"Not all those who wander are lost"

What does a dirtbag do without climbing?

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

-Douglas Adams

 

Bishop is a great place to climb and meet climbers.  Unfortunately early October is not the time for either.  After hanging out with Cliff and his great crew of monkeys in the Yosemite, Bishop was shockingly empty, which only added to the melancholy of leaving the valley.

On my first day in town I headed to Owens River Gorge to try to find someone to climb with.  I accosted the first group that showed up, asking if I could climb with them.  They said yes and we headed down into the Gorge.  We climbed a bit and I fixed a line and ran a few more laps when they headed out.

(Photo by Phillip Tearse)

Another dirtbag, Phill, showed up and camped with me in the Pinyons.  We climbed together for a couple days then I headed to the Happies to boulder for a day.  Without a book I wandered around climbing whatever looked good and a few problems I remembered from the year before.

I found one problem I remembered trying.  It was a V3 with a V5 sit start.  Or maybe it was a V5 with a V8 sit start.  I figured I might as well try the sit start and see how it goes.  I sat down and grabbed the crimps and pulled.  Pain shot through my right middle finger.  No popping or bad noise, but I tried again and more pain.  Oh crap.

I didn’t quite realize how bad it was so I moved on to another problem and kept climbing.  I found Solarium which I had spent an afternoon trying the last year and put it down in the first five minutes.

More excited about feeling that I had improved than worried my finger was badly injured I headed to the buttermilks to try a V5 that had denied me.  I found it and felt like I could dispatch it fairly quickly, but the steep crimpy nature soon made my finger hurt even more.  When the pain persisted I decided to call it a day.

I spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong with my finger and came to the concussion that I had a partially ruptured or strained A2 pulley.  I took a rest day then spent the next several days climbing no harder than 5.10 in hopes that I could do some easy climbing and lit my finger heal.  Finally after 4 days of climbing 10’s I accepted what I had feared all along.  My finger wasn’t getting better while I kept climbing and it wasn’t going to.  I had to stop climbing.

What do you do when you devote yourself to one thing in life then it’s taken away?  It sounds dramatic, but I had just spent 16 months of my life focused on climbing.  I left home, lost contact with friends, and let girls walk away in the pursuit of one passion.  I felt like the beautiful painting of my life, full of colors, cliffs, and friends, had been transformed into a new coloring book.  The outline remained, but all the color and life was gone.

So what do you do?  Mope some, start running more to keep in shape, slackline, work on learning guitar, go find somewhere to hang out that isn’t an international climbing destination, and hang out with C-list celebrities.

I headed to LA to hang out with my friends David and Amanda.  It saved me.  Amanda was putting on a fundraiser for her work, Animal Defenders International, the weekend I got there so I had something to do that wasn’t climbing and even took my mind off how much it sucked that I wasn’t climbing.  I jumped in with both feet and the three of us ended up putting in around 20 hours over the weekend setting up, working the fundraiser, and cleaning up.
It was a serious culture shock to go from living in a tent to hanging out in a multi-million dollar mansion overlooking Hollywood.  I went from not seeing more than 2 people a day to seeing Bob Barker, serving hors d’oeuvres to Corey Feldman (‘mouth’ from The Goonies), and chatting with Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle from CSI).  Not to mention eating delicious catered vegan food in place of my usual oatmeal, PB&J, and pasta.

I was still hanging out in LA, trying to figure out what I should do next and hoping that I would be able to climb soon when I got an email from a friend.
“Want to come to Greece?”

 

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