Right now, I have very much of a love-hate relationship with climbing. More on that later.
A couple of weekends ago, I went climbing in the high and eastern Sierra. After work on Friday, I bee-lined up to Tuolumne for some late afternoon bouldering. This was during what seems to have been some of the last bits of warm golden summer. I’m working on my footwork and the boulders up there are one of the best places to practice.
Continuing up and over and down, I landed in Mammoth and found climbing there. We tackled a tricky 5.10a face/crack/overhang beast of a climb on volcanic tuff (versus Yosemite’s granite). I wasn’t quite there, but made it up with much falling and frustration. And then I jumped on a really fun 5.8 crack that seemed like a walk in the park. Tuff has awesome grippy holds. It’s like a playground of things to hang on.
The real highlight was hiking down into Owens River Gorge after. The Gorge… is one of the craziest places I’ve climbed so far. Over 800 climbs in this beautiful place.
We stuck to 5.8 routes and it was everything that I expect when climbing. I had a lot of time that day to think about why I actually choose to climb. It’s a uniquely oxymoronic experience. It’s terrifying and exhilarating, empowering and humbling, challenging and rewarding, physical and mental. And, oh, is it mental. Your mindset is at least as important as your physical strength and determination. I don’t think you ever feel so close to nature (specifically rock) and yourself as when you’re hanging precariously mid-cliff by the strength of your own muscles and the trust in the stability of that craggy smooth rock. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other. And it’s addictive like no other.
So, the love is obvious. But why the hate? …Did I mention this is a dangerous game? Part of that adrenaline rush and gratefulness for timely holds is that risk of falling. I had a relatively minor fall in the Gorge. It happens – and it’s usually no big deal. This one was no different except that I was close to the ground. Which means that, with the unfortunately placed directional quickdraw and the give the rope is designed with, I hit the ground. Not hard and mostly running, but still enough to strain my iliopsoas muscle. I didn’t realize it at the time and kept going (gotta save face and conquer all, right?). In fact, I didn’t realize the severity of it until I went climbing again yesterday in Yosemite Valley almost two weeks later. Now I’ve been doctored and x-rayed and referred to a physical therapist. And I’m on a ice and rest and no yoga and no climbing plan for a few weeks.
So it goes.
Good thing I’ve got the distraction of vacation. Starting Sunday!! Another day at the Renaissance Faire and then Paul and I fly out to Florida on Monday for over a week of birding and eating and sunning and enjoying life with good people and good (if flat and humid) scenery. Now to get packed…