Saturday, August 4, 2007

End of Summer

I've been thinking about other things than climbing and blogging for most of the summer, mostly about art and history. Also a fair amount of trail running. But I thought I should add something anyway. Climbing-wise, I've been mostly indoors, at the Spot and CATS. A couple of trips to RMNP, one to scope out upper Chaos Canyon and another to work on European Human Being, a well-known and very difficult V12. (Beta photo attached) The second trip was nice because I went up in the morning and didn't see another climber the whole morning.

Chaos Canyon is a very beautiful spot but most afternoons resembles an open-air climbing gym. Do any of the climbers who come here just stop for a second and think, "What an amazing situation--maybe I should just sit and admire it for awhile and think about what really matters". This is the problem with the group mentality of bouldering--you can't just stop and think and watch the world go by.

Perhaps it's a symptom of age... At 43, most climbers are not seeking digital immolation on a short crimpy problem. However I want to reconcile the meditative and thoughtful side of climbing with the physical side and see where that leads. The energy of youth is wonderful but too one-dimensional at this point. The interesting struggle begins when things turn less in your favor. Do you have the fortitude to continue when the point of climbing can seem lost? When physical strength seems to be harder to maintain? When you simply have far less time? Ratings become meaningless in the face of these questions yet the quest for some sense of excellence in the sport never ends. You have to rely on yourself for answers not on others, most of whom are far too young to understand.

Art presents the same set of problems albeit in a less physical way. In painting, what is it you're trying to say? Can you say it? Do you have time to say it? Will it matter to anyone else? And as in climbing, you have many examples of excellence to admire, emulate, and compare oneself with. And time does wear on...

So if anyone reads this and is wondering what I mean, look at the clouds drifting by. It could be over Long's Peak or it could be your backyard. What part of you is more substantial than those clouds? How much of what you think is real is simply made up, a bunch of symbols to signify something you can never truly express or grasp? And as you climb, consider which is more substantial--you or the shadow cast by a passing whisp of vapor? Maybe too many questions but after 30 years of climbing, they cannot be avoided. But while playing on the rocks or painting, I consider them, if only for a while.

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