Skilled climbers typically take 72-plus hours to ascend Yosemite's 2,900 foot El Capitan. Hans Florine has shaved nearly 70 hours from that time and has climbed the monolith well over 150 times. Hans shares wisdom on the spirituality of climbing, "eating the frog," and following passion in life. Less than six months after breaking both legs in a fall while climbing El Cap, Hans is up and back at it again all while sharing his spirit leading Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, CA.
John Weems:0:07If you didn't need the money, would you still show up to your job? I'm John Weems. I've spent half of my career in the corporate world and the other half in full time spiritual guidance as a pastor, I respect people of all views unless they're totally closed minded a-holes. I am not here to tell you what to believe. I am here to encourage you to think beyond the check. Welcome to this podcast where we talk about work, life and the meaning of our time here. You'll hear from a wide range of business people from multiple backgrounds. Most of my guests pursue their passions from a combination of offices, coffee shops and airports, but today I have the honor of meeting, today's guest in a much less conventional work environment--Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, California. Hans Florine is most famous for his pursuits and on of the most beautiful and truly awesome venues ever on Yosemite's El Capitan, which he has climbed more than 150 times, including several world speed records on the famous nose route. Hans, thank you for joining me today.
Hans Florine:1:09Hey, well thanks for the plug for Diablo Rock Gym.
John Weems:1:14So some of our listeners have been fortunate enough to already find their big why or their "precious" as you and your book co-author say, while others are still searching. When asked why in the world you would climb El Cap so many times your response has been, "I'm not sure that's the right question. So how about this one? Why on earth would anyone take a job they don't care about for 261 days a year, every year. Or this one? Why would someone who has a choice settled for good enough instead of going after? Great. So let's just start big deep questions right from the top. How did you develop your mindset of pursuing greatness?
Hans Florine:1:52I'll say it didn't come like immediately. You know, I, I went to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and like, what are you going to study? You know, when you're 18, people ask you, what are you going to study? What are you going to be? I'm like, I don't know, so I took business because I figured what ever I end up doing, I'll probably need business, you know? Then you graduated from college and like, well now what are you going to do? What shouldn't you know by now? What's great, what, what's your passion? And you know, frankly, I've tried lots of different sports from tennis to soccer track and field and I did well in track and field, but it, you know, it's great actually standing up on a podium and people cheering you on and stuff and I've always been an athlete and a competitor to a great degree and I discovered climbing while I was in in college days in the dormitory and I started really liking that.
Hans Florine:2:41The whole idea of having this quiver of tools and you can go up all this wild terrain outside and adventure and I thought this was really neat, but then I think what, why I became a passion for me or something that I could excel greatly at was that I realized this sport or this recreation was becoming a sport. And here I was involved with it. At this critical time where a recreation had become a sport or was becoming a sport. And I'm like, oh, I'm a competitor. I like this. So, you know, frankly, a lot of young man ego things like, 'I'm going to climb harder than someone else or I'm going to stand on the podium at the X-games or um, the national championships. That's pretty neat, you know? Um, I found I could go to Europe and compete against the very best in the world that I, you know, I joke I won a $3 million lira in Italy one time which amounted to about $1,100.
Hans Florine:3:36But for a young man in Europe in the early nineties, that got me through like three more months of travel. So, you know, these things may seem shallow, but like recognition by your peers that you're excelling at something is sometimes enough to keep you along the path. And that competition climbing really kinda did keep me along the path of, okay, you know, community recognition, people around the world would recognize, hey, you did something and you're somebody and that's the Mecca that, you know, the, the center of the universe for climbing world. And I would have people invite me into their homes and France and Germany because I held the speed record on the nose route on El Capitan and Yosemite. And that to me was just so memorable that all these decades that I've held the record, I kept getting it back because I, you know, internally felt like I'm recognized my peers. Um, my, my industry, my community respects me. Yeah.
John Weems:4:29So you'd mentioned briefly that you were okay at track. I think a little more than ok as an all American pole vaulter, correct? So was that, was that kind of your first taste of greatness or was there something even earlier?
