A little while back I wrote about why I love living in Colorado and how living here can breed a notion that nothing is too big as far as possibilities go. With that entry I also kind of introduced a little project of mine called Project 5430. My goal for this project is to capture some of the people and spirit here in Colorado that makes me call it home and what keeps me chasing that ever attractive horizon of adventure.
I am so fortunate that many of my friends live by this “anything is possible” motto. And with that being the case, they continue to inspire me and others to climb to new heights, run farther than we ever thought possible and generally explore life on a completely different level altogether. It’s not always what they do, but what they show us about our own possibilities.
So, given that rambling intro, here is my next Project 5430 installment: Chris.
I met Chris a few years ago through a mutual climbing friend and pretty much after the first five minutes of conversation, we became friends. Have been since. Like the majority of people who move to Colorado, Chris came looking for that little something different. I guess you could say that like everyone else that settles here, he was looking for a “more than average life”.
To give you a little background, Chris came here in 1991 to work on his masters studies in Anthropolgy/Archeology at DU where he specialized in the Anasazi of west central New Mexico. Now, through a random and convoluted path, he works as a Manager of Disaster Preparedness for a large communications company. Fortunately he has a fairly flexible schedule with which to plan some pretty lengthy adventures.
Chris has a bold resume of climbs around the globe with notable ascents in the US, Mexico, South America and soon will add the Middle East. Since we met, we’ve been fortunate enough to share some of our mutual passions for mountaineering and climbing with trips up Pico de Orizaba in Mexico (18,700-feet and the third highest peak in North America), some winter ascents here in Colorado as well as some miscellaneous shenanigans in the ice climbing mecca of Ouray.
As our friendship unfolded we also realized that in addition to our mutual love of climbing and mountaineering, we also share the same passion for ultra distance running. Like me, he had done a few marathons and other trail races but it wasn’t until after that first “ultra” distance race that the game changed in wholesale proportions. Like choosing the life we chose when we moved here, average simply wasn’t enough anymore so we threw a few more chips into the ante and went bigger and farther.
With a solid base built from a hard summer of trail racing and a long list of ultras under his belt, Chris just two weeks ago went after the big prize of every ultra runner — a 100 mile endurance run. Like every ultra runner, he’d been thinking about it for quite some time and finally decided, “what the heck?” I of course eagerly volunteered to be his pacer for the final 50 miles…because that’s what ultrarunner friends do.
As we ran through the night we talked about everything from urine color and toenails to family and aspirations for life. He told me that while running 100 miles was naturally something he’d always wanted to do, it certainly wasn’t the end or ultimate goal of his adventure running or adventuring lifestyle. Quite the contrary. It was simply another step along the path of a full life.
When the dust settled (or when the sun came up in this instance), we crossed the finish line in 22 hours, 41 minutes and a handful of seconds. He got his first 100-miler and I got yet another 50-miler, which is pretty good on the fun-o-meter I suppose. However, I think I can speak for Chris when I say that the most important thing we both came away with (once again) is the knowledge that absolutely nothing is impossible and anything and everything should be on the table as far as possibilities.
Again, this was the impetus and perfect example for this entire Project 5430. To highlight the people who make living here what it is…limitless.
Next up for Chris? Well, he leaves in May 2011 for a climbing exchange program with the Alpine Club of Iran. Chris is part of the American Alpine Club which just hosted a group of Iranian climbers here in Jackson, WY this summer and this will be the flip side of that exchange. While in Iran he’ll climb a couple of 18,000+ foot peaks, explore some of the cultural treasures of the region and maybe even get to put some of that archeology/anthropology background to use. Incredible opportunity…one I wish I was joining him on. By the way, you can read about Chris’s experiences with the Iranian climbers on his blog! http://halikuadventures.wordpress.com/
I’d be remiss if I didn’t put a personal shout out of thanks to Chris. Not only for being a great friend but also for reminding me every day that my own big dreams and off-beat aspirations, no matter how whacked out they seem, are 100% valid.
And with that I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
All men of action are dreamers — James G. Huneker
Run far. Paddle long. Climb high. Live big.