It’s raining. It’s been raining on and off in the PNW for awhile now, and it’s beginning to seem like summer is officially over, despite hopes for a sendy “Send-tember” and a rockin’ “Rock-tober.” I’ve been wearing my running shoes more than my approach shoes recently, and I’ve been sending more crossword puzzles than rock climbs. I even sometimes find myself reminiscing about the days when I had a job. I think it’s time to head south.
I want to eek out one more weekend at WA Pass, partly because I really want to climb with my friend Dan, and partly because there’s still so much I want to do here. Another summer passed, wholly devoted to rock climbing, and still all these voices in my head saying, “You didn’t even climb that much this summer! You certainly didn’t climb anything hard! What have you been doing all summer anyways!?!?”
If you know me even a little bit you probably know that a) I tend to have these kinds of voices in my head a lot and b) they’re usually wrong. But when all of my waking hours can potentially be devoted to rock climbing, and when every time I get online I see pictures of people totally getting after it, it begins to feel like I’m not doing enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not enough.
You see where it goes?
I was “entertaining” Matt with this self-pitying routine on a rainy Tuesday recently. I had climbed at WA Pass that weekend, and had just run up to Lake Serene and back from Index the day before. But that Tuesday was wet, and grey, and I had totally lost the big picture. My list of accomplishments that morning was highlighted by semi-butchering a crossword, repairing the trigger wire on a #3 camalot, and scratching the flea bites on my leg. After listening to my woe-is-me-I-suck pity fest, Matt listed off all that I have done this summer, including the events of the previous few days. Suffice it to say, it effectively put me in my place.
The whole event gave me a bit of inspiration to make more efforts to combat these negative thoughts. To remind myself that I climb because it’s fun, because it’s what I want to do. That there’s no “list” other than the one I make for myself. That when I choose to compare myself to others, there will always be people that are better off, and there will always be people that are worse off (so why compare at all!). And most of all, it reminded me to combat these thoughts with the truth! So here (for nobody but myself, but maybe for you too, because updates are fun) is the TRUTH:
In May, I sent Japanese Gardens, my hardest ever redpoint (11c), and one of the coolest single pitches of climbing anywhere.
My good bud Dan and I climbed Solid Gold in the blazing sun and Acid Baby in a snowstorm on Memorial Day weekend. Both climbs were AWESOME and I can’t wait to go and do them again!
While leading the second pitch of Ellen Pea on the M&M Wall at WA Pass, I took a whipper and sprained my ankle. I somehow finished the pitch (a top rope was lowered by friends above) and got to hang out at the ledge and watch Blake send the FFA of an old aid line. Many many thanks to Matt and Jens and Blake for the countless belays down the snowslope, impressive class 3 piggyback rides, and endless patience.
A #myanklestillhurts bike trip to the San Juans with cousin Lisa and good bud Alissa was a perfect way to bring in summer. While on the trip, Lisa (who has done a ton of bike touring) offhandedly said, “You should just bike to San Francisco!”
And so I did. With borrowed panniers and all my super-light alpine gear, I set off to California. I biked through blazing sun and thick fog, exploring the nooks and crannies of the coast, meeting amazing folks, healing my ankle, and proving to myself that adventure is always just a step away. Take. That. STEP.
A quick train brought me back to the PNW and back to my van. It was finally time for summery Squamish! Clean splitter granite, ice cream, Mags 99, van life in the parking lot, swimming…it doesn’t get much better. And Travis! Climbing is always a blast with this guy. Highlights include climbs of Sunset Step, Milk Road, Krimo Gold, Borderline – Angel’s Crest – High Plains Drifter, and finally getting into the alpine around Squamish with Sarah and Louisa and climbing Life on Earth on Mt. Habrich.
