Voice of the Mountains

What we Do in the Mountains

Guest Will Gadd

All-around action hero Will Gadd is legendary in the climbing world. Year after year, Will has continually pushed the boundaries of ice and mixed climbing.

As a veteran of mountain sports, Will tells the listeners how just ten short years ago, he was quick to call out younger climbers for their inexperience, and the dumb risks they took—only to be met with dismissal as an outdated voice from a previous generation. Today, Will no longer calls people out. He calls them in. And in making that shift discovers how this profound change opened the floodgates to learning; learning which now flows freely in both directions.

Will and Steve discuss the culture of ex-communication of older, wiser athletes in the mountain community. How we all need a new model for aging athletes where we value the elder wisdom, insights, and experiences and not just an athlete’s mere physical prowess.

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Exploring the poetic soul of the mountains.

Voice of the Mountains explores the mental and emotional adventures found in discovering who we are and what we’re capable of. Here we engage in self-reflection, humility, and embrace the beauty and struggle of the alpine experience equally.

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00:00:05:20 – 00:00:41:09 Steve What do we do in the mountains? And what draws us there? It’s not performance. We each discover our own spark. And that spark can lead us down a lifelong path of incremental progress towards something better. As we each write history with the ink of trails run and pitches climbed, new opportunities can drown out the spark while paradoxically, giving birth to new meaning. 00:00:41:11 – 00:01:18:07 Steve Training. Winning. Being seen. The process of improvement and achievement eventually feels Sisyphean. And when you finally pause long enough to ask yourself why? Why take the risk? Why do the work? You come up empty. We all have the same questions. Why can’t I be brave like other people? Why did I trade that beautiful spark for the weight of these accomplishments? 00:01:18:09 – 00:01:54:16 Steve What exactly allows fear? Its power over me. These questions cut to the core of not only our mountain experience, but of being human. Today, we are lucky to have the chance to tackle some of these important questions with climber Will. Dad. Although Will is quick to described himself as an average climber but exceptional poser, he is not average and he is certainly not a poser. 00:01:54:18 – 00:02:22:03 Steve In fact, he is one of the most important thought leaders in extreme sports. Like growing into that was a journey. Will tells us how just ten short years ago, he was quick to call out younger climbers for their inexperience and the dumb risks they took, only to be met with dismissal as an outdated voice from a previous generation. 00:02:22:05 – 00:02:50:23 Steve But time has a way of reforming our approaches, making us more effective as we learn to be more reflective. Will also shares a story about climbing the hardest pitch he is unsighted in three decades, while his 16 year old daughter plays him and back on the ground. He confronts a hard realization when he struggle to improve the clamor. 00:02:51:00 – 00:03:31:03 Steve For decades, it was never about his equipment or his training. The killer of joy and the barrier to his own betterment had been the hard limits to his own self-awareness as a young, younger man. We discuss the culture of excommunication of the older, wiser athletes from the mountain community and how we all need a new model for aging athletes, where we value the wisdom, insights and experiences, and not just an athlete’s physical prowess. 00:03:31:05 – 00:04:09:16 Steve Today, Will no longer calls people out. He calls them in and in making that shift, he discovers how this profound change opens the floodgates to learning. Learning which now flows freely in both directions. Join Will and I as we challenge one another to unpack a lifetime of lessons from the peaks and help one another to embrace the wisdom that there is far more to life than facing the external challenges of ice, rock and gravity. 00:04:09:18 – 00:04:20:17 Steve And together we level up to be able to navigate internal terrain that defines us as human. 00:04:20:19 – 00:04:47:24 Steve From Uphill Athlete, I am founder and CEO Steve House, and this is voice of the mountains, where we explore the philosophy and humanity of mountain sports. This is where we will ask ourselves who we are, what we learn, and who we become from our adventures. Our guest today is Will Gadd, a Canadian ice climber, mix climber and paraglider. 00:04:48:01 – 00:05:12:12 Steve As a Red bull athlete and the host of the TV series Fearless Planet, Will has been an incredible part of the growth of extreme and endurance sports for the better part of three decades. As a climber and as a man. He has done just as much to help us shape better ways of thinking about risks within our mountain pursuits. 00:05:12:14 – 00:05:35:03 Steve Will and I first met back in the late 90s. Sometime I couldn’t actually put my finger on it. Well, where exactly when or where? we both were sponsored by Black Diamond at the time, and we were working on, I believe, the first, carbon fiber black profits that were banned, 97, 98 somewhere in there. and. 00:05:35:03 – 00:05:39:20 Steve Yeah, it’s great to have you. Well, thank you, and thanks for joining us today. 00:05:39:22 – 00:05:56:04 Will Thanks for having me. It’s been impressive to see what you’ve built and think about 97 to know. That’s a lot of water under the bridge. You know, that’s a long time. And, but here we are. It’s great that we’re both still here. It’s kind of a miracle. So, it’s just cool to connect with you this way again. 00:05:56:06 – 00:05:59:08 Steve It is. It’s very cool. I really appreciate you. 00:05:59:10 – 00:06:00:04 Will Likewise. 00:06:00:06 – 00:06:37:07 Steve I’m going to go back in time. Since we went back to you know, the late 90s. I want to go back-to-back to your childhood. You know, you kind of grew up with what you once described as anti-establishment, backcountry people like your as your parents. I know your dad is a really well-known naturalist and has written a bunch of books about the natural history of the Canadian Rockies and you grew up like in that environment, in the greater Rocky Mountain ecosystem, out in the rivers, in the snow, in the in the environment from a very young age. 00:06:37:09 – 00:06:39:01 Steve Tell us about that. 00:06:39:03 – 00:07:09:19 Will Yeah, I think. That’s a big question. But every weekend when I was a kid, we’d go to the mountains, so we’d load into our Econoline van, which was a complete place, and roll into the mountains and then do something. And often I would be left alone while my parents did whatever it was that they were doing. So, I would be sort of this feral, you know, free range, small human in some kind of Rocky Mountain environment for hours. 00:07:09:24 – 00:07:32:06 Will And today I look at that and I’m like, what were they thinking? I don’t think I did it, but it’s like bears. They’re like, what were they thinking today? At that time, either alone or with my brother or with other, you know, kids, friends, kids and stuff, just roaming around in the mountains, you know, and climbing up and scrambling up things and falling off things and falling into rivers. 00:07:32:06 – 00:07:51:02 Will And it’s just we were out there giving and that time out in the mountains as a young child gave me an incredible base, just being really comfortable. And I, I see this a lot with people today. You can walk out in the mountains with somebody, and the people who have put the time in there really love it. 00:07:51:04 – 00:08:08:06 Will They’re good on their feet. They’re just comfortable. They’re at home. And I think that’s what those early years with my parents did. It just made me feel really at home in the mountains, like I that’s where I feel like I’m often at my best just being outside. And, and I got a lot of that as a kid. 00:08:08:06 – 00:08:26:19 Will It was really, really important. And I did learn some hard skills, too. You know, I learned how to dig a snow cave. And when I was 12, my parents ran the youth hostel on Columbia Icefields Parkway. You know, it’s a city, like five cars a day going this road. And I’m 12 years old out there with no power or anything, living in this youth hostel. 00:08:26:21 – 00:08:44:03 Will And I decided that I was going to live in snow caves for most of that winter. So, it’s like -30. I’m digging snow caves by myself, you know, and this was just life. And I look back on that and I’m like, what kind of madness was this? But it, you know, if I have to dig a snow cave to this day, it gets done, man. 00:08:44:03 – 00:08:45:23 Steve Like, you. 00:08:46:00 – 00:09:03:04 Will Know. Yeah. I just a comfort. Like you could drop me off pretty much anywhere. And if I’ve got some okay gear, I’m going to be all right, you know? And it’s, Yeah, it was kind of a weird childhood, but it gave me skills that are really important to me today and have been my whole life. 00:09:03:06 – 00:09:30:08 Steve Interesting. That’s super interesting. So, I first think I first came across your name actually in print in the early 90s. And I don’t think that this was the first piece of yours that I’d read, but at some point in the early 90s, you got down, you got yourself down to Boulder, Colorado, and kind of, I don’t know if you were going to school there or if you’re just rock climbing down there or what. 00:09:30:08 – 00:09:54:21 Steve And you kind of enmeshed yourself with this really early sport climbing scene. It was engaged there. And for people who are climbers today that aren’t as old as well. And I you have to understand that in the early 90s, sport climbing was brand new, like there was only a couple of places in North America where it was kind of even allowed to practice. 00:09:54:21 – 00:10:15:06 Steve And then we’d sort of a few people had sort of imported what we now know as sport climbing to North America. Of course, in Boulder, though, it was its own scene, and it was, I think, very much and in still many ways perhaps is kind of one of the, you know, touch points, the heart part of the heartbeat of American North American climbing. 00:10:15:08 – 00:10:26:11 Steve How did you get there, and then how did you end up starting to write about? And you started writing for Rock and Ice and doing interviews, and how did that happen? 00:10:26:13 – 00:10:48:14 Will Well, I went to school in Colorado Springs. I wanted whatever I was paddling, whatever it was, I wanted it to be as hard and technically challenging and at that point in my life, I’d already made the decision that I wanted to spend less time, and I didn’t think about it super formally. But I made this decision quite consciously that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in a highly complex environment. 00:10:48:14 – 00:11:10:12 Will Everybody that taught me to climb growing up is dead, basically. And so, I’d already made the decision that I wanted to focus more on technical difficulty. And Boulder and sport climbing at that time offered it an unlimited buffet of savagery. You know, we were so driven and so stoked to get better and, you know, and people hated us. 00:11:10:12 – 00:11:31:01 Will Mark Wilford, you know, I had a bumper sticker that said sport climbing is neither. And we were mocked, you know, and Christian used to wear these ridiculous outfits, these little, like, G-string red G-strings we were climbing. And the sole reason for that was to piss people off, because they really dissed us. And everything they would say to us drove us harder. 00:11:31:01 – 00:11:45:09 Will It was like they would call us, you know, all kinds of sexual slurs and stuff. And so, we would dress in more sexually provocative ways. You know, I think at that point, most of us were straight, but they would call us like they would call us like slurs, like, you know, you’re a fag for doing this. 00:11:45:09 – 00:12:05:01 Will And we’d be like, you want to see that? Here’s what we’re going to wear. Like large red hoop earrings and climb circles around you, man. Fuck you. Yeah, it was awesome. And it was twisted and mentally insane and wonderful and, and I loved it, and I didn’t. I never drove in that scene, you know, I was just I just loved being part of it and going and collaborate with these people. 00:12:05:01 – 00:12:14:14 Will And I was not the most talented climber by a long shot of those people. But it was a scene, man. And it, it created something really cool. And I loved it. 00:12:14:16 – 00:12:34:17 Steve You were embracing who you were and how that was different. And you were just like, you just didn’t care. I mean, I think that that’s a key part of being a healthy human is just accepting who you are and not having to feel like you owe anyone an apology for it. And you’re like, yeah, I like to climb this. 00:12:34:23 – 00:12:59:06 Steve I like to do this kind of climbing. And I don’t owe you an apology or explanation, frankly. And if you want to make fun of me, I’m just going to throw it back at you. And I’m just going to use that to drive me forward. So, you know, talk about, Christian Griffith, because one of the themes I came upon in my research for today was an interview you did with Christian that was published in Rock and ice in 1993. 