The Doug Factor
Anyone who regularly reads this blog has been exposed, at least in words, to my friend Doug. While Mickey Spades is frequently the target of my barbs, the truth is that all of us are somewhat idiosyncratic. The best part about Doug is that he is what I like to call a “maximizer”–he wants to make the most out of every situation, every day, and every moment. With Doug, you never just go north to ski; rather, you go north to ski and stop at Rumney to climb a few pitches on the way home (since you’re already up there anyway). Or, you climb Whitehorse then stop and hike Chocura to break up the ride home. Doug is the human embodiment of the bad Chuck Norris jokes on the internet. For example: Doug doesn’t just hike a mountain, the mountain bows down in defeat to Doug.
On the rare occasion of talking Doug into sport climbing (see here and here), you’d better be prepared for a long day. Doug secretly loves sport climbing (he’s just fooled himself into thinking he doesn’t enjoy it) and is the personification of Newton’s law of motion: once Doug is put in motion, he stays in motion. Doug will either see how many pitches he can climb in a day, want to hike up to the farthest crag to try something he heard about or read on Mountainproject.com, or, just when you think the clock is about to strike beer-thirty, he’ll find a project.
The running joke while climbing the Henderson Ridge a few weeks ago was how many pitches we could have climbed at Rumney at any given point of the day. I was pretty sure my “Rumney Day” may have been ending by the time we actually started climbing that day. While trudging along faint climber paths in search of an obscure route or crag Doug wants to visit, I am often left wondering, why aren’t we roping up at the Parking Lot wall or bouldering at Lincoln Woods?
Knowing all of this about Doug, I was shocked when he agreed to a rather mundane day of sport climbing at Farley last week…and even more shocked by his mellow pace taken during the day. Maybe it was the group dynamic of the day, with the group consisting of regular climbers, semi-regular climbers, and a new climber, or maybe it was that we had a few significant others with us. (Although that has never stopped Doug from dropping the hammer in the past; just ask Ashley). Nonetheless, Doug took a relaxed attitude toward the the day, which was something I always thought I’d be happy to see. Instead, it has left me a little freaked out. The Doug I know does not take it easy.
The strange thing is that while I always believe that I want to take the easy way out–fewer pitches, shorter approach, relaxed climbing–the truth is that I secretly love the epic days that are the result of Doug’s psych and drive. Doug’s motivation has certainly pushed me to do some things I would not have attempted otherwise, which is why it was so concerning to see Doug take it slow. What if the tide has turned and Doug’s motivation is no longer the driving force? What if somehow my lethargy has rubbed off on him? If so, are we doomed to repeat the same routes and problems of our local haunts over and over.
I’m hopeful that this past trip was an anomaly and the next time we head out Doug will be making me yearn to be climbing in the gym, riding my bike, or basically doing anything else. And, despite my protests, deep down I will be glad to be there.