As climbing pop-culture descends into decadence, steeze, and womp “music,” it is often hard to find reminders of why I love it so much – why it has woven itself into the fabric of my waking life and the lofty heights of my dreams – why my own pilgrimages into the mountains are so refreshing to my soul and important to my perspective on life and love and tomorrow. Despite all the hoopla and media, I love climbing for the escape from the irrational, silly madness that usually plagues my centrifugal mind; an escape from the people and responsibility that stand between me and a deep breath of distant air. Desperately clinging to the earth, fighting gravity in the ultimate battle where failure is catastrophic, pushes all other concerns to the back and puts me in a place that is more present and mindful than any other pursuit that I’ve found under the sun or moon.
And the thing that originally drew me to climbing was its counter cultural properties, the fact that it existed on the fringe where what we were doing was unique or at least different than any other sport in the world. And it allowed me to be whatever I wanted, as the wild undertaker judges us not on the merits of our charm and popularity, but on our boldness and durability.
Living in Boulder can really skew all that for me, where it’s so cool to be a climber that the only way to exist on the fringe is to cease climbing and never mention it in conversation. It’s really only when I get away from the egotistical pissing contest that I remember why and how I love the vertical pursuit.
I’m coming back into climbing after about five months off. Taking a step back for the first time since I started climbing five years ago has been very illuminating. I found myself viewing the culture through a professional rather than recreational lens, and felt a profound disconnect between the climbing I pursue on a personal level and the images and sounds and paychecks that I pursue professionally. Not-so-bueno.
So today, again with a temporary lull in deadlines, I’ve gone back through some of my favorite climbing images from the past few years to spark my inspiration and get my ass back on the wall and once again dreaming of high places.
All “climbing” and no Climbing makes Jim a dull boy.