I have always been an “all or nothing” personality, diving headfirst into most of the hobbies and interests I had ever had. When I was in my later elementary and earlier middle school years, the Middle Ages was one of my biggest fascinations, and I spent hours pouring my energy into consuming as much information about that time period as I could (,…I was a bit of a nerd growing up). As an emotional and moody teenager, I discovered a passion for expressing my feelings through writing, and would spend most of my alone time listening to music and writing poetry, eventually compiling a small book of poems to share with my family. In college, my recklessness swelled as I discovered adventure sports, primarily running and bicycling and spent most of my free time pushing myself in those disciplines. And now, in my mid-to-late twenties, I have discovered climbing.
Climbing has personally been quite consuming for me, and it has been hard for me to put a handle on it as to why. Why am I so obsessed with climbing? All of my dream travel destinations are places I simply want to climb. Most of the books I read are climbing-related. Most of the people I follow on social media are climbers. If I go three or four days without climbing, I find myself feeling moodier. Is this unhealthy?
Starting this past January, I began keeping a training log in a notebook, documenting every climb and workout I’ve done for the past 9 months. I make notes about how I may have felt on any particular day. One of my main reasons for keeping such a log is that I made a list of climbing goals I wanted to achieve this year (outlined in an earlier blog post) and document my experience getting to that point.
I’ll admit, I have done a pretty good job attempting to reach my goals thus far, though I still have a fair amount of work to do on others. I’ll be sure to do a full assessment by the end of this year. However, I am finding that maybe climbing is passion where I’ve truly committed to pushing myself into the unknown. There is a LOT of unknown in climbing for me that lingers out there. As a multi-dimensional sport with various facets, I can still push myself in ways other than necessarily just climbing harder grades. Maybe I am just obsessed with uncovering the unknown for myself. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
One of my goals for this year was to lead my first traditional route. I had done the required “homework” leading up to a lead, including taking a trad-climbing weekend course at Seneca Rocks and doing my own fair share of following and mock leads. Finally, this past August, Dustin and I took an impromptu trip to the Red River Gorge for a weekend. When I say impromptu, I mean we decided at 2pm on Friday to start our 7 hour trek that evening.
On Sunday morning, Dustin completed his goal for this weekend, Roadside Attraction at Roadside Crag. There was another easy trad route at Roadside he wanted to try out, Gumby Land, a 5.3 “crack” climb. As I stared at the line, 60 feet of scrambling to a set of bolted anchors, I decided why not?
It was easy, as expected, but still an accomplishment to actually finally get on the sharp end. I was lucky to have a group of on-looking climbers cheering me on and taking my photo through the process as well- haha.
Ecstatic to finally have skin in the trad game.
A few weeks later, I visited my friend Laura in Colorado, and was able to lead up a 5.6 trad route in Boulder Canyon, Idle Hands.
Later that week, we shared lead up a 4-pitch sport route in Boulder Canyon. Both of our first times leading a multi pitch without a diligent experienced boyfriend holding our hand 😝
Maybe my obsessiveness does count for something. I’m growing as a climber. I’m able to reach some of the goals I made for myself. And I’m able to trust myself to be able to confidently lead a couple of trad climbs that while on the easier end of the spectrum, I know I still have a lot up my sleeve in that arena. Trust me, I can’t stop thinking about it….