Climbing for beauty

Ah yes, there you are 2012. It’s good to see you. Really good.

It’s been beautiful in California this winter, with literally no rain for the past month, lots of sun, and crispy air. The snow-sport lovers and natural ecosystem have been begging for rain and snow, but as a climber, I’m in heaven. A few days after the New Year I headed down to Bishop, California, with Alex, a few crash pads and our climbing shoes. Bishop is already that place that every climber drools over, with abundant boulders, all of them tall enough to break your leg and scare the shit out of you if your head starts taking over, with beautiful rock that loves up on your fingers as if all the features were made for a human hand, and with views of the Sierras like an Ansel Adams photograph. The lines that these rocks offer make you move in a way that just feels good, and I find myself craving those same movements this morning as I write this. There are no tourists and no fees to pay, it still has that wild feeling that so many places have lost. Yes, Bishop is perfect. It is. But this season, it was particularly dreamy because of the winterless winter that California has had. I wore a t-shirt as I climbed the sunny, 60-degree days, and as I stood on top of the massive boulders I looked out over a vast, open valley that stretched right up to the base of the snowless Sierras.

In January.

Needless to say, Bishop has been on my mind.

The trip down to Bishop was different from other climbing outings. Climbing, for me, has always come along with a sense of frustration, to some degree. Even if it’s just a moment of damnit Georgie, just get your ass up this thing, thoughts of anger and irritation accompany my climbs.

But not in Bishop.

I don’t know if it was the beautiful setting, the fact that I wasn’t freezing my ass off like I every other year of winter bouldering, the rock that bit back on my finger pads, the winter sun or the cleansing air, but this girl did not think one firey thought the entire time we were down there. I was having fun and truly enjoying the stretch, pull, and power that climbing offers a body.

And let’s get one thing straight–I was NOT sending (completing any routes). Not at all. I wasn’t finishing anything hard, and neither was Alex. This usually sets a tone of frustration, and initiates a desperate quest to find a hard route that is finishable. But not this time. I surrendered to the fact that Bishop grades and Bishop routes were going to kick my ass. And that’s when it all changed.

It had to. Most of the routes that I’d like to be climbing in Bishop are just too big and too bad for what I am capable of right now.


One of the smallest boulders in Bishop.

One of the smallest boulders in Bishop.


I realized that I might as well be climbing for beauty. What line offers the most beautiful moves, the most beautiful rock? Difficulty didn’t matter anymore and neither did if I finished them. It was just about the movements and how the route made me feel. And because Bishop is the shit, I had a lot of routes to choose from that were gorgeous and made me feel good.



Yoga started becoming amazing and more effective too, when a while ago I let go of the idea that sticking some arm balance would make me happy, that handstand scorpion would make me a better person, that practicing every day would give me answers. Now, I do the poses that make my body feel the best, and every day that means something different.

When it was time for Alex to leave and go back to Georgia for his last year at school, it was discussed (and had been discussed for a little while) that being in a long distance relationship was taking its toll, that trying to force this to work wasn’t in fact working, that it was time for us to spend some time alone, and that we should, ya know, break up. Yeah. Sad stuff like that.

I still really love him.

I’ve learned more about myself from a field of boulders and a yoga mat than anything else in this life. Solidified minerals and eco-friendly rubber have been my best teachers. This winter as I breathe across a rock or through my morning yoga practice, I am reminded that sometimes we must let go of doing the most difficult asana or route, of completing some lofty New Years resolution, of grinding and fighting to be the best or better, of holding on to relationships and situations that are difficult, of being the biggest and the baddest. Sometimes, it’s true, the rock is too big, the route too hard, our hips just not quite open enough, and the fight not worth the toll it will take on our hearts.

And all of that is okay. It is.

In Bishop I let go of climbing hard (I didn’t really have a choice), instead I climbed for what looked the coolest, the prettiest, the most bad ass, the route that would make me feel the best. I’m pretty sure I smiled for every moment of that trip. Even in my sleep. And that’s what I plan to do for the rest of 2012, too.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brent Abel
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 09:43:53

    Great stuff G. Enough said …



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