If you know me in real life, then you know I am kind of a spaz. My old bosses used to tell me I was part a hummingbird, always flitting around from one thing to the next, often without finishing the first thing I started with. So there is something really calming to me about driving for long hours alone in a car. I’ve sort of embraced it as my form of meditation. I think that’s why I took to climbing so quickly. My mind is constantly going a thousand and four miles an hour, but when you give me a task that demands a clear head, I am forced to be in the present moment.
I had a twenty-six-hour drive ahead of me from Brooklyn to Denver. I had planned out the next few weeks and wanted to be out west over Christmas. I wanted to be anywhere but the east coast, really. Colorado was the promised land, they said. The climbing mecca. Go there.
Finally making it to Nebraska, I had a wild realization: What would I even do if I lived in a climbing town? Then I’d have to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.
When I got to Colorado, Allie Levy took me to Eldorado Canyon. The wind was pretty bad, so we only did the first pitch of the classic Bastille Crack (5.7). We then climbed Tagger (5.10b/c) on the Wind Tower before calling it a day. It was truly the most scared I’ve ever been on a 5.9 pitch in my entire climbing life, by the way. Getting used to Eldo climbing might take a while, and I decided I would have to come back in the spring. We ended the day by taking a drive through the rest of the Canyon. The formations basked in the warm golden light and it was mesmerizing. On the twenty-minute drive back to Allie’s, it suddenly dawned on me how accessible climbing in Colorado really was. But, what? What do you mean, you clock a full work day and THEN go get a few pitches in? That just doesn’t happen.
Except for that it happens. Everybody in a climbing town is a rock climber. And again, I started to have that nagging thought: If I lived in a climbing town, would I be like everybody else? Would I be special anymore? Being a climber from Brooklyn, NY was the kind of thing I wore like a badge of honor.
Crashing at Allie’s, I made myself useful by offering her roommate, Aleya Jean, a ride to the airport one morning. On the drive, she told me that she missed the east coast epic: “Driving eight and a half hours to West Virginia to climb for three days and go back home like it’s no big deal. Climbers on the east coast are driven in a very different way.” She informed me of the “Colorado casual”, where you can basically look out the window and decide to get brunch until the overcast skies clear up, then go out and get a full day.
Would I like that kind of lifestyle? Would I miss the balance between city life and nature? Would I really be just like everybody else? “Being a climber from the east coast is different from being one in climbing specific areas. You’re not as special. Everybody here climbs!” Aleya’s words hit it on the head for me.