Trip Report
My Up And Down Life, Disaster Master
Saturday October 23, 2010 6:29pm
STICKS & STONES
Paul Humphrey and climbing class student on top of Karen Rock, Moonsto...
Paul Humphrey and climbing class student on top of Karen Rock, Moonstone Beach, Humboldt, CA.
Credit: Disaster Master
PART ONE: 2004
by
Paul David Humphrey

It occurred to me the other day that I can't outrun my hangups. I can't hide from myself forever. The issues which cripple me will be addressed eventually like it or not. For many years I plowed my insecurities under, replacing them with an obsession with what I believed I could control. A reckoning was inescapable though. Man... sometimes my past gives me vertigo.

I used to think that establishing new routes on virgin stone was the hardest & most rewarding work I could do. Hell, I didn't even get paid. I still owe money on bolts purchased with Master Card & Visa years ago. Living on credit, I went 'everywhere I wanted to be'.
Paul Humphrey on his route "High Country", pitch 2 of the country crac...
Paul Humphrey on his route "High Country", pitch 2 of the country cracks, Trinity Aretes, Ca.
Credit: Disaster Master
Paul Humphrey on his route "The Pelican's BVDs", Footsteps, Ca.
Paul Humphrey on his route "The Pelican's BVDs", Footsteps, Ca.
Credit: Disaster Master

But reality bit at my heels. My rock-jock image of myself was showing signs of age. I had sold my soul to the company store & became a burnt-out gear shop wage slave. My wife & I, post college, were rapidly alienating each other & my finances were going under fast.

So in an unexpected move I became what I call a “Field Science Mercenary” (FSM), a sub-contractor surveying the forest canopy for misunderstood "species of interest" (SPI's). It involved a lot of note taking, acronyms & math. But it paid better (PB$) & was worlds away from retail.

I was soon outfitted with 40 pounds of gear, including a crossbow equipped with a fishing reel & duct tape blunted arrows for accessing high tree crowns. I crawled & climbed through countless forests all over Oregon & Northern California searching the canopies of Douglas Firs for the elusive Red Tree Vole, an unusually arboreal rodent. They sustain themselves with a strict diet of Fir needles which they grasp at the ends as if eating corn on the cob. Weird, yeah, but it was outside, offered an image of adventure & payed the bills, at least some of them.

As soon as I began the work I realized why my rock climbing friend & tree climber Adam Wanden, A.K.A. Wando,
Adam Wanden.
Adam Wanden.
Credit: Disaster Master
never wanted to go cragging on the weekends. He was freakin' exhausted. Tree climbing was the hardest, most physical work that I'd done.

“Phew.”

People seemed to think my job was a Bambi-like romp through pristine old growth forests; skipping through a Sun dappled day. “La, la-la,la-la.” Yeah, right. The science didn't care if the forest was young or old, clear-cut, old growth or brush choked. We endured swift cold rivers, wasps, unmapped cliffs & 20 mile cross-country days. It was simply & complexly random. Random Hell. Chasing money, I had no idea how much my life would change in the next two years.

My wife & I separated not long after I got into canopy biology. Climbing was now not only my mistress, visited for an afternoon, but my full time job as well. “I need some time alone to figure things out,” my wife told me one day.

What was she talking about? “I'm already gone four days a week. How much time alone do you need?” That comment didn't help me.

"Oops."

The following January started out warm. My allergies were acting up, so I threw on a pair of shorts & walked the eight blocks from home to the community clinic. The first thing the doctor did upon seeing me was point to my thigh. “What's up with that mole?”

“What?” It was only one of a hundred freckles and spots on my skin. Sure it was bleeding a bit, but I was always bruised & scratched from working in the woods & cragging.

A biopsy later it was no longer my 'beauty mark'. It had morphed in perception & name into the Big C, Malignant Melanoma. I talked to the surgeon. He left me feeling like a spinning penny pitched to call a bet between life & death. Heads-Tails. Heads-Tails.


“Crap.”


I needed to make fun of this disease before my emotions were pulled down by it. So I dyed my close cropped hair grass green & promptly left on the 14 hour drive south to climb away the three weeks before surgery at Joshua Tree NP.
One on my many colors.
One on my many colors.
Credit: Disaster Master
Made sense to me. I tried to forget about what lay ahead. I needed a little outside, a bit of solitude. I found some respite wandering the boulder strewn washes of J-Tree.
Credit: Disaster Master
On lead, though, my nerves were shot. Mortality was on my mind. I needed more time to regain my focus & climb. But reality held a deadline & an appointment with the knife. Nodding off too many times, I swerved into Arcata & bed 18 hours after leaving J-Tree. Surgery was scheduled for the same day I arrived.

The next evening there was a large hole where my mole used to be. It was covered by grafted skin harvested from higher up the same leg.
Post mole removal, 2004. Paul Humphrey.
Post mole removal, 2004. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
After removal of bandages. Paul Humphrey.
After removal of bandages. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
That painful wound was covered by a clear dressing stapled to my thigh that reminded me of a blood filled baggie. There was also an incision in my groin where four lymph nodes were removed.

It wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't forced to stare at it, this painful bleeding mess. The side effects of the operation dazed & weakened me. I felt toxic & pissed blue radioactive dye, injected into my groin while in surgery to find lymph nodes. I went from walking five miles at least a day to collapsing after two blocks. I was looped from the drugs I was given & shocked that my skin was trying to kill me.

“Good grief.”

The next two months were depressing. The cancer had been caught in the nick of time & the wounds were healing, but my mind was still reeling. Once again I sought solace in stone.
Eric "THE MAN" Chemello. <br/>
"Ya, I match the contour of the rock perfec...
Eric "THE MAN" Chemello.
"Ya, I match the contour of the rock perfectly with my sculpted abs."
Credit: Disaster Master
Eric Chemello bouldering at Houda, CA.
Eric Chemello bouldering at Houda, CA.
Credit: Disaster Master
Eric Chemello, a man obsessed with first ascents & I motored out to Marble Caves, a local cliff full of potential.
Marble Caves, CA.
Marble Caves, CA.
Credit: Disaster Master
The Poison Garden area, Marble Caves, CA.
The Poison Garden area, Marble Caves, CA.
Credit: Disaster Master
At the far end of the the 'Dream Wall' was a 5.13 project of mine bolted the previous year & named, ironically, 'The Grounded Visionary'. Just looking at it made me feel weak. I wanted to climb, but everything here was freakin' hard.
Hiko Ito on his route "Magic Kingdom", Marble Caves, CA.
Hiko Ito on his route "Magic Kingdom", Marble Caves, CA.
Credit: Disaster Master
I grabbed Eric's drill & established 'My Up & Down Life' 5.11a.

"Yes!"

Life sure is expensive. My phone was flooded with calls from creditors. I felt scattered & scared. The cancer B.S. left me broke before fully healed. So three months after the surgery I set off into the woods again to climb trees for money.

My first day back started out frustrating. The first Douglas Fir of the morning had one nest out on a wrist- but trunk until that branch, waaaayyyy up there. Above it were a handful of live limbs. After two hours of crossbow shots ending in no safe rigs I was fuming. "I should freakin' quit right now!" I screamed. My mind replied 'Quit or climb, dude.'

"Fine!"

The next arrow hit the sweet spot, arcing over a solid looking live limb close to the trunk around 90 feet up. Time to climb. I clipped my ascenders onto the rope. Shove up the left hand, bring up the right. I crawled up the nylon thread, moving quickly & soon hung just below the nest, spinning slowly around & around. Kicking a foot out to the trunk, I stopped my rotation & leaned forward toward the aromatic sap-scented mat of needles. They looked fresh.
The view from the fall. 80 feet no stops. Paul, DISASTER MASTER, Humph...
The view from the fall. 80 feet no stops. Paul, DISASTER MASTER, Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master

I heard a "pop!"
Rope burn on a failed branch. Paul Humphrey.
Rope burn on a failed branch. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
The rope went flaccid & I plummeted with a scream. The branch my line hung over had snapped. The sudden drop spun me face forward & slowly to the left. I saw the rope through the corner of my eye.

"Pop-pop!"
Another broken bastard branch.
Another broken bastard branch.
Credit: Disaster Master
The falling coil snapped the only other branches; the ones I was counting on to snag my lifeline through some miracle of gravity & friction. It had worked before. Above me I beheld rope & limbs hurling down, a huge undulating mass. I was going all the way, 80 feet, no stops.

My mind lit up.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#174964
I saw no images of my life, no white light. I saw Christopher Reeves, former Superman, in his wheelchair breathing through a tube in his throat. 'Screw that!' I knew if I hit head first I would A. die, or B. end up just like Superman. Gravity had become my kriptonite. The trunk was rushing by less than a foot away from me so I head-butted the tree, knocking a few teeth loose. This crazy move reversed my rotation, spinning my head up towards the sky.

I glimpsed ground cover coming up fast & screamed again. “Arraaaaahhh!” Computer animation of the Martian Lander bouncing along the red planet's surface flashed in my lit up mind. If I hit the ground flailing I would most likely auger in & shatter.

"Bounce!"

The command was beyond reproach & came out of nowhere. I tucked into a cannon ball & impacted, landing on my elbows & right butt cheek. My spine compressed like an accordion. The right ribcage yielded first, popping inward from convex to concave; breaking some ribs in the process. Several compression fractures occurred as my spine failed. Then Lumbar-Two (L2), one of the largest vertebrae in the small of my back burst, leaving almost nothing but multiple shards resting against my spinal cord.
Paul Humphrey's back after his 80 foot fall.
Paul Humphrey's back after his 80 foot fall.
Credit: Disaster Master
A stump stopped me 20 feet downhill, leaving me askew in a fetal position.

"Mmmnnngguu!" That's all I could say. Inside my mind was racing, trying to reorient. 'Who am I ? Who am I , who? Who...What, what is me, is this ,what's happening...Am I awake?' My lungs were covered in lead & my back was on fire. “Aaaaaaammmm!” I felt something grinding in the small of my back. Then I didn't.

I lay crippled in the middle of nowhere, hours down an unmarked maze of logging roads, 200 miles from home & deep in an Oregon forest. I bellowed from the incredible aching-tingling-spasming convulsions. Then I heard Nolan Bowman,
Me and Nolan.
Me and Nolan.
Credit: Disaster Master
my friend & fellow contractor, running full tilt down the ridge to me. He came diagonally into view & tried to look calm but failed miserably. I could see his eyes & they were scared. “How do you feel, do you need to sit up?”

