I think that the most important issue facing humanity is climate change or sort of environmental degradation more broadly, let's say, and at the same time, I think there's no point in trying to solve environmental problems that don't also improve quality of life that I help the human population. And so, you know, I think that when you focus on environmental issues, it's important to also sort of focus on equity issues, like all humans should be entitled to certain standards of living.
And so I think that if you're trying to solve environmental issues without also focusing on the equity side by making sure that all humans are equally able to take care of themselves, you know, basically it is not fair to not do this both at the same time. And so that sort of informed the initial projects from the foundation is like looking for environmental projects that also improve standard of living like helped folks. And over the years, we basically always wind up choosing solar projects because they just often are the most elegant solutions to those kinds of problems.
And we're like, good for the environment, good for people, you know, clear win win. And then after several years of supporting a bunch of different solar projects, we were like, we should just make this explicit. So at a certain point, I just think solar is such an obvious solution to many human problems. I'm Alex Arnold and this is the Rich Rural podcast. The Rich Roll podcast. Yeah, buddy, that's right, it's true, the Free Soul, a free solo global icon of athletic mastery, Alex Honnold is indeed back and in the house.
I think at this point we can dispense with the bio, right? We all saw his death and gravity defying, hopeless ascent of El Cap on the big screen. It's a feat that landed free solo, a documentary Oscar, of course, and cemented Alex as truly one of the greatest athletes of all time. Alex came on the podcast three years ago. That was March of twenty eighteen after his big climb, but actually before the movie had come out or I had had the opportunity to see the movie, to talk about all the things that he's been talking about ever since the film's release, his life, his relationship with fear and the pursuit of mastery.
But I would suggest considering episode three fifty one as just a primer, because today we explore a new side of Alex. A lot has happened since the whole free solo affair, obviously. So this conversation takes a little bit of a different tack, steering somewhat clear of the more Waltraud terrain and topics that Alex has exhaustively fielded at this point to explore some of his life experiences and other interests. Post free solo as a storyteller, as a new podcast host, a climbing historian, an environmentalist, activist, husband and more.
It's such a good one, definitely distinct from other conversations with Alex you may have enjoyed. And it's coming up in a few minutes. But first, we're brought to you today by my Fungai loving friends at four stigmatic, the makers of the world's most delicious mushroom coffee. They're really fun guys. They are fun guys. Get it? Oh, how many times have I hammered home that joke? You're just getting it now that I'm right. I just figured it out for sake.
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OK, so this conversation is basically free, solo, free, focusing instead on Alix's environmental work with the Honold Foundation. We talk about the challenges of combating climate change and why his current focus and passion is on solar and renewable energy. We also discuss his new turn as a podcast or cohosting the newly released Climbing Gold, which is this special mini series of climbing centric stories that explore the past, present and future of the sport. In addition, among other subjects.
Alex shares some interesting insights into climbing debut at the Tokyo Olympics. But overall, this is a conversation about the responsibility of adventure. It's not enough to simply appreciate our natural world. We must also care for it, protect it, preserve it, regenerate it, all of us, and with our full attention.
Alex is somebody I deeply admire, he's wise, he's remarkable, and my hope is that this conversation will inspire you to think more deeply about how you can positively impact the world we all share. So, ladies and gentlemen, this is me and Alexander. Cool, man, are we good? Our rolling excellent man. Yeah, we're already recording. Good to see you. Good to see you. Do I need to worry about where anything is or.
I don't think so. I just worry about where the mic is. You know that because now you're a professional podcast. Well, I don't really do the the technical side of it. I actually do have to talking to a mic, though, I bring nothing to the team except for the witty banter with the guys. Well, I listen to like the first little like the little trailer thing. And it's, you know, you do the little like, hey, is this thing on?
Or like, let's do take two or whatever, you know, which is fun.
I actually I don't know if I heard you. You have. Oh, you haven't even listen to your own podcast yet.
Well, I've been I've been gone.
But the idea I mean, it's called climbing gold. The idea was the idea at the inception that I was going to be more about the Olympics and then the pivot a little bit.
Yeah, exactly. The idea for the podcast was to focus on the the road to the Olympics, sort of the build up, because going into 2020, it felt like climbing was having a huge moment. It's funny, I'm on the board of a climbing gym organization as well. And and it felt like it was this huge moment for climbing. Is climbing in the Olympics the first time and it's like going off. Obviously covid changed that quite a bit.
And so when we started talking about doing a podcast, it made sense is like to to explore sort of the history and the future of climbing during this moment. And then when the Olympics got pushed because covid we sort of went forward with it anyway, mostly because we felt like there were still interesting stories to tell. Yeah, but so now we're still doing I think we're doing 20 episodes in the second ten or focused more on the lead up to the Olympics.
Which so it's sort of like the history and the untold stories and the kind of things that happen because so much of climbing occurs outside of the spotlight of the media completely and so much of climbing history has occurred before. There was media to some extent, you know, before things were easily recorded or, you know, did you find and shared and and so there just so many classic climbing stories that are sort of lost to history a little bit. So is it's pretty fun to uncover some of those and share some.
And so did you have to be like a journalist and go and find these people and talk to them and have them tell their stories like a very unprofessional journalist, like a very unskilled journalist. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Journalism. What? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You know, we it's not fair to say that we did any journalism, but we you know, we did seek out interesting guests in different spaces. And I think the thing that we're trying to sort of add to the space of climbing, podcasting, as it were, is a little bit more editing and a little bit more of a thematic focus like, you know, having multiple voices from different people in the same episode, talking about specific themes to sort of help educate about certain aspects of climbing and share a little bit about where we're climbing these come from.
And your co-host, has he he did another podcast, right? Dirtbag Diaries. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So my my co-host is a Fitzcarraldo who's an actual professional podcast. He actually knows what he's doing. He's the one that sent me the microphone that I used and told me how to set it up and how to use everything. And yeah, he's the one that really I mean, it really the whole reason the podcast exists is because he he approached me about working on a project together and I was like, oh, he's the perfect person to work with because he already knows how to do it.
Was there an original plan before the Olympics got push that you would go to Tokyo and B, make covering the climbing competition there, part of the podcast?
So, so fun story. I am actually supposed to be going to Tokyo to do commentary for the Olympic channel. So technically I have a contract already with the actual Olympic Committee or whatever to go do that, do commentary for climbing. And so part of doing the podcast was because I personally felt like it would be a great way to learn how to commentate. You know, I don't know anything about sports accommodation, but I figured I'd learn before the Olympics.
And so the podcast seemed like a really great way to get to know some of the back story, meet some of the competitors, learn about their process. And, you know, so as it turns out, we haven't focused on that so far because the Olympics got pushed. I just decided to kind of wait and see on that side. But it's almost better this way because that's where the episodes that we have recorded are like the deeper back story and then allows us to sort of set the stage that when we get to the Olympic side of the podcast, there's already a good context for us.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So somebody who doesn't know anything can listen to that. And then by the time the competition starts, they feel like they have a context, I think. And that's that's exactly the hope is that somebody who's interested in the outdoors and has maybe climbed once or, you know, just sort of a general interest, could listen to the podcast, understand and appreciate the stories and still feel like they learned something important about the sport.
How do you feel in general about climbing, being in the Olympics? I'm pretty into it. I mean, there are a lot of climbers, particularly older climbers, that are sort of crusty about it. I think that it's a you know, degrades the sport in some way or sort of or really the fact that I'm calling climbing a sport. I think some. Climbers would take take take umbrage with that, you know, because a lot of people consider climbing more of a lifestyle or more like an adventure, but, you know, I come from a gym climbing background.
I grew up going to a climbing gym. So I've always thought of climbing, at least in some part, as a sport. And so I'm excited about the Olympics. I mean, I'm psyched to go to see it as I saw a rendering of the venue looked incredible. Yeah, I haven't seen a huge, like, amphitheater with the walls and like, you know, the seating. I don't know what it's going to be like now that they're restricting kind of attendance.
Right. Like, if you're a foreigner, you can't go or there'd be enough domestic attendance that it'll still be crazy. Yeah. I mean, climbing in Japan is a big deal, is it? Yeah, it's really popular. And Japanese competitors have sort of dominated the World Cup scene for the last few years, which I think is maybe part of the reason that the climbing is in the Olympics in Tokyo this year, because I think the host country has some influence on it.
But yeah, Japanese competitors will likely do very well and will likely have enthusiastic support from the home crowd.
Yeah, well, what's what's interesting about it now being a sport where there's the controversy of it being a sport to begin with and then there's controversy around how they're constructing the competition. Right. You have these three events essentially like Speed Boulder lead, and it's kind of your your cumulative score across those three disciplines that determines your ranking. Yeah, that's exactly it. And so it's a slightly confused system in some ways. I mean, I think it's skewed towards doing it fast, though.
Which is kind of, you know, sort of like should we just dive into it slightly? Yeah. Like this is like inside baseball. But this is interesting and especially since the Olympics are going to be happening and we're all going to be watching this. And actually so yeah, I'll dive into like the the nitty gritty of climbing scoring. But I think what's interesting about it is that you can kind of apply this to all sports because like the decathlete or the biathlon or whatever, like to some extent any sport you see in the Olympics is being arbitrarily scored in a way that the competitors or at least the organizing committees have agreed upon.
And so any sport that you're watching is slightly arbitrary, you know. Yeah, I mean, other than just the purely elemental, like swimming, you know, or running like strictly for speed. Other than that, you're always getting into formatting issues and like, you know, it's just it's just interesting. And so with with climbing, like you said, it's the combination of the three disciplines. It's a combined format, but it's actually you multiply the scores in them.
And so it's sort of disproportionately weights excellence in specific categories in a weird way. Right. And so in theory, if someone's average, someone's pretty good at all three disciplines like they get fourth in all three, I think that's great. But it actually they would do worse than someone who was a great speed climber, but but not as good as the other two disciplines. So it's kind of weird formatting style that favors, you know, dominance in one category.
And that's one of the reasons that a lot of climbers have complained about speed climbing being included, because most people focus on the other two aspects. Most people focus on bouldering and lead climbing and sort of exclude speed coming. Right. And so by combining them all into this combined format is suddenly forced these otherwise elite competitors to sort of learn this new sport. Right. They don't really want. Right. Like like trying to tell a middle distance runner that suddenly they have to be 100 meter sprinter.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's not a yeah. It's like telling a middle distance runner that all of a sudden they're going to have to do one hundred meter sprint and that's going to count into their score. You know, they're like physiologically it's different things, you know, and more than the physiological difference, there's also a skill difference with the climbing speed coming, because the the speed wall for climbing is like a specific track. Basically, it's a specific sequence of movements.
So you do have to learn that track, like learn how to jump between the holds. Well, and so it's made for TV because you have two people right next to each other scurrying up the wall. That's something sensible. Yeah. Me, me personally. Five seconds or something. Yeah, exactly. That's exactly. Yeah. Five seconds up. A 15 year wall looks completely insane. Yeah. So for me as a spectator, I think it's awesome.
Right. Like it's easy to understand. It's incredibly it's an incredible display of athleticism. Like when you see people speed climbing at an elite level, you're like that guy is a good athlete, you know, just hands down. And, you know, I can understand why the climbing competitors aren't into it, but I'm like, I don't know. From outside perspective, it looks amazing. It's great for TV. It's easy to understand. And I kind of like the well rounded, you know, the fact that it forces the competitors to be well rounded.
