Name: Tim Halbakken

Birthday: April 6, 1978

Occupation: Ice Fisherman

The Challenge:
Schedule (tentative):

8:50 am- Botony Exam

10:00 am- Depart for Devils Lake

10:15 am- Eat half a burrito

11:00 am- Begin Bouldering challenge at North Shore area. Warm up and Tick harder problems here (8 problems)
-Show me the Kind
-Reef on this
-Redhair Arete
-Big Bud Arete

12:30 pm- Drive to CCC trailhead And hit East bluff area. (2 problems)
-Eat half a burrito
-Martini Madness
-Beer Buzz

1:15 pm- hike to tombstone area do 6 problems here (18 reps)

3:00 pm- Drive back to North shore and finish up easier problems here and hit the monolith area (7 problems)

4:30 pm- upon completion of 23 boulder problems done 3 times each, begin self-transport attempt to Madison With 23 K run.

Planned route: Basically Hwy 113- Since the ferry is closed I'll just run across the railroad bridge and hopefully live to tell about it.

If all goes well I hope to run the 23 K(14.3 Miles) in one shot in under 3 hours
7:30 pm- Darkness, begin 23 mile ( or whatever is left) bike ride.

9:30 pm-8:50 am if necessary; finish Burritos and enjoy 2 perfect Manhattans and 3 porters at home sweet home.

 Challenge Logistics: 

        Take botany exam at 8:50AM

        23 boulders problems, three times each (V0-V4) at Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

        Run 23K, from the Lake to Lodi

        Cycle 23 miles, from Lodi to Madison

        Eat 2.3 La Bamba "bigger than your head" Burritos

        2 Manhattans

        3 Porters


The Birthday Challenge is something fairly novel in the Midwest.  Tim Halbakken was the first to step into the shoes of being a pioneer during one of the longest and coldest winters in Madison, Wisconsin of recent years. 

At 10AM the weather in Madison was overcast, the sky like a thin gray layer holding back something that couldn't be held back much longer.  By then four of us had gathered to provide support for Tim on his 23rd birthday.  His support team consisted in two Wisconsin natives (Sam Johnson and Lisa Schreibersdorf) and two disgruntled West Coast ex-patriots (Tom Norrdin and Todd Mei). 

At 10:30AM, the clouds burst open and let down a continuous downpour, nothing foreign, but something disheartening to be sure.  The region had accumulated close to 2 inches of rain the previous day, and even though Devil's Lake is legendary for its ability to dry out within a matter of an hour, the rain was too persistent.  But still the support vehicles sped forward. 

The epitome and highlight of the bouldering (which involved all problems named after alcohol and drugs) took place when Tim was happy to find most of the north side of the Lake dry except the hardest problem he was supposed to climb three times.  Thanks to a handy blowtorch, the wetness on the slick holds were made dry.  Movement at the Lake usually has to be precise because of lack of feature and slickness, and with the wetness and the particular technique this problem required, perhaps best summed up as a technical dyno, I was fearful that the bouldering challenge would simply have to fall short. 

Not so.  Tim persevered three times in slapping the finishing hold of "Show Me the Kind" (V4), with the last attempt being willed from pure heart, as if he knew that should he not hang on, he wouldn't have much left to try again.  His body became like a flag in the North winds while his fingers pressed firmly into the immovable quartzite.  We all yelled, did some more bouldering, and then headed for the run. 

Sam joined us for the run, and while the first part through the Lake wilderness was enjoyable, running in the country alongside speeding SUVs in the dark lost its appeal rather fast.  As we approached the railroad bridge, some closure was felt.  The bridge, however, had no pedestrian walkway and we spent about five or six minutes walking over braces with a view above the Wisconsin River that, as Sam said, "could have been anything from 40 to 100 feet below us."  The dark and the eerie reflection of the melting, translucent ice on the river was haunting.  Looking at it and having such an exposed view of the landscape made one feel as if one was floating. 

Our support team wasn't on the other side of the bridge as we had planned.  They went for dinner at a greasy dive called the School House and must have made delirious from the fish fry because, as we later found out, they got lost in the Sauk Prairie suburbs.  Moreover, the Wisconsin River ferry was closed because of the ice, and so this meant Tom had to drive south, cross the river and drive along the other shore.  When they weren't there I urged us forward, reasoning, "If we stop we'll get cold and cramp."  So much for reason.  The walk across the bridge had been cold enough indeed with the wind blowing off the still frozen river, and stepping on toes to avoid slipping one's ankle through the ties proved a disaster.  I cramped up severely, the others...I wasn't sure.  Our team had broken up due to fatigue. 

About 1/8 of a mile in, Tim began to complain of arm cramps.  Both my quads cramped and I could only think, "Where the hell is Tom!?"  Sam was even farther back than I, and as I would learn, he retreated into shuffling because of fatigue.  It began to rain again. 

Tom finally caught up with us about 4 miles from the end of the run.  We all pounded rice cakes and Genisoy bars.  Sam retired to the support vehicle to rest for the cycling.  I tried not to think about the cycling.  Tom went ahead to scout the distance to the town of Lodi while Tim and I pushed forward.  Tim led the way while I enjoyed more.  Hill after hill in the countryside was grueling.  I never realized how unflat Wisconsin could be.  Tom returned with good news: two miles to Lodi.  I looked ahead: one last hill.  It's all a dream now.  We made it to Lodi, and Tim and I decided to forgo the cycling because of the darkness, lack of road shoulders, and rain.  Tom said to us straight: "Good, otherwise I would have had to dissuade you." 

Did I mention that Tom used to play on the National championship hockey team at CSU?  His dissuasion, no doubt, would have been painful. 

The rest? Eating and drinking?  No problem.  Tim finished in fine fashion.  "Finished?" you say.  Yes, take away the cycling and add doing the challenge despite this hellish prolonged Wisconsin winter.  In hindsight it was easy to say we went out.  But had you been there below that ominous sky, you would have crawled back in bed with stranger fellows to cry... 

A big thanks to Tom Norrdin for providing a marathon support vehicle with his Suburban.  He almost had an ulcer when he couldn't find us among the Wisconsin darkness and wilderness of mullets.