I read, with great interest, a recent post by my friend, writer Kelly Cordes. He traveled to Pakistan on an expedition with Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy. He discusses various details of life in basecamp and his bike excursion around Pakistan, but what struck me the most was this statement: "In between smaller climbs, bouldering, and nursing myself back to health, the simple life in base camp provided a beautiful place to make peace with my disappointment. Maybe I need more time, or maybe this is my new reality; we don’t always get what we want in life, and I haven’t forgotten that I am a fortunate man." Kelly traveled to Pakistan on an expedition with two young, super talented climbers. He was forced to stay in base camp, while they went after it in the mountains. Yet, he doesn't complain, but rather reflects on the great things he enjoys about life.
This struck me because, I recently found myself in a similar position. I arrived to Yosemite National Park late September, intending to climb various long, moderately difficult routes with my 24-year-old, hardcore climbing buddy Sarah Shaw, only to find I could not climb. I had been receiving texts from my excited friend for weeks. She was in the Sierras (Sept. 15 text: "I climbed the Hulk 6 times! And did one route twice because it was so good!") and then in the Needles (Sept. 19 text: "Should I try Romantic Warrior?"), and then, finally, in Yosemite (Sept. 23 text: "OMG. Can we sleep on a wall, please please?!").
It was hard not to absorb her youthful exuberance. So I didn't try. Instead, I just got psyched. I arrived, and we started out trip by cragging at the Cookie. I jumped on hard 5.11s right away and sent a sweet climb I'd longed to try for years. We followed that with a day of long, easy climbing. And after a few rest days (well, I took some rest days), we climbed more. Awesome! So psyched. But then my reality quickly changed. My shoulder flared up. I trained for months to climb in Yosemite and then Zion, only to find that sport climbing didn't prepare me for the shoulder-twisting cracks. I'm strong--stronger than I have been in my life--but my shoulders are not.
Fortuitously, my physical therapist (Michelle Harris) happened to be climbing in the Valley that same week. Though in pain, I squeezed one more climb in before she saw me. I knew what she would say.
"OK, fine. No Astroman this year. How about Zion in a few weeks?"
So, now I'm home. I drove and hot springed my way back to Colorado a few days later. I figured I might as well get some work done so that when I heal I can get back out again as soon as possible. I tried whining about it, but my friend/climbing coach Jimmy Redo set me straight: "At least you are in a beautiful place!"
And, I was in a beautiful place, with awesome people, staying in a charming cabin, with my beautiful partner. Our last few days in the Valley, a wet, heavy snow blanketed the landscape. We cuddled in front of the fire at our friend Greg's awesome house in Yosemite West, and then slept in the Sunset House, an abode he renovated really for friends. It overlooks miles of forested mountains. Other days we dined with friends in their Sprinter van, I danced in the woods to Brandi Carlile, made delicious dinners of venison and apple torts, soloed easy routes on Manure Pile Buttress, and laid in the Meadow looking up at the Capitan. So I can't climb Astroman.
"It's not going anywhere," my driving partner, Dan said as we drove out of the Valley. No doubt.
Besides, I get to live vicariously through my excitable young friend. Her first time in the Valley, everything is new and awesome. The day (& day after) we were supposed to do Astroman, she wrote various texts.
October 8, 2011
Lizzy: 9p.m. "How much fun did you have?"
Sarah: 11:05p.m.: "So much fun! Got my ass kicked. So good! Slot feels like wrestling an ape. Super fun! Totally unreal."
Lizzy: 11:10p.m. "What pitches did you get? I'm so jealous!!! Psyched for your send!"
Sarah: 11:15p.m.:"I got most of the wide stuff. Fell outta the slot once. I gotta take it right side in. It was long. So much harder than the Rostrum."
October 9, 2011
Sarah: 11 a.m.: "And I found myself a little ranger... :)"
Lizzy: 11:01a.m. "What? No way!!! Yosemite is heaven. Hehe. Keep sending me texts. It's awesome to hear about your adventures."
Sarah: 11:54a.m. "Totally unreal. Resting for at least a day. Steck Salathe Tuesday or Wednesday. Going to try the Alien Roof tomorrow I think... So tired though..."
Life is good. I'm busy busy. Mad and I just moved back to Lyons, to a freshly painted house (done by my good friend Marc Hemmes). I'm currently sharing an office with Arn Hayden, who just launched Two Rivers Foods Inc., which makes the delish, healthy snack food SolBites. I'm doing a bit of PR work for them. Should be easy with such a great product!
