A Deal with the Devil

Last weekend Rob Frost called and asked if I wanted to head to Devil’s Tower to shoot two 75 year old men, Eric and Jeremy, climbing a summit route. Before he even told me the pay rate I was on board. The last few months have consisted primarily of desk work… the dreary and anaerobic task of editing video and photos… This summer has been the most stagnant few months since I moved to Boulder four years ago and by far the longest period of uninterrupted time I’ve spent stifled in the bubble. While its been a good opportunity to sink my roots a little deeper, being plagued by injuries and days/weeks/months in the office has been difficult for me. So I jumped at the chance to get out for a couple days of adventure in a location I’ve always wanted to explore.

 

On the drive Rob filled me in with the details of the shoot: two men from north Wales celebrating their 75th birthdays by renting Harley’s, riding to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, and climbing the damn thing to the top. They turned out to be incredibly vital old men, with more energy and zeal than either Rob or I could muster during the two 13 hours days of shooting. They were always awake before us and always ready to burn into the late hours of the night over beers and conversation. It was incredibly inspiring. And they made the climbing look easy, despite their inexperience with what they called “American crack climbing.” As it turns out, Eric is a legendary climber, with solos of the Eiger, many expeditions to Patagonia, and innumerable ascents in the Alps to his name. But you’ve never met a more humble man.

We got to the summit, they each shed a tear at the actualization of one of their few remaining life-long dreams, and we rappelled 1,200 feet back to terra firma. I’ve wanted to stand on top of that tower ever since 2006 when I first saw it from I-90, and I couldn’t have done it with a finer team.

Back in the office today, I processed a quick assortment of photos from the trip to include in this post. The weather was perfect, the leaves were exploding, and the experience was eye opening, filming two men three times my age romp up one of the most classic tower routes in the world.

Half way up, Jeremy turned to me and said, “We’re old because we’re cautious,” and I was struck by the irony of the inverse of his statement, which would have been a far easier and conventional turn of phrase – but that’s not why they were there, half way across the world in the wide open country of the American west to push their limits and challenge the idea that human beings ever have to grow old. I realize now that Adventure (with a capital A) really is the fountain of youth.

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