So after it’s over, there’s the mental, physical, and emotional aftermath. When I drove away this year I actually broke down in tears driving to the airport in release from all of the shit that occurred. Seeing friends, climbing hard, having a great time, laughing endlessly, and proving yet again I’m better than I thought I was. Mentally it always feels surreal that it’s over. There’s a staunch dividing line between life immediately before the competition and immediately after. Aside from all of the training which I use to prepare for the competition, it takes so much time thinking about it, discussing strategies, planning, organizing that it’s hard to even compare to immediately after, when you’re done. And I mean done. If you truly put yourself into it, if you go through all of the pain and suffering and actually test yourself, it’s so very much rewarding.
In past years I’ve always thought during the competition that it really sucks and that I hate it and then I love it after. I think they call that Type II fun. This year was different in that it was fun while I did it, and looking back it was as awesome as I remember. I hope you take away from it what I did.
All of that being said, this is the second time I’ve ended up with peripheral neuropathy in my toes from the competition. My shoes end up becoming waterlogged somehow and I end up developing trench foot. Basically, through waterlogging my skin and repeated use from climbing, the flesh in my toes and the bottom of my feet starts sloughing off. It’s really painful and highly unpleasant. This year we almost quit for medical reasons because I realized my feet were repeating what happened in 2014. It took two years to heal completely from that, and now I can’t feel my toes anymore.
I’ve attached photos of what my hands look like 14 days after the competition. You can see what areas developed the most callus and then where they peeled off the most in response. It corresponds directly to where I taped, if you compare them to the previous picture of my hands taken immediately after checking in at 10 AM.
Otherwise, the rest of my body was fine. I wasn’t sore in any muscle on my body and didn’t have any muscular issues. My partner said he was sore all over and really felt it. He says we just trained differently, though after this many years I’ve learned to train the way the comp actually feels. It was his first year, so next year he’ll be more ready to go hard with me. In the intervening three weeks, I added about 3 pounds of muscle in the parts of my body which ended up getting used the most.
I hope your competition ends the same way mine did: fruitfully. I hope you are safe and healthy and nothing bad happened. I’ll see you next year my friend. Be sure to come give me a hug if you’ve read this far, even if I’m basically naked.
Follow this guide at your own risk. I approach 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell each year with the knowledge and certainty that I will die at the Ranch. I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean it literally. The techniques and information in this guide is liable and likely to actually kill you. Follow any advice or reasoning here within at your own risk and I am not responsible for your behavior or actions as a result of doing this. Accidents happen, rocks break, ropes tear, quickdraws fail, worn carabiners snap. If anything in here seems unsafe to you, then do whatever you need to in order to be safe. Your margin of safety is entirely different than mine. This guide is designed for moving as fast as literally possible while maintaining the basic-needs of rule-following and avoiding unnecessary risk. Some things we do are extremely risky, but we have thought through all angles to maximize safety outside objective risks. For your own safety, don’t try this at home, and please don’t actually climb like we do, unless you’re willing to actually die for the sake of 5 minutes saved. I accept no liability and this advice is entirely theoretical. Any nonconstructive arguments you want to make about this document will be kindly and thoroughly ignored.
Table of Contents
- Logistics and Equipment
- The Circles of Hell
- Before Arrival (Week before Hell)
- Night Before the 12 (Wednesday Night)
- Morning of the 12 (Thursday Morning)
- Climbing the 12 (Thursday)
- Night of the 12 and before the 24 (Thursday Night)
- Morning of the 24 (Friday Morning)
- Climbing the 24 (Friday Morning to Saturday Morning)
- Immediately after the 24 (Saturday Morning)
- Dinner/Awards/Party (Saturday Night)
- Last Breakfast (Sunday Morning)
- Videos and Stories about Hell