Hans Florine:4:42I think that was, I mean I had a coach, Coach Henderson and you know, he had this thing, that attitude was more powerful than anything else. And you know, it's tough working out day in, day out. But like, and track and field is thought of more as an individual sport and, but he's one of the track coaches that got everyone together so much. For I guess team enthusiasm one year we all shaved our heads, well, you know, nine out of 10 of the male athletes shaved heads and to get some guys in high school to shave their heads is pretty impressive. I mean I thought and we'd all wear the same tee shirts that would say attitude and it was, we all individually performed at our best on the meets where we did that as opposed to just trying hard on our own, you know, in each person probably had their own reason to do well. Some of them went on to the Olympics. Um, others were after, you know, a metal in a given competition or something. But as a team, we went onto the national in our division. So it was interesting to see everyone's individual scores went up because there was just all this camaraderie amongst us pushing us all together.
John Weems:5:53Now, for those of our listeners who are learning about climbing, definitely go to YouTube. You can see plenty of amazing videos of bonds. Check out his book on Amazon, On the Nose, which is now available in audio. Definitely learn more as your interest is piqued here. Talk a little bit about climbing that sometimes team aspect when you're climbing with someone you know versus individual. How do you approach the two? Is it a preference? What should people know?
Hans Florine:6:20Awesome question. Because when you think about going out climbing, well you have to have a partner, right? So in some ways it's team, but the whole aspect of competition climbing, it's just you and the wall so that it's not, you know, beating up somebody else or um, it's always, you quote against the wall. Um, so it is very individual, but yet the majority of climbing I do is with a partner. The record on the nose is set with a partner. You have a partner. Um, it's, it's very rare that you're going to have a solo climber. I mean, we have Alex Honnold kind of out there without a rope as the Tiger Woods of our sport brining rock climbing to the mainstream because he's just done all these incredible feats. But um, for me, the physical movement of climbing because they've involves the tip of your toes, the tip of your fingers. It's a wonderful exercise in and of itself, but there's all these problem solving things. When you go to Yosemite, you're going up a thousand or 3000 foot cliff, you're climbing a crack and it ends and it's blank. Granite above you. You've got to swing over left or right, and you have to figure out logistics. How am I going to swing over there, climb up and Oh, well now I've left gear back right into the thing.
Speaker 3:7:33These might seem like simple little mathematical or whatever, pragmatic things, but climbing involves a ton of thinking out, problem solving. You know, this one I explained is, you know, just rope management from one to another. But then what if there's a 50 pound haul bag you've got to bring up? How do you leave it down below? How do you bring your partner across and then there's just the simple fact of like, you're in a climbing gym and you're climbing 10 feet and you don't know how to reach that hold up left. And I joked that invariably women always out climb men their first time in the gym because they tend to look all around them for solutions. Whereas men look at their biceps and try to just pull harder. Climbing is very finesseful. You have to problem solve and find out where your weaknesses are. Is there an undercling over there? Do I lift my leg up? Do I twist my body left or right? So, uh, strangely enough we have a lot of um, Phd, professors from Berkeley climbing at our Berkeley Ironworks Gym. I'm kind of classic old guys with the long gray beard. Um, but there's a lot of very cognitive science folks that climb because I think it just really engages your mind to do all this problem solving. Whereas weight lifting or going on a treadmill just doesn't cut it really. So you can just do a bunch of curls and it's a lot more to it than that. Yeah. Well let's as, as many are kind of thinking through work and I'm sure some are envious that you have made, you know, your, your passion, your life in such a profound way. Looks like a little bit about growing up.
John Weems:9:02You were a military brat as you've shared. Talk a little bit about how that shaped you.
Hans Florine:9:07Well, you know, people go, was that was hard to move every three years or four years and lose, lose your friends? Right. And I'm like, I didn't know that all kids did that. Didn't do that. Right. I just assumed everybody moves every four years. So I'm like, wasn't it hard for you being in the same place all the time? So I didn't think that as a burden or a hardship, I just thought it was like, oh, I get to find a new neighborhood, meet new friends, trying new school.
John Weems:9:34You'd mentioned, you know, like coming out of college people say, well what are you going to do? What are you going to do as a, you know, as a kiddo is a young one. How did you view work based on what you saw through your parents and you know, kind of the world around you?
