía bien. Me costó mucho trabajo entender los movimientos, agarrar fuerza y domina las maniobras con la cuerda pero conforme fue pasando el tiempo y mediante el documental ahora la escalada se ha vuelto el eje principal de mi vida.

EN: When I started to climb I began by seeing it only as a sport that was good for me. It took a lot of work to learn the movements, to get stronger and to master the maneuvers with the rope. But as time went on and through the documentary, climbing has become the principal axis of my life. 

What motivates you, in life and climbing?

Jhasuá: La exploración, la aventura, y el poder descubrir lugares remotos son mi mayor motivación, por ende los deportes outdoor son los canales para internarme en la naturaleza desde las profundas cuevas a las altas paredes roca, son canales de percepción que se abren y te conectan con lo esencial y majestuoso de la naturaleza.

EN: The exploration, the adventure, and to be able to discover remote places are my biggest motivations. Consequently, outdoor sports are my avenues for getting deep into nature, from the deep caves to the high rock walls; they are channels of perception that open and connect you with the essential, with the majestic side of nature.

Rebeca: Ahora estoy muy  motivada con el documental sueños de altura se cumpla y viaje a muchos lados y a mí me encantaría poder viajar y escalar mucho (sic).

EN: Now, I am very motivated by the documentary, Sueños de Altura, to travel to many other places. I’d love to be able to travel and climb a lot. 

“Here in Peñoles in December 2018 with Bruno García, José Hernández and Balta.” Photo courtesy of Pez Leon Docs


How did the idea for Sueños De Altura come about?

(It looks like it may have started in 2017, following Ricardo y Bruno García, in establishing the FA of Lujuria (Lust), 5.14d?)

Empezamos con un proyecto que traían Ricardo y bruno y los seguimos en su caravana Escalando México, empezamos a entrevistar a personajes de las áreas de escalada que visitábamos, fue ahí que nos dimos.

Cuenta que había muchas historias que merecían ser contadas y muchas se estaban perdiendo tras la muerte de algunos pioneros de la escalada en México.

EN: We began with a project that Ricardo and Bruno brought [to us], and we followed them climbing around México in a camper van. We started to interview people in each climbing area that we visited, it was here that we realized that there were a lot of stories that deserved to be told and many of them were being lost when some of the pioneers of climbing in México were passing.

What have been some unexpected things you’ve learned since the project began?

Durante el rodaje de este documental no teníamos una línea precisa que seguir pues no existía una investigación contundente al respecto. La búsqueda nos fue llevando desde un personaje a otro  y poco a poco fue agarrando forma la historia. Este proyecto se ha convertido en una gran escuela con grandes maestros para nosotros.

EN: During the shooting of the documentary, we didn’t have a precise line that we followed because concrete research, past investigations, didn’t really exist. The search was taking us from this person to that, and a little by little the story took form.

“36 years ago German Wing followed his dreams and travelled from Mexico City to Yosemite Valley California, a Mecca of rock climbing.” Photo courtesy of Pez Leon Docs


What has been the reception from climbers in Mexico when they learn about the project?

Sentimos que hay mucha expectativa al respecto ya que estamos abarcando muchos personajes de diferentes generaciones y regiones del país, que en conjunto forman una gran historia que estamos seguros les va a encantar.

EN: We feel that there are a lot of expectations in this respect because we are covering a lot of people from different generations and regions in the country, and collectively they form a great story that we are sure they are going to love. 

How has climbing in Mexico grown over the past 5, 10, 20+ years?

La escalada en México ha crecido mucho en los últimos años, pero en sus inicios tuvo muchos cambios y transformación que la fueron consolidando como el gran deporte que hoy en día es.

EN: Climbing in Mexico has grown a lot in the last few years. Since its beginning it has changed a lot and transformed, consolidating into the great sport that it is today. 

How can readers of this article help the project?