“No! Dude, Damn! I think my back may be broken. Mmmmmaaaahhhhhh – Mother F*#!*er!” I couldn't believe any of it. Had I grappled with cancer & separation from my wife only to die in a brush choked second growth forest looking for the nests of a freakin' rodent of no consequence to 99.9% of the human population?

“Focus.”

“Nolan, I think I really screwed up this time.”

“How far up were you?”

“Probably 80 feet, near the nest structure. Mmmhhhhhhaa! Dude, my back is really spasming. It keeps trying to arch. If I can't keep still I think I... Huoohaaaaamu! I might cut my spinal cord.” I wept from the effort to stay immobilized. “Nolan, I need you to clear my spine. Do you know how?”

Nolan hovered over me on his knees, arms out in a gesture of bewilderment. “No, buddy. What do I do?”

“Run your fingers lightly, Lightly!, down my entire spine & tell me if it is shifted or broken feeling. Be careful. Mmmhuuuh!”

Nolan slid his hands down my back. It felt so good to simply feel another human's touch, even though it hurt like hell. 'I am not alone. I am not alone,' I repeated in my mind as he checked my spine.

“Um, it feels OK down to your mid back, but then it sort of disappears. Damn! What should we do?”

My heart accelerated then sank. “Dude, I need a back board and paramedics.”

“OK, OK. I can't get a cell signal here so I gotta drive until I can call out for help.”

“Thanks, I...”

“Paul. Paul, it's gonna be alright. I'll be right back.” He ran straight up through the undergrowth.

“Stay awake.”

It felt like I'd had the Peter Pan beat out of me. My pixie dust was used up. So this is true pain. I slipped into an in-between place, where mad-mind calisthenics attempted to push my torture into a smaller corner of my brain. I had to escape for a while. My consciousness felt lit up like a jack-o-lantern, with a raging fire burning me up from the inside out.

“Stay conscious, stay here,” I repeated to myself. I was the only one I trusted to get me through this. 'God Damn It! I am not ready to fade yet. No way.' I swelled with illogical confidence, at least in between the spasms. “Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrruuhhh!"

I lay there for five hours before help arrived. Horns announced the rescue. At last! Lying upside down was disorienting. It gave the whole scene an off-kilter balance. Fire hats & mustaches popped into view from the corners, like whack-a-moles in some acid trip. "Hey, there. What can we do for you?"

Was he kidding? "Aaaarrrr...DRUUUUUGGGGGS!!!"

"OK, OK. We're EMT s. We don't have meds. We're going to roll you onto a backboard & get you moving towards the road."

"Hell no! My back has been trying to arch since I fell & my legs tingle. If you roll me it will cut my cord."

"Don't worry. We know what we're doing."

"Arrrrruuuuuhh...So do I. I'm an EMT too & I'm not releasing...Ddddmmmmnn...me into your care. I need DRUUUUUUGGGGSSSSSSS!" I would have kicked him if I wasn't broken.

That seemed to confuse my rescuers. I heard them confer, try to radio out. They put a collar on me & held me in place, saying paramedics were on the way.

Thirty minutes later shots of morphine arrived. Things became much more bearable, giggly even. I turned into a body, a case, a problem to be packaged, hoisted, dragged, dropped, pushed, carried, deposited & transported.

"Thank God."

I awoke. There was a blood filled tube in my side emerging from a long horror movie incision in my back, a catheter in my dick & IV lines in my arms. My spine, broken in two, was now held together by titanium bars and screws.
Screwed, version 2004, 80 foot fall. Paul Humphrey.
Screwed, version 2004, 80 foot fall. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
The bolter had become the bolted. I wiggled my toes. They still worked.

I was measured for the custom formed torso cast I would live in for the next few months. I christened it my 'plastic prison'.
Back of brace. Paul Humphrey.
Back of brace. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
My doctors' predictions were quickly supassed. Just four days after the fall I walked very slowly around the nurses' station. An elderly woman was also shuffling along. "Better hurry up, I'm gonna catch you," I said.

Her chuckle quickly turned to a cough then a hard wheeze. A nurse rushed to her. “She's asthmatic. Don't do that."

“Sorry.”

The first couple of months home I was ecstatic. I was high on being alive; that & painkillers & beer.
Credit: Disaster Master
Women seemed intrigued by my techno-color hair which I sometimes changed twice in a day.
Credit: Disaster Master
Credit: Disaster Master
Credit: Disaster Master
People were fascinated with my body cast & insanity. I played my djimbe. I stood on my corner & blew huge soap bubbles at rush hour traffic.
Big bubbles shot lying on the ground. Paul Humphrey.
Big bubbles shot lying on the ground. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master

Friends threw a fund raising party, SpinalPaulLooza with music & belly dancers, raising over a grand.
Paul Humphrey playing with the band. "MORE COWBELL!" Spinalpauloosa, 2...
Paul Humphrey playing with the band. "MORE COWBELL!" Spinalpauloosa, 2004.
Credit: Disaster Master
They opened a charitable account which strangers contributed to. It was amazing.
Getting a donut after SPINALPAULOOZA. Paul Humphrey.
Getting a donut after SPINALPAULOOZA. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
I knew these wonders would fade, but I rode the wave, smiling at myself in windows & mirrors. I was still here; a fortunate phantom.

