Week One Of Climbing Training

As a try-hard local, I figured I’d post some training weeks in prep for my El Cap race with Hans Florine in June.

Week One Of Training:

Sun – 20 boulder routes at the gym (up to V3), then sent one V8 for power

Mon – Climbing rest: Light weights, jumping jacks, push-ups

Tues – Speed climbing outside at The Columns. 7 fast laps (5.8+ to 5.10c)

Wed – Easy climbing outside, bouldering at Sisters, 10 routes up to V3

Thurs – Active rest: 4-mile hike + 4 easy boulder routes (VBs and V0s)

Fri – 2-mile run, 1.5-mile hike, + outdoor bouldering at Sisters (13 routes up to V6)

Sat – 10 outdoor boulder routes up to V6


Reading With Willy Vlautin, Wed, Feb 21st

I’m reading with Willy Vlautin tomorrow night in Eugene as part of his release tour for his new novel Don’t Skip Out On Me. We’ll be at The Foundry, Sam Bonds on 8th, at 7PM.

Willy was in London last week, and Portland last night (reading at Powells). He’s one of my favorite authors and an incredible reader.

Come check us out if you’re free!

Speaking on “The Art of Failure” (something I know well)

I’m speaking on “The Art Of Failure” as part of the Wordcrafters & Wine on Wednesdays series:

August 20th, 7-9 PM, Territorial Vineyards Tasting Room, 907 W 3rd Ave, Eugene.

Each month features a different professional writer, agent, or editor. More info:

Click here.

Back By Popular Demand: End-Of-Year Dirtbag Report

Because you asked for a dirtbag update:

Usually, I celebrate dirtbag Christmas at work. This is how it goes: Bri-Bri, My-Only-Friend-In-The-Entire-World-Jeff-Hess, and I scour the multiple “lost and found” boxes for a week. We find the most useful items, in sizes that fit the others, wrap them in school-issued newspaper, then have a gift exchange on the Friday before break. I’ve gotten a good travel coffee mug out of the exchange, a nice sweatshirt, and an excellent shell that I use all the time, plus a few other items that I use on a semi-regular basis.

But we didn’t celebrate this year. We let ourselves get too busy to have fun.

Very undirtbag.

And although I didn’t celebrate dirtbag Christmas at work this year, Jennie and I made each other gifts at home – instead of buying them – and I still felt sort of like a dirtbag.

Sort of.

See, I’ve had some very undirtbag moments this year. The weirdest?

In October, a public speaking gig got me put up in the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. They flew me first class to the event and rented a late-model, bright red Mustang for me to drive. At the rental counter I said, “Oh, no thanks. I don’t need a Mustang.” But the rental agency woman just smiled at me and said, “You’ll love it. It’s such a great car.”

In classy style – as if I was fighting against the new me – I did accidentally flip the car into reverse as I drove forward into valet parking, grinding the gears so loudly that all of the valet parking boys doubled over laughing.

That felt dirty. But still, there was valet parking at this hotel. Only valet parking. No other option but valet parking.

Yet a dirtbag is a dirtbag is a dirtbag…

A dirtbag spends less money, believes in time over money, believes that working is only worth it if it means that he is buying more time. A dirtbag would rather lay his sleeping bag in the dirt, the free dirt, than pay for a campsite, a motel, a tent, or anything else. More time outside. More time climbing. Swimming rather than showers. Sharing food rather than networking. Sleeping on someone’s floor to save money. Surfing more. Biking more. Skateboarding in the street. Laying in the sun and reading. Climbing a tree and staring at the clouds.

Another thing: I’ve been injured this year. I tore four ribs off of my sternum joint in an accident in February and spent all year doing physical therapy. I’m mostly healed now, but the doctors told me that the dent in my chest wall will never go away and I may never climb like I did before the accident. Being injured is funny for a physical person because it’s hard to feel rugged when you’re in pain all of the time. How rugged is a man laying in the fetal position on the floor, high on Percocet?