Tenemos una tienda en línea. De artículos que nuestros patrocinadores donaron al proyecto los cuales estamos vendiendo 

También nos encantaría que los lectores pudieran seguir nuestras Redes  @suenosdealturadocumentary y que compartan el proyecto con sus amigos pues vale mucho la pena, ya que en la historia se encuentran nuestros orígenes y la raíz misma de este gran viaje.

EN: We have an online-store. We are selling items that our sponsors have donated to the project. Money raised goes towards funding the project. 

We’d also love if the readers followed us on instagram at @suenosdealturadocumentary, and that they share the project with their friends because it is worth it, since our origins and the very root of this great journey are part of this story [that we all share].

John Burgman: On Becoming a Full-Time Writer (Ep. 1)


John Burgman is a freelance writer who mainly reports on competition climbing for Climbing, Climbing Business Journal and Gym Climber. He is the author of three books, including the upcoming “High Drama” about the history of American competition climbing, coming out in March (2020). He is a former magazine editor, a Fulbright grant recipient, and a graduate of New York University’s MFA program. His work has appeared online and in print at Esquire, Trail Runner, Portland Review, Gym Climber, Boundary Waters Journal, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is a frequent guest on the popular climbing podcast, Plastic Weekly.

In this episode we chat about John’s path towards becoming a full-time writer and what it was like to move to South Korea at the age of 29 when, seemingly, all his friends were moving back to the city, getting married, and having kids.

Climbing Outside the Lines is an interview series with people doing things a little differently, and who just happen to climb.


You can find John at:

johnburgman.net
instagram.com/jbclimbs
twitter.com/John_Burgman

His books:

High Drama: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of American Competition Climbing
 
Island Solitaire, which chronicles John’s year spent on South Korea’s subtropical Jeju Island 

Why We Climb: A Dirtbag’s Quest for Vertical Reason


Resources, blogs, books, etc. mentioned in the interview:

climbingbusinessjournal.com
climbing.com
rockandice.com
gymclimber.com
cruxcrush.com
climbingnarc.com
Plastic Weekly (Youtube)
Fulbright Scholar Program: cies.org

Life as a Traveling Writer

It’s pretty adventurous.

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Bouldering in Querétaro

Santiago de Querétaro is rich with climbing right here in the city. I went out for a day to explore a few of the areas, and even do a bit of development at a new bouldering field. Join me on the journey to see this treasure trove!

Gear Review: E9 Matar Urban Climbing Trousers

I fancy myself a bit of a fancy pants about climbing pants. 

Not to be braggadocious, but I own three pairs of climbing pants that I’m quite chuffed about: Boulder Denim 2.0 Jeans, Foehn Brise Performance Pants, and now a pair of E9 Matar “Urban Climbing Trousers,” which I picked up a few weeks ago.

‘Trousers,’ you say? You are fancy!

Indeed, Madame, indeed.

According to my network, most people own a pair, rounding up in integers. That’s a 3:1 ratio. At this measure, that gives me 3x the depth of understanding of the average climbing pants owner. We’ll have to check the math, but the back of the napkin calculation seems to suggest I’m an expert in this domain.

Read on for my review of the stellar E9 Matar “Urban Climbing Trousers.” In my expert opinion. 


Overview

E9 knows bouldering. 

The company was founded in 1998 by Mauro Calibani, the first ever Bouldering World Champion (2001). Calibani was part of a bouldering renaissance in Italy, sinking his chops into an newly developed bouldering mecca, Meschia, in the Province of Ascoli Piceno (near the “calf” of the country). In 2003, he established what he suggested was a V16 in the area, Tonino ’78. 

He was so all-in that he moved to Ascoli Piceno (the city) to be closer to the spot (uhh, the bouldering).

Calibani describes the setting as a “mesmering forest [sic]”, while others compare it to “your backyard garden” (meant as a compliment, I think). Unfortunately, due to disputes with the landowner, the bouldering area was shut down around 2002, but it appears there’s a “new” Meschia where climber’s are welcome (in part because the landowner has an airbnb for rent).

Bouldering at Meschia. On an iPhone!