My post-fall high was gradually crushed by mounting debt, divorce, depression & pain. I missed my mind. So many drugs coursed through me my baseline was lost. Percacet, Morphine, Fentinyl, whatever; they were in my blood. I had become what I eat & what I ate were chemicals. Only four months after the fall painkillers, debt & the welfare system had succeeded in doing what the Devil himself couldn’t; banish me to Hell without killing me.
Too many drugs. After throwing up again...
Too many drugs. After throwing up again...
Credit: Disaster Master

One day on the way back from the doctor I imploded & collapsed, boiling over with grief. I lay on the sidewalk, a complete dejected weeping mess. For half an hour people stepped over my shaking body. I would have too, in their position. What could they do? I was overwhelmed & overwhelming. My social contract with America seemed null & void.
Credit: Disaster Master
I was falling without a safety net. Then friends began arriving as if on cue, some who did not yet know me. A dredlocked girl lay a carnation on my lap then waited silently & smiling until I stopped sobbing. Then she was gone.

"An Angel."

My life rolled on like an angry ocean. Doctors pushed long needles with heated tips into my spine every other week for two months, trying to cauterize nerve pain away. I flew to see specialists. My trials piled up on top of me. I was spent. Panic attacks wracked me twice a month or more. Living on pennies only encouraged them. I would vomit daily from pain or the meds. I saw no escape save blotting myself out with more pills.

When I ventured out to the cliffs they only confirmed my infirmary.
Trying again. Paul Humphrey
Trying again. Paul Humphrey
Credit: Disaster Master
I didn't think I'd climb again & have fun at it. The few times I put on a harness I only had one go in me. Then the spasms would kick me again. This only deepened my malaise. Looped to high heaven on opiates & grief, I would rattle off stream-of-consciousness poetry at Arcata's Humboldt Brews' open mike. It was cheaper than therapy.

"Pop, pop, pop.
I start to drop
and my mind
lights up
as I fall.

Bam, bang, boom.
Down to my doom.
On to the
next go-around.

Whenever I plumit,
I bounce back quick,
even stronger
than before.

No just lying there
like a splat
on the floor.

I am a rebound,
a trajectory traveled
at high speed.
I am the seed
of my own future."

“Blah,blah.”

Months passed, then a year. I fell in love. I got dumped on Valentine's Day. My journal & poetry recorded my bitter apathy, my belief that constant nerve pain & spasms that crippled me would never cease. All I saw ahead of me was fifty years of torture. I slipped off the edge. I became my fears. I lived them, uncovered others & spun out. I was more screwed up than I realized. One summer night a drunk jock shoved me to the pavement after I danced with his girl. I hit face first. The next morning I saw my messed up mug in the mirror.
Credit: Disaster Master
My t-shirt read 'I Do All My Own Stunts'. That was enough. I was done with myself, this drugged out dude that gets his ass kicked.

Those who love me slowly prodded me back into living in the most unexpected ways. Friends told me about this crazy place where they did yoga for over a hour in a room heated to over 100 degrees. They called it 'Bikram Hot Yoga'. I thought they were nuts. They thought I was if I didn't give it a try. So one morning I walked into "Sacred Palace," a tiny storefront in downtown Eureka, CA. My face was a mess. I shook from nerve pain. I had electrodes & cords hanging from my back to shock spasming muscles into submission. I was taking eight Percacet a day & wore a three-day fentinyl patch. That's a lot of opiates.

The instructor gave me a towel & mat to use. There were around seven others in the hot room chitchatting and stretching. Then class began. Wow, it was difficult. I couldn't keep my balance, my mind was swimming in heated up opiates & I was sweating like I'd never sweat before.
Early attempt at triangle. Paul Humphrey.
Early attempt at triangle. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
Early Rabit Pose. Paul Humphrey.
Early Rabit Pose. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
This stuff was crazy; far removed from my image of yoga. You know, sitting around trying to be calm. That Bikram guy must be intense. I left with the same buzz I got from climbing.

"Fun.”

That evening it dawned on me that I felt a little better than usual. I wanted more yoga. But I couldn't even balance on one leg with the amount of pills I took. I was at a fork in my mental road. I could not take both paths. So I cut my pill doses in half & made hot yoga my number one priority.

Boredom breeds despair in me & when I despair I wish only to be numb. Now I decided to embrace the pain. I set a goal to get off painkillers by my 100th yoga session. I treated it as my job. I would go every day, rain or shine, arriving by bus, car, thumb or bike. Less than 30 days later I threw my painkillers away. I still lived with constant cramping, but I was exploring it now, not cowering from it. And I had my brain back.

It soon got to the point where I could feel a definite improvement after a morning session. Pain was still always with me & cramps would be back by afternoon. Instead of giving in & popping a pill I began doubling up on daily sessions, sweating in the morning & the evening, three hours a day. I did my 100 sessions in around 75 days.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#174986
A little obsessive? Sure, but it was working. I realized that I could rise to the level I sought before my tribulations. I would just have to be twice or even four times as strong as before to get there.

