Grueling Day Sees Desk
Jockey Devastated on Mountaineers 36th
(Yosemite, CA) AP
Celebrated Speed Climber, mountaineer, and X-Game Champion Hans Florine celebrated his 36th
birthday Sunday in fine style, while Birthday Challenge Coordinator and Food Challenge
instigator Steve Edwards was pummeled in his support task.
In honor of the day, the pair climbed 36 pitches and ran 36 kilometers in Yosemite National Park. Florine, a Yosemite resident, is famous for his speed records on many of Yosemites big walls. His initial birthday event was to climb 36 pitches in celebration. When Edwards heard of this challenge he was appalled,
The way he climbs, 36 pitches will take Hans about 3hours. He needs
to up the ante a bit to get sanctioned.
Immediately, a 36 K run
was added, eclipsing Edwards own 35th, which consisted of 35K and 35
pitches. Ever the competitor, Hans than suggested furthering this by adding 36oz of ice
cream, 36oz of beer, and an unprecedented 3.6 King Pin apple fritters. The latter was
impressive to all that had completed the Apple
Fritter Challenge themselves. Said originator Todd Mei, The original challenge
of 2 and a jelly donut is grueling, and thats without any exercise. I recall one day
where an ex-roommate did the challenge while watching a basketball game and was too
incapacitated afterwards to join in a game of stick ball. If Hans can do this, perhaps
they (Germans) are really the master race after all.
Edwards, who has been frustratingly tied to a desk job all year,
originally only signed on the running portion of the event, saying I havent
climbed 36 total pitches this year.
Florine encouraged him to join in some part of the climbing and he set off for Yosemite
with that in mind. On his arrival, he quaffed down a beer to beat down the oppressive heat
than soloed 6 pitches up Manure Pile Buttress to re-acquaint himself with Yosemites
granite. Thinking he has 12 hours to rest, he enjoyed a couple of Busch Bavarians
and a trademark American Spirit.
This soon proved a mistake, for upon arrival at Florines he was
greeted with a change in plans, hearing that they would leave at midnight, and that he was
to participate in all of the climbing. Its your birthday was his
Im the support guy, so Im in for whatever
The Florine plan seemed to make sense: they would start the Royal
Arches route at midnight to beat the heat, but mainly so that Hans could get a jump on the
I figure Ill do a fritter and well split a tub (of ice
cream) before the route and it will be digested be the time were finished
stated Hans. Edwardss main concern was footwear. He had only brought a pair of
slippers, but due to the alternate plan, really needed a different shoe. He found a pair
of a Five-Ten hiking shoes that fit, but it was a style he was unaccustomed. Knowing much
of the climbing was to be un-roped gave him some concern, I figure the Five-Ten
rubber will stick to anything, but Im concerned about blisters and foot slippage in
The shoes worked fine, but the pair had another problem: oppressive
heat and humidity. There was absolutely no breeze said Edwards Im
not usually a big sweater but I felt as though I was in a sauna
after two pitches, I
was out of dry clothing to wipe away sweat. After a couple hundred feet, Florine
employed a plan to speed up. The pair was roped together, a la mountaineering (sans ice
axes), between 40 of rope. They had no gear, other than two biners, but Florine
would lead and climb over trees when possibly to add protection. Because a fall by either
person would most likely pull both off, Hans imposed a strict no falling rule.
The rope was mainly in place so that he could tug on Edwards when he was moving too
slowly. Florine had recently done the route, car to car, in just over one hour but Edwards
hadnt been on it since a birthday challenge in 87 and said I felt like
Steve Komito being dragged along by Layton Kor over a cry of this routes gotta
Said NBCs Bob Costas, Florine is 0 and 4 on speed
challenges when he has to drag his partner within the first 500 feet, so this could be
considered a bad sign.
The route and descent went without incident except a change of
itinerary. The plan had them climbing the East Buttress of El Cap, a route they had both
done before but neither really enjoyed. Whilst complaining about it they decided to climb
the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral instead, a route that Edwards had never done. This
also changes their running plans, something that would come to haunt them.
