Thursday, March 4, 2010


(PHOTO: E.F.R. tying in B-rad)

Sharing my enthusiasm for climbing is the best part of P’UP, the best part of climbing itself. Today was one of those damn fine climbing days, mostly because I brought Brad, my future son-in-law, to the wall. While we tied in, my daughter Christina snapped off some photos before heading upstairs to run her miles on the treadmill.

She’s not ready, she says, to try climbing again but I think B-rad and I will win her over eventually. That’s our sinister plan, anyway.

B-rad just moved back to Lincoln from Milwaukee, and he’s already caught the climbing bug, that viral infection that makes you want to part with your hard-earned cash to buy equipment, chalk, and the most expensive shoes you’ll ever wear for just one purpose. It’s only a matter of time before he’s hanging out at Moose’s Tooth, or surfing the Web for hot deals on climbing gear, otherwise known as "rock porn."

(PHOTO: B-rad, a.k.a. "Slim," reaching the top of the 5.6)

The best part: B-rad’s a natural climber. He on-sighted all the routes he tried, including the 5.7 on the incline, “Jews for Jesus” (I don't name these routes, by the way) and the 5.6 “11 Year Hiatus” (named after, I'm guessing, the term for a break in geographical strata, usually measured by stratagraphists in hiatus "years"). Both routes challenged me, but B-rad knocked ‘em out and tonight was just his second climbing adventure. His climbing virginity was handed over to the gods in Madison, Wisconsin the night I broke my foot last year. So I’m thinking he’ll be reaching that 5.9 transition in the near future.

(PHOTO: B-rad, clearly enjoying his climbing night)

(PHOTO: E.F.R. working the 5.7 "Jews for Jesus")

I had a few victories tonight, myself. I nearly on-sighted that 5.7 on the incline, and this made me feel really good about both my climbing and my healing foot. I made it up and over the arch without much effort, and felt as if my body was beginning to develop a sense of climbing intuition. My moves didn’t feel forced or negotiated until I hit what I considered the crux of the route – and this nearly brought tears to my googly eyes.

(PHOTO: E.F.R. sweatin' after the "11 Year Hiatus")

I’ve also lost my self-consciousness, thankfully, and no longer feel as if I’m wasting a belay’s time if I have to take a moment to collect my thoughts or rest before pressing on. This might have something to do with the fact I’ve come down two dress sizes since joining Weight Watchers, and have brought my BMI down nearly 3 points in just three weeks.

Or, it could just be that confidence comes with practice. The true origin of this progress matters not to me. It’s the climbing that feeds my soul, so I’m even more excited about the upcoming trip to Shelf Road than I was last week. With just over a month to train, I’m hopeful to be confident in my attempts at more difficult routes before April 10.

(PHOTO: E.F.R. checking to see if her feet were still there)

Considering the week I’ve had, one with all kinds of unexpected difficulties and challenges, tonight felt all the more special. As I sit here, listening to Tom Petty and counting my blessings, I’m thinking climbing might be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Whatever wrongs life tosses at me are righted the moment I take hold of the wall, the moment I’m off the ground. As Tom Petty sings, “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got no wings” and I’m taking life one move at a time.

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