00:12:59:06 – 00:13:21:02 Steve I’m going to try to put it in the show notes. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to with copyright and all, but one of the questions you asked in this interview is you. You asked him how he felt about competitive climbing and whether or not he thought it was good for the sport. And this was a question I think that that was, you know, and it’s in its infancy. 00:13:21:04 – 00:13:45:18 Steve And, you know, you guys had a little discussion about that, you know, how would you answer that question now? And, you know, with this in the benefit of 30, whatever, 35 years of 30 years, I guess, let’s not oversell it, 30 years of hindsight and experience. And you know, how you’ve seen it, seen it go. 00:13:45:20 – 00:14:03:05 Will At that point, competition climbing was a new thing, right? The Russians had done some of it with speed ascents on in, in Russia and things like that. But the idea of actually competing to see what you could do is new. And a lot of people didn’t like that. They’re like climbing a saw sport and you don’t compete in sports or sport. 00:14:03:05 – 00:14:20:04 Will For me, competition is like an acid test. It’s where the bullshit stops. It’s like you walk up and you do your best and you the soccer. You don’t. And I love that. I have always loved that experience of just walking out there, whether I’m playing volleyball or paragliding or whatever. It’s like it is game time. Let’s see what we’ve got. 00:14:20:08 – 00:14:51:20 Will And I love that. So, for me personally, it’s been really rewarding and really damaging and really fast and awesome. And for this sport, any sport that has a competition, that competition redefines the sport, whether it’s F1 racing or whatever it is. That’s where the innovation comes from. in that sport ultimately. And it can be overt competition in that there’s an organized venue and stuff where it can be kind of underground competition in which is, I think, what a lot of alpine climbing becomes. 00:14:51:20 – 00:15:14:19 Will There’s definitely competition there. but there’s not it’s a different form of it. And things like facts and things like that have played sports that were harder to compete in previously, easier to compete in. So, to answer that question, I think it’s been good for the performance levels of the sport. I think. I don’t know whether it’s been good for the sport as a whole, like for the soul, the sport. 00:15:14:19 – 00:15:34:01 Will I kind of suspect it has. But I’ve also seen the damage done by competition to individuals and especially. Yeah, I’ve just seen the damage done. And so yeah, it’s not always a positive thing, but it is always intense and meaningful. And I competed again two weeks ago for the first time in like five years, and it’s like, you’d think I’d mellow out. 00:15:34:01 – 00:15:51:24 Will I’m 57 years old, you know, show up and I would mellow out already, and I’m not there. I’m like, oh God, my God, you’ve seen my eyes. The photos. I’m like, I’m good as hard as I can, and I love that. But, yeah, I don’t know, a big it’s a good question. I don’t have a good answer, but it was sure a cool thing to be part of. 00:15:52:01 – 00:16:12:11 Steve Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I think that’s one of the, one of the things that we can all agree on is when you the climbing was rock climbing specifically was so young at that time. And then you introduce something like competition. And of course it’s had it’s one of the, one of the outcomes of that I think has been climbing gyms. 00:16:12:13 – 00:16:13:13 Will Right. Oh yeah. 00:16:13:18 – 00:16:34:00 Steve And then I don’t think anybody can argue against the value of climbing gyms. I mean, they’ve just brought climbing to so many people and they’re continue to explode. I mean, I think I read that there are opening something like between 3 and 400 climbing gyms in North America this year alone, just new ones just this year. 00:16:34:05 – 00:17:16:21 Steve So, it’s just the growth rate of this is just unbelievable. You know? I mean, we both remember when there was only you know, a couple of climbing gyms in the whole country is one in Seattle. There’s one in Boulder. And then you know that slowly they started to metastasize, so to speak. But yeah, there that certainly I think has been an outcome of, of competition because the need to train consistently in a predictable way, whether it’s whether it’s lapping the 512 series in your underwear or, you know, doing the weighted pull ups, you know, whatever, and that spectrum you’re on, at least you need a place to go to do that, you know? 00:17:16:21 – 00:17:17:02 Steve Right? 00:17:17:02 – 00:17:31:07 Will Yeah. I wonder too, which is driven, which because I love that I like you. I do love gyms. As I read, I travel a lot like you do, I’m sure, for business. And you come into a new city and, you know, my main questions are like, dude, where do I go to do whatever, I have to do there? 00:17:31:07 – 00:17:47:01 Will But then like, where’s the climbing gym? And I go there and there’s a ready born community, whether I’m in like Frankfurt or wherever I go in and there’s a bunch of site people and I find some like 18-year-old kid or 14-year-old kid or 55-year-old fellow, gray hair and we like, give her together for those two hours. 00:17:47:01 – 00:18:06:12 Will And it’s that that’s really driven, this odd sense of community that I love. And it’s, I’m not sure when the competition to get gyms or gyms beget competition, but they sure go together. And it’s been an it’s been a cool, symbiotic thing. You know, I remember those early days in cats in Boulder, Colorado, where we were like, we didn’t even know you were supposed to use nuts. 00:18:06:12 – 00:18:27:19 Will We’re like bolting the holes on the wall with leg bolts because we didn’t know the thing, which is what we didn’t know is that, competed one of the very earliest competitions in Boulder, you know, and there’s, like, Jason Kahn and all these awesome climbers that are, from Boulder and competing in the dark outside. And it’s like 300 people come into that parking lot at night. 00:18:27:19 – 00:18:35:21 Will It’s lit up and we’re just in like that moment. I was like, damn, this is something cool. But it’s, yeah, well, we’re going back to a very late. 00:18:35:21 – 00:18:36:13 Steve Here, but I like it. 00:18:36:13 – 00:18:55:18 Will It now. It’s in the Olympics. I stayed in the competition climbing for another couple of years because I was like, this could be an Olympic sport. And how cool would that be? And it didn’t happen for another 25 years. And it’s cool to see it there now in its forms. And everything’s got problems, man. But just the basic focus is pretty good, I love that. 00:18:55:20 – 00:18:56:07 Will Yeah. 00:18:56:09 – 00:19:21:05 Steve Yeah. So Christian, I think it’s such an interesting character to kind of touch point for us because he’s of course, creator of, Verve and he, I would argue, brought this kind of artists approach to building gear and clothing for climbing. And I feel like a lot of the big climbing brands today, I mean, climbing has gotten so mainstream. 00:19:21:05 – 00:19:41:15 Steve And, you know, if you go to the climbing shop and you look at Patagonia Clothing or Black Diamond clothing or Arc’teryx clothing, I mean, you know, these are big companies. They seem to sort of set the trends. They’re all the same colors every year because they’re also prescribed to the, to the, to the color forecast. They all get the same color forecasts. 00:19:41:17 – 00:20:01:08 Steve And their sort of trends is set by just the sheer weight of their dominance in the, in the industry. And there’s not a whole lot of this creativity that used to be so prevalent. I mean, I think about like one of the first, sport climbing harness that I ever had was built by Jon Bouchard, Wild Things. 00:20:01:13 – 00:20:39:13 Steve And it was a tie in harness. It didn’t have a buckle. and it was like rainbow colors. And I mean, it was, you know, rarely uncomfortable, really ugly. But, like, you know, you work with Lycra and climb, but Smith rocks. And it was a cool thing. And you don’t there’s I feel like there are not as much the, the playing field is not as level anymore when you have these climbing has grown to the point where you do have these big companies, and I and I and I really cheer for the people at Christian and Wild Things, which doesn’t really exist in the same form anymore. 00:20:39:13 – 00:20:49:03 Steve And other brands like that, that they, that they because we need that creativity. Right. It’s not that we need those artists. We need those kinds of punks. 00:20:49:05 – 00:21:06:17 Will I love that you brought that up. And that’s what Christian’s clothing was. Was it meant to be? It was meant to be functional for hard rock climbing. And he did a lot of cool stuff that it was really groundbreaking, but it was an expression of individuality, of difference. And yeah, he did that, and I really admired him for that. 00:21:06:17 – 00:21:23:15 Will I did not have the guts to do that, man. And somebody that Christian just did, and I was like, man, that is so cool. And I remember the first X games everybody’s wearing, like, you know, high altitude tactical clothing. And I competed in a pair of pants just because I was like, this is ridiculous. This is like a climbing competition on an artificial wall. 00:21:23:15 – 00:21:44:20 Will And I’m going to wear the red clothing work I wear a fairy crest is ridiculous, like pants that were all blue, but they stopped like my shins, so my crampons did catch out of it. yeah. But that era and that individuality and that his clothing was functional, it was driven by necessity. It worked really well for what he wanted it to do. 00:21:44:22 – 00:21:59:09 Will And I think that necessity is important in design and product development. As you know, you’ve worked a lot for Patagonia, I’ve done a lot with Arc’teryx, but the best stuff comes from the things that you need to do that. 00:21:59:14 – 00:22:00:07 Steve Yeah. 00:22:00:09 – 00:22:10:20 Will Christian is like, nobody’s making clothing. I’m not going to wear gaiters on my 30 projects, right? We need stuff that boots, you know, and that he built it. 00:22:10:22 – 00:22:28:12 Steve Yeah, that was the I mean, before that, it was like painter pants. I mean, you know, and I mean, even today, like, if you’re going to dress to go trad climbing in Yosemite, it’s going to be different than what you’re going to dress to wear, you know, sport climbing and Boulder Canyon. And those are just those are just different assignments, right? 00:22:28:12 – 00:22:30:18 Steve And you have to solve those problems differently. 00:22:30:20 – 00:22:46:18 Will We forget that a lot of this stuff is expressions of like that time in the era, you know, I learned to climb on, on a, on a two-inch red swami belt, painter’s pants and a rugby shirt. Man, I was fashionable. And then and then Christian came along and he’s like, are you a rugby player? Are you a climber? 00:22:46:20 – 00:23:03:07 Will Like a climber man? So, I was who I wanted to be. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s different, different clothing for different eras and, and it’s still a battle, you know, it’s design. I’m sure you’ve been in design meetings where we’re, we’re talking about these stakes of what people want. It’s not the same. It’s a huge spectrum. And I think that’s cool. 00:23:03:12 – 00:23:30:22 Steve Do you think that this, commercialization. I’ll just kind of blanket statement. That’s a generalization, but I’ll just kind of use it. Do you think that this commercialization has changed climbing? Is it specifically? Does it discourage the more emotional and philosophical journeys that there are to be had in the mountains by giving us all the same uniform and the same colors to choose from and the same. 00:23:30:24 – 00:23:46:15 Steve We all look the same. We all dress the same, you know? Does that quash creativity? actually, you know, something you said about Christian, like the bravery that it takes to do something different. 00:23:46:17 – 00:24:07:04 Will A complicated question might be above my pay grade, but I love thinking about this. I do think things like this. There’s so many answers to it. I guess for me and my career, I don’t know the commercialization. I benefited from it, let’s be honest. And it’s really hard to talk sense to a man when his living depends on that sentence made of it, you know, like it’s like that. 00:24:07:04 – 00:24:14:11 Will Without that commercialization I’ve had, I would have had a much less interesting career. I don’t know about that, actually I would have had a very different career. Yeah. 00:24:14:11 – 00:24:16:05 Steve It’s different, but it’s different. 00:24:16:05 – 00:24:18:01 Will Yeah. And you know. 00:24:18:03 – 00:24:34:15 Steve And me too, like, I mean I was, I lived off of climbing for 23 years like and. Yeah, me too I get it. But I’m not trying to dis sponsorship or dis commercialization. I’m just asking the question if it if it changes our experience. 