Right. You know. Right.
It's like just making like swimming or track and field where these would be individual events. So that's part of the thing is that because climbing is an exhibition sport in twenty twenty, they're only the sport is only allowed one medal. And so that's why they did a combined format because that way had they just excluded speed altogether the. It's not fair to the speed athletes, but, you know, with only one medal. Like, how are you going to do it?
So they just kind of won. Yeah.
So the other one is how far you can climb, like the height that you can climb in a six minute interval or something like that node's.
So lead climbing and bouldering both basically. So lead climbing is climbing a taller wall with a rope bouldering is climbing a short while without a rope. And both of those are basically just measures of pure difficulty. So the bouldering, the boulder routes that you have to climb are incredibly difficult. And so they they're like a test of max physical power. So it's almost like power lifting, but with an incredible amount of, you know, gymnastic skill and technique built into it.
And then the lead climbing wall is the same thing. But on a higher you know, because you're climbing higher, it's more of an endurance test. Right.
So are any of them scored like dieting, though, with like, you know, numbers or is it all on a watch?
No, they are you know, they are scoring the numbers, but they're scored by numbers because you basically count how many holds up the route. You make it OK. So if the lead route is 50, holds long like 50 hand movements up, your score is basically, you know, which hand movement you made it to before you fall off. Right. But but in general, if you see somebody successfully climb from the bottom to the top, they're basically going to win.
Like if someone makes it to the top. You like that, guys? The champions. The dude. Yeah.
Who are the who are the standouts like? Are there any run away like favorites here. Uh, yeah. Yeah, they're careful. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. I'm like, yeah. Noga so there's I mean this is a real test of my future Olympic Committee. So I go, here you go. But let's just say good bye bye, August. I will be much better versions guy but um. But so the three, four men, the three that come to mind right now that are obvious down standouts are Japanese man named Timo Narasaki, who dominated World Cup scene incredible boulder, but also happens to be a very good speed climber.
So he kind of has this this leg up in the combine format where he can really win in any of the three disciplines, which makes him incredibly competitive. And then there is Adam Endre, who's Czech climber, the Czech Republic, who is arguably the best climber in the world. He's he's pushed the standards of difficulty twice now, like breaking into new categories of difficulty for climbing. And he's also repeated all the hardest walls in the world. And he's an incredible climber.
And he basically won all the World Cups that he entered last year. I mean, he's or the year before last. And so they kind of cancel the covid season. But incredible climber, not a great speed climber, sort of a self-described poor speed climber, which is ironic because he actually climbs very, very fast, but he's just not good at the sport of speed coming know. I mean, which is that's where all this stuff gets so weird because any casual climber looking at him under a climb would be like, wow, he's so fast.
But then when it comes to speed climbing, he just doesn't quite sprint fast enough. Right. It's like it's so weird.
I would think that over time, though, once this becomes institutionalized as an Olympic sport going forward, that young people who get enthusiastic about this are going to be doing almost all of their training and learning in an indoor climbing wall. Right. Like what is the relationship between outdoor climbing and kind of, you know, how you I mean, I know you do a lot of indoor climbing, but essentially you're an outdoor climber. Yeah, I'm I'm essentially an adventurer.
You know, by the standards of Olympic competition, I'm not even a climber. Like, I'm not even climbing at the difficulty that these competitors warm up on, basically.
But a relationship to climbing is one of adventure and outdoors more than it is about an indoor climbing. Yeah, yeah. I bridgid a little bit because I came from the indoor world. I still love climbing indoors. I still train in, you know, a similar way to competitors, but just at a much lower level. But at least I'm still trying to do the same things. But yeah, it is interesting. I mean, and that's a big part of what we we get into in the podcast.
Talking mountain climbing gold is this contrast between adventure and athleticism and and, you know, like where is the sport going? Because like you said, people that get into it now, get into it in the gym and train indoors. Mm hmm. And I mean, it's just interesting that an Olympic climber could potentially never climb outdoors, you know, and then even more interesting when you think that the history of rock climbing sort of branches off from from classical mountaineering and like people summoning peaks in the Alps and things like that.
And when you think that an Olympic rock climber nowadays could have never even hiked up a mountain outside, you know, never, never even gone hiking like divorced from that entire tradition. Yeah. Which I'm not saying that's good or bad, but it's just interesting to see how the the sport has has sort of splintered over time. Yeah. Yeah. It's cool that it's in there though. And I guess there's you know, there's when you look at Tokyo, there's there's karate, skateboarding, surfing.
Right. Yeah. A lot of things have changed quite a bit. As they should, that's Olympics should reflect the times that you know and, you know, in the 40s or 50s, the Olympics included mountaineering. They gave medals for mountaineering back in the day. Wow. You know, when you think of old school like the first ascent of the Eiger and things like that, like classic mountains and in Europe, like those received Olympic medals, something I didn't know that, you know, and that went away.
And that feel that feels like a story you should tell in the podcast.
Yeah. Yeah. We haven't gotten into it, but but we probably will.
Well, what does the podcast launch like. Like the podcast. Yeah, I think at the end of the month. So, so I think the twenty sixth of March is the first episode, but honestly I'm involved with the whole launch. Come on. You know you're the host though. No, but I'm, I'm the unskilled. Everybody's got a podcast. Come on.
Just I that you know, it's been fun though because you know, so many of our guests, I mean people get to talk to our personal heroes of mine from childhood, you know, people whose films I watch, your books I read or whose posters I had in my room, things like that. And so it's fun to be able to talk to them about how they got into climbing and what it means to them and just hear some of their opinions about where the sports going.
Right. Because so many of them, like, that's my hero, you know. Yeah, that's cool. What do you think this whole thing is that I've created? It's like the ultimate excuse to, like, call up cool people. Yeah. And talk to them. And then you get to share that, like, imagine yourself, you know, young Alex at age 12, if a resource like that had been available to you, didn't, like, be the person that you needed when you were that young person, like searching for the thing for, you know, I mean, that is cool.
And it's interesting because I think a big part of what made me somewhat successful as a climber in my life was the fact that I had access to a climbing gym earlier than most. And the gym, the climbing gym that I was going to had, you know, it had a little gear shop built in. It had this little video display constantly going with certain climbing films. You'd always see, like certain climbing films going, you know, old school VHS.
Right. This is awesome, super inspiring. And, you know, I'd be climbing and then I'd bike ride all the climbing magazines and watch the films. And, you know, to have that opportunity as a young person, you know, is a big part of what allowed me to to become a decent climber. Yeah. Like and nowadays people have that, you know, exponentially more of that, like more access to information, more climbing footage available to them.
Yeah, it's cool. And they've way better facilities like way better gyms. Well, the gyms seem to be ubiquitous these days. Yeah. And not just more common, but just better, you know, better lit, more open, cleaner like nicer, better holds, better setting, like higher quality training facilities, better pads, like better flooring, which is a big deal. You know, I broke my arm in the gym when I was a kid, not so much because the flooring was bad.
But that kind of thing does factor in, you know, like if you can safely climb in a like basically modern gyms are just safe and so you can climb, you can push yourself super hard physically with no risk of injury. You know, when you were doing the free solo tour, I mean, it would be you would share like in every city that you would go to for the tour. And it was all about like, where's the climbing gym?
Like the workout that day for the screening or what I've sampled like almost every day, every climbing gym in America, it feels like. Yeah, but actually there's so many gyms in America now that I've probably sampled the tiny percentage, actually. But it is true that every major city in the country I've sampled the gym because I typically would land. I would go from the airport straight to the gym. I would train, I take a shower at the gym.
I would go straight to the venue, do whatever event I was supposed to do. And they basically either go to a hotel or go back to the airport. Right. But it's like gyms have always felt like a second home to me, almost. You know, I walk into a climbing gym anywhere and I'm like, home sweet home. You know, I take your shoes off, I wander around. I don't buy stuff everywhere. But it has to be complicated with you now because if you just want to go and get a workout in, you're going to have to be a bit of a politician for a while first, right?
Depends. Depends. You know, where you heard you have your you keep your head down. You just, like, climb, right? Yeah, to some extent. It's always a little bit of a scene. But but on the other hand, any gym in the country, I mean, everyone's there to do the same thing as you like. It is nice because you're all just there to climb together. Right. So when you get past the initial like, oh, what do you do in here?
That's crazy. Can I take a picture?
Ultimately, you're like, let's just set all these boulders together. Yeah. Because it's like we're all just there to do something. Well, it's been a crazy couple of years for you. The first time that you did the show, we talked about the free solo climb, but it was before the movie came out. I know. I remember that. Yeah. Yeah. So I just remember thinking that I had a grip on what it is exactly that you had done and feeling confident that I understood it.
And then you invited me to the premiere.
I remember in Beverly Hills that screening and I watched the movie and I was like, oh, I didn't understand it at all. I'm sure I still don't.
But the movie took it quite a bit further in terms of getting me to fully grok what had actually happened. And then, of course, you know, your stories were all told with everything that happened with the movie. And you went on this crazy press tour and. Eight bazillion interviews and I sure completely talked out on this movie. So I want to talk about other stuff today. But before we kind of move off of free solo, I mean, in the wake of being so exhaustively interviewed about that, do you feel like there's anything left to say or anything left unsaid or anything, you know, looking back on it, that you feel like people misunderstood about the movie or you?
Or is it just your time for the next chapter?
No, I think I think it's all pretty. It's been said. Yeah, well, I mean, I think part of why the film did so well is that it is an incredibly honest look at the process, you know, leading up to free soloing up. So I don't know. I've got nothing but positive. You know, it's like the the media tour around. It was crazy. And like going to the Oscars is crazy and, you know, meeting Prince William or whatever, you know, because we want a BAFTA.
So like here in the U.K., like meeting royalty or whatever, like it's all totally crazy whirlwind tour. But but I can still look back on it and be happy about the whole thing, you know, because I am, you know, understandably proud of free song, OK? Like, it was something very difficult that I worked hard for that I'm proud of. And I think the film reflected that really well, you know, and very honestly.
And so I'm proud of it. I'm proud of the whole deal. It's like at school it was a I mean, manono. I mean, everybody was talking about this movie for a documentary to break out like that was just extraordinary. Yeah. I mean, I don't you know, I was like so in it that I can't really say, you know, like, I was just surviving. The tour is like such a whirlwind. But but I know now looking back on it with a little bit of perspective a few years away, you know, I'm like, what a life experience.
Like, what a crazy whirlwind. Crazy. I mean, before the movie was made, I joked that all I wanted was to see El Cap on IMAX, not just because El Capitan is the most meaningful wall in the world. It's like the most beautiful, iconic face. And to see it on the biggest possible screen, I was like, that's that's cool. Right? And and sure enough, Risala showed on IMAX and I got to see the movie on IMAX a couple of times and I was like, this is so awesome.
You know, it's just it's cool. I was like, oh, we did the wall justice. We did you Yosemite Justice. It's like, I'm pretty proud of that. Yeah. And you did the world of climbing justice. I mean, you it was it was so effective in introducing the magnitude of what you do to the world and what's so, you know, kind of cherished about the community or maybe too effective because then everyone that doesn't know anything about climbing, they're like, you know, so do you use a rope?
