An Interview with: Skyscraperman Dan (Dan Goodwin)
Thank you so much for giving us some of your time, when you’re so busy with your new website, TripleBlack.com. We do appreciate it, Dan.
Editor: You are acknowledged for your superhuman climbing achievements. The best known are your ascents of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the World Trade Center, the John Hancock Center in Chicago (surviving attempts by firemen to push you off the structure with a powerful gushing fire hose), the CN Tower in Toronto (creating a world record by scaling both sides of it), the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, the Renaissance Center in Dallas, the El Centro Towers in Caracas, the Nippon TV Tower in Tokyo, the Millennium Tower in San Francisco, and most recently the Telephonic Building in Santiago, Chile.
How did you control your fear? Do you feel fear like the rest of us? This is something many fans want to know.
Skyscraperman Dan: Great question. Most people assume, incorrectly, that I am fearless. When just the opposite is true. Fear is my greatest ally. When faced with a life or death situation, like free-soloing a difficult rock climb or a sheer glass wall on a 110 story building, makes me stronger. We’ve all heard the story of the mother that lifted the vehicle off her child after it rolled over and pinned her underneath. The same holds true with me. Each time I walk up to a building with the intention of sending it, knowing the slightest mistake could end my life, I feel a surge of energy flowing into me.
In many ways, I become, and I don’t mean this egotistically, I become SuperHuman. I become ten times stronger than I would normally be. And I owe it all to fear! My word of advice…don’t fear 'fear', embrace it. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. Use it to your advantage, especially when you are running it out to the next clip!
Editor: On March 1st, 2014, you scaled the Telephonic building in Santiago, Chile for a TV network. Although the building was the world's tallest, your ascent established a New World Record for the longest lead climb on a single rope. With your anchors (strung through a series of windows) spaced every 4-to-6 floors, you were facing 120' to 180's falls at any moment. This ascent is being hailed as one of the most difficult ascents to date.
What was this experience like for you? What emotions were going through your mind?
Skyscraperman Dan: Another great question. Normally, when scaling a building, I climb without a rope. I am untethered. Despite what most people think, free soloing is considerably easier than lead climbing with a rope. For one, you have the weight of the rope, which in this case, considering the height of the building was 453 feet, the rope weighed approximately 42 pounds. Combined with the rope drag associated with going over the roof, the ascent of the Telephonic Building in Chile proved to be epic challenge. If one examines the video clips, you will notice when I'm pumping up the suction cups, the glass is flexing. This, as you can imagine, was extremely creepy, especially considering there were numerous windows with cracks in it - such as the window just to my left as I pulled over the roof. By the time I reached penthouse balcony, it was pitch dark. And I didn't have a headlamp. The crux was the final roof leading to the summit.
It projected 30 feet out over the streets. And it could only be free climbed with my hands and feet. Halfway out, facing a death fall (I would fallen onto a row of glass plates shielding the penthouse balcony from wind), I was so pumped I could barely hang on. For a fleeting moment, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I felt like I was tethered to a bucket of concrete. Every move felt as if it was going to be my last. But like I discussed in the previous question, regarding fear, I was so afraid of falling and dying in such gruesome fashion (possibly getting cut in half by the shattering glass), that I literally became superhuman. As Daniel Browning Smith, the host of the show said "We had never witnessed the transformation of someone becoming SuperHuman before!"
Editor: That's absolutely amazing. How does one understand and use the power of one's mind to stabilize under such circumstances? When fear takes over, what is the first thing to do?
Skyscraperman Dan: Embrace it. Don't fear it. Realize what is happening and use the energy to fuel you.
Editor: When did you first start climbing and where?
Skyscraperman Dan: I first started climbing in 1978 - when I was 22 years old. My first climb was High Exposure at the Gunks in New Paltz, New York. At the time, I didn't own a pair of climbing shoes, and I didn't have a climbing partner. So, I free soloed the route barefoot.
Editor: Fascinating! Who were your climbing icons, and what emotionally connects or binds you to climbing?
