I will now do my best to put you momentarily in another person’s shoes. Imagine, standing in a village made up of mud buildings with wooden awnings, each adorned with various produce and merchandise. You are carrying a tall, wooden staff in your right hand, and in your left a rope leashing two fluffy, gray sheep to yourself. These sheep mindlessly much on bits of dried grass as they look about the crowded centre with impersonal, uncaring eyes. The ringing of a dangling cowbell on some large steer crossing the road in front of you chimes to the sound of hoofbeats, interrupting the random and constant nonsense of multiple conversations taking place simultaneously amongst the nameless, dirt-covered faces. You see a longtime friend, one whom you haven’t seen in quite some time. You approach him with a huge smile, noticing that he is wearing a very similar thick brown robe to fend off the winter chill to you. Your tattered leather boots slop through the muddy road as you approach your smiling friend, whose right arm is stretched forth in preparation for an embrace. You hug, and the conversation begins as they do. After some time, and after much has been said, comes forth a simple, yet common question asked by the people at that time, “Can you believe that it’s already been TWO years since we’ve started keeping track of what year it is??”
Now that over 2,000 years have transpired since this quick little story, you’d think that we as humans would have gotten used to the fact that time never stops. Nope. Every year we are just as amazed as the year before that it’s “Already January 1st!?” and what once felt like a brand new year is already behind us. Gone Never to return. Time to move on, and start anew. Why a single day would provoke such profound feelings to better oneself, I don’t know. But I think it might have something to do with the other holidays associated with this time of year; which already seem like a lifetime ago.
At the time, it’s easy to miss the importance of moments, and the strides we have made as individuals in terms of the things we set our minds to. Climbing-wise, I knew I was crossing new boundaries with each new climb I found myself chalking up my hands for, and it’s impossible to ignore the sensations associated with stepping up and giving your all on something which at one time was an undeniable impossibility. I found myself in locations in 2015 that I had before then only been seen in dreams and covers of climbing magazines. Many times I found myself stupefied and humbled by the power of some of these moments which sprinkled my year. Each just as powerful as the one prior.
When 2015 came around, I had no real idea what it is that I wanted to be doing, or what direction I should go. Being unemployed offered me the chance to climb almost daily in between looking for jobs and working on my resume. The lack of snow offered me the chance to climb basically all winter, frequently going to Dinosaur Rock, the Pie Shop, and Sugarloaf with Patrick. When my Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Bob Rowen offered me the chance to live in their cottage in South Lake, I took the opportunity to relocate and reset. Little did I know how much of an impact this would have on me. South Lake Tahoe turned out to be exactly where I needed to be at that time, and quickly became my new home. Thanks to this choice, I met many, many people who will forever be part of my life, people whose friendship has taught me countless things about myself. It’s hard to believe that even now, I have known a lot of people who have become family for less than a year. Lis Cordner being one of them.
The months that followed found me in Yosemite Valley for a month, followed by an absolutely outrageous and wild summer in South Lake where a wild group of climbers pushed me to try things I never would have done under my own influence, and a group of ropes course guides shared many sunrises on the beach with me. This wild crew of devoted and passionate climbers quickly became some of my closest and best friends, the kind of people you feel stoked to have you on belay and share a PBR with. Thank you guys for sharing these countless experiences with me last year, you all know who you are.
Another absolutely epic season in Yosemite in the Fall returned me to society with a girlfriend, Lis, and a renewed motivation to seek new challenges and give my absolute beset at everything I do. I don’t think I have ever been as motivated as I am at this time, it’s amazing.
This year, I was able to climb Half Dome, El Cap, The Rostrum, Mt Whitney, and all over Lake Tahoe. By the end of the summer I tallied up some 5.12s, 5.11s, and a whole bunch of 10s. My confidence has grown to levels never before seen at any point in my life. After starting the year with only a handful of 5.10 onsights, it blows me away to think of how far I’ve come since waking up on my friend Jeff’s couch on New Year’s Day 2015.
As long as this trend continues, 2016 will promise to be one hell of a wild year. It’s exciting and scary at the same time to think about the endless possibilities which could take place this year. Who knows what I will be typing when I find myself at this junction once again next year. Health and happiness to each and every one of my dear friends and family this year, and may your homes be always filled with love. Make this year the year, there is no reason why it can’t be one of the best years of your life. The choice truly is yours.
I am a young man in search of myself. I know I am out there, somewhere. My intuition has directed me to seek the wisdom of the mountains to gain clues as-to where that may be. This wisdom is gained and overwhelmingly pursued through small skirmishes and encounters with lesser, but equally as powerful, stones. And for this reason, I climb.