And you're like, yeah, mostly use of rope. It's just it's one crazy movie like having to because I know a lot of my serious climbing friends, you know, their families watched the movie and they're like, is that what you're doing? And they're like, no, no, that's not what I'm doing. Right. But and that's not even what I'm mostly doing because I'm typically climbing with partners and, you know, training and just like climbing normally.
But but obviously the documentary is focused entirely on this. Yeah. You know, this one sort of quixotic goal. Yeah, but but you know, even that I mean, they filmed for two years, you know, the preparation, training and getting ready for that climb. And then and I did maybe a half dozen sort of cutting edge free solos to build up to that. But still, that's like seven days of soloing in the two years that we were filming.
You know, so you watch the film and you're like, he's a crazy soulless. And you're like, yeah, you know, for seven days out of ten years, like, you know, you got to keep in keep in perspective. Right. Right.
So you go from being, you know, this living a certain kind of lifestyle to be the climber that you are. And then you have this whirlwind crazy like Hollywood year where you're just like on planes and, you know, going I mean, your life is upside down. So I would suspect that the pandemic, for better or worse, is kind of suited you to like get back to just doing what you do and like being left alone so you can just climb and live your life.
Yeah, that's it has. Yeah. I mean, so I live in Las Vegas and and through the whole pandemic, even during like lockdowns and shutdowns and everything, outdoor recreation was always explicitly allowed in the state of Nevada. So combined with the fact there's almost limitless rock around town, it was always totally OK for us to go out and develop some new climbing areas and go climbing and do things near the house. And so it was an incredible place to live.
Yeah, I mean, the whole pandemic for me has just been sort of returning to roots. You know, I have no obligations. I go climb every day. I explore new Craggs, you know, develop new climbs just like, you know, it's not that bad. And I know that's an incredibly fortunate position to be in, though. It's also I mean, you know, I do live there for a reason. It's like, you know, I move there because it's the best rock and because of that degree of access.
And you're married now? Oh, yeah, I'm married. Yeah. Yeah. That also happened. Like, that's the thing is, I mean, personally, it's been kind of a good year. Yeah. But Right. Yeah. But it's like embarrassing to say so because obviously there's been so much hardship for so many other people. But you know, sometimes things just work out and I like nothing wrong. So how are you. How are you settling in.
How's Sonia doing. Yeah, it's good. On Zonies, actually, Graziani is in a weird like I don't know of podcast listeners care about this kind of thing, but she's like climbing really hard right now, which is like started this whole interesting positive feedback thing where because she's really strong, she's like more excited about it because it's like more fun for me and which makes her more excited to train harder, which is making her stronger. She's like in this total positive phase of life right now where she's like really crankin.
She's like climbing her hardest grades. She's all fired up. Like, that's cool. Yeah. We just train in the gym last night and she was like. Performing to a degree that was like, huh? Yeah, you know, because I've been going on an expedition for a month and she's been basically just like cranking for the month. I was gone. Right.
I came home and I'm like, whoa, she was she even a climber? When you guys first met? She had barely started climbing with me for sure. Her sister was into it. And her cousin just basically like her family, got her into it a tiny bit. And then when we started dating, obviously, she started climbing more. Yeah, that's good. Yeah. Now she's like pretty good into it. Yeah.
It's like anything you get good at it, you get strong and then you're more and then you're more connected to.
Yeah of course I excited. Yeah. And I think for her, you know, I don't know for sure, but I think as she started climbing there was a little more fear involved. You know, it's like his climbing is kind of serious and kind of hardcore. And and I think that because she was dating me, she kind of like went into the deep end right away and was maybe exposed to, like, a little too much of the, like, hardcore side of climbing straight away.
And I think now is she gets like stronger and more able and can, like, do more as a climber. It's all like much less scary. Right. And so it's like obviously more fun when you're not scared at all. It's like she's doing it in reverse, like she was free soloing. How can I now work our way backwards to the climbing gym? Yeah, no, I mean, it kind of is certainly psychologically. I think that's right.
That's funny. And there's some degree of luck involved with it all, too, because like because she's been connect with me for years. And I know like basically everybody in the climbing community over the last few years, there were sort of like a series of unfortunate accidents where, like people, prominent climbers died in various ways. And so, you know, all of those sorts of accidents like affected her personally in a way that had she just started climbing in the gym and not knowing me, she wouldn't know any of the people and it wouldn't have touched her quite as much.
I don't know. That's the kind of thing that you're like, oh, you know, this is a world that you're in, though. Yeah. Yeah, well, but there is a degree of luck to that because for several years it seemed like really bad weather, like there were just a bunch of high profile accidents that were kind of terrible. But then you can go five years and have nobody that, you know, die. You know, it's I don't know.
Yeah, but it's it's one of the few sports where that, like, what you just said would even come up. Yeah, well, I don't know if your road biking all the time. Yeah, that's true. That's true. There was just a terrible road biking thing in Vegas. The like totally shook the school out and that was like a truck basically like drove over like seven cyclists on a group run and killed six of them or something.
It was like, crazy man. But we're hearing that I know those things. I'm always like, oh, and you're having your bike. Like, I've noticed that you've done like during the pandemic. You kind of have created. Yeah. Guyana, but you've kind of created these dance challenges for yourself. Like, I'm going to ride my bike one hundred miles and then climb a mountain and ride home in the dark.
Yeah, that's that sums it up. Well, you know, because if you live in one place and you don't have access to big mountains, you can at least make the mountains that you do have challenging in an appropriate way. But it's like, yeah, I'm going to show up exhausted, see how I do. And it's I really love challenges that you can do from home when you just bike out of your driveway and then have this crazy epic day in the mountains, then bike back to your home and, you know, to be able to do that in the suburbs in Las Vegas, it's pretty awesome.
Yeah. You know, you're like biking along surface streets, just like and especially in Vegas. I actually ride on the sidewalk a lot, which is kind of embarrassing, but it's the best way to not get hit by a car. I feel like a little kid or something. You know, he's like afraid to bike in the shoulder. But but there are big sections of Vegas where it's definitely safer to ride the sidewalks. And, you know, you're like, this is totally absurd.
But then three hours later, you're grinding up this crazy hill like a mountainside. And then, you know, a couple hours after that, you're like hiking through the woods by yourself. Yeah. And you're like, it's pretty amazing to have that kind of access. We'll be right back, but right now, let's talk about Novartis Organics, find purveyors of delicious and uber potent organic super foods from cocoa powder to chia seeds, hemp seeds and golden berries.
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Both L, L and D Branch Dotcom promo code rich roll. All right, let's get back to the show. Silkie do. So let's talk about Guyana. You were like off the grid for like a month. Yeah, it's like Nat Geo project. Can you talk about that or. I think so. I mean, who's going to stop me? I don't know. Yeah, I'm not. Yeah, exactly. No, no. I think it's all there's no network bosses to call here and tell you to shut up.
Yeah, no, I think it's far. Yes, it was. It was being filmed for an episode of National Geographic Explorer, um, which I think is a series is being filmed by some friends of mine. And it was a crazy trip. Yeah. So we flew into Guyana, into Georgetown, and then the goal was to climb this to Puea, which is like a big sandstone wall, sort of quartzite sandstone wall that sticks out of the jungle.
And there are a bunch of movies that are kind of scattered across Venezuela and Guyana and Brazil, actually. Have you seen the movie up? They're like charming Disney movie, the Pixar movie with room with, like floating balloon house, like overnight. Those are two babies. So that's like what we were trying to go, wow. Or have you seen the new point break that was also found like in there's something like that in Avatar, too. Like, no, he's like, no, the ones in Avatar modeled on this area in China, that's like limestone.
It's like a different it's caused in a different way, like it's a different geological process that creates the Avatar Mountains. But no. Yeah, it is kind of a similarly surreal mountain landscape with dense jungle around it. But anyway, so we were going to climb this wall that hadn't been climbed. And then we also had this sort of renowned biologist with us, this guy, Bruce Means, who had done extensive work researching the frog species in the area.
So he was going to sort of finish this transactive of the river basin that this wall formed the top of. And he was basically researching different species of frog along the way. And so it was kind of a combined trip where we were going to get him up the wall so that he could find some of the frogs on the summit and possibly on the cliff itself. So it's like adventure meets science. Yeah, we're just sort of the perfect Nagios thing, you know.
It's like adventurous, but there's a strong educational scientific component to it.
And why had that why had those peaks not been climbed before? So that particular peak hadn't been climbed? I think largely because it's next to this mountain called Roraima, which is I forget the name means, but it's like a source of water or something. Arima is the it marks the boundary between Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. So like this one point in the middle of this big mountain, it's the highest mountain in the region. And then from that summit, the water that comes off the various sides, like one aspect drains into the Amazon River.
One drains into the Orinoco and Venezuela, I think, and the other into Ghana. But so basically, you know, imagine a big mountain that splits three countries and splits the headwaters of three distinct basins. So it's like this really famous sort of important peak. And we were climbing the little peak next to it. So you can kind of see why the little peak next to it hadn't really had much action over the years. Yeah, because, like people love Arima and Roraima has this huge history to it.
And like people were doing expeditions there in the eighteen hundreds, like people are all about Roraima. Nobody cares about YRC, which is the little peak next year that we were done.
And one of the things I mean based on what you were sharing on social media was just like how wet it was and just the condensation and that.
Yeah, I mean, technically we were there in the dry season, but it rained something like eight hours a day. It was a totally insane wow. Every day we would joke we're like, what the heck kind of dry season is this? Like, so crazy? But technically, it was a difficult climb.
Not or just hadn't been done. It hadn't been done. I mean, we don't know, obviously, because it's never been done. So we climbed this sort of large overhanging wall. You kind of have to only climb that overhang there because otherwise they're covered in vegetation and water, which is cool. It makes the style, the climbing really fun. The rock is incredible. Some of the best rock on earth. It's like this amazing caught sight, really hard, really solid.
And then what we did for climbers is a six pitch twelve B, so it's like, you know, hard enough that it's like it's not easy by any means, but it's not like cutting edge elite climbing either. Yeah, but for an expedition like that, it's pretty, you know, it's solid. You're like, well we did something that we're proud of.
Well, you were there a month. Did he find his frogs sorted out? Yeah. So yeah. So brutha so actually he probably doesn't want too much said about it because I think he's going to publish it on scientific journals. But basically he left the jungle with many, many specimens like he had glass jars full of specimens, and then he'll take them back to his university and do DNA sequencing on all of them to see whether or not their new species, whether or not they're related to existing things, just basically to break it all down.
But he was personally focused on the frogs, but he also took many other creepy crawlies of interest because basically anything the thing with where we were is that no one's ever been there before. So there's been like no science done because there's the rainforest approach to get into the mountains. But then between the rainforest and the actual mountain, which is, say, three or four thousand feet higher, there's a big, steep, long hillside, which is sort of the cloud forest, which is like if you imagine like stunted kind of gnarly trees growing over the Tallas field, like the rocks that would have been below the cliff.
It's like a whole different ecosystem. And so no one had ever been through the cloud forest at all in this area. So potentially anything that he found there alive could be new to science. Right. So, you know, I think he he cast a pretty wide net in terms of collecting specimens because, like, anything could be new and it could all contribute to a scientific understanding of that biome. Wow. So did you have to, like, bushwack in and where you can go there the whole time?
