All posts tagged: passion

Standing on the Shoulders: A Tribute to Royal Robbins

There’s a palpable energy within Yosemite Valley. One that has inspired past and present generations alike to seek adventure, exercise curiosity, and pursue self-discovery. Like many who have come before me, I have always felt a magnetic pull to this incredible place. The landscape’s unwavering indifference to those within it is strangely comforting. Perhaps it relieves the heavy burden of expectation weighting on our shoulders. Or perhaps the smell of pine needles and the sound of the bumbling river are simply soothing to the soul. While the granite walls are quiet and unresponsive, they are deeply saturated with the rich and ever evolving history of those drawn to this landscape. They line the Valley like a series of blank sheets, which, over time, have been etched with the artful stories of dreamers and creators. Each story builds upon the last and creates a foreword for future stories to come. Of all the personalities that have graced the walls of Yosemite, Royal Robbins left a particularly influential impact, forever changing the direction of climbing’s story. Robbins …

Tumbleweed in the Wind

A great deal can change over the course of 365 days. In 2016, the biggest change of all was moving out of my van and into a house. For the past four and a half years I had lived full-time on the road. I had happily given up indoor plumbing and eight foot ceilings for the flexibility of climbing wherever I wanted. Seasonal jobs filled my pockets with enough money to satisfy my gas tank and my belly. I chased sunny weather from the mountains of Wyoming to the deserts of Nevada. I climbed in California’s golden sunshine and on the blushed sandstone walls of Utah. For so long, my life was in this crazy orbit, revolving around rock climbing; climb-eat-sleep-repeat felt so embedded in the marrow of my bones. I defined myself by this lifestyle, so, with the transition from van to house, it was hard to ignore the subtle fog of self-doubt and uncertainty that settled over me. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that a small piece of my identity had been …

The NIAD

I was wide awake. The bandanna I had tied around my eyes to fool myself into sleeping was a lost cause. I peered out from underneath my bandanna only to find Adam peering back at me from underneath his. We gave up and went into the kitchen. The clock on the stove read 5:00 pm. We had been strategically going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier in preparation for our climb, but I guess going to sleep at 3:00 pm was a little too extreme for our bodies to accept. What should we do? Should we drive to the Valley and start climbing? Should we try to get some work done? Read? Eat? We wanted nothing more than to be well-rested for the climb. I Googled “foods that make you fall asleep” for inspiration. We had a snack, reviewed the topo one more time, and assumed the position – lying in bed with bandannas over our eyes. My phone whistled alive and I instantly snapped up from a light sleep and turned the alarm …

Reflecting on Death in the Mountains

Imagine the perfect day. Under bluebird skies, you’re scurrying across a knife-edge ridge. Jagged peaks sprawl out before you as far as the eye can see. The easy terrain allows you and your partner to move quickly. But then, a large block comes loose and you’re falling… if you were given the chance would you take it all back? Would you give up the summit for 60 more years of adventures? Or would one day of perfect climbing make it all worth it? Accidents are a part of life. They are inevitable, unpredictable, and are never easy to reconcile. The outdoor community has lost a number of incredible people to some terrible accidents over the decades. The stark truth of mortality shines bright in these moments and the age-old question of “is it worth it?” resurfaces. There’s no doubt that being in the mountains fills our lives with a sense of richness that is hard to find elsewhere. The integration of physical and mental challenges required while climbing teaches us how to be self-critical and mindful. We …

Pushing Through New Dimensions

“Regardless of our actual level of fitness, if we feel strong, agile, and adventurous, then we climb better than if we feel weak, clumsy, and meek. Climbing hard involves making moves that feel improbable, and continuing when the situation seems nearly hopeless.” – Arno Ilgner I jammed my hand into the crack, lifted my feet off the ground, and then jammed my feet into the crack. My muscles felt fatigued. As I climbed higher I placed two, three, four cams into the crack. Every move upward felt dense and heavy. Every move took effort. As I reached a small ledge, the top of the first pitch, I set up an anchor, pulled up the rope, and began belaying Andrea. The past week had been filled with some amazing climbing. In fact, the previous day, Andrea and I had an incredible time pushing hard – she redpointed her project and I onsighted my hardest route to date. But clearly all the challenging climbing was catching up to me and my endurance was wavering. It was the …