Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Travels III - Squamish Days

Toby in Squamish 
Squamish moments- when people and ideas collide to create spontaneous awesomeness! Squamish moments happen all the time. For example, you're walking down the street and seeing your friends driving by. They flag you over, and then you're headed to a friend's house for a random movie and dinner night, a quintessential Squamish moment!

Here are a few of my favorite experiences I've had while in Squamish over the past six weeks.

Booby-Trapping Banana Peel

A barefoot banana peel booby trap night ascent! Marc-Andre, a Squamish local, and I climbed a route called Banana Peel (5.7) up the Apron at night and barefoot (because I lost my climbing shoes earlier that day...typical). Not that exciting, right? Think again! We put banana peels all over the climb after baking a bunch of banana bread. How fun would it be to climb banana peel with banana peels all over the climb, in the cracks and on the ledges! A few friends climbed banana peel over the next few days and said that other random parties enjoyed the pleasant surprises on route. TOTAL SUCCESS.

Party Wall of 'The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers'

Drew came up with the idea of bringing as many people as we could to climb a long lost ultra classic on Mt. Haybrick just behind the Chief and escape into a semi-alpine environment for the day. Drew, Jim, Ryan, Gwen, Clinton and I headed out there to party wall this hidden gem! This day was filled with lots of laughter and Jim's rendition of 'The wonderful thing about tiggers' song.
Too many people on the rope bridge

Ryan following one of the awesome pitches!

Blackberry Pancake Night

Inspired by Cody and Celene's blackberry pancake breakfast one morning and with a rest day ahead of us, Jim, Clinton, and I decided to go blackberry picking to make pancakes for dinner! For those of you who haven't been to Squamish, one of the many perks of care-free Squamish living is the massive abundance of wild blackberries in August- along the streets, by the crags, skirting the train tracks. We were able to fill two big containers and a large sand pail full of blackberries. Next, we got enough ingredients from the store to make 60 pancakes so everyone at camp could enjoy a pancake or two. Finally, the crux of the situation was making all of these pancakes. Not only did we add too many blackberries making the batter super runny, but we also decided to make a proper (full) PAN cake (get it?). Its pretty hard to turn over giant pancakes, I must admit. We aborted the massive pancake mission after about an hour, added more ingredients to make batter instead of soup, and were finally in business. After a pancake or two, we noticed that things were moving in them.

"Are those worms?" someone asked.

We didn't care. The heat would kill them and we'd get added protein. All the batter was used after a few hours of flipping, and the campground was stoked on the awesome blackberry pancakes! Squamish awesomeness.

The Crew 

Me heading up the Split Pillar

Sam on Astrologger, the coolest flare chimney!

I have been in Squamish for nearly six weeks now and it seems as if I was driving up the coast of Canada with Drew yesterday. Where does the time go? Slowly, we are all migrating to different places- some of us back to work for a few months, others heading to school, and many, including myself, are headed to the alpine, the Bugaboos. Another great adventure to be had!

My time in Squamish has been nothing short of amazing. I've been able to get on most of the routes I've wanted to do this season. I've had some success, some days where I was in way over my head, and other days of being completely terrified on apron slab climbs, but overall, I've had a blast on every route I've gotten on. My goal this summer was to become a well-rounded climber so I've spent time slab and offwidth climbing to learn and improve my technique, and I have noticed these improvements. What I've cherished more than the climbing here is the community of Squamish. Most of my favorite memories on this leg of the trip have been derived from random adventures, lazy days, and rest days. I hope to spend many more summers in Squamish crushing the gnar (lol), laughing a lot, and eating good food. Cheers to another incredible summer!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Travels Part II - Moments Frozen in Time

Trout Creek - Good Company
Sitting at a picnic table in a campsite at Trout Creek with the Dechutes River roaring a few yards from us, I sat there...exhausted, sunburnt, and scraped from a vicious offwidth attack. A slight breeze saved us from the sweltering afternoon heat, and the shade was our savior. We decided to collaborate on dinner. Ryan put porkchops on the table. I rummaged for eggs, tortillas, and a variety of vegetables. Drew brought the spices, and of course, avocados! (what meal is complete without them!). I sat there, theraputically chopping the vegetables and savoring the smell of garlic. Ryan sizzled the Pork Chops, and Drew prepared the avocados. We talked about life, music, culture, anything but climbing. The soothing sound of flowing water and Ryan's music created a blissful atmosphere. I sat there thinking, I feel so alive right now.