Like, how difficult was it to actually even get in there? Dude, bushwhacking does not begin to describe the whole like. The cloud for us, we we called it the slime forest because it's like. It was really interesting, I read a couple of books about sort of natural history going on and while we were there, because, you know, it's the tropics, so it's dark from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day. And we were staying in hammocks the whole time.
There's nothing like there's no flat ground. Basically the whole trip. There's no flat ground. So you're always just raking your hammock between trees. And so I was in my hammock for like 12 hours a day, basically reading books and, you know, learning and stuff is kind of fun. Yeah, but it was it's just wild. I mean, the cloud forest, there's no there's no soil. It's like it rains so much that it washes away soil.
And this is particularly true on the summits. That is like on top of the wall that we were climbing. It rains so much that any kind of earth gets washed away. So you wind up with plants just stuck to the rock itself. And then that means because there's no soil, it means that the plants all have to get their nutrients in otherwise. So the summers of Députés have some of the highest rates of carnivorous plants like, you know, the plants all eat insects and things or they're like big like teacup type things where, like things will fall into the water collecting the bottom and drown and rot.
And then the plant will like, absorb the right the you know, the the material basically it's just like this crazy, like crazy plant kingdom out there.
I'll show you some pictures. Totally insane. Totally insane. Yeah. And and also the highest rates of endemism on earth, like endemic species, like species that are unique to that specific place because these députés are so isolated from the jungle below, like because they're like a 20 foot wall that's sticking up out of the jungle. The summits are a totally different climate basically than the area down below because it's higher, it gets higher UV exposure, more rain, harsher conditions.
And then the summits have been separated from the jungle below for like 40 million years or something because of the erosion and the way it winds up being an island. So it means that all the species have been diverging for 40 million years. Right. So it's like it's sort of like the last vestige Galapagos type situation where it's it's like a petri dish for study. Exactly. It's exactly like the Galapagos. I was about to say welcome to the Ritual Science podcast.
I was like super. I got super weird. I talk about mindset. Yeah, exactly. No, let's talk about biomes. No, it was it was a crazy tribe. I mean, a month is a lot. I like if you did that one climb, but like what were you doing for the rest of the month. Dude, I read a lot of bugs and lately it's so grim being in the hammock. I mean, you know, one of the things you're like, oh, you're in a hammock.
But like, my hammock had a puddle in the bottom for, like, the whole time we were at the wall, basically because because we're on the cloud just waiting. You're waiting for an opening? No, we were just toiling away, you know, takes a long time to get to the wall. And because we were filming, you know, because it's a TV project, everything's a little bit slower because all of you have to wait for the cameras and there's just more equipment to move around.
And it's an incredibly difficult environment to move equipment around because you're like literally crawling through roots and vines and things. You know, that's what we call this slime forest, because you're basically like climbing up this lattice of roots and like, shriveled little tree trunks. But like I was saying, because it's kind of a difficult environment, it's not like the plants are like rooted in soil. Most of the plants are growing on other plants. So it's like there will be a tree trunk, but the tree trunk is like covered in moss and then they're little parasitic flowers growing out of the tree trunk as well.
And then, you know, it's like there's all kinds of like epiphytes, I guess, like plants growing the other plants. And so it's just like this crazy, dense, like wall of life, you know, and you're just like crawling through it. It's like not an easy place to get around. Yeah. You know, it's not like I'm walking on a flat trail. It's like so grim. Are there predators or.
No, there aren't that many living things actually aren't that many animals because the whole place is like pretty tough, actually. You know, we saw birds. We saw apparently we saw sloth droppings at the walls of their slosar there, I guess. But we didn't see that much. You know, most things come out after dark, like the frogs come out after dark. You know, we heard lots of things. I mean, tons of spiders and snakes and all kinds of things like that.
But but nothing, you know, nothing like exciting when you think of the jungle and you're like, oh, monkeys all over. It's like just not that kind of scene because we were kind of in, like, alpine jungle, you know, like up high towards the base of the walls. It's all like a little bit more inhospitable than, um, than like a tropical rainforest.
Well, it's somebody who's so environmentally conscious and environmentally minded, like to visit a place like that where it's just bursting with life in a way that you just don't see. You know, that's almost impossible to see. Right. Like, what a unique cool experience when you come back from that. I mean, I know you just got back, but that's got to, you know, kind of land is a meaningful experience in terms of like how you think about all the advocacy work that you're doing with the foundation.
Like this is what's at stake, right? Like they've this this protected place is what is, you know, at risk. Yes. So you mentioned the my foundation, the foundation actually this year we funded like last year we funded this project. All the Kassala, which does a solar powered boats in the Amazon, I saw that in Ecuador. Oh yeah, you saw that. I read your I read the annual report. Oh, cool. Very professional.
I love I love how it's been a professional I. You sure do your homework. Know. But so part of the reason I was excited about this trip to go on and like climbing this wall was because, you know, we had just funded this project in the Amazon and I was kind of like, oh, that's interesting. And a big part of that that project Kassala, was that by keeping transportation costs on on rivers' low, like basically by enabling boats to to navigate these rivers easily without, you know, low fuel costs, basically solar powered boats and electric motor, it prevents the the need to cut roads through the jungle.
And and it was interesting because we did exactly that. We basically flew to the most remote airstrip and then took a whole day in a dug out canoe up this river, which was totally insane. It felt like an amusement park ride because there's so many big logs that fall over the river that you're constantly ducking and like, you know, avoiding vines. And and each time you go, your boat barely makes it under some log, you know, all kinds of things like fall into your boat.
And then they're like spiders all over the boat, like, you know, there's just so much life and it's so crazy. But, you know, I was like, this is exactly the type of project that we were supporting through the foundation is like making sure that this type of transit is economical and and functional so that you don't have to cut roads through places like this because, you know, rivers really are the primary means of transit through that whole like, you know, basically all of the upper half of South America.
Yeah. You know, it's like they're just there's so much water. I've never been somewhere where it rained so much. There's just water. And the dry season, though, due to crazy crazy. Well, those boats are really cool. Like they're they're like these low slung, super long canoes and they're just tiled with solar panels on top. And you're kind of like one of like the ghost boat or something like. Yeah, yeah, I forget a silence.
You know, there's no there's no, you know, like motor that you would, you know, or the smell of the gasoline prototypically here. And more importantly, you don't have to import the gasoline or the diesel or whatever, because in these super remote villages, to get gasoline in there to power your boat, you know, first has to fly in one or more small flights and then take other boats, you know, before you even get to the the villages at the very end of the river is basically, you know, so it means that the cost of gas in those communities is incredibly high because it's really hard to get gasoline there.
So when you can do something like a solar powered boat, it's just a lot more economical option.
So how many boats now are outfitted with solar now?
I actually don't know the Chrysler project. I think they'd built a couple. It was not quite a demonstration project, but I think it was like, you know, they were creating this new idea, basically. And I think, you know, moving forward, they'll just keep building boats, as you know, demand dictates.
Yeah, but well, it's cool the work that you're doing with the foundation. I mean, the last time we talked was at that event in Denver, that really thing where it was it was kind of an announcement about the project that you're doing in Puerto Rico, creating this community organized in Microgrid Micro solar grid and using like batteries from the revision truck. Right. As well as like solar storage, which is pretty cool. So let's talk about that a little bit.
Like what an amazing project. This town, you know, overridden by the hurricane, know there's no power. I mean, how did you find, like, Arturo and like the people to, like, make that happen? Yeah, it was. It was. That's one of the projects I'm most proud of through the Honda Foundation, because it's just such an interesting and potentially transformative project. But so just for context is at Hunters in Puerto Rico, which is kind of the center of Puerto Rico, which is pretty hard hit by the by the hurricane, and basically because it's sort of in the center of the island, it was cut off, you know, transmission distribution lines for power were sort of severed for a long time.
And so you end up with the whole city, you know, off the grid from for like months after the hurricane. And so sort of just as luck would have it, that that community has this organization called the Coast Pueblo, which is already done sort of environmentally focused community organizing for many years, like opposing a big mine in the middle of the country and a couple others sort of like environmental advocacy type projects. And they've always embraced solar like cost pueblos, always had solar on their own facility.
And so after the hurricane, they became sort of this energy oasis in the middle of, you know, an otherwise blacked out town. And so I think that's a big part of why there's such community buy in in around us, you know, because they had months where there's basically one structure in the whole city that has power and it's got to Pueblo and it's because they embraced solar. And so so there's tremendous community buying. And combined with the fact that utility rates are really high, people are basically paying way too much for their power anyway.
So they're really open to other solutions. And so Costa Pueblo is looking to to institute a microgrid in the whole city center. So basically all the main. Says downtown could go on to a microgrid and sort of separate from from the utility and the executive director of the foundation to reach out to him because she heard about his story. Yeah, during jury turmoil, she's she's incredible. But so she reached out across a pueblo and was like, oh, we'd love to help support this project.
And then we wound up wrangling revision, which is a personal sponsor of mine, the electric truck manufacturer. They offered to supply the batteries for storage for the project because half the microgrid has been able to store the energy that you can. And that's basically how it all came together. It's pretty cool. Like what was really cool was hearing RJ, the founder of Revy, and talk about how they've created this battery technology such that when the car has run its course and people are done with it or whatever, they can pull the battery out and then they can repurpose it for this very thing.
Right. To, like, power these grids.
Yeah, that's exactly it. And that's an important part of the revision design because some electric cars haven't really designed their batteries with the second life applications in mind. They just make the cheapest battery they can. And then when it's done, it just kind of gets shredded like, you know. So I think that when you go into the design process with the intention of using the batteries for something else useful after that, their life in the car, you know, that's an important and I'm really that should be a design principle for all products, you know, thinking about what happens to it when it no longer especially when designing, you know, the minerals and everything.
I mean, it's so expensive now and the environmental impact of that is so traumatic for Toyota in it.
But the thing that I think my the thing the biggest, like personal thing from the the this project, I don't know what you call it, but like the thing that struck me the most from the microgrid hunters does is that when you're in it hunters and you're in the city center, it's like a classic sort of plaza, like what you think of small town America or something of the city square. You know, it's like this bustling town center. There are tons of cars, tons of people.
It's like, you know, it's the center of this whole community. And to power the whole thing, it's something like eight Rivkind truck batteries. And so if you think of it as eight trucks, are we going to power that whole downtown? When you're standing in the downtown and you look at how many cars around you, they're like hundreds of cars, you know, like parked on both sides of the street, you know, bumper to bumper going around the square.
It's like crazy, a super dense, you know, and you're like, man, eight of those can power the whole thing. Right. It's like pretty striking, actually, because, you know, revision like I think Amazon is already preordered, 100000 electric delivery vans from ribboned, maybe even more now. Yeah, yeah. That was a big deal. Right. Like, that's that's like a huge part of Vivian's business to be powering the Amazon fleet.
Totally. But so 100000 electric delivery vans and you think that, you know, all of those will be, you know, sort of phasing out in 10, 15 years and it only takes eight of them to power this whole city center in a way that's like transformative for the community. You're like when you multiply that out, you're like, man, that's a lot of communities that could be positively impact in that way. And so so that's kind of the exciting opportunity for the foundation, I think, is to help establish sort of a pipeline for Second Life batteries and potentially implement more microgrid like this around, say, the Caribbean or something.