00:24:34:17 – 00:24:53:17 Will It sure does. And just the number of climbers changes things too. You know, we’re not a band of misfits hunkered down in the woods under a rock anymore. It’s like, you know, we’re on TV, we’re climbing and the Olympics and, you know, we’re so far from that. And it’s and it’s driven the sport to insanely cool new levels of performance and outcomes and so on. 00:24:53:17 – 00:25:29:11 Will So, I love all of that. I guess every time I go out and do something outdoors with a new group of climbers, I’m always amazed at how much has changed and how little it’s changed. You know, they might have a nice band and stuff, but they’re like out there bleeding on the same holes that, you know, generations of climber like the weirdly, the experience of climbing hasn’t changed that much, even though the everything else has, like, you still go out there and you fall off and you get upset and you hurt yourself, and you try hard and you bleed, you get obsessive and you blow off other areas of your life. 00:25:29:11 – 00:25:46:18 Will And that is awesome. That is the soul of climbing. And I don’t think that’s changed much at all. whether you’re climbing into a gym or, you know, whatever, you’re into it, man. You’re focused. That’s where it’s going. And I think that’s what’s so rad about climbing. And now it has with the commercialization people do make livings off of it. 00:25:46:20 – 00:25:58:19 Will There’re gyms everywhere. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just sold out massively and that could totally be the case, but I love it. Fuck it, I love it. I think it’s been good for it. It’s okay. I don’t know. 00:25:58:21 – 00:26:13:10 Steve It’s not a question of good or bad. It’s just it does is there’s still space for what’s different. Is there still space for creativity and is there still space for Christian like, who’s the Christian Griffith of 2004, 2024? 00:26:13:12 – 00:26:16:14 Will Maybe? We don’t even know. I’m sure that there is somebody and. 00:26:16:14 – 00:26:17:23 Steve We just don’t know one. 00:26:18:00 – 00:26:25:19 Will Or the other. I’m just drawing a blank on the guy with the doll’s heads in his van. He’s still out there, like making holds and getting kill. 00:26:25:20 – 00:26:26:11 Steve Yeah. 00:26:26:13 – 00:26:48:10 Will Yeah, yeah, that guys awesome. so many people like that out there. And you do you like. You look at some people who’ve had, like, their careers have taken some setbacks from not following the norm or doing things that were somewhat, you know, didn’t work out. There’s they’re still out there climbing. And I guess the downside of, like, if I were to look at like the downside of commercialization, it’s just pressure on resources. 00:26:48:12 – 00:27:06:20 Will When I was younger, I sort of liked the world was infinite and it’s pretty clear now it’s not. It’s you get so much more pressure on crags. And unfortunately, things like the access Fund and other organizations have stepped up. You know, I remember it just being a sea of, of, of, of toilet paper at every crag that I went to. 00:27:06:20 – 00:27:31:19 Will And now there’s like bathrooms and some things like that. So, managing that commercialization and explosion in the number of people that are going out there and these relatively finite resources, you know, it’s the world’s just not an infinite place. But I bet we just don’t know that that, you know, person maybe, you know, Kai Leitner is somebody that, like, seems to be doing things quite differently right now and has been through an evolution in his climb now. 00:27:31:19 – 00:27:51:08 Will Like there’s all these people out there I just find so inspirational. Not in the same way maybe because it’s mainstream. They’re not rebelling. It’s hard against anything because today you can sort of you can make some arguments on that one, but it feels like you could do it, say anything within some, some reason. But yeah. 00:27:51:09 – 00:27:52:20 Will Rationalization. 00:27:52:22 – 00:28:04:02 Steve I think that that is so interesting when you think about the who, you know, whether it’s Kyle or any of these other younger climbers, you know, in any discipline, right. 00:28:04:02 – 00:28:05:19 Will Like, yeah. 00:28:05:21 – 00:28:14:19 Steve When, when we were, you know, when we were I don’t mean I’m going to sound like the old guy back. What we were. 00:28:14:21 – 00:28:15:19 Will Yeah. 00:28:15:21 – 00:28:43:23 Steve Back when we were just little kids. I walk uphill to the store, both ways. We, like, there was no commercialization. No one was sponsored. There was no money. Like, you know, I remember when the North Face first, you know, had, you know, it was Alex Lowe and Greg Child and Conrad Anker and they were the dream team, and that was that was like 1997 or so. 00:28:43:23 – 00:29:09:13 Steve Yeah. Like, I mean, you were 30. I was 27. Like, you know, that’s relatively old for like, say a sport climber, hard boulder kind of kid now, right? I didn’t my first pieces of my first quote unquote sponsorship was a free pair of ice tools that I got and probably 19. It was winter 99, 2000, so I don’t remember which side of the new year it was on. 00:29:09:15 – 00:29:32:09 Steve But right around, you know, I was 29, 30 years old. Yeah. And I didn’t see any money in any kind of a check from just being sponsored. Not I’m not talking about selling a photo or writing an article. I’m talking about, like, you’re on the team and here’s your stipend. And until I was 34 and it was $1,500 for a year. 00:29:32:11 – 00:29:37:09 Will That was great. Now you’re like $5,000. This is the best. That’s two tickets to Europe. You know, I. 00:29:37:09 – 00:30:01:06 Steve Mean, totally for, like, for doing what I was going to do anyway. It was the way I felt, too, right? It’s just like I was going to do all this stuff I was going to do anyway, like I had. No, it just gave me more fuel for the fire. And, and you know, obviously I, you know, both of us built that into, into larger sums and we were able to live on then we were able to do things like buy homes and live a middle-class lifestyle. 00:30:01:08 – 00:30:23:04 Steve but that, you know, that kind of came about relatively recently within climbing. And I wonder if the if the youngsters searching for that, you know, I would have hated to have been 19, 21 in the social media era, like, I, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. What a nightmare for me. I would have been terrible at it. 00:30:23:06 – 00:30:53:07 Steve And now it’s obviously completely expected. What you say and how you post, and everything is scrutinized by other people. It has to kind of a have to kind of constrain the creativity. I would think of these younger kids because they have to be out there, they have to be putting out content, and there are overlords, other people writing the check, like, you know, if you want to know who’s in control of you, look like where you get your you get your, paycheck from. 00:30:53:07 – 00:31:15:00 Steve I mean, that’s kind of the old quip, right? So, yeah, I worry about that. I worry about the young kids and I and I hope that they, you know, can draw interest because one of my, one of my questions for you, Will, is, you know, this is totally out of order, but, you know, does the is the history of climbing important like. 00:31:15:02 – 00:31:38:24 Will Well, that’s okay. Back it up. What you just said something really important that I think is that I, that I, I think haven’t changed in some ways, but it’s really, really important to me and that is that you would do those things anyhow. You would go and do your thing anyhow. And I think that’s super. That’s incredibly important not only to like, be authentic and honest to yourself, but also, I don’t think it’s changed that part of it. 00:31:39:01 – 00:32:01:10 Will To get really good at something, you have to want to get good at it. You have to at least want to wake up in the morning, go, how do I get better? And that drive, whether you’re, you know, the people that I see long term who long term succeed in this sport, it’s not because they’re genetic mutants. It’s because they I mean, you got to have a threshold level of physical and they’re going to play in the NBA, right? 00:32:01:14 – 00:32:19:12 Will Never, never going to make them. You know, it’s just not going to happen. I’m not Tom. But the if you’ve got that threshold level then the people who are like, I’m going to do this whether I’m sponsored or not, I’m going to go climbing, running, skiing, whatever it is, they are going to do that thing obsessively and with intent and with meaning and like, structure their lives around it. 00:32:19:12 – 00:32:37:11 Will They’re going to get good at it. That is the single most critical thing. To get good at something is to be like, I love this. So much that I will sacrifice just about anything on, on, on it alter. And, you know, you certainly did that in your life. And for better or worse, it’s not like there’s no balance in that. 00:32:37:13 – 00:32:54:14 Will Like it’s not about balance. It’s about how I get good at, you know, how do I get better at what I’m doing? And eventually a way to do that, if you get good enough that it is, is sponsorship, but you do it because you just love it so much or you hate it so much, but you’re going to do it to get better at it. 00:32:54:16 – 00:33:10:09 Will It’s those two things aren’t very far apart, actually. A lot of the time, you know, I yeah. And so, you, you do it anyhow. So, I just love that. And no sponsors ever asked me to do something. People are like, oh, a Red bull must tell you to do this shit. It’s like, no, I do this. They’re enablers. 00:33:10:11 – 00:33:25:19 Will They like, they’re enablers. You know, it’s like having a very rich uncle that will allow you to do things. so, they it’s it there’s so many sides to this, but I just thought what you said there is really important. So where to circle back on that? And then I think your question was about is the history of climbing important? 00:33:25:21 – 00:33:35:09 Steve Well, before you answer, because this is an interesting topic, I would I want to second what you said, like no sponsor ever told me what to do. Interesting. 00:33:35:11 – 00:33:35:18 Will Yeah. 00:33:35:19 – 00:34:07:04 Steve And one of the things I’ve been in this position and I’m sure you’re in a similar position with the brands you work for. One of the things as you become one of the sort of senior athletes on a team is you’re frequently hopefully involve in the decisions about who’s brought in as the young, because we’re always, you know, we’re always sort of some of its aging out or moving on to do things or the or the brand is just growing and they need more ambassadors, for the brand. 00:34:07:06 – 00:34:19:00 Steve And, you know, that’s one of the things I always look for. I wanted to know, like, are they doing this? Anyway, that was kind of the litmus test for me. It wasn’t how many Instagram followers I have I didn’t care about. 00:34:19:02 – 00:34:37:11 Will And that’s I think that’s unfortunately had to change a little bit. If social media has impacted your definite your work is not just what you do, it is also how you do it in social media and so on. It’s really changed. That is in some ways a negative and in some ways not, I don’t know, but that’s what I look for too. 00:34:37:11 – 00:34:54:10 Will It’s the same as you. Would this person be out there in their van or whatever form their sport takes, you know, surfing, whatever it is, doing it like, is that what fires them up? And, and it’s hard for people on the outside to understand that they think often that the sponsors are the ones calling the shots. 00:34:54:10 – 00:35:16:04 Will And maybe that’s true for the on trip or something like, we’re going to go make content here. I love that expression. Like I know that actually is this idea of making content. It’s like I’ve done yeah, I could correct that analogy far part like I want to go do stuff that’s meaningful. Out of that comes content. But there is this weird circle where it’s like, we make content, we make 15 seconds of coolness. 00:35:16:06 – 00:35:38:08 Will We never actually climbed anything. We never actually flew off anything. We never did anything really, actually very cool. Who made some great content. And to me, that’s that dissonance drives me nuts sometimes. But anyhow, most of the time it’s that that’s not doing my sport. That’s my job. right. Sport, I do what I love, but my job is to pose and make content sometimes. 00:35:38:08 – 00:35:49:11 Will So, in some ways I joke about that, that I’m an average climber, but I’m an exceptional poser. That’s. It but yeah I. Yeah. 00:35:49:16 – 00:35:51:17 Steve Oh, that’s going in your bio for this episode. 00:35:51:17 – 00:36:12:18 Will Well, it’s the truth that I, I got these I could be the fire hydrant is this stuff is like patented area. It’s a joke. But that is what we love to do. And if we’re if we’re doing what we love that, then it rings true. And it’s good. And, but when it gets, it can get a little bit weird for sure. 00:36:12:20 – 00:36:30:00 Steve So back to creativity and creation and rebellion and being punks and is a history of climbing important to people need to know where what, what has been done before them to create from that. Or is it a hindrance? 