A few days before Travis’ time in the PNW was up, we got an invite from my friends Max and Blake to climb Springbok Arête, of which admittedly, I had never heard. We refueled at my parents’ house in Abbostford and headed east to Springbok. The road was definitely the crux of the whole adventure…by the time we started hiking it must have been 11am. The approach was too heinous and the rock to splitter not to climb, so climb we did. I joke with Blake that this was the first real “alpine finish” of my life (hiking out in the dark), and since then I’ve done at least five more (mostly with him).
Then Polly came to visit and so did the RAIN!!! We enjoyed domestic life at our friends Lacy and Pat’s place in Leavenworth before finally getting some climbing in. A fun romp up the CNR of Mt. Stuart was a nice reunion of our meeting of Matt and Austin in the Sierra last summer. The decent down the Sherpa glacier (which included two bollards) reminded us that we were indeed in the Cascades. We also did a car-to-car in a day climb of the Stanley-Bergner on Prusik, and I realized that it’s always a good decision to illegal bivy and evade rangers in the Enchantments instead of hike 20 miles for 6 (albeit stellar) pitches.
Blake’s (and now my) photographer friend Forest came to town, and I had the pleasure of being the bright spot in the pretty place for a few days of photography on Colchuck Balanced Rock. The bad weather made it a real proper hang out sesh that included games, crosswords, tons of Yerba mate, putting up boulder problems, and finally, some climbing. I climbed the West Face up to the roof before the sunset one day (mostly for photos, but boy was it rad), and the following day Jess and I sent The Scoop! Jess is such a crusher, and it was super inspiring belaying her on her onsight of the 11c scoop pitch. Wow! Can’t wait to climb with that girl again soon.
Then Matt and I committed our first federal offense together and illegally crossed the border into the States from Canada. It was worth it, as the hiking turned out to be epic and the climbing fun and splitter. We loved the Pasayten and can’t wait to go back! We put up what we think to be a first ascent on Ampitheater Peak (I want to name it the “6th Pillar” to go along with the Islamic themed names on that rock) – a dirty but awesome climb up splitter cracks! The weather that plagued everyone over Labor Day weekend chased us off the summit of Cathedral (an awesome climb indeed), and we made our way to WA Pass for a few days of climbing with friends.
Once at WA Pass, Matt and I climbed the East Face of Lexington with Blake and Allison and Forest and Shaun. Some of my favorite people, all on one chunk of granite! The next day we climbed Thin Red Line with Forest and Blake and Chris on Freedom or Death beside us, and Mikey on his new route Liberty and Injustice on the other side (which he went on to complete and says “might be the route to do on Liberty Bell”). I tried (and failed) to get a photo of all 6 of us. It was an epic party wall!
Then Matt and I headed to Elephant’s Perch to crash the OR athlete party (but mostly just to hang out with our Herrington friends and Forest and climb splitter granite in an epic location and flyfish and camp on a beautiful alpine lake and eat good food and…you get the picture). We climbed Fine Line and Astro Elephant and Myopia and I have no photographic proof of any of it, but it was some of the best climbing I have ever done.
And then I had the privilege of taking my long time friend Jacqui on her first alpine climb(s)! The Beckey Route on Liberty Bell and the SW Rib of South Early Winters Spire blew her mind and hooked her good. She is now a bonafide crack addict.
I can’t talk about my summer without mentioning some fine days I had with friends in Seattle and with my family up in BC.
And now it’s raining, and I’m sitting inside doing nothing. And well, I guess I did do a lot this summer after all. Enough. That was a really good reminder.
But before I end, I gotta say, this all begs the question: what does “enough” mean? I guess I fear that someone like me is going to come across my blog and compare themselves to me and think, “Oh gosh, I’m not doing enough!” DON’T DO THAT. That’s not the point. Behind every blog and facebook post or photo lies a very human human being with insecurities and struggles of their own. There is no measurement to achieve; there is no standard for greatness. Perhaps it’s not what you do, but how you are, and who you are, and if you’re trying hard, or living intentionally, or loving well, or setting goals and working towards them. That might be enough. Fodder for thought, and maybe for some more writing.
And so is this:
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. –Alan Watts