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swimmerguy's picture

It's kind of interesting:
I asked my parents for a goPro for Christmas, it was my only real gift. I don't know why I wanted one. I'm not really one of those people always posting videos of their exploits to see if they can't get a tiny round of thumbs-up applause.

I guess I had some sort of weird idea: I thought about the things I'd so much like to do when I grow up. I have so many weird and remote isolated mountains on my bucket list.
Off the coast of northern Canada is Baffin Island, an island that's frozen 10 months of the year, and doesn't have any spectacularly high mountains but nonetheless has some of the freakiest and highest faces in the world. The face of Mount Thor, on the island, is widely considered to be the highest vertical-or-better face in the world, though in fairness that's because, for example, there's faces a thousand feet higher but slightly less than vertical, though not enough to be much consequential.
And deep in the jungles of South America are the tepuis, giant mesas of Pre-Cambrian rock that rise out of the jungle, so high and so old that they've evolved their own biospheres on their huge, flat tops, independent of what grows in the jungle below.
Angel Falls, highest in the world, flows off the edge of one of these.

And that's only scratching the surface. I have spent almost all my free time fantasizing about completing climbs of such inhospitable pieces of rock and ice. Perhaps for most of them I'd have a partner, for some of them if I couldn't get one, I'd go it alone, like Jon Krakauer's ascent of the Devil's Thumb in Into the Wild.
And there's a chance that this constant motion would leave me in such good health I'd live to a ripe old age. Perhaps the most accomplished climber in history, Fred Beckey, a Washington native, is 91 and counting, and still continues to climb and give lectures of his exploits posting more first ascents than anyone else in history.

Or also, perhaps, there's the considerable chance of dying relatively young, whether by my mistake or the inherent perils of rock climbing. An experienced member of the western Washington climbing community, also named Chad, died in his 30's a few days ago climbing Cerro Fitz Roy, one of the hardest peaks in the world, in South America. He was hit by a rockfall. Nothing much to do about that.
His wife had died several years earlier on a climb in Alaska.

But so what, of course, if that happened? What, should I get a job and work till 65, at which point I buy a piece of land with a useless crop on it called grass and assiduously maintain it and mow it for nobody's eyes until it, and I, die?
The risk of the mountains is always there. It could just as easily have been Fred Beckey fifty years ago hit by a rockfall, and Chad who lived into his 90's. Neither really had anything to do with it.
But whether you come out on the right side of risk, like Fred Beckey, or not, like many others, the risk of doing nothing is much greater. If you do nothing, you know you'll never enjoy life as much. If you do it, you might not enjoy it as long, and you can minimize that might through safety measures.
And in the end, the risk is part of the fatal attraction of the mountains.

But, I thought, I'd bring my camera along. Sometimes it would be part of a cheerful group of 3, my partner, me, and the camera. Sometimes I and the camera would be a dynamic duo.
But eventually I would die, and since few people would know me, someone would find my camera, like Jon Krakauer found Chris McCandless's story and researched it, and this person would watch my videos and perhaps become interested. And then they'd make a movie, sort of a documentary, out of my videos, editing them together, with me as the sole, sympathetic character, and the audience would follow my adventures and then, perhaps, at the end of it all, hopefully at the end of some suitably prolonged and dramatic tragedy in the quartz caves perched in the middle of the sheer walls of the tepuis, I and my climbing partner would meet our ends, but the camera would live on lifelessly.

And then perhaps the audience would be inspired to do something interesting with their own lives, the same way Chris McCandless doubtless has inspired many through the story he never knew would be told.

After I got the camera, of course, I realized none of that was going to happen. And I filmed videos of climbing, biking, and prusiking up trees, and yet somehow when the time has gotten around to posting them on Facebook I've just run out of motivation and purpose for why I would want to do such a thing.

That doesn't mean I regret buying the camera. In many ways, it is a friend, although it brings me the least sympathetic friend I could ever have: my future self. But though I enjoy solitude and, sometimes, adventures with one or two friends, the camera is a constant companion through whom I can converse with my favorite person: my present self.

Basically, what I was getting at, is that this website sorta seems to be like that camera now. I thought the site was limping along, but it appears to have been totally, completely dead for over a week. So while probably no one would read this journal if the site was still active because its so long and rambly and everyone hates those, I know no one will read it now. But that doesn't mean the journal is useless. I didn't really write it for you, the reader, unless you, the reader, is myself. It is a communion and discussion with myself, and in the end, I must say in my enduring narcissism: it was an intellectually stimulating conversation.


Dracofangxxx's picture

it stimulated my intellect

i feel similarily about the wild and adventuring and life and death. it has always sorta been my plan to go on 'one last nature reconnect' and let myself die in the wilderness and be returned as nature intended, and all that.

jeff's picture


I think there were signs the site was off its game even before all the crashing, etc., and now it's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People don't come on more often because there isn't new content, and everyone starts checking less frequently, and on and on...

I use the site as a sort-of home page, so whenever I start a new browser tab, etc., this loads in it. A habit from the old crash period. So, I know other people do visit... but they tend not to post.

That said, I'd hate to be on the brink of shuttering the doors here and a month beforehand, there's some odd burst of activity and new user signups.

Until that day, though, I do read everything on here. Except poetry/fiction.

"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

elph's picture


GoPro Hero3+: Black Edition? Congratulations! It looks like an extremely versatile camera… a great complement to your personality! Something's got to be amiss, however… Amazon says it weighs only 2.6oz --- this has got to be an error!

Waiting to see some pics… selfles as well! :)

Very much enjoyed sharing your mental odysseys: Give it time, they can happen! (For some odd reason, however, I detest the term "bucket list"!)

I liked the allusion/dream: "my partner, me, and the camera…"

As for that last paragraph: no defense required. Just one improvement remains! :(

anarchist's picture

The Tepuis are wonderfully wonderous.

I'd like to live in South America. It seems perfect for me. It's warm almost everywhere, and filled with civilizations that are still complete mysteries, especially in the far southern mountainous regions. The continent is littered with linguistic isolates, languages that have no traceable relation to any other known languages in existence. I even listen to a 2indie4u band from Buenos Aires called Los Niños.

You don't need to lose faith in an interesting future, though. There could still be great experiences ahead of you, and you won't know until you finally go off and attempt the adventures you've envisioned.

Mogul's picture


By meaning warm almost everywhere are you talking about northern South America and Central America because winter down the south is a total shit, and how can you find perfect the mess of this continent? The ones that are kinda getting its shit together might be Chile, Peru and Brazil.

anarchist's picture

That is what I meant.

I thought I pointed out the southern climate. I think I'd love to live somewhere near the tropics, though, like Curaçao. I'm sick of this constantly shifting weather in Maryland. It would be nice to have some stability so it's actually possible to acclimate. I don't care about living in a shitty nation if I'll be living on my own. Curaçao seems like the best bet, anyway, since it's in the tropics and Dutch wouldn't be too hard for me to learn.

Perhaps We Should Leave's picture


living near the tropics I can tell you definitively that the constant heat is not that pleasant. Be thankful for cold weather; you can always put more on, but there's only so much you can take off before you start exposing musculature.

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anarchist's picture


I hate cold weather. I can't stand it anymore. I can't go outside without being in terrible pain, and I love being outside. No clothes can make the coldness go away. I don't want really hot climate, but anything is better than the cold.