Can you rest on your laurels?


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Mike Honcho

Trad climber
Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 4, 2018 - 10:24am PT
Can you rest on your laurels?" and be happy about it?

Insane topic for me as it's been my focus for my whole life, and then more recently bringing my wife up to speed for the last 14 years.

I started "real climbing" in the summer between the 8th and 9th grade. By the time I was graduating high school I had spent all 4 spring breaks at Hueco Tanks, TX. Climbed 5.12 trad all over the place since the 11th grade and had about a dozen parachute jumps since my 16th birthday. Patrick Edlinger and Jerry Moffat were my idols. Rob Slater, Randy Leavitt and Xavier Bongard were alive and well and BASE jumping and climbing crazy sh#t all over the place. I only say/spray this to highlight that I totally had wild climbing and parachute dreams and fantasies that most 18 year olds would have. A true lifetime of adventure was my only wish in the whole world. That and smoking a ton of pot while doing it all. I was 18 after all..

I'm 49 now and have literally blown away every single climbing, BASE, sexual dream or fantasy I could have ever imagined. In fact I've had to renew that list again and again as staying in focus and in the zone for 30+ years has kept the goal post moving further and further away.

I've never been the best at any of those things, that was never the dream for me anyways. I just wanted to be in the mix. I've never dreamed about doing things that are simply just not ever going to happen, mine have always been attainable dreams, to some extent at least. As I'm approaching 50 in 4-5 months I look back and really can't believe I have to still keep going as soooo many of my best friends, good good friends have died along the way. I've been busted up and had so many injuries I feel like I've lived 3 lifetimes before I'm 50 and just can't fully stop just yet.

Being happily married for over 10 years, almost paying cash for the castle we live in here in Glenwood Springs, ridiculously good health insurance, having two careers that could fully support my wife and I(even though she now makes sooo much money) are all things that were never on any list I ever had in my head. Landing even remotely on my feet was never any type of guarantee, but I fought like f*#k to end up where I am never knowing if it would pan out at all. So I sit here surprised as hell that it all ended up this way up to this point.

The wife and I skipped any notion of kids when we got together with almost the sole purpose of climbing, BASE jumping and sportf*#king as much as possible in the US. We've now been around the United States and World doing all that more times than I can easily count. We get in at least 2 if not 3 International trips a year these days. I never thought I'd ever do any of that either, especially with a chick. BASE jumping is a shitty idea, it is, so the thought of the love of my life doing any of that was unthinkable. I did everything in my power to negotiate, trick or straight out threaten her into not getting anywhere near the idea. We've now made over 300 BASE jumps together all over, and many times after we climbed the route of our choice to get there. Watching your Wife run off a building in downtown Las Vegas at 1am is still the most nerve racking of most anything I've done but I wouldn't change any of it now, especially since it all makes her so happy.

Hell we even adopted 2 donkeys to do all the Pack Burro Races they have here in Colorado just to be really f*#kin' weird. We trail run in a ridiculous manner. We also just got memberships to our new local rock gym up here in the mountains. My body is worked, fried and I'm constantly in pain from all those damned "good times". The doctors are either fusing or amputating my left foot in the next 10 years as it's just perma-broken and never going to heal or be right. I'll choose the amputation for my reasons, but I use that ankle like hell as often as I can, which is very often. Stretching is a lifestyle for the both of us, expensive running shoes and layer after layer of clothes is a premium for us and stacking the deck of cards in our favor in every situation is almost my #1 priority.

My Wife is 42 and has only been injured once in her entire life. I had been really ready to retire from almost everything 12 years or so ago, I was truly proud and placated with my accomplishments at the time and truly ready to take my foot off the pedal finally, but she inspired a second wind in me that I still can't believe I've pulled off to this day, and it keeps going, no clue how this will truly all pan out in the end for us. I just wrote all of this as we totally understand we're going to be in wheelchairs pooping in diapers together, or get whacked together or separately in some grisly fashion, or some version or combination of it at some point soon enough. We really think that all of this effort and dedication to this lifestyle is going to make us happier as we reflect back on our life as the inevitable draws more closely. And that's my exact point of this long winded story.

This topic was like a punch to the chest to even see it listed in the Forums! Reading Sierra Ledge Rat's thoughts and the replies has been surreal. It's like SLR was actually in my head with this. Exactly in our head. I'm not now doubting my/our path at all, but I just can't get around the fact that nothing f*#ks you like time and I'm fully aware that it eventually has it's way with all of us at some point. My thought's are not "was it all worth it?" as it's not over yet, but will we have that peaceful and reassuring feeling that we gave it 100% and feel satisfied with it all in the end? To rest on our laurels, laurels that only matter to us is what I can't stop wondering.


Trad climber
Dec 4, 2018 - 04:59pm PT
I think it is awesome that I can go out after dark at 5:30 into a blizzard and shuffle like a homeless waif for a few miles then take the trail up behind the first/Second flat irons, Brew a hot tea under a wet rock, get hella cold stumbling down (the most painful, technical and dangerous part of course), be sweat and snow soaked, come home steaming, struggle up the stairs, barely have the flexibility to get my shoes off, languish in a hot shower for five or even six minutes before someone screams the hot water is gone, start a glass of tequilla but then fall asleep before it is emptied, wake up on the couch at 2am not having to choose between peeing in a waterbottle or getting the chills to go out of the tent and finally then, to wake up a 5am feeling like I just spent a week in the Bugaboos, climbed 2,000 ft every day and drank my way home through Montana !

