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24/7: A Day In The Life Of A World-Class Mixed Climber

Author: Gordon McArthur

April 22, 2013

With professional climbing, international competitions, a graphic design business, a wife and two daughters, there really is no “down time,” only time to be managed.

“Girls, get your shoes on, I’ll walk you to school.” Oh right, I need to finish that project by tomorrow or the client is going to be pissed. “Hey, does anyone know what gate we need to be at, or what time, so we don’t miss our flight?” Remember to eat, gas up, sharpen your tools, register, and crush. The lawns need to be mowed, driveway shoveled, truck packed for camping with the family, laundry done, dishes washed, oh man…I’m going to build something super rad in the backyard for training.

Every day is different. There is no consistency. Only comprehension of the moment and what’s required. 

Perhaps I get up, head over to the bathroom, fuel myself, and suit up for a day on the world’s stage of ice climbing competition. I’ll be focused on the moment, climbing, screaming, trying to clip the chains, sitting in isolation before a performance requiring my greatest ability. Or perhaps it’s 11 a.m. and I’m at my desk, still in my PJ’s, working away so the lights stay on. Or, I could be pushing my daughters on the swings at the park down the road from our house.

My days are filled with joy, adventure, stress, sorrow, misfortune, success, accomplishment and sometimes failure. Climbing and “real life stuff” overlap. I love both, I try hard at both, and sometimes I fall short at both. But every day is a new day, in which I can go hard at both again, attack the shortcoming and conquer, whether in the eyes of my daughters or by literally standing on top of a mountain, completing a route, or winning a competition.

Whether in a foreign country during competition season, at a local crag, on a family camping trip, or at home, the same feelings of commitment apply. My days are chaotic, but in a good way. I love my life: my daughters and their beautiful smiles, my wife and the love she gives, a God that will never leave nor forsake me, the feeling of clipping the chains after working a project, success at competition, friends all over the world, a business that tests me artistically.

With every “good night” comes a “good morning.” It’s a good morning because I just qualified for the next round at the world championships, because I get to watch my daughters at gymnastics, because I have a lunch date with my wife, because I get to travel overseas, because I get to sleep in, because my head doesn’t hurt too much from all the beer my buddies and I drank last night at the lake.  

Every day is what you make it. You always have a choice, and I’m thankful for the ones I’ve made.

Gordon McArthur

Gordon McArthur has been climbing for 16 years, but only in the last five have things really gone a lot deeper. “He says that even though we sleep, our desire does not,” says Gordon. “’It is who we are.’ We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. The same old thing is not enough. It never will be.” Gordon lives, breathes and eats climbing, whether sport, mixed or ice. “When I am climbing, things feel right, smooth, like it was meant to be.” He lives in Cranbrook, BC and travel a lot, living out of his van and relishing the opportunity to see the world whilst living his dream. “Life is crazy, wrangling my kids, running my design business, and sharing life with my wife,” he says. “There’s never a dull moment and always a new adventure. It’s perfect, really.”