Everyday I did my yoga. Little by little I felt my body strengthen. Bit by bit my mind stabilized. I began to make peace with my pain. The trick with anything is doing it, practicing it; not just talking or planning. Armchair climbers read books & mags, then evaluate others' achievments. Practicing climbers accomplish goals; then push their mark forward.

The hot yoga room became my incubator. It warmed & nurtured me until I realized I had never ceased to be a climber. I just lost sight of the cliffs for a while. So I began anew, on "easy" top ropes with new friends just learning they were climbers too. I was in love again, with life. My world view had been three dimentionalized. I realized that pain is just a signal, a blip on my mental radar, not a monster eating me alive. Sure it sill sucked sometimes, but what doesn't?

My friends began to notice the new, more level headed version of Paul. Some started going to yoga. It's pretty hard to say it won't work if it helped a basket case like me. They agreed. This yoga gave a climbing buzz. The type of good you feel after bashing your knuckles open in pursuit of a difficult rock route, after falling again & again, then deciding to try again tomorrow. Hard climbing & Yoga are all about failing now to succeed later. So is life.

One of my climbing friends who began going to yoga with me asked if I wanted to go to Smith Rock for a long weekend. Whoa, I knew I could get up a cliff close to home with my comfortable bed only minutes a way. But sleep on the ground again? Try all day like I did before? Sit in a car for the seven hour trip? These unknowns freaked me out. They weren't factors in the mind of before-the-fall Paul, but now these thoughts were intimidating.

“Why not?”

Spider man. Spider man. Gunna go climb what ever he can. Paul Humphrey...
Spider man. Spider man. Gunna go climb what ever he can. Paul Humphrey.
Credit: Disaster Master
I was going. I gave myself the “reasonable” goal of red-pointing 5.10a. I on sighted the grade, then 5.10c, then 5.11a. I'll be damned! Go, go, yogi Paul. I got over myself & found myself the instant I gave 'Me' up. I finally fell off a 5.11d called, ironicly, 'Panic Attack.'
Smith Rocks.
Smith Rocks.
Credit: Disaster Master
It's fun to grapple with stone again, even though my back still hurts like hell every day.

Will-power is one of the most precious commodities in us. Try-power starts a lot of things, yet never finishes anything. Frustration is usually simple impatience mixed with doubt. Release yourself from goals & you will pass your fears before ever considering them a hindrance. I did not find an incense filled new age cop-out. I found a way; a way to climb again & exist with all of myself, all at once.

“What's next?”


  Trip Report Views: 9,812
Disaster Master
About the Author
Paul Humphrey is now fighting stage IV Melanoma, a deadly cancer. More of his story to come...

To follow Paul's curent disaster go to http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1239624/Malignent-Melanoma-Survivors-who-climb

For poetry:http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1247175/Pauls-post-your-poetry-Post

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Oct 23, 2010 - 06:43pm PT
Wow, after that I need to see part 2 or whatever!
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Oct 23, 2010 - 07:02pm PT
Wow Paul, lots of great images in that. You have a talent for descriptive writing. I love the Peter Pan image and know exactly what you mean. Mine died from a more chronic long term psychic pain. Hard to get back. Thanks for sharing your story. I was just looking at starting yoga again as it has helped in the past.

John
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 23, 2010 - 07:16pm PT
Bravo! Thank you for that, incredibly clear, and insightful. Puts a lot of life into perspective. Good luck to you. Anxious to read more.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Oct 23, 2010 - 07:22pm PT
“What's next?”

I'd say writing - beautifully expressed!

All the best,
Reilly
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 23, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
Thanks man.

I'll go back to being thankful for my many small blessings again now....

Was I feeling sorry for myself yesterday?

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
  Oct 23, 2010 - 08:09pm PT
Thank you for writing that portion of your story, I will try to always remember it when life hits hard.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 23, 2010 - 08:29pm PT
Wow. hang tough, buddy. Your story has given me a lot to consider about my own life. Thanks.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 23, 2010 - 08:48pm PT
Wonderfully written Paul. You and Ruth are an inspiration for Angela and me.
LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
  Oct 23, 2010 - 09:18pm PT
a new book of Job
great thanks for your post
M
Impaler

Social climber
Oakland
  Oct 23, 2010 - 09:30pm PT
Thanks, Paul! Very well written and very inspirational! Makes all the problems of my life seem like absolutely nothing! Thanks!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Oct 23, 2010 - 09:44pm PT
Thanks for sharing your spirit Paul, bigger than life.

Charlie D.
MisterE

climber
  Oct 23, 2010 - 09:52pm PT
Heart-felt and epic - thanks, Paul!
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
  Oct 23, 2010 - 10:17pm PT
Thank you for writing such a searingly honest account. You write very well. You have my sympathy and my best wishes to succeed in your struggles.
David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
  Oct 23, 2010 - 11:15pm PT
you are awesome! An inspiration to all of us here, really!
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Oct 23, 2010 - 11:21pm PT
I'm stunned...the beauty the depth, the rawness. A very personal thank you.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
  Oct 23, 2010 - 11:23pm PT
WOW,

I love your writing style, incredible story and mostly fun pictures..thank you.. I like how the picture in the mirror has 9 images of your face..........mmm me thinks'' you have nine lives..

