My Love Affair With Type II Fun

Pushing up the Elliot Glacier on Mt. Hood
Pushing up the Elliot Glacier on Mt. Hood

The fun scale is a measurement of enjoyment during any adventure. For most adventurers, fun is broken into three types: Type I, Type II and Type III. It’s how much suffering that you feel before, during, or after the climb, run, or long range trek. The moment that when back at the house, winding down over beers, you look at your partner and say “That was the best day ever.” or “I hate you so much right now.”

The “Fun Scale”

  • Type I – Perfect weather, cruising up a gorgeous hand-crack, crushing that perfect boulder problem, hitting all the right waves, it’s the enjoyment in the moment that it’s happening. It’s all smiles and laughter from here.
  • Type II – Why the hell did we choose this line? It’s snowing, it’s cold, we’re out of Clif Bars, we have 500 feet to go for the summit, every muscle in my body is aching and we’re pulling over the final lip. Once we get to the summit we’re sipping from Nalgene bottles, melting snow to make a small pot of coffee and the sun is setting over the mountains in the distance. You know what? In retrospect that was actually enjoyable. In fact, I can already see the next peak I want to climb.
  • Type III – Why are we even out today?! We’re passing through an open field, I can see the lightning moving in on us, it’s too windy to pitch the tent, the food is soggy, and the route is a chossy, unclimbable mess of flakey rock. Yeah, this was your idea and it’s your fault we’re here. No fun whatsoever.

I get asked sometimes why I put up with the suffering, whether it’s on a peak, an exceptionally hard route, or recently, my newly  found interest in trail running. While we’ve all been through Type III, I’ve found that a majority of my excursions have fallen under Type II, where I’ll curse relentlessly and then look back and think “Maybe that actually wasn’t so bad.”

So how did I end up here?

I hate running.

It’s an odd way to start explaining my recent interest, but the truth is that I will curse under my breath, wheeze, and bend over, hands on knees at every instance while my hair is matted to my face and I’m desperately reaching for the water bottle. But as I come over the final bend, and the beach with the Olympic Peninsula on the other side of Puget Sound comes into view, god if i’m not the luckiest person on Earth. Inspired by my friends Heidi and Landon on Twitter, I recently took up trail running as a way to inject a little adventure into my afternoons. I’d already been road-running for years, nothing spectacular, but as a way to keep fit, but trail running had that added challenge, the views, and the remoteness without getting too far from home.

Ask any adventurer for their stories, and likely they’ll tell you about the hardships they endured before getting to the point where they could look back with pride at what they just accomplished. In running, I’m dreading each hill, my calves are burning to the point of collapse and yet I know that I want to finish the trail without stopping while a little voice in my head says keep at it, pick a point, run to it, and then repeat. But despite all the suffering, the end result, finishing the trail and looking back on every hill, is when I’m ready to go at it again.

Getting blasted by snow with the mountain in the background.
Getting blasted by snow with the mountain in the background.

The same is for mountaineering or alpine climbing. A day at the crag, you finish the route and then lower down, take shoes off, and reach for the cooler. In alpinism, you aren’t only fighting against the rock, but against the weather as well, so when the storm or snow rolls in on a long, exposed face, it becomes less enjoyment, and more endurance. A 10-13 hour push in the mountains is brutal, cold, and unpredictable. The way up is only half the journey and there’s still the descent.

So what’s the point of enjoying it?

Because adventure is never perfect, nor should it ever be. The trials of the trails are always what make a great story, and that’s where the great stories come from. I live for Type II fun, the moments where I’m going to be suffering the entire way up, but it’s going to be worth the story in the end.

Completing my first full trail run circuit
Completing my first full trail run circuit

Be sure to check out my friend’s awesome blogs

Heidi’s Blog: Run Around A Roo

Landon’s Blog: Landon Faulkner Make Adventure

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4 thoughts on “My Love Affair With Type II Fun

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