00:36:30:02 – 00:36:50:05 Will Yeah, this is a this is a probably a question. I do believe that people should know some history about whatever they’re doing just to see where they came from and why. I think that’s important. Whatever sport or aspect of life you’re involved in, if you’re a politician, you should definitely know. As a political climber, a little bit of climbing history is good, but there’s different stages to life, right? 00:36:50:05 – 00:37:07:22 Will Like we in Boulder in the in the early 90s, we were, and I think by and large, maybe Christian. He thought about what he thought about at a higher level than the rest of us did. I just wanted to climb as hard as I could. And history was pretty irrelevant to that point because I was like, we were there to write it. 00:37:07:22 – 00:37:23:23 Will That’s the stage in life where you’re right, and that’s what you do at that stage. And then you get a lot older, and you see it in the in the scope, you know, like, what did I do and where does that fit in? And then you start caring about it more. But the people who are actually writing it, I don’t think they should care about it very much. 00:37:23:23 – 00:37:34:03 Will They should do what they’re doing, and it’ll be rad. and then let the old guys like, not, you know, you’re a young dad, three years are going to be back in you York guys got started up. 00:37:34:04 – 00:37:38:08 Steve And the old guys. Yeah, that’s what we can sit we can just do podcasts about it and. 00:37:38:10 – 00:37:54:23 Will Yeah, but I actually yeah, I did it go, you know, I’ll go climbing by. I was climbing up my wall last night, the dark and a bye yard. And I was laughing at myself. It’s like I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now, and I’m still fired up to do this, but it’s not writing history. It’s just I am climbing my wall. 00:37:54:23 – 00:38:12:16 Will So, I loved it. And and. Yeah, I think it’s a, I think it’s I’ve always enjoyed the history and it resonates with me, and it’s important. but you can take inspiration from history. You look at what Reinhold Messner did, and, you know, to me, that’s where the bar would be. You know, if I were to become a high-altitude climber, I’d be like. 00:38:12:16 – 00:38:27:22 Will And I think you did that. You’re like, I need to take this further. I’m not going to use oxygen. I’m going to try to do it in the best possible style. And you built on that history because you can do it. Yeah, it can be a little bit hard if you don’t know it, then it’s harder to build on it. 00:38:27:24 – 00:38:34:03 Will but it’s you also got to write it, man. If you’re writing history, then you kind of have to not really worry about it. 00:38:34:05 – 00:39:07:20 Steve Yeah, I love that. You know, just shifting gears a little bit, you know, you and I are both fathers now, and we’ve both spent a good bit of our lives pursuing these dangerous pursuits. You, you sort of specified, you know, non-complex environments. Very early in the conversation, I knew what you were talking about. Do you want to expand on that a little bit and then maybe just, you know, how have you reconciled that or how has that changed for you being a father from pre fatherhood? 00:39:07:22 – 00:39:28:02 Will Yeah, I mean this is a conversation we could have over a beer for like four hours I’m sure, because there’s so many layers to it. But I’m. And I’ve broken my own rules a lot. Paragliding is an inherently really complex environment. So, I didn’t do a very good job of avoiding that. I, I, I’ve got, and you know, I find myself outside collided with a great deal of regularity. 00:39:28:02 – 00:39:48:04 Will But what I mean by complex environments are, the more variables you, you, you put into an environment, the more they interact in unforeseen ways, and you get outcomes that you can’t predict. So, you know, climbing in a gym is the is the lowest variable form of climbing because you can, you know, you don’t have weather to worry about. 00:39:48:06 – 00:40:09:23 Will You do have some other factors, but generally the gear is good and relatively few people die climbing in the gym. So, it’s on a very simple side of the complicated environment, like the climbing gym is on the simple side of the simple but complex environment. And then high-altitude mountaineering with relatively, just not a lot of knowledge about that area. 00:40:09:23 – 00:40:30:21 Will A lot of very old walls is, is at the high end of that complexity, for example, and each sport has multiple different ways to look at this. But I made a decision fairly early in my career, my career, to generally focus on the technical, lower complexity environments, generally speaking, and that was because I just saw so many people die. 00:40:30:23 – 00:40:51:20 Will And, you know, as a kid growing up here, I would go climbing with people like, you know, a car. Grassman, a Swiss guide who took me up this ridge when I was a kid, friend of my family, awesome guy. You know, he’s gone. John Walker and Dave Cheesman, so many of these people that I grew up with in my community, and they generally tended to die in complicated environments. 00:40:51:22 – 00:41:12:20 Will So, I, I just saw the carnage there as a young kid. You know, I, I, I would go two weeks monthly, it seemed like at my parents’ house and, you know, there were great parties. They were there. I always looked forward to them. As a kid, you just accept it. You’re like, everybody’s dying, but I got to go to school and there’s a party Friday. 00:41:12:22 – 00:41:38:10 Will so, for me, I made a decision pretty early that I just. I just saw that it wasn’t really. Hyper conscious, but it was very aware. and then I broke those rules, and I’ve done a lot of them. Oh, my God, I got to get my and everything also. But it to me, I went that way just because there were so, so I’d already made a choice well before kids to generally focus on the less complex environments just because they’re hard. 00:41:38:10 – 00:42:04:01 Will It’s harder to predict the outcomes in those super complex environments. And I haven’t always done that. I’ve played a lot of very complicated environments, but as I as I got to be 40 and made the decision to have kids with my partner, it was a it, I had already kind of moved out of those environments more and more, and the flip side of this is, you know, you and I both have to face this. 00:42:04:01 – 00:42:36:17 Will You know, we could look normal for a little bit with the cracks of show. You’re not normal, man. And I know we need, at various points in our lives, higher stimulus activities coming at us, things that absorb us, that are, like, wildly fascinating. And if we don’t do that, then we become surly individuals. And getting back to the start of our conversation, if the goal is to become the best version of yourself, whatever that looks like, then maybe people like us need to go to those places in some format to get that. 00:42:36:19 – 00:42:54:24 Will And so, it’s, it’s what worked for us or for me, if it’s not going to work for other people, we needed that. Other people don’t. And people who don’t need that shouldn’t do it. You know, if you’re if you’re don’t do it, it’s not an it’s not a morph. For us, it was incredibly profound. But it does not mean it is for everybody else. 00:42:54:24 – 00:42:59:08 Will Like my version of profound and meaningful is not somebody else’s. 00:42:59:10 – 00:43:00:18 Steve absolutely. 00:43:00:20 – 00:43:20:12 Will It’s, you know, we all climb and fly. I do these things where, like what? We have found Nirvana. We tend to become almost religious about it or like, do this, that it is, it is the best thing ever, you know, and then it’s like, well, actually this I think is pretty cool, right? You know, very. I’ll get back to it though, it’s like, yeah, kids also had an impact on that. 00:43:20:18 – 00:43:38:16 Will I think I always tried to go out my sports with an I to survive in them, but I it definitely in my 40s. I took a little bit of a different tact again. But I don’t live a safe lifestyle and I could absolutely have a bad outcome pretty much any day of the week out there. And I know that. 00:43:40:05 – 00:44:06:14 Steve You’ve been a really great voice on the whole topic around risk management, particularly in climbing. I don’t follow flying and kayaking these other sports that you’re doing. But and as an aside, I want to encourage listeners to seek out on social media and YouTube and stuff. He’s got some great content out there and on his blog around this topic, and you’ve really written beautifully about this journey. 00:44:06:14 – 00:44:31:22 Steve The mountains can take us on, and you’ve also written at length about the journey and how this journey can become tainted. When we do encounter tragedy, we do face a tragedy. You just talked about how some of that even became normalized for you as a, as a kid to a certain extent. And you know, how is this now is it necessary? 00:44:31:24 – 00:44:58:05 Steve I guess my question to you is the risk that, you know, you can’t control the risk other people take. You can’t control, for example, the risk I take and vice versa. Right. and we might both find inspiration in, I don’t know, some amazing like the recent climb on. Y’all know that these guys did or, you know, the I could give you lots of examples, but we don’t need to take that risk anymore. 00:44:58:05 – 00:45:19:14 Steve But they do and they’re doing it. And I’m kind of inspired by it and I respect it and I can give it its space. But at the same time, I’m holding, at least for myself, I have to hold back a little bit like I don’t want to get too close to them because I’m like, yeah, like your guys are cool, like respect. 00:45:19:14 – 00:45:50:05 Steve Hats off. But like, I don’t really know if I can, like, become great friends with you because I, I’ve been I’ve been through this some many times in the past and I don’t. And it hurts so much, you know. Can people find these, as you said, Nirvana, whatever that is for you without taking these huge risks? Like, why do people why is that such a necessary part of the equation for some people? 00:45:50:07 – 00:46:09:10 Will Well, what you just said, I mean, that’s super. I think that’s super important. And in the way you expressed it personally means a lot to me because it’s, it’s just it just rings very, very true. And I’ve very seldom heard anybody say what you just said. But I do the same thing, you know, and, and it’s, it’s a sound. 00:46:09:10 – 00:46:30:18 Will Very weird to people who haven’t maybe been through some of the same things that we have, but it’s like I edit my friends list. It’s like, I’m like, I really like this person and I hope they survive. I really do. And it’s a whole sound like a horrible thing to say on some level. But at a time when you’ve had enough of those incidents, it sort of gets you to that point. 00:46:30:20 – 00:46:59:11 Will Yeah. And it’s, it’s a fairly, you know, there’s a tremendous amount of emotion and, and just mental gymnastics in all of that. And so, respect for putting that out there. First off, I really think that’s important. And just digging into that. Yeah, I again, we could talk about this for hours, but it’s the other thing you said in that, that they support that, that they it’s necessary for them at this point in their lives. 00:46:59:13 – 00:47:21:03 Will You and I do that. We would get under that face. Maybe you could I certainly could not. You know, like there’s way too much stuff over my head here. And I just don’t think I can with a high enough probability of success. You know, I don’t know what the number would be for me, but if I sort of feel like if I got into that face to be 1 in 10, whether I pulled over the top or not, I don’t know. 00:47:21:03 – 00:47:27:13 Will I like what you know. I could probably do it nine times and the 10th would get me, I don’t know, I don’t know what the number would be if it’s somebody. 00:47:27:15 – 00:47:55:23 Steve But, you know, like you said something earlier about how at a certain point you just you just had to do the thing like, and it didn’t it didn’t matter. Like external factors that could have been all kinds of other chaos in the world. And you would have been like out there like bouldering in Flagstaff. Right? Like, but you would have just been or whatever you would have been at that time doing your thing, and you were completely focused on that, and that was what you needed to do. 00:47:56:03 – 00:48:15:18 Steve Right. And so, I think that, you know, for, for these guys that are at that point now, like if you and I were transported to these locations, we wouldn’t need to do that thing. We just don’t need to anymore. We’ve done it or we’ve done enough of it. We found out what we needed to know or whatever that is. 00:48:15:18 – 00:48:27:06 Steve I don’t think so either. That’s quite the right words for it. That’s what I’m trying to figure out in conversation with you. But what is that that we don’t need anymore? 00:48:27:08 – 00:48:46:05 Will Oh, you know, I wonder. