Sunday, April 15, 2012

Run the Gambit (or Insanity Defined)

Saturday dawned clear and bright, an almost perfect day for climbing. She was awestruck by the beauty of the rugged rock cliffs as he drove her into the canyon. It doesn't get any better than this, she commented. We get to enjoy this amazing sport, in such spectacular places... Why doesn't everyone do this?" He didn't have an answer.

Minutes later they were strapping their packs to their backs - the rope in his, the rack in hers. She'd started to put her big huge camera into her pack, but he stopped her. It was a good call, but not for the reasons he mentioned. He said she didn't want to haul that thing up the mountain, then leave it unprotected at the base while they climbed. What he didn't know was that she found the hike up so beautiful - especially the little yellow flowers carpeting the trail's edge, reminding her of Dots candy. Tucked into deep green foliage, they gave the ground a fresh, citrus look - that the hike would have taken them twice as long for all her stopping to take photos. And as it was, there wasn't time to gaze. With other groups hot on their heels, they panted up the mountain, hoping to beat any others headed to the popular route they planned to climb.

The trail disappeared at the side of a great boulder field.

Could it be possible that the hike to the base of the climb would be more strenuous than the climb itself? It was certainly feeling that way. They stepped carefully across the massive stones.
Finally at the base of the route, tucked into a nook in the canyon, the wind whipped in and bit at their fingers, their ears. As they donned caps and fleeces and jackets and hoodies, she reminded herself that people had tolerated much worse conditions to climb. Indeed, it was part of being a climber, which she was. Even though this was only her seventh time climbing outdoors, she already had close to two dozen climbs under her harness. So even though her fingers felt like ten icicles for the first two pitches, she didn't complain. Much. And when she did, he laughingly told her to suck it up. He was good with her like that.

Their main climb that day was Gambit which, according to Mountain Project, has the highest summit in Eldorado Canyon. She was glad he hadn't shared that with her previously. This 4-pitch climb was intimidating enough without that information! In fact, at times the only way she was sure some parts of it were climbable was because he was up above her somewhere having done it already.

Because yes, she's a little bit freaked out by the height. As much as she loves climbing, she's still new to this outdoor stuff, and out of her element at times - which leaves her wondering how it's possible to be in and out of your element at the same time!

But despite frozen fingers, despite her fear of being so high and exposed, despite not knowing, sometimes, how to make the next move, she kept her head up and climbed steadily toward the summit.

And then, after a few hours, she was there. There, where the view was unsurpassed. Highest summit in the park, and she'd climbed a rope to it. Amazing climbing, and then getting rewarded with such a view! It begged her question again. Why doesn't everyone do this??

Perhaps the answer lies in her first words to him once she reached the summit.

"It's official. I think I'm insane."

(Lesson Learned: Sometimes the way up seems impossible. Just keep climbing. Eventually you will reach the top).

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