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Adventure Is Where You Find It


by Jeff

February 02, 2004

It was one of those moments. You know what I mean, right?

It was a moment when I could feel... well... happy? Perhaps "happy" isn't the right term. "Satisified" might be better.

I had it all: My trusted partner, perfect weather, and a vertical world.

A word or two about my partner, if I may. Not only is she a good climber, but also a trusted friend. I've had the chance to share stories, dreams, and ideas. We've talked about our past, our present, and our hopes for the future. She knows my goals, and I know hers. It's a bond that goes beyond a simple "Watch Me!" call. It's a solid relationship that can only be forged when two people share adventure after adventure. So lucky am I, really.

Now, you must understand that "perfect weather" is an ambiguous term. For some people, "perfect weather" means 82 degrees, sunny skies, and a cool ocean breeze. For others, "perfect weather" might involve 34 degrees, clouds above, and just enough warmth to turn brittle ice into plastic ice. Still others might find a day of 60 degrees and sporadic sun to be "perfect weather." Perfect weather is whatever you deem it to be, and who is to tell you what is right or wrong?

Now, back to the vertical world I mentioned... I'll let you read my thoughts, and you can make your own judgements.

Left Leg: I'm in a pretty solid stance. I've got good feet, though they're uneven and spread a bit. My left leg is parallel to the ground, with a BOMBER heel press. These shoes of mine are great... I get good edging, and the rubber on the sole sticks more than the clutch on my Jeep. I work my foot around a bit, just to see if there is a better way to position it, in anticipation of upward movement. Nothing doing, so I return to the original stance.

Right Leg: I've got my right leg under me, and my weight is on my big toe. When I was younger, I often wondered how a ballerina could possibly support her weight on ONE toe. It was a constant source of amazement for a lad of 10 years. Now, some 20+ years later, I can better understand. The big toe, while an ugly apparatus on most people, is a highly functional piece of anatomy. Nice thing to have. Even better to have one on each foot.

Left hand: Huge jug, and one I could hang from all day, if not for the fingernail I ripped short last night. I was listening to the Indiana University basketball game on the radio, and it was a tight game (IU won, but in OT, and it wasn't pretty.) I've been an IU fan since I was old enough to pee in the potty, and I chew my nails when they're in close games. Back in 86, when they won it all over Syracuse on a jumper by Keith Smart with 4 seconds left, I had chewed my nails to the point they were bleeding. Ditto for the 91 game against Duke (IU lost,) in the Final Four, and again in 2003 when they played the National Semifinals (they won that game, but lost to Maryland in the finals.) So, left hand is bomber, but my fingernails hurt.

Right hand: Pretty solid as well, but not bomber. Again, I experiment to try and find a better grip, but can't find one, so I return to the three finger open grip. Looking at the hold, I see a faint hint of chalk, a certain sign of climbers from times past. I wonder if they felt as I do now -- Happy, secure, and alive -- but the chalk won't tell. I ask the holds to speak to me, but all I get is the eerie silence. I wonder from where these other climbers hail... Denver, like myself? Boulder? Perhaps the Springs? Maybe they are from some far off place... Iowa, Missouri, Texas? Do they even have a home, or are they nomadic in nature, wandering with the winds, like so many leaves blown about the lands?

My body is pressed tight to keep my center of gravity from pulling me off, and I crane my neck to look up. THAT hurts, cause I slept "wrong" last night and awoke with a stiff neck. Pain can be a good thing sometimes, as it is the body's way of telling the brain "Hey! Something ain't right down here!" but as climbers, we are accustomed to pain as a natural part of our life. Climbing should be fun, to a degree, but it's also not the most pleasant activity in the world. Soaking in a hot tub with the Swedish Bikini Team... Now that's pleasant. I have this vision of a hot tub, four lovely frauleins beside me, a bottle of Pinot Grigio stuck in the snow, and a David Sanborn jazz CD playing in the background. The women would say things like "Oh, Herr Jeff... may I massage your shoulders?" and "Herr Jeff, tell us again about your adventures on El Cap." But as I have never been to El Cap, Swedish women don't speak German, and I haven't been able to afford wine that doesn't come with a screw top for 2 months, I leave the vision for another day.

So there I am... Great partner, perfect weather, vertical world, feet, hands, and visions. Everything is in place. I smile to myself, reveling in the moment. I hear my partner below call up to me:

"Jeff, are you going to move anytime soon? I've only got 15 minutes left on my lunch break, and I want to do two other lines on the other side of the gym."

Adventure is where you find it.

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