Thursday, March 28, 2013

Clear Creek Thaw

It is also unnatural to haul your cookies up 85 feet of vertical rock, clipping into bolts that are spaced 10 feet apart with only a rope threaded through and a belayer at the bottom to (hopefully, most times) catch you before you hit the ground or a ledge or other nasty obstruction to wholeness of life and limb. Yet I did it today.

And loved it.

My lead head is coming back to me. Today was all about being humbled, reassessing, and then pushing through to the shiny light at the end of the tunnel - the anchors at the top of the climb. Last night I bought the Clear Creek Canyon guidebook, pored and drooled over the thing, thinking "we can do this one, and that one, and, and, and..." I had myself pegged as the climbing star of the cliff, shooting up these climbs as comfortably as I've been leading in the gym.

Not so fast there, Texas.

I got on an 8 first and nearly wet myself trying the tricky bouldering move to get to the FIRST CLIP. As in lots and lots of grounding potential. And not only grounding potential, but guaranteed scrapes against jaggedy schist and gneiss. Not nice. I  walked myself out onto a ledge - way far from the first clip and shook there for a few minutes. Meanwhile my climbing partner tried to talk me out of my tree -- or off my cliff, as it were. I bailed. I downclimbed and let her have a go at it. She got the first clip, but then was too scared to go to the second. I got on again and finished that route for us.

Which made me really glad that it was a weekday on a 50 degree, somewhat cloudy day.

Most climbers do not take three attacks to get up a route. Especially an 8! So I was humblized. I topped that one again just to dial into the rock and then went on to lead another 8, a 10a, a three-star 9, rounding out the day with a 7 on a new crag. By the end of the day, I was feeling strong and wrapped around the rock and the movement, NOT my fear and risk analysis. I trust my shoes, I trust my serpentine movement, clinging to the rock, moving upward along it, feeling for the crimp, planting a toe, edging on a ledge.

At one point I needed to switch hands in a hueco. I slowly snaked the left out of the hold, arcing it over to my left while walking the fingers of my right hand from the middle of the hueco to the outside left edge of it thereby enabling me to reach a better hold with my left hand. Tiny, controlled, mindful-breathing movements allow you to translate yourself along the wall.

All this was trust was relearned with Clear Creek gurgling in the background, its cold water flowing over rock and ice. Chilly beauty, thawing, like me, for the summer climbs to come.

Route record:
Pony Up 5.8
Poker Face 5.8 or 5.9
Ace in the Hole 5.10a
5th of July 5.9+
Halloween 5.7

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Body Comes Home

It is unnatural to race into the day. To embrace hecticity with a cup of coffee in hand. To clutch and pinch and brace for the big brainwork and the cheering coaxing that is teaching. It is unnatural. Yet it's what I do most mornings.

Over this spring break, I feel the natural. I indulge and revel in it. Wake up, yes, with a cup of coffee in hand, but then... move from one thing to the next, knowing that no one thing is more urgent than the other. I have T-I-M-E. The children are not going to press, colleagues are not going to need, my content is not screaming to be broken into meaningful, digestible-by-seventh-grader chunks.

It is just me. Moving from one thing to the next, feeling the muscles that last night's yoga found and, by virtue of their non-participation in this morning's squalling, the ones that were slinking on the sidelines.

This is my new balance, this partnership of yoga and climbing. If I weren't in this quiet, bodhisattva, body-satisfied place, I'd be screeching "Eureka!" from the Front Range peaks. Instead I'll whisper on my blog, Climbing + Yoga = contentment, balance, healing, strength. 

My body is coming home.