Risk is everywhere. If you’re not a climber, I’d venture to guess that you regularly ride in automobiles, which is the most dangerous thing you regularly do. It’s not particularly risky—the chances of catastrophe are low. And it’s a risk I’m comfortable with. Comfortable in both senses: I’ve rationally assessed the risk and do what I can to reduce that risk, and I’ve been exposed to the risk so often that it no longer evinces a visceral reaction.
Certainly, in climbing the objective hazards loom larger; when you’re looking down on large birds cruising the ridge-lift, your physical perspective shifts your mental perspective on life. But there are objective hazards everywhere. For me, I like to do everything reasonable to reduce all of the risks, but knowing that the risks exist— spending some time each day sitting with those risks, knowing I cannot fully eliminate all of them— that’s living.
Three years ago I posted, Programming is terrible. These days? …yeah, exactly the same, but now I find I’m staring suspiciously at, basically, everything thinking: I’m about to do something which, as soon as I completely forget the details, (in the too-near future,) I’m going to be left with something that irritates me. A mess of my own making, as it were.
I’ve been on a bender for decades—which clearly means I’ve not been succeeding, right? I’ve been on a bender to simplify things as much as I can. A lot of progress can be made in that direction simply by removing goals: If I can delete the goal of, “make this thing be successful,” then that might make it possible to simply enjoy the thing. Normal people would just call that “a hobby” and wouldn’t need a paragraph to unpack the idea.
Rock climbing falls into this “hobby” category. I’m a poor, (as in skill,) climber, but since I don’t have any goals related to climbing, it’s just, “any day at the crag.” (And the, “…is better than any other day,” is left unsaid.) That’s literally my mantra. (Somebody should find me a sticker that says that for the top of my climbing helmet.) Some days I climb a bunch of stuff. Some days I fall off a bunch of stuff. Some days it’s glorious weather. Some days it’s tics, snakes and poison ivy. I’ve climbed a bunch of stuff already. There’s a bunch more stuff to climb.
One of my hobbies is rock climbing. (Outdoors, “trad”[itional]—where you climb in pairs with the lead climber “putting up” safety gear, and the second climber “cleaning” up said gear as they climb.) Climbing outdoors is generally, hot, sweaty, dirty, and rocks are hard—bumps, bruises, scrapes, are par for the course. Then there’s the “walk” (anything not climbing rocks is “walking”) to/from the climb which can sometimes be an hour+ of bush-wacking terrain. Sometimes you get caught in the rain. Bug bites are a foregone conclusion. O’dark-thirty early starts, long drives [unless you’re lucky to live/camp very near the “crag”]. There are things I like about rock climbing—but the pro’s/con’s isn’t want I want to write about today.
Rock climbing is best done in tune with the seasons and with the weather. So there’s a zen quality to having all your gear ready to go, keeping yourself [as best I can] in reasonable shape, talking with climbing friends about when we’re next going… and then simply waiting.
And then, “hey! tom is last good weather day this week,” shows up via message. Yes please!
Various photos of a few of the routes we worked on day three, in the Upper Gorge. This area is “trad[itional]” climbing. In many areas, hangers are bolted into the rock for clipping in safety gear. In this area, you have to bring your own hardware which you temporarily insert into the nooks and crannies of the rock.
Once we had our top rope up, we spent the rest of our daylight here. Staright up, dihedral with a 5.8 finger jam crack. Paste your feet on the right and bury your hands… four attempts, but I couldn’t quite pull this one off.
This wall was just a few degrees from vertical. Standing on tiny features like edge of a nickel. The upper lip is about 200 feet, and roofed out at least forty feet. Route started with this sheer, wet, mossy wall with a fist-jam crack (insert entire hand, make fist so it can’t come out and the walk up the wall :) Spent all day climbing all over this wall, and then one other route.
If you ask me, this was a pretty sweet place to start climbing! Super easy warm up… before we moved onto some much harder stuff. I can just barely climb the “easy” climbs here. Lots of insane over-hanging stuff that is way beyond me.
I did about 6 climbs in the afternoon before I was totally “burnt”. A couple of them were a grade or more above my best climbs the last time Mike and I were on the rocks. Really happy about that; Means my general “get in shape” continues to yield broad (health, life, parkour, climbing) benefits without my having to hyper-focus on specific sports.