Today feels a bit like a “cheat” again–I mean: how can I say “climb” is an “experiment in living simply” when I spend at least two nights a week at the gym climbing–and if given the opportunity, would spend most weekends doing the same thing outdoors?
I suppose it’s because of how we climbed today. We met up with some friends, hiked in, found a few lines to climb, and then settled in for the day in one spot. No projects. No lining up for a turn on a “classic” route. No last gasp push to get a final climb in before dark. It was just a mellow day at the crag.
I also didn’t sweat it that my two youngest kids decided they would rather just play around in nature instead of putting up any climbs. That was perfectly fine with me today, and I think everyone had a better day because of it.
I even had fun on my fail for the day. After multiple attempts to get past the third bolt on Twist and Shout, I had to bail and let my son take the lead.
I’m not entirely sure why climbing is so satisfying for me, but it is–especially outdoors. Sure, there’s some adrenaline addiction to it, no doubt. And then there’s also the father-son thing as well, since I’ve done almost all of my outdoor climbing in the company of my oldest child. But I think it’s also the fact that climbing forces me to be present and to be in my body–in the moment–in ways that few other activities can do.
On the drive out, I put on some music–starting with a song that has become a bit of a signature piece in our family at the start or the finish of a day of climbing: Pink Floyd’s “Fearless”:
You say you’d like to see me try
You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
And I’ll climb
The hill in my own way
just wait a while for the right day
And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds
I look down, hear the sounds of the things you said today.
There are so many reasons why today could have been frustrating. I could have been struggling against my kids. I could have been rushing from route to route. I could have shut down after having a decent lead fall or failing to send a route that–in my head at least–I should have been able to send. Instead, the day just felt right, no matter what happened, and I truly appreciated it.
And sure, it always feels pretty good to be “above the treeline and the clouds”–if only for a few moments–before being lowered to the earth again.