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I turned 40 this year. According to some, that the year when things head downhill, well, they’re wring. Things in general are actually looking great. I am still climbing on a regular basis, have a wonderful wife, and take a few climbing trips a year to “exotic” location. Yes, we still take climbing trips, not vacation; of course, having a wife who also climbs makes this easier.

One thing that has gotten harder climbing wise for me is meeting my birthday climbing goal. Every year, on my birthday, I climb the same amount of routes, as I am old. Naturally, this gets more difficult every year because I have to do more and more.

This year, the challenge didn’t come from the amount of routes, actually now that I own a climbing gym, I’m in great climbing shape. The running is helping too, so is taking trips to new location regularly. What made this year’s challenge difficult what Indonesia’s weather, rain specifically. 

Our local crag has a couple of routes protected from light rain, but not many, and non-protect from the downpour I woke up to. So, to meet my climbing goal, I had to climb 40 routes in the gym. Considering that I’ve done more gym climbing in the past year than in the 26 previous years, this was going to be a fairly dull day.
Yes, I do enjoy our gym, but I first did this birthday challenge 18 years ago. I often planned climbing trips around my birthday just to make sure I was in prime climbing locations to meet the goal. In multipath areas, I converted the goal to pitches instead of individual routes. 

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to reach my birthday climbing goals in places like Yosemite, Red Rocks, Leavenworth, Smith Rock, and even above the beaches of Railey in Thailand, so the gym would have a tough act to follow. One advantage the gym did have was no lack of belayers.

They was one other motivating factor this year, my wife, whose birthday is near mime, decided to meet her goal on the same day as me. This meant that we would both be climbing our ages at the same time. Her first ever birthday challenge was successful. 

Not sure why I write about this. I guess it’s because climbers are constantly looking for new ways to make out passion interesting and fun. A new challenge to pursuit or overcome. I know lots of climbers who participate in this birthday challenge, some with added rules, but this seems like one aspect of climbing where the competition is completely with myself, like climbing should be. Birthday goal challenge isn’t chasing for the limelight or the sponsors, it’s just finding one more way to push myself without any other purpose. As someone who has always felt competition climbing a dull part of the climbing scene, this could be the only competition I actually participate in every year. Although I am impressed with Hans Florines kills and determination, I could care less how fast he climbs the Nose, I don’t understand why my non-climbing friends think I should have an opinion about whether or not climbing should be an Olympic Sport, for me, climbing is just an individual pursuit. 

While many of my friends get depressed about having to celebrate another birthday, I’m get excited. Let’s face it, March 16thof every year, I’m guaranteed to climb a lot. Very little in the world makes me happier than climbing.

What are your personal passions?

How do you incorporate them into your birthday?

How year will you be on your next birthday?

What’s your birthday challenge? Doesn’t have to be climbing.

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