After the RA, the pair finished the tub and Hans downed a fritter and
they were off to Manure Pile for a quick 6 pitches. It was here that the legendary King
Pin Fritter reared its ugly head. The pair was soloing with Edwards in the lead. After
hearing NBC commentator Bill Walton bellowing,
These guys are engaged in some VERY
He offered to pick up the pace and was surprised to hear Florine say,
If I go any faster Ill puke.
They pair were home before 4 am for a few hours of shuteye. During
the half time show, commentator Dick Vitale was upbeat,
21 down and its only 4am! You gotta luv it, baby!! But if
I was Coach A (team coach Jacki Adams) I would have some concern. Edwards cant be
used to these big Yosemite descents, and FlorineI dunno, babylooked pretty
green! I think hes gonna puke! Thats right, baby, the Big P!! Prayin to
the Porcelain God!! The Technicolor Yawn!! Yeah, baby, I luv it, that s what the
birthday challenge is all about!!!
Added Costas, Edwards has to be concerned here. He is 0 and 2 on
birthday challenges when coming off a full-time job, and 0 and 5 on food challenges when
someone has vomited.
The next morning, Florine dropped the fritter challenge straight
away. Once again, King Pin proved too big for athletic endeavors. All else was still a go,
and the pair set off for Middle Cathedral.
On the EBM, Florine came up with an efficient and fast strategy: a
25-meter rope, some nuts and a few cams, ½ slings for harnesses, and a few free
biners. Florine would climb to the end of the rope then put in a piece and Edwards would
start. When out of gear he would stop and belay. The weather had turned in their favor:
beautiful, sunny, with a slight breezea world apart from the sweltering darkness At
mid-point of the route, an irritated Walton grabbed a birthday cake and said,
Let me have this, They dont deserve it. Has anyone told these
guys that its a birthday CHALLENGE!
Chimed in sidekick Steve Jones, Bill, are you insane? Theyre
ahead of schedule. In fact, theyre ahead of Florine and Peter Cowards time.
They finished in 1 hour and 30 minutes, Florines 2nd
fastest roped ascent, and it came without rushing. The descent was at a more casual pace
but they still went car to car in 2:45.
Feeling much better with the breeze, the climbers exuded
confidence. They did some flat running back to Manure Pile, where they encountered their
next challenge: the weekend hordes. Proper ethics dictate that you dont repeat
routes on a birthday, so they had to weave there way up the buttress, moved right or left
to avoid both roped parties and lines they had done before. With the weather still on
their side, it was a joy. They did some pitches new to both of them, all classic. By
choosing face lines with little or no protection, they were able to avoid the droves of
weekend warriors, impressing Costas,
Both Florine and Edwards are undefeated when able to completely avoid
other climbers on a Sunday in June on Manure Pile Buttress while soloing and wearing
collared shirts after eating 2 pints of Ben & Jerrys ice cream and one King Pin
Apple Fritter. So theyve got to be happy about that.
Back at the house, the party was tired but upbeat. The down-climbing had
taken its toll, and Edwards was having foot and leg problems; with both blisters and a
suspect achillies tendon, he spent his break taping his feet, stretching, and eating ice
cream. Florine looked confident, slurping on a tub and selecting the proper music for his
MP3 player. Coach A provided a ride to the trailhead and a fine pep talk, before the
motivated pair sauntered off on what they hoped would be an easy run home.
Neither had done the trail beforehand. All they knew was that it
started at Glacier Point (7,000) and finished at Wawona Tunnel (4,500). Over the
total distance, they were hoping to have a lot of gentle downhill and flat running.
The first few miles were almost entirely uphill. This caused the
miles to go slowly but both were confident that would change, since it had to go down at
some point. A few miles in, Edwards started feeling ill effects from the ice cream. Once a
voracious eater, his depressing, sedentary lifestyle has whittled his nutritional intake
to mainly alcohol, and he hadnt had ice cream in many months. At the crest of the
run, he had to completely stop and nearly puked.