I also think it is cool not that I have factually done 93 or 96 of those manly things but that the ones I haven't done are weightlifting things and giving CPR to anyone in the field (save a cat which, long story here, survived) and the snakebites all worked out fine for the dogs and horses or didn't envenomate.

Getting old sucks but We all know friends who didn't get to, so here's to those poor Bastards...

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 4, 2018 - 05:09pm PT
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Dec 4, 2018 - 05:20pm PT
Love the poet Longfellow and his Psalm of Life.

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


If we are breathing we have so much still to live for. Dust off the dreams and make them a reality. lrl
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Dec 4, 2018 - 05:39pm PT
I gotta tell yas, for most of yous, it's all in your head. You CAN do most anything you WANT, except you don't WANT it badly enough.

Nothing personal, but it irks me when there is some glowing press coverage about, say, a 70 year old still cranking hard and the focus is all on what a bad ass they are for still having the will power to push themselves.

As if crippling back and knee problems would go away if I ignored them and pushed hard enough.

Tried that. Ended up bed ridden.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Dec 4, 2018 - 06:01pm PT
Agree, August West. But there are talents we possess and goals we've never tackled. Time to leave the known "laurels" and launch out into the unknown. So many choices to make our lives count, to have fun, to help the earth and others as we explore our options.

For me the biggest challenge has been to learn to not measure my life by the prescribed standards of our civilization. Forget numbers, age and all the entanglements of these two things that society deems important. Listen to your heart and use your mind and eyes to see the world around you and all it has to offer. I work hard at this every day.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 4, 2018 - 06:21pm PT
Thus is the simple fallacy of putting all your eggs in one basket and the problems inherent of one passion in life. Branch out, when things get old and you get old find some other distractions. Create different goals, not so important the discipline just go for it.

New passions new laurels.

My problem is too many passions to deal with and too little time.

As Tony Jesson, aka, the Wretch said one day many years ago in Camp 4, circa early 60s:

"So little to do and so much time to do it in." Climber, surfer, sailor, gun collector, arrowhead collector and now cycling maniac.

Tap dancing anyone?
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Dec 4, 2018 - 06:40pm PT
When I think about 'what if' I can no longer do much of anything I think of Stephen Hawking. It's all about being practical and not being tied to any particular activity. It's probably more about keeping the mind happy more than the body. When I say mind I don't mean ego either, but to satisfy the innate urge to understand things. Sure, the mind and body go together, but as Hawking has proven, there's a whole universe inside our heads. Tap into that, or totally empty it out - there is lots of in between.

Dec 5, 2018 - 09:24am PT
As a rule. always try to be doing two things. When one is down, the other will be doing the better.

Don't get injured. Past the age of 18, healing is never complete.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 5, 2018 - 09:56am PT
Had I any laurels to rest on, I'm sure they would be as intolerant of my resting on them as my wife is.

Dec 5, 2018 - 10:06am PT
All old fookers really need is an armrest on their easy chair to rest their laurels on ......
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Dec 5, 2018 - 10:50am PT

Thanks for that wise poem. It reminded me of a passage from one of my favorite authors, PG Wodehouse. Here is a bit of dialogue from Jeeves in the Morning. The young, dim master Bertie Wooster is chatting with his brilliant and very well-read butler, Jeeves.

"Odd's boddikins, Jeeves," I said, "I am in rare fettle this a.m. Talk about exulting in youth! I feel up and doing, with a heart for any fate, as Tennyson says."

"Longfellow, sir."

"Or, if you prefer it, Longfellow. I am in no mood to split hairs."

Sometimes in the morning--after coffee--I have "a heart for any fate".

Other mornings, not so much.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 5, 2018 - 11:05am PT
I have a fart for any hate, almost. I think that was Mr Bean.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Dec 5, 2018 - 04:27pm PT
Love your posts, dear friends! Gracias from the heart for your inspiration!

Ricky A and Gerry, you two always give grace to life.

Cheers to all!!! lynnie

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
Dec 5, 2018 - 04:51pm PT
bit'er ol' guy

the past
Dec 6, 2018 - 10:25am PT
Part of the B.O.G policies and proceedures.
i.e its OK if they're legit.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 6, 2018 - 11:19am PT
What laurels? I’m no longer the man I never was.
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
Dec 6, 2018 - 04:31pm PT
Jim, it appears your laurels are still growing and not quite matured yet. Good on ya.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2018 - 05:59pm PT
I guess my predicament could be worse....


Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 6, 2018 - 08:21pm PT
I keep writing down my old adventures & new ones, & a humorous short story every now & then. And sharing them.

Tom Lopez, author of the wonderful book on Idaho’s mountains, “IDAHO A CLIMBING GUIDE,” also has the book online. For years he has been adding more information on Idaho’s mountains & the history of climbing in those mountains to his free web-site.

I’ve been writing down some of my 1970’s Idaho climbing adventures as well as more recent climbing, rafting, adventures & humorous stories for the last few years. Idaho Magazine has published 17 of those stories, but you have to pay to read them. Tom has 3 of my best stories on his website, for free.

May I suggest the one in my link as a great read for fans of the Sawtooth Range, adventure, & lost treasures. It is 29 pages long, but has lots of historic photos, mostly from the early 1970’s, & moves right along.

Tom & I spent Dec 2nd, finding lost pages, adding new photos, & cleaning up typos on it. I think it’s as good as anything I’ve ever written.

Pursuit of “Bluebonnet Tower and the Search for the “Crystal Cave.”

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