I took a trip to Wyoming where I met Matthew Gauzy, and it wasn’t long before I insisted that we fit all of his possessions into my car, rig his bike to the backside, and drive to Ten Sleep. Matthew had flown to Montreal from France with plans to ride a recumbent through the U.S. and South America for the next two years.
He was excited to go climbing for a few days and I was glad to have found a partner. We drove into the canyon, eyes wide open in absolute reverence at the beautiful cliffs. They seemed never-ending. We made our campsite by the river and spent most of our days at the French Cattle Range.
I stick by my original theory: you can’t climb 5.13 without trying 5.13. Even if you are going bolt to freaking bolt, you’re still making the moves and getting better by doing so. So, we tried a few 5.13s and shared some laughter over some really incredible camp meals. Matthew was kind enough to not only do the dishes and make the morning coffee, but he also hung the draws on most of our climbs—a total gentleman!
At Grasshopper Wall, we tried Blue Light Special (5.13a/b) and Dances With Cows (5.13a). The start of Dances With Cows felt very sequence-y, with tiny holds and minimal feet. But when the feet appeared, you could just motor through sections. It was a real beauty.
Matthew’s friend from Mount Rushmore, Seth Webster, found our campsite and stayed and climbed with us. I goaded him into trying Thor, his first 5.10a, at World Domination wall. With Matt on belay, I ran over and grabbed Seth’s camera to snap some shots of him working through the diagonal crack. As I stared through the lens, I thought my first time leading outdoors. Those moments seem like a lifetime ago. A few years go by and you are suddenly looking through a completely different lens.
At some point, I started to let how “hard” I climbed define me. The accolades of climbing success can be great, but when I’m sixty and crushing 5.7, I want my reasons for climbing to be for the love of it. Rock climbing should be about being alive, open, and attuned to what you’re feeling and experiencing, and the people you’re feeling and experiencing it with.
I hope the lens keeps changing, because that means I’m still changing.
Cover photograph courtesy of Matthew Gauzy.