"This is the life, the good life," one of us mentioned.

I couldn't have been more content at that moment in time, a memory I will always cherish. The simplicity of good company and a beautiful setting.

Index - Nature
The ground is a dark, earthy brown, moist and fertile. Trees with wild, winding roots are covered with vibrant, green moss. Slugs move liesurely along the forest floor, and the snow melt pounds down the river. I sit on a rock with my feet in the water, watching the water flow in awe at something so powerful. I think about water, its beauty and importance for all creatures on Earth. My mind drifts to the mountain above me, Mt. Index, and the challenge a summit on it would provide. How humbling and inspiring nature is. My appreciation for all things wild continues to grow immensly.

Washington Pass - Freedom
The sun was tucked behind the Cascades and an evening glow illuminated the fields that were scattered with barns and horses. Windows were rolled down and a warm breeze kissed my cheeks. Angus and Julia Stone's "The Beast" was serenading my friend Drew and I as we headed to Washington Pass. This moment in time has been one of my favorite of my trip on the road. We spontaneously made plans earlier that day to do an alpine climb in the pass, and headed there with our friends Mark and Lauren. This moment defined the immense freedom that I felt as we drove to climb in the mountains.

It's been nearly three weeks since I've left Yosemite, and I am now in Canada. I've climbed some outstanding rocks over these past few weeks, but what I'm learning more is that the journey and these quiet moments are what I savor the most. Cheers to good company, the planet, and freedom.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Travels Part I- Yosemite Valley and the Salathe Wall

I can't get enough of this place, really. After fall, winter, and spring in the Yosemite, I find myself right back there as soon as school ended, May 18th.

After a few days of live music, good company, and lots of laughter, I pack my things in a frenzy, per usual, for the summer. Two backpacks, a bike, and some crates of food. The next morning I'm sitting in the Camp Four line, making coffee, and catching up with my other friends in line. I am home.

The following day I got on Moratorium, 4 pitches, 11b, a beautiful corner system with lie-backing and stemming, my favorite. And to make the day even better, my partner, Owen and I were going to link it into East Buttress of El Capitan for a full day of epic climbing, 17 pitches in total. This grand day ended in a shattering heartbreak when I heard my elbow pop on the second pitch of the Moratorium and I took the whip.

This was day two of my summer vacation, and with so much psyche leading up to this, I was feeling so anxious about this injury and didn't want to stop climbing. I had a brilliant idea (as all of my ideas are brilliant) ...the Salathe Wall. I told myself over and over again that jugging wouldn't hurt my elbow, aiding would feel cruiser, and all of the wide pitches would be using other muscles. Perfect. I'd still be climbing without actually aggravating the injury, and climbing El Cap at that! Life is good.
Beginning of the Salathe- a long way to go
I texted my friend Elliot, "Salathe Wall!" We had climbed half a day together prior to the wall at the Cookie cliff, and the last time I saw him was at Indian Creek where we camped together for a few days, and now we were getting on the Salathe. Typical Alix style, always down to climb with anyone. Elliot, shredder of the powder and crusher of the rock, is stoked on climbing and down for anything so I knew he'd be in. He convinced me to take one more day of rest before pre-hauling to Heart Ledges (which I considered a rest day, ha!)

This procedure felt very familiar given that I did the first twenty two pitches of the Salathe Wall two weeks prior. We pre-hauled to Heart Ledges on Wednesday, and what a day it was. As we walked up to the fixed lines, there was a porta-ledge hanging from the first set of anchors, what looked like 5 haul bags, three people, and another  dude aiding up the base of La Cosita right. I stood there, perplexed, amazed, and slightly annoyed that there was such a traffic jam.

This is going to be a long day, I thought to myself.

That day ended up being super fun and Patrick, the dude aiding up La Cosita to retrieve some lost gear and his partner, ended up sharing the route with us and it was so much fun with them!

