About a month ago I was frantically scrambling to get back in rhythm with my climbing. Delays with my car’s registration and plates had me pinned down and while I was able to always find something to climb I was falling further off of my edge and I felt like I would never make it into the big mountains–a part of the project that I had been putting off all summer due to other, significantly worthy engagements that kept me in flatter topography.
During this time I received an email asking about the possibility of partnering for some climbing in the Bugaboo mountains in British Columbia from a fellow Type 1 named Martin. Let me back up for a moment and say that the Bugaboos (aka “the Bugs”) have loomed in my imagination as the apex of alpine splendor since day I took the first step forward in the world of climbing and purchased Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills and saw the photo of Bugaboo Spire on the cover. I stared at that photo as I purchased that book in 2006 and many times since, wondering how long it would be till I got to go there. The specter of the Bugs bled through into the planning of Project 365 and it was one of the principal places I wanted to share with the DOC (Diabetic Online Community). If you can bring diabetes here, then a whole world of possibility opens up!
Reading Martins email, I was cautiously optimistic. I told him I would get in touch with him once I had definite dates and that we could see what our respective situations looked like at that point. There are lots of complications that can arise from meeting someone online and finding their actual “self” to be much different than their online persona. Given the fact that climbing depends on all of the usual relationship dynamics coupled with putting your life in your partners hands, there was a small part of me that hesitated to move forward with this meeting–lots of what-ifs.
Then there was the issue about the diabetes. PWD are also fickle like the alpine weather, eccentric and OCD. We are difficult and we have our own little ways of doing everything to create normalcy. I have often told people that I am not some super diabetic above the fray of routine–I just have normalized a NEW routine that allows me to be functional in the mountains. Once you adjust, then its all plug and play, even if you’re surrounded by rock on one side and the abyss on the other! At the heart of it all, I am forced to encounter the fact that I am a cantankerous curmudgeon who resists change like the plague. So what if Martin was as difficult as I am? What if his routine and mine didn’t jive?
Im not a self hating diabetic, but this condition is all about calibration and the wrong match up can create challenges. There is no “diabetic diet” or set routine that we all follow. I do things one way, while other people who are striving towards the same goal may do things wildly differently. I am used to being the odd man out and just telling everyone else to do their thing and I adjust and play along, but would that work on a multi-day trip into the mountains with another T1? We would be out there together, depending on a greater level of teamwork, not every man for himself!
The season was late (early Sept) and the fickle weather of the alpine world can be disagreeable even in the summer but the early fall in the low country signals the end of the climbing season in the high country as snowfall ramps up at elevations over 7,000 feet and skiing season takes shape. I knew that I had very little time to dither about and that there would be no second chance at this–I had to hang it out there and take a risk. If Martin and I didnt click properly, if our strategies on climbing didnt mesh, if our experience and skill levels weren’t compatible, we would be in for a rough time or possibly worse. Physical risks aside, the project budget was (and is!) waning and this would have to be a great trip to validate driving 1300 miles.
On the other hand…I just had a really good feeling about this guy–and if I was able to get up there and capture several days worth of footage in the Bugs, it could set a new high point for the project and change the whole dynamic of the film. I assessed the risk and decided that there was more to be gained by at least trying than there was to be lost if we tried and failed.
By the late September I had turned 30, narrowly avoided getting struck by lightning, and had rejoined Stef. There was a weather window that looked to be unseasonably warm and would fall perfectly in line with our arrival in British Columbia. With my wife and partner by my side, I headed north to explore an online relationship in person, prepared to shoulder the risk of any possible result.
If you havent already figured it out from reading these blogs, I am pretty neurotic and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I take things to heart. I overthink things. I was acutely aware that Stefanie had freed up a lot of time from her new job to join me and help with shooting this leg of the trip. There were many dynamics in play and I prattled away incessantly as we drove through Utah, Idaho, Montana and into British Columbia. I found the most easily accessible roadside boulders to climb for my daily ascent and then I returned to the car, trying to verbally account for the fact that Stefanie was getting ill and might have to sit out our climbing adventure in the Bugs.
She had come down with a sinus infection that had never really gone away and I was concerned about it flaring up. We stopped at a grocery store in northern Montana and she grabbed the ingredients for her “secret” home remedy: Lemon, Garlic, Cayenne pepper, Ginger, Honey and vinegar. We drove across the street to a gas station where we got cups of hot water and proceeded to assemble the aforementioned ingredients in the car.
We still had an 8-10 hour drive ahead of us and it was nighttime. We opted to pull off and sleep and let the concoction work and get a little sleep for the next days mission to meet Martin at his parents place just south of our climbing destination in British Columbia. We had no way to know what the next few days would hold for us!