Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Reminder

For three seasons I visited Red Rocks 1-2 times a year. I carefully catalogued approaches, route beta and descent information. I guided long moderates and climbed a lot of harder single pitch and multipitch lines. In April 2010, after spending 15 days in Las Vegas taking my AMGA Rock Guide Exam, I thought I might never go back to Red Rocks. I was disgusted by the opulence and excess of Las Vegas. I was sick of prickly, sharp objects getting stuck in my clothing. Most of all, I was tired of the climbing and the long approaches in and out of the canyons.

I don't generally get bored of climbing areas., However, after spending a part of each of the past five summers alpine guiding in the Washington Cascades and training for my AMGA Alpine Guide Exam, I've been feeling the same way about the Cascades. They've worn me out. They just feel old, or maybe they make me feel old.

Climbing in these special places tends to lose some of it's significance when we forget to see the beauty around us. It's wrong to populate your memory of a beautiful place solely with route information, gear beta, and details about a tricky descent or walk-off route. It happens though, especially if you're focused on particular objectives.

I just returned from Red Rocks, where I spent most of a week guiding a close friend up really fine climbs. With the exam monkey off my back I was able to enjoy the subtle beauties of Red Rocks. Warm sunny slabs below the Brownstone Wall, the calico-colored boulders in Oak Creek Canyon, and the quiet trickle of water in Pine Creek Canyon are a few of the subtle charms of Red Rocks.

Next time your head is down and your nose is to the grindstone, stop and look around. Remember why you choose to climb in the first place. I'm there because I love being outdoors as much as I love climbing. I bet you feel that way too. Let's just try not to forget it.

The climbing is beautiful there too! Here is a gallery of images from the trip.