If you were wondering why it has been a while since my last article, well that is because I was out in Colorado enjoying friends, family, climbing, a wedding and time away from reality. Limited use of my phone and no computer while in the mountains was just what I needed to get away from the stressors of the big projects/life events I have going on. While out in Colorado I was fortunate enough to enjoy the company of many great friends and acquaintances old and new. I was able to escape my normal climbing/training routine and go to a less than conventional wedding (Hawaiian in the mountains) with life long friends. I was also able to let my guard down and just climb anything with no agenda with the help of some friends whos lifestyle I applaud and adore.
The main focus of my Rocky Mountain adventure was to celebrate the marriage of my child hood friend to the beautiful mother of his child. Being part of such a awesome wedding (the location, the people, the atmosphere, the pig roast, the dancing, etc) and standing up by the alter to support my friend of 24 years, put my life stressors into perspective. During those moments of the ceremony I realized something that would set the tone for the rest of my vacation. I realized it is not what you know rather who you know. For example I can know everything there ever is to know about coaching athletes but if I am not personable enough to go out there and attract the people that want to learn from me, then what good is my knowledge? That wedding re-iterated the fact that no matter how stressful life can be, as long as you keep good people close you can mentally get away from those stressors and recuperate. I thank you Jordan and Cass Marinez for not only being the best friends a person can ask for but for giving us all inspiration to keep it real.
By escaping my reality of training I was fully prepared to spend the days following the wedding with the most Rad climbing Couple ever. Ian Cotter Brown and Erin Ayla now live in Estes Park, CO but still embody the spirit of the humble, modest and welcoming Wisconsinite. Upon first meeting this couple you wouldn’t thing much of them other than the fact that they are a great match for each other and friendly beyond belief (It is ironic that Erin works at KIND Coffee as she is a contender for the kindest person I know). But get to know them and you will start to notice that they are great climbers and awesome ambassadors to the sport. That is why I love these two and why every climber should takes notes from them. Their care free approach to life and passion towards their craft is contagious. These two don’t care about looking like extremely fit muscular humans but they still manage to climb freakishly strong. It is easy to get caught up with chasing grades or loosing weight or looking good with your shirt off which seems to be common talk in the climbing community, however that can only take you so far. If you spend a week with Erin and Ian you will soon discover that there is much more to being a successful climber/human than ascending hard routes and having rock hard bodies.
What is very cool about these two is their ability to climb extremely hard but at the same time get super excited to climb a v1 with new company. While the rest of us are concerned with doing more pull ups and reaching the next grade, these two are out climbing whatever they come across and spreading that joy to everyone around them. This attitude breeds success by taking the constant self judgement away and allowing your self to just climb like it was your first day climbing all over again. Climbing is about discovery and sharing that joy of discovery with your peers. By doing what every it takes (living in a van and picking up odd jobs) to help spread that joy is what makes me adore the life Erin and Ian have chosen. The American way may lead us to believe that living the vagabond life is a “Dirt Bag” way or a lazy approach to life. However I disagree due to the fact that these two are doing what life is all about; they are happy, they make the people around them happy, and they are living the life they are truly choosing to live. Not many corporate six figure salary employees can say the same.
Climbing with these two made me forget the time I spend in the gym preparing for sport routes and made me love bouldering. They inspired me to get out and summit my first fourteener, longs peak on the Key Hole route (I meet great company along the way). They made me want to climb a six pitch 5.6 for the sake of climbing without focusing on climbing at my limit. They continued to show me the importance of spontaneity in life and how climbing is not always about following your training plan verbatim. Anyway it sounds like these two may be in Coloardo for some time (however knowing them, you never know where they might be next) so if you find your self there go climb with them.
You can follow Erin and Ian on Instagram @iancotterb & @erinayla.mc