Captain Fun Pants and the Sketchy Kelly Cocktail

While looking for an excuse to introduce an ingenious drink recipe, I remembered these photos, which I had forgotten. Here goes.

Back in the fall, some friends and I went to Devil’s Tower for a couple of days. I wore my hot pants, the fun pants, the Wyoming You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy? pants.

scariot - kc on bloodguard (9 of 42)

Bloodguard. Craig Scariot photo

Or, to continue the movie theme, You think a route would get sent by a guy wearing these bad boys? Forget about it…. 

One day, CFS shot photos while I tried an amazing, 160-foot thin crack pitch called Bloodguard.

A hair away from the onsight, I blew it. In fairness to the route and despite my self-spray at my failure, I blew it right where it got hard. As I did, I let the rope sneak behind my leg. Bad move, it’s a mistake I sometimes make. Problem is, sometimes it just happens, like, you have your foot here and it’s fine, move it a couple inches this way and suddenly it’s not, and in the moment of the move you fuck up. I do, anyway, and from observing others I know I’m not alone. Most of us just don’t fall in that particular wrong moment. But I did.

Then, as the problem goes, you flip upside down, which can be dangerous. A few years ago I smashed open my head and face rock climbing, though that was a different form of a flip, the fall-out-of-a-heel-hook fall and flip. (Friends don’t let friends heel hook, someone told me later.) Merely a flesh wound, that one. And this one, on Bloodguard, produced no blood, no injuries.

Didn’t even smack my noggin, though this flipping potential is why I usually wear a helmet. Though I’m not one of those non-critical-thinking morons who seems to insist that always wearing a helmet will prevent every injury; that said, I suppose it’s usually a good idea. (Even in the gym?) So is top-roping. Then you eliminate the potential of flipping falling altogether. Maybe we should have gotten to the top and rappelled in to Bloodguard. Or aided up it on perfect gear for two hours, then set a TR. Next time.

Wait a sec. Hold on, what? Oh, OK, yeah, sorry. That was the voice inside my head telling me I got off on another tangent.

Anyway, I was fine, got back on and finished the route, and later saw pictures. Check out the zoomed-in evidence shot of where and how I fucked up. See? If not, have a couple of Sketchy Kellys and look again. See? Also notice the old boxing instincts – keep your chin tucked (but your eyes up) when someone’s swingin’ at ya.

Rad route, dipshit move, fun pants. Cool pictures by CFS, though the light wasn’t great. Later I saw some not-so-cool, wholly unholy pictures that those cretins you see below took with my camera while I was climbing. Friends like these, huh Gary?

That’s right, dude.

Anyway, enough of my senseless prattle. Here’s the goods:

The Sketchy Kelly

“What kind of guy names a drink after himself?” a friend fired at me.

“A guy like me, that’s who. I think I invented it.”

It’s hard to believe that there’s anything new to invent, especially when it comes to booze. Then again, they probably said that before climbing gyms and belay gloves. To be sure, I popped the ingredients into Google, gave it a page, didn’t see anything, and called it good.

As some might know, back in the Missoula days when I started climbing, I’d earned myself a nickname: Sketchy Kelly. As in, “Whatever you do, don’t climb with that Kelly guy, he’s sketchy.” And I was, no doubt. I had no clue about placing good pro, building anchors, safety systems, any of it. I just loved climbing and had far more ambition than skill or sense. Among some friends the nickname stuck, nowadays jokingly (I think…). Here’s an article about the Sketchy Kelly days that I wrote for Alpinist a few years back.

And if I may brag for a moment (why sure, go ahead), I’ll have you know that the Sketchy Kelly is well known to the hotel bartender at the Ventura Beach Marriott. (That’s where I stay for Patagonia meetings.) It’s a fine alternative to non-homemade margaritas. That’s the thing, you can’t trust any old marg, and I have standards. Gin & tonic? That’s hard to fuck up. The Sketchy Kelly is essentially a tasty variation to the G&T, and thus a good option when traveling, or just when lazy. It’s odd, I know, how I’m too picky to drink a marg with anything but fresh limes, but sometimes too lazy to squeeze them.

Without further ado (finally), I’d like to introduce you to my self-discovered, self-named drink. And if it already goes by a different name, dammit, I don’t want to know.

