Life is good for 23-year-old Hudson native Skyler Weekes.
Last July, he leaped 8 feet, 7.4 inches and held on at a competition in Sheffield, England, to break his own Guinness world record for dyno climbing.
He'll be featured in the biggest rock-climbing film of 2009, due to be released in February.
His indie rock band, J.D. Feighner, is preparing a winter tour of Colorado and California.
He's a culinary school-educated and certified chef. And he recently completed training making him an executive wine sommelier.
It's been a remarkable climb for Weekes since June 2005, when he took a head-first dive in a dyno competition at Vail, Colo. The fall fractured his spine and busted up the left side of his face.
Six reconstructive surgeries over the next year and a half were required to fix his facial injuries.
"Getting over my fear of falling again has been a challenge," Weekes admitted after setting his first Guinness world record in July 2007.
"Every time I climb and dyno it's always on my mind. I just love the sport too much for it to stop me. I know my limits now and how close I can push them. The feeling of flying through the air to latch onto another hold is unexplainable. It really feels like I'm pushing the boundaries of the sport and I hope to continue to do so."
Dynoing is a rock-climbing technique in which the climber leaps from one hold to another to gain height and distance. It's associated with bouldering, the form of rock climbing without safety ropes.
"Nobody in the U.S. is really doing what I'm doing in the sport right now, which is trying to push the boundaries a bit," Weekes said in a phone call from Denver last week. "You try to jump as far as you can between two holds without a rope. Not very many people find that too appealing."
Maybe his name has something to do with the daredevilry. His friends call him Sky.
Weekes' mother, Monica, says his first interest as a child was playing the drums.
He was introduced to climbing during a stay at Boy Scout Camp Tomahawk near Rice Lake and has been a devotee ever since.
When he was a Hudson High School student, he built a climbing wall for St. Croix Valley YMCA as his Eagle Scout project.
After graduating from Hudson High in 2003, Weekes attended Colorado University at Boulder for a year.
He then moved to Estes Park to dedicate more time to climbing and found a job cooking at a local resort. He had worked in the kitchen at Troy Burne Golf Club and at Brine's Restaurant in Stillwater while still living with his parents.
During his year at Estes Park, Weekes decided he wanted to be a chef and enrolled in a three-year culinary program at The Art Institute of Colorado in Denver. He graduated in December 2007 and then received training to be an executive wine sommelier.
He's currently managing a wine shop, in addition to playing with the J.D. Feighner band. He has an apartment in a Denver high-rise.
"I go climbing five days a week," he said. "I live 20 minutes away from one of the best climbing areas in the world, and an hour and a half from some of the best skiing."
Weekes is excited about the release of the new climbing film titled "Pure" that will be out on DVD in February. He said it was filmed all over the world and he's the featured climber for the segment on Colorado.
"A lot of the interview is about why I came back to the sport after having everybody say I should have died in the accident," Weekes said.
Why did he come back?
"I just have this passion for the sport," he said. "Climbing has been my life. Most people wake up in the morning wondering what they're going to do that day. I wake up in the morning wondering where I'm going to climb that day."
Weekes' father, Steve, owns Weekes Forest Products, a wholesale lumber company based in the Twin Cities.
Monica Weekes is an organist and keyboard player for Bethel Lutheran Church. She'll provide the organ accompaniment for The Phipps Festival Chorus in its coming Christmas concerts.
Weekes has an older sister, Erica, who is in a doctoral program to be a marriage and family therapist. She resides in Stillwater, Minn., with her husband.