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No Barriers Podcast Episode 151: Vertical Pursuits with Hans Florine

about the episode

“We are on this planet to do, not to observe.” says Hans Florine; a longtime climbing partner of Erik’s When Erik wanted to climb Mt. Everest, kayak the Grand Canyon, paraglide or any of the other seemingly improbable challenges, there were believers and naysayers. Hans was a believer. When Erik wanted to be the first blind person to climb a 3000 foot vertical wall of granite he recalled Hans saying “This absolutely can be done, and I’m absolutely the guy who can help you do it.”

Since that day in 1996, Erik and Hans have adventured and climbed all around the world, including places like Cartzenz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea, Mt. Kenya, and even went back that afore-mentioned 3000 foot wall of granite to set a record becoming the first blind person to climb El Cap in a day. In this conversation you’ll hear why that wall of granite (that’s Yosemite’s El Capitan) became an obsession for Hans (not just climbing it, but being the fastest in the world on it), how he dealt with setbacks like breaking both legs in a climbing accident, and other life lessons in his quest for speed.

Contact with Hans:
Hans’ website: https://www.hansflorine.com

On Insta: https://www.instagram.com/hansflorine

Han’s author page on Amazon

Episode Transcript

Hans Florine:
I just feel we're on this planet to do, not to observe really. So I do what I can.

Erik Weihenmayer:
It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no-barriers life; to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In tat unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call no barriers.

Diedrich Jonk:
As you just heard, our guest today is on the planet to do. His name is Hans Florine, and Erik describes him as a believer, not a naysayer. When Erik wanted to climb Mount Everest, kayak the grand canyon, paraglide, or any of the other seemingly improbable challenges, there were believers and naysayers. When Erik wanted to be the first blind person to climb a 3,000 foot vertical wall of granite, Hans said, "You can do it and I'm going to join you." Since that day in 1996, Erik and Hans have adventured and climbed all around the world, including places like Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea, Mount Kenya, and even went back to that aforementioned wall of granite to set a speed record. In this conversation you'll hear why that 3,000 foot wall of granite, that's Yosemite's El Cap I'm talking about, became an obsession for Hans. Not just climbing it, but being the fastest in the world to do it, how he dealt with setbacks, like breaking both legs in a climbing accident, and other life lessons in his quest for speed. I'm producer Diedrich Jonk, and this is the No Barriers podcast.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Hey everyone. Welcome to the No Barriers podcast. I'm going solo today. This is Erik Weihenmayer and I am so psyched to talk to my old friend, Hans Florine. Hans, you going to make a joke like you do on a lot of podcasts? Maybe talk about how your last name is the same as the what I'm standing on?

Hans Florine:
I was going to [inaudible 00:02:42].

Erik Weihenmayer:
I heard that joke.

Hans Florine:
You pronounce my name perfectly, Erik Weihenmayer.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, I've known you for so long. What? More than 25 years now? Oh my gosh. Does that make us kind of older men?

Hans Florine:
PBC. Phoenix bouldering competition. 1995 maybe. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. You came out to Arizona and you competed in the rock climbing contest out there in Queen Creek, and we met and I told you about my dream to climb El Capitan and you said, "I'm the man." That summer we trained and you dragged us up El Capitan in three days, up the Nose route, and we became great friends. We went all around the world. We went to Mount Kenya. I remember we climbed a route where we started at five in the morning and we summited at 10 at night and bivvied on the summit in a little tiny... kind of like a little metal coffin that someone had dragged up there and bolted to the summit, right Hans?

Hans Florine:
Yeah, and the Europeans call it a hut. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. And I remember we had like a couple maybe CLIF bars and some something we shared that was very meager, and I was cold and we were all shivering. But you were so positive. And then we climbed Carstensz Pyramid and we got to the summit of that. That was my seventh summit, so that was really cool to have you along on that adventure as well.

Hans Florine:
Wait, Carstensz, that wasn't your eighth summit?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, it was the eighth, yeah, but that's too confusing. Yeah. There's eight continents apparently. There's the continent of Oceania and Carstensz Pyramid is this limestone massif that's in the middle of the high rainforest. So yeah, we reached the summit of that together too.

Hans Florine:
So do you cross out Kosciuszko on Australia and then substitute Carstensz Pyramid?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Carstensz is a little more exciting and romantic than a 7,000 foot ski mountain that you can almost get to the top of with a ski lift. Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. For those that are geographically challenged and don't know about the highest point on every continent and that sort of stuff, Australasia, Kosciuszko, you don't really care whether you get credit for doing that. My understanding is you can go from the top of a ski lift like 452 yards and you're at the top of Kosciuszko, which is the highest point in Australia. Is that right?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. But we did actually get to the summit in a crazy windstorm. It was the windiest, I think, of any of the seven. Then we skied down.

Hans Florine:
Oh, did you almost get blown off the ski lift? Is that what it was?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yes. Yeah, exactly. And we skied down all the way to the lodge and we drank mimosas and I don't remember much after that. So you've been all around the world, mostly known for all your accomplishments on El Capitan, but every time I've been with you've always been so positive. I don't think I've ever seen you negative. What is that? Were you born with that, or is that something you work on, to maintain that positive attitude?

Hans Florine:
Well, I think to start, I'm kind of a freak in modern day society. I was brought up in the Protestant family work ethic stuff. My dad was military colonel officer, which wasn't really a large part of my life, other than I moved every four years. But he just had a really good work ethic. Why I'm saying this is that my parents never raised their voice in front of each other that I ever knew of, or had an argument, and my dad passed away when I was 28. That's crazy unusual. I was one of four kids, nice household in a moderate, upscale neighborhood. Parents never divorced. That doesn't happen to people anymore.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
Everything's just so sort of leave it to beaver for me, I think. I went to college right out of high school and I guess you could say, "This is just what it's like." I think of Trump who's kind of... Probably people think Donald Trump is spoiled and he had all this stuff given to him. He didn't earn anything and he... Whatever. He did what he did with it. But I just never failed to appreciate that, wow, I'm living here in this little community a couple miles east of San Francisco Bay Area, but I'd take BART over and I'd see... Talk about cultural shock in Berkeley and Oakland and stuff. I would see it and I'd just be super appreciative, I guess, of where I was. Oakland's not the worst place in the world, but there's crime there and there wasn't crime in my neighborhood.