All of this to say, Calibani was inspired to create a brand that combined his eclectic personality with the inspiration impressed upon him by the sandstone rocks of Meschia. He didn’t want to go far for climbing or business; E9 is designed around a “zero km concept” which means the totality of the production cycle takes place within a few km of their headquarters in Ascoli Piceno. 

Alas, I bought my pair of pants in Querétaro, Mexico, so mine are part of their special “10,427 km production + transport concept” line.

Handmade in Italy. Photo courtesy of E9.


Performance

These are a little like the MC Hammer pants of the bouldering world. Which in short code means: They are awesome!

They are a bit baggy (through the crotch, thigh, leg) yet never get in the way. By comparison, the Boulder Denim jeans and the Foehn Brise pants tend to catch in the knee when I’m doing big high-steps / bringing my knees close to my chest, which, maybe it’s my peculiar style, but it happens fairly often. The flexibility (high-steppability?) is supported by a Wicked Big Gusseted Crotch, like so BIG I can’t even…

And double articulated knees. If this is the power of double-articulation, I can’t wait to see the performance, precision, and lubrication of Fusion5x articulation (looking at you Gillette).

E9 says the material is denim. I would say it’s denim-like. You can see how the weave of the fabric looks similar to jeans, but it’s a thinner textile, lighter, and much stretchier, comprised of 75% Cotton, 22% Polyester, 3% Elastane. That’s a lot of words to say they are stretchy.

Look at that gusset! #norestrictions. Photo by the author.


Fit and Look

They have a relaxed fit and sit naturally at the hip. The waist has a stretchy band, kind of like yoga pants, which makes it easy to readjust on the fly. Internally the waistband includes cords which attach at the rear, and which you can pull tight and tie if you need to keep things extra secure.

I wore these around the city, and they appear more bohemian than your average trouser. I like the look, but it’s very casual, whereas I can wear the Boulder Denim jeans with a button down shirt and head to the bar.

The orange (just past-prime pumpkin?) is distinct.

Sit at the hip, dip at the… crotch. Photo by the author.


Durability

The material is on the thinner side, but is standing up after about three weeks of climbing.

The Boulder Denim jeans can snag on sharp edges, which pulls threads. I haven’t encountered such an incursion into these pantalones yet, so the verdict is still out. The weave appears tighter than on the BD jeans or the Brise pants, which may help prevent snagging.


Uses

I’d mainly use these for bouldering since I tend to do more aggressive moves when compared to sport or trad climbing. I’m not sure how well they’d hold up to knee bars or general jamming since they don’t have extra layers on high-wear areas.

Bunched, scrunched or straight out, they are all good. Photo by the author.


Features

  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Breathable: Allows airflow in 60s-70s F, and warm enough down to 40s. I wouldn’t want to wear them in temps much higher
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Double-articulated knees
  • Stretchy waist
  • Fabric: 75% Cotton, 22% Polyester, 3% Elastane


Recommended?

Hell yeah!

I really like E9’s quirky aesthetic, and I’m pleasantly satisfied with the quality of the product. It’s clear these have been designed with intention and simplicity in mind.

Bicolor and bold. Photo courtesy of E9.


To learn more about the company or to order your own pair, visit shope9.com.

Working Remotely or Remotely Working: Lessons Learned From a Work Week at a Climber’s Hostel

The moon shines brightest at 4am. 

It had been slinking across the night sky—naturally—but something about the fourth hour causes it to sink into a puncture in the celestial curtain. And just sit there. 

The porcelain plate grows brighter, perhaps by fear, as if it’s hanging on by fingernails and knows it’s about to tumble through. The light is immense and the landscape is aglow—like a Murakami pixie dream, everything just twinkling—which means the hat pulled over my eyes simply doesn’t cut it. 

Cut to: Tossing. Sleeping bag tightening. Bivvy flap scratching. Under-breath cursing.

Such as it was each night of the past week.


Chichidho, a climber’s hostel behind La Peña de Bernal, was my home for the last seven days. It was a test to see if mixing work and play was doable, and if so, to what extent. 

Office space. Photo by the author.