Hans Florine:9:45Yeah, I'll say that my parents were both sort of Protestant work ethic. I mean, my father would go away. He was a doctor in the military of veterinarian science and um, he would go in the morning, come back in the evening, go away in the morning, and then as we got older, my mom would take on what job she could. She worked for a real estate company for property management company. She'd work wherever she could and um, you know, there was no idle time sort of thing. So I thought that's what you do is your. Yet my parents found time to take us camping, take us on trips to see national monuments, take us to know memorials. We lived on the east coast quite a bit so often. It was a civil war and a whatever type memorials. And of course Washington DC. We were regular at museums and stuff.
Hans Florine:10:33So that was, um, between camping, you know, on beaches and parks and museums that my parents did a good job at showing us things outside of regular school. Um, and so I thought, hey, you know, that's, that will be my course. I'll go get a degree, I'll work in the environment one way or another or, and I will work 40 hours a week and I will take vacation with my family. That was kind of my vision. Right.
John Weems:11:00Do you have any early memories of a dream job? Even as a really young one?
Hans Florine:11:06I wouldn't say so much a dream job as that. Um, I never was much of a, I mean I watch some sports where maybe in high school but mostly I just prefer doing as opposed to watching, but you know, you'd get into this phase where you'd watch football and things and I particularly member one time, like I think it was a Nascar thing where they coming up and interviewing someone and the person had STP logo on their thing and uh, and Duracell and like probably 12 different companies sponsoring that person. And I'm like, why are they sponsoring this person that drives a car? Right. And I thought, what could I do someday? Can I be a pole vaulter that gets all these logos of power bar or Clif Bar or whatever? Um, well my sport ever be that big where, you know, and I've got for some reason I felt like what could I do in climbing to make it so that that's a possibility for somebody because I didn't think in my lifetime it would happen. So, um, I took over the Executive Director position for the national governing body for competitions for climbing. And I worked really hard bringing all these sponsors in from Petzl and PMI to Bluewater Ropes to Black Diamond. And sure enough, five years later I was in the X-games and I had this jacket on that had like six logos on it and I was just like, I have arrived and I didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.
John Weems:12:33And STP didn't sponsor you?
Hans Florine:12:34STP did not. I haven't gotten into it yet. No.
John Weems:12:37Well, you know, maybe they're just figuring it out. What was your first paid job?
Hans Florine:12:42First paid job was picking weeds. Yep. I remember the minimum wage was $3 and thirty five cents an hour on my hands and knees walking through a business, you know, crawling through a business park, pulling weeds in between bushes.
John Weems:12:55Yeah. And so when you, when you did finish it at Cal Poly and went down the Yuppie route for a while, what did that look like? What did you do?
Hans Florine:13:04Well, interestingly, I interviewed with three companies. One of them was at Foster Farms, chicken ranch up in Turlock and they were going to let me manage a chicken farm because Cal Poly is a big ag school, but I was in the business section and then my other offer was from a manufacturing facility in downtown Los Angeles.
Speaker 3:13:23Parker Seals, they make high tech fuel door seals for jets. They make the space shuttle battery and they make low tech seals for oil drain plugs. Right. And they needed somebody to kind of keep the line moving, the sales going and like that seems more exciting Downtown L.A. So I'll just took the job, what's the offer for pay? I'm like, I don't care. I just go and you know, um, and that was 50, 60 hours a week because I was learning new stuff and that I think there is when I realized like somebody who comes straight out of high school that just understands like it's okay not to know what you're supposed to do, but you're gonna learn and you're going to learn fast, um, that in college you really supposed to show that you can learn, you learn how to learn. Right? And there was so much stuff I didn't know and they were asking me to do in this Yuppie job, you know, go and schedule all the machines and these workers for them, like I don't know how to do that.