Hans Florine:
Then I, for some reason, stumbled into climbing with someone who was missing a foot, someone who was deaf, and then you came saying that, "Hey, I can't see and I want to climb El Cap." And I'm just like, "Well, I'll do things with them." Then I realized, when I get up in the morning and, oh, my foot hurts or my back aches, I'm like, "Yeah, but I can see and I'm not missing an arm and I can hear." There's no reason to complain about anything really. I just am...

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, we'll get to your accident. So yeah, now that you have some physical challenges, of course we'll get into that. But you were positive before that. You had this crazy idea to climb the Nose and you drove out to Yosemite, and I think you miserably failed the first time you tried it and you were still stoked on life.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, I was-

Erik Weihenmayer:
I mean, that's not a normal... What I'm getting at is that's not a normal thing that a teenager or a guy at college goes and... says, "I'm going to go climb the Nose." So you've always had this, I would say, odd ambition for climbing.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, climbing, everyone will get philosophical about what draws so many people to climbing. Well, there's a problem in front of you, you solve it and then you have a little instant reward. "Oh, I solved this problem." You know?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
But I think with El Cap it was my fourth or fifth year of climbing. I'm like, "Oh, to be, quote, a 'climber,' you have to go do a big wall. The Nose of El Cap is in California, I'm in California. You have to do that or your resume is incomplete."

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
It was more of a have to at first to do it. But it sure beat me up and I ran away with my tail between my legs and, yeah, waited the whole year to come back and try it again.

Erik Weihenmayer:
El Capitan is almost 3,000 feet. The Nose route is the longest, most prominent route on this gigantic face in Yosemite. The first time... I mean, I don't think you made it that far, right? What'd you make it, like halfway?

Hans Florine:
I made it four of the 32 pitches.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Somebody doesn't even come close. You would think that some people would say, "Okay, that's it. I mean, that's just not in the cards." But you came back, right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, I came back with a blind guy six years later.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, that was many years later. But after it totally kicks your butt, what's your thinking? Like, "Okay. I've learned a lot through this miserable failure and now I'm more equipped to be able to hopefully have success on the second try?"

Hans Florine:
Something like that. I mean, I was 21. Or was I 22? No, I was 25 maybe, 24. Somewhere in there. You're a young man and you see, and I use the word see with caution around you, but you observe whatever, other people doing this thing, and you're like, "I don't think they have more skills or whatever than me, but how come they got up and I didn't. I'm going to go get us to try again." I found that it wasn't like my bicep strength or whatever, my pull-up strength or physical strength, it was just lack of knowledge of how to do rope systems and arrive at an anchor and haul things and set system things up. Big wall climbing is a lot like, I think, an expedition to Nepal or something. There's just all these working parts that are involved that aren't just doing a pull-up or climbing 5.14. There's just all these other things involved.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Tons of logistics. Yeah. When I climbed the Nose with you in 1996, yeah, it was 50% talent and like 50% being able to be efficient. That's how you, I guess, got famous in certain ways on being one of the most efficient climbers in the world, right?

Hans Florine:
I think so. I'm a professional speaker and people ask me, "Oh, so you bring lessons from climbing to the business and life." And I'm like, "Well actually, I was a business person for four or five years and studied college and got a degree, and I brought business lessons to climbing, which is kind of the reverse of most motivational speakers, I guess."

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. You've climbed EL Cap now 110 times or 111 times, or something like that.

Hans Florine:
Oh, I just did my 112th time up the Nose of El Cap, which is the center route that we're talking about, with Bill Price, who is four years my senior. I think he just turned 61. Yeah, he's been climbing since the mid '70s and it was good fun. [inaudible 00:12:32]

Erik Weihenmayer:
So 112. How long ago was that?

Hans Florine:
October 2nd. In the fall.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Cool. That's amazing. You're still getting after it now. All right, go back to your cool days where you had long blonde hair. Somebody described the picture of you when you were in your '20s and they called you Hollywood Hans. How'd you get that?

Hans Florine:
I don't know if Diedrich's going to take a screenshot, but I'm growing my hair back. It's touching my shoulders now. It's looking pretty good. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
No way.

Hans Florine:
I'm getting-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh, you're going back to Hollywood Hans days.

Hans Florine:
... hit on by the young ladies around the crag all the time. It's just about the hair.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But that's like your persona, this Hollywood Hans thing. It was fun. It was like you had fun with that persona. I mean, because the real you... I've gotten to know, I think, the real you, which is this super kind, generous, warm person. But Hollywood Hans is this... If you were a topless dancer, it would be your stage name, right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. But I didn't per se love that nickname they gave me. I think of Hulk Hogan the wrestler when I think of Hollywood Hans.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
I don't know, yelling at some competitor of his, like, "You suck," or whatever, and just... I think when people really expected it, I would heckle other people, so to speak, at comps. But it was always good natured and I tried to only heckle people that I thought could take it, so to speak. I came from a competitive background where in normal mainstream sports it was acceptable to jibe and elbow your person that you're running against or competing against.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But you did it in such a funny, positive way. I read this article that you went up to Tommy Caldwell in a competition and you said, "I'll bet you a dollar I'll beat you," or something like that.

Hans Florine:
Dollar per place. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah, it's fun. You're having fun, right? I mean, you're smiling when you do this, right?

Hans Florine:
Now, for those that don't know, a dollar was a big deal between dirt bag climbers in the '90s. It was a latte probably. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Okay, so there's thousands and thousands of big walls all around the world. Why El Capitan? Why were you intrigued by El Cap? And then specifically the Nose. What was so romantic and mind-boggling about that one thing? Because you really are most famous for that.

Hans Florine:
It is crazy wild terrain and it's 3,000 feet tall. There are walls that tall and taller in other places in the world, Baffin Island, Kosciuszko. Not Kosciuszko, Kazakhstan, and other places. Trango Towers, places in Himalayas and stuff. But all of those require maybe a plane trip, a boat ride, maybe even a couple day yak trek, if you're going to Russia, or hiring a Russian helicopter, which is dubious, to get to the base camp of these things. The Nose El Cap, you can drive on a paved road in an American rental car, or your own vehicle, and less than 15 minutes from your car door you can put your hand at the base of this wall. That combination of accessibility and wild terrain exists no place on the planet. I grant you, environmentalists, wildlife people might be like, "Oh, that's a sin, that there's asphalt there," and perhaps it is, but it is there and there are plenty of places with tall walls that that doesn't exist.

