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What is rockclimbing? (As if this question wasn’t cliché enough) What does rockclimbing mean to us climbers,.. and to outside viewers? I myself am a climber, I’ve got the shoes, the crash pads, the harnesses, the trad rack, I’ve made the trips to Wichita national forest in Lawton, Oklahoma, the trips to Garden of the Gods in Colorado, Minnehaha in Washington, Enchanted rock in Fredericksburg, Texas, I’ve been cold, been hot, taken falls, bouldered, belayed, trad climbed, sport climbed, and top-roped. I’ve got a “The North Face”, Petzl, Black diamond, and Marmot sticker on the back of my black 4x4 Nissan xterra! For what though? Why do we do these things we do? I don’t get to climb much currently, I live in Panama City, Florida now because of my job, and my parents came down for the few and far between family visits, that always seem to go by too fast as I look back, but at the time can’t get over soon enough, and during my visit, I asked my father when was the last time he had an adrenaline rush, and an awe-inspiring moment,… he didn’t know how to respond, he replied with, “I can’t really tell ya, to tell ya the truth.” This saddens me, what do we live for? For those adrenaline, filled and awe-inspiring moments? Those moments with our loved ones? To accomplish a specific task on this earth? To have “2.8 wonderful children and a house with a white picket fence?” It seems to me that there are a few different sorts of people,.. there are those that are ok with being ok, they have the average house, the average job, the average income, have a few kids, and enjoy watching the game on Sunday evenings with his buddies, or have that game of golf every other weekend, for the ladies its going shopping with her friends once every few weekends, and this is there form of entertainment, or ‘what they do’ if you will, they vacation with the family once a year to Destin, Florida, and lay on the beach with their kids and watch the waves crash, then maybe go have a nice dinner somewhere in the evenings. In society there are those that work 24/7, have plenty of greenbacks to their name, but work is their world, they eat sleep, and breathe work, and then when they take a breath it’s to eat dinner with their family every blue moon, they take the same sort of vacation to maybe a more expensive (Bahamas), stay in maybe a nicer hotel, and have the same sort of beach laying, lay in the sun with your kids, nice restaurant in the evening with your family, kind of experience. Then there are those in society whose lives are made and centered around the mountains and the crags, we crave the adrenaline of the dyno to the jug on a 5.10c multipitch 600’ route, there is nothing more heart pumping than these adrenaline filled moments, its lets us know we’re alive, we’re not comatose in life like out 9-5, 2.8 kids, Destin, Florida counter parts. Our vacations are the mountains, the routes, the double black diamonds. We need no escape from these places, because we live and breathe these places, we define our lives not by the dollars in our accounts, but by the experiences in our lives. When all is done, and we are in our death beds, all that really matters is the experiences we have to remember, as General Patton once said, “in 30 years from now, when your grandchildren are sitting on your laps, and they ask, grandpa what did you do in the great world war II, you won’t have to say, well… I shoveled shit in Louisiana, and you may thank God for it.” This quote is how I feel about life in general. I don’t want to have to tell my grandchildren; well I worked at a bank for 30 years,..went to the beach a few times,.. that’s pretty much it. I want to be able to paint pictures of mountains, and danger and great experiences in their minds. “And that’s all I have to say about that”-forest Gump
I feel as though the people you meet in your local climbing shops or your local climbing gyms are the people that I’ve described above. They would enjoy a glass of red wine with you, a good conversations about the crag, maybe a Sundance film festival movie, I cherish these people, I really do, they are more concerned about who you are and where you've been and what you’ve seen than what your portfolio looks like, and I appreciate it all you crag, gym and outfitters shop people!
I hate the questions I get from people about my hobbies, but I love to answer them. I receive the questions/ statements like, that’s dangerous, it’s scary, or why would you do that to yourself,.. or I hate the snow and cold, and it’s so hard to climb, why would you want to work hard like that on your days off. The aforementioned strain of people make my insides turn. I answer them with a quote, and simply turn away and let it marinate in their minds, as I am going to do with you all reading this article!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt/"The Man In The Arena" /Speech at the Sorbonne /Paris, France /April 23, 1910
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