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, too. I’m writing this book right now about surviving and thriving in high hazard environments. So, I’m interviewing on excellent, and it’s been really fascinating. I should actually probably talk to you about this at some point. You’re on the list, to be honest. But the, the, the so what do we need? 00:48:46:05 – 00:49:06:09 Will And I’ve been talking to everybody from the guy who has more base jumps in the world than anybody and is still alive. Like, what has he done differently? And then the person who led more tours in Afghanistan and what they did, and then the head of Exxon-mobile, occupational health and safety guy and how did. Yeah. So, I’m really thinking about all of these topics. 00:49:06:09 – 00:49:23:14 Will And I think what happens when you’re young, you need to do these things because they hit right, you know, for whatever reason in your brain, they hit right. And the people who are honest about that, that it works for them, you know, whether it’s Christian or the guys on Janu or some other things that are going on, that’s awesome. 00:49:23:16 – 00:49:47:23 Will Like that’s hitting for you and awesome. And then as you get older, you’re understanding those changes. You see how many people die and at some point, you’re like, I don’t really want to play that anymore because you know it well enough. Now, the reason that soldiers are like 18 year old guys, they are willing to go out there and get shot at. 00:49:48:03 – 00:50:05:21 Will It’s like a guy my age would be like, are you kidding me? Like, if somebody is invading my house, yeah, okay. I’m there, I’m down with it. But I’m at an abstract intellectual level. It’s I’m just not anymore, man. I know what goes on. Like I said, what can we come up with another solution here? Like, let’s figure this out some other way. 00:50:05:23 – 00:50:39:11 Will And it is just not right. So, you get to a certain point in life, and you understand the game well enough. And I’ve often wondered if you could sort of download that knowledge into the 22 or 32 year old guys mind whether they would still want to go or not, like if you knew it, if I knew that, you know, 30 at 26 or whatever, and I was pulling my paraglider up and one of the most insane places to fly on Earth, and I was that’s why I was there and pull my glider up with like a huge line of thunderstorms ten miles away. 00:50:39:11 – 00:50:59:06 Will And I’m going to fly to the edge of that thunderstorm all day. And that is what I’m into now. I’m like, you’re nuts. You know what goes down? But I don’t know if I would that change it know like that’s just the progression. And at a certain point your understanding of the risks to sport probably makes you quit. 00:50:59:08 – 00:51:22:05 Will You don’t have a high enough level of testosterone, and you have a deep enough understanding that you’re like, I don’t want to play anymore. And, and so that’s great too. But it’s, I often wonder that, you know, when you’re, when you’re 25 and you haven’t lost that many friends yet and you haven’t seen it go bad and you haven’t done CPR on a perfect, golden, beautiful evening, you’re like, this is all good. 00:51:22:07 – 00:51:46:02 Will We’re good here. And I think that’s what I want to try and do now is just I would like to help people make more educated decisions about risk in whatever way they’re working with. Risk, like it’s more honest, whether you’re whether you’re making financial decisions or putting your life on the line. It’s like, are you being honest about it as you’re, you know, and do you have enough of an understanding? 00:51:46:02 – 00:51:53:07 Will And how do we help people get that understanding? Or look at this environment and what are some tools for that? This is what’s fascinating to me. 00:51:53:07 – 00:52:23:07 Steve But everybody thinks they’re being honest because they don’t have another perspective, you know? And one of the questions I wrote out here is exactly what we’re talking about, ironically, and I didn’t intend I didn’t intend to come into it this way. But, you know, I want to go back. You know, exactly this question. You just ask. And if we go back 20 years to 2004, for me, that was the year that I saw the new route on K seven in the Himalaya. 00:52:23:09 – 00:52:56:03 Steve And I was it was one of my core tenets of my thesis that sort of helped me build myself into the climber that could do that was that I was constantly engaging in risky climbing, and purposely avoiding climbing that didn’t have consequence, like ball protected sport climbing of any kind, rock mix, whatever interest. And because I didn’t want my mind to get used to the idea that if I fell, it would be okay. 00:52:56:05 – 00:53:23:08 Steve I didn’t want to ever allow that in and from was from my perspective, you know, when the focus is on not the, the risk but actually the difficulty, because as Vince likes to joke, we did, you know, we when we were going and doing these big routes in the Himalaya, we were doing easy climbs in dangerous places. 00:53:23:10 – 00:53:51:04 Steve And technically they were we they were easy. Let’s say they were tactical, but easy. But they were an extremely complex environment, as you were explaining very well earlier. So, the risk part was such a big piece of that. And I wanted the thought experiment. I’ve been asking myself if I could go back and deliver a message to that 20-year younger self. 00:53:51:06 – 00:53:54:13 Steve What would I say? 00:53:54:15 – 00:54:10:12 Will As, as so much of what you just said, like the final question that I want to I want to circle back to that. But something you just said is really, really important to me and I think is, is, overlooked a lot. And that is you train for what you were going to do in the same way you are going to do it. 00:54:10:14 – 00:54:31:01 Will And you demanded of yourself, your mind, particularly and also your body to operate in that area. So, you got better at it. And it’s really interesting to me and most I’ve talked to very few people that have that have done what you did. You and this is what it would define. I, I’m making an assumption here and please correct me if I’m wrong, but you what you did is really you. 00:54:31:03 – 00:54:52:08 Will This is what’s going to kill me. And I’m going to get really good at not letting that happen. And I’m going to train in that environment, and I’m going to be primed to operate in that way. And then you went out and executed and that that is so important. A lot of people, their training is not focused on their performance. 00:54:52:13 – 00:55:05:10 Will It’s focused on, in my view, somewhat irrelevant metrics. And you went this is the metric and you did that. And I think that’s really fascinating. So that’s just an aside. You know, for people who like listening make a note of this. Because this is unusual in my view. 00:55:05:12 – 00:55:34:02 Steve Yeah. But I mean as, as you said like within alpine is that is the dangerous thing is not the I mean, of course you don’t want to fall on the hard move when you have two pieces in on the whole pitch. But yeah, you know, that has to sort of bet I didn’t get scared in those situations because it was a foregone conclusion, like I had already made the decision when I was at the, you know, when I walked up to the objective that those kinds of things were going to happen. 00:55:34:02 – 00:55:54:11 Steve And that’s why one of the things like, you know, back to that kind of question, I can’t do that anymore. Like, I can’t go in the mountains with these younger climbers around here because I don’t even want to see them in that situation, let alone put myself on lead in a situation like that, like it’s just. 00:55:54:11 – 00:56:13:20 Steve Yeah, I just so I’m not interested in being there anymore in that space. And I don’t know quite what I would tell that 20-year younger self that would help. And maybe there, you know, and maybe there’s nothing I could tell. Maybe it was just right for me at that time, as you were alluding to earlier. And I needed to go through that. 00:56:13:22 – 00:56:22:20 Steve And that was my gantlet, that I created or my, my thresh. You know, whatever we want to call it, my, myself self-created test. 00:56:22:22 – 00:56:39:17 Will And now why I’d ask the same question to you. If we could do that. You know, I can give you my answer to that because I’ve had these conversations. Yeah. And I could have had these conversations when I was, say, 40, because I would have done it really poorly. And I and I, and I did do it poorly. 00:56:39:17 – 00:56:57:22 Will I would have at 40, I would have a conversation with an openness to is 25 call it 20, 22 to 35 is kind of that that hot zone there for most males anyhow. And I don’t have this conversation with them, and I would say I wouldn’t do it well. I basically call them out. I’d be like, you got no idea what you’re actually doing. 00:56:57:24 – 00:57:21:06 Will And you’re going to, you know, expletive die and do you want to do that? And they would just look at me and be like, yeah, you’re already old and I really don’t have anything to talk with you about. And so, it didn’t work. And now I have these conversations with across multiple different sports, alpine climbing. And I had a really, I had a really interesting one with one of the younger guys in the Arc’teryx team is also a very accomplished guide and just a great human. 00:57:21:08 – 00:57:39:14 Will We had these great conversations where we’ve talked about these things, and now it’s a conversation and I just say, hey, how are you looking at this? And try to understand where they’re at? And then we have then we, you know, it’s the same thing we’re trying to do in other areas of our lives of calling people in versus calling them out. 00:57:39:16 – 00:58:10:08 Will I’m not really there to tell them anything. I’m just there to ask some questions and maybe say, well, here’s a perspective I can’t tell somebody who’s 25 to 35. I can make suggestions, but it’s a conversation and just giving them more, giving them some of what I’ve seen and I learned from them too, you know, like fully whether it’s a journey, guys, or it’s two sets of journey guys and the story of what happened to the other set of journey, you guys, during that time is really interesting. 00:58:10:08 – 00:58:26:21 Will And that is a story that hasn’t been told. If you get those guys on there, yeah, they have something to say. Okay. Anyhow, you can have this conversation where you can offer some information and some perspective. it’s relevant to them. 00:58:26:23 – 00:58:41:02 Steve How do you call people in? You said instead of, I love that you’re not calling them out, you’re calling them in. Can you give me an example of how you would call someone in? Imagine you’re talking to this young Arc’teryx athlete. What do you say to him? 00:58:41:04 – 00:58:57:07 Will I’d ask questions, be like, hey, what’s it like up there when you’re doing this stuff? How does your brain work? Like what’s fire you’re not? And I just go into it and then I get where they’re coming from. And I don’t always succeed in this, but I want to find common ground with them. Like, oh yeah, I get that, okay. 00:58:57:07 – 00:59:15:18 Will We’re doing the same thing. And then, you know, maybe bring it in to, are you are you thinking about, you know, sort of longevity or are you is just like, this is it. You’re just so into it. You’re going for it no matter what. And, you know, how do you think about snow and, some of them are very highly trained. 00:59:15:18 – 00:59:36:08 Will Some of them aren’t. And have you thought about maybe, you know, for example, at Arc’teryx, we have a fund for education now. So, I can say, hey, you can go and take, you know, a course or you can go out with somebody who’s really good in these alpine environments. Well, you know, Arc’teryx will pay for that. And it’s a I could offer things like that that I think might help them, but they have to walk those things. 00:59:36:10 – 00:59:52:14 Will You know, I can’t just say I’m no different than somebody in the comment section on a, on a on after a rescue or something saying they’re all idiots. You know, I can’t tell this person that they’re like idiots for what they’re doing. That would be massively hypocritical and completely missed the point that they want to do that. 00:59:52:14 – 01:00:14:19 Will They need that. How can we maybe shape it? You know, the best example of this is just a really quick story, but we have this local cliff you’ve climbed on Mount. Yeah. Miska. And a few years ago, all of a sudden, the media lights up because these guys are going up on the cliff and they’re putting bought into, like, the most established classic lines and using, like, gear they bought off Amazon. 