Hans Florine:
But I'd say the second thing about... And equally, it's not second, it's equally important, is that I would go to France as just a total nobody in 1992, and Jean-Baptiste Tribout, the most famous climber in the world at that time in France, would come up and say, "Hey man, congratulations on climbing the Nose in record time," and I didn't know him. I'm just like, "Holy shit." The Nose and Yosemite is this Mecca that people come to around the world. I realized, when I lost the record on it to Dean Potter and Timmy O'Neill, I got to get that back, because it opens all these incredible friendships and relationships around the world in the climbing community.

Erik Weihenmayer:
How'd you stumble into speed climbing though? Once you go from, "Okay, I've now gotten to the summit. Wow. What an accomplishment," how do you transition? Because speed climbing wasn't even really a thing when you first started in the, what, early '90s or late '80s.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right?

Hans Florine:
Well, I think of Gill bouldering hard things in the '50s and '60s. I mean, he did it because of the joy of applying his gymnastic skills to a problem in nature.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
After Steve Schneider showed me you could climb this wall and top out with less than 10 pounds on your back, I was... Because I hated big wall climb after I failed on the Nose, and even after I got up it, because it just was exhausting.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Everyone understands the traditional way of climbing is you have tons of water, you equip yourself for three days, you have these huge haul bags. And so, while people are rock climbing up the face, others are hauling these giant, 100-pound haul bags full of food and water and gear up the face. It's more like building a highway.

Hans Florine:
Right.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right? Than climbing. It's very much engineering. What you're talking about is this light is right mentality, which was starting to shift at that time. Right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I want to avoid right and wrong. Light was fun. You know?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Okay. Got it.

Hans Florine:
It is a cool experience, cool to do. You want to try things once and I've actually slept on El Cap numerous times and it's vertical camping and it's a crazy, interesting to say the least, experience to sleep on the side of the cliff. That's cool and it tests your mettle and build your character and all that. But when Steve Schneider revealed to me you can climb these walls in eight hours and five hours and four hours and three hours, and top out and not be exhausted and be down in time for lunch and a beer in the afternoon, that was my shtick. I can exhaust myself in a short or long day and be back to have a dinner at the restaurant, or go to your bivvy or your van or back home or whatever. I found that was kind of my cool modus, I guess, of what sort of adventure I'd like to do.

Erik Weihenmayer:
I've heard somebody describing a video of you climbing and you're running up the face. It's like somebody running on a horizontal flat surface and you're running up the rock. And then I remember, maybe there's a video or maybe you described it, of just getting up over the top and you sprint for that tree. There's a specific tree at the top, right? That signifies the record. So you're just sprinting for that thing, covered in sweat, going totally anaerobic. Because every second counts.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, to me that's just an awesome carryover from people accepting that it's okay to compare yourself to your previous times. People might have thought I was into beating others, but I was into just improving on what was possible, so timing against my previous best time how fast I could go.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You have had the speed record up the Nose of El Capitan eight times. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the wild part of the story, it almost sounds like fiction, is it was with eight different people, right?

Hans Florine:
Six different people.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh, six different people. Okay. Meaning the common denominator of all these speed records is partly you. That's incredible. You've been a major part of the history of El Capitan, so walk us through those eight records. You'll get the record and then somebody beats you, and then you get it again and then somebody beats you, and eight times over and over and over and it's just relentless. Amazing.

Hans Florine:
Well it loosely... Well, we'll say it started with NiaD, which is Nose in a Day, 1975, with Jim Bridwell, John Long and Billy Westbay. They did a grade six in a single day. A grade six, Half Dome had done it in a single day by Steve Roper and Layton Kor, oh I think seven years earlier. But this was a 3,000 foot grade six and everyone was like, "Wow. Wow. These guys did it in a day." John Long corrects me all the time, well actually we did it in under 14 hours and we stopped for lunch and stuff.

Hans Florine:
But by the time I climbed the Nose in 1989, not many people had done NiaD, Nose in a Day, and it was loosely thought, oh, maybe Xaver Bongard had the fastest time at nine hours or something. But they perhaps didn't even time it, they just kind of guessed they did it in under 10 hours. And I said, "Hey Steve, how about we just go and see if we can do the fastest time on it." Steve wasn't, I wouldn't even say, friends with me. He was just an acquaintance. I had never climbed with him before.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Steve Schneider, famous climber, also known as Shipoopi?

Hans Florine:
Yes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Uh-huh. Okay.

Hans Florine:
Steve has been known to say, "The only reason I went climbing with this goofball Hans is because I didn't want him to go get the record with someone else." I mean, what Steve didn't know is that I was totally clueless. I had climbed the route once and it took almost three days, and he had, at that time, soloed it by himself. The only human to ever climb the Nose in a single day by themselves. So he was the master of the whole thing. I fell on the second pitch, took a 25-foot whipper, and he was looking around. "Can I tie Hans off, rap to the ground and disappear in the woods so I never have to [inaudible 00:23:10] this guy again?" But we went up and actually passed a couple legends of climbing, Steve Gerberding and Dave Bankston, and we did it in eight hours and five minutes. Wow. I'm like, "Sheesh, this is the fast time on this record route, but no one's really keeping track per se."

Erik Weihenmayer:
What was that time again? That first record time?

Hans Florine:
Eight hours and five minutes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Amazing. Yeah.

Hans Florine:
And so, I'm like, "Huh. Steve's, I know, the most famous American big wall climber in the world and I got to team with him and this is the first time I ever climbed with him. Maybe I'm going to get an article in Climber Magazine about me or something. This is cool. I'll be famous." The following week, Peter Croft and Dave Schultz climbed it in six hours and 40 minutes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Which blows it away, which is amazing, right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. This is nuts, right? It so happens they weren't actually trying for the speed record. They were just going up the Nose fast, because they wanted to climb Salathé, which is another wall on El Cap, and the Nose in a Day. So they were practicing for that. This speed record they set, which again, it wasn't what they were trying to do, but it was in the New York Times, Denver Post, LA Times, Chronicle and in climbing magazines everywhere, and there was no mention of me and Steve having broken the old record the week before. Just Peter and Dave.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh geez.

Hans Florine:
Everyone, including myself and Steve, thought, "Oh these are the local guys living in Yosemite that are the immortals and no one would ever, ever break that record, because it's an hour and 25 minutes faster than what we took. The following year-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Now you're like, "Son of a bitch. I'm going to beat that again so I get in the magazines."

