My Climbing Life: Dreaming of the Unscheduled Escape

Posted on: March 13, 2008


[Photo] Sara Lingafelter

I don't feel like working today. That doesn't change the fact that I have to work, and I will work, soon... but I am going to indulge in a self-indulgent blog post before I get cracking.

One of the pics is the view from Stratocaster Wall, at Red Rock, NV. Yes, if you're a reader of my blog, RockClimberGirl.com, you've seen it before... but I don't have any new pics from the last few weeks except for one mobile phone shot of where I spent last weekend so I'm drawing inspiration from trips past. It kind of started last night, when I saw a post from Katie on MySpace about trying to put together a girls' climbing trip sometime soon... followed by browsing through her photo album of "Winter Adventures of the Unemployed." Sigh. Then, this morning, Chris had the screensaver of trip photos scrolling through on the television and I could have spent all day sitting on the sofa watching the images flip by... Vantage, Red Rock, Smith, Jason and Rhi's Utah trip... it's a dreary, rainy day outside, and there are so many beautiful places that—right now—have dry rock and sunshine. It makes me pine, a bit, for more time with friends and less time at work... more time playing outside and less time sitting at a desk.

[Photo] Sara Lingafelter

I really can't complain. My quality of life, and work/life balance are much better than they have been in years past. I joke about how I was ambitious and had a great career before I discovered rock climbing; but that's only partly true. I had a great-paying career, but my work/life balance was way out of line. I'm still driven, but my priorities are different than they used to be. And, right now, my career-life is actually happier than at any point in my adulthood, I think... having my own practice has definitely pushed up the job satisfaction rating, and it doesn't hurt that if I need a day off to make a weekend into a three-day climbing trip, I don't have to ask anybody for permission. The out of office message goes on the phone, and I'm off.

[Photo] Sara Lingafelter

But, on days like today, when the "HAVE-to-do" list is thirteen items long and it's already 10:20 in the morning and I haven't yet put my nose to the grindstone, it's easy to find myself daydreaming about trips past and yet to come. We've got a pretty incredible group of climbing friends... they're entirely too cool for me, but apparently they don't care since they keep doing trips with us. We all have made choices about life and work that allow us to maintain our climbing habit; but I can't help but feel that the quality of life and health and fun and friendship gained far more than exceeds the financial compromises we make. I know, this is self-indulgent rambling, but I'm just feeling really thankful today for being a part of this culture.

Yes, we're a socially awkward bunch, on average. Yes, we have a superiority complex, compared to participants in other "sports" and "activities." We seem to be disproportionately an interesting combination of intellectual-meets-runs-with-scissors bunch, for some reason... Chris's theory has always been that the people who find climbing most satisfying are the ones with busy brains... those among us who have a loud "inner voice" that never shuts up except for during climbing... when the typical thoughts of work, and bills, and stress, and life are replaced by a quiet, calm, breathy mantra of "I need to get my right foot ... there ... now breathe ... and oh, look at that great feature ... nice, a jug."

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Over time, my material needs for a good weekend have changed dramatically. I used to daydream about resort travel to tropical destinations; then it was car camping with my fully-equipped camp kitchen and way too many clothes and personal care items in a three-person tent for just me and Chris and maybe Hana the dog. Now, we're in paring-down mode yet again... screw the tent, although we do need to pick up some bivies. The world's perfect camp is rolling into somewhere in the middle of the night with a tarp and my beloved sleeping bag and waking up to crisp, fresh air and a whole day to play outside.

Apparently we're all thinking along the same lines... while I've been typing this message, I've gotten two emails from climbing friends to discuss upcoming trips, both planned and spontaneous. I have always said that I envy people for whom climbing can be an occasional activity... folks who can harness up a few times a year, and have fun climbing, without having climbing take over the rest of their lives... without making career and other sacrifices in order to indulge the climbing life. Today, I don't feel that envy. I just feel thankful, and happy, and really, tremendously lucky.

So, if there's any hope of doing an unscheduled escape to Vantage this weekend, I had better get to work. Good luck with your own weekend plans...

[Photo] Sara Lingafelter



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