If you had asked me prior to mid-November what I wanted to do with my life, my response would have been, “Finish grad school then go on a road trip, beginning with Hueco.” I had been living in Birmingham, AL for 3.5 years and as a newcomer to single town, I was ready to move on with my life. To prepare financially I was working 40+ hour weeks at Seattle Drip Coffee Co (a drive-thru coffee hut) then working nights at First Avenue Rocks bouldering gym. Throughout late summer and fall I managed those jobs, grad school, and 3-day climbing weekends. The result? Horrible tendinitis, a fractured finger, and no love life. But I digress…
In October my grad school advisor emailed me about an ESL (English as a second language) teaching job. I had told her on multiple occasions that I would be willing to move anywhere that had mountains and climbing nearby, but that I was okay with not teaching again for a while (I had a really bad experience last school year). This particular job was a random opening in Avery County, NC. An interview and three weeks’ worth of waiting later I had myself a job in the region where I learned how to climb nearly ten years ago. Its not often in life that you are in such a position that you can drop everything and move, which is exactly what I did.
Since I began my new job on 11/28 I have moved into a place in Banner Elk that I found on Craigslist, graduated with my ESL master’s in education, turned over the keys to my old B’ham apartment, and gone bouldering in my “new” (I lived in Boone during undergrad) area every possible moment. Now that I’ve caught you up just a bit on how I wound-up here, let’s get to the climbing:
When I last lived here I did easy trad climbing in the Linville Gorge, on Table Rock, and Shiprock. I bouldered at Blowing Rock boulders and went to Grandmother and 221 boulders maybe once or twice each place. At that time in my climbing career I went to the New pretty frequently and down to my “home” crag of Crowder’s Mountain for sport action. I was not good at or psyched on bouldering then, so every outing in the past month has provided me with fresh rock and tons of new problems. The planets aligned at the HP40 leg of Triple Crown and I met the best local Boone guide I could have asked for. Since my move, Leif has kept me in the loop and as a result, I’ve been enjoying bro power as much as possible. I hope the guys are accepting of me as an addition to their crew!
I shall attempt to recap the classic climbs I’ve done since my relocation. By that I mean these are problems I would take people to and ones that earned a place in my memory:
Rumbling Bald: Crescent Crack V2
Lost Cove: Patio Arete V4, The Hook (? problem to the left of Rent-all Arete) V4?, Lunatic Arete V3
Blowing Rock: Smart Tom V4, The Horn V2, Harvester V4
221: Dump Arete V4
I managed a quick send of Helicopter Sit at the Bald, and though its a rare occasion for me to do big moves so easily I can’t call this problem a classic.
In the spirit of New Year’s I’ll list my current projects as resolutions. I’ve also read that it helps to put your climbing aspirations in writing so we’ll see!
Druid Roof – 221
Mike’s Face – 221
*this is THE prettiest boulder problem I think I’ve ever seen.
A Sign of the Times – 221
(this may be the wrong name; I’ve tried quite a few things lately)
Center 45 – Blowing Rock
*by the way, I’m upgrading this to V5. Get over it.
Stonehouse – Blowing Rock
Sleeping in the Devil’s Bed – the Bald
Rotator Cuff – the Bald
Kung Fu Grip – the Bald
Lost Cove Cranks – Lost Cove
Matt’s Prow – Lost Cove
Finally, I realize that this has been a boring post but if I didn’t get this stuff out of my head at some point I was going to experience climbing-ADD, forgetting where I’ve been/what I’ve done/who I’ve done it with. Haha! See previous comment about how all of this grad school-moving back to NC-new teaching job-tons of climbing have prevented a love life and you’ll know I’m joking.
And today’s musing: Topping out new problems, especially classics, is an awesome experience. Get over the grade attachment sometime and just climb a problem for its aesthetic value. I may not have been climbing at the top of my ability on every single problem listed above but they were each memorable climbs. It is great to finally live somewhere that I can enjoy sending classics!!!