Then the moon came. All bright enough to walk along at night without an extra light. That glow illuminated something else too: Ah, it reminded me that it was like this a month ago! 

When I first arrived. 

Funny enough, the dates change, time passes, but the cycle of the moon remains. It’s almost like you can live parallel lives by attaching new memories to a prominent environmental fixture that only occurs every 30 days: There are visits to Chichidho during full moons and without, no in betweens…

But I guess we’ll have to see if the rhythm continues next month too. 

(Umm, what about the subject of the article, though?)

Oh yea, this is a blog post about working for a week at a climber’s hostel. So how did it go?

Lessons learned from working remotely at a climber’s hostel

1) There was a break in period

Life in Querétaro has been routine, mostly by design. So far, I’ve been trying to keep a regular schedule, circulate among the same cafes, and generally maintain consistency (for the sake of efficiency!). The emphasis is on work, with weekends reserved for climbing.

I didn’t realize how much a change in environment would alter things. In a city, coffee shops open at specific times, stores are around every corner, and things like weather are mitigated to some extent.

No ergonomic swivel chairs here. Photo by the author.


At Chichidho I had to learn a whole new pattern, largely based around the sun, such as:

The big light doesn’t peek over the mountain until 9am (which means it’s cold(er) up to that point); paying attention to the position of the sun during the day as it dictates when and where to go for climbing breaks (and even where you can sit while working); and making sure to charge your laptop and phone before nightfall as the hostel’s solar-powered batteries tend to run low by the end of the day, which precipitates an annoying screech from some sort of electric-thingamajig which I would have liked to minimize as much as possible (to no avail).

You were basing your day around the solar scoundrel up above? How primitive!

Also, the daily ritual of showering for public presentation? Meh.

Takeaway: How does your environment shape your schedule?


2) I was much more vigilant of my mental state and energy levels

In the city, the only real focus is on the tasks that need to get done that day. I find I’m more prone to power through the work even if feeling less than inclined. There’s something about having the intention of “this is a work day” that keeps me “on track” according to more traditional 9-5 hours. This also tends to leave me feeling more drained come nightfall, like you’re “fighting through” to get the job done in a certain time frame.

At Chichidho, projects were still set each day, but the schedule was more variable. Maybe I would start work at 9am then take a break at 2pm to climb with Nathan (a fellow working guest). Maybe I wasn’t feeling it, and instead climb until Noon before starting work. Plus all sorts of other permutations.

We break for “Queso” not coffee. Photo by the author.


Interestingly (probably only to me), I got the same (if not more) work done each day. However, it was spread out and aligned with what felt to be natural “productive periods” (where it didn’t feel like having to overcome inertia: around 10am-2pm, 4-6pm, 8-10pm). I rarely felt depleted come sleepy time. 

With that said, I felt very unmotivated to do work today, so there’s something to just sitting down and doing it.

Takeaway: When do you feel most productive? Depleted?


3) The stoke for climbing was more even keel

Maybe the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies here. 

When I can only climb outside for two days a week, I really look forward to those days. When the weekend comes, climbing is the only focus and the sessions are long.

But, when climbing is all around there is no longer a feeling of scarcity. We’d climb almost everyday but for shorter sessions, and that seemed to give me my fill.

It’s as if during a week in the city, the reservoirs run low and I need a full weekend of climbing to top it up. But at Chichidho, I only used a little gas each day, so the smaller sessions were enough. 

Takeaway: How do you recharge?


What about you? Have you worked while on climbing trips, or for extended stays at a climber’s hostel? How did it go for you? Any tips or lessons learned?

Share in the comments below!


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Analytic Bouldering in Bernal: Route-Reading and Project Progression

Since coming to Mexico, I’ve spent most weekends bouldering around the hostel and campground, Chichidho, in the town of Bernal.

There have been several projects that have caught the apple of my eye, including Naranja Mecánica, V6 (sent!), Tendón de Aquiles, V7 (WIP), and Psicosomático, V6, a tricky bastard, and the subject of this week’s video.

