The Twilight Zone
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
As a climber, I travel a lot! Bouncing around the globe from one destination to the next in search of cool temps, epic lines, and sticky rock.
Of course there are endless new places to explore, but more often than not, we get lured back to the same spots year after year to complete projects, meet friends, or just revel in the comfort of a familiar place.
So when I got invited to do a climbing/surf trip to Iceland with prAna ambassadors, Chadd Konig and Paul Robinson; badass surfer, Anna Erghott; and photographers, Keith Ladzinski and Chris Burkard, I jumped at the opportunity. Here, was my chance to step off the beaten track of the usual climbing circuit and do something different.
“This twilight zone feel became a bit of a running theme for the entire trip—ten days felt like a month and all sense of direction is lost…”
Other than knowing I was meeting up with an awesome group of people, I really had no idea what to expect in Iceland. I’d heard it was a beautiful country though and I was psyched to experience the 24-hour sun for the first time. So I packed my gear and boarded a flight direct from Barcelona to Reykjavik. It was a disorienting adventure. As I flew farther north it continued to get lighter and lighter, even though I knew it was getting later and later. This twilight zone feel became a bit of a running theme for the entire trip—ten days felt like a month and all sense of
direction is lost thanks to the endless number of glaciers and waterfalls.
Chris Burkard had been there more than a dozen times, so we all followed his lead down the coast on an amazing road trip. However, as our trip through driving wind and rain, ebbed into its twentieth hour our deliriousness hit new levels and we discovered what became known as “the dark side of the twilight zone”.
As tired as we were (it was around five in the morning), and with the scenery as surreal as it was, I honestly felt like I was hallucinating. Iceland, without a doubt, has some of the most spectacular natural beauty I’ve ever seen. And when the conditions line up just right, it’s like something straight out of a fairytale. On the other hand, when the weather isn’t on your side, it’s a very, very harsh place. Especially if your coming from summer in Spain.During these long drives, I got to know this amazing group of people. I’ve known Paul for a long time, but we had never actually been on a climbing trip together. It was amazing see how technical and precise he is in his climbing, filmmaking, surfing, and pretty much in his whole life. Chadd and Anna are surfers and knew very little about climbing, but what struck me was how easy they were to relate to. One of the cool things about getting to spend time with them was realizing how similar our lifestyles, and outlooks on life and our respective sports are. I think surfing, like climbing, is hard to fit it into the box of a conventional sport. For me, it’s a lifestyle and it was nice to connect with people from different walks of life that share in that feeling.
We finally made it to our destination at the southern tip of Iceland, which literally felt like the edge of the earth. Huge mountains ending on deserted black sand beaches and beautiful granite boulders perched just above raging surf. Without a person in sight, it was all very dreamy…until we got out of the car and were knocked over by an 85 mph gust of wind.
We persevered though and found some sweet boulders. I’d never climbed on rock quite like this before so I savored this unique, even though I did freeze my ass off. Unfortunately the waves weren’t ideal that day, but that’s the name of the game. It’s not easy to travel across the world for two weeks and have everything fall into place. Maybe that’s what makes Chadd and Anna so easy going; they’re just used to waiting out the conditions. A few days later the waves were a bit better. Even though the storms raged on, we couldn’t contain ourselves and we all went in.
It was an amazing trip. Maybe we didn’t climb the world’s hardest route or surf the biggest wave, but then again, making new friends along the way is more often than not more rewarding than any of that anyway.
~ Written by Chris Sharma