We spent our last day at Lankin Dome cleaning up. Tents had to be broken down, gear had to be sorted, and our rations had to be polished off. After this section, I know I want to spend as much of my life on the rocks as possible. I want to sport climb beautiful limestone, trad some remote multipitches, and summit the world’s highest peaks. It’s a powerful thing, especially when one can immerse themselves in it for three weeks straight. I want to become an experienced and well-rounded climber, which is going to be difficult considering the demands of the life of a musician. But I am determined to continue climbing. It’s one of the most addicting sports I’ve ever been involved in, and I don’t want to quit.
Last day on the rocks. It’s pretty sad, to be honest. But the good thing is I get to climb to my heart’s content in the years to come. Also, Taylor suggested that Wes and I should come back up to Sinks Canyon on the weekends during our WEMT course and stay overnight at City Park so we can climb. Anyways, WFR is next, and I’m feeling like I’ll love it. All of it.
I believe in balance. Balance plays a huge part in my life. The sport I love demands it, the people I love deserve it, and the life that I love needs it. As a rock climber, balance is one of the key tools that I use in order to successfully climb a route. Being highly aware of where your body is in relation to the rock is something every great climber has, and is something I strive for every time I tie in. Each foot placement, hand position, and general weight distribution affects how much energy you use to climb, therefore affecting how well you climb. You will hardly ever see a great climber thrutching around on the rock, expending energy faster than a rabid hyena. When you watch the greats, you will see grace, fluidity, and above all, fantastic balance. They are always aware of their bodies, and that allows them to be successful. Another activity that requires balance is slacklining. Slacklining not only requires good physical balance, but mental balance as well. If you are thinking about anything besides staying on the line, chances are you won’t. Physical and mental balance are important because they allow me to do things that I find challenging, exciting, and refreshing. Living a balanced life is also very important to me. My family is one of my top priorities, and I generally try my hardest to pull my weight back at home. However, there are times that I need to get away from that life and take some time for myself. Balancing a strong family life, an active social life, and an honest personal life can be extremely difficult, and it is something I try to work on every day. Being able to maintain a balance in my personal life has proved to be a challenge, and it remains a constant interior struggle within me. I have many interests, ranging from climbing to music, to baseball, and even to theater. I was involved in all of these activities and more in high school almost around the clock. Unfortunately, I have come to the painful realization that this must come to an end if I am going to move forward in my life. I can see in my future a constant struggle to stay balanced, and to not get wrapped up in any one thing or stuck in a rut. I fear this, and I will do my best to avoid it. Staying balanced will keep me sane, wholesome, and it will keep me from taking monster whippers when I’m on the sharp end. This is why I believe in the importance of balance.
We only have one day of climbing left. It’s killing me. It went by soooo fast. However, I do feel like I’ve gained a ton of knowledge and can now safely climb almost anything, be it crack, face, slab, or even multipitch. Here’s my shopping list for when I save up some money:
5 single lengths slings
2 double length slings
4 locking carabiners
1 ATC guide
1 15-ft cordalette
It’ll cost a lot, but I’ll be set for quite a while.
Edit: Maybe a new harness, too. Mine’s getting a bit small.
We’re officially back on the rock! And I’m officially able to lead on my own gear! It’s pretty cool. I sent my first trad route on my own gear today. It felt great to finally hit that milestone in my climbing career. I can only imagine what I’ll be doing when I get my own rack and a few more years under my belt.
Snowed all day today too. No climbing, tons of classes, and little fun. I am too bummed to write very much. Sorry.
It snowed all night long. I woke up in the morning to a snow-covered tent. Everything got soaked, and this journal doesn’t do too well with water. Anyways, it’s still snowing now, and we clearly won’t be climbing tomorrow. Instead of climbing today, we just had a ton of classes. I can’t sit still when I know I should be climbing, so this is hard for me. Hopefully tomorrow proves me wrong.
Top of Lankin Dome
What an adventurous day. Taylor, Josh and I climbed Lankin Dome only to get completely nailed by a wicked ice storm on the summit. Josh dropped his pack on the second pitch, and I had to lower Taylor down to get it. There was a great moment when Taylor said, “Fire your engines! Wait, is that what they say at the beginning of a race?”, and then told us her dad was a NASCAR driver for some time. It began to snow tonight during our Ethics of Climbing class, and it made me miss skiing and winter back in Minnesota. It’s hard to believe that I’m only half-way through this semester. It’s going slowly, but I don’t mind that at all. I want to be out here for as long as possible so I can soak in everything that I came out here for. I’m also getting really excited for my EMT course. It’s going to be really intense, but I want to learn everything I can about wilderness medicine. Also, Taylor thinks her cute friend is in our class, so that’s something to look forward to!
Today was great! Wes, Sarah, Will B and Kelly all went multipitching while the rest of us did single pitch crack climbing. I set a bunch more multipitch anchors, and got up some pretty tough climbs. It was Sarah’s birthday, so we had a party with a bunch of cakes and music. It was very festive, which doesn’t happen too often out here. Also, Taylor, Josh and I are going out to tackle the Dome tomorrow morning, and I can’t even express how excited I am.
Got my first taste of multipitching today. Even though it may have been in class two terrain, it was a good exercise for helping me understand this new territory. Taylor, Wes and I demonstrated multipitching for the rest of the group, and I learned the last few details I needed to successfully climb multipitch routes. I thought about Luke today. And Paul. I wonder if they would have gotten along. I wonder if we all would have gotten along. I wish I didn’t have to speculate.
We went back to the Great Stone Face today to continue working on gear placement. I’m feeling ready to try some leading on my own placements. The instructors say that if we show good trad leading skills, we can lead up the Dome when we attempt the summit. It’s crazy to go to trad so soon. It’s so much harder than sport climbing, which is probably why I’m beginning to love it. The extra challenge and risk makes it so much more exciting. I can’t wait to get on lead.
I’m getting sorta nervous about the future. I’m worried that I won’t be able to pick a career path in college. I know I want to be a musician, but I also feel like being a NOLS instructor, or an EMT, or a paramedic or something. I have so many interests, but I can’t turn all of them into a career. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. But I know I’ll be happy and successful wherever I end up, and that gives me much comfort.
I am so happy to be climbing. I have been waiting so long for this type of education, and now it’s my daily life. For example, today we learned about placing pro. I know that I made the right decision in signing up for this program, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to develop these skills in some college or university. I am becoming a strong leader, team-mate, and outdoorsman, and it’s for sure making me a better man. I can’t wait to get home and show my family how I have changed.