My hand wanders aimlessly to my left hip and I finger the trigger of a piece of gear hanging there, the action both familiar and soothing. This is my first winter spent climbing in the southeast. I begin to ditch layers of clothing to welcome each little ray of sun on my skin. It’s a breath of fresh air; I embrace the change.
The overhanging roof on this climb intimidates the hell out of me, but as I squeeze my cam’s trigger gently, the motion puts me at ease. It’s almost meditative. I place my hand on the slab of rock, expecting it to be an icebox, but instead, warmth radiates from it. Moving gradually in inches at first, and then a half a foot and then another, I feel my body bend, to rearrange itself to fit inside the crack. I’ve been in a cocoon all of these months. I shatter, split and burst (suddenly and violently).
There are no more rests. The roof continues to the very top and I need every ounce of power I have left within me. My legs stem across from one another, finding delicate grooves to perch upon. My back is arched and jutting out. The soft sandstone rock is almost scented–its soft brown color an aromatic spice. Don’t think; move! I tell myself this over and over again as I climb up the crack, almost swimming. The movement is slow and feels insecure the entire way. It seems terrible to hold onto something that is forcing me to let go.
I left New York City in the pursuit of a life where serendipity meets deliberation. The point of life is to find something that you’re deeply passionate about. As frightening as it seems at times, you start to see that everybody has their own pace they prefer to climb at and experience life by. You begin to find your own. At the end of the day, and at the end of my climb, it doesn’t really matter if I make it to the top or not. The point is that I’m willing to start, from the ground up.
Cover photograph courtesy of Nick Lanphier.