Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Change of Seasons

El Alpinismo

Ear plugs provided the solace I needed to drown out the chaos coming from my drunken roommates. I managed to sleep an hour and a half before Kurt Ross and I sped off to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some ice and mixed climbing.

Feeling slightly awkward being covered in spikes, it wasn't long before my ice tools felt like an extension of my upper appendages. Kurt and I weren't breaking any speed records, and enjoyed a beautiful day getting back in ice climbing shape with Long's Peak all to ourselves.

After a near send, we made a 5 mile slog back to the car, and drove back to Boulder. I spread out all of my wet gear on the hallway floor, and was missing something essential. I aggressively searched my car, and made a frantic call to Kurt to see if he had my camera. It was gone..

'I might have left it on the roof of my car,' I thought.. 'I can't afford to buy a new one, I have to go find it..' I quickly made a ham and cheese sandwich and started driving towards the unrealistic idea that I actually might find my camera (remember, still running on 1.5 hours of sleep).

I instantly slammed on the brakes at the sight of 4 elk running into the middle of the road. It was already too late. The words "ELK, CAR, DEATH" registered in my brain in the two seconds before I slammed into the full grown beast. The elk rolled off my car and continued to run away. I managed to calm down, and collect myself. "Ok," I thought, "my car somehow didn't get too messed up, I still have to find my camera".

Driving 10 miles under the speed limit, carefully looking through my newly customized windshield (which now features elk hair embedded in the glass), I saw something out of the corner of my eye. In complete disbelief, there my camera was, undamaged, 8 miles from the longs peak trailhead in the middle of the road. "WTF is happening !!!" I said out loud.

So... watch out friends, unexpected things happen in this world!!

Cowboys and Indian Creek

Photographer Ryan Thompson and I headed out for yet another great session to shred the Indian Creek gnar. I never get to shoot with photographers, so this was a great experience to learn from him. 

Ryan taking photos of Lisa on Comic Relief. 

Hiking towards Broken Tooth wall.

Clayton and Lisa on an unnamed route.

Ryan, in his respective element.

Lisa being WAY stronger than me.

Brad and Clayton watching Bronson send. 

The Incisor.

Glorious and well earned food. 

I didn't touch this image in photoshop.. it was already incredibly beautiful.

What Makes Me Human

Tears poured down my face and into my hands. I sat with my parents as I exploded with anxiety, doubt, and sadness. I felt like I would never escape a seemingly endless mental torture.
There I was, 19 years old, spiraling out of control. I had only one thing that I could barely hold on to.. climbing.

"I don't think you are healthy enough.. I have never wanted more than right now for you to not go," said my Dad.
Out of complete frustration, "This is the only fucking thing that will give me a break. Yes, maybe I am doing the wrong thing by escaping everything right now, but I need this.. I really need this."
"Whatever you decide, you have our blessing," my Mom said.

I battled back and forth in my head of weather or not to go.. 5am the next morning I was driving to attempt a winter ascent of El Capitan.
It was truly deeper than just the physical act of climbing, something inside of me knew that I would slowly start to heal myself through this experience in Yosemite Valley. I stare in the face of the anxieties and difficulties of climbing, and have the ability to overcome them. My mind is quieted, and I can see everything in my world clearly. It is this that helps me in life.

This trip was not only one of the most difficult objectives that I have ever tried to attempt, but it marked the beginning of my recovery from real anxiety and real depression. In the midst of the mental hell that I was trapped in, I finally reached out and grabbed something I could control. I was in way over my head, not experienced enough for the climb, and the logistical odds for a winter ascent were not in our favor.

I was failing out of my engineering classes. I was failing out of a relationship. I was failing at being able to live, and I stopped climbing. I was almost completely paralyzed by my emotions.

After 5 days spent on the overhanging right side of El Capitan, two incredible friends and I stood on top of an enormous and meaningless piece of immaculate granite. For me, it was about trying to do something that was personally incredibly difficult, and having the guts to succeed.

The small amount of control that I was able to gain from the experience on El Capitan acted as a catalyst on my slow journey to mental recovery.

So, this is me being a real human, with real problems, just like everyone else. I'm trying damn hard to figure out "life".

It's been almost a year since I climbed the A4 route, Zenyatta Mondatta. I still struggle with anxiety and depression daily. The more I learn about myself, the more I learn how to get better at living. Climbing persistently helps align the truth in my life.