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..."
Sarah: 1:30p.m. "I think I'm going to do a wall!"
I smile every time I hear from her.
1 year ago