The local paper publishes a regular climbing column by Chris Weidner, a well-traveled and experienced local climber. It is typically a thoughtfully written (and often thought-provoking) exploration of the more human side of the climbing experience and this week was no exception. You can find the column here. In it he ponders the potential problems of a life dedicated to climbing past the age when many adults have opted for domesticity and child-rearing. While I agree that the experience of climbing is intense and committing, in the end, I would have to assert that its value is insignificant related to the intensity and commitment of caring for a child (and we have an easy one!). Climbing is a game which ultimately is contrived to its core, a lot like art, another passion of mine. Its value I would suggest lies elsewhere, outside of the actual practice of the sport, perhaps more in reflecting on the experience.
For me a large part of maturity (and I am by no means mature) is recognizing where real value lies and I feel that while having children and long-term relationships are not essential to a fulfilled life, going completely in the opposite direction and focusing on "a lifestyle where things like climbing, travel and self-awareness are priorities" will ultimately prove a dead end. Boulder is definitely a bubble in this regard as many people who live here have chosen this path; however I am not sure that genuine "self-awareness" is a likely by-product of following it. In any case, it is not and really should not be an either/or proposition that one chooses climbing or family. This is seems to be an American thing, and I applaud the more appealing European example where one sees multiple generations climbing, often together at the same time. I look forward to seeing more recognition by climbers that life doesn't end with a mortgage and children; it just gets more complicated and if climbing isn't about solving problems, what is it about?