Hans Florine:
I didn't say that at all. I believed that-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh, you didn't.

Hans Florine:
... it was untouchable.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh okay.

Hans Florine:
I really did believe that was untouchable, and the following year I climbed it with my buddy Andres Puhvel, who's 6'6". I'm 6'1", so it's not normal that I climb with somebody taller than me. But he had been trading wins with me at competitions the last year or so and he's eight or nine years younger than me. But we climbed it just for a lark. We thought it'd be fun. Let's time ourselves and see how long it takes. And to our totally stunned amazement, when we stopped the watch it said 6:01. And I'm like, "That can't be right." I'm like, "What time did we start?" And we did the math and I'm like, "Shit. We did it in six hours and one minute." I was like, "Shit. I'm going to be in all those newspapers, just like Peter and Dave." Sure enough, within a week, Peter and Dave went and did it again in four hours and 48 minutes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Unbelievable.

Hans Florine:
An hour and 13 minutes faster than us. And they were press and everything and not really any mention of Andy and Hans. That was hilarious, that their timing just happened to be... Again, they actually weren't going for the record. They were going for the Nose and Salathé at the same time.

Hans Florine:
The following year I went to a show that Peter Croft was giving. I hadn't really known him very much and I introduced myself and said, "Congrats on all your shows and stuff, and stories you told, and good job on the Nose. We should climb sometimes so people don't think we're arch rivals." And he's like, "I don't know." [inaudible 00:26:25] but we climbed together a month later and the first thing we did was climb the Nose and we did it in 4:22. That record stood for nine years and that's that time period where those nine years, everywhere I travel, people said, "Oh, you're the partner of Peter Croft, or whatever, and maybe your name's Hans, right? Yeah." But I was just known and doors opened for me those nine years because I had the record on the Nose.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, I want you to keep going through the history there, but it's obviously... I'm sure this isn't the first person that's compared it to the four minute mile. It seems like... Of course there's all these techniques that you guys implement to be faster, obviously there's fitness, which is part of the equation. But part of it is just the spurring on of each other through competition, right? You wouldn't have kept going back over and over unless your record had been beaten. And then you go, "God, I bet you there's a way to do it faster." It's like the competition caught on and that history of El Cap became like the four minute mile. Right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. All that you say is totally true. People ask me, "Well, what percentage of the record is due to technology like better cams, cooler carabiners, lighter stuff?" I'd say only like 10% of it is, because when we set the record in the '90s we had cams. They weren't as nice and beautiful as they are now, but we had cams that would go into cracks and come out pretty easily. The route isn't any more bolted or anything than it was then. Not that it matters when you're climbing with Alex Honnold. He doesn't clip pro anyway. But it really was about, "Oh, I did it or they did it in this amount of time and I feel like there's something left here to be taken off."

Hans Florine:
It's not like the track and field where there's millions of people trying to do the four minute mile or the marathon. There's just a handful of people that have even tried it. And nobody's getting any sponsorship money for getting the record on the Nose, so a climber isn't going to dedicate a lot of time to something like that.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right. But you inspired a generation of climbers, because, I mean, like Timmy who I climb with, Timmy O'Neill, who's maybe just a little younger than you, maybe my age; he went out with Dean and climbed Mount Watson, Half Dome and El Capitan in less than 24 hours. I attribute you to everyone dreaming and imagining these incredible speed records that didn't even exist. Right?

Hans Florine:
Perhaps they're like, "Oh, if fluffy Hollywood Hans could do it, I can do it." I don't know. Whatever.

Erik Weihenmayer:
No way. Someone described your picture. You were ripped back in the day. All right. Then you kept on going. Didn't you get the record with Dean one time, or never? Never with Dean.

Hans Florine:
I never got to climb with him. I asked to climb with him on-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Dean was a famous climber, very famous climber, in your generation, right? Who passed away, sadly, base jumping. But you guys were a little bit, at least in the media, kind of pushed up like rivals. You guys were like the different cowboys that were like meeting off in the Old West on the main street, right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, perhaps that name Hollywood Hans would be very abrasive to what I think Dean's character or caricature was. He wanted to be the mountain man that would go out and do things in the mountains and not really care about social media and publicity and all this stuff. He just did cool base jumping and slack lining things and soloing stuff because it was fun and adventurous, and it wasn't about getting attention and money and sponsorship. But Hollywood Hans just smacks of, "I do stuff to whatever, pound on my chest and be fluffy and Hollywood-ish." So I think perhaps that was a great friction that just, on first account, if your name's Hollywood Hans, you're not going to hang around with the raven demigod of the stone monkeys in Yosemite.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right. But Timmy and Dean, they got the record, right? They beat you guys and then you had to go back. Right?

Hans Florine:
Correct. Yeah. I did climb the record time with Timmy O'Neill on the west face of El Capitan, which is a moderately long route over on the left side. So Timmy had no problem climbing with supposedly a rival or something. And I went to the meadow after Dean and Timmy got the record and I actually bought them drinks. I forget what it was at the time. Dean wasn't drinking and he wanted like a Arizona iced tea or something like that, so I grabbed one of those at the market, but I was all about celebrating those guys wins and picking their brains of how they thought we might go faster. And by we I meant them or us.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Yeah. That's the beautiful part, is that it was always friendly and you were always positive, you were always cheering each other on. You know what I mean?

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
And of course, yeah, you wanted to take it back, but you were happy for each other, which was really cool. Okay, so when was the last time you beat it? What was your last time?

Hans Florine:
Beat it?

Erik Weihenmayer:
I know you got it with Alex Honnold, who's a very famous climber. You got it with him one time.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Well, let's pick up where-

Erik Weihenmayer:
But that wasn't your last.

Hans Florine:
... Dean and Timmy broke the record in 2002. I thought, "Hey, every time I broke the record, someone broke it a week later," so I called all my old friends to see if anyone would team up with me, but they were all dads with 50-hour week jobs. Jim Herson was one of those dads with a 50-hour week engineering job, but he said he'd go up there and do it with me. And kind of to our surprise, two dads that were working in the city, we climbed it in just like... I think we only shaved three minutes off the time that Dean and Timmy did. And they didn't have the historical perspective or respect to wait any time. I think two days later they went and ran up it in a... broke it by a half hour, our time. I think they did it in 3:24, I think it was. So smashed what me and Jim Herson did. But I waited a... I waited. A year went by and then Yuji came to town to try to free climb the Salathé and some other routes and I asked him [inaudible 00:33:21]

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yuji. A badass climber from Japan, right?