Skyscraperman Dan: I have many. John Bachar, who was a friend of mine. I spent 2001 New Year's Eve with him. We would often talk about the mindset of free soloing. Lynn Hill, who I had the pleasure of climbing with during the 80's. There was little doubt in my mind that Lynn would become one of the greatest climbers of our time. And she proved it by freeing the Nose in a single day. To me, that ascent is, and shall always be, until someone free-solos the route, one of the greatest climbing achievements ever! Ron Kauk, who I have always admired. His son, Lonnie, is proving to be following in his footsteps. Keep an eye on him. Dan Osman, who I knew in Lake Tahoe. His willingness to push the limits was extremely impressive. Patrick Edlinger, who I met while climbing the Sphinx Crack (5.13c), and again at the First International Sport Competition in Snowbird Utah, where I was the color commentator for CBS Sports. And last but not least...John Gill, Tony Yaniro, and Wolfgang Gullich, who inspired me to take my training to another level.
Editor: It is said that climbing creates a spiritual depth and wisdom in a person, where one gets to be more acutely familiar with our feelings, abilities and our true, inner self. Would you agree with this?
Skyscraperman Dan: Absolutely. I live to climb and I climb to live. Climbing gives me meaning. It gives me purpose. Climbing has made me into the person that I have become.
Editor: You obviously have a superlative understanding of how the human mind works and reacts to sudden external stimuli. How would you advise those readers who are not climbers, but who are battling a disease, or some problem in life and can't seem to cope or have lost all hope?
Skyscraperman Dan: I learned along time ago, that our internal dialog can either work for us, or against us. We have to pay particular attention to the words we use, especially when something negative happens. We, as humans, have the tendency to feel like victims. We feel like something is happening to us. Instead of for us. By simply changing the one word 'to' to 'for' us, can have a dramatic impact. When I was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer, I felt victimized. Like it was happening 'to' me.
My miraculous recovery happened when I realized it was happening 'for' me. That my experience with cancer was a 'gift'. Not a curse. The moment I switched that internal dialog around and started speaking in these terms. That cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. I realized I could achieve pretty much anything. My word of advice is no matter what is happening to you. Just realize that it's happening for you, to make you a better and perhaps a much stronger person than you were before. In fact, I'm willing to bet, because I know it's true with me, if you look back at every negative experience that's happened over the course of your life, that you came out of that experience even stronger. Better than you were before. As I like to say (I call this the Goodwin Law) "Anything that can go right, will go right!"
Editor: You have stated that the following people have greatly influenced your thinking: John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Carlos Casteneda, the legendary Bruce Lee, and most of all Mahatma Gandhi. You have also said that "Life begins when you don't want it to end."
Can you share what that means to you?
Skyscraperman Dan: Life, as we know it, is extremely short. If we want to experience any form of success, whether it's athletically, financially, spiritually, or romantically, we need to embrace our lives with a sense of urgency. Too many people live a complacent life. Afraid to take risk.
The key to great success and happiness is living your life as if you don't want it to end - as if you are squeezing every drop of your life into a bottle and drinking with the thirst of someone who is craving more.
Thank you for your amazing insights, your ability to help people think positively is indeed a great gift to share with the world. We look forward to a follow up interview with you soon.
To win a soon to be released book titled: Untethered - When Failure is Not an Option, please sign up on www.tripleblack.com
From Dan Goodwin:
"33 years ago, William Blair and his team of loyal firefighters attempted to knock me off the John Hancock Center with a gushing firehose. Were they trying to kill me? Absolutely. After I scaled the Sears Tower, the former world's tallest building, with a pair of suction cups, William Blair came to my cell and said..."If you ever try climbing another building in my city, I will kill you."
EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE of the Telephonica Building Ascent in Santiago, Chile.
From Dan Goodwin:
"STAN LEE'S SUPERHUMANS: Man vs Beast. For those that missed the show, here's a link to a youtube video. Talk about coming full circle. Stan Lee was my age (58), when he received a call from the District Attorney in Chicago, wanting to know if he put me up to climbing the World's tallest building dressed as SpiderMan. Who would have guessed, 33 years later, I would be climbing a building for him!"
Dan Goodwin 'Founder and Editor in Chief'
Featuring the Most Extreme Athletes on the Planet!
When Failure is Not an Option!
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © Dan Goodwin
On the Cover:
Skyscraperman Dan (Dan Goodwin)
Cover Date: November 20th, 2014