“The Peabody boulders felt even higher than they were. The heat made me weak, so I picked just one route on each boulder, being careful to scout the down climbs, some of which could be five-bolt sport routes. Starting up was like stepping into my adolescent climbing fantasies. There was a sense of being in church. I set hands and feet as meticulously as chalices on the altar, tiptoeing up climb after climb until, after two hours, I realized that epiphany never comes to an insistent mind; I was taking it all way too seriously. Time to visit the high country.” –Jeff Achey, Climbing Magazine
It was with sore legs, scabbed hands, and tears in my eyes that I read those words. Ethan, Spenser and I thumbed through old, tattered copies of Climbing Magazine as we waited for our laundry to dry in Comfy’s laundromat. The haggard legs and hands were due to Angel’s Crest–a fun, adventurous route up the Chief, and the tears, well, they were from being homesick. Or maybe I wasn’t homesick, maybe I was just exhausted, tired from climbing and how everything in Squamish turns gray when the clouds come over. I don’t know. Rest days always mess with my head.
I had to get out of there, the air in the laundromat was stagnant and hot, the hum from the dryers stopped sounding comforting and started feeling like they were nagging me, relentlessly tugging on my attention. I walked out front and left the boys in Comfy’s to talk about the routes that look rad and climbing shoes from the 90’s and how climbing used to be, you know, back when it was still special.
As I sat on that curb and looked out toward the forest, gray and blurred from distant rain, I felt fear start to sink its teeth into me with its poisonous bite. What are you doing, Georgie? Ya know, like with your life? You’re about to be kicked off of your parent’s health insurance, you’re almost 26, another year of swearing you’ll settle down somewhere soon, get a job, start helping people, contributing in some way. But here you are, broke and directionless, living in a car and climbing up rocks every day.
I’ve been climbing all over the boulders and up the granite walls, day after day begging for some kind of sign or message, some kind of direction about what to do. How do I do this, with all of my random skills and mismatched experiences, how do all of these things that I’ve been through piece together in something that makes sense, something that will be helpful?
I’m a few pitches up the Grand Wall, head tilted back and looking up at the iconic Split Pillar. The simplicity of the crack is beautiful, the fact that it is the means in which I get to climb up this rock is humbling, I can’t wait to sink my hands into the weakness. A truck honks its horn on the highway below me, the sound makes my eyes get wide and jerks my attention down to the road. The cars look no bigger than Hot Wheels from up here as they drive along the 99. The Chief parking lot is crawling with people, a school bus, a tour group huddled together pointing up to where I am on the wall, it takes a moment for me to realize that they are looking at me and Ethan. I wave just once, wondering if they saw me pee on the last pitch. I look out at Howe Sound, the otherwise wild-looking view pierced with power lines and so. many. humans. Every once in a while I hear the sounds of industry, something metallic clanging, loud and alarming, something crashing and breaking. It sounds far too much like rock fall. I buzz like the power lines, on edge and crackling. I try to shut my ears off, quiet things down, I mentally remove the power lines from the view, the logging business, the town, the parking lots, the Walmart, the apartment complexes, the highway and the cars start to dissolve, all the people go home. Now it’s wild. Now it’s quiet. This is where I want to be climbing, where it’s special. This is how it used to be, before. Before what exactly, I don’t know.
I climb the Split Pillar with a heart that misses the Sierras.
The Sierras, where divinity is just downright obvious. I don’t have to go searching or begging, removing certain items from the view, closing my ears. Those mountains are full of signs and symbols and direction, I come out of there just knowing that things are good, that this life is one of blessings, that all is well, glowing and in love with everyone I meet.
A white moth lands on my wrist as I sit on the curb outside of Comfy’s. It’s the forth moth that’s landed on me this week. The other ones didn’t really register, just another bug to wave off, except for the one that I accidentally killed as I tried to flick it off my forearm. Despite purposely killing dozens of mosquitos, for some reason I can’t stop feeling guilty about that one moth. It has become one of those things that I think about and apologize for as I’m falling asleep. And now, another one, brighter than the others, is pumping its wings on the bone of my wrist. I bring it close to my face, squinting to focus on its details. Its wings are flaky and paper-like, the small legs tickle my skin. Moths and butterflies have always made me uneasy for some reason, I don’t like being around them.
Although I have been having a lot of fun in Canada, things have felt confusing here, a frantic search for answers. I chalked it up to the urban feel of Squamish, its rain, its crowds, but really, as usual, it was just me being a brat, being unaware, closing my ears and my eyes to all that is happening, taking it all way too seriously.
The moth scares me but I make myself stare right at it. It stills for a moment and then flutters away with a gust of wind. I watch it dance and twist with the air until my eyes lose it, it blurs into the landscape.
I am hand-over-hand traversing on a wildly exposed fin of granite, a pitch on Angel’s Crest called the Acrophobes. I grasp the top of the fin with both hands and start laughing out loud as I move my feet, I am literally squealing with joy. The climbing is so fun that it makes everything just seem hilarious. I can’t be bothered with placing gear. This is where I want to be, I just want to hang out up here, put on some Robyn and have a dance party right here, right now, I want all of my friends with me, each and every one of you, my squeals get louder, I wish this pitch would go on for hundreds of feet, my hair flutters in the wind, my cheeks hurt from smiling. And thankfully, because I’m a very lucky girl, I have my boyfriend, who is laughing at me laughing on the other end of my rope, so things feel pretty damn perfect.
Finally, I was out of my head, out of my thoughts, no longer begging and searching, I was just climbing, letting myself be pulled by something I love very much.
Okay I can’t keep it in any longer. YOU GUYS, yesterday I got an email saying that I am the winner of the John Horn sport climbing award, a grant from the good people over at the American Alpine Club. So guess what?
I AM GOING MULTI-PITCH SPORT CLIMBING IN SARDINIA IN OCTOBER.
Yeah, I know!
I won the generous grant by writing a little something about myself and why/where I wanted to go sport climbing, and it turns out I convinced the right people that it would be a good idea to give me some money to go climb rocks. It was mostly due to this blog that I was granted the award, so I guess writing for free for four years is starting to pay off in a great way, in a very big way, I’m talkin’ ITALY AND ROCK CLIMBING.
Guys, do you know what that means?! It means that when you GET AFTER IT, every single day, when you just do the things that make you LAUGH YOUR BOOTY OFF, like how you did when you were young, when you quit with all the DEMANDS for answers and signs, then GOOD SHIT HAPPENS. The key is to just KEEP GOING and STOP TAKING SHIT SO SERIOUSLY because THERE IS DIVINITY AND OMENS EVERYWHERE, not just in the GOD DAMN SIERRAS. Because ya know what, things ARE unfolding in the TIME and MANNER in which THEY ABSOLUTELY SHOULD, just REMEMBER and HOLD CLOSE what it is that makes you feel SUPER WILD AND IN LOVE, no matter how insignificant or grand it seems to your DUMB ASS EGO, that if you let your heart beat for THOSE THINGS, if they are your MOTHEREFFIN COMPASS, then good things will happen because you will ALWAYS be in the RIGHT PLACE and your aim, FOREVER TRUE.
Sorry for all the obnoxious capitalization but I am really happy right now, and more importantly I’ve learned something pretty valuable about how things work down here, how the world goes round, about how just simply doing what makes you feel good every day is enough, it’s more than enough, it’s THE WAY.
I don’t have any more answers about this life I’m living today than I had a few weeks ago, other than what I’m doing is just fine, that somehow my love for rock climbing and yoga and teaching and working with kids and traveling and writing will all fit together in a tangible way very, very soon. I can feel it.
Be well and thank you for reading,