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Amazing climber.

Hans Florine:
He spent a lot of time in Europe and all over the world being a world famous climber. Whatever that means. But he's won tons of world cups. He's not known for speed climbing, but he's just an exceptional trad and sport climber. We went up the Nose kind of exploring whether he could free that, and then because it went so well I said, "Well, let's just run up it in a day and see how we do." And again it went well. We actually tried to free climb again that day, just messing around, and then we went for the record and got it in two hours and 48 minutes. Just smoking fast.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Wow. Yeah. Okay.

Hans Florine:
Then the Huber brothers came on the scene. Alex and Thomas Huber.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh right.

Hans Florine:
I always kind of named them as real professional climbers from Europe. They had a filming budget and they hung out for months in Yosemite, working out.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. They trained like crazy. Two amazing German brothers who were just amazing climbers. Yeah. I remember watching that film. Okay.

Hans Florine:
Now, if you want to talk about the Hollywood Hans version of me in Europe, those guys would actually show up with leather pants and no shirt on on El Cap. And they were awesome. They were just so cool.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Dancing under the strobe lights?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. Yeah. They were very cool. I mean, imagine shirt off, shorts, and a helmet on. They just were quite the awesome pair going at it. They broke the record a few years later and then I took them out for beers for celebration, which is no small thing, being that they're German, and picked their brains. Then the following season, me and Yuji broke their record. I say their record, the record. Whatever. And then Timmy... Not Timmy. Dean Potter and Sean Leary broke the record a few years later and then Alex attempted to get the record. Alex Honnold attempted the record with Ueli Steck, and they had their share of challenges during that, because Ueli's not so much a technical climber, he's more of an alpinist mountaineer.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right. Yeah.

Hans Florine:
They actually asked me for ideas, how they could do better and faster at it, and I freely gave them information. Alex finally said, "Well, why don't you just climb it with me instead of giving me advice?" I'm like, "Okay." So went and climbed and got the record with Alex in 2012 and we did it in two hours and 23 minutes, which was pretty darn cool after only three runs with him on it.

Erik Weihenmayer:
I mean, as you talk about this, Hans, it's so crazy. I mean, non-climbers probably aren't really aware of this, but these people are the who's who of climbers. El Cap seems like a microcosm of climbing history all around the world in terms of all these people coming to try to break the record. All those people you mention, it's amazing.

Hans Florine:
I think the... What's a famous golf course? I can't even think of one.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Isn't there one like Pearl Beach or something? I don't know.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Oh God. Golf course.

Hans Florine:
But if you're the caddie-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Pine... Yeah.

Hans Florine:
... at the most famous golf course in the world, you're going to have caddied for Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus and all this. I'm thinking maybe I'm just the caddie at Yosemite and I've gotten to climb with Lynn Hill and Erik Weihenmayer and Alex Honnold and Yuji Hirayama. Because I'm just the guy who carries the clubs around at the base of El Cap.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You broke your back your eighth time and then eventually, obviously, as the world goes, somebody... Was it Alex and Tommy Caldwell broke it?

Hans Florine:
Well, we can't skip the amazing, enthusiastic, crazy, wonderful Brad Gobright and... Oh gosh.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Another famous climber.

Hans Florine:
I'm killing myself. Now I got to look it up before the end of this thing, because I've wanted to climb with him. But they broke it and then Brad Gobright and his partner-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, the fact that you can't remember his name probably is not helping your appeal.

Hans Florine:
No. I'm totally getting screwed right now and he's never going to climb with me now.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Uh-uh. Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Then Alex actually called me and said, "Would it be all right if me and Tommy Caldwell got to together and went for the record?" And I'm like, "Sure. As long as you guys invite me there when you do it so I can watch." And then sure enough, I broke my legs while they were giving attempt runs on it and I was in the hospital. Got a call from Alex. He goes, "Hey, we're going to be going for it tomorrow," And I'm just like, "Shit. I'm in a wheelchair, in casts on my legs-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Wait, wait. Is this the accident that you're talking about?

Hans Florine:
Yes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Okay. Got it. Okay. Oh my. I didn't realize that was all happening at the same time. Okay.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. They started going for the record, training on it. They did, I don't know, 10 or 12 runs on it in the spring and started, I don't know, in April. Then I broke my legs May 3rd and they were warmed up and ready and ready to go for it in mid May, and I just finished an operation on my legs. I had a buddy drive me out, a couple of buddies from the Bay Area, drive me three hours out. We started at 2:00 AM in the morning, we got there 5:30 AM, in El Cap Meadow, and those guys came by, said hi, high fived them, and they went off and slammed the record. Got it in, I think, two hours and, I don't know, 11 minutes or something like that. Then they went on to break their own record two times after that.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. So what is it down to now?

Hans Florine:
Now it's 1:58 oh-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Amazing. It's under two hours.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
And so, just for everyone's perspective, Warren Harding climbed it, when, in the '50s was it? And it took him almost a year of fixing lines up the wall.

Hans Florine:
Well, it took him 49 days spread out over 18 months.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Okay.

Hans Florine:
He just kept going back and stringing lines higher and higher, and different partners and all that wonderful stuff.

Erik Weihenmayer:
I mean, wouldn't it had been crazy if somebody had told him, whispered in his ear when he first made it to the top of El Cap, "Somebody's going to climb this in less than two hours?" It's amazing.

Hans Florine:
Perhaps.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Okay. Besides the competitive spirit that keeps spurring you on to keep getting the record, give an example that a non-climber could understand about how speed climbing works. Because you've talked so much about efficiency and you speak to companies and teams all over the world about speed and doing things really efficiently, so give us a couple things that you did that are obviously different from normal climbing that enable you to move so fast.

Hans Florine:
Well, first I want to say Jim Reynolds, Jim Reynolds, Jim Reynolds. Okay?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Okay. He's the guy you forgot. All right.

Hans Florine:
Jim Reynolds and his partner. I can't remember his name, but I think his name starts with Brad. B. Yeah, Brad. Yeah. Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds. Jim Reynolds had the record.

Erik Weihenmayer:
All right.

Hans Florine:
On October 21st, 2017. Jim, please go climbing with me sometime. You are hilarious in your rock films and I'd love to go climbing with you. Jim Reynolds.