01:00:14:21 – 01:00:31:03 Will And the climbing world is like, you are horrible people. You are. You’re taking way too much risk. We watched you climb, and you didn’t do it right. You know nothing. You’re idiots. Your morons, and you’re messing our cliffs up and you know, and I looked at these guys and I’m like, man, you guys are the same as me. 01:00:31:03 – 01:00:47:14 Will When I was 25, you just never even read a climbing book you, like, invented it with the drill you borrowed from work and the and the bolts you bought at the hardware store. And it’s a joke. And so, I was like, hey, you know, I’m a guy. I’ll take you out. And we got out with these guys. 01:00:47:19 – 01:01:02:02 Will I got out with them for the day, and they were just so psyched that they didn’t even read the history of climbing. They just went for it. They invented it on the spot with the shit they had in the garage. And so, by calling them in and saying, hey, let’s work together, maybe I can teach you something. And they’re both climbing. 01:01:02:02 – 01:01:03:24 Will They’re putting up new routes. They’re great guys. 01:01:04:02 – 01:01:17:10 Steve I love that, I love that. What a great story and way to see yourself in them. Right? Because we were all that. We were all those kids. Like all of us. Yeah, yeah. Who are we to judge their motivations anyway? 01:01:17:12 – 01:01:41:15 Will Yeah. And so, at the same time, what can we do to maybe provide like, you know, one of the things I think for operating in complex and they’re all professional, what I would call professional environments, and I think I’ve used that term as well, I’m not sure. But this idea that, you know, we can’t get on the floor of the NBA with like LeBron James, but when we walk into the mountains, we’re on the floor of the NBA like we’re outside in the same arena as anybody else. 01:01:41:15 – 01:01:58:20 Will And it’s like, you know we need to get that training. So, one of the things I wish I’d done when I was younger is what you did. and I was actually signed up to do the ACMG stuff when I was like 26, I think. And a good friend of mine died on a on an exam, and I was so mad about that. 01:01:58:20 – 01:02:16:04 Will I was like, these people are idiots, and I want nothing to do with them. And I really wish I’d done that training at that age. And instead of doing it when I was in my late 30s and, and early 40s, because having that that is professional level knowledge about the mountains, and I wish I’d done it. I think that’s if I were. 01:02:16:06 – 01:02:42:05 Steve It’s easier to do when you’re young, but honestly, I’m sorry. ACMG for those that aren’t familiar with it, is Association a Canadian mountain Guides, which is a professional organization that trains and certifies mountain guides in Canada. And yeah, I went through that process in my 20s and, it was it was really important for me, like it did give me frameworks through the experiences. 01:02:42:05 – 01:03:00:13 Steve I wouldn’t say I think it’s much more and better developed now. How they teach people to think about risk and stuff as a, as mountain guides and as mountain professionals than it was then. But at least it gave me a starting point and some sort of, you know, some there was something on the paper. It wasn’t just totally blank. 01:03:00:13 – 01:03:03:10 Steve And it was a huge gift. 01:03:03:12 – 01:03:19:19 Will But I remember it. I think it’s really important to like things like snow safety. One of the days you may not even remember this, but for me it was quite influential. At the time, you and Barry and I were going up some snow slope to go, climb something new together. It was a really fun day where, you know, I’m going to go. 01:03:19:21 – 01:03:33:16 Will And I remember I was starting to think about the snow a little bit at that point in my career than I had been previously. I was like, I was like, I was like, okay, this is starting to feel I at that point in my career. It’s been a lot of time and snow, but I’d had very old training. 01:03:33:16 – 01:03:52:07 Will Long story. Both you and Barry, I was, I was starting I was like twig to it. But then you and Barry had this conversation. You’re like, oh, I think your exact words where this, this mid-pack is, is getting weird. And I remember thinking, okay, these guys know a way to talk about snow that I dumped. And that was important. 01:03:52:07 – 01:04:08:20 Will And I think for a lot of when I guess what I would say to a lot of younger people in any of these sports that I do is to try to get that professional training so that you can understand things as best you can. And so, for things like snow, get that professional training. It’s not an easy one. 01:04:08:20 – 01:04:32:02 Will You need to get out there with people who live and breathe snow. And I am, you know, having gone through the snow parts of the ACM program a massively better at looking at snow than I was. And I make better decisions. And I sure wish I’d had that knowledge in my 20s. When I’m on, like, you know, the south face of Robson going for it, you know. 01:04:32:04 – 01:04:53:11 Will Yeah, I didn’t have, I didn’t I was pretty good at avoiding avalanche training but didn’t have that professional level training. So that is one thing I would say. It’s like, yeah, do what you did and train and train for what you’re going to encounter, but also get the professional skills if you can somehow, because you’re in a professional environment. 01:04:53:13 – 01:05:12:10 Steve Yeah, yeah. No, that’s great. I think that one of the things that I would link this back to is one of the objections I hear from people is like, oh, it’s so expensive and so on and so forth. And my response is like, yeah, but you’re going to do it anyway. You have to do it anyway. It’s like, it’s like what you’re saying. 01:05:12:12 – 01:05:28:23 Steve You’re going to go do those climbs anyway. You need this information and there’s professionals provided and that cost that is a fee and figure it out. Like if you got to go to work and pick apples for six weeks to get the money to take the course, and that’s what you’re going to do, like, you know, just get it done. 01:05:28:23 – 01:05:52:09 Steve And I think it is super important to do it. Yeah, it’s yeah, it’s interesting that you say that. And I would also say especially when you live in the Canadian Rockies or in the Rockies or the American Rockies, but I mean, there are those, you know, that band is where the, you know, has the trickiest snowpack and the most dangerous snowpack of anywhere, literally anywhere I’ve ever been. 01:05:52:11 – 01:06:12:09 Will Yeah, it was a good, you know, when I was that when I was that 12-year-old kid living at Hilbert Creek Hostel. I did three avalanche courses that winter, and I also watched two fatalities go down on parkland. And those two things together. Those courses definitely saved my life. And, but I wish I’d gone to a much deeper level, then and learned a lot more. 01:06:12:09 – 01:06:35:01 Will And it’s not just, you know, when you get out with somebody who is. I went through the guiding program here. I would get out with people, like Collin Zacharias or people like that, and they would just say something that was so smart, that it would change my thinking about the mountains. They’d be like, just some little thing about, oh, yeah, you know, and here comes the sun. 01:06:35:01 – 01:06:56:05 Will And I just heard the first rock. And I’d be like, why do we hear rocks in the north facing thing? While the rib that faces east, they knew they understood this environment. And that is like if I were to, like, define one value that matters the most, or the thing that I’m seeking the most in life, both in the mountains and everywhere, it’s to understand what’s happening. 01:06:56:07 – 01:07:18:09 Will We’re just trying to that’s if you could understand what was happening all the time and there wouldn’t be accidents, right? Yeah. So, we’re, you know, at 25, my depth of understanding, was very, very strong that my depth of understanding about a lot of things in the mountains wasn’t very good. And I’m still surprised regularly. Like, I don’t have it figured out today, but I’m better at it. 01:07:18:11 – 01:07:22:12 Will I’m getting better at it every day I go and I’m getting a little bit better. 01:07:22:14 – 01:07:29:22 Steve You go easy on yourself. I mean, there’s an element of chaos and injected in all of it, too, like it’s not all knowable. It just isn’t. 01:07:29:24 – 01:07:49:18 Will Well, what you just said is really important, again, because I think when I was 25, I was like, if I just have like some mentors and pay attention, this is all knowable. And then, you know, I had some bad outcomes and saw some other ones and I remember right at the first piece I ever wrote about this was about I was in the Italian Dolomites, which is an area you’ve spent a lot of time in. 01:07:49:20 – 01:08:02:14 Will And I was hiking in the fog because the paragliding caught that, then fogged out. It was raining, was shitty, and I, I hiked onto this mountain, and I knew that if I just kept the slope to my left and I could end up on the summit of this thing, that’s all I need to do is keep the slope on the left. 01:08:02:14 – 01:08:22:02 Will But I didn’t realize I’d gone through a call and switched aspects in the fall. I just didn’t catch it and I, so I wound up in this train that was really messy, and I fell down on a grassy slope in which sliding down this grass slope that had like, you know, cows walked across this thing and stopped on the edge of this cliff in the fog. 01:08:22:04 – 01:08:37:15 Will And I picked up this rock and chucked it off, which in retrospect was not a brilliant decision, but I couldn’t see how far down it was, and it went like 10s. And I was like, I went home, and I wrote this piece where I was like, when I looked at action reports before, I was always like, oh, I wouldn’t do that. 01:08:37:17 – 01:09:09:02 Will I’m safe, I wouldn’t do that. And I was safe. And that day taught me that accidents happen and there’s an element of chaos. And it changed my approach to the mountains. I was like, wow, you know, like, how do I have to eat? How do I operate in these mountains with the acceptance of that chaos? Because once you really feel that it takes a lot more downright bravery or understanding to walk out the door and you know what’s going to happen at some point, maybe you don’t have enough of that bravery anymore, or you are just you’ve had enough. 01:09:09:02 – 01:09:13:18 Will You’re like, I don’t want to go there anymore. Like what you just said about the chaos to me is just critical. 01:09:13:20 – 01:09:44:16 Steve One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that, like I’d say more recently in the last ten years, is that I’m actually like a pretty anxious person, which you would think, because I did some very risky things. But one of the one of the results of that is I’ve always been super overprepared in those ways, like I had had maps and GPS and backup batteries for the GPS, and everything written down on paper and like backups to the backups to the backups. 01:09:44:18 – 01:10:05:22 Steve And, you know, so many times I’ve used that, I remember like one time, you know, Jeff Hama and I climbed, we did the second ascent of, of the big, the southwest pillar of Mount Dickey that, you know, we got to the top. Same thing. I was like, of course it’s a storm. And but like, Jeff didn’t know it, but I had, like, all these things, like, stowed away in a Ziploc in my pack. 01:10:05:22 – 01:10:19:18 Steve And I just got out the map and the compass and the altimeter and, like, navigated. It took us once we got back down to the Ruth Gorge, or we had just a little Biblia El Dorado tent in the middle of the Ruth Gorge. It took it took us like eight hours to do the descent to the glacier. 01:10:19:18 – 01:10:37:21 Steve It took us four or more hours to find the tent because it was covered in snow, and it was foggy, and we just couldn’t, we just didn’t know exactly where the tent was and all we had. This is pre GP’s. So, you know like those things that kind of it’s not paranoia I mean where when is it, when is it preparation. 01:10:37:22 – 01:10:59:11 Steve When is it paranoia? I mean that’s always a thing. And I think the, the times when I felt most at risk is when I’ve gotten out into situations and I’m underprepared and I’m like, first of all, I should have known better, but like you like, but this happens. I know this happens. It’s the element of chaos and detachment. 01:10:59:11 – 01:11:17:21 Steve I did not overprepare this time. I do not like it, especially these days when I have a phone and a GP’s, you know, app on my phone. I always and here in this part of the Alps, I almost always have cell reception, you know good bit of reception from because I 5g from the summits of most of these peaks around here you know. 01:11:17:21 – 01:11:27:22 Steve And so, I get lazy. Right. And then you only have to be in one little dead spot and the bat on the wrong day in the bad and it’s like, damn. 01:11:28:03 – 01:11:46:12 Will Well, two things you just said. They’re really extreme. The first is anxiety. And I think that’s you may be slightly underrated that the importance of that in your career. I would say because I have the same as mine, it isn’t quite as productive as yours in terms of preparation. 