It all started when I was living in Costa Rica and I took the local bus out of San Jose to drive south and climb the country’s highest peak, Cerro Chirripo. It is not a technical climb by any stretch of the imagination, but sits neatly perched above the rain forest at 12,000-plus feet. During the five-day trek, I befriended two free-spirited Germans on holiday, and together we scrambled up some nearby spires and rock outcrops. This was my introduction to rock climbing. Sitting on the summit of Chirripo stirred me in a way that few experiences had. I accomplished something that only a month before, while paging through the Fodor’s Guidebook for Costa Rica, seemed ridiculous and only for people who were super adventurous. A few months later, I returned to Minnesota to seek out real rock and my own adventure. And that is what happened.
When Dan isn’t dreaming about his next big climb, he can usually be found adventuring or lounging around with his wife Bronwyn and son Rhys. Watch for Bronwyn and Rhys to be featured in 2014’s notable ascents!
In the summer of 2012, I traveled to Yosemite National Park with my long-time climbing partner Steve Wilger to climb the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. The goal was to complete a one-day ascent of the coveted Valley classic, which would require scaling 1,800 vertical feet of exfoliated granite via crack systems and to tag the summit within a 24-hour period. For many elite climbers, climbing Half Dome ‘in a day’ (IAD) is probably the equivalent of me going on a two-hour hike at our local park. But for most mere mortals, Half Dome IAD is on nearly every climber’s short list. One of climbing’s ambassadors, Chris Sharma, recently said, “Often times by the time we clip the anchors and by the time our feet are back on the ground, we are thinking about our next project.” By the time Steve and I tagged the summit of Half Dome, just shy of 24 hours by less than 30 minutes, we were too elated to think of what was next. Only a day later though I began to wonder, “What is next – what is my next big project?”
I am sure a lot of you are wondering why anyone would want to climb 50 “inspiring climbs” in the first place. I have asked myself the same question. Honestly, I am not sure I have all of the answers. I do, however, have a few. The project title itself, 50×50, clearly reveals that I am no spring chicken, and no one is more aware than me. And since most of you are thinking it, I’ll acknowledge it: yes, I am possibly suffering from the early stages of a mid life crisis. But, if this is the case, unfortunately for me, buying a BMW or taking a lavish trip around the world is not in my financial future. However, tackling 50 climbing objectives on a shoestring budget is doable. I don’t think it is going to be easy, especially since I have a day job that keeps me pretty busy. But, with the help of my wife, Bronwyn, son Rhys, and the outdoor community, I hope to generate donations and in-kind sponsorship to help me make my project a reality. Almost weekly, I ask myself – can it be done? Unless I drive a stake in the ground and make an effort to do something unconventional, the dream may never transpire. And so this is my stake, 50×50, and I am taking it as far as my mind and body will allow me. My wife, Bronwyn, is supporting me as she always has, and our son, Rhys, is stoked about the prospect of traveling to near and far destinations from our home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are excited to meet up with old friends and expand our climbing family, while at the same time discovering areas of the country that are still unknown to us. I hope that I can do it. I hope that we can do it. In preparing to pull off this objective, it is going to involve some serious logistical challenges, not the least of which will include completing 50 climbing routes before January 5, 2016. The routes are scattered across North America, and extend into Canada. A few of these routes will be first ascents. The majority of routes will be all-day objectives, with a few multi-day ascents sprinkled in. Others will surely include logistical challenges, weather factors, and travel. And some of the climbs are simply at my physical limit. In order to make my project a reality, I am looking for donations, big and small, to help fund some of the expeditions and cover travel and logistical expenses. With the generous help of my sponsors and the climbing community, I plan to keep interested followers updated on my progress by following by monthly blog, and uploading inspiring and dramatic HD video to inspire others to find a project and send it! So join me for the next two years on what I am sure is going to be an adventure, filled with highs and lows, laughter, nail biting ascents, community, and a front row seat to some of North America’s amazing climbing destinations.