The Other Side of the Fence

Joshua Tree sunset -- have to see it to believe it.

Joshua Tree sunset -- have to see it to believe it.

In the comment section for my last post, Kevin called me out on my end-of-the-season lamentation.  He’s absolutely right, of course; I’m thrilled about the prospect of warm Red Rocks weather and sun-baked crag sessions.  This winter has been great – exactly what I was after – and I’m excited to maximize my ice time over the next several weeks; but I sure am looking forward to feeling real rock again and working on my tan.  As I’ve written before, there’s always another adventure on the horizon and always more being added to the queue.

You’ll hear people dismiss this desire for new places and new experiences.  “Well, the grass is always greener…” they’ll wryly offer, as if that somehow diminishes the possibility that the grass may very well be greener.  Of course, relative greenness is rarely the point, anyway.  There’s a vital distinction between the quest for something better and the quest for something different.  When I leave the stark, snowy beauty of the Bozeman winter, I won’t be in search of a place I prefer; rather, I’ll be in search of yet another example of the richness of the natural world and, especially, the outdoor pursuits that are my passions.

From the high desert to the Rocky Mountain high -- Jurrasic Park, CO

From the high desert to the Rocky Mountain high -- Jurassic Park, CO

The seemingly endless “where to next?” possibility is one of my favorite things about climbing (and the outdoors, in general).  The skills I gain back home on Foster Falls face climbs are applicable enough to J-Tree cracks to allow me to scrape up some moderate classics, and a few weeks spent shredding my hands on the high desert monzonite gives me just enough crack climbing competence to scare myself on Indian Creek splitters.  All the while, I’m honing the protection placements, anchor building and rope work that will be indispensable when I’m eight pitches up a Valley big wall, and every moment spent on the sharp end will translate into added confidence when ice season rolls around again.  Just the specter of these places is enough to keep me climbing hard and often for the foreseeable future, and I’m not sure I could say that if I were limited to one of them.

The ability to find satisfaction in and among your surroundings is invaluable, and a restlessness of spirit that borders on the insatiable is not what I am advocating.  There are literally dozens of places in this country alone where you could spend a lifetime climbing, and, if you happen to find one that feels like home, by all means make it official.  Just remember: while home is where the heart is, it may not be where the weather is.  Will you be happier on the other side of the fence?  Maybe not, but there’s only one way to know for sure.

Still America -- Chugach National Forest, AK

Still America -- Chugach National Forest, AK

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