To paraphrase Monty Python: that was something completely different. Good riddance 2014. You taught me a lot but I’m ready to move on. No offense, but 2015 is going to be better. Here’s the yearly wrap-up.
2014 was the year of dope. I took more drugs each week than I’d taken in my entire life beforehand. Cancer treatment’s not finished. In fact, the biggest challenge (BEAM or high-dose chemo followed by stem cell rescue) is coming up soon. But after four rounds of ultra-intensive Hyper CVAD I’m ready. In fact, I’m anxious to get started. Unfortunately, an old climbing injury that’s been slowly getting worse cashed it in on Christmas eve. Knee surgery is scheduled for Friday. On one hand, when it rains it pours. On the other, I’ll be getting a two for one on recovery/rehab. The knee was bound to go someday. Certainly better now than out in the backcountry.
For any of you who are wondering about my short training cycle, I think it worked. Unfortunately, the knee went on my way to the boulders, so I guess I wasn’t meant to provide intuitive results. For sure I got stronger. Whether it’s stronger than I would have gotten by just going climbing can be debated but, trust me, hangboarding works. If not mine, take the Anderson brothers word. They’ve based their climbing career around it and seem to be doing well. Or Eva Lopez, who has a PhD in climbing (only in friggn’ Spain, man). With my knee out of commission, 2105 will kick-off as the year of the hangboard and, as my buddy Ben said, “that might not be a bad thing.”
Athletically, 2014 peaked in May, on my final day in France when I sent a route in sweltering temp on that very last go of the trip. I’d yet to be diagnosed with cancer but had known something had been wrong as my energy level just wasn’t up to snuff. During that redpoint I was completely maxed from start to finish and somehow managed to hang on, which is always a cool experience, especially since clipping the chains is described in the guidebook as “hanging onto the tail of a fish”. Huge props to Bruce and Alisa for staying at the cliff until dark and inspiring “just one more go”, as well as carting me all over France and Spain. Can’t wait to see the new digs next year.
There was also my pre-treatment challenge, or rest-day challenge as we were calling it. While hardly an ultimate test of fitness, it was a solid 13 hour adventure with a bunch of great friends that was at least hard enough for Hans to complain “I thought you said this was something I’d do on a rest day!” Capped with soiree at Brittany’s (aka the world’s foremost climbing ambassador), it was one of those days that that you’ll always remember. There was also my actual birthday challenge. While minuscule in scope, it came at the low point of my health and was gruesomely hard and oddly satisfying.
Around this there was a bunch of learning about cancer. heaps of chemo, and a hammering home of the theme that you can’t control your life so you’d might as well learn to roll with it.
My wife, friends, colleagues and family have all been awesome throughout. Cancer, supposedly, upends your life but it doesn’t really seem all that upended, which is due to all of those factors becoming non-issues.
In a way it’s just like any other year, except that instead of training for something I want to climb, a race in a far-off land, or a sufferfest of a Birthday Challenge, I’m training for cancer. Special props in particular go out to Denis, for working overtime to keep things humming at work and Romney for turning into my servant, especially when I’m in the hospital. I think this ordeal is much harder on her than me. Love you, babe. You’re the greatest (sorry Champ)!
I’m always pretty psyched about upcoming years but 2015 is starting special. I’ve got some big goals, that can realistically happen, and started the New Year right way, on the boards in The Coop, and now Stevie Haston has me committed to kicking it off with 1,000 pull-ups (though might be somewhat amended since I’m not sure my knee will carry me back and forth to the garage enough to get it done–note to next house: need pull-up options inside). Oh, and it looks like there will be a new house, a fixer upper that’s trading The Coop for a mountain, literally, for my training. The biggest change, however, will be getting off the sauce and back to life supported by nature and not medicine. Drugs are amazing, when you need them, but life au natural is a million times better.
Pics: The crazies, once again on the cover of the Dirt Runner Dogs calendar (the world’s best dog running service); my wife’s every-creative New Year’s card, beautiful French limestone, Bob and Josh on a summit in Zion (“if you carried beer up here you’re crazier than I thought” – “I may be crazy but I’m not stupid. I didn’t carry it. You did. It’s in your pack.”); RV Proj shot of Josh, Kenji, Hans, me, Finn, Iris, and Tyson on a Wasatch summit; training with chemo (“pain don’t hurt”); The Edwards clan catches a Jazz game; Lisa “White Queen – ‘climbing is the biggest nonsense'” Romney’s New Year, having nothing to do with my gym antics; and the flip side of the card.