This summer I’ve mostly been bouldering. For the last month and a half I’ve been getting my climbing fix by getting on my bike and heading up to our local bouldering area called Skyland. Crested Butte is my favorite place in Colorado to spend the summer, and the Skyland Boulders are my all time favorite. Plus, there’s no driving required since the boulders are only a mile and a half of single track away from town. Perfection.
Part of the reason I’ve mostly been bouldering is that I spent a lot of time roping up this winter and spring; and the other part is that several people I know have been involved in climbing accidents. I won’t go into much detail about that, but it always makes me pause and contemplate when such things happen. Is climbing worth the risk? If I died climbing would it be worth it?
I could go in many philosophical directions here, but I simply just want to write about how much I love climbing, and when that feeling is confirmed it’s a revelation.
My good friend Scott is in town, visiting from Yosemite, and he is one motivated dude. He suggested we climb at God’s Crag, down in Lake City. God’s Crag is my favorite sport climbing area, and it’s just about two hours from Crested Butte.
Our session was glorious as we pulled on pockets, encouraging each other, and trying as hard as we could. It didn’t take long to recall that fine feeling that comes after such an effort, in an inspiring environment. It’s that feeling that is better than any drug.
Near the end of our session we moved over to an area where we could cool down. Above us was a trio of climbers near the top of a multipitch line. As I started up the pitch a shower of rocks came down from above, with no warning. The climbers either didn’t call rock, or we didn’t hear them. Either way the incident brought a sobering tone to the evening, and we were grateful that we didn’t get hit by the rocks.
It turns out they dislodged the rocks while pulling their ropes on the first rappel. The rocks ended up giving their rope a mean core shot, and luckily they weren’t hurt either.
Damn. All I wanted was a day without any incident to get me inspired on rope climbing again. Regardless I am inspired. That day left me with that oh-so familiar high that comes after a day at the crag, God’s Crag to be specific.
I’m continuing to contemplate. I want to live a long, happy existence and experience what I was meant to experience. I want to live and love and grow old, while continuing to climb. None of that is guaranteed, and my risks aren’t simply limited to climbing. We don’t get to control our deaths. We’re all simply living out lives on a big chunk of rock floating through space, and risk is inherent to living.
That said, I’ve got the bug back, and I’m psyched to be back on the sharp end.
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