The next day we blasted up Freeblast which ended up being wicked cold and windy. Elliot linked one and two; I linked three and four, and then we swapped to the top. Aiding through the slabs took some trickery and for the love of god, that half dollar pitch pwned me. I lead this pitch the first time I got on the Salathe and fell once coming around the corner coming into an insecure and slick flare. This time, I fell twice and ended up aiding through the crux. We made it to Heart with some time to spare and Elliot fixed a pitch off of Heart that evening. Heart ledges is a plush bivy for four with an incredible view of Ribbon Falls and the Cathedrals and it even has an accommodating toilet on the far right end. The fresh scent of urine is a dead giveaway.

The sun doesn't hit us in the morning, but it's radiant enough to awaken us from our deep slumber 1200 ft off the deck. As we were packing up, an in a day party passed us, and to my surprise, one of the individuals was Brad, a Valley crusher I see often in Yosemite. Brad lead the pitch off of heart faster than I jugged the thing. Needless to say, it was super inspiring to see two individuals move with such fluidity and efficiency on this massive sea of granite. They ended up topping out in under ten hours, I later found out a boss.

That day I lead the hollow flake which was exhausting and a little spooky and I even had a Valley giant for protection. I deeply admire everyone who does this without protection, it's effing scary. I had a bit of a breakdown on the following pitch the first time I got in it.

Picture this: 5.7 flaring chimney, not too bad, right? Especially after the hollow flake. I chimney up this about 25 ft with a wall rack, including a 4, 5, 6, and a valley giant and I didn't even end up placing any of them because you can't protect it. I suddenly can't move anymore. My eyes swell up with tears, I think I'm going to die. There are some flakes on the outside of the chimney, but they are marked with X's and when I try to step around it, I move another block. I'm really in trouble now. I try to inch up some more, but no progress is made. I scream down to Daniel and eventually we find out that the haul line was caught under a rock. Once that problem was solved, I moved around the flake, placed good protection, and felt at ease once more.
5.7 Death Flare

I know this sounds very dramatic, but that pitch really scared me, and my belayer, too. I had no intention of leading that pitch this time around. No-sir-ree, not me! It was all Elliot's pitch.

After the hollow flake, I handed him the gear and sent him off into this chasm. Now, a background on Elliot, he has very little wide experience and hadn't climbed in six months, and I just sandbagged him into what I thought was the scariest pitch on the route. When he got on it, he felt the same way, too. After idling in the chimney for a while, he decided to come down. Annoyed and slightly terrified to do it again, I went up and finished it with some whimpering. It was still scary.

I turn the lead over to him for the next pitch, and then I lead the following 10c pitch that I french-aid-free climbed and the infamous Ear, which I was super stoked to do. I aided through the 10+ crux, beautiful steep thin hands, which felt like a sin because I'd totally lead it on the ground, but the wall rack was weighing me down (excuses!).
So much exposure!
The Ear was fantastic. I found the crux to be getting into the horizontal chimney and unashamedly, I pulled on a number four to get established. After that, it was super enjoyable. Just imagine, you're very high off the ground chimneying horizontally with in-cut edges for feet, so freaking cool. This is where we caught up with the party in front of us. This is where I waited for 2-3 hours before I could fix Elliot (which was awesome because Patrick and his friend were super cool), and this is where I found out I was missing one of my Guide Tennis Shoes. Facepalm.

I spent around 5 hours at that belay, chatting with Patrick and his friend above us, cracking jokes, keeping moral high, and belaying Elliot as he lead the C1+ with one four and one set of offset cams. Not ideal. Elliot had to back clean most of the gear and when most people use two number fours to cam jug (meaning placing and pulling a certain cam size because the crack is parallel and only fits that size), he had to use a very tipped out three and a four to make it work.
Gazing out at the Meadow
 [Gear Explanation: When I refer to number sizes, I am referring to the size of the crack based off the Black Diamond Camalot size. Cams are used as protection in cracks. They are spring loaded and can contract and expand. When you put them in cracks, you pull a trigger and contract the cam and once the cam is inside you let go of the trigger and the cam expands. When placed correctly in good rock, these cams are bomb proof and can protect you from falling into oblivion.]

