Escapism

I love my job. As a building tradesman I am constantly called upon to show creativity, problem solving, as well as a sincere an self depredating work ethic. Unfortunately, the at times physically demanding nature of my job may leave me drained, feeling as though I cannot climb. The days I choose to be defeated by myself I am left feeling empty, beaten, tense,and with an overwhelming sense of loss.
On the days that I choose to overcome my perceived exhaustion, and find myself making the short drive to my home gym, I awaken within the dark dungeon of my soul an escapist. This brave gentleman wants nothing more than the next hold, the next clip, the next top out. My inner escapist has a one track mind. He just climbs.
During my work day, as with any other person’s, I am out in a position in which I have to interact with people with whom I share very few if any interests. The escapist grows restless. He begins pawing at the walls, pulling on his chains, And trying in vain to squeeze through the bars. Once I leave work, arrive at the gym, and take those first steps away from my truck; I am transfigured. I am the escapist.
The staff at the gym are my second family. Each time I see them it’s as if a long awaited reunion is taking place. My climbing partner arrives after I do. We flake out our rope, I tie in as the climber, briefly stretch, and place my hands and feet on the corresponding holds. My body is in tune with itself, each movement is an extension of my mind and my heart. The day, it’s pain, it’s mistakes, it’s problems, all dissipate as I climb. As I escape.

Staring at Walls

Randomly throughout my day I find myself staring at a building face or other stationary object or piece of architecture (not natural rock). It is not a vacant stare, but rather one of curiosity. Just today on the job site I caught myself staring at a concrete wall which had been recently sandblasted, exposing a newly pocket rich (albeit a bit reachy, as I am 5’3″) face climb.
I cautiously look around to make sure my foreman isn’t watching, and I step closer to the face, positioning those small callused tips of mine into the pockets to better verify my newfound problem’s character. Pocket rich indeed.
IF I ONLY HAD MY SHOES!
Never mind the fact that I am supposed to be working. How bitter sweet it would be for a climber to loose his employment because he was climbing…. Alas, my gonads shrink, and I use the excuse of having not but work boots bearing the antithesis of a pointy toe. Don’t even get me started on the rubber.
I continue to stare, to search for which pockets would be hands then feet. Planning out my body positions. Would I flag my leg out there? Would I need to gaston? Which shoes would I wear given the opportunity? So many questions, all of which lead me to the big one…
Why don’t I climb more?
The answer is because (insert excuse here)…
It always seems that the time during which I am unemployed is the time I get the most climbing in. Otherwise my schedule and that of my climbing buddies conflict, and I find myself lacking motivation. Motivation? I love climbing isn’t that enough?
It should be. However I am guilty of being a social climber. That’s not to say that I will always be seen shirtless but beanie clad in the bouldering pit in a myriad of other dudes, but rather I enjoy the company of one or two close, trusted friends. Friends I know will catch soft, spot well, or at least move the dang crash pad for me if what I’m doing looks sketch.

Preliminary Ramblings of a Buzzed Climber

My earliest recollection of climbing in a gym setting took place during a family vacation to Tahoe. I myself do not remember climbing, although I allegedly did. The frames of film which my mind chose to keep hold of were those of my earliest climbing mentor, my mother.

There was a route that traversed a portion of the ceiling. I distinctly remember how on edge I was as my 4’10” munchkin mom tackled what seemed an impossible feat. She climbed hard, and then she fell.

Fast forward a few years to a time when my mother took one of my best friends and I to a gym near our home in Walnut Creek. He was an experienced gymnast and I was…. Not much of anything.

I spent the vast majority of my time on Encarta and Grollier’s encyclopedia CD-ROMs learning about battle tactics and HIV. The remainder of my free time was spent with either Legos or a stick, the latter of which was used to systematically behead legions of milkweed which had besieged my yard. Once they had been beaten into a hasty retreat, I would pursue them as far as the trailhead continuing my savage assault until I grew weary… Or my mother or grandmother beckoned my return, but I digress… I climbed better than my friend.

The next memory I have of climbing took place in what I am proud to call my home gym. Diablo Rock Gym is a member of the Touchstone family, a family currently 7 members strong, and a gym that has had an insurmountable effect on my identity, my persona, my psyche. I was 18 years old, a senior in high school, and interested in a girl I had recently met who happened to be a climber (as was her ex-boyfriend, now her husband). Long story short my first time climbing in probably 10 years I red pointed a 10d. I was pleased, She was impressed, but summarily insulted me by exclaiming I “climb like most guys starting out”. Of course I completely understand what she meant. I muscled through every move, I lacked finesse, I had no technique of which to speak.

It was at this juncture however that the seemingly Innate climbing gene awoke.