Zac Harlow is my best friend. And I have a ton of close friends. When you are born 25 days apart and grow up across the street - there is no question who your best friend is.
Zac and I were wheeled around in the same baby carriage together. His dad taught me how to drive. My dad saved him from choking on a necklace when he was a toddler. His parents are like family to me and likewise for him.
Zac is a biologist - currently getting his PhD in LA. He wouldn't admit to being a climber. But he is. Over the years we've developed a unique tradition. Every year we climb in the mountains. This tradition, the experience of scrambling around the high peaks, has been the most rewarding way to celebrate our unique bond.
Zac and Jason climbing in the Wind Rivers in 2006. Jason is a post of his own.
It's hard and scary climbing in the mountains. There is loose rock, exposure, storms, and the fatigue of climbing and hiking for long hours at a time. Its not the place to learn how to climb. But this is where Zac has learned how to climb. He gets scared when he should, but his cool head is truly amazing. I've managed to get him in some tough spots over the years, but he always pulls through.
Mt Moran. Tetons. 2007
Zac in the midst of a 5.9+ chimney on Prusik Peak in the Enchantments, WA. Fall 2007.
I like to go for it. Sometimes it a good quality, but often its not. Fueled by enthusiasm, this route on Prusik Peak was probably a little to challenging for us as a climbing team. But Zac clawed his way up. He feeds off my enthusiasm and he trusts me. And he slows me down to notice things I would just walk by, reminds me when my enthusiasm gets the better of me. We may not climb the hardest peaks, but our partnership in the mountains is rich.
Zac and I on the summit of Prusik Peak.
Bivying in the enchantments.
Pulling down in the Tetons last summer.
Zac and I are very different. Zac's more social, a gifted artist, and extremely observant. I often walk quickly through the mountains - intent on my goal. Zac stops me to point out wildlife and interesting plants. I love walking in the mountains with him. He helps me notice things like this . . .
Last summer the two of us hiked up Avalanche Canyon in the Tetons to climb. We got soaked in a thunderstorm, got lost in the dark, and made it to our camp late. When we woke up the next morning there was a big wall right next to our camp with only one route on it. So we picked a new line and climbed it. It was a perfect adventure. I tried to pull through a hard roof, but in the end had to have the humility to back off and climb around it. The weather was changing as we reached the top and as we sprinted to the summit we heard crackles of static electricity in the air. We descended quickly and spent a few days trying to figure out what to name our climb. In Wyoming, all the counties are numbered and are the first number on a license plate. We grew up in County 5 - Albany County. That's what we named our climb.
County 5 climbs the right hand side of the face at the bottom then follows the line between the sun and shadows to the summit. 6 pitches, 5.8.