I finished cleaning the pitch as the sun was setting. We had one more pitch before we reached our bivouac for the evening, El Cap Spire. This last pitch was also Elliot's lead, but the team ahead of us were kind enough to let us jug their fixed ropes so we could get to the spire in good time. We had settled on top of the spire around 10 pm. This was probably the most taxing day as a whole for me, but also the most fun. Patrick and his partner whose name I forgot were so stoked to be on El Capitan that they were full of joy and laughter which was very infectious. Elliot is also super fun, hooting and hollering and cracking jokes the whole time. It was a BLAST. This is why I am hopelessly devoted to the Captain now, days like this.
Gear cluster on El Cap Spire
The next morning I woke up very sore, but we had to keep going. This is right around where we bailed on the previous attempt on the Salathe.  I had lead to the base of the chimney twice before so I was familiar with the pitch and decided to lead it for efficiency. The first time nearing dusk on our first attempt, but I came down, tired, scared, and without wide gear. The second time, when we were pulling our ropes to bail, it got stuck, so I re-aided to the base of the chimney to get it out. I linked the two pitches off the spire with a lot of grunting and thrutching in the 5.9 squeeze. It felt VERY demanding for a 5.9 squeeze, which I typically like. The fatigue must have been setting in, my excuse.

Elliot followed the up, and then we let our new friends jug our lines to return their favor yesterday. I lead the following pitch as well, the Teflon Corner which was pretty casual. This led Elliot to lead the infamous Sewer pitch, and in fact, it was a mess of sewage slew.
The Sewer- 10c or C2
He linked this into the next which brought us to the Block, a super cool sloping bivy that could fit three and possibly four with some tetris action. Because our friends allowed us to pass and the Block wouldn't be ideal for four, we decided to push to Long's Ledge which would be a very LONG day (lol!) given that there were six pitches of C2.

Elliot was such a champion this day. He lead three more C2 pitches to get us to the base of the roof right around sunset. I took over, leading the roof, and headwall pitches to Long's Ledge. The full moon illuminated El Cap as I slugged up the Headwall. The roof pitch was wild. There was a ton of a fixed gear that littered the series of roofs I had to aid through. I was dangling in space with 2000 ft below me...wild. Patrick and his friend cheered me on as I slothed upward.

The C2 on the roof pitch was not bad at all if you have offset cams, and there were some fixed nuts as well. Elliot took some whips following the roof which made me very glad to have lead it. He reached the anchors around 10:30 pm, and we still had one mega-pitch to our next bivy (if you link the two together). The headwall proper was utterly breathtaking, steep and splitter forever, very easy to aid, but I back cleaned the hell out of it placing 3-4 pieces the whole pitch and clipping a few fixed pieces. It felt like a crime to aid something so beautiful, probably the most beautiful crack I have seen.

The short C2 pitch is what really shook me up. Some thin gear leads you to a shitty flare that would have been easier to free/aid, but I had NO interest in free climbing so I made things very difficult by placing pro in the back of the flare. The flare caused me much grief as I watched my feathers float effortlessly out of my puffy jacket as I went into a frenzy trying to get through this thing. A few more thin aid placement and clipping some fixed gear got me to one more placement before I reached the ledge. No nuts or cams fit in this place. I spent some time trying to fiddle in gear, and had no success.

I yelled down to Elliot, This seam is too thin. Cams and nuts don't work in here and I have NO idea what to do.

His response, Cam Hooks!

I have never placed a cam hook before, but I've heard that you'll never forget your first cam hook placement so I was in for a treat. I pulled out the two cam hooks we had, placed one, and gingerly stepped on it. Pop! I fell a foot onto my daisy. I tried the other cam hook and the same thing happened. It was pretty spooky. I fiddled with the gear a bit longer and found myself stepping high on it, and grabbing the glory fixed line.

I was so tired at this point that I was almost becoming delirious. Hauling felt incredibly hard given the state of fatigue I was in when it should have been easy. Very steep and a light load. When I finished hauling and docked, I moved over onto the ledge which was about two feet wide and just collapsed. Elliot reached the belay at 2 am. We ate some food, and I passed out very quickly.
Long's Ledge

The next morning was slow moving. We slept in knowing that there were just four pitches to the summit and all straight forward. A party of three rapped in from the top to stash water for their attempt at Freerider. They were super psyched and a pleasure to talk to. Coincidently, I ran into them at the El Cap Bridge bear boxes and they had found my dropped shoe on the Hollow Flake Ledge. Score! I didn't need to buy a new pair of shoes anymore.