Paulina

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Oct 23, 2010 - 11:39pm PT
I may usually write a "thanks for sharing" comment on trip reports. But this time I mean it.
locker

climber
STFU n00b!!!
  Oct 24, 2010 - 02:59am PT


"GUD" read!!!...

Nicely thought out and put together...

Photo's of course a HUGE plus...

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:05am PT
hey there paul, say.... just sending you good cheer and good wishes, after reading all this hard trail you've come off of...

"hidden heroes", meaning those just daily living, and overcoming what life entales, when any of its certain battle arrise for one to then need to stand firm, and mend, and then move on higher onto newer trails, is the kind of "trip" that many find hard to share.... thanks for sharing this and being an inspiration---someone may very well use this to help them, move to higher ground, too, some day....

keep on "keeping on' ... and may god bless the newer trails with some special harvests in life, in wonderful ways, still to come...

god bless...
:)
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:06am PT
Yet another example of the triumph of the human spirit.

Keep going, keep writing, keep incouraging me to keep going.
couchmaster

climber
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:22am PT
Holy mFing sh#t dude. That's some heavy stuff there.....WOW! Good luck looking forward!
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Oct 24, 2010 - 11:11pm PT
excellent writing. My thoughts are with you
JOEY.F

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:42am PT
Wow Paul, you are just simply amazing.
Thank you for writing this and the photos too.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:59am PT
A beautiful, compelling read. You are good at this!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 24, 2010 - 02:35am PT
A5, by definition?

inspiring
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Oct 24, 2010 - 02:57am PT
Powerful, beautiful, painful, and very inspiring. Thanks for sharing such an intimate story. You are probably helping others with your inspirational tale, more than you know.

Thanks for posting.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Oct 24, 2010 - 03:39am PT
Seens like the word of the day on this TR is,

WOW!!!

My hats off to you Disaster.


Cosmic
em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
  Oct 24, 2010 - 04:38am PT
amazingly complex and beautiful
a candle (hyacinth purple) is burning to send good wishes to you.
namaste
ncrockclimber

climber
The Desert Oven
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:47pm PT
I love the writing and the images. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Your honesty and bright energy come through. Keep it up and stay strong!
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Oct 24, 2010 - 12:57pm PT
Disaster........Thanks for the direct portal to your insides.....may they heal up & give you many more years of wonderful writing. Thanks for the insightful & soulfilled post.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Oct 24, 2010 - 03:40pm PT
Thanks for the inspiring account. Hoping for continued recovery and good health.
Rick
hossjulia

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
  Nov 3, 2010 - 06:08pm PT
Wow, that certainly helps me put my life in perspective. So glad I checked out your "trip" report. Life is certainly a trip.
Thank you SO much for sharing. I'll be back..........
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
  Nov 3, 2010 - 06:33pm PT
It's really an honor that I may call you a friend.



WhiskeyToast

Social climber
Hawaii
  Nov 3, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
Awesome. Waiting for part 2.
Anastasia

climber
Home
  Nov 3, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
Best Trip Report EVER! Yup, I am now your devoted fan waiting excitedly for Part II.
:)AFS
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Nov 3, 2010 - 10:08pm PT
Nice! Good thoughts going your way.
Erik
silentone

Mountain climber
wisconsin
  Nov 4, 2010 - 06:18am PT
Paul,
Thanks for your story. You amaze me. I have had some stuff happen to me but you sir rock. Your attitude is simple incredible. I like when you blew bubbles and played your drum. This story inspires me and sent chills up and down my back. All the best to you and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Rock on man!

S.O.
(another Paul)
Bargainhunter

climber
  Nov 4, 2010 - 07:54am PT
Thank you for sharing your story. I thoroughly enjoyed the edge. Another serving please...
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Nov 4, 2010 - 08:41am PT
Right on, Paul.
Whoa.
Beatrix Kiddo

Mountain climber
ColoRADo
  Nov 4, 2010 - 11:07am PT
Wow! Great read and photos. You're one tough cookie!
Jobee

Social climber
El Portal Ca.
  Nov 4, 2010 - 11:54am PT
"it is in the changing that things find repose"

Paul,
I do not know you, but I love you.
Incredible read, from an incredible being.
Thank you,
Jo



dougs510

Social climber
down south
  Nov 4, 2010 - 01:39pm PT
You are probably helping others with your inspirational tale, more than you know.

Yes! An incredible account of how tough life can be, and an inspiration that whatever life throws our way, a path to redemption is there. You have inspired me to keep searching! Thank you.

Doug
Tozo

Trad climber
East of West
  Nov 4, 2010 - 01:56pm PT
keep the words coming. one of the best things I've seen on this website
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 4, 2010 - 02:15pm PT
Yes! An incredible account of how tough life can be, and an inspiration that whatever life throws our way,

I so totally second, third, fourth this sentiment. Paul's story came along at just the right time for me as I suddenly was presented with a life threatending illness. He is the real deal. When reading his other blogs he also talks about when he is just plain tired and pissed of all this bull*hit his cancer has thrown at him. This guy is so full of raw humanity.
Disaster Master

Social climber
Born in So-Cal, left my soul in far Nor-Cal.
Author's Reply  Nov 4, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Gggeeeezzz. You guys are making me blush. Started writing Part 2 today. Might take a little while. I get picky about my editing, and tech. crap like that.

