Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why I Climb

I wrote this in September of my freshman year at NYU, and stumbled upon it today. I can't believe I wrote this over a year ago.. I can't believe I haven't climbed in almost a year. As a recent article I read says, climbing is in my DNA, regardless of a shoulder surgery. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did rereading it today.

The first time I sat 300 feet above the ground floor on a tiny three foot wide ledge, looking down at the everlasting row of green trees with your back against a cool granite slab, I understood why I started this multi-pitch climb. Where else could you feel the dangerous rush of adrenaline that lasts 600 feet, the satisfaction of summiting, and the beautiful burn in my forearms besides climbing rocks?
            There’s a never-ending list of options when it comes to climbing. I’m not forced to pick one medium of rock, or one style of climbing, which keeps my climbing more interesting and exhilarating since I’m forever changing up my style. I’ve climbed granite, sandstone, quartzite, limestone, slab, overhang, and vertical walls. I’ve climbed both indoor and outdoors, including top-roping, lead-climbing, bouldering, sport-climbing, and traditional climbing. How can I possibly get bored from all of these options?
Although these terms may be confusing, allow me to dive into a story that may explain a few things. Three days before I left the sunny state of California for the intimidating city of New York, I climbed in Yosemite National Park. Although the temperature was well above 90° F, the wall rose above my companions and I in almost a taunting fashion. When I climbed the first pitch of the inviting rock it involved many painful and intricate hand and finger jams in an unforgiving crack. Forcing my hands, tips of my feet, and my delicate fingers into this burning hot rock only shot more fire through me, that pushed me to get to the top of this mountain. After climbing the first 130 feet, we could look down and see other climbers beginning to climb. Feeling the rush of seeing how high we already were, our party pushed onto the next stretch of climb, or pitch. After five pitches of beautiful granite underneath our fingertips, we reached the final pitch. This one hundred foot stretch dropped off on both sides, showing one of the most magnificent views of the valley floor. With the sun behind us, we could see clearly how green the top of the trees were, how many people were splashing in the cool river, and the sparkling granite that we had just climbed. The satisfaction of completing a hard climb started to set in as I stepped one foot up at a time, with the span of the entire valley on either side of me.
This fashion of climbing continued all the way onto the top of this 600-foot rock, where all around was a panoramic view of one of the country’s national parks. Historic rocks rose from all directions, including Half Dome and El Capitan, two very famous and exhilarating climbs. Just glancing at the faces and thinking of the technical moves and dangerous heights made my hands sweat in anticipation. Not only was I dreaming of climbing harder and longer, but I couldn’t help to notice the beautiful scenery of this natural valley.
After climbing down the back of the mountain, amid dirt paths, thousands of trees, and with smiles on our faces; we had arrived back at the start of the climb. As we looked up to see what we had conquered, our faces broke out into bigger smiles. We began to realize how hard we worked to climb 600 feet, and how much more beautiful it was from the top. After giving one last good look, we turned around, and returned to the car so we could find another route to climb.
Climbing isn’t just about the exercise or the burn in your forearms. Climbing can also be about the natural beauty of this planet earth, or about how much adrenaline you can feel pulsing through your body for an extended period of time. Have you ever walked outside of your house, or hiked somewhere, and admired how beautiful some parts of this earth are? Imagine that admiration and content feeling whenever you’re outside climbing mixed with rushing adrenaline. It’s the thing I live for, that feeling of euphoria from the surroundings and from the physical exertion. I live for the feeling of passion bubbling inside me, as I’m about to step onto a rock. There aren’t many things in life that give me as strong of a rush of endorphins than scaling mountains, bouldering short walls, or being outside in the fresh air doing something that I love.

Taken October 2011, halfway up a climb in Yosemite.

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