We got a very alpine start of 11 am and summited around 4 pm. We climbed THE SALATHE WALL! ZOMG. I thought the Salathe was definitely a step up from the Nose. There is more mandatory free climbing, harder aid, and the climbing itself was just more burly. This is the proudest moment I've had rock climbing and its definitely my favorite route. The Nose is PURE fun, but the Salathe really makes you work for it and I enjoyed that. I'm also one of those masochistic people that enjoy wide climbing so I was thrilled on the wide pitches.
Almost to the top- PSYCHED
Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better time. Elliot was super positive, supportive, and pulled his weight. Patrick and his friend that we hung out with as well had more psyche than anyone else I've met, and the parties that rapped the Salathe to store water were super inspiring. Oh, and HUGE props to Luke Stefurak for lending us the Valley Giant twice. I wouldn't have climbed the Hollow Flake without it.

I'm dreaming big. One day I'd like to free it, but so far away...

The rest of the time spent in Yosemite was very relaxing given that I had these nagging elbow injuries. I did manage to climb Half Dome with a good friend, David Gealy, in 11.5 hours which I was super stoked on. I hiked from the Valley to Tuolumne, 21 miles in 7.5 hours and finally lead Butterballs for the first time and pleasantly surprised myself with a few falls. Other than that, I biked around, enjoyed the sunsets, laughed for days, swam in the Merced, and spent way too much time shooting the shit at the Curry bear boxes. Life can be so simple and fulfilling.

Hidden Falls

David on the summit of Half Dome
View of Cathedral and Mathes Crest on my power hike

Leaving Yosemite is always emotional for me because it's where I most feel at home, but it was time for a change. I'm eager to return in the fall with more goals than I will ever have time for and enough psyche to fuel many seasons there.

Oh Yosemite, I love you so.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pre-Finals Meditation- a confidence inspiring rainy week in Yosemite Valley

We bailed off the Salathe, 22 pitches up. Two full days of stellar climbing, not using my aiders for nearly both my blocks, leading the infamous hollow flake! It felt good, much less tired than the Nose. After watching a lightning storm across the Valley, a morning drizzle, and onimous clouds, we decided to bail. The next day it rained. After I bailed for the first time on Lurking Fear in February, I left Yosemite with a sour taste in my mouth, annoyed. Damn you, Captain!

This time, I was pretty content with the bail. I'm really excited to get back up there and finish the Salathe, hopefully this season if I can rally a partner! After bailing, Daniel and I rolled into Camp 4 where we were greeted by homies, Alan, Jim, and Nate. I was home.

The rest of the week had spotty weather. The day after the bail, Jim, Alan, and I went to the chapel wall to "project" Drive By Shooting, 12a, a very classic Yosemite sport climb, one of the few! Last year, I top-roped it clean, and that was by far the hardest thing I had sent on top rope. After almost NO sport climbing for a year, maybe two days over the past year have I sport climbed, I figured I was going to flail. To my surprise, I fell twice on TR for the warm-up attempt, once on the second, and repeated that pattern again for four total attempts on top rope. Every single move is hard for me and I feel like I could fall at any moment. Since I haven't been sport climbing for the past year, my falls have been pretty small for the most part cause when I'm scared, I place a lot of pro.

When I was top roping it, I was thinking about how it would feel to lead it, and I was just plain scared. The bolts are about ~6 feet apart which is well-protected, especially by Yosemite standards, but for a trad climber that pro's the shit of things, that's pretty dang far! That day, Jim sent it on lead, second go, his first 5.12! It was really inspiring to watch. Jim is the kind of person that is ALWAYS smiling making you feel at ease, and ALWAYS psyched to climb, making you want to climb, too! The rain came and went through the day, but the climbing is overhung enough that it doesn't get wet with the brief spirts of rain.

Alan, a 58-year-old quirky crusher, who puts me into fits of laughter 90% of the time we hang out, didn't get the send that day, but did get the TR send. After my fourth go, we bailed, psyched as ever to get our first 12a! 

It rained most of the evening making the following day a rest day for Alan thus a day off from our Chapel Wall project. I convinced Jim to go climb so we got on Demon's Delight, 11a, traversing a bunch of thin hands cracks to a sweet fingery traverse. We swapped leads and both sent. It started raining after the third pitch so we bailed, have to go back for that fourth pitch 11a mantle! Another great day in Yosemite. Later that day, it started to pour, and by pour water, I mean, flooding Camp 4, the Lodge reception area, employ housing laundry areas, and other parts of the Valley. At one point, my chacos were ankle deep in water as I ran to get on the bus. It was pretty wild.