But I did get out this year anyway. And here’s a Dirtbag-6 list for those who like lists:

1. Nights camping this year: 29

2. Months wearing the same pair of shorts: 2 straight

3. Best outdoor endurance climbing day: July 17th, 36 routes, The Columns, Eugene, 1692 vertical feet, 5.8 to 5.10a

4. Backpacking trips: 3 (The best: Alder Springs, Squaw Creek Canyon, Central Oregon)

5. Days swimming in a river this year: 37 (most recently, December 18th, Polar Bear Swim, Willamette River, Oregon)

6. Nights slept on a floor this year: 13

I’ve also eaten a lot of free food, taken donations from my friends’ deep freezers, gone two full days just on food-scores from a single staff meeting, waited until people left a pizza place then finished all of their leftovers, and scored a box of Twinkies from a trashcan.

But let’s see…Proudest dirtbag moment of the year?

One night, a few weeks ago, Jennie returned home from a walk and said, “I found us a Christmas tree, and it’s perfect. I just need help getting it because it’s at a dumpster.” Nine feet tall, with the top broken off, I cut and reshaped it into one of the prettiest 7-foot Christmas trees anyone has ever seen. Forty dollars saved.

And finally, two nights ago, I was given my brother-in-law’s “too tight new jeans.” They’re Ralph Lauren jeans with the sales tags still on. My daughter turned to me and said, “Take ‘em back, dirtbag. What could you do with all that money?”


Sunburns In Winter, A Dirtbag’s Glory (E.D. #148)

Met my friend Max at the Columns yesterday to climb with him and belay him on his project.

I didn’t get a very good warm-up, jumped on something hard, got flash-pumped, felt weak, started crying, wept, vomited, then felt a lot better.

The usual.

It was 37 degrees and bright sunny on the southwest facing darkish/grayish/blackish basalt and it felt like 60 degrees outside.  In January.

So even if I fell while toproping something I’ve led before, and even if Max blew two ball-nut placements on lead and he could’ve decked and totally died, and even if he didn’t get his send on the proj, and there were lots of people in a small space, and it was busy, and I got thirsty, and my food ran out, and I cried again, twice, sobbed until I retched, the day was like the lit blue of an MSR stove’s flame and just as bright, and I was happy.

And maybe I write fiction (or “tell fictions” as the Brittish call little lies), but actually, truly, legitimately, it was glory.  Pure glory.  It was perfect.

Everyday Dirtbag #135.

For my book release party, I made a “Ruler of the Dirtbags” test:

In an old mason jar, I poured a 16-oz PBR.  Then screwed on the lid.

Afterward, I filled a different jar with dirt.  Lidded it too.

We had forty people coming over.  Lots of food, a huge bin in the back filled with soda, beer, and ice.  Open.

Off to the side, in a small, closed cooler, click-locked, I put the old jar of PBR (Hear the rhyme?).

During the night, I watched the cooler.  If anyone opened the cooler, saw the jar, shook it, unscrewed the lid, smelled the contents, then drank, then that person – that, my friend – would be the Ruler of the Dirtbags.

I had a song ready.  A boxing-announcer-like championship call.  Plus the jar of dirt as a trophy.

But nobody did it.  Nobody opened the cooler.  It stayed closed all night long.

And I wait still.

Tonight’s BBQ?


Come dirty, come all.

Everyday Dirtbag Entry #85.

“Underwear Bet” update (names and routes):

THE Underwear Model on “The Impossible Layback”

Me (Pedro) on “Crack-A-No-Go”

Ty-Ty on “The Right Ski Track”

Cah-Leb on “The Hard Layback”

Young Jackson D. on “Fatty”

Trevor The Gifted on “Satisfaction Direct”

And my-only-friend-in-the-entire-world-Jeff-Hess also on “Satisfaction Direct”.

With that list, we are almost guaranteed to see some underwear climbing sessions. In the event of, there will be pictures.

(Bet contestants comment back here, trash talk, update with progress or failures, and I’ll see about setting up an updates page.)