March 31, 2010

Fun for All Types

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If it’s not fun, why do it?This and many other questions that ponder my own sanity rip through my mind at a pace only a few miles an hour slower than the wind threatening to tear me off my tenuous perch on the side of Castleton.  Fifteen feet below me lies a nice big ledge — the perfect size to shatter my ankles if I come peeling off the desert tower, which at this point feels like it could be at any moment.  I grit my teeth, swallow my fear and thrutch up another foot in the crack, praying with all my might that I don’t fall.  Thank God I’m wearing brown pants today.Rock climbing is a dangerous activity, but it’s one in which I’ve learned to mediate the risk through proper training and instruction.  Yet it feels as if half the time I’m out actually climbing that I’m having no fun at all.  If there was a stenographer to record my trip out to Utah this Spring Break, he’d likely have captured the following sentiments:“I’m quitting climbing.  Seriously, for real this time.”  “I’ve never been more scared in my life.”“That’s it, I’m done.”“I want my mother.”Even when my three friends and I set out to climb two supposed desert “classic climbs” in a day, Jeff and I exchanged similar outlooks to those above in regular 15-minute intervals.  The higher we got on our two towers, the more scared we got.  When we finally summitted Ancient Art as the sun set, instead of celebrating our achievement, Josh, Keith, Jeff and I just got the hell down as fast as we could and walked out.Yet just a few short days later, I was psyched to get out again on the cliffs.  My memories and fears of death and dismemberment were all but forgotten. How on earth do I keep coming back to an activity that I often times don’t enjoy doing until I’m done with it?  This soul-searching query lead me to discover the outdoors “Fun Scale” on noted alpinist Kelly Cordes’ blog.  According to Kelly, there are three types of fun: Type I Fun:Pure fun, an activity that’s enjoyable while it’s still occurring.  Good food, great sex, awesome powder, 5.8 hand cracks, biking downhill.Type II Fun:Fun only in retrospect — an activity that is absolutely awful while currently engaged in it.  Usually this encompasses training or long endurance activities — like puking after a marathon or doing zillions of sit-ups in the gym. Type III Fun:Never fun — before, during or after.  An activity that you swear you will never do again, lest somebody slap you to remind you.  Most of my friend’s Friday and Saturday nights come to mind.   Consulting the list above, it’s clear to me that most of my climbing falls into the Type II category of fun.  The challenge seems then to be to try to turn a Type II activity into a Type I.  This likely is a trick reserved only for professionals, or the die-hard amateurs hidden amongst us.  And even bigger talent would be transforming a Type III in to a Type I.  So is there hope for the crazed among us who have a passion for the outdoors, but oftentimes find themselves over their heads? Maybe not, but that’s ok —  While I’d love to have only Type I fun all the time, I can achieve that without ever leaving my couch. When I crave adventure, I prepare for some Type II fun, because I know it’ll be worth it in the end.Remember, it doesn’t always have to seem “fun” to be fun. RLD

Original Author: Guy Ross