Friday Flick: Sufferfest


An activity whereby all participants ache, agonize, ail, be at a disadvantage, be racked, deteriorate, endure, grieve, languish, and/or writhe… but by co-misery, yet co-hesiveness, will have experienced a grand time. Often survived through sarcasm.

A funny thing happens when we pursue adventure in the outdoors: no matter how bad things go (think sudden lightening storms, early-onset giardia, mosquito swarms of biblical proportions), in the end, the good overshadows the bad and we forget about the hardships, or else turn them into one hell of a barstool story. But what happens when there is no good? When you plan to do something precisely because it sounds so damn bad?

That’s the question climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright were asking themselves during their 2013 bike powered-climbing trip, accurately dubbed “the Sufferfest.” The plan was to climb all of California’s 14ers, but, rather than drive between the peaks, the climbers decided to commute on two wheels—never mind that neither had ever road bike before. Cue sore groins, sunburnt thighs, flat tires, directions up the wrong peak and the realization that they probably underestimated how hard this was going to be.

But, like all great adventures, in the end, they came to appreciate the “fun-when-it’s-over” nature of suffering and finished the trip by setting an epic new freesoloing route on Mount Langley. And, as many times as they wished it was over, it seems their memory is as short-term as the rest of ours: they completed a second sufferfest—this time in the Four Corners region of the US—in March.

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