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Hey Loser


by Todd Segraves

July 21, 2003

Kansas is just awful. I tell myself this every 5 minutes since I returned to the Sunflower state to visit family and friends. It was actually less than two weeks. But that doesn't matter. I was born in Kansas and lived there for 21 years before finally deciding that it was time for something else.

I sold most of belongings and headed for the Temple. That place of such beauty and dramatic landscapes that instantly forces you to strive for something more. I'm naturally talking about Yosemite Valley. Two long days on a bus had me wanting to leave the Valley before I had arrived. This feeling lasted about one second after seeing Arch Rock and wondering if that was one of the Cathedral Rocks. Or maybe even bigger.

I settled into the Valley the way most climbers do. Spend a good portion of the summer in Camp 4, that fabled place of tall stories and not too much else. And like many before me I was overwhelmed at first. The small rocks were huge and the bad climbers were good. I avoided climbing as much as possible for the first two months or so. By this time I was working in the park for that wonderful company Yosemite Concessionare Services. I started making friends and began feeling at home among the giant pine trees and the bends of the Merced River. I started getting back into climbing. Slowly for sure, but I was feeling happy about it. For the first time in a long time I felt that the only reason I was climbing was for fun. I was no longer trying to impress anyone or to out-climb someone else. I was climbing with my roommate, a beginner, and we were doing easy climbs. I felt great about myself. In November my roommate left and I once again found myself climbing at a very slow pace. But I yearned to climb at this point. I felt myself improving and didn't want that feeling to end. I found another partner and began climbing at the boring interval of once per week. It was enough to keep me from losing the strength, confidence, and technique I had finally improved upon, but not enough climbing for much else. Through the winter climbing had almost disappeared from my routine activities. If I was lucky, I would manage one or two routes a month with a random boulder problem or two tossed in for good measure.

Then in February as I was walking to my cabin, I hear from a distance "Hey Loser". I look over to see which of my jackass friends is yelling at me, only to realize that my roommate Jason was back. It was almost as if my guardian angel had arrived. We exchanged greetings and chatted briefly about our respective winters. Five minutes after getting home I had my rack organized in my pack, my rope coiled, and a list of climbs that may be dry and warm in the middle of winter. When I ran into Jason only moments before neither of us mentioned climbing. We didn't have to. When I walked away I knew he had come back for one reason: to climb. And he knew that I stayed through the winter for the same reason. That night I met up with Jason for pizza and a couple of beers. As I walk up to the table he's at, he glances up at me, and with a big grin on his face says "Todd, we need to climb soon".

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