October 30, 2007

what's the big deal anyway?

So, what's the big deal about mixed climbing anyway? Why do i get so excited about it? Is it because all of the cool kids are doing it? Or maybe because the chicks dig it...? Yeah, i think that's it! Six or seven years ago things were a lot different for me. I was in a different place in my life. I had different ideals, philosophy's, and motivations. I craved alpine mixed routes and disdained sport mixed climbing. Yet I'd spend days on end sport climbing in the summer. It seems so strange to me now as i look back on it.

The chosen ones say that pure ice climbing is easy. Last time i checked, it was still pretty hard for me... I'm serious. Then there was all of the hype in the Mag's which made mixed climbing even more marketable to the masses. Sport mixed routes developed overnight by the dozens. I never could understand why someone would want to climb a cave route with tools and spikes just to reach a little tiny drip of ice. It was so silly to me and I simply brushed it off with the notion that it's a lot more fun in the summer with rock shoes and shorts. The whole time i was all about scratching my way up challenging mixed terrain like the North Face/East Chimney of Mt. Wister in the Tetons. Don't let the 5.6 summer rock rating fool you! Or exploring the highly esteemed Grand Teton north side mixed routes. And after a few trips to the Canadian Rockies for more alpine knowledge, I really started to catch a glimpse of the mixed alpine potential in the central mountains of Idaho during various trips. Go figure, choss climbing is universal! Things were starting to make sense now with how special mixed climbing is in the mountains.

So what was the big deal about sport mixed climbing that i didn't get? The time came that i needed to evaluate some serious things in my life and try to understand why i continually felt held back. Some said it was a relationship. Others said it was religion. Both made sense, but i wanted to know for myself. So instead of dealing with important issues like relationships and religion, i started to look at my climbing ideals. As that winter in Jackson Hole progressed i looked hard at why i did things, and even harder at why i didn't do things. I can't really say if there was a Divine moment of insight or not, but i came to understand that i was holding myself back by identifying things as less worthy, like sport mixed climbing. It all came together after that. Relationships. Religion. All because of sport mixed climbing! Who would have thought that true happiness comes from the acceptance of mixed climbing...

Okay, seriously now. I'll get to the point. The reality is that one aspect of climbing is not superior than another - or more importantly, less worthy than another. To think so is personally limiting. Sport mixed climbing is fun. Sport climbing is fun. Alpine climbing is fun. Traditional climbing is fun. Bouldering is fun. Catch what I'm puttin' down?!?! Mixed climbing at a cragging level has become one of my favorite avenues for artistic movement and route development. I shudder to think what i could have missed out on by maintaining a belief that this style of climbing was less important to the "big picture" of what i wanted to do. It is a lot easier to focus on what i want to do now with this understanding and not be hindered by mental limitations.

So what is the big deal anyway? I think it's more about the freedom of personal recognition in that all things are equal in my eyes. Knowing i can challenge myself and have fun with any medium of climbing and not hold myself back with an ideal that what i am doing is more important than something else. I think if you've forgotten it's fun, you've forgotten climbing...