The Lyons Folks Fest was this past weekend. It was awesome. Mad's parents and sister came into town for it. We enjoyed good food, wine, and good music all weekend. I also got a great interview with Ellis Delaney, one of the artists, which I will finish editing here in the next week or two and post. I also spent a day attending and filming classes at Song School, which is always a pleasure. I got to hang out with Mary Gauthier again. What a lady! And I spent a lot of time sitting in the river because the temps were SO hot.
I continue to feel better physically, though I had a small setback last week when I went up to climb D7 on the Diamond. It was a bit much for me. I can't deal with all that stress in my mind and body right now. So I'm sticking to sport climbing until this fall, at which time I plan on doing some long routes in Yosemite and Zion. At least there will be minimal hiking.
Our new kitties are very happy. In fact, I must go home soon to put them back inside.
What: Multi-media projectors, printers, car audio, home audio, PDAs and hand-held devices, mobile electronics (GPS, cell phones, MP3 players), various game systems, televisions, monitors, laptops, ink cartridges, CDs and DVDs and rechargeable batteries
Need to know: Consumers pay $10 for recycling each TV, monitor and laptop, and in return, receive a $10 Best Buy gift card. All other items accepted through the program are free to the consumer. The program does not accept appliances, TVs larger than 32”, or console TVs of any size. All hard drives must be removed from laptops and desktops before they are accepted for recycling.
I have not written much on this blog lately primarily because I have so many other social media sites to maintain. However, I know that my friends and family come back to this blog again and again to see what I have been up to. I'm doing very well these days. My business is actually booming. I have two contracts, one major and one smaller, but still very important with a Denver-based bank. I'm also creating videos. I have just created a neat Facebook page/YouTube "program" called Climb! StoryCorps, on which I'm going to post video interviews with climbers of all shapes and sizes. Check it out by clicking here.
In other news, Madaleine and I raised about $2500 for Girls Education International thanks to various awesome sponsors, attendees, and shop/gym owners. Our sponsors included Evolv, Rab, Maxim Ropes, Stonewear Designs and Sierra Designs/Kelty. I so appreciate their ongoing support.
As well, I regularly write on my work blog, which can be accessed here. This is my most recent entry.
Two years ago at the Lyons Folks Fest, I had the privilege of interviewing numerous artists who were performing at the festival and also teaching at Song School the week prior. Mary Gauthier inspired me because of her honesty, love of song, and her original style. So, out of the dozen or so interview I did, this is the first one I have put together. I hope to assemble more in the upcoming weeks. Thanks Mary Gauthier for allowing me to interview you. Thanks also to Tim Benko, the fellow who did the filming, and also to Planet Bluegrass, who gave me back stage passes and encouraged me to talk with as many artists as possible. I have an amazing life.
Be clear in a movement; Move with intention; Be pure in your decisions; Have no doubt. The Bhagavad Gita explains that, “If your mind is unsteady and wandering, many branched and endless are the thoughts and choices. When your mind is clear and one-pointed, there is only one decision.” Such clarity is required in climbing.
It saddens and angers me that our government selectively castigates countries that commit major human rights abuses based on how much oil they supply us. Equatorial Guinea is one of the 10 worst countries in re: human rights abuses (read NYT article by clicking here). Money from oil goes directly to the family of the dictator of 30 years. On the other hand, I still drive, thereby indirectly supporting our oil policies.
Not surprising (an excerpt):
“You can have a debate about every one of the statistics,” Ambassador Alberto M. Fernandez said. The American presence here is discreet but vital, and Mr. Obiang professes great love for the United States. Chevron, Marathon Oil and Noble Energy have substantial interests in Equatorial Guinea, onshore and off, and American oil workers are easily spotted at the diminutive airport at the edge of town. The sea around Bioko Island, where Malabo, the capital, is located, is dotted with telltale flares from oil company installations.
The presence of M.P.R.I., the Virginia military security company led by the retired general Bantz M. Craddock, the former supreme allied commander in Europe, has raised eyebrows among human rights groups and local dissidents. The State Department vetoed the company’s work here because of Equatorial Guinea’s poor human rights record , but finally acceded under President Bush in 2005 amid promises of reform by Mr. Obiang’s government, according to Human Rights Watch.