Hans Florine:14:26And this was the age of the first PC computers. Right. And like there was a computer department doing IBM Punch cards. I'm trying to figure out where product was and I was totally confused. Right. We had never done this in college. So. And I was working. I was working till 9:00 PM at night trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and I was really fortunate that I had two or three other people who had graduated from Cal Poly the year before and saw like, yep, I was just like you last year when I got hired. So I had a lot of people kind of shepherd me along state. It's okay. It's okay. You don't know, you're gonna know you're going to figure it out. Um, I think that's really important is to get in over your head sometimes. Um, there's a lot of quotes like from I think Mario Andretti, if you're an, if you're under control, you're going too slow. He needed to be a little bit out of your comfort zone, you know, all the time.
John Weems:15:17So in those, those first couple years at, at Parker seals, what was your relationship with money like? What was your financial philosophy?
Hans Florine:15:26I was pretty frugal. I'm coming in from a Protestant work ethic and I had paid off everything I owed for school within, I think within like three or four months of working because I didn't have a fancy car or mortgage payment. I didn't have a house payment. I had the cheapest apartment I could find within walking distance of where I worked. Um, so my relationship was to stock away money till when you need it or until you have a vision, how to spend it on yourself, invest in yourself because it's kind of the universal power. I don't think of something as like money's evil, but money is power and whether you want to be mother Theresa and use that power to help kids in Africa or you want to be, I don't know, someone who drives around Ferrari's and Maserati's. I don't know that those are the two extremes there, but like you will need it. And so I didn't know what I wanted to do with money but I knew that like buying a fancy bike, buying a fancy car, all that wasn't going to make me happy at the moment. So I just lived frugally and, and piled it up.
John Weems:16:33Where was climbing in your life in the Parker Seals days?
Hans Florine:16:37It's interesting because I, um, I learned climbing while I was in college and I felt an obligation to finish track and field. I love he competition and the, and the rivalry and the, the camaraderie of it. And then I realized I needed something to replace that with and climbing was it. But I also felt like I owe it to this new company that I've, you know, signed a deal with that I've got to give it my best and I was, I was working 50 and 60 hours a week, but I would be climbing Tuesday, Thursdays after work for three hours and I'd go to Joshua Tree National Park from Friday at 6:00 PM until Sunday at midnight every weekend or you know, 40 weekends a year, um, and come back red eyed and tired Monday morning. My boss be like, boy, you had a hell of a weekend. And everyone thought I was a partier but I was just climbing my brains out. Right. Um, but I showed up because that was my upbringing as you show up for work and you know, you don't call in sick on a Friday so you can have a three day weekend that's not part of my purview.
John Weems:17:46So as you share in your book and again, I encourage everyone to read it or listen, you're working hard. You're called in by your boss and your boss's boss. What happens?
Hans Florine:17:59So, yeah, I have now worked uh, almost two years with them and I, I'm realizing like, Gosh, I'm, I'm climbing. They had the very first ever US National competitions and I got invited. I went and did well there. Now having World Cup competitions and I'm going to everything I can and luckily I'm a Yuppie so I can afford to fly to Boulder and do this competition and fly to Seattle and do these competitions I think in, wow. I'm in my mid twenties. There's this new sport arriving, but I'm just not spending enough time climbing to do it. What if I just quit work? Like some people quit work and go travel the world. You know what if, what if I just quit work, I don't know any money, how do I tell my boss because my boss loves me. I'm doing really good work. I've got a raise four months ago and it's becoming springtime, which for climbers is pretty important. So here it is February. And I'm like, gosh, I got to tell my boss I really want to quit so I can go do the spring season. And out of the blue he invites me into the conference room and his boss is there and they say, Hans, you've been totally kicking butt. We know you work hard and you've learned all these new skills. We want to give you a raise with this new position, blah, blah, blah. Like a significant raise. And I'm like, oh, I don't, I haven't probably sat there silent for a long time. And then I just broke it to them that I really want to. I really want to quit and just go on the road. Rock climbing.
John Weems:19:27And there was a book that was influential in your life at that time? Atlas Shrugged, is that right? Yeah. Yeah. What, what role did that play in your decision making?
Hans Florine:19:38Um, I think it's that even when the status quo or the majority of people believe that you should do X, Y, Z, they may not be right, you know, just because it's hard to put it. I mean, Atlas Shrug is such a gigantic novel. It has so many concepts about things, um, political statements, economic statements about capitalism being all great and everything. Um, and I've, I've turned my view from it, but the main fact of it is you can be right for you and it's not right for the rest of the people around you. And that's okay. That's probably the number one rule I got out of it or message is that what's right for me to quit my job and go climbing isn't right for everybody and I'm just going to have to have the will and the confidence in myself that, that purpose, if you want to call it, is enough for me and I should pursue it. Yeah.