Erik Weihenmayer:
All right. We got that out of the way. Speed is power you say. That's one of your phrases. Why? Yeah. Tell us how you came to that.

Hans Florine:
One of the things that would go faster... And I want to honor the time of this thing. We only have like six, seven minutes left. But I would just simply... Yosemite is cracks. A crack ends and there's just blank granite above it. And you look around. Well, what do you do now? "Oh, I know. I'll swing to the right, pendulum to the right, and go up that crack over there, because it continues on up above me." And then that one ends and there's a ledge off to the right. How do you get over to that ledge? Oh, you swing over there.

Hans Florine:
Simple things like, should your partner climb to the top of the crack you're on and then swing over, or should you climb really high in the crack over to the right and then let them swing from a lower point so that they don't have to climb that height?Little logistical things like that that would save effort. Whether you're hauling a bag or not, you want to think these things out. We just found, when speed climbing it, we'd forego one climber climbing one portion and they'd just wait until the other climber gets high in the other crack and swing over.

Hans Florine:
So there was logistical things like that didn't have to do with the strength of your muscles or the speed of your climbing, but just how you thought out how to get through these, we'll call them transitions. Right?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
And is there some... Oh, I'm sorry. Keep going.

Hans Florine:
Well, I'd say there's boldness. People always say, "Did you take more risks to go fast?"

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
We simul climbed. My first time ever simul climbing was with Peter Croft. He said, "Well, let's both just climb at the same time." And I'm like, "What are you talking about?" And he is like, "Well, we'll keep pieces of gear between us and just, whoever's on bottom can't fall." And I'm like, "Well wait, I'm on the bottom. I'm not a free soloist. Are you trusting me?" And he's like, "Yeah, yeah. You'll be fine." I'm like, "Okay."

Hans Florine:
So two people moving at the same time, keeping lots of gear between them. I mean, you picture mountaineers going over crevices tied together and it's similar to that. No one's going to fall to the ground, because you're so high up and you have pieces of gear between you.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But nowadays the margins are so tiny, right? Maybe five, 10 seconds. At what point does it start to blur, where you have to take more risk to move faster? I know there've been some really high profile accidents, like with Quinn Brett and so forth, on El Capitan. Where you go, "Wow. In the pursuit of moving quickly, they gave up some safety." Right?

Hans Florine:
True. It's unfortunate that there was my accident, Quinn's accident, and then two other gentlemen died from speed climbing.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
Well, climbing on El Cap fast. Whatever. My accident, I was actually out for a leisurely Nose in a Day. I wasn't going for a record. I was self belaying, which is a technique you use if you're soloing. But I wasn't going fast. I just simply placed a nut and it popped out and I hit a ledge.

Erik Weihenmayer:
By the way, didn't you guys... It was just a mistake, right? Because you guys dropped your cams by mistake, and so you were placing another kind of gear, which is called a nut, and that's not as, say... Or just, it's harder to place those in the cracks in El Cap, right?

Hans Florine:
Well, harder to place isn't really the right way to say it, because people have been climbing with nuts and chocks for decades.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Okay.

Hans Florine:
And I climbed with them lots. It's just I misplaced it in a flaring crack and they do much better in parallel cracks where there is a V shape. Yeah, I just wasn't as adept at placing them, because I'd gotten more accustomed to cams over time.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Of course.

Hans Florine:
I had way more proper gear with me at that moment than I did in many, many, dozens of my ascents in the '90s when I just couldn't afford gear and we just didn't have all the cool technology stuff we had now.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
I wasn't short of the proper gear, I just wasn't used to placing those as often in those past years. Abraham Shreve, who was my partner, he was actually cleaning one of the hardest pitches on the route below me and I was on self belay. So it was through no fault of his, because he wasn't even involved at the accident. He was on the previous pitch.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. And so you fell and your nut came out and had a pretty bad accident. I was really worried about you, as so many people around the world were worried about you. You had to be rescued off El Cap. Yeah. Tell us the story

Hans Florine:
I've been so fortunate to climb with you and Wounded Warriors and people with disabilities supposedly, and they just so inspire me. I was like the normie, as you guys affectionately call me.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You were guide to the gimps.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
But you shattered your tibia, I believe, and your calcaneus, which is your heel bone. I mean, it was not a minor accident.

Hans Florine:
It was not trivial. No. First time I've ever had to be rescued. I got over the embarrassment real fast. I'm calling the search and rescue Yosemite guys and they're like, "Really? You need us to rescue you?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'm up on pitch 23 and da, da da, da. Hit the triangle ledge. I believe I've broken my leg." I mean, my lower shin was at an angle that is not normal and excruciating pain if I tapped or moved it. Dramatic rescue. They hauled me to the summit and then... Because the winds were too high, they had to haul me to the summit and then helicopter took me off the next day. Ended up two months in a wheelchair with broken tib, fib, and a broken heel.

Hans Florine:
This is my positive nature. I have to answer to people like you. What am I going to do? Cry or laugh? I'm going to laugh and say, "Oh my arms are getting really big, because I'm on a wheelchair. Getting my triceps pumped from pumping that wheelchair around, so it's all good."

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. And you've gotten back to climbing obviously, because I went climbing with you a couple of years ago. We climbed some really amazing routes in Yosemite. You were having some pain, because you have to turn your ankle sideways into a crack to lodge it in there and that was pretty hard for a while. So tell me how your progress is going these days.

Hans Florine:
Well, anybody that's crack climbed and then anybody who hasn't, who just heard that you stuff your foot in a crack and turn your ankle to the side, goes, "Oh, his foot hurts when he does that? You know what? Whose wouldn't hurt when they do that?" Right?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
So to complain about that's just lame. Yes, my foot hurts when I twist it in a crack. I believe that is true for Alex Honnold too. It's just-

Erik Weihenmayer:
No, but yours hurts more, because your ankle was destroyed.

Hans Florine:
Yeah Alex. Take that. Mine hurt more. Well, I have got this beautiful thing, which you won't be able to see, but... I don't think I've handed it to you, but I have this-

Erik Weihenmayer:
I heard about it though.

Hans Florine:
... exoskeleton brace on my leg, which is a over your body part prosthetic, if you will. It kind of looks like a fancy thing from the '50s if you had polio. It's a brace that you put on your foot and it basically removes all impact from my left ankle. I pretty much have to wear that if I'm hiking longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
But I don't need to wear it for climbing.

Erik Weihenmayer:
You don't?