01:11:46:14 – 01:11:47:20 Steve Well, we don’t know that. 01:11:47:22 – 01:12:08:17 Will Just like that anxiety is like, why can’t I just be brave like other people? Why do I worry about the scenarios that I see? And why do I think about all the things that can go wrong? And why can’t I just remember that being like 12-year-old with my BMX bike and like contemplating, you know, like if I went off the jump sideways and being worried about like, how would I landed or if I got out of control near what was I going to do? 01:12:08:17 – 01:12:26:13 Will And then, you know, and all the other kids would just hit it and I’d be like, I have to sit there for like five minutes and figure it all out in my room. I really think that I wanted to be like the brave kid that just sent it, and it was that anxiety. And as I’ve gotten older, I’m like, that’s probably at least to a good part. 01:12:26:15 – 01:12:44:08 Will Why? Anxiety and fear are actually really, really powerful tools. And I just used to love that. I used to sit in my kayak at the top of drops and throw up, because I was so wound up about what I was doing. And, and in retrospect, you know, that was not a good state to be paddling class six or whatever. 01:12:44:08 – 01:12:58:15 Will That’s not the way forward, you know, and I didn’t understand that at the time. But now I would respond to that differently. So, I think that anxiety is actually really critical. And then your story about the map and compass, man, I love that because I bet that to a certain extent came straight out of your guiding. 01:12:58:17 – 01:13:00:09 Steve Oh, 100%. Yeah. 01:13:00:11 – 01:13:34:02 Will Yeah. And that’s one reason, like I was thinking about your career somewhat before this, this conversation with you. And that is one of the things that I think made both you and some of the other people that are doing really interesting things in the mountains. More successful is you do have that professional level of training. And I and I think that’s actually really important to succeed, both in terms of knowing how to use, you know, little things like it doesn’t matter what it is technically, but having that extra depth that you, you have to do as a guide because you, you’re, it’s on you man and you figure it out. 01:13:34:04 – 01:13:38:03 Will but also, just having that outlook and that helps quite a lot. 01:13:38:03 – 01:14:00:15 Steve So yeah. Yeah, I mean Jeff and I had a lot of talks about that because you know when we got down it hit him that like he would have been completely effed. He had no idea how to get off that. And it’s a super complex mountain. It’s a big super complex mountain that was 5000ft. And you’ve got to get down to that thing. 01:14:00:15 – 01:14:40:07 Steve And he didn’t have a clue what to do. And it was, you know, I think so many of those, instances like when we like, these are the things that, you know, we could tell ourselves. And I think that this is in part what the purpose of all of these discussions for me is, is to share these, you know, is for the younger, you know, the 20 something Steve or this 20 something will that’s out there to hopefully get to get a hold of this and listen to it and, and see these perspectives and hopefully be called in as you, as you so brilliantly put it. 01:14:40:07 – 01:15:05:07 Steve I really like that. I want to go back to something we talked about, actually just via email when we were setting this up. And, you know, there’s sort of this typical cycle that I think that, you know, I find and I think we’ve both found ourselves in where you kind of you find in our case it was climbing, but it could be running or skiing and you get a little good at it, and then you want to get better at it. 01:15:05:07 – 01:15:22:03 Steve And then you discover training, or because you’re just logically thinking like, how can I get better at it? Or somebody else’s training, or you pick up a book, or now you go to Instagram or wherever you find it, you get that works because lo and behold, training works. You get better, you get stronger, you get better. 01:15:22:03 – 01:15:46:08 Steve And that that cycle can progress for a long time. I think one of the things for me that happened well, and I’m curious if this happened for you, is eventually I realized that that cycle didn’t actually bring me happiness. and I got better. But then, there was always a harder route. There was always a bigger like my, my goals. 01:15:46:13 – 01:16:03:16 Steve It’s a little bit like, you know, capitalist consumption, right? Like there’s always a faster car to buy or something, you know, or whatever your vice is. Right? It was like, there’s, you know, first I wanted to find the RuPaul phase on her car, but then I did that, and I was like, well, I also want to climb the west face of K2. 01:16:03:16 – 01:16:29:10 Steve To the west is Makalu. But before I can, I’m going to a par, but I never. I mean, I was vaguely aware of those objectives, but they weren’t on my list and all of a sudden they were on my list. I spent, you know, years trying to do them. I didn’t ever do them. But, you know, in that process of not doing them, I realized, like, this isn’t actually making me happy and I can just take this for, for more or less ever. 01:16:29:10 – 01:16:43:00 Steve And then that, you know, did you experience something like that and where did you have you had any I mean, and as you got older, did that, that that happened to you, did you have something like that? 01:16:43:02 – 01:16:50:01 Will Yeah. And I used to really dislike it. And I hear a little bit of an undertone in your voice where you like, maybe you were comfortable with that. You’re like, the same solution isn’t working. 01:16:50:01 – 01:16:53:12 Steve And I’m not super uncomfortable with it because it’s your identity. 01:16:53:17 – 01:17:22:14 Will You know, that’s you’re upset. Yeah. It is uncomfortable to have that realization. And I’ve had it a few times. The first time, oddly enough, we started this conversation talking about sport climbing. But I realized at a certain point that, for me, sport climbing wasn’t giving me anything new. And unless I won the competition that I didn’t it didn’t resonate anymore, either one or, you know, in my brain at that point, I had failed in my training. 01:17:22:14 – 01:17:43:11 Will I’ve never gone into a competition with the idea that I’m there to beat other people. I’m there to, like, perform at my highest level. And so, if I do that in my training is good, then I often win. but it’s never been about beating other people. It’s been about performing at a high level. And if I didn’t win, obviously something in my training, quote sucked. 01:17:43:13 – 01:18:02:09 Will And there’s a whole lot of stuff in all that. So, I was like, okay, how do I fix that? And at a certain point realize it. For me, it wasn’t as interesting as it had been. And it was also kind of psychologically damaging on a couple of different fronts. And so, I actually I actually started paragliding. and interesting. 01:18:02:11 – 01:18:04:09 Steve That’s when I started paragliding. 01:18:04:11 – 01:18:25:02 Will Yeah. Well, I was spending all my time in my mid 20s inside climbing gyms or performing at a high level outside, just trying to, on sight harder and harder and. Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do. And then I was spending all my time in the climbing gym trying to get better at this thing, and I went by random. 01:18:25:02 – 01:18:40:12 Will I was working as a journalist because that was sort of a big sponsorship, and I still had a job. So, I was working as a journalist, and I covered the US Paragliding nationals. A couple of friends of mine were here, and I took this tandem flight with one of my buddies. We did this and I was like, this is the opposite of like, so I can chalk in a gym. 01:18:40:12 – 01:18:58:14 Will I’m up above the mountains and I’m seeing the rivers and the rock faces and how it all works together. And all this stuff about rock fall where I need to be in the day. That’s where the thermals are. It’s just inversion and spatial variability in the snowpack. All these things were in my brain. I was just like, wow, this is the coolest shit ever. 01:18:58:14 – 01:19:18:23 Will And I don’t think that was my last sport climbing competition that I did for ten years, because I went through my paraglider, because I loved it so much. And, you know, then one day in paragliding, I was sort of like, wow, if I fly another 100km further and get a world record and almost die, is that really what I want to do? 01:19:18:23 – 01:19:34:17 Will And so, I had another like, I didn’t quit paragliding. but I’ve been through that in, you know, three different kayaking, the same thing. I worked in a fatality in a river one day, and I was like, I don’t want to die this way. I’m out. And I didn’t paddle for like a couple more years after that, until I could sort of wrap my head around it. 01:19:34:19 – 01:19:54:04 Will But yeah, every, every. And then the weird thing, dude, is you can get sucked back in. Be careful. Like, this year I had my best rock climber year is literally pretty close to 30 years, and I unsighted again at a level that I haven’t done since. I was literally 26 and I was 56, and I decided at the same level that I did what I was in. 01:19:54:05 – 01:20:14:17 Will I was like, but it was a much healthier process, and it wasn’t. So, you can get sucked back in. Be careful, man, you know, get it. And it was like it was cool to go out in a healthy psychological state. My daughter believed me on that on site. Yeah, I got my 16-year-old daughter holding the rope and I am going for it with everything I’ve got up there. 01:20:14:19 – 01:20:15:10 Will And I hope. 01:20:15:13 – 01:20:18:09 Steve For her to see that. 01:20:18:11 – 01:20:33:15 Will Yeah. And I think it was, it was a beautiful moment and healthy psychologically go. And it’s nowhere near what everybody’s doing today. But for me it meant a lot. Yeah. And it was, it was there’s beauty in that and it was a different way to approach it. But yeah you. 01:20:33:15 – 01:20:38:11 Steve Say like to be careful don’t you get sucked back in. But that doesn’t sound like the same thing. Well. 01:20:38:13 – 01:20:45:01 Will Well, I kind of joke it, you know, it is. It is like that old gangster film where it’s like you can never get out. Yeah, like this. 01:20:45:01 – 01:20:46:15 Steve Stuff that we’re lifers, for. 01:20:46:15 – 01:21:03:22 Will Sure. Yeah, we’re lifers to see it. But I know what you mean when you stop. And for me, it was like I was. I wasn’t learning as much. And. And it wasn’t as interesting, and it wasn’t as nice. And I was like at the time I was like, I thought the problem was with sport, but it wasn’t with sport, it was with me. 01:21:03:24 – 01:21:20:11 Will And in retrospect, like a lot of relationships ending, maybe, maybe it wasn’t about the other person, maybe it was about me. And at that time, if I’d been more self-aware, maybe I could have done something different with it. But my solution was not super great, you know, it’s just too. And yeah, it’s a deep question, but yeah, I’m with you. 01:21:20:13 – 01:21:51:14 Steve But I think that that’s exactly the process that I’m talking about where, you know, you then, the mountain sports, whatever they are, seem to have this better more and maybe other sports to have this metamorphosis effect on people. And they sort of I said, I’m not super comfortable with this word, but I feel like people evolve and become better versions of themselves and or healthier versions of themselves. 01:21:51:16 – 01:22:20:10 Steve And it sorts of, you know, I oh, this uphill audience has heard me talk about this before, but I’m a big fan of that. That model that Joseph Campbell came up with the Hero’s Journey. It’s sort of this, this, this archetype archetypical journey that, that is so present across so many, you know, myths and cultures. And, you know, I think it goes back to what do we do in the mountains and what is the value of it? 01:22:20:10 – 01:22:43:13 Steve Like the original question that, you know, we wanted to change due to read it again, it is, you know, they are the least the punchline or cancellations. But it’s just something it’s not like it’s a vague word, right? Like it’s something better. 01:22:43:13 – 01:22:55:16 Steve It’s hopefully things that are better us is of a harder I don’t it’s not meant to be a harder grade. It’s not meant to be like a harder on site. That’s purposely not the in the statement. 01:22:55:18 – 01:23:13:00 Will Like I think it’s again, it’s like there’s this continuum. And I think at 25, I didn’t need to have an answer for that. I knew what it was like climbing that harder grade or whatever. That was the answer. And that’s evolution. And I didn’t need it. And then we get older, and we look back and we’re like, how does this make sense? 01:23:13:02 – 01:23:32:20 Will And it’s like history. It’s like when you’re writing it, it doesn’t need to make sense, man. You just do it. You look back, you’re saying we want a narrative. We want a story about what it meant to us. but when you put people under stress a little bit, they do evolve. And it does bring out some people thrive under that load and some people don’t. 01:23:32:22 – 01:23:55:02 Will And, and but I think of competition as a form of that stress drives things forward. And being out in the mountains or whatever floats your boat. is stress that, that if you listen to it and use it, it makes you stronger. It’s just like training, you know, you, you, you know, to respond to stress and then you get better. 