Sunday, April 26, 2015

Changing Perspectives

The long, cold, hard winter in Vermont helped to generate an increased appetite for warm weather desert climbing. We recently returned from 8 fab days in Red Rock, Nevada.  Climbing friends, stories and photos never tell the whole story, but can provide for some flavor.  What feels more meaningful in the reflections is the gain of new perspectives.  I find that going on climbing trips, even short ones, can open my mind and shed light on things I might otherwise take for granted or ignore.

A prime example is gratitude.  How fortunate were we to be able to take a trip such as this, have great weather, a comfortable place to stay, wonderful friends to share adventures and meals with, and air and car travel without incident?  No injuries, no illness, no delays, no conflicts. In light of the horrors of today - a devastating earthquake in Nepal; violent protests in Baltimore and other cities; suicide bombs wreaking havoc on innocent civilians. Wow, I feel so fortunate.

On the darker side of perspectives, I  continue to be appalled by the behavior of people in the outdoors, seemingly oblivious to their impact.  Of course we all impact the land and resources in some way when we trudge along the paths in search of our custom adventure.  But the increase in popularity of climbing brings with it numerous problems - most notably impact on the land and land-based features; impact on other people sharing that space; light and noise pollution. Worst of all is an example of human behavior at its lowest - or at least at its most ignorant.  On one popular climb we hiked up the steep trail to the base of a wall only to find a pile of human feces right on the flat rocks at the base of the route.  A small piece of toilet paper shoved underneath an adjacent rock indicated a complete disregard for impact - or as mentioned, incomprehensible ignorance.

I am relieved that The Access Fund has stepped up their efforts to educate climbers and direct efforts into preserving our climbing future. And of course all such efforts do not just preserve my beloved recreational activity, but all organizations with conservation and protection missions are essential to continuing on this planet in the SHORT term.  I keep striving to do my part. I am trying to change my own behaviors, lead by example, think twice before I do something that may have impact on others - instead of lecturing from a pedestal. I am so far from getting it right when it comes to following responsible and ethical practices - but I will not stop trying to get it right. All I can hope for is that everyone else will work on it, too.

I know there are a few readers out there who just want to read the stories and gawk at climbing photos - OK - I like posting that stuff anyway, so no worries.  But I ask that you keep in perspective the past and the future. Honor history - respect the earth - recognize others - widen your perspective beyond yourself and your mini-world. We can all do better.

Randy posing on a sport climb
Nancy on her first real outdoor climb! Go girl!
Group Therapy Pitch 2 - Annie heading up. This route is 600 feet of committed climbing.
The intimidating 5th pitch Group Therapy. Runout, scary chimney climbing. Me no like.

Toby, friend from NH, (who has been living Vegas for the winter to climb) coming up pitch 2 of Birdland, classic!
As I waited at the 4th belay, my 3 comrades waited at the 3rd belay. A cute photo, but 2 climbers who were rapping down the route stopped all other upward climber progress while they untangled their mess and tried to figure out where to go next.  I can't help but wonder if they knew that 90 minutes is really an unacceptable amount of time to make climbers wait.
Super fun and easy finger crack finish on Birdland. Thanks for giving me the sharp end Toby!
Heading out of the tunnel on Tunnel Vision (a weird tunnel behind a huge flake high on the route).  I hated the 1st 3 pitches of this, but if you like chimneys and squeezes like Toby does, you'll be in heaven. The last 3 pitches were great.
Sensuous Mortician at the Necromancer Wall in Icebox Canyon. Our last day of climbing was highlighted by this fabulous face climbing with a Gunks-like roof finish, then another fun finger crack climb to the right and then, unexpectedly, the highlight of the trip - see the last photo of us with the undisputed King of Red Rock climbing...
Another fine crack finish on Fold Out. More technical than it looks!
Our rope got stuck on the pull on the last climb of the trip. If not for this delay, we would not have met this man - that's
Jorge Urioste - the king of Red Rock climbing in the 70s and 80s and beyond.  78 years old and still climbing strong!

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