John Weems:20:46For some of our younger listeners who may not be familiar with the term Yuppie, maybe already Googled it by now, better young, upwardly mobile professionals. So you are now literally upwardly mobile in a totally different direction. You've, you've left Parker seals in your book. One of the things, the first line of the first chapter a says, I was pretty sure I was about to die. How does pursuing a passion with, with such inherent risk influence your daily life when you're not climbing?
Hans Florine:21:20Uh, I'd say that when we call it the business, like I call it, like eating the frog, like, Oh God, I know I have to fire this person today. Don't wait to the end of the day because then you're just, you're stressed and worried about it for all eight hours of the day until the end. Fire them in the morning. Right? The same thing. Like if you've got, you're going to do a big climb, you're in Patagonia and the hardest part, you've got to face it. It's, it's, it's places position somewhere on that route if you will. And to sit there and worry about it all the time up into it, it's just, you realize that's stresses may make a mistake earlier on in climbing. You don't often get to choose when to confront the frog or the worst part of something. You're constantly on edge ready for it because you know, there's a lot of tough consequences in climbing, especially if you're an urbanist and on crazy terrain. Um, and so I've realized like our business, I'll write down my five highest goals that I've got to attack today. And I'm like, oh, that's the one I don't want to call her and tell her that she's fired or whatever it might be, or I don't want to do a sales call because I'm afraid of rejection. Right. You know, what? Get the sales call the way early in the morning, get rejected and then move on. You know, the more I counsel a lot of people on sales and like, you know, the only thing better than getting rejected is getting rejected 10 times because the 11th rejection is way easier than the first.
John Weems:22:46Right. Very true. Yeah. So you dealing with adversity is nothing new to you. I'm sure some of our guests who are just getting to know you may have looked you up and presently one of the first things that will, will pop up is notice that you had a serious fall just in, in May of 2018. So just to just five months ago. Having had that experience, let's talk a little about perseverance. How do you process adversity you've faced and how are you doing at the moment?
Hans Florine:23:16Uh, so this fall I fell in the middle of El Cap. It's a 3000 foot granite wall. I fell 15 feet, but that was enough to break my right heel and my left leg at the tib fib. So I was completely incapacitated, couldn't use my legs. And um, I had a partner Abe Shreve. He's an incredible business coach, so happens an incredible climber and he was out of sight when I fell and he comes around the corner and sees that I'm on my phone because what are you doing on your phone? I'm like, well, I'm calling the rangers nine slash 11 and it's why you doing that? And I'm like, oh, I broke both my legs just called dead pan is all heck and you know, we talk about this thing me and I was like, well, what do you do in crisis? Either you laugh or you cry or your panic or you, you're calm, cool. Collected. I was probably in shock and just, um, and just was probably thinking out, I've thought about what to do in these situations before I've helped others in this situation before. And what's the number one thing you know, that's important to do here is stop, think and, you know, proceed with what the best knowledge you have is. Um, at one point during the, the rescue, well we hadn't been rescued yet, but it was an hour in and we're waiting and there's now the wind's blowing really hard and I can't help a boy. I'm organized ropes and stuff and he's got to get this huge tangle undone. Other the ropes. And I'm like, well, I can't move very well if I tap my foot, I go to a pain level, 10 out of 10. How about I shoot a video for social media? And Abe gives me this look like, what are you talking about? I'm like, well dude, I can't help you. So let me show you that social media video. It'd be like a story on instagram. He's like, don't do it. Hans. And I'm like, God, I'm not doing anything that'd be helpful. So I proceeded to shoot this silly video. And um, I think he, he really concise. He said, you know what, you did Hans up there, you know, this was days there, you did what you could, you didn't focus on what you can't do. Yes. You can't climb up because your feet are broken. Yes. You can't repel down because your feet are broken. You focused on what you could do. You let me lower you down to the next ledge, you know, and you shot a video for social media. Maybe that wasn't super productive, but, um, we did what we could, you know, people. So my focus in business like, oh, I didn't get that loan. Okay, you didn't get the loan. So what can you do? Can you apply for new loan? Can you look for money somewhere else? Can you finance a different way? You know, you're always looking for solutions. And I think I learned in spades, you know, and Abe had to describe it to me. Like what you did is you did what you can do. You didn't focus for one millisecond on what you couldn't do.