Thanks everyone,
Paul Humphrey
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Nov 4, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
i undo the future frequently.
i starve when there is food all around me.
i build clouds, one cold breath at a time.

for these things i am me,
and the universe is still impartial to my claims of dominance.

keep gettin on with your journey.
keep skirtin' the flow and thrashing upon the fringe.

stay within silence.
but dance to your culture's screams.

stay f*#king well.
johnokner

Trad climber
NJ
  Nov 5, 2010 - 07:37am PT
great piece of writing. keep on the good foot. Bravo!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 6, 2010 - 09:58pm PT
Very well written!
Thanks for sharing!
Way to go dealing with it all!
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
  Nov 6, 2010 - 10:56pm PT
Excellent writing!

That's quite a story. Thanks for putting this up.
Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
  Nov 6, 2010 - 11:35pm PT
WOW. Powerful stuff. You're doing great and have an enviable spirit. My friend had a horrific accident and never kicked the meds, they enslaved him.

You've found that it can be liberating to hit bottom and realize you can still get up swinging. Keep swinging!!!
Sherri

Trad climber
WA
  Nov 7, 2010 - 01:28am PT
Thank you for sharing your amazing story in such a moving, honest way, Paul. It could take us all to the brink of lessons we could also stand to learn, if we're not afraid to look over the edge.
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  Nov 11, 2010 - 09:32pm PT
Thanks!
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  Feb 9, 2011 - 08:38pm PT
Bump.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Feb 9, 2011 - 09:04pm PT
This is an amazing account.
I guess somehow I've only been checking on the Melanoma thread.
I have been missing out. What a big deal.
Thanks again, Paul, for sharing yourself.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Feb 9, 2011 - 09:24pm PT
Read this twice now.....Wish we had a day or two to talk about life, your life and more about life.

Guess we don't today so I'll just say this. I wish you would change your avatar from Disaster Master to something else. It just seems to be to ........ self fulfilling. I am actually serious about this. I pray for you daily and my heart and mind are full of positive thoughts for your Life, Love and Joy Master. Peace, lynnie
Zander

climber
  Feb 9, 2011 - 09:35pm PT
All the best. Thanks for putting this down.
Zander
Disaster Master

Social climber
Born in So-Cal, left my soul in far Nor-Cal.
Author's Reply  Feb 12, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
I wish you would change your avatar from Disaster Master to something else. It just seems to be to ........ self fulfilling.

Yes, it does. But many of my disasters make me laugh in the end. Most are / were much smaller than those of late. Perhaps Irony would be the only other knick-name I would choose.

Almost 75% of my tales involve some near miss, or direct hit to me or others. Don't know why. Everyone that knew me over the years said I tried to be safe. Just like to be in on the edge places, I guess.

I could fill a book with all the Tall Paul Tales of adventure and destruction. If I stick around long enough, it may still happen...Everyone who knows me keeps telling me to.

I hear my stories told to me at campfires by people who heard them from friends of mine, unbeknonst to me. It's a weird thing to hear a story "About this crazy guy" and then inform the tale teller..."Yeah that was me." Cracks me up.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Feb 12, 2011 - 02:18pm PT
Hey Paul;

Ya have to get here to Vegas soon so we can do some climbing.
Hyram sure wud like to meet Gym!!!

I think you have my # but in case,
here it is. 760-780-8433


Cosmic
Disaster Master

Social climber
Born in So-Cal, left my soul in far Nor-Cal.
Author's Reply  Feb 12, 2011 - 02:30pm PT
Fattrad:
DUCK!


Cosmic:
As soon as I get this groin tumor under control, we plan on a trip to Red Rocks / J-Tree and friends and family. See ya then Chicken-Fest! Let's hope for some tumor size reversal. Right now, a harness hurts like hell.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Feb 12, 2011 - 02:37pm PT
You are, in my PRAYERS, Paul.
roy

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
  Feb 12, 2011 - 03:14pm PT
This is one hell of a story. Honest and unfiltered. Just keep it going and keep well.

Cheers, Roy
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Feb 12, 2011 - 04:34pm PT
Bravo.
S.Powers

Social climber
Jtree, now in Alaska
  Feb 12, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
Amazing, thank you for sharing.

I feel energized.
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
  Feb 12, 2011 - 06:07pm PT
Wow! That is one intense story. Thanks for sharing and keep kicking ass!
Pastor Dave

Social climber
Yucca Valley, CA
  Feb 20, 2011 - 11:58am PT
Paul, it cracks me up to know that you sometime hear stories about yourself from strangers. Must say I am not surprised, I knew you were special from the moment you were born! I was there!
Dad
Monkey-sa

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Feb 20, 2011 - 03:47pm PT
Hi Paul!
I am glad you posted your story, its gripping. I am thinking of you in your most recent battle with skin cancer. I hope to see ya next time I am in the Humboldt Area. Are you dying your hair crazy colors for this battle to?