01:23:55:02 – 01:24:17:05 Will And it’s psychological to you. You’re training mentally to operate in that zone like you responded to and you got better at it. And so, I think that that, that evolution and stress, I really like that about sports and, and anything that people are and it’s like all in, in life, tends to do that. And I think that’s pretty cool. 01:24:17:07 – 01:24:42:09 Steve Yeah. I love everything you say. And, you know, there’s frankly a lot of wisdom in, in everything that you’ve, you’ve just said it. I’ll ask you a super direct question. Are you aware or do you feel, are you realizing implementing the biggest impact you can have with everything you’ve learned? 01:24:42:11 – 01:25:11:08 Will Oh, I don’t think I have the self-confidence to say that I’m like to implement all of this, but it’s I do. I do think this, this mountain life and experience, has taught me some things, and I hope to share those with other people in ways that work for them. and, and I love I love sharing those things and seeing that light go on in people’s brains. 01:25:11:08 – 01:25:32:11 Will You know, whether it’s teaching somebody how to how to ice climb, like they figure it out and you see the light go on or talking about, risk engagement and the light goes on and it’s like, okay, so I do love that that two way process, like I get a lot out of it. It’s not like I’m just throwing like I really, really enjoy that. 01:25:32:11 – 01:25:55:13 Will And for me being able to share these things, I didn’t learn how to really ice climb until I had to teach it. And I don’t think I’ve really started to understand risk engagement or management until I’ve had to teach it and talk about it. And so, for me, it’s, it’s not super altruistic. I’ll be honest. 01:25:55:13 – 01:26:12:00 Will It’s like, I think this stuff is fascinating and I get a lot out of sharing and learning with people. And, and I so I am trying to do that now and then. It’s also the process of figuring it out, like this book I’m writing, I’m learning a lot. You know, I think it sounds super interesting. All right. 01:26:12:00 – 01:26:31:01 Will I talk to the guy who’s got, like, more bass jobs and he says, you know, at 25, his main program was to hone his reflexes. So, he reacted well when things went wrong. And at 45, his main game right now is to stop things from going along. It just I go, that’s brilliant. Wow, that is such a cool realization. 01:26:31:01 – 01:26:53:19 Will Like, it’s not about how well you deal with the problems, it’s about how you will prevent the problem. It’s like a genius. So, I’m learning something from it. And like you, you know, you’re learned all of what you know about training and now you’re trying to share that with people at a booth. Everybody four and I think you put that down as kind of your mission statement was to help other people. 01:26:53:21 – 01:27:12:20 Will and I think you got a little more confidence, honestly, with that, that I do I, I want to understand it and just maybe help people think about things a little bit differently and and help them out. To that question you asked me, what would you tell somebody who’s 25? It’s like, I share these stories and, you know, try to gauge a bit. 01:27:12:22 – 01:27:31:22 Steve Well, for what it’s worth, well, if I could offer or give you that confidence, like I want my wish for you is that you can own more of that because you deserve it, because you’ve done all these amazing things. You think about this really deeply. You speak about it really well. You’ve written about it really well. 01:27:31:22 – 01:27:58:23 Steve I think you’re one of the most important voices, in our in our world in that way. And so, I hope you can own it. And, and there’s, there’s it’s never easy. But, you know, we all feel like we’re, you know, or at least I can say for myself, I’ve always felt like an imposter for most of the time until I’ve done something a hundred times and then I’m like, okay, I’ve got this kind of. 01:27:58:23 – 01:28:31:07 Steve But yeah, I think that was honestly even part of the drive for me to go get like professional guide training and avalanche training and stuff. It was like, I don’t know what, you know, just again, anxiety, like, I don’t really know all there is to know or as much as I can know. Like what? You know, there’s still so many blank spaces in our, in the, in the memory bank and you know, and one of the things that I’m taking out of this is I’ll be honest, like I, you know, I’ve sort of purposely retired from professional climbing three, four years ago now. 01:28:31:10 – 01:28:54:15 Steve Yeah. And especially as I got in into my 40s and I felt all of these changes happening that we’ve been talking about, I felt more and more like an imposter, like when I was 34 and I was like, you know, doing all my big, biggest, having all my biggest successes in climbing. I owned it like I was like, yes, this is like I should be here. 01:28:54:15 – 01:29:15:09 Steve And with these sponsorships and I’m glad they’re here. And I, I sort of felt like I deserved it, if you will, not quite entitled to it, but I felt like I earned it and deserved it. And then when I got after ten years had gone by and I hadn’t done anything, I felt like a fake. I felt like I didn’t have value mark twice. 01:29:15:11 – 01:29:28:24 Steve And I used to just between us, have this thing that we when we did slideshows and went around and talked about stuff that we had a pact that we couldn’t talk about anything, that it happened more than 24 months ago. 01:29:29:01 – 01:29:30:10 Will Gets, you know, I’m with you, I get. 01:29:30:10 – 01:29:50:21 Steve It right. And so like, that’s this. And then of course, then all of a sudden, I was like, man, I haven’t done anything like eight years. Like 24 months. Like I’m still talking about a climb I did like 15 years ago. Now cry like, this feels awkward. So, I felt inauthentic, to me. But I think that, you know, there are other ways. 01:29:50:21 – 01:30:24:00 Steve And this is why I, you know, I realize I was kind of a little bit in, apologize if it was too two in your face, but I know you’re good for it. that to kind of challenge you around that, because I think it’s. I challenge you because I want to challenge others that not only are in this space that we’re in right now, but, you know, are coming up, you know, if you’re 53 or 40 3 or 33, like you’re going to be one of these other ages, things being equal soon enough, and you will be faced with these challenges. 01:30:24:00 – 01:30:50:24 Steve And I think we need to live just like we didn’t have a model for sponsorship and being professional climbers. When you and I were in our 20s, we didn’t have at least a good model for how to age as a sponsored or professional athlete, within these sports. And that’s something that, you know, I certainly have regrets about certain things with how I did. 01:30:51:01 – 01:30:58:21 Steve but I also give myself a break because I didn’t, I didn’t have a better I didn’t have a better example. I didn’t know better. 01:30:58:23 – 01:31:02:17 Will Your rate in history, you know. 01:31:02:19 – 01:31:03:24 Steve Yeah, maybe. 01:31:04:01 – 01:31:19:19 Will I love that work and I would encourage you to go back to that space a little bit, even though it breaks the 24-month rule. And I love that. That’s very much like that time. And that’s how we thought. And it’s like, yeah, 24 minutes is a long time when you’re like 25 or 35, you’re like, that’s endless. 01:31:19:21 – 01:31:44:11 Will But I did I did five shows this winter at different festivals and so on. And the title of the show was roughly Get Stoked and Stay Alive. So, a lot of it was like Stoke for climbing. I love climbing and I love mountain sports. I’m still all in in a lot of ways and going at it, but like a quarter of that show probably is about some tactics to try and keep the stroke and stay alive. 01:31:44:16 – 01:32:11:10 Will And it just answers like, I’ve got really specific tools that I gave in those shows, and I was really worried about that because I’ve never gone to a slideshow presentation before. I did a climbing festival where the guy gets up and says, all right, you know, the mortality rate is really high here, and here’s the best stats. And how can we think about this, you know, and do we want to play these games or, you know, just ask questions and show some, you know, like I love the one that I love that drives me nuts. 01:32:11:10 – 01:32:34:20 Will And I do this in all the shows right now as a lot of people say, we’ll drive into the mountains is the most dangerous part of our day. And I asked the audience, you know who thinks that? And like, half the hands go up and I’m like, you’re all full of shit. All right, here’s the drill. And I don’t do the stats and the numbers, and I was worried before I did that, that how that would fly, whether it would resonate or people would be like the old guys just up there frothing at the mouth because, you know, but it worked. 01:32:34:22 – 01:32:54:20 Will And I think most of the people who are at those shows and, you know, probably some of your audience was I think they walked out of their booth stoked and feeling like maybe they’d gotten some, some better tools or at least were thinking about these things differently. And so, I think you have you do have a lot just from the evolution of what you’ve talked about to, to share there. 01:32:54:20 – 01:33:03:08 Will And maybe this podcast is part of it, but I don’t know, don’t be afraid to do that bad. You’re still really valuable. There’s a lot. That’s why I lift up. 01:33:03:10 – 01:33:24:23 Steve Your coach and you are too. Yeah. And I appreciate that. And I and I think that that’s the model. Right. Like when, when you’re in your 20s or 30s, what you did 24 months ago is the thing. And the value you have is like, I’m writing history and the value of that is witnessing history being written. Yeah. And for our community, that’s amazing. 01:33:24:23 – 01:33:47:01 Steve Right. Like, I mean, we’ve, we’ve both been on both sides of that. And that’s incredible to be a part of. And now our value is like, hey, I have this perspective. I thought I’ve gone off, I’ve thought about this, I’ve talked to Will, I’ve talked to Barry, I’ve talked to other friends. This is kind of what I’m thinking, and I hope this is a value to you. 01:33:47:01 – 01:34:11:06 Steve It’s not about like, what I’m no longer writing history. That part of my life is over. But I have taken those lessons and gone through some other processes and hopefully can just give pure value back to the community. And that’s where that’s where that’s where we need more, more, more, more of you will more. And I’ll give more of me too. 01:34:11:09 – 01:34:14:06 Steve And that’s exactly what we’re doing here. So, I appreciate it. 01:34:14:08 – 01:34:19:05 Will Yeah. Likewise. I think that’s, I think that’s a great thing. Yeah, yeah. 01:34:19:07 – 01:34:53:16 Steve Love it. You know, well, we’ve come quite a way from 1993 to the late 90s, all the way up till today. And where, where we’re both at now, I just want to end with, a short, something I don’t think I ever told you. And I want to say that I know, I don’t know if you remember back in 2010 when I had my accident in, in Canada, you’re one of the first people that came up to the ICU in Calgary and visited me. 01:34:53:18 – 01:34:56:10 Steve that at least I remember. so. 01:34:56:16 – 01:35:00:11 Will You were there about. I was so glad you lived through. 01:35:00:13 – 01:35:26:02 Steve And that came through. And I was obviously deeply in shock. Right. Like, as anybody would be at that stage, right after a near-fatal accident like that. but I, I’ve, I’ve just carried that love that you brought that day for years. And I’ve never told you how much I appreciated that and how much that meant to me and how much that helped me come back. 01:35:26:04 – 01:35:35:05 Steve And I just wanted to thank you for that. And I hope that, I hope that I never get to do that for you. 01:35:35:07 – 01:35:59:03 Will We do it for each other. And that’s the great thing about this sport. The people that and that I. Yeah, I remember seeing you there and just and it was so hard because I knew the road ahead of you. And at the same time, you had your brain and your spine and, and I really, really admired what you dotted, how you’d approach to the thought that I just I was just so I felt almost bad because I was just happy that you were there, man. 01:35:59:03 – 01:36:15:10 Will I was like, so many people have it that you were there. And you, you know, look what you’ve done since then. Like, none of that would have happened had it just your family in your business. And it’s just that it’s rare to see what you’ve done. So, I’m even more glad now that I was. It’s just great. 01:36:15:12 – 01:36:40:08 Steve Well, thank you. Big shout out to Wilke for joining me today. I appreciate you so much. Well, it was a great conversation and I’m sure that everyone listening got a lot out of it. One of the things that stood out for me today was how Will called us all in to think about risk in a more honest and balanced way. 01:36:40:10 – 01:36:48:24 Steve We’ll be back on the first of next month. My name is Steve House with Uphill athlete, and this is voices of the mountains.