John Weems:26:05Like in one of the interviews you said that at that time it felt like you were watching your life through another lens or another perspective to where you been conscious of that at the time or just being in shock.
Hans Florine:26:16You were just think I wasn't conscious at the time. It was just like, I'm not going to cry. I'm, yeah, I'm in physical pain that I've never felt before. But I probably did shed a tear or two there. But once, you know, I've, you just don't have the physical ability to whale crying and crying for five or 10 hours, however long it took to get rescued. But, um, after the fight I thought I'm getting my metal tested. Um, I've joked that I'm kind of like Job this year is I'm going through an amicable divorce with my wife, broke my legs, my kids are leaving the house because they're going to college and it turns out that there was a fire at in Yosemite this year that was burning around my house. I'm just like, next will be the locusts, right? And be really getting tested. And I'm like, I'm just going to sit and watch from afar here and see how Hans does, how has his character going to handle all these things thrown at them?
John Weems:27:11Yeah. Just loosen your grip and yeah. See what happens. Wow. Now, as we shared in the beginning of every episode, our listeners represent a broad range of spiritual views and our intention isn't to push any particular one. In your book, you wrote that if climbing, were a religion sending the nose would be like getting baptized, which is a very, very powerful language. Can you describe a little bit about your own spirituality in climbing in life? Maybe some of the, the spiritual frameworks you were exposed to growing up.
Hans Florine:27:44Yeah. I mentioned earlier I was a military brat, so I was brought up in Christian schools every other place. I know the Bible pretty well. Um, but it so happened the last place we landed in California, the public schools were really good, so I didn't have it church upbringing in high school and beyond. Um, but I, I'd go back to like why I think climbing, if it were a religion, I think finding something that you're passionate about and then some people I can see a lot of my friends and climbing, they have a group called solid rock that are climbers for Christ and I find them to be pretty darn happy people because they found something in addition to rock climb and they found Christ that is good for them or a rock that they can count on. Right? Um, I've found that I can count on climbing and many of the people in climbing as a Go to. A great example is you get up at 3:00 AM in the morning and you feel like, can I just go back to bed right now? And, and I realized like every time I've gone and done a three hour workout before I do my eight hour job at an architect engineering firm or wherever I'm working at the time, I feel way better. Um, you know, sometimes you go out drinking, it feels great with your friends, but you know, the next morning it's not gonna feel good so you can pass on drinking with friends, but working out maybe it's hard a little bit here and there or training for some goal or the actual performance of a climbing activity. But afterwards, I always feel part of it's physical, they endorphins and you. But a lot of it's the sense of accomplishment. And um, it's tough for climbers to feel purposeful because it's pretty ridiculous what we do. We climb a vertical wall, you know, I mean, nobody's putting shoes on kids and bad neighborhoods. We're not saving lives in Ethiopia, but you're focusing on what you do and when you're happy about what you're doing and you're not harming others. Golden rule, you know, I'll do it. I've found that, uh, I focused so strongly on trying to perform my best at climbing the nose of El cap or climbing some sport route that people have come up to me and just said, you know, you really inspired me to try my best at whatever they were doing. We've mentioned that I've had people come up to me and said, I went and did the Peace Corps for two years. I've done Doctors Without Borders for the last season because you just kind of opened my eyes to try really hard at something that I love when we have a saying here at the Diablo Rock Gym, "Do Hard Things." What we mean by that is, you know, the easy things are usually not that rewarding. Getting up at three is not easy, but how you feel afterwards is pretty awesome.
John Weems:30:32Well, it sounds like getting up at three and, and you know, exercising, climbing, everything you do is spiritual. Are there any other spiritual practices that you have found to be helpful now or through the years?
