I was planning on going out with the Jeep club today for the annual chili run and Christmas tree cutting. Then I about passed out on my kitchen floor. Decided bed is a preferable option. So here is a post from my friend, Tristan. He is a wold-traveler, outdoor enthusiast to the extreme, and one of my favorite online authors. Big thanks to him for composing a post for me today:
Confessions of a Future Born Again Rock Climber
Up until a year and a half ago, I was a very avid rock climber. I’d done a thousand climbs and hundreds of first ascents, and I would rather have been on the rock than anywhere else. Then things started to go downhill. At the time, I had recently arrived in a new city and didn’t have reliable climbing partners. I was working hard and had less time to devote to climbing, and I grew weaker as a result. I was having knee problems that called for extended periods of time off. I couldn’t find projects that inspired me. I was bored, and I realized that it was time for a major change. I stopped climbing, packed my bags, and left the country.
I’ve now been living, working, and traveling around the world for about 15 months. I have no climbing gear with me, and I haven’t been climbing. I plan to be out of the US for the foreseeable future, and I don’t see myself doing any climbing anytime soon. It’s sad but true to say that I don’t climb anymore.
Not climbing is strange. It’s been a huge part of my life since I first went to the climbing gym 18 years ago. I’m Tristan. I rock climb. I’m a rock climber. It’s who I am. Climbing has brought me the greatest joys and biggest challenges of my life.
I still watch climbing videos fairly often. They’re one of my sole remaining links back to the climbing world. As I sit and watch other people climb, I have flashbacks of years of climbing experiences that have become part of the permanent firmware of my brain. As I watch someone climb a desert crack, I can feel the grit of the sand in my mouth. As I see people take long falls, I’m weightless right along with them. Videos of runout trad routes bring back that heightened sense of awareness and concentration. These are not just memories; this is time travel, sending me back to exact times and places in my former life as a rock climber.
Though climbing is behind me for now, I haven’t quit climbing. My gear is safely in storage back in the States. I still hop on Mountain Project every once in a while. I see friends post climbing photos to Facebook and feel pangs of remembrance, envy, and longing. I look at the mountains, cliffs, and stone facades that I travel past and can’t help but trace out the possibilities.
Climbing has always been a near-religious experience for me. The mountains are holy and the rock sacred. But now, miles and months away from any climbing, my faith is somehow as strong as ever. I haven’t left the church—I simply worship in a new way. And luckily for us all, the mountains are always there to welcome home the prodigal son.
—Tristan Higbee is a longtime rock climber and lover of the mountains in general. He is the author of the book 101 Rock Climbing Tips and Tricks.