posted by dpm on 08/01/2009
When you top out at the peak of a long multi-pitch and you horizon line what crosses your mind? If you ask Steph Davis this question, we guarantee her mind is already occupied with the logistics of jumping from that spot. DPM recently sat down with Steph to catch up and see what's new in her life.
DPM: First and foremost what have you been up to as of late? You have not popped up on the grid in any mags recently. Are you lying low working on something, or enjoying your other passions.
Steph: I've been base jumping, flying my wing-suit, climbing at Rifle, and spending time with my dog Fletch who is 15, and slowly succumbing to spinal arthritis. Simply enjoying life and giving Fletch a lot of attention, and practicing my "arts." It's a good summer.
DPM: Your website seems to be based just as much in climbing as it is in social messages. Do you see them as one in the same? How does that direct your climbing efforts, your life, and your social compass?
Steph: I realized a few years ago that I could create my own place on the internet, where people could come together in a positive way and share their experiences. My blog is a reflection of the things that inspire and intrigue me, and also a way to connect with others and help when possible.
DPM: With the recent tragic death of John Bachar, soloing has been a much debated topic as of late. What is your take of this debate, how do you weigh the options in your mind when you choose to free solo? Are you prepared for the "what ifs"?
Steph: I think for most free soloists, soloing is a part of life. I find a big difference between easy soloing and more difficult soloing. Easy soloing is kind of like going out for a run-it's part of a normal, daily life, and you can certainly get eaten by a mountain lion or hit by a car on a run, though you don't expect it to happen. Hard soloing is a more serious, reflective pursuit, and I do think a lot about mortality and consequence when I am in a phase of it. Risk is an important part of life and evolution. Our culture has arrived at a point where there is an abnormal reduction of risk on the daily. I think that's why many people seek it out, and I think it has a lot of lessons to teach.
DPM: You are into base jumping and wing-suits, how did this evolve? Do you weigh this to be more of a thrill than climbing or is it simply different?
Steph: Jumping is extremely different than climbing, in all the most obvious ways. Like climbing, it requires physical ability, technical knowledge and experience, to be done safely and over the long term. You can jump in a sketchy way and get away with it for a while, but to be in it for the long-term; you soon learn the importance of extreme calculation and conservatism.
Because each jump has such high consequence and happens so quickly, a jumper who is seeking development and perfection is constantly tantalized. I think this is where the climbing mentality makes it different. For me, jumping is not just about "pulling it off", or always pushing the envelope of taking things one step further, though this seems to be the approach of many jumpers who come from more adrenaline-seeking backgrounds, like skiing. For me, coming from the climbing mentality, my goal is to have a good experience, in which I am not ruled by fear, and to constantly refine my skills. I'm looking for progression and perfection, not just a thrill.
DPM: Looking at your blog it seems you have numerous responses to your book, both from the climbing community and non-climbers, again do you see climbing as more of a medium to inspire?
Steph: Yes. I see climbing as a path, and it's one of many, to self-realization.
DPM: Lastly, if you could climb any pitch/route and then base jump off of it with out consequence of any legal type, where would it be?
Steph: Half Dome is one of the greatest wing-suit jumps in the world. A really beautiful climbing/jumping experience would be to climb the Regular Route and fly a wing-suit off of it, without having to hide like a criminal.
All photos courtesy of Steph's blog - www.highinfatuation.com