I mean, I suppose we should say, you know, you created this foundation. We're like three years ago. No, no. I made it like in 2012. But it's just it's been a slow kind of hit this strike in the last. Well, and a big part of that is hiring the executive director, Daury. He's actually very smart and is because for many years it was just a way of me personally donating money. And so I would just, you know, donate some money.
It'd be split into, say, two grants to two different organizations. And like, that's it. And then in the last three or four years, sort of since Free Solo and the whole crazy movie tour, it's really become like much more of its own organization. It started as your own personal effective altruism. Yeah, exactly. And then it's become institutionalized. I think you guys, you donate like one point three. You had like three million in revenue.
Yeah. You don't exaggerate. You donated like 87 percent, like a really high percentage of what came in, like went directly to projects.
Yeah. And you've picked Solah as the primary focus, at least for now. Yeah. So I've lots of things I want to say about that, but maybe explain as somebody who's very, you know, environmentally literate and spent a lot of time studying environmentalism, thinking about it, why have you like why solar are the primary focus right now?
So when I started the foundation, you know, like you said, it was just my way of sort of trying to affect, you know, effective altruism. So I was basically just looking for any kind of well, I guess, you know, starting in the beginning, I think that the most important issue facing humanity is climate change or sort of environmental degradation more broadly, let's say. And at the same time, I think there's no point in trying to solve environmental problems that don't also improve quality of life, like help the human populations that are in the area because.
I've been on enough expeditions to various parts of the world where you see communities that, you know, like, they'll cut down the last tree, you know, on Earth, if it means boiling water for their family to, like, keep their kids safe and things like that. And the solution can't be premised on us all being martyrs. No, exactly. That's the thing. It's like in anywhere you go in the world. And it's funny because, you know, we're talking about it like we were just hanging with these all the Amerindian folks, like deep in the interior, like basically, you know, Native Americans for South America and, you know, a bunch of the villages, they're living super traditional lifestyles.
It's like, you know, basically still practicing slash and burn agriculture, cultivating cassava. It's all, you know, as it has been for for thousands of years, some extent. And they're all like, we want directive. You know, you're like you don't even have power. Like there's no grid. There's no there's no cell service, there's no connectivity, there's no transportation. You know, they have to take a boat for a day to get to the closest town.
You know, there's, like, so disconnected and they're like, when's the directive get in here? And you're like, I think it might be a minute, you know, like you're like first you got to like there are a lot of things like you need a metal roof. You need to be able to keep stuff dry, you know. And so. Yeah, General Electric. And so so, you know, I've been on enough trips like that where we realize that they're really humans all over Earth, you know, even if they're actively trying to preserve their their traditional lifestyle, like they still want refrigeration, they want access to medicine.
And one communication, like pretty much all humans want some degree of material comfort in their life. And that's only fair. You know, it's like, you know, I want to be relatively comfortable. I want, you know, climate controlled, at least to some extent. You know, I want, like flooring. You know, it's like I want to not get parasites, things like that. Like I want access to clean food and water.
And so, you know, I think that when you focus on environmental issues, it's important to also sort of focus on equity issues of like where humans, like all humans, should be entitled to to certain standards of living. And so I think that if you're trying to solve environmental issues without also focusing on the equity side, like making sure that all humans, you know, are are equally able to take care of themselves, you know, basically just not fair to not do this both at the same time.
And so that sort of informed the initial projects from the Hunnam Foundation is like looking for environmental projects that also improve standard of living that like helped helped folks.
And over the years, we basically always wound up choosing solar projects because they just often are the most elegant solutions to to those kinds of problems. We're like, good for the environment, good for people, you know, clear win win. And and then after several years of supporting a bunch of different solar projects, we were like, we should just make this explicit that a certain point, you know, you may as well focus on what you already know and what you're kind of good at.
And I just I just think solar is such an obvious solution to many human problems, you know? Yeah. I mean, the sun is shining down. That's the thing, beating us with, you know, all kinds of power that we can utilize if we can figure it out and, you know. What's problematic about that, I mean, it seems like it's easier to implement a solar solution in a developing country than it is in the United States like solar has been.
So problematic and tricky to get implemented in houses across America. This is like Bill Maher talks about all the time, like every every show he has, like a countdown. He's been trying to get solar at his house for, like, you know, years. And he's like, it's day 1000. And there's all these, like, regulatory hurdles. Like we've had a couple companies come out to our house and do like an evaluation. And there's always some reason why it was just ridiculously expensive or way to look at it.
Yeah, I mean, because I just feel like it should be easy. You know, my point my my larger point is like, why isn't it just like super easy to get this done? It is. I mean, I don't know. I think a lot of that is personal experience and depending on your home, because, you know, I've put solar on a couple of a bunch of homes, not through the foundation and then but my own as well.
And it's like super easy, is it? Yeah. I mean, I like to talk to you about who I should be calling. Yeah, totally. I mean, I've done most of that stuff remotely too. Or like my home in suburban Las Vegas. I was actually on a climbing trip in Wyoming at the time, living in the van. I basically made some calls. People went to the house, they installed solar, turned it on, all worked fine.
I was like, never even involved. You know, I just wired money online. I was like, totally chill. Wow. I think a lot of that just has to do with, you know, where you live and how difficult the system is and things like that. But but either way, I mean, in general, it's not that hard in the US. And I mean and you see that because rates of solar adoption are steadily increasing, you know, it's all sort of exponential growth.
It's like seems to be doing pretty well. Right. All right. Well, I need to revisit this. Yeah, you should, because also the cost of panels has been exponentially dropping to the point that nowadays, you know, the panels themselves aren't even the most expensive part of the install anymore. It's like the actual labor and like the the racking, you know, like the other things, like everything else that goes into regulation. Right.
So what are the what are the projects that you want to be working on, like the what's the next level of what you're trying to accomplish? Well, so we actually just closed our latest open call for what we call the Core Fund grants, which are sort of like the interesting like we were talking about Kassala, the Ecuadorian Amazon solar boat project, things like that come through the core fund, which are basically like grants around the world for interesting solar projects.
So the latest round, you know, we'll probably fund, you know, 10 ish projects like that. But we got what we got hundreds of applications. And of those, we probably had about 50 or 60 that are legitimately good applications, but we can only fund the top 10 or so. So really, there's tons of incredible ideas and good projects out there. It's just a matter of having enough money to actually implement them all, which which, you know, we've as you said, you know, we gave away a million dollars this year, which for me personally counts this tremendous success, because when I started the foundation, it was me donating 50 years of just my own money.
So to see, you know, 20 times the impact as when I started, I'm like, oh, that's awesome, right? 20 times more work. That's great. Right. But then also knowing that we could have a ten million dollar budget and still. I think 10 probably actually would pretty much fill all the things that we're seeing right now. But but, you know, they're like hundreds of millions of dollars worth of good projects out there that could be done, right?
There are. Individual changes that we can all make to live more sustainably, and then there are kind of institutional social changes that we need to see move forward in order to really kind of effect the problem, the existential crisis that we're facing. And, you know, those personal changes can be, you know, everything from composting to your diet and where you buy your clothes and all that kind of thing. One of the things that you said in some article or something, some someplace you wrote this, I believe that I hadn't really thought a lot about, but is so obvious, which is like where are you banking, right?
Yeah. I wrote an op ed about. I like to talk a little bit about that. Yes. And actually, I'll talk about that. But then I also have some things to say about personal choice like that also because so so banking is pretty much the the number one thing that you can do for personal impact, which is funny because it's so much less satisfying than like changing your diet, because it's less obvious. But the thing is, wherever you bank, you know, they're using your money the whole time that it sits in whatever account, you know, like you put it into an account and then they're investing it in things.
They're spending it. They're like using it, basically. And so, you know, a famous example is like Wells Fargo, North Dakota access pipeline or something. But in general, every bank, every major bank in America is supporting both sides of the political aisle. They're making political donations. They're, you know, investing in fossil fuels. Like basically, if you're using a mainstream big bank, it for sure is doing stuff that you personally wouldn't do.
You know, whether you're on the left or the right, it's like your bank is for sure doing stuff that you wouldn't want it to do. And so, you know, the solution there is to bank with nonprofit credit unions, things like that, like local banks, smaller scale banks, like just a bank with a with with a bank that's not going to be, you know, investing in fossil fuel infrastructure and things like that that you might not personally support.
Right. Is there a resource where you can go online and get like somebody who's done like a Consumer Reports on this where there's like I'm not sure how of like seeing what all the banks are doing? Yeah, I'm sure there must be. Yeah, there must be. So my sister actually many years ago before I started my foundation, before I started any of the stuff, she gave me this book called The Better World Shopping Guide, which I think is out of print now, but at the time was this incredible resource where for any consumer product, including banking and things like that, you could flip through and basically see all brands listed from ATF.
And it was and it was eye opening for me at the time because I realized I could go to the grocery store, look at breads and see two different breads on the shelf, same price point, same basic quality, except one, you know, is basically actively supporting the type of world that I want to live in, like paying its employees good living wages and like, you know, providing maternity leave and things like that. And the other is like ruthlessly exploiting its workers and, you know, degrading the earth.
And it's the exact same product. And you're kind of like, well, obviously I should support the one that, you know, makes for a better world. And so, yeah, the better world champion got my my my sister, she signed up for me. Is that for Alex? In case you ever start giving a shit love. Stasia it's a pretty classic, you know, because especially when I was younger, I was just all a little more like yard line.
I was just so focused, you know, totally about it. Yeah, well, but that's that's the interesting thing about like the long, gradual awakening. Like, you just learn more and you start to care more about it and then, you know. Yeah. And then sort of virtuous cycle.
Yeah. Well, that that keys into something I think he wanted to talk about, which is like this personal choice thing.
Yeah I know. So yeah. It's funny because I've sort of come full circle on this a little bit because obviously I care a lot about personal choices. I went vegetarian because, you know, like sort of aspirational vegan, basically, partially because I'm lactose intolerant, partially because, you know, basically just it's a much lower impact for for diet. You know, I change my banking. I've know change all kinds of lifestyle things in an effort to to minimize my personal impact on Earth.
And even starting the foundation was to some extent to know that I personally was doing as much good as harm, you know, because just by living and traveling to climb and all that, like, obviously I'm having a negative impact on the world. And so I'd like to think that I'm doing as much good as harm. But now I'm sort of coming back around to where I feel like the whole, you know, onus on personal choice has been been sort of foisted upon us by outside forces.
You know, it's like basically industry telling us, like you should think about your choices rather than have the industry regulate in a way that's appropriate, you know, because even if and actually covid has been an interesting measure of this, because even with travel, lockdown's for the whole world for the last year, you know, global emissions have only dropped, you know, seven or 10 percent or something like seven percent. I mean, that's still barely in line with Paris Accord type things.
And so if you think that all of human society is fundamentally changed for the last year and we're still barely hitting the numbers that we pledge to meet for the latest round of climate accord, you know, negotiations are kind of like, that's crazy. I mean, it just shows the scale of this. Yeah, it shows the scale of real change that has to happen and that kind of thing only happens with policy because it's one thing for individuals to, like, choose the right product all the time, but it's another thing to just make sure that all the products have to be made well to begin with.
