Hiatus Over: Thoughts on My First Full Climbing Season

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I realize that this site has gone quiet, but I haven’t. Lately i’ve been concentrating my time on my trips, my climbing, my contributions to other publications, and less on my writing here. This is where it started, and as my project now goes into its second year, the weather begins to change, the cold and rain set in, and last weekend I had the opportunity to take my last major lesson of the summer: My introduction into trad climbing. It’s been a wild year of alpine ascents, fantastic sport climbing,  and new friends and partners. I feel my time spent on the peaks this summer have made me more capable as a climber both in skill and ability. I’ve learned that its OK that I’d like to concentrate more on endurance than strength, that having ambitious goals even at a low grade still counts in making incredible ascents, and that with what I’ve learned over the course of a summer, the next year is going to top it.

This past year, I’ve been on more trips around the state than I could have ever imagined: Vantage, Tieton, Exit 38, the North Cascades, and Leavenworth. I’ve made some amazing and ambitious new friends, discovered where my strengths and weaknesses are and even managed to take on a classic route. I definitely see room for a lot of fine tuning and improvement. I don’t consider myself to be an able bodied hard sport climber. I’m daunted by clipping bolts on anything above a 5.10+ and my strength could use a lot of work. When I first came to Washington, I admittedly felt intimidated. I was surrounded by fantastic climbers who I still look up to and admire. I felt that my lack of fitness on tough grades was holding me back. As we headed to Leavenworth last weekend to practice placing gear, we talked with our instructor about the low grades that constitute an alpine route, the style of climbing which i’m most looking forward to. Alpinism in it’s purest form is about speed and efficiency over hard technical climbing. Yes, there are tough grades and more ambitious routes to be tackled, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed or put down by what I couldn’t do. I felt extremely proud and motivated by what I was capable of: High peaks, big walls, moderate grades.

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This winter the focus of my time here is changing. The climbing is hampered by wind, rain, and snow. Getting out to the peaks is soon blocked by ice and the actual peaks themselves turn to ice and tough, technical ascending, something I have not yet trained in. For winter the game turns to strength training, improving my sport leads, and working on bouldering. I’m hoping for the occasional trip out east, but now I can relax and start planning next years major trips. There’s a bunch of names that i’m throwing around in my head, i’m only sure that what I’ve accomplished this year I plan to double next year. This site here is going to roar back to life. I finally have time to get back to my writing and start doing what I loved before: Sharing and inspiring. I think it’s going to be a great winter.

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4 thoughts on “Hiatus Over: Thoughts on My First Full Climbing Season

  1. I’ve seen people climb at Deception Crag in the dead of winter, on one of those rare sunny days. Not often, but they probably had cabin fever. I’m thinking it will rain for a month and then the east side will be cold enough for the snows to start, at least the rock won’t be so slippery. They stop plowing Icicle Road somewhere around the Snow Lakes trailhead, but it’s not a long hike from there to some good routes, with incredible scenery.

    Congrats on your first season of climbing! I did my first rock climb a year ago (well, it’ll be a year three days from now) and I’ve been reflecting on the progress I’ve made, and where the future might take me.

    1. Thanks a lot! I got to hike the enchantments for the first time earlier this year and I figure that the whole area gets some pretty heavy cover. Don’t think i’m ready for serious winter ascents. I am very much looking forward to being back at it in the spring!

      1. Well, Prusik Peak in the ‘Chants is going to be a fantastic climb for me one day, and a brutal effort … but there are 200+ routes within a mile of the road out there, too, stuff where you don’t have to worry about avalanches or any of that. Barney’s Rubble for example, when the road is open that far, it’s a 30 second approach, with a lot of routes. Most of them are pretty easy, but there are some good trad lines to practice in the 5.medium range. Tomorrow I’ll probably be out there setting gear and testing placements while on rappel. 🙂

      2. I fell in love with the North Cascades and I have my heart set on Forbidden Peak because I didn’t get to do it this year. I also am entranced by Mt. Stuart. I’m focused on getting stronger and then going at it full force in the spring. Good luck!

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