Hans Florine:
No. No. I could wear it for climbing and for alpinism. It's stiff, so cutting steps in the snow, or ice climbing up 45 degree angles, it's like cheating almost. It's so awesome. It's really easy. But you can't feel through your foot very well. All the energy's transferred up to your shin, so it's really tough. You have to actually look down and see if your foot's on a step really.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. So Hans, you've had so many ascents of the Nose. Some of them were for speed records, some of them were for leisure, but some of them were guiding people from all over the world. Wayne Willoughby, who's got polio and his limited use of his body, blind people, young kids their first time on a big wall. Yeah. Review that just real quick, because then, sadly, you joined the ranks of a No Barriers athlete.

Hans Florine:
Well yeah, and I don't even know if people think I count, I guess. Yeah. 2018, May 3rd, I fell pitch 22 of the 32 pitches and hit a ledge. It's about a 16 foot fall and broke my left tib, fib, and my right heel. So definitely was out of the game and had a rescue by search and rescue. Hauled me to the top and helicoptered off. For two and a half so months I was in a wheelchair, got my arms really big, and then it was another two, three months on crutches and then a month in those cool... I call them cool knee scooters. And then strangely enough, after about a year, I was running, pole vaulting and stuff even, and for some reason the cartilage finally died after the trauma from the accident. Took a year for the cartilage to die. But yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
In your ankle or in your knees or what?

Hans Florine:
In my left ankle.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
It was so bad that I couldn't hike more than 10, 15 minutes and my ankle would be so swollen I was on crutches for weeks after that. Fortunate enough that I worked with this guy Ryan Blanck, who was designing prosthetics for Wounded Warriors down at Center For The Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas like 10, 11 years ago. He perfected this exoskeleton prosthetic for soldiers that had damaged their lower extremities so bad that they couldn't function well, but they didn't need to lop off the appendage, so to speak, and put a prosthetic on. So they have this thing called an ExoSym. I went up and got fitted for one after two years of trying to make my ankle work on its own, so now I have this nice little... I know it kind of looks like a fancy carbon fiber polio brace from the '50s, and I only have to wear it for hiking. I don't need it really for climbing or biking or non-impact things, but day to day walking around. I can't stand for longer than 10, 15 minutes without concern that my ankle will blow up, kind of thing.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Well, that's the mechanical part of the process, getting this amazing innovation that helps your ankle. But what about the psychological transition of getting hurt? I always see you so positive, but Hans Florine couldn't always be super positive. You must have gotten super down, right? You have this attitude, like, "Hey, I can make of my life whatever I want." I kind of express that attitude as well, but I mean, there must have been a minute where you were really discouraged.

Hans Florine:
A minute?

Erik Weihenmayer:
Two years, let's say.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. You know-

Erik Weihenmayer:
You know? Because you defined your life climbing the Nose and now you got to redefine yourself in a way. What was that like?

Hans Florine:
Well, there's so many parts to your life. There's financial, there's physical, there's relationships, social, everything. I actually had harder things happening in my life that weren't having to do with a broken leg that year.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah, yeah. Right.

Hans Florine:
But the biggest thing is that I want to help everyone else and I want to be independent and take care of others, and I couldn't reach above the countertop in the kitchen to get cups, saucers, cereal, food, whatever. To have to ask a roommate or a friend to reach up and get me a coffee mug was just really frustrating for me. To ask for help for such simple things. I was fortunate enough that... Even in the bathroom there's things. I had help getting on and off the toilet, help getting in and out of the shower. All those things are just our own culture about... Having help in the bathroom is tough.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right. Right.

Hans Florine:
But I had to accept that and I'd say that thing, that there were so many friends offering help, giving help, and just so... My current wife, Liesbet Bickett, she's just like, "You're giving people a gift to allow them to help you."

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
That took a long time to sink in for me.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Would you say that accident has shaped you in a way? Now when you've climbed El Capitan, does it mean something different? Or are you just like, "Hey, this shit happens and I just move forward and don't think too hard about it?"

Hans Florine:
Whoa. Well, I mean, every experience you have, you should... especially milestone ones like that, you should consider how to, in that case, avoid such a situation in the future. But yeah, I mean, Abraham Shreve, who was my partner at the time, he said, "You know, what Hans did was he just did what he could." For instance, I couldn't help even lower the ropes or coil them or organize them while he was lowering me down to where the rescuers could get me. I had to sit and do nothing. And I can't bear so much to do nothing, so I did a social media post live recorded and he was just like, "What are you doing, Hans?" I said, "Well, I'm doing what I can, Abe." But funny or not, or functional or not, I just feel we're on this planet to do, not to observe really. So I do what I can.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. And what is that? What is it these days? Because you're not climbing El Cap 30 times a year anymore. What does life look like post-accident?

Hans Florine:
I still climb and I am holding to climbing El Cap every year at least once. I'm on year 31 now of doing that. I didn't miss a year when I broke my legs, because the amazing Jordan Cannon took us up actually November 12th in 2018, which is the 60-year anniversary of the first ascent of the Nose. It was kind of fun. He took me and Abe Shreve up and we just followed him the whole way. What has changed? I moved out of California for the time being. I'm in Kentucky being a builder here. That's given me tons of creative release and it's physical and it's fun. I climb here at the Red. It's very steep, so you can't really fall and hit things, right?

Erik Weihenmayer:
You feeling strong as a climber?

Hans Florine:
You know, I have all these things that I think put me in a certain category. I'm 57 right now and I think it's still... As big as our sport is, it's still not a lot of 50-year-olds climbing 5.11s and 12s and stuff. That's kind of my sweet spot, is 11s and 12s. I like doing mileage on 10s and 11s and stuff.

Erik Weihenmayer:
That's pretty strong for average standards. For average Joes like me. I'll never climb 5.12. Do you have this burning desire to keep improving and get back and be climbing El Capitan all the time? Or are you thinking, "Hey, that was a beautiful part of my life and I'm going to just redirect a little bit now?" What's your attitude?