Speaking of which, this one is analytical in nature. The aim is to breakdown the problem (Psicosomático) in order to better understand the process of projecting, figure out the movements, and to improve my ability to read routes before I hop on them.

Special shoutout to Mani The Monkey whose analytical videos were an inspiration for what you’re about to watch.

Waiting for Amealco: My First Video!

Welp, one of my goals for 2020 was to start blogging. Wait. That was last year.

I meant, vlogging!

“V” as in video-blogging. Vide-logging. Vlogging.

Uhh, here you go…

A Look to 2020: Tentative Goals for the Year

Normally, around this time I’m quite reflective.

It is common for me to spend hours reviewing the past year and hours more planning the upcoming one. As you may recall from the year of blogging review a few weeks back, I wasn’t in a reflective mood then. Turns out I’m still not.

In some sense, I feel more content to take things as they come. It also feels a little like avoidance. Something to monitor.

Anyways, on today’s walk I spent a few minutes considering high level aims for 2020.*


The goals:

1. 2.5x My Monthly Average Income From Writing

This might seem like a lot (and 250% growth in anything probably is), but when you’re starting from small-small numbers like I am, this isn’t much of a stretch.

(Think the difference of going from $5 to $10 vs. $200,000 to $400,000.)

Plus, I need to be able to make more money or seriously reconsider the plausibility of this career path.

A rough timeline from the past year for perspective:

  • Begin pitching stories to publications in January.
  • About a month later, start pitching to pubs that would pay actual-real-dollars (as opposed to, uhh “portfolio building” or gift cards).
  • Obtain first paying gig between May-June.
  • Around July, begin having consistent work from several clients (a retailer, an app, an outdoors blog) with a smattering of one-off pieces from other sources.
  • In September, start making a (somewhat) regular income that could (somewhat) comfortably cover expenses in a country like, say, Mexico.

    Let’s call it 8-9 months to make a barebones income.


Is the time to completion reasonable?:

Well, if it took 8 months to start making consistent revenue, maybe I can double the figure in another 8 months. Using the law of “everything takes longer than you expect,” let’s 2x it to 1.5 years.

(Obviously, this a super rough estimate).

Here are a few extra variables to consider:

  • So far, better paying gigs have a longer lifecycle (from pitch to final submission to pay). Let’s say they require 1.5-3x more time overall, which is about commensurate with the increase in pay. This seems silly now that I think about it. (Partly, I only have a small set of examples to work with which is skewing my understanding. I imagine at a certain level the increase in pay outstrips the increase in work required).
  • Per week, I manage ~20-25 hours of “productive” work. This figure primarily consists of actions that lead towards money-making (i.e., research, pitching, writing, etc.). Additional time is spent on maintenance things like email or social media management.
  • I have a little more capacity, but quickly encroach upon diminishing returns.

To rephrase: 25 hours = barebones income.

There isn’t a lot of wiggle room to increase working/billable hours because it becomes time/money inefficient. But, something to explore further.

Ultimately, in order to 2.5x my income, the easiest pathway is to obtain better paying jobs.

Maybe it’s reasonable that I’ll 2x my income by the end of the year, and it’s better to consider 2.5x a stretch goal.


Some additional notes and questions:

  • I need to spend more time pitching. Especially to publications that pay in the $1-$2/ word range.
  • I’m going to pitch more journalistic pieces. This is a genre that is enjoyable, interesting, and better paying (I think).
  • I will likely try to get a PT gig to help even out the volatility in monthly revenue.
  • To keep writing a weekly blog post or not?
  • Try to monetize the blog?
  • Is this career viable? What is my quit point?

2. Climb V9 Outdoors

This was the easiest target to decide on.

2019 was the first year that I climbed consistently, each month without fail. I started pursuing the sport more seriously in 2018, but there were several large gaps where I didn’t do any climbing.

I’ve found that progress requires consistency. In 2019, I was able to go from sending V2/V3 (outdoors) in one session to sending V6 in one-to-three sessions. My only V7 send went down in two sessions.