Yeah, I mean, like limiting pollution in different ways. But policy is also a reflection of popular sentiment. Right? Like if if people are thinking harder about their personal choices and that becomes more important than culture reflects that and society become or policy becomes a downstream kind of reflection of that. You need both. Yeah, yeah. You do need both. But it's basically like that's like a chicken or the egg sort of thing. And I'm sort of arguing that I think that it's probably easier to lead with policy changes.
Yeah. You know, like in the U.S., you know, the adoption of electric cars and things like that and like basically public transit and changing transportation models. You know, transit accounts for like a third of our our carbon emissions. And so, you know, it's like an area ripe for change. An easy way would just be to basically put a tax on gasoline or something like that, basically on on carbon emissions. And that would drive all kinds of changes in consumer behavior, you know, rather than just hoping that individuals will go out and buy a Prius or like Viridian or whatever.
You know, it's like it's tricky, though, man, when you have legislators who are, you know, beholden to their constituents and the lobbyists that are, you know, well-funded to push a certain agenda on behalf of, you know, a sector of the economy. And that's why these things move at a glacial pace. And I feel like like, you know, voter pressure on our legislators is so important. And that's why you do need to you do need to kind of take these personal choices to heart and make them known so that there is that pressure.
Yeah, I agree with that, though. I know what you're saying. I mean, it's like you can't move the needle on, like, I'm going to go vegan and this is going to solve the problem. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
I mean, you going vegan is a good step for sure, but it's like it's going to be it's still on the Amazon, you know, it's like but it's also there's a symbolic power like when you you is somebody who so many people look up to and you have a lot of people that follow your lead and all of that, like there's a there's meaning and like these choices that you're making because there's a downstream impact on how everyone else is going to think about those a little bit.
But I still think that that I know you get a lot of shit, though. Yeah, that's what I mean. The thing is, you get a lot of shit no matter what, you know, so it doesn't really matter. And, you know, and while we're talking about getting a lot of shit, like it's not like I'm just like advocating for gas tax because I know that kind of thing is super nuanced, because in a lot of ways that's regressive, because it affects lower income folks way more than hiring.
And that's not totally fair. So it has to be very finely executed. You know, it's like, yeah, I get all that. I'm just saying that I think that starting from the policy side can potentially have bigger impacts in the world. You know, individual choice is great for individuals that have the bandwidth to think about it. Right. I mean, and like, I have plenty of free time writes books about the environment. Think about it.
But like the vast majority of Americans, you know, like if you're working a minimum wage job, like you are not going home and reading books about the environment to, like, think about minimizing your footprint. Sure, you're like you're struggling, you know, like it's hard basically. So I think that putting the responsibility on the individual is sort of. You know, most individuals are never going to have the time to think about it like they don't know how to read or write on that, of course.
Of course. And it's not it's not it shouldn't be their responsibility that is trying to survive, of course.
But in an ideal world, when you go to a store or something, every product would be justly made, you know, like fairly manufactured with no pollution and like no externalized costs and all that. And that's kind of the world that I think most of us would like to live in. Like you would like to think that anything you buy will not be, you know, exploiting child labor in other parts of the world or something like that.
It is like an arms race, though, because I do feel like we're moving into an economic culture in which people really do care about those kinds of things. And it's incumbent upon these corporations to be transparent about their supply chain and how they treat their workers and the like. And, you know, the the average consumer, if given the opportunity to think about it for a minute, is going to make the better choice. Like we're good people and we all want a better world.
But but but these changes are glacial.
Know they're so right and we're running out of time. Yeah. So short of massive sweeping policy change like you. And as somebody who has spent you know, I know this past year you've gone down the rabbit hole on a lot of this stuff. Like like do you are you optimistic? Like, where's your head at in terms of like how are we doing?
I mean, I'm I'm personally always pretty optimistic, like I'm right. And, you know, even I think, you know, optimism, pessimism. I think that a realistic assessment of. Global climate is basically a realistic assessment that my personal lifestyle will probably be fine regardless. I mean, like I'm lucky enough that that I go climbing all the time and, you know, if I like, impacted by climate impacts affect me, I can move to other places and, you know, and so I don't know.
I mean, that's kind of the and that's the real thing about climate change, is that for most of us, like, it's not going to it's not going to affect us personally, you know, I mean, like anyone listen to this podcast basically is comfortable enough that they're not going to be the ones that suffer from from the effects of climate change. It's like, you know, subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, you know, that have crushing drought and then have crop failures and can't feed their families, you know what I mean?
But, like, that's so far removed from our reality. That needs to be like, oh, you know, we don't even know what that is. So we're we're not stressed about it. I don't know. So I mean, yeah, I'm optimistic that humanity can sort of confront and solve some of these problems. But even if we do move too slowly and it doesn't really work out, you know, I'm also sort of recognize the fact that, you know, like realistically, my life will probably play out along a certain path regardless.
Yeah, I know. Which which is incredibly unfair, which is a big part of why I started the confrontation and things like that, because it's like, are you are you do you think you guys are going to have kids? Yeah. Yeah. So that changes like how you see all this stuff. I mean because you worry about the world, right. When you just start thinking, yeah. You just your perspective is tweaked. Yeah. But the thing is like, you know, your lane is Soula right now, but that's an example of technology that currently exists to solve these problems.
Like most of these problems, we have the ability to solve them. Yeah, no, I think it's about political will like drawdown. And it's like here's all the things, you know, if we just do all these things were good and it's like, why can't we just do that now?
That's exactly how I know. And that's like probably the most frustrating thing about reading environmental books is that you're like, oh, all the solutions are it's like a buffet of solutions. Like drawdown is a literal. But so many. There's so many. Let's just do five of these totally, totally.
And so many of them are just such obvious. And that's my thing with soldiers is like an obvious win win, you know, like this is such a clear solution to certain problems. And I can draw on one of the biggest climate impacts we can have is women's education around the world. And you're like, well, that seems like an obvious thing regardless. You know, like climate aside, even if you don't believe in climate change, you should definitely believe in educating women.
You know, it's like that's like basic fairness. Yeah. You know, they were both like girls. I know. Well, you know, it is frustrating because because there is a ticking clock here and you say like, yeah, your lifestyle probably won't be that change. But, you know, if you live in Miami or you live in, you know, like the low lying areas of Southeast Asia like this is this is a very real threat to, you know, even last year in California, you know, the wildfire season was so crazy because the drought that, you know, and I think this kind of I don't know, like I didn't experience my family has a place in Tahoe that I grew up going to this like cabin in in Tahoe.
And last summer, the wildfire smoke was so thick across the lake that you couldn't see the other side of Lake Tahoe. And at one point I saw this like party boat coming in to shore that like a big, like tug, almost like tons of people on it, like partying on the boat, like, I don't really know it was going on, but I sort of jokingly was like, oh, look, it's climate refugees like escaping because it's like it looks like the ocean and it looks like a barge.
And it's the kind of scene that you expect to see in southern Europe. You know, like folks like Syria or something. Yeah, exactly. Like fleeing to Italy. And, you know, I was kind of like kind of tongue in cheek then. I was like, this is kind of true, you know, like because all these folks and is on fire. Yeah, this guy is on fire and people were bailing out of the Bay Area to try to come to the mountains.
But the mountains are on fire, you know, because the Bay Area was like crazy fire this year, too. And, you know, I don't know if this will wind up mattering in the world, but it is interesting when effects of climate change are to be felt closer to home. You know, it's like when you can't spend a summer in California, people are like, what the heck? Like, that's crazy. You know, especially, you know, I spent my whole life spending summers in California and kind of like that's a first, you know, it's kind of unprecedented.
But, yeah, I live I've lived here for, I don't know, twenty five years. And the fire season when we had the big fires down here and had to get evacuated, it was funny. Yeah, it's crazy. You know, I've gone through fires, plenty of fire seasons. That was completely another animal altogether, especially when you consider that.
I mean, fires are a natural part of the life cycle for us. You know, it's like when you're in the Sierra Nevada, you're like, yeah, this is natural and it should be fine. And yet, you know, the sky is blacked out for for almost a month and half of the summer. It was totally insane. And you're like, that's not natural. Yeah, that's totally that's craziness. A different thing. Yeah.
Switching gears a little bit. How much more can we dig into this? I get Diora all day. Yeah, no, I yeah. Like I could do.
It's like super depressing, but also, you know, super important. Like, this is probably the most we need to be talking about it. Yeah. You know, and if that just moves the needle with one person, that's a win, you know, what else are we doing here? I was you know, we talk about climbing.
You are in a unique situation, though, because you did this crazy climb like. You know, how do you and your life is kind of devoted to iterative, you know, difficulty like continuing to put yourself in difficult situations and master those. But, you know, it's hard to trump friso caps like, you know, what are you going to do? Like, how do you find like how do you shift gears and find meaning in a different way in this thing that you do?
I mean, you've kind of already answered it. You're doing all these other things. You've devoted your life to these environmental causes, like you live a very big life that is providing meaning not just for yourself, but for a lot of people. But it is, you know, just from the pure like athlete mindset, like, how do you get jacked up about like another adventure when you've climbed a mountain, you know, you literally climbed the mountain.
Yeah, no, that's a totally fair question. And I think it's taken I mean, you know, free little cap, I think in twenty seventeen and the tour was in twenty eighteen. And so it's kind of taken me a year and a half. But but really the season is sort of the beginning of like a real fire or like real hunger for for challenging things again. And so I mean you're right that nothing will ever trump up like nothing.
Nothing will be better than the OK. But, you know, but there's still some other things that are pretty cool that I'm excited about. And the world's a big place. Yeah, exactly. And actually, a couple of things I'm excited about right now are just at home. I projects in Redrock, which is the climbing area outside of Los Vegas. And the you know, I mean, sometimes you just get inspired by certain things and you're like, this seems crazy and really hard, but then you're like, I think I could do it.
And then you're like, can I do it? And you have to find out if you can do it. And then and really, that's like the whole joy of the process is the finding out like, well, can I do it? Like, is it crazy? Let's let's find out.
Right. Am I right in thinking that before covid hit you were thinking of doing the Seven Summits. Yeah. Though that I mean I still would like to in my life. That's not like that's not really like a big climbing goal. Right. I mean it's just funny. A different kind of thing. Yeah. I mean for me that stems like I don't know if you ever read the book The Seven Summits by Dick Bass. He was the first person how he was.
He's kind of a non climber. He owned Snowbird back in the days. Like businessmen. I think he may have an oil or something, but, um, but I think he was like a Texas businessman or something. But he just got this, like, wild idea that you wanted to climb the highest points on Earth. And so he was guided on him. And this is like before it was a thing and people did. Anyway, it's a great book.
It's kind of like classic adventure writing. And, you know, I read that many, many years ago and was like, that's awesome. Like, you know, I'd like to do that in my life. And now it's a little bit weird because sometimes it's so commercialized that real Clymer's kind of thumb their nose at it, like, that's not cool. I'm like, I still kind of want to, you know. Yeah, but but that's not that's not a like a rad climbing project.
It's just like a personal I'd love to do that in my life, but we'll see how it plays out, you know. Yeah.
I mean, for what you do to not like climb the seven tallest mountains, like why wouldn't you do that. Yeah, I've climbed a lot of the mountain. You know, this is not a what do you think when you see, you know, remember when those images were coming through from Everest and it was like the you know, there are just so many people up there. It's like a traffic jam and. Yeah, yeah, it's crazy.