Cheers
Melissa Buehler
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  May 2, 2011 - 08:29pm PT
bump.

karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  May 2, 2011 - 08:55pm PT
Id like to read about you recovering from cancer and climbing 5.14 now. Thanks for all your writing, you've put a lot out there for us all to see. Courageous.
Tung Gwok

Mountain climber
South Bend, Indiana
  May 2, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
Keep writing. Keep climbing when you can. Do what yoga you can. Your writing is good. Your life is better.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 3, 2011 - 01:30pm PT
great write up...extremely honest. Be healthy!
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  Jul 30, 2011 - 09:44pm PT
Bump
sullly

Gym climber
  Jul 30, 2011 - 11:12pm PT
Wow! Someone needs to publish this. So carefree and real. Sentences sing.
Pastor Dave

Social climber
Yucca Valley, CA
  Aug 26, 2011 - 10:58am PT
Just in case someone finds this thread and does not yet know that Paul's earthly journey has ended and he has moved on to the New Beginning of Pauls Next Life, His friend, Nolan, who was there with us wrote a beautiful tribute which is posted on Malignant Melanoma Survivors... http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1239624&tn=1020

This is just a brief quote: Last night,(July 29, 2011) at 8:15 pm, a great and gentle soul departed our world. Paul David Humphrey, after several years of pain, suffering, hope given and taken, chose to leave his mortal body for what lies beyond.

This story will never end.

Privileged to have been Paul's Dad.
wildone

climber
EP
  Aug 26, 2011 - 12:41pm PT
Ah, damn Paul, we're gonna miss you.
Big Daddy B.C.

Trad climber
Palo Alto, Ca.
  Oct 18, 2011 - 11:29pm PT
I have Paul in the highest of estiem. WOW
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Oct 19, 2011 - 10:48am PT
I'm glad to see this thread. I think often of Paul still.
SofCookay

climber
  Oct 19, 2011 - 11:29am PT
Me too, Jan.
YoungGun

climber
North
  Oct 19, 2011 - 11:32am PT
Wow.

Amazing story of an amazing life.
Beatrix Kiddo

Mountain climber
ColoRADo
  Oct 19, 2011 - 12:21pm PT
His writing was powerful. I'm happy to read this again.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Oct 19, 2011 - 01:27pm PT
Whenever I see the DisasterMaster name, I have to read. Still miss this man I never met.
John Butler

Social climber
SLC, Utah
  Oct 19, 2011 - 01:32pm PT
Paul, when writing about who he was, had a way of inspiring this reader to ponder the same about himself. What a gift and how blessed I am for having stumbled upon his words.
Pastor Dave

Social climber
Yucca Valley, CA
  Nov 25, 2011 - 01:20am PT
Credit: Pastor Dave

Was looking at some old photos of Paul on this day of Thanksgiving and found this one of one of Paul's earliest climbing conquest. Thankful for the privilege of being his Dad.

Thankful for all of his friends and the words of comfort and support from all of you too! Will also post some pictures of places I have revisited with Paul on "Paul's Balls" here on SUPERTOPO.
Enty

Trad climber
  Nov 25, 2011 - 03:42am PT
inspiring!!!

E
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Nov 25, 2011 - 03:45am PT
hey there say, pastor dave... god bless at the time of memories most cherished...

was thinking about paul's wife... hope she is doing well through this holiday season...

god bless...
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Sep 16, 2012 - 05:33pm PT
hey there all, just a bump... remembering paul, disaster master...

i was wondering how his wife was doing?
god bless...
yllw2lip

Social climber
Orange, CA
  Feb 8, 2014 - 04:54pm PT
Ruth, Paul's wife, passed away in December 2012. From Melanoma cancer that traveled to her brain. She was given three months to live when she found out. I don't think she even made it that far.

I am Paul's sister. I am running my first full marathon March 9, 2014 in their memory:

https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/paulandruth/annadwingersfundraisingpage

RIP Paul Humphrey and Ruth Riffe
bixquite

Social climber
humboldt nation
  Feb 8, 2014 - 08:44pm PT
Paul and Ruth are shining stars in the vast universe. Contagious laughter and good times. Run sister run. Those Humboldt stone monkeys don't fade away. Our love
Is real not fade away.
Love biscuit, Simone and tasman
yllw2lip

Social climber
Orange, CA
  Feb 8, 2014 - 09:41pm PT
Thank you bixquite :)
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Feb 9, 2014 - 11:27am PT

Anna,

I'm grateful to you for doing your benefit run and for bumping this page. I read this "Up and Down Life" thread once and found it powerful. I continued to follow Paul on the Melanoma thread, but for the life of me couldn't find this thread again. I wanted to point some people towards it w.r.t. tree work as well as Paul's story.


Y'all contribute!


Darwin
(bouldered in Moonstone & Trinidad in the early '70s)
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Feb 9, 2014 - 01:40pm PT
Thank you so much Anna, and wonderful luck on your run.
I was DX with cancer shortly after Paul started posting. He so much helped me through the initial shock. Eventually I got to meet him and Ruth in Berkeley. I was stunned last year when you posted Ruth had also passed.
So much heartbreak, but the beauty and strength they left behind has touched and changed so many of us.
Susan
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