Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Article by Olaf Mitchell

About a year ago I was approached by Jason Haas of Fixed Pin Publishing.
Jason’s was working on a rock climbing guide book to the South Platte region of Colorado.
Jason asked if I would be willing to help with some of the history of the Cathedral Spires area of the South Platte region. He was also interested to know if I had any photos from the old days.
I was very happy to help in any way I could. So I sent him a selection of images out of my archives.
Jason and I continued to communicate via e-mail and our dialog went something like this:

Hi Olaf, Thanks for the photos, they're great! Have you given more thought to maybe writing an essay for the book? Noel has told me some great stories about you and I think it would be a fantastic addition to the guide if you were willing to do it. Cheers, Jason
Hi Jason, I am honored that you want me to write an essay for your upcoming
book. I would like to know more about what you are looking for. There
are many stories of my Platte days that come to mind but just how to
go about writing them is holding me back at the moment.
What is your time line? I have been working a lot these days and
surfing and wave sailing every day as well so I am going to need to
make some time for the writing project. Aloha, Olaf
HI Olaf, In terms of an essay, the deadline would be June 1. Would that be feasible for you in that time frame? In terms of a topic, well it's really open ended and up to you. I'd say something about some memorable first ascents or what it was like to be (according to Noel) the strongest climber down there and therefore being able to pick any plumb line at will. If that sounds too egotistical, what about why the Platte means so much to you or why it did at the time. What made you really love the South Platte and why should the new generation love it and take care of it as you did. Maybe you can talk about how your routes are ground up and bolted from stances instead of rappel. That can go in two ways, why some of the ground up routes are scary by today's terms but why that ethic was important or you can talk about why rap bolting was bad during the time and how the two viewpoints collided. Again, these are just some ideas and you could write about none of them if you'd like. Ideally, the essay should be around a solid page, no more than two but again, don't limit yourself if you feel like you're on a roll. I'm trying to get Noel to write an essay as well and he's had the same difficulty in narrowing his focus to a certain topic. Thanks again for the photos and for being willing to write an essay. I'm jealous of you surfing all the time, especially as we battle out another Colorado winter. Cheers, Jason
During this period I had a few ideas for the piece and started in several directions but I always stalled out.
Even though I lived the story so much happened over such a long period of time it was hard to focus on any one single period, project, or partner. Everything was so woven together in my mind that in order for me to tell one story I had to start several others.
I have had this issue in the past while trying to write a story and in that particular instance I had to mix all the separate experiences together in order to make one story.
That story turned out really good and was well received but I wasn't interested in taking that approach for this piece.
I needed to recall the experience through all my senses.
Once I found a path the deeper I got into the piece the easier and more enjoyable it became.
I felt as though I could go farther than I did but had the one page criteria so the piece needed to be short and to the point and I think that I achieved that goal.
I figured that the piece would be cut and edited to fit the available space and agenda of the book. It was quite a surprise when I found that it will be printed as I presented it to the publisher nearly word for word.
If you would like to check it out here's a link to the text in the essay that I wrote for the new guide book for the South Platte: Click Here

1 comment:

Marcia said...

You should publish your life stories. You have so much to tell, young man.