Racing for Darwin: The Triple Schmack Challenge

“Ohhh, I’m in it for the experience,” says the brah, intoning that soft voice that makes him more righteous than you.

No way, Scotty D and I were in it to win. Win what? The illustrious Triple Schmack Challenge, of course.

“It’s easy to ‘win’ an event where you define the rules, the time, the participants, the place and the objective,” wrote Will Gadd in a blog post about something or other awhile back. I think he was talking about alpinism, no way not true at all fair enough.

Absolutely. Which is why I love it and can occasionally rise above my otherwise boundless standard of mediocrity. I like doing things by my rules.

Anyway, Will’s words reminded me of a time about seven years ago here in Estes, when I lived in the Chicken Coop, had more free time and fewer brain cells, and Scotty D and I started doing free-solo time-trail races at Lumpy Ridge.

We had this link-up of three multi-pitch routes that were on our usual solo circuit anyway – Pear Buttress (on The Book), Melvin’s Wheel (Bookmark), and White Whale (Left Book). Doing them for time made logistical sense. Logistical in terms of how one sets you up for the other, mind you, as compared to logistical meaning logical or wise. The time was round-trip from the trailhead (the old Twin Owls trailhead). We called it the Triple Schmack Challenge because, of course, whomever “won” got to talk all kinds of schmack. We honestly thought that some of our friends would get into it and it’d become popular, like community building of sorts. Alas, no takers: we would talk schmack only to each other, back and forth, Scotty and me.

We did have two rules, though:

1. No dying.

2. No dying.

After the illustrious title changed hands a couple of times – comparison of our splits indicated that I’d usually be a little faster on the trail run to the base, but he climbed faster (in the interest of safety, we never raced at the same time) – I remember pulling my toe up high to a flared tips jam several hundred feet up Melvin’s, heart rate racing in my throat, thinking Must…Beat…Scotty! and suddenly the long overdue alarm bells chimed – you ain’t too smart, are ya, boy? But where do quitters finish? That’s right, coach, last. And so I simply turned off my brain and, most importantly, that time I beat Scotty. Schmack, schmack, talk that schmack.

It was short-lived. On his next go, Scotty crushed my time: round-trip from the trailhead, one hour, 28 minutes.

“Whattday think about that, Cracka, you gonna man-up and try again?” he taunted.

“Man, I’m just in it for the experience,” I said, sipping my margarita. Margaritas make me smart, and suddenly my brain tripled in size and I bowed-out and declared him the champion, falling back on my life’s primary M.O.: When faced with big challenges, it’s best to not even try because you’ll probably fail.

Soon after conceding the Triple Schmack crown to Scotty, I added a fourth route (Magical Chrome Plated Semi-Automatic Enima Syringe, on the Pear formation). I was “on” that day and did it fast enough that Scotty figured he’d have to pick a good day to try to beat my time. But, so sadly, a storm then rolled in and work called him out of town. It thusly seemed appropriate to give the new linkup a name: The Quadruple JV. I am still the champion.

3 thoughts on “Racing for Darwin: The Triple Schmack Challenge

  1. Great stuff, Kelly. Makes me want to move to Estes, that is exactly the kind of workout that I love…but maybe not so much with the time trial. Would still try to do it as fast as I could 🙂

  2. I remember seeing your video “Something about nothing” on youtube a few years back when I was like eighteen and it got me so psyched I started sprinting up Greyrock (I’m in Ft. Collins) and soloing easy routes on the S. Slabbs… I really have had some of my best days ever doing that and it keeps me stoked on training.

  3. thanks guys. yeah, i dig that sort of thing, for sure. i’ve been scaling back on it, though. it’s tough b/c it’s so fun, but really it is quite dangerous. just one slip… it’s just a “dangerous workout” on one hand. but i do love soloing, it gives me a lot.

    glad you dug that video, kevin, it was fun to make, actually, b/c my good friends the Danimal and Weasel One were the video guys for the climbing, and my friends from Patag were here feeding me margs for the interview segments.

    i lived in Ft C for about a year, about 10 yrs ago, and used to do that exact same thing at Greyrock! Would time-trial myself on the freakin’ lung-buster run to that bench atop the steep trail, like right before you enter the meadow below the slabs (if i remember right). then huck laps on those slabs — i’m with you on that for sure, it’s great.

    BUT, do be sure to always remember the first two rules of the Triple Schmack Challenge…

    take care,

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