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The Reason I Climb


Submitted by boulderinemt on 2003-04-24 | Last Modified on 2010-02-26

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I started out "climbing" about four years ago. Our family took a vacation to the Columbian Icefields in Alberta, Canada. We had four point crampons, the kind ice fishers use, to walk around on a glacier for an hour with a guide. I got to talking to him, pointing out a mountain on the skyline. I asked him, "Do people climb that?" He told me, "Yes, and if you come back I will take you up there." I was hooked. I went out in the hills when we got home, and started trying to climb something that must have been about v negative 10, in my boots and blue jeans. There was just something, some kind of power I felt when I finally broke through to the top. As I progressed I started getting better, and started hanging around a shop in a distant town, Pipestone Mountaineering. At last, I felt like I belonged somewhere. There was such a comradere there. Sure I was just a 14 year old snotty nosed brat, but, they knew I loved to climb and helped me out however they could.

As things started to move along in my life, there was one constant. If I could get out in the hills, to my crag, my little private spot, nothing could touch me. People were dieing in car accidents, and I was too young to really understand just what that meant. I wouldn't be able to be around them anymore, and dammit, kids that are 14 years old feel invincible, and never die! When I was on that rock, busting through the crux, and finally sending it, I had a power, and I felt close to my friends that I had lost. Their favorite places were out in the mountains, skiing, hiking, whatever.

At 15, I got into Ski Patrol. 16 years old, I was a certified Outdoor Emergency Care Technician. Thats alot of baggage for someone that young to handle. I started having nightmares, the "What-Ifs" of some of my patients. There were days I was so drained that I couldn't function. I came home and broke down. But, when I was on that rock, when I was working on those problems, I never felt better. I could have had the day from hell, and it wouldn't have mattered. It was, and still is my therapy.

It's hard to explain to a non-climber just how strongly I feel about this. I think everyone reading this knows how I feel though. This last year has been an absolute hell for me. I had my first patient die, a 2 yo girl, had an engagement break up, have had numerous friends die. One of them was Larry Surface, a very good friend of mine. We were supposed to go climb the highest peak in Beaverhead County, Tory Mountain. The loss of him has finally settled down, but I am heading up there this summer. When I am out on that rock, I am with him. He was a close friend, and a very nice man to boot. I don't know where I would be now if it wasn't for him. He taught me the ediquette of the moutains, the pureness of them. He showed me respect for them, and he shared his love of them with me.

This summer, I'm going to be out fighting wildfire. The moutains have given me a new meaning in life, and I want to be able to help them how I can. I have a new climbing partner, and hopefully will be getting out all the time. I am dedicating a climb of my friends up Tory Mountain in memory of Larry, and trying to move on in life. They say there is nothing certain in life, except death and taxes. I beg to differ. There will always be the mountains, the crag, my escape. No matter where I go, no matter what happens, I can always find peace at rockside. There is no better place than at a crag to remember old friends, and theres no better way to forget the crap in life. All you think about is left foot here, right foot there, lets send this beast. When you get to the top, everything comes together, and it's the best feeling in the world.

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