Sketchy Kelly proportions. In a plastic cup with ice combine:

1 part Limeade (1/2 oz) — can’t remember if that’s reconstituted a tad or purely frozen. Basically, it’s sugary lime juice.

1 part Cointreau (1/2 oz) — or a touch more. Like a healthy splash.

4 parts gin (2 oz)

Diet tonic to the top

Diet tonic?, you ask. What kind of man are you? Easy now. Remember, diet makes it taste stronger. Besides, we don’t want sketchy sodapop sugars messing up our upstanding drink.

Don’t fall while drinking it. But if you do, keep your chin tucked and keep fighting.

The Soft Passage of Time

I’ve gotten soft. I have proof. But let’s talk about the weather.

Yes, we’re spoiled here in Colorado, where we’re so accustomed to sunshine that after a couple of consecutive rainy days we grumble, “Might as well move to Seattle with this bullshit.” But now, seriously, for weeks the weather has been better in Seattle. Here in the ‘Rado (brah), it’s snowing, alternating with sleet, as I type this.

Which leads to my said sad softness, which isn’t exactly breaking news. It does, however, allow me to feel better about myself for my love of climbing indoors (on well-set gym routes, anyway) and going for walks (in the rain, lately). I laugh when I imagine the look of abject disgust on the face of my younger self at hearing those words. I remember going for a walk at Lumpy once about fifteen years ago, just to clear my head a bit. It was a rare occasion. On the trail, two of my buddies walked past after their day of climbing, and muttered only an awkward, “Hey Kelly.” They looked confused. When I saw them in the bar that evening, they asked what I was doing. Just going for a nice walk, I said. One of them paused, again looking puzzled. “But you don’t have a girlfriend.”

Anyway, ankle fusion rules, I highly recommend it. I walk for an hour or more on most days, marveling at the simple joy of walking without my bones grating together, and I’ve climbed some longer routes outside without pain. It’s amazing. Maybe I’ll post some photos and an ankle update soon. I’ve got a sweet drink recipe I’ve been meaning to post, though, and I’ll do that first. Tomorrow. Before I climb in the gym.

Maybe this aging-softness thing is all about a state of mind. About being OK with one’s self. It’s a show of growth, of acceptance, yes, passive acceptance as we circle the drain, life’s steady drubbing leaving us alone with no hopes, no dreams. Ahem. I mean, it’s OK if you’re that kind of person, anyway. (And apparently I am.) Pass the Doritos, namaste.

kc - glove IMG_2010 kc - gym IMG_2002

In the gym the other day, my friend commented on my glove. Yes, as further proof of said sad decline I use a belay glove. It’s nicer on the hands (see opening sentence). Ya know, don’t want to muss my manicure. When she smirked and said “nice glove,” naturally my mind went to Spinal Tap. You know, their album Smell the Glove, and What’s wrong with being sexy? SexIST! Yes, the shack days never die, and it’s true that we boys communicate primarily through movie lines. Then I looked down and thought about that ratty old glove.

I don’t get sentimental about clothing, like a special stinky Capilene worn on this or that climb or whatever. I had the experiences I had, and with this glove I’d ripped out the liner and cut off the fingers. But standing there in the gym I chuckled to myself as, for the first time, I thought about the experiences I’d had with this tattered piece of leather. My mind drifted. Breaking into the kitchen atop the Aiguille du Midi with Jonny Copp, before getting busted and being banished to the bathroom bivy; our terrible epic on the north face of Les Droites in winter; our new route, Going Monk (Zoolander fans take note), in Alaska; Jim Earl and I surviving hallucinations, a whipper off the summit, and Jim’s pulmonary edema, with a descent neither of us fully remember in our exhausted states, after putting up a new route in Peru.

These days I dream less about the mountains, though their pull and their enchantment never dies. Sometimes I think how I might like to grow old if I can remain active, can continue doing the things I love.

In the gym that day, it was only for a moment that I paused to stare at my gloved hand. But nostalgia moved through me, feelings of different times and places in my life, many with Jonny. The sweet sorrow of missing somebody rose and then drifted away, even as it stays with me always, and I put my friend on belay for more plastic pulling fun. As I did, for only a moment I thought that this ragged glove is still holding on, I guess, just like the rest of us.