This is a Disclaimer
The first thing that I want to point out is neither Jinjee or Raven is in any real danger. If there was any real chance of them falling and being serious injured I would not have let them climb. Some of the camera angles are rotated so it looks steeper than it really is. My true role in their climbing career has been one of holding them back from climbing things that were too steep. They are very brave and special kids and they would bite off more than they could chew if I let them.
I have been doing this type of climbing with kids for over 30 years and I have never had any of of them break so much as a finger nail.
In the making of the film that we are currently working on I'm going to try and take you inside of what our life is really like. We do a lot of sailing both on lakes and on the open sea. When I film the ocean part of the film I'm going to try to show the fury of a storm at sea and capture the height of the waves, in the mountain climbing sections I want to try and capture the vertigo sensation of what it feels like to climb a mountain, and the amount of thought that goes into it so the kids will get a chance to say what was really going through their minds.
I'm able to do this with climbing situations that challenge the mind without really endangering anyone. This has created a firestorm of controversy and I guess the easy thing to do would be to leave out the sailing and the climbing parts of their lives, but if I did that what would even be the point of making this movie.
What I'm hoping is that by creating a cross section of their lives and letting them tell their story in their own words that we will see that these young people have truly made not only inner but also outer breakthroughs. But to address the danger issue once again. Raven and Jome have both been hurt much more learning to ride a bike than they have by climbing any rocks.
And even though Raven is 11 and Jome is 8. I have never let them ride their bikes in the street with traffic. To me that is just too dangerous, but most people let their kids do it all the time. And hundreds of kids are killed each year and no one screams about calling CPS.
I did not totally agree with the way that Jinjee told her story and I think the language inflamed a lot of people, but the language is her language and those were her thoughts. So I left it alone.
The kids might also say things throughout the film that are not politically correct, but I'm not going to change their words either. They often speak ill of the raw food diet and they are going to grow up and follow their own paths this is understood. But the bottom line is that they will admit that raw food is better for them and when I give them a chance to eat cooked food they always turn it down. But in the world of words they love to work us.
So at this point I'm not going to take the easy way out I'm going to tell their whole story, in their words not because they are my kids but because I think that it is a story worth telling.
Storm has been doing and teaching freestyle mountain climbing for 25 years. My kids all love it. I had thus far avoided any difficult climbing but started having the feeling that it would help me somehow if I did it. Maybe it would strengthen those little wishy-washy areas of my personality. Maybe that's one of the things I'm supposed to get from being with Storm. Storm's philosophy is that laying your life on the line makes you a better person. Seeing qualities like courage and passion that the kids are developing makes me think there might be something to this madness of his. And maybe if I climbed it would help with the respect issue that is coming up with my 11 going on 30 year old daughter. Mostly I'm tired of being looked at as the "wuss" in the family.
A few days ago Storm asked me to come and help him shoot Raven climbing a mountain for the film we're making about the raw vegan diet. As we were hiking to the mountain Storm decided that the scene would be better as a mother-daughter climb. "Do you really think I can do it?" I asked Storm. "Yes. Physically you can do it. Its a mental climb. You just have to watch out because some of the rocks come loose easily so you can't grab them and pull, you have to grab them and push. And stay close behind Raven because if she falls on you from too far above you she'll knock you off the mountain". "Great" said I.
We got there and it didn't look too bad. We started to climb. The first part was steep but had lots of handholds and footholds. Still I was starting to be a little scared "I'm actually doing this" I thought. Got to the first ledge. The next part was a little less steep with hand and footholds a little further apart so you had to stretch a bit. Now I'm on a thin ledge a story high and terror sets in. My heart is pounding, my breath is short, I'm a little dizzy and feeling very unconfident. "OK Storm I'm done. I want to come down now" I say. Then Raven asks for help from above me and Storm says "don't let her get too far ahead. Think. Just use that big brain." so I scuttle up the next part and push Raven up to the next hand-hold. She has climbed this once before with ropes. Today we are climbing freestyle (no ropes). She's pretending to be really scared. Not sure if she's faking I talk to her to calm her. This helps to calm me. Now we are going into a crack where we can wedge ourselves in and up further. It looks easier at first but once in it I'm terrified again. Keep flowing up. OK, we're through! The rest of the climb is high but easy. Just keep moving and don't look down.
When we got to the top I was just happy to be alive! Later that day Shale was cutting something with a sharp knife too close to my face and I just made a move that made it safe for both of us. And then I realized I got that from the mountain. I had to use "magic" (our own ability beyond that which we usually tap) to get up that mountain. And now I had access to that magic in everyday life to do things a little better and a little easier. I think it opened up more of my brain. And yes as I always argued Storm before there are other ways to do that. But this one is very powerful.
Imagine you are 38 years old and doing an extreme sport for the first time. Imagine going to one of those rock climbing walls but imagine it was 7 stories high and imagine that half the rocks aren't glued on properly and you have no mat and no ropes with your daughter up in front of you and you have to test the rocks to make sure they aren't going to come lose and now that I think about it I can't believe I did that!!!
I think adventure sports are great for kids as rites of passage. Without these some kids would turn to violence and crime to prove their courage. I also feel that connecting with nature this deeply contributes to the desire to eat only from nature. And vice-versa. Climbing and eating natures foods become tools for finding truth's pure dance of stark reality.
Warning: Please don't try this at home. Storm has been training the kids since before they could walk for this sport. From early on we take the kids hiking and rock hopping which develops their synapses for coordination on rugged terrain. They play fighting games with Storm which train them to make quick decisions. They started with easy climbs and the difficult climbs are done with ropes the first time. Storm is a seasoned extreme adventure sports instructor with expertise in heavy weather sailing, hang gliding, scuba diving, fencing, martial arts, night hiking, and wilderness survival. He developed many of the methods used in training for freestyle mountain climbing although this is not a commonly taught sport.