By the end of the year, if I specifically train for a V9 project that fits my style (and on top of general training) I think it’s reasonable to get a send. Additionally, I’ve only just started to hangboard, which already has, and should continue to have, dramatic returns (before tapering out as the year advances).

The progression will follow something like:

  • Climb 20 V6s
  • 10 V7s
  • 3 V8s
  • Project V9

If I work a handful of projects per month, this seems reasonable over the course of a year.

Some additional notes and questions:

  • Increase time spent climbing outdoors. Aim for 2-3 days per week on real rock.
  • Refine my health and nutrition. For example, I’d like test dry fasting for 48 hours, return to intermittent fasting consistently, track energy levels and recovery.
  • Develop specific project training/periodization regimens in order to target weaknesses or increase strengths required for particular projects.
  • Experiment with losing weight to see how it affects my ability to climb hard.
  • I’d like to be able to do a pike press and a front lever.
  • Increasing flexibility: worth it?

3. Start Vlogging?

This one both excites me and makes me nervous. For that reason alone it seems worth pursuing.

Being more realistic (or trying to justify it ex post facto):

  1. Video production would expand my skillset (and offers a potentially higher revenue stream).
  2. There are new series’ that I’d like to do where video is a better medium than writing.
  3. Having a face and personality to a byline (aka name recognition) I think is helpful for a freelancer.
  4. There is an opportunity in the climber-vlogger space.


Welp, that’s it for me.

What are your goals for the year?

(Comment below!)







*It was a mainly a reflection on ideas that have cropped up over the past few months. I’ll probably do a deeper review come January.

Thoughts from the Streets of Querétaro

The night air was crisp with a faint crackling like someone was ripping a head of lettuce behind a closed kitchen door. I often walk these streets morning, afternoon, and night because I need a breather from screen time. Plus I’m still in winter mode since I left Boston and it feels like a necessity to savor the sun and warm days.

In Querétaro, the streets are laid out in quadrants like graph paper. Downtown is cinched in by a belt, perhaps reminiscent of the edges of Lake Texcoco. The cobbled stones of the calles through the Centro Historico are neatly arranged like the raised beds that once supported a floating city in brackish waters. 

The pavers are old with uneven tops. People with precarious standing wobble as they walk them. The stones were laid sometime between the 1500s and today. I don’t know when exactly because I haven’t fact checked. But I do know that sound carries well down the narrow alleys.

Materially, the belt around the center is comprised of main avenues. These high-throughput traffic zones emanate noise which creeps inward like it was a valley and the sputtering engines, horns, and mechanical grumbling was a raging fog. Which isn’t so far off. The exhaust, after all, is thick and clogs the nostrils. Perhaps noise is viscous too, draining in to fill the reservoir. 

Hmm. If sounds move in waves, is there a tide?

Tenochtitlan was built atop of Lake Texcoco on stilts. The Aztecs raised platforms to raise life, all of which was eventually left for dead. The lake later became a basin, the city dried out and was buried under what is now Mexico City. History ripples too.

Photo by the author


It’s this march of time and the lines of life that are interesting. 

The Mesoamerican Venice had canals that ran between the plots like streets between homes. Did they have sidewalks for smaller, fleeter passerbys?

Speaking of which, don’t you think the term “sidewalk” is an odd word? Maybe it was shortened from “onthesideoftheroadwalkway.” In which case, good call. Still, “walkway” makes more sense, as does “driveway” as it applies to the area cars motor on. But these are modern terms compared to “road” and “street,” and it seems common words have longevity. Yet, following that thread backwards, why don’t we drive on “horsewalks” or “treadfoots?”

In any case, we were talking about lines. Structurally, the canals of Tenochtitlan or the streets of Querétaro are like words, no?

They are created, defined and hard to change. Their form carries onwards in a continuous line. That is, until the society is toppled, or enough time passes for common usage to evolve the meaning, or the landscape to (f)alter. Then the line takes a new course.

Thus Tenochtitlan is now Mexico City.

Graves are often laid out in plots with narrow walkways as well. Is there a form for the burial grounds of dead words?

Feature photo from Wikimedia Commons.