Training for my challenge more or less progressed as it had: consistent climbing (because it’s really fun), and every so often throw in a long biking day followed by boulder problems and pushups. I took it easy during most of the week leading up to the challenge itself, and after work on Thursday night I drove down to Santa Barbara.
Despite sleeping on a recliner in Evan Ludmer’s apartment, I felt well enough rested for a day of setting things up on Friday. The first order of business, of course, was to find out whether the bouldering component would be even feasible. According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department’s website, the forest lands were closed but West Camino Cielo was open. The only thing to do was to investigate. Mr. Ludmer and one Glenn Sharp joined me on an exploratory trip into Mordor. (The new fire road into the Brickyard)
The once foliose and impenetrable hillsides of the Brickyard had been reduced to ashy dirt, with scorched and scarred limbs of the larger manzanitas and oaks poking through the ground like arms clawing at the air. The rock had survived, save a few parts of the Yard that had been fully baked. But the classics survived.
The scorched rocks
The Extremist Smooth Criminal
The Lizard’s Mouth was also fine, in fact none of the foliage had burnt at all. The only noticeable result of the fire were the large swathes that had become covered in red flame retardant, in particular the Lord of the Flies and Meilee boulders. The picture below is High Hat.
Not only did I discover, to my absolute delight and relief, that the bouldering part was accessible, but I also took Micah’s advice and sought out the various “slab alleys,” where one such as myself could tick dozens of problems in a matter of minutes. I found what I was looking for, further stoking me for this whole challenge.
On the way down the hill, we stopped for barbecue supplies, my three bottles of Double Bastard, and some fish tacos. Here’s me, mentally preparing for the marathon day ahead:
I opted to sleep in Goleta, to avoid the noise in IV and to have a hope of getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Anxious and excited, I shut my eyes at 10:30 PM on Friday night.
The best laid plans…A main part of my anxiety was the possibility of plans falling through. For the bike ride, for example, I had convinced Glenn to get up with me at a very early hour. However, I also know he would be drinking heavily, and somewhat doubted that he would be awake at 5 AM. Also, Evan and Jondo had pledged their crashpads and their spotting for the Kerr Hall Arete at 4 in the morning, and it was hard to imagine that all working out well too. And I knew it would be easy to fall behind schedule; to struggle to find the boulder problems necessary to get the total up to 240; to get dehydrated if it were sunny; to give up. And I knew that it would suck if any of that happened: I went to bed resolved to power through one thing at a time, one event at a time, one climb at a time, one beer at a time.