It got down to 7 degrees F the other night, and I had an idea: Suffer Climbing. Pure glorious. Or as my younger daughter says, “Dazzling.”
Suffer climbing would be climbing at night in the bitter cold – just for fun.
I called my only-friend-in-the-world-Jeff, and didn’t get him. He rarely answers his phone and never checks his messages, so he wasn’t coming. Then I called THE Underwear Model, but he was driving around without his climbing shoes (rookie). I was without a climbing partner. And night, cold soloing didn’t sound too smart.
The next night, I watched it dip below 20, then down to 19, 18, 17, 16, 15. I called Jeff again…and got him.
He said, “I don’t know…”
“Come on,” I said, “What’s better than Suffer Climbing?”
He said, “There are a lot of ways I like to suffer, but that isn’t one of them.”
“Jeff, do it for me. You know you want to.” I sounded like a date rapist.
But he said no again. Firmly.
So I called THE Underwear Model again. And this time he was home, near his multi-colored stash of climbing shoes. He said, “Uh…I don’t know…”
“Come on, man, you know it’s too good of an idea. Suffer Climbing.” I said it like it was a famous movie title. An Oscar winner.
“Uh, Pete…I just drank two beers and a glass of wine.”
“Perfect. You’ll be so warm. Come on, man.”
He paused a long time. I held my breath. Waited. Then I said one, last time, “Come on. It’ll be a good story no matter what.” I was whipering now. Pleading.
“Ok,” he said, “but I’m not doing it out of pity. I want to come. I want to see you freeze your ass off in that jersey.”
He was right. Even at 15 degrees and dropping, I had to climb in the Camby Man jersey. It was the rules. No undershirt. Bare skin in the cold.
He said, “I’m bringing my camera.”
“Cool. See you in 20.”
The first two laps were horrible. I climbed a 5.8 and a 5.10a, two really easy climbs that I have wired. But they were hard. Painful hard. My hands were so cold. And the jersey did not insulate.
Then I switched anchors, got on my favorite 5.9, a route we run speed laps on. I ran three quick laps.
My hands came to life. They got warm, then hot. And I was good from then on. 500 feet of climbing later, I felt great. And THE Underwear Model was loving it too.
The temperature dropped to 10 degrees, but we didn’t care. We were laughing and telling stories, running laps on all our favorite cracks.
And I realized once again that there’s no such thing as bad climbing. Ever. Even at 10 degrees in the dark, it’s still so good. It’s impossible to suffer.
Before we left the parking lot, THE Underwear Model turned to me and said, “For the record, you didn’t have to convince me to come. I wanted to come. Alright?”
I said, “Yeah. Sure. You wanted it. I knew that.”
Sometimes no means yes.