Speaker 3:30:45Oof, I'd have a lot of friends in Berkeley. Um, and I, I mentioned that because to me that just brings up a, I dunno, hippiness a little bit and very liberal views and everything from Chinese medicine to, to meditating Eastern influenced perhaps to some degree. And um, I've tried meditating a number of times and um, I haven't been coached, I'd say expertly at it, but I, I find that it's, it's good to find a routine. Um, something as simple as before bed, you know, uh, think of something you did good today, that last day I think of something, not that you did bad, but something you could have improved on. And then think of some else you did good. I always like to start with something good and something bad. So I think simple little practices that simple. Think of something good you did that day so you're appreciative of how well you acted. I think of something you could improve on. And then think of a second thing he did well. Simple things like that get give you a structure that you will, I feel that it's important to have a mental part of your life, a spiritual part of your life where you're trying to improve, trying to be the best you can.
John Weems:31:56Yeah. So on the climbing front and, and sort of the spiritual crossover, some through the years of have criticized you for bringing competition to an activity that many have described as zen or spiritual for them. What is your perspective? How does it all blend together?
Hans Florine:32:13So I was in college, never knew anything about climbing person to approach people, hey, anybody want to go out? Climbed with a guy happened to be a named Alan. He was, in my opinion, the classic blue Jean Cutoff torn ragged tee-shirt, smoked illegal drugs at that time. Um, and he climbed because people told him you're not supposed to do that. And perhaps because of the nature scenery I took to them, but um, I wanted to try it because there's all these cool, you know, nuts and tools and webbing and rope and you get to go over terrain. Like I said before that you can't go, you get to conquer terrain, you get to use your physical skills in your mental skills to try this quiver of tools to get through things. But quickly I found that like wow, athletically they're starting to rate these these problems and things and now there is a sport and by seven, eight years into it, they were making it a sport, a competition, and I was finding climbers that were much better than me.
Speaker 3:33:19I'd see them at Joshua Tree, I'd see them in Yosemite. I'd see them at Rifle Colorado all out climbing me and when it got to competition day, I would get higher on the Walden them and it was confusing to me and it was really frustrating for them because they could see me on an easy route on the weekend and rifle or the week before or Joshua tree and then they were utterly frustrated that I was beating them at comp and I think it was that I had had a long history of being told what to do. Track and field. You Ready? Set, go. Gun goes off or whistle blows done for the quarter or whatever. And a lot of climbers had been like my original mentor. They did it because people told him not to or they the love of nature, which is, there's nothing wrong with that at all, but they weren't there for the competitive lay it all on the line.
Speaker 3:34:11And so the folks that are early on, I think that we're thinking I'd sold out the sport. I think that they now see that there's just such a huge embrace of all these kids that are coming into the program mostly for competition. Um, but kids like being rewarded for their ability, their innocent about. And I know adults do too. And then I think the biggest thing I can point to is that when I took over as the director of the competition thing, I listed everyone that competed and I put them in order from first to I think at one point we had a list out to 450 people. And I had a call from. Somebody said, you got my score wrong at a local and Alabama. I should be ranked 187th in the US, not 193rd. And I'm like, people just want recognition their names in print, like on a list, right?
Speaker 3:35:08And, um, I, I, that would just crystallize it to me. They just want recognition, you know, and I think that it's just as important to onsite at 13. See out in a crag somewhere in Colorado with only two people watching. That's an achievement. But to do it when you're told, when you walked to the base of an artificial root in a gym or at a artificial wall on a stadium in Vail, Colorado or wherever, those competitions are going to be held when there's a crowd of 300 people. And that is an exceptional skill to grace under pressure. Can you perform the sermon on the mount right there? Everyone needs to hear it. You know, Ken, you clot onsite at 13. See, now you've got to start in 40 seconds and time is ticking. You know, it's, uh, I, I like it more than the onsite out at the crag by yourself.