Hans Florine:
Well, the truth is I'm kind of unsure, but my attitude is I want to continue to do, not observe. And do might be support. I know other people that have aspirations for climbing El Cap. I'm going to be going up there with Bree Jameson and her friend, who I met... actually met her through Emilie Hernandez and it so happens that they're African American woman and Hispanic woman from Texas. And they're very unusual, because they both are leading climbing there and Bree is like the first black woman to put first ascents up in Texas. I really love supporting and introducing them to big wall climbing and stuff, so I'm getting a bit of joy out of mentoring other people to go and do big wall climbing.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. I hear you. That's really cool. Yeah. Because as we get older, whether you have an accident or not, we're going to slow down a little bit. So becoming a mentor for others and opening doors for others feels really good and positive.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I'm loving that part.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Loads of lessons and mistakes that you and I have made that we can try to help other people avoid.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Do you ever regret? Do you ever look back and go, "Shit. If things have gone different that day," or anything like that, or are you a guy without regret?

Hans Florine:
Yeah. That's a great question. The regret question. An ounce of pain is worth 10 pounds of regret, or something like that.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah, right. Yeah.

Hans Florine:
I don't regret it, because I know many climbers that have died in car accidents and in non-climbing things. This whole saying like, "Well, if I'm going to go, I'd like to die doing this or that," there's a fallacy in trying to engage with that question. But I would rather have broken my legs in the middle of El Cap than looking the wrong way while I was texting and fall off the edge of some stairs at the park. That happens. I mean, the most agile people in the world turn the wrong way and they rotate an ankle on a curb. So I don't have regrets about that. I've climbed, I guess, rescue free for 35 years and I'm really proud of that safety record, I guess.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
How do you motivate yourself? This is something we touched on earlier, is I do have a disability and that is that your book, which is The Adversity Advantage... Often when people get, call it get, an adversity, they struggle to prove everyone else they're just as good or even better despite the adversity or ailment or disability they have. I painted to you earlier that I was brought up in a perfectly good family. My parents never argued. I have brothers and sisters that didn't beat me up. I went to a nice school with very low crime. I went to college. I even graduated college without owing money other than to my parents, and got a job. I just have had this sort of-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Blessed life?

Hans Florine:
... goofy American life.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
In a lot of ways I didn't have an adversity to challenge me to do something. I've known of that consciously and unconsciously, that look, I got to get up early to train, to climb with Yuji Hirayama. And you're like, "Yeah, but I'm not missing a limb and I'm not deaf and I'm not blind." So I should just grasp this opportunity to go and excel at something. I shouldn't have to wait for an adversity to hit me.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Of course. Right.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Meaning in that way it hasn't changed you, right? Because you've always been motivated. You don't need the adversity to stay moving forward and energized.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. In a way I created my adversity. Like, "Oh, you got to get up at 3:00 AM and go train for three hours before you work eight hours in a cubicle so that you can go climb with the likes of Yuji Hirayama in Yosemite." There's adversity or challenges that are forced upon you and there's those you take on voluntarily.

Hans Florine:
M wife Liesbet and I started DHT Challenge, which is Do Hard Things Challenge, and we just come up along with the community with, this year, 171 challenges for people to do. Some of them are simple, like five pushups from your knees. Others are write a handwritten note to six people or something, or wave 20 people you don't know. Liesbet does these ones like ask somebody about something that was hard for them in their life, and I'm like, "Oh God. I don't want to talk to people about that. That is hard for me." But these sort of things. What I'm saying is that you let other people suggest to you a challenge or an adversity and you learn so much from just doing the simplest challenges and barriers, if you will, to use your language, that people put in front of you. And, like, "All right. The strength within me is stronger than this barrier that's in front of me, so I'm going to take it on."

Erik Weihenmayer:
Are you ready to give advice to others who have maybe gone through a transition like yours?

Hans Florine:
Ready or not, lots of people have reached out to me and said everything from mechanical things to, "How did you get off Oxycodone? What holistic things did you do? Do you have any suggestions for surgeons?" But also just, "How do you deal with not being able to wipe your own butt," or whatever. Constipation from morphine family of drugs-

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah. Morphine, right?

Hans Florine:
... and all that.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I mean, I'm ready to. I have experience to engage with people. I feel not really credible in some ways to coach somebody who's lost both legs or both arms or something, because I just don't feel my injury accident has put such a large change in the direction of my life. I mean, take Quinn Brett who was basically me. She was climbing big walls, adventuring all over the world with all of her friends, and then she fell and broke her back and she's paralyzed from the waist down.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right.

Hans Florine:
Like, wow. She's amazingly getting out there and adventuring in all sorts of cool paraplegic contraptions that she's had the power and resources to garner around her. But she's very sad at times and joyful at times, and it's a struggle. Her life is drastically changed, whereas mine is... I feel, I don't have such a huge change to coach people about.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Right. And gratitude seems like this big word these days that everyone's talking about, but it sounds like you've had gratitude for your situation your whole life.

Hans Florine:
Yeah. I did a podcast recently and they... Well, I'd call it a touchy feely one. I actually did one with The Spartans, which was not... The Spartan race people, which was not touchy feely, it was funny. But this other life coaching one. And they said, "What gets you up in the morning?" And I think having big goals is a common answer to how or why do you get out of bed. But I think it's not really opposing that, but on the other side is appreciate getting out of bed and just think two things that you appreciate about your life. And showing that gratitude, that appreciation, to start your day is pretty simple and it's a positive thing that you can celebrate. It's not even... Yes, having a cool goal or challenge to take on that day is motivating, but that's something yet to come you need to gear up for in your energy. Whereas appreciation is something you can celebrate you have right then and there.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Yeah.

Hans Florine:
Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer:
Awesome. Well hey, Hans man, it's been amazing, because we've known each other since 1993, and I appreciate all the great blessings you brought to my life and done. You told me one time when we were climbing, I said, "Hey Hans, I've never heard you raise your voice," and you said, "Well, it's because I'm careful about the people I allow into my life." I'm sure glad you allowed me into your life, and we've had some amazing adventures. And yeah, I'm here to support you however I can and I know it's vice versa. So no barriers to you and thank you to everyone for joining us today.

Hans Florine:
Hey, thanks so much, Erik, for having me on. Let's do some more adventures together.

Erik Weihenmayer:
All right. Thanks. See you buddy.

Diedrich Jonk:
The production team behind this podcast includes producer Dietrich Jonk, that's me, sound design, editing and mixing by Tyler Cottman, marketing and graphic support from Stone Ward, and web support by Jamlo. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song, Guidance, and thanks to all of you for listening. We know that you've got a lot of choices about how you can spend your time and we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com. That's nobarrierspodcast.com. There's also a link to shoot me an email with any suggestions for this show or any ideas you've got at all. Thanks so much and have a great day.

 

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