Leaving Wyoming was hard for me, as it had become home for almost two months. That was the longest I had stayed in any one place all year. Evan Raines and I spent a few days climbing what he likes to describe as “nonsensical” rock before packing up and heading to Idaho.
I don’t know many people who get as excited about rock climbing as Evan. The funny thing is, I think that I needed him more than he needed me as a partner because my enthusiasm was beginning to wane. I remembered back in NYC, my acupuncturist sticking needles in my face as she told me about a guy who had been climbing well over a decade. I couldn’t imagine doing one thing for so long and I asked in astonishment if he’d ever taken a break.
She laughed and said, “Of course! You can’t do anything for that long and not take any breaks. You get burned out.”
Was it finally happening to me?
An opportunity to interview in Salt Lake City came up, and although I wasn’t feeling quite ready to end my trip, I was also starting to feel that burn out. At first, I had to convince myself that I even wanted to go—but by the end of our first in City of Rocks, I began to feel giddy with the anticipation of being settled. We drove in from Vedauwoo around midnight and too tired to find free camping, we crashed in one of the visitor’s lots (I slept in my car and Evan slept in a tree.)
We climbed at Elephant Rock the next morning. I really enjoy climbing with Evan because, in addition to his awesome attitude, he has a beautiful style. He says he genuinely just enjoys the movement in rock climbing. With his natural talent for it combined with dedication and enthusiasm, he’s been putting down some of the hardest routes known in the southeast.
After Elephant Rock, Evan and I scooted to end the day with Checkered Demon (5.11a). Evan led it first. I planned on following on a TR or not climbing it at all. Exhaustion began creeping in and after watching the beginning moves (sort of a weird, strenuous layback protected by an old pin) did not motivate me.
“Am I going to regret not climbing this thing?” I asked Evan, and he replied with, “It’s a really excellent climb.”
Well, I was convinced even though I didn’t want to be.
The start scared me, honestly. I’d witnessed a bad fall with several pieces of gear popping a few weeks prior in Wyoming. It made my hands sweat.“It’s only a bouldering move.” I told myself as I pushed past the pin and held on tightly to a thin section with my fingers, smearing desperately with my feet. The rest of the climb followed a fun little corner you can stem up to the top of, and I was glad to not owe my dad a postcard for that one. (When I left the east coast, I promised my dad one postcard for every whip I took.)
Evan has this funny knack for picking out bold, testpiece climbs. He’s a real go-getter like that. On our second day, we took the scenic drive/approach (AKA we got lost) to the Incisor to try Crack of Doom (5.11c). There are two fixed nuts as well as a pin protecting the very beginning of the climb. Again, Evan led the route first and on his way down, cleaned the gear for me.
Frustrated at the opening move on Crack, I became increasingly annoyed at my lack of arm length after having watched Evan cruise this section. There is an undercling directly below the fixed nuts that I just couldn’t grab. Finally, I listened to Evan for foot beta and cranked on a small-ish crimp. Bingo.
The off-finger crack was hard but not too hard and took a variety of small gear. I took a handful of small aliens with me. Eventually, the crack widened to a bit of a wider section that Evan also happily cruised up. I tiredly struggled up the crack to the chains.
If you try this route, be aware that the fixed pin has previously fallen out. We did not experience this, but it’s happened in the past and I was warned by a friend.
After my interview, I left Evan in good hands with Haley Dahle, and headed back to Colorado alone.
I love rock climbing. I love everything about it. And I think that you need to do something seriously enough to be truly interested in, but you have to keep it in enough perspective so that it doesn’t consume you. I keep telling myself that I think I’m ready for all of the things in my life that I truly want, but the universe keeps informing me that it has other plans.
I have faith in a chaos that everything will always work out the way that they’re meant to, it’s just continuing the movement until you make it to the chains. It’s keeping perseverance and being patient enough and wise enough not to lose that faith, which is hard. Faith is that really shitty sloper that isn’t always so easy to hold on to. But it’s there and ready to use when you’re ready to see it.