The next day, Alan and I decided we were going to head back to the project. On Alan's second attempt, he sent! It was amazing to watch. The dude is 58 years old and sending harder than he ever has before! I have a lot to aspire to when I hit that age. He hooted once he sent, and started dancing when he came to the ground. It was a beautiful experience to be a part of, Alan's first Yosemite 12a.

Now, it was my turn. I haven't really thought about climbing 12a since I started trad climbing last year. Grades are so variable depending on style, sport vs. trad, and since I've focused so much time on crack climbing, and 12a is WAY out of range right now, I haven't really thought about hard sport climbing. On the warm-up attempt on TR, I felt REALLY tired. The moves weren't flowing well, and everything felt like a struggle. I fell twice after the crux in the hard-11 section above. As I was getting lowered, I thought to myself, "Wow, this thing is never going to go down, and I'm on top-rope. Leading it would be a disaster."

After watching Alan's inspiring send, I decided to lead it. Draws were up, and whipper therapy would be good for my lead head. I was really scared. I certainly surprised myself. I felt good, cruised through the 12a crux, and fell off in the 11+ section where I totally messed my beta. After getting back on it, I got to the top without too much effort. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was so happy with myself because it was by far the hardest thing I've ever tried on lead, haven't attempted to lead any sport climbing above an 11b before, and nothing above 11 for trad either. But at the same time, I botched the sequence above, so I was annoyed with myself for blowing it.

I have been really trying to not focus on chasing grades because for me, personally, it takes the fun out of climbing. I like climbing, weird body positions, stemming, placing gear, pushing myself mentally, knowing when to rest or keep going, and just the beauty of problem solving that goes into it. Drive By Shooting has such beautiful movements on it, I could climb it all day. Everything is hard for me, and it's very technical. The footwork has to be precise. On this next attempt and probably my last since my finger tips were shredded (it's a finger-tip climb), I told myself, as Alan would say, "I'm just going to enjoy the movements of the climb and have fun. No expectations."

Again, with more effort exerted than the previous, I still got through the crux section and whipped in the same spot, and this time, from just being too tired after hesitating in a semi-ok rest. And like before, it was bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.

I was really happy with my effort, and more than anything else, stoked that I was on the sharp end. Getting over the fear of falling is something that has taken time for me, and it's a continual process. Lately, I've noticed that I'm not sewing things up as much, becoming more confident on easier terrain, and moving more efficiently.

Yosemite 11a is starting to feel less intimidating. Yesterday, I got on Hardd at the Cookie, a climb I tried on  TR last summer when I was just starting to crack climb. Oh man, I was cursing my way up that thing and falling all over the place (there is a notorious off width section in it).  I decided I'd try it thinking that I was probably going to flail. I fell once before the crux when my foot slipped off a hold unexpectedly. Other than that, I felt really solid, got through the offwidth with some grunting, and did the 11a finger section without too much difficulty. It felt good.

Climbing is feeling fun again and the psyche is high. Although this winter was monumental for me, climbing felt more like a task than being fun, most of this due to being highly critical of myself and too competitive with others, constantly comparing myself. I have been very mindful over the past month and a half to get rid of all the negativity associated jealousy and the ego, and I have noticed that 1) I'm having way more fun. 2) I'm climbing harder than I was before. 3) My confidence is up. And most importantly, 4) I'm just much happier overall.

Swinging Bridge- Photo Credit: Richietown

This week in Yosemite has been pretty dang inspiring watching two of my good friends get their first 12 sends, talking to people getting on the Nose for the first time, hearing other people's psyche on walls, looking up at Half Dome as I cross the swinging bridge every morning, gawking at the Captain when I pass it, and just the overwhelming beauty of a soggy Yosemite Valley.

Ah.....hanging out in Camp 4, talking to people about their adventures and where they're from, discussing and getting people psyched on climbing, getting lost heading back to the lair, sitting by the fire, being in Yosemite.

It felt like home, because it is home.

Here's to another summer of endless laughter, adventure, and climbing! Love and Light.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's next?

