Monday, August 20, 2007

Independence Pass

The summer is drawing to a close. I haven't written in a while because I have been living in a tent, climbing during the days and generally living the simple life of life on the road. Climb all day, eat dinner, go to bed at 9pm and wake up the next morning at 7am and repeat, that is until it's time to go into town and get groceries, do laundry and, for the love of God, take a shower.

This summer has been different from previous summers, however. Whereas last summer I was super excited to go to Rifle, to test myself in the arena, to climb hard, talk about climbing hard, and climb hard a little more. Last summer I did exactly that and I came back completely tired, but with a few memorable hard climbs under my belt. It was exactly what I wanted.

This summer, I thought I wanted the same thing. I got to Rifle, ready to throw myself at a hard route and I thought I was willing to climb on for the whole summer. Maybe sending, maybe not, I told myself I didn't care. I just wanted to climb. At least that's what I told myself.

I got to the cliffs and found myself unmotivated. It is a very strange feeling to desire something completely and then when on the cusp of attaining it, to feel nothing. No, that's not correct; I didn't feel nothing. I felt indifferent. I just didn't care. When I tried a route, I didn't care if I sent or not. When I listened to the people talk about climbing, as they invariably do at Rifle, I didn't care about what they were saying. Okay, Simply Read may be the hardest 13d in the canyon, nay, the world, but you know I just don't really care.

Let me embark on a brief interlude here: We camped at a the same campsite at Rifle this year as we had last year. Every morning, both this year and last, I would sip my coffee and sit at the picnic table. My bleary-eyed scan of the campground would always stop at the hill across the way. The hill had a faint trail heading, where? I don't know. I would always wonder where that trail headed. What did it look like at the top of the hill, at the end of the trail. Yet, for some reason (pre-coffee laziness?), I never took that trail. I sat, morning after morning, at the table and wondered where the trail went. I did this for going on two years. I always wondered, but never looked.

So back to my Rifle funk. And it was a funk. I slept later and later every morning. I began to avoid people and make excuses for yet another rest day. After some serious deliberation with Kayte, we left. We went to Independence Pass, outside of Aspen, ostensibly for just a few days to get away from the arena. We still haven't left. The climbing and the ambiance at the Pass was so fantastic, that it is going on a month and we are just now thinking of leaving.

Before writing this blog, Rifle was the farthest thing from my mind. Talk of this 13c being harder than that 13d was eclipsed with the low rustle of the deer that come right into our campsite. Screams on redpoint burns were replaced by my wheezing lungs while hiking up the trail. It's at 11,000 feet, you know. And the Aspens, the trees of Ansel Adams' famous photos surround us up there. And the climbing is stellar, steep, technical, amazing, and with no one to tell me the right beta for the move or that so and so did the route is six tries before he decided to leave for the trade show. For me, up in the mountains, the incessant chatter of those canyon-voices have been replaced by a still mind and a renewed sense if inspiration. And what's at the top of the trail across the way? I don't know. I'm never going back.