No, I find that somewhat distasteful. You know, I'm just like basically that's just not the experience that I'm seeking in the mountains and especially on on Everest in particular. There are there ropes going the whole way up. So everyone's just like clipped into a rope the whole way and somebody else has put those ropes up for them. And so, you know, I personally have sort of mixed feelings about like outsourcing the risk and the challenge of climbing.
Like, I don't want to pay somebody else to cut the rope up for me. You know, it's like if I can't put the rope up myself, I probably shouldn't be climbing it, you know, and not to say that that's a standard that all people should should hold, you know, because, you know, I'm sure and and I think climbing Everest is really, really hard regardless. I think that even if you are just following the rope, that somebody but it's still quite difficult.
You know, it's challenging physical experience. But but I don't know. I just feel like if I want to go up there, I want to, like, actually climb something. Yeah. Ah, you can climb mountains. I don't think so.
I think that's my thing man. But you could. It doesn't. I don't. It doesn't. I mean I could but you've got to feel the whole.
I don't feel like the allure you know, I'll get on top of things. It doesn't love feeling like I want to go like in the ocean and swim down, you know, that's not my thing or swim across. But I don't think about going out that much. It's different. You know, I like climbing a couple of times with some friends. And I was like, I don't think, is it?
For me, that's very it was weird mountaineering, though. Maybe. Yeah, like because that's basically like ultra running. Like trudging because it's different.
I like the idea of of all these like FCTC that these, you know, like Killian's running up these mountains and seeing how fast you can do it. Like I just like the idea of creating your own adventure like you're doing. And like, yeah, there's this thing we have all of this year, like we don't need some, you know, like race or that like to figure it out.
One of the things I'm playing with this season is a traversing the. I arranged in Redrock, which is like this, actually, as the crow flies, is probably only like 10 or 15 miles like linearly, but you're going up and over all these different peaks. And so I haven't quite pieced it all together yet because it's incredibly complicated refining and climbing. And I'm climbing classic climbing routes and then down and other climbing routes. And I go up and down to tag the different summits and also do a bunch of good climbs.
But it's coming in at like twenty five thousand feet of vertical or something. Wow. It's like a really, really big traverse. And, you know, we'll see if I man should do it and how exactly it shapes up. And I'm like, what an adventure, you know, to like, leave your house. Just climb this entire skyline that you can see from from anywhere in town.
It's similar to the thing you did with Tommy Caldwell. Exactly like something like 17 peaks or something like that and like 20 K of something like that. Yeah, actually, it was funny because with these really long and technical rock climbing traverses is actually hard to quantify the the vert and like the numbers, because GPS doesn't really work when you're climbing vertical routes, you know, like when you're doing sheer vertical walls, your GPS were like ping, ping, you all over the place.
So like messes up all the numbers. So have you had that experience? Like, if you go up really steep hills with GPS, I don't go up hills that steep, steep enough to do that. Like, because basically GPS doesn't really work on a vertical plane. Right. You know, it's like more like a horizontal. But and then the thing I did with me last summer in Iraq, National Park wound up taking us like thirty six hours.
So all our devices died anyway because your batteries don't last that long. If their tracking wasn't there like a you missed a drop off or somebody or something. There was no lights and stuff here. We had well more importantly we had no pants so we were like at 13000 feet and running shorts all night. And it was it was pretty character building. Yeah. What is Tommy Brown up to? He's like your main he's like your main guy, right.
Like he's like your go to adventure. He's one of my best adventure partners for sure. Actually I just got into them last week like the day I got home from from this expedition, Guyana. Tommy just happened to be in Las Vegas climbing something. So we managed to sneak out for a day. But he's been doing some home repair. He's like doing something. He's doing a plumbing project on his house. Hasn't been climbing that much this winter.
But but he's he's just such an incredible climber then, you know, even relatively off the couch, like, you know, he's done his whole life. And are you doing back to the environmental stuff?
Are you doing another podcast, like with The Washington Post that I'm not sure there's nothing official that I might be and I might be. Yeah, basically interviewing environmental leaders or sort of scientists about climate change, I think, which if it happens, I'd be pretty excited about it. But honestly, sort of intimidated because, you know, as you know, most podcasting is just chit chatting with people. You rarely have to know a subject super well. But the thing is, you don't have to hold yourself out like they'll be so excited to talk to you.
And they know that you're not, you know, a PhD and whatever it is that they are. And so they'll explain it to you. Yeah, but and you're trying to be a cipher for the audience. That's true. But you still feel like you should have enough of an understanding to at least ask. Interesting question your books before your eyes. Well, we'll see if that. Yeah, I don't know. Speaking of that, like on this deep dive that you did this past year, like what have you what have you learned that you didn't know, like before covid when it comes to the environmental stuff?
I don't know. That's an interesting question. I mean, so on this trip in Guyana, I just finished this book, Energy and Civilization, and it's like ballclub smells like this super dense tome about sort of the progression of different energy systems in human civilization. And it was interesting. I mean, I think that book gave me an appreciation of how long and slowly the transitions between energy systems are, you know, basically like going from, you know, human power to to like to the introduction of the steam engine to, you know, coal fired to eventually, you know, oil like full on fossil fuels.
It's just like each transition takes quite a long time. And it's given me an interesting perspective, I guess, on our current transition to renewables and what you know, what that will take. And one of the interesting things I got from the book was that, you know, every transition has been powered by the the previous fuel, let's say, you know, so like the transition to coal use is like, you know, powered by steam engines.
Right. And whatever else is so reliant on the the. Yeah. The previous energy model. And which is funny because that's a common criticism of renewables. It's like, oh, it's all based on fossil fuels. You're kind of like, well, yeah, because any transition is going to be based on the previous system, which I found slightly heartening in a way, because I've always found it like, you know, it's a little bit of a bummer that like to build, you know, wind turbines.
Let's say you have to make a bunch of steel and like that steel is all being powered by, you know, those plants are being powered by fossil fuels. And so you're kind of like, is it even worth building wind turbines? If it's all if all the raw materials behind it are being mined and milled through fossil fuel extraction or like, is that worth it? You're kind of like, yeah, I mean, basically necessary evil. Yeah, exactly.
The next thing I mean, that's a big thing with with the electric cars. Right. Like who's powering the Tesla grid. Like the what's the carbon footprint of that like. It's massive though that though I mean when you do the math on it, even if it's all powered by coal, still better than than an internal combustion engine car. Hmm. So, you know, it's like, yeah, it's still a step in the right direction. But I think the takeaway with all those, you know, sort of the messy technical questions of energy transition is like you still have to take these small steps in a different direction if you're ever going to get anywhere.
Yeah. You know, it's like if you're hoping to decarbonise the grid or like to change energy systems, it's like you have to start taking some steps, you know, even if they're not perfect, even if it's not 100 percent correct. Like, you have to at least move in a direction and appreciation that these things take time. Yeah, no, totally. I mean, it's not that removed from, like, athletic performance. You know, it's like if you want to get better or something you like, you have to just put in the days, like grinding away, you know, training.
It's like some days you suck and you just keep grinding away at it. And eventually, you know, hopefully eventually you do something that's actually meaningful. Have you gotten your revision truck yet? No.
No. What are you going to start shipping, though, in June, I think? Yeah, I just got an email that was like, configure your preorder, blah, blah, blah. I figured it's got to be getting close because I started hosting a lot like the trucks out and I was like, oh, they must be getting ready because like it's been underground for a long time now. It's happening there. Yeah. Yeah. I just configured my preorder.
Oh you did. Yeah. It's pretty cool what they've done. So they took over like they took over like an old, I don't know, Nissan factory or something like that, like outside of Chicago and like, like just retrofitted the whole thing and made it like sustainable and brought in like amazing chefs and like used materials from the area to like, you know, like recyclable materials and like wood that was like in the vicinity to build the whole place out.
And have you been to the factory? I haven't been in the manufacturing plant. I've been to the headquarters, which is outside of Detroit, sort of classic. I manufacture, you know, but no, no, it's it's super I. When I went to the headquarters for the company outside Detroit, it was like full on vision of futuristic. It's like kind of what you would expect from like a new technological startup started happening. I was like blown away.
I had this VR experience there where I was like in a room I put on like a VR headset and then basically, like, sampled an assortment of there, like, futuristic ideas, you know, like like concept vehicles. But you could, like, walk around the space with a VR headset and like interact with their concept vehicles. And I was like totally blew my mind. I was like I was like this Star Trek. I was like, like, where am I?
You know, and classic, like, nice new facility with, you know, it's like just clean and well lit and like classy if I electric trucks all over. And I was like, this is so right. Like not what you think of a future in the auto industry. No, I was like, this is the future for sure. That's cool.
Are you done? Have you done any VR stuff around climbing. Actually, I'm supposed to be doing a VR project this year, like filming in the next life and then something in Europe. It's cool. Yeah, I think it actually has the potential to be really cool. But was it.
Yeah, I had I had this guy, Michael Muller in here who's a big photographer with the shark stuff. Yeah. Yeah. So he showed me his stuff. Yes. It's insane. Yeah. Totally blows your mind. Yeah. Yeah. He actually he showed me the same thing you put on your like. Oh right. It's like pretty mega. Right. And they're using it for like PTSD and people like not just like experience. You like also note like help with people's fear responses.
Yeah. Yeah. It's pretty interesting. And so I was just imagining like that in the climbing context, like somebody who's afraid of heights or like that's their big thing. I think it's not afraid of heights. They probably should not watch VR experience. Oh, you might be a bit much.
I know the. Yeah, but but you know, listen, they have that like somebody who's not able to ever have that kind of somebody in a wheelchair. There's never going to be able to have that experience to be able to like to really deal with that fear, even like or even just a gym climber who just realistically never going to go to some of these places, like the the guy that I'm working with on the VR experience shot and Everest VR piece, like a three episode, you know, basically goes to the summit of Mount Everest and VR.
And I found it incredibly immersive and rich in a way that I did not expect because, you know, I've read tons of books about Everest over the years and then to actually be in it in VR and to be able to look around and like interact with the landscape. I was like, this is so much better than all the books I've read. I was like, this is crazy.
That's the future. I mean, those experiences are going to be better than the next five or ten years. I mean, like wearing noise, canceling headphones with a good headset with like high res, really good, you know, not to like jerky. And I mean, like, obviously the technical side of it will only improve. Yeah. And you're just like it's just so it's so it's like it's still not quite there.
But I feel like they're right at the precipice of it just being. Yeah. I've always felt like it wasn't quite there. And then I watched the VR experience and I was like, this is pretty there, you know, and that's kind of what inspired me to feel like it was worth shooting a VR piece. So I was like, even if the current headsets aren't perfect, you know, someone will be able to use that footage on on better models soon.
Yeah, it's all it's pretty incredible.
Yeah, it's cool. So so when you do that, then, like, if you so if you're going to produce that, you got to get up on some wall and then you have like some kind of headset with cameras all around.
Like I would use the it's the opposite. So the idea is that the subject like climbs through the frame. So the camera's fixed in a certain place and I pull a 360 camera, you know, crazy VR setup, and then the climber climbs through the the frame. I got it. And that's apparently to minimize motion sickness, because if the subject itself is the VR focus, like like basically if you're wearing your headset and everything's moving around you, you get incredibly motion sickness.
