The Degrees Of Fun
Some of the coolest days that I have had have one thing in common, they have rather large approaches which are always much easier on the way in rather than the way out. Because of this what starts as a early cold day gets awesome then becomes much more miserable on the way back out. So when I say that I had a good or a fund day it does not mean that I found the whole day enjoyable but that does not mean that I did not have fun. This kind of weird fun can be described as different than the kind of fun that you would traditionally associate with simple enjoyment. Rather they can be described in three degrees where a person draws fun from different sources.
First degree fun is the standard definition of fun which people associate with things like amusement parks and video games. This is fun where the activity that you are doing is simply enjoyable and you work to do those sorts of activities. Ice climbing in rocky mountain national park counts as first degree fun. The activity of simply sticking my ice tool into the ice and enjoying the experience is one of the most fun things that I can recommend to a new climber. It is visceral as the tool hits the ice and thuds to a stop, then the satisfying feeling of a well placed tool that you don't worry about coming out as you pull your self up the sheer cliff of ice.
First degree fun is so good that we as humans are will go to great lengths to achieve it. This is where second degree fun comes in. Second degree fun is the type of fun where you are doing a activity that has led or will lead to first degree fun. The activity may be incredibly miserable while it is taking place it will become more fun once you achieve your goal and your day will improve form there. This is the type of fun that makes up most of the time spent on climbing trips, as approaches, hiking out, weather, and so many more situations are less than enjoyable but are required to get to the fun part of the day. One of my personal favorites trips that we offer is the Citadel to Pettingell traverse which is a incredible high altitude technical ridge line that can be traversed in one (ish) hours but up to 8 hours of approaching and getting down form this climb. While the ridge its self and the approach is first degree fun because I like a peaceful hike while the ridge is moderately technical amazingness, the last two miles can be less fun. Yet these miles are mandatory for the fun part making all of the rest of it worth it.
The most notorious type of fun is third degree fun, this is fun that is not fun. Third degree fun is less than favorable, the best way to describe it is simply that it is fun to tell your friends about but you would not intentionally enter that situation again. One of the best examples of this is a day that I had climbing Byers Peak on a incredibly smokey day. Having summited and started the decent it started to rain. The next 4 hours that it took to get back to the parking lot felt like a month, and by the time that I climbed back into the car soaked to the bone and covered in mud the only thing that I could say was "that was fun" in the most sarcastic tone I could muster.
The three degrees of fun are what makes many of the sports that I do worth the effort and pain that is required to participate in them. When I go climbing the part of my day that is actually climbing and what I could call planned first degree fun is a rather small part of the day. Yet the combination or second degree fun as well as the first degree fun that can be created when you enjoy second and third degree fun with friends. Thus I recommend trying things regardless of the pain that the day might bring, you will always know that at least you will have a good story.