Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Winding the Winds

Viren motoring to the next climb. George Creek,
California. August 2014. 

I have mixed feelings about climbing with people after Viren has had his way with them. 

Viren Perumal, one of my best buds and a solid guide and instructor, has a very loyal following. He fills his seasons with strong guests on ambitious itineraries, year after year. With my expanding horizons, professionally, I have something to offer his guests now. He referred Phil to me this summer for some Wyoming climbing. 

What are those mixed feelings, you ask? First, I was intimidated. Phil is a huge Viren fan. As am I. Could I hold a candle? Next, it is an absolute pleasure to adventure with such a well-trained climber. Viren has made this guy badass! Phil's rock solid. He's relatively new to climbing, past his Social Security retirement age, and doing it essentially only on yearly vacations. Almost regardless of these qualifiers, his performance is absolutely remarkable. Finally, the itineraries that Phil is accustomed to are brutal! In six days in the Wind River Range we walked almost forty miles and climbed 34 pitches. Phil thinks this is a “normal” climbing vacation. Little does he know that the Viren experience is anything but normal. 

I basically closed out my Wyoming season with a binge in the Wind River Range. A returning client and Phil both booked trips there, and they turned out to be back to back. It was perfect. Now, my departure from the Sierra has been bittersweet. One of the things I miss the most is the amazing alpine granite climbing. The Cirque of the Towers is a little slice of Sierra-worthy granite perfection in the middle of wild Wyoming. Don't tell the Sierra, but Cali doesn't have the lock-down on wild adventure climbing. 
Phil on pitch 12 of 14. East Face, Pingora.
Wind River Range. September 1, 2015

The time with Phil showed me just how valuable excellent climbing instruction is. Our guide community is actively involved in a dialog about the distinction between, and the symbiotic value of both guiding and instruction. Our most recent trade publication, the AMGA's "Guide Bulletin" is entirely devoted to discussing this distinction and diversity. Phil, into middle age was, in his own words, "pathologically acrophobic."  Something about climbing appealed to him, and he had the excellent fortune to tie in with Viren early on. Viren is an educator. He cares about the details, the big picture, and he can articulate it to anyone. Basically, if you are looking to advance your climbing from any level, Viren is your guy. I've learned much from him, and intend to continue to do so. His influence is so strong that simply by climbing with Phil I feel I learned more from Viren over that week. 

Get good climbing instruction. It matters. 

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