But if when you're wearing the headset, you feel like you're in a stable place and you're able to control the vision and like, look around and then you can just see someone doing an action in your frame and then it makes you way less sick. I see. But but how would they do that on a big wall? Like, I guess it's it's hard work. Yeah, I would imagine you have to, like, rig a separate rappel line, you know, near the route, fix the camera to the wall, like near the climbing route, and then sort of centered the camera so that you're looking at the climber.
As the climber goes up, the camera remains static with the camera. It seems like they could do some stuff with drones, too. No, no, it's too shaky. Yeah. And and the point is for the camera to stay totally static because ideally, I think for the viewer, they want to be in like a swivel chair or something or like standing in a room where they can fully move around at their own pace and the way they want.
And there'll be something happening in the frame that's like the movie. Right. But they can also just not watch the movie and just look behind them and like look at the view, though, right? Right. Right. But I think with the smaller stuff, it was your it's his point of view, like outside of the cages and all that. Yeah. Yeah.
Different deal. So but maybe that's also why his felt so traumatic to me is because it's like if you make me and say goodbye so I could agree, I think the trauma might have something to do with the fact. Outside of a bit of a cage, and he's with great whites, yeah, you do. It's unbelievable. No, I think the Kleiman's that there will be shooting is sort of the other end of the spectrum where it's like more expansive, broader views.
You know, a lot of it is about putting somebody in a position that they could never see, like the moler shark stuff feels very like intimate. And, you know, you're like, oh, my God, the sharks about the super close and seem scary. I think the climbing footage is more about being in a spectacular place and having a super broadcast is. I got it. Yeah. Where you can see the world around you and then also witness somebody climbing something totally spectacular.
And unless we get a great white to make a cameo, I just want to see combine these two worlds I get to in a day.
Chaklala, you're in a speaking of production. You're in L.A. You're doing like Leno's garage. Yeah. What is that about? I honestly don't know. I just do what I'm told. You know, I do like you want to be on the show. You're going to go to, like, his warehouse and, like, see all his cars. Yeah, I think I think Jay Leno's garage is where you, like, chats with people about cars.
And I think he's a car collector. Right. So he has all kinds of interesting.
He's kind of a car collector. He's got like multiple warehouses, hundreds of cars. Well, like, he is one of the craziest car collections in the world.
Yeah, well, so I know nothing about cars, and that's a scrappy band, you know, that's why I find this so interesting and hilarious.
But I think there's something to be said for talking about, you know, the utility of car. Like, he's basically I don't care at all about my car, but I care about what it allows me to do and the life that it allows me to lead, you know, like being on the road and, you know, to climb full time. And I'm sure that or let's hope that that's a useful perspective for this show. You know, where I'm like, oh, it's not so much about the car.
It's about what I get to do with the car. Right. He's got all these crazy antique cars like steam powered engines and all this wild stuff. And he like every weekend there's this spot that's not far from where I live, where a lot of like motorcyclists and car enthusiasts like go. It's called the rock store. It's like a little bar cafe or whatever. And it's like, right. We're all these windy cool I canyon roads are. So he like drives past my house like every weekend you if you're just at the right place at the right time you'll see him.
But it's always like some completely crazy car. Yeah. You know that like shouldn't I'm like is it even legal to drive that thing on the road, you know, like stuff like that. So I'm sure it'll blow your mind. Oh no. I'm just curious, like what that conversation is going to be like. We'll see what I think. I think I might be taking him climbing too or something. So we'll just see how it all plays right on.
Yeah, I'm psyched out in Burbank somewhere I know well. And a climbing gym, I think Stoney Point, it's like a kind of historic climbing area like north of here. That's cool. But we'll see. I don't know. Like all things in my life, I'm like, I don't really know. I'll just show up. I'll go. So I'll just have a good time. Alex, you have a say in these things. Maybe it's easier not to, you know, just just to see my whole life.
It's like easier to just go with go with the flow. And you're like, oh, it's all a crazy adventure. I'm just on the ride and see how it plays out during the whole free solo craziness. Did you ever max out and just be like, I can't I need like a break, like I got to get out of here?
I think I skipped one event, like in the whole free solo film tour, which was like six or eight months of like nonstop scheduling, sometimes two events in two different cities in the same day and like something in Chicago and something in S.F. in the same day, which is like pretty rugged when you got the flights in between everything. I think in the whole tour there was one event that I was supposed to go to that I was just like, I just can't you know, I went to the climate and said, yeah, and and it was only because either Jimmy or Tchi, the co directors, like, took it over for me, like they did the event for me that night or something.
But, you know, I felt like I was pretty solid.
But then funny you showed up with a smile on your face. I felt I mean, just from what I saw, you just you completely were 100 percent present for it.
That's the thing is, I knew was like a once in a lifetime adventure. You know, if you, instead of looking at it, is like this heinous work experience. If you look at it like this is a crazy adventure that, you know, I'll tell my grandkids about, like the one time I got to sample the movie star life. Yeah. You know, then then it makes it not that bad because it's, um, I kept calling it my deployment to Hollywood because I think the people being, like, deployed overseas for six months.
And it did kind of feel like that because it's a totally different world, totally different scene. You know, I'm being taken places by car service and I'm like, I don't use a car service, you know, like I'm not used to having, like, a fancy SUV sitting out front waiting for me to, like, whisk me to a hotel. But I'm just like I'm just going with it. You know, I'm I'm doing what Brad does.
Brad Pitt or and I like what I was. I loved it. I loved how North Face made a tuxedo for you, which is pretty cool. Is that where you got married? Did you get married in the same tux. Yeah, classy. And funny enough, the formal wear stuff like that actually does get more comfortable if you wear it more. I know because I've only ever worn formal wear like once and you're like oh that's so starchy and painful and like not that nice.
And then. If you were a couple of times, you're actually like, yeah, it starts to break in the talks once a week totally for the deployment for at the Oscars, the tux was like so tight and crisp that I felt like my nipples chafed like in the way that you read about that, like with marathon runners, you know, like if you're running 20 miles in the rain or whatever, that like, you start to chafe in weird ways.
You got you had an injury at the office. Totally. I was like, oh, like I feel like I sandpaper my nipples with this, like, starched shirt. I was like, this is heinous. I'm sure you had some surreal conversations with people. Yeah, I know. Yeah. Sonoita too. Like my wife had a who was it who won best supporting actor I think for like Green Book or forget his name. Viggo Mortensen. Know his story.
Yeah. Yeah. Mahershala he was like walking by and basically like said hi to me and then it was like turning to introduce himself to CENI or something and she was like holding little like appetizer pizzas in both hands and we just threw it on the floor and was like, so great to meet you. So, you know, like had this really nice moment with us. Like she was like so charmed. And then he wandered off and he had this whole entourage with like a crew.
And then as soon as you walked away, songs like cleaning up her pizza off the really like, you know, but it was like, this is my chance to meet Mahershala, right. So it's like just like food on the floor. And hello. So great to meet you. Right. Or just things like that. Like it's just I love I love that. Well this story that I heard maybe it's apocryphal, was that Jason Momoa was was going to be giving out the award, but it was like he wanted to be if if Risala was going to win, that he wanted to be the one to, like, say it because he's like, yeah, yeah, he's a serious farmer.
So it was pretty cool that he was the one who. Yeah, he was like, yeah, he was genuinely like everybody big hugs and super psyched. He seems like a good dude, dude. Yeah. I mean, you know, I only met him briefly through the tour, but super nice guy. And he has like really legit climbing. Yeah. Yeah. He has climbing walls at his house. And so we went to his house and climbed between his family and I was like, you're really strong for a very big man.
He's huge. He's so. Yeah.
Like how you climb when you're that big. Well you just have to be really strong. Yeah. I built him in the climbing gym and was fully like it's like scary to catch him on the other end of the road because he's so much bigger than me that I was like, I don't know what's going to happen, you know, like I can't hold this guy up. Yeah, no. I mean, I you know, obviously I caught him, but I like, shot like a cork out of a bottle, just like shooting up when I got him.
Well, I think I heard this interview that you did with Anderson Cooper not that long ago. And he was he was super into, like, hearing about like your mindfulness practice and how like climbing is sort of like meditation in that it forces you to be so preoccupied with your environment. And it wasn't until you were extracted out of that environment and deployed to Hollywood. You were there. You actually had to like, reckon with that, like and realize like that's part of what I miss about it.
And you had to, like, create a practice around mindfulness and meditation to kind of ground yourself through the whole thing. Yeah, I got into the the waking up, if, you know, I'm here segmentation thing, but I can't remember if I talked about Anderson Cooper or not. But recently I kind of abandoned the app and abandon meditation because I was like, I just don't know if I actually need that. Like, now that I'm climbing full time again.
Now you're doing this. Thank you. In a different way.
But most people, you know, are like they're not living that lifestyle totally.
Well, I think for me personally, I was like, I don't know if I need to practice less attachment, you know, or like I would like be less because, like, I already that's not a malfunction. Yeah, exactly. Like, that is not my problem. Yeah. You know, and that was like, if anything, I need more reasons to like care more to like get amped up more, you know. And I was like, I think the time that I spent meditating could almost be better spent listening to, like, heavy rock and like thinking about climbing projects and like getting psyched.
So like, if anything, I need to be more and, you know, like especially really counterprogramming app. Yeah. Yeah, totally. For the two mindful people out there. Well, I'm not saying I'm not. Yeah, because I. You mean because definitely in the. Yeah. I mean I'm far from like any actual mindful practice like I mean a lot of it, you know, I found just as challenging as anybody else to like stay with the activity is what gets you into that headspace.
Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. I just find that, you know, hiking like being I spent a lot of time by myself in nature and beautiful places, just kind of like wandering and in my own thoughts. And I'm like, you know, I think I think that works enough for me. Like, I just don't know if I need to consciously spend time during my day during that doing the same thing. Right. And like, I could just do it, you know, through outdoor exercise.
Yeah, fair enough, man. Yeah. I think it's a good place to end it. Yeah. Go walk out the lay down goal. You can climb up the wall the on the roof of the building if you want. I be ok.
You have to go look at that. Yeah. Nice. Well have fun with Jay. Yeah we'll see. Just another adventure, you know, every day, like what an unusual it's cool, you have a cool life man, which is nice to have. Variety is the spice of life. Yeah, man. Yeah. Well, good. Come back and talk to me any time, dude. No, thank you. Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure.
Meantime, check out climbing gold, coming into your podcast if you want to listen to a podcast. I don't know. The thing I heard was super polished. Oh, yes. This is the thing. Like the new thing like these, like really highly polished documentary style. Like, I was like, that's not what I do, man. I'm old school with this. So that's what that's that's like you're on the cutting edge of like what is working and what I really like more like the team that I'm working with is on the cutting edge.
I am I am far from it. But Aronoff. Yeah, cool. Check that out. And Alex is easy to find on the Internet. Yeah, just Google Googling. Yeah, that's it man. Right. Yeah. Something else. How do you feel.
Just, you know, just another beautiful day. Yeah. Very good. All right. Man piece. Yeah. Thank you guys. Thanks for listening, everybody, for links and resources related to everything discussed today, visit the show notes on the episode page at Ridgewell dot com.
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