Anything you would’ve done differently over the year?

Hindsight is 20/20, so there are many things I would do differently. However, I don’t regret any of the decisions I made in regards to the project. This may seem like a negligible distinction but I feel like it is significant. I went into Project 365 expecting to have strikes and gutters–wins and losses. Going back to settle some of the scores of the “losses” would be satisfying on some level but I really feel like the big picture needed to include the struggle and failure.

In responding to this question, I have just written and deleted several things I would have done differently. I really cant see myself doing things any different way! Sometimes I think that I should have shot more photos and video and climbed harder and left the blogging as an afterthought–but if I had done that, I might have missed out on connecting with some amazing people and opportunities. I feel like I could have prepared more in terms of getting sponsors for the project–but if we had everything all locked up beforehand, that would have killed a large part of the story!

A few definite things that I would have done differently though:

  • Use Instagram more! Pictures are worth so much more than words–especially when you are in picturesque locations
  • Spend more time in Yosemite: I got in over my head in the valley and while it was good to test the waters, I could have had a more productive time there if I had gotten my feet wet on smaller objectives before diving in!
  • Spend more time in the Bugaboos with Martin and his family: Logistics limited us in British Columbia time-wise, but the few days we had there unquestionably changed my life.
  • Should have laid out the money for a full frame sensor camera from the get go. Having recently upgraded to the Nikon D600, I now see that I had been rubbing sticks together instead of using a zippo!
  • Should have gotten an iPhone from beginning too. That dramatically increased my ability to keep social media channels updated without having to get stuck behind a computer.

Plans to do something like this again?

Yes. Unquestionably. I have done many multi-month road trips with Stefanie over the preceding years and so Project 365 was more of a culmination of previous efforts than a “new” thing. Through the course of the project I had a chance to meet some amazing T1D climbers, and moving forward I want to take on bigger objectives with them.

I don’t foresee another 365 consecutive day climbing challenge because of the logistics and cost–however I will put this out there (sort of kidding, but also not entirely) that if the funding and logistic support were in place, I would do it again and try to break the 79,000 feet climbed.

My vision is more towards harder, wilder, more remote climbing objectives with other T1s. A few examples of what are in my mind: Patagonia, Yukon Territory, Baffin Island, Greenland, Bugaboos, Himalaya. There is also a great deal of amazing climbing to share as inspiration to the diabetes community in the US too–for me this is a way of life so it never truly stops.

Your favorite day/climb??

Ok, I have to cop out here and say that I can’t select one day or climb. I can try to do a top 5 list:

Did you ever want to give up? What kept you going?

I frequently felt like I was failing completely and despair was rarely far from me. Being separated from my wife, my family and my friends made me feel incredibly isolated despite the fact that I wasn’t always in the backcountry or up on a bigwall. Despite this, I never wanted to give up because I didn’t want to lose everything I had put in. We sold everything we had to take on this project. We left our jobs and home–it was full commitment. There really was no option to give up or turn back. What would we go back to? From the beginning I believed that this project was my path. I did not have a specific vision as to what it would lead to, but I knew that accepting the suffering up front was part of that.

When I signed up for the project I knew the road ahead of me would be filled with both peaks and valleys. Summit experiences are few and far between when compared with the valleys, but that was something I prepared for. Staying task oriented helped me keep going. Instead of thinking about the next month, I would focus on the day at hand, getting climbing done safely and cooking and sleeping. Living on the road added to the process of living and those added tasks helped keep me in the moment when I could have gone crazy worrying if I had let it get away from me.

What kind of vehicle made the trip? Year make model? Did you nickname it something awesome like the “diabetes demon”? The “injection train”?

The first half of Project 365 was taken on in my Toyota Tercel (1987, Wagon). I called it the “Dragon Wagon” which was a reference to it’s bright red color and to a song by a metal band I like called The Red Chord. This car was dear to me, but it was a clunker. It represented more than just a mascot of sorts, it was a rejection of materialism and the idea that doing great things and being healthy are related to how shiny your “stuff” is. It was very sad for me when the Dragon Wagon died in early July, leaving me and my partner Rob stranded in Sioux Falls South Dakota. We had to rent a car and blitz for the east coast in a 23 hour push–without getting a chance to really say goodbye.

What is a comfort that you took with you? Something to keep you grounded when it seems like all hell was breaking loose?

Having the iPhone let me play games on the phone even when cell service was non existent. I was able to keep it charged up thanks to the support we got from Goal Zero and their solar equipment. I am not a big video game aficionado -I stopped caring about video games after SNES came out. Once they went beyond 32 bit graphics, I lost my appetite. However being able to have a bit of mindless entertainment made some of the more dire and lonely situations seem less hopeless. I also brought an MP3 player with me that I have all 7 seasons of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” on–as well as selected episodes of “Seinfeld”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Arrested Development”. Driving across Kansas at night (which I did at least 3 times during the year) makes you thankful for a little bit of hilarity to pass the time.