In one month and one semester I will be done with my college undergraduate career and I have no plan, shocked? My mother is, and family will be, and some of my friends think I'm crazy. A phone conversation with my mother yesterday prompted me to write her a lengthy email about what I want, or rather, don't know what I want to do with my life. If you're in a similar situation, you can probably relate. To anyone that interested in reading about having no clear direction after school, here ya go:

"I wanted to address the issue of "what's next?" after school, the time-tested question that every parent asks a child as they enter adulthood.

My answer to you is, "there is no plan." After nearly 5.5 years of studying, I have changed majors countless times, been really focused and motivated on school, and have also been not so focused. And now with graduation so very near, I still have no idea what I want to do, but a pretty decent idea of what I don't want to do, so there's a start.

I've been trying to step into your shoes to understand your perspective. After having a very twisted and surprising youth that lead you to rearing a child at the tender age of 19, your life became very focused and structured as you took full responsibilities for your actions and mistakes as a teen. And for that, I am eternally grateful. You have sacrificed and worked so hard to put me in this situation, and have given up so much to give me a better life, a life you didn't have growing up. I acknowledge this.

Without being condescending or over-stepping my boundaries, your perspective on life is some-what limited. This, obviously, is due to having me at such a young age. You weren't able to fully explore life and all of it's opportunities because you were shackled or rather blessed to have such an awesome child (me! lol). Work, stability, structure, planning, organization, that's what you're all about! A hard-working woman that is fiercely independent. So it's very natural for you to feel that life should be lived this way. And Orange County pushes this life-style on you as well, and after living there your whole life, of course, your perspective will be skewed to having this idea of "life."

It blows your mind every time you ask me if I have a plan, and I respond with no. I have finally come to terms with my "no" answer as being ok. Twenty-two years young, I am certainly not wise and I have SO much to learn and explore in this world, but one thing that I have learned is that I don't want to do things unless I have a passion for them. I want to wake up every day and be freaking psyched to do something, whether it's climbing, working, traveling, saving the environment, etc. I want to have the "want" to do something and not settle for anything less.

Since I still don't know what I want to do with my life in the long term, I want to take these years to really figure out what my purpose is. As of right now climbing is a huge part of my life. I don't see this fading for a while. It tests me in ways that I've never been tested before. Physically and mentally, every aspect presents a challenge and problem that I have to work through, and these experiences help me learn more about myself and the type of person I want to be.

You think I live in a "fantasy" land and that I need to grow up. Sure, I definitely need to grow up, and perhaps my life is like a fantasy, especially through your eyes. Life is a precious gift we've all received and I want to seize every moment and make the most of it because it's too short, and you never know when you're going to go.

For me, personally, I don't want to sit in a 9-5 job to make money, rent an apartment, and climb on the weekends. It seems like a worthless pursuit if I don't really want to be working a desk job.

I know you're worried about the direction of my path, but don't be or at least try not to. I am very confident in my abilities to forge my own path, make something of myself,  and be damn good at whatever I put my mind to. So I will be taking some time, months, maybe years, to travel, learn, climb, and just become a better person.

So why did I go to college and get $8000 in debt? Seems like a waste, especially since you've been helping me since I've transferred to Berkeley, right? Well, although you might consider it a waste since I'm not entering the workforce right away, I do not. I love learning and I am grateful for the opportunity to live in a new area. Getting a college education is hard work and I have learned many useful skills that are applicable to real life such as becoming a better communicator through writing and speaking. And at one point, I was very much into school and studies. Going to college has also lead me to rock climbing and being outside, where I feel most at home and I know you're frowning about this (since you don't approve of these habits), but climbing has pushed me in a direction where I find value, meaning, and fulfillment. I feel rich, surrounded by a beautiful community of people, doing exciting things, and being content with less.

Once school ends, I will be completely on my own, and I am very excited for this next chapter in my life (as I know you are, too!). I'm writing this lengthy email to you because I really value your opinion as a person, and I want you to wish me well, rather than worry. I am self-reliant, happy, and some-what intelligent (sometimes).  Trust me to make wise and safe decisions. I think I can do that. And most importantly, and I've told you this before, GO explore the world. You need to experience things just as much as I need to, and now, that I'm no longer a hinder to you, you have no excuse! Find a passion, Mom. Find your stoke! I want you to be as stoked on life as I am.

Love love love,

I also sent my mom this video, one of my favorites:

35 from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.