Some folks sip life, swirling it around the palate, nodding contemplatively and slowly shuttering their eyes. Others punch a key through the bottom of the can and shotgun that shit while ropeless and reckless above a churning sea, howling to whichever gods they’ve buttonholed in their sights. I’ll let you guess which type of fellow Dakota Walz is.
Dakota, hailing from Denver via the plains of North Dakota, has steadily built a climbing resume that demands attention when it comes from a flatlander. This year alone, he’s creeping up on a linear mile of first ascents from Utah to Colorado. This from a guy who launched his climbing career on the urban landscape of Fargo and Kansas City, actually penning a buildering guide to the latter.
Most intriguingly, Dakota is on the precipice of releasing his first book (slated for October), Everything I Loved More. Compiled into seven distinct but loosely tethered vignettes, EILM chronicles his time as a steel tramp, a consequences be damned free-soloist, and hitchhiking vagabond. Underlying his tight and honest prose, Dakota makes clear that his reckless youthful adventures stemmed from a battle with mental illness and depression, a fight he continues to wage with a bit less mortal danger and a whole lot more wisdom. It’s a furious and passionate read, and as Matt Samet writes in Climbing Magazine, “As an integral work of art, Everything I Loved More truly is a thing of beauty, and it was a pleasure to read, especially as the narrative circles back on itself to reach an emotionally satisfying conclusion.”
Dakota takes Fidi and I on a journey through some of the adventures so dazzlingly recounted in EILM, as well as the process of publishing his first book, his first ascents dotted across the American West, and the underlying emotional distress that fueled his wanderlust for so much of his young life. It’s a helluva ride.
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Thank you, as always, to Ryne Doughty for the hawt jams!