Speaker 3:36:06Peaceful because it's, it puts more pressure on it, tests you more than and I like to be tested on so our listeners can appreciate how fast your clients are compared to kind of where history began. Sort of walk us through the first people who climbed El Capitan to, to you what kind of Delta are we talking? So in the fifties they'd see a sheer face of half dome cut. The half dome right in the sheer face was 1900 feet tall, which is the height of most skyscrapers that are very high now. They thought you couldn't climb that. Well, Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick and Jerry Falwell climbed it in five days, right? Unheard of guy anymore. And Hardy and walked around the back half dome, congratulate him, known to say I can do something better. So he went in the face of El Cap, which after five days of work he got maybe 500 feet up on a 3000 foot face.
Speaker 3:36:59We kind of failed after five days, but he spent 45 days spread out over 18 months and finally topped out on this wall. Took 12 day push, which is coming up actually this November, the 60 year anniversary. So naturally once that 30,000 foot wall was shown to be claimable, the second ascent, three years later, only took seven days. Right. They knew they could do it, so they just sat on it, went up thirty cent, took three and a half days because the mental barrier had been broken by the late seventies team climate in a single day, which was kind of amazing because this is a grade six route. Well, when I first climate in Yosemite, um, I would never think to climb el Cap. I'm even a very good climbers. I was, I couldn't tackle something like that. I failed my first time trying to do it in 1989.
Speaker 3:37:48I climbed it in two and a half days and I asked the best big wall climber in the world, Steve Snyder, if he would climb it with me for the record. And we did it in eight hours the following year. So I went from two and a half days to eight hours, which was pretty amazing how quickly the record got broken. A few weeks later by some locals, the next year I did it in six hours, quickly it got broken again. The next year I did it, I teamed up with someone who had broken with another person, Peter Croft. We did it in under five hours. Right. So as the decades have gone on, it's gone down to three hours and two and a half hours. And then just recently, uh, Alex and Tommy, Tommy Caldwell and Alex honnold climbed it in just under two hours, an hour and 58 minutes. This is amazing because today, this season, this year in the fall, the average climbing party will take three days to climb the route.
Speaker 3:38:40That means competent climbers that can do it, will take three days to do the route. So I've got to see it go from, you know, 10 hours in my time of climbing to two hours. I mean, that's unheard of to think of like a marathon going from 10 hours to two hours, which is what the record is on marathon right now, just over two hours. Right. What's what's still on your list was what are some goals you still have to achieve? Well, I'm 54. I'm in the Alpine mountaineering world. Lots of people do their best mountaineering in their fifties and sixties, but I'm, I'm a t shirt and shorts climber. I don't have enough persistence and body fat to go up to mountains, big mountains. So I'm going to continue to do things in sunny, a good rock climbing areas that's more, more sport and athleticism and less risk.
Speaker 3:39:34Um, I'd love to get 'em up El cap with my daughter. Um, I went up with my son last summer. Um, I'd love to keep hosting a climbers from the world around you that are younger because they haven't been to Yosemite and be their host and you've sent me and show them your somebody climates. So it's so much different than other places. So I'd like to be involved in, I guess a introducing Yosemite to some of the younger upcoming climbers. Yeah. Yeah. And I, I try to ask all of our guests on. So last question, how do you define success?
Speaker 3:40:13I think success is really something for people that are mature and experienced in their world, like I don't think a 19 and 20 year old, most 19 and 20 year olds. They have probably moments of happiness and maybe moments of feeling rewarded but you needed to and they, and they are successes, but I think you have to have confidence in yourself that what you choose is important, is um, is purposeful and you feel happy content reward in doing it because I can see pictures of me topping out after climbing half dome and El Cap and a day and I'm completely exhausted, but I have a look of contentment in me and happiness and I really did feel more successful, more happy than I ever have any other time in my life. And when I look at it from an outside persons perspective, just like guy, you just
Speaker 1:41:16and climbed up some rocks and walked around the forest and stuff like what's so purposeful about that? I defined it and I believe in it and I think everyone's got to develop in themselves what's important to them and go after it. Push themselves. Excellent. Thank you for pushing yourself many blessings on your continued recovery from your injuries. You get back up there and thanks for joining me today. Welcome. Great having me here and glad you came to Diablo rock chip special. Thanks to my friend David [inaudible] for the introduction to haunt. I invite you to follow Han's advice to do hard things and eat the frog as early in the day as possible. Until the next episode, keep living beyond the check.