This is astonishing, baby! said Vitale, The Big E! The
Big Eater!! The Egg Challenge, The Fritter Challenge, the guy who once ate 3 pints of Ben
& Jerrys Butter Pecan, with over 100 grams of fat per, in one sitting!!. Yeah,
baby! Hes lookin green. Hes lookin old. Too much of the old 9 to
5!! I love this game!!!
On what turned out to be the only moderately downhill (meaning fast)
part of the run, Edwards had to attempt to catch Florine, who didnt notice he had
halted to retch. Chick Hearn adds the play by play:
Florine and Edwards, moving at a good pace, left to right
across your radio dial. Florine, 61 150, 15th year out of Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo, is moving quickly down hill. I dont think he knows Edwards has
dropped behind. Edwards, in his 16th year out of UCLA Walton,
Did somebody say UCLA? That reminds of when Coach Wooden used toHearn
shut up, Bill
Edwards now covering a lot of ground. I think hes
moving faster than at any time during the dayWait, Edwards is airborne, must of
caught a toe or something, hes heading straight for that wall of rocks, hes
got to auger in. Better call the fire department, Stu, Edwardss getting
Able to shake off what could have been a devastating fall, the pair
proceeded on, miffed at how the trail could continue to go up in elevation. The ascents
were long and gradual, while the descents were too steep to allow the pair to make up much
time. By the time they arrived at Dewey Point, only 3 miles (7K) from the finish, the run
had been a net elevation GAIN. This meant that the finish would lose nearly 3,000 feet in
3 miles. Can you say sandbagged?
Vin Scully, Speaking of sandbagging, that reminds me of a
story. Once, back in the minors. The Pawtucket Herrings, whom, if you recall, were a farm
team for the Red Sox, made a deal with their rival team from Walla Walla, the farm team of
the dreaded Yankees. Back then, you could use designated hitters in the minors, but Casey
Stengle wanted his pitcher to hit. So he made a deal with Connie Mack to play big league
rules and allow the pitchers to hit. And you know why, Ross, because his pitcher that
afternoon was none other than Babe Ruth. Of course the Yankees got back at the Sox when
they acquired Ruth in a trade years laterand with 3 miles to go, our heroes are
If I could have designed the worst possible run for our current condition,
given the geographical parameters that we already knew existed, this would be it.
Said Edwards about the trail that had continued to drop at a steeper and steeper angle.
His legs were already abused from the down-climbing and he found the steep drop
unbearable. By the last mile, nearly all the muscular coordination in his legs was gone.
All I could consider, over and over, was to try and evaluate whether
or not I had ever been in as much physical pain in my life. He said, and I
couldnt really come up with anything. To try and alleviate the pain, Florine
took to walking backwards down the trail. Edwards attempted it but lacked the coordination
to walk backwards. In fact, it looked as though it took all he had to not just stop.
On the ride home, Florine wondered about the prospect of doing the
I wonder how I would have felt? I would have gone a lot
You probably would feel like me said Edwards.
I can hardly imagine feeling much worse. Im completely
worked. I feel terrible. added Hans.
Back home, Hans hit the shower and Edwards, looking bad, collapsed on
the floor. I felt like Laurent Fignon after the Tour de France when hed lost
to LeMond. All I could think about as I lay there was that they got him up. I have
to get up I would say. But I couldnt. Coach A came to the rescue with
some stern talk. You CANT lie there. There are people coming over and you cant
let em see you like that! Youre going to get up, take a shower, and even if
you are about to pass out, sit there nonchalantly with a beer in your hand and say,
It wasnt too bad.
This strategy worked wonderfully until Edwards suspiciously fumbled a
piece of fish during dinner and lacked the ability to properly pick it up. A few moments
later, Florine let a beer slide through his fingers and onto the table with barely a
reaction. The air of invincibility was dashed but the guests went easy on them. After all
it was Hans birthday party.