Coal miners in England used to bring a “Dudley” down into the pit with them. It was a bottle of water to keep them from dying of thirst down there (they also brought “snap”-bread and jam). My “Dudley” is the name of my beloved sprinter van and today we are leaving Boulder!
I’m driving to the Black Canyon for a couple days and then onto Yosemite. It’s felt really good to come back to Boulder and touch a bit of the emptiness I feel around breaking up with my partner Lizzy. I think I made the decision fairly consciously though and know I’ve been pushing her away, so here I am. This time feels like another opportunity to let go of expectations that I continue to preoccupy myself over. Tom and Elizabeth, my dear dear surrogate parents, thank you for housing and grounding me this week in Boulder. And thank you friends for hugs and love. Perhaps wherever I go it’s possible to feel at home. Boulder, however, is a damn fine place to call home.
Yesterday, a number of friends and I went to Rock of Ages in Rocky Mountain National Park. Chris Barlow, Becca Schild, Dana Larkin, Alex MacPherson, Dan __? We even ran into Naomi and Mike at the crag! Yay friends! I was so happy to be up in that beautiful environment before leaving town. It’s been HOT here this week, but a building cloud coverage made for perfect climbing temp. Chris and I went to the stunning upper tier headwall. There isn’t anything to warm up on for me there, so I got right on “The Wasp.” I got worked on lead–learning the gear and the moves of this route. The rock and movement on this route are incredible. Patience. Patience with my footwork seemed to be key to staying cool and collected. I tried the route a second time on top-rope and felt very in control. Then Chris sent it on lead with authority! And then Alex walked up and flashed it on top rope. I promptly got on the “send train,” as we American climbers like to say, and redpointed the route as well. It was a lucky feeling day with friends. Chris and I spoke about choice and our egos and propensity to challenge ourselves constantly and try to do everything well. He is trying to shift to channelling gratitude for having climbing goals instead of stress over trying to achieve something.
Moving on, I’d like to insert a Google interactive map to this blog so I can share photos and videos from specific locations. This project is “in progress” at the moment =). This May I finished up school a week early and traveled over to England to be part of the British Climbing Meet down in Cornwall this year. I’d never climbed by the sea and found the climbing along the SW point of England to be adventurous and atmospheric. Both the international visiting climbers and the British hosts were so fun to spend time with. I soaked up climbing to the older generations of this area, such as Frank Cannings and Pat Littlejohn, who began putting up routes in the Cornwall area in the 60s and 70s respectfully and continued through this meet!! I thank them both for their contentment, reminding me gently to be present on each climb, and adventurous spirits, fueling my passions as well. I even got to put up a new free route, spotted by Pat Littlejohn. It’s a granite roof-traverse pitch out at Hella Point. Great rock and wild moves. I think E7 7a. Needs another ascent. We called it “Hellova Roof”–although I must add in parentheses “The Sea, The Night, and America” to the name (A line of a poem in the climbing guide for the area and feels appropriate to the experience). Below is an email I sent to a friend after the meet. More travel blogging and lots of pics and videos from England, family time in New York and Colorado to come soon!
May 18th, 2010–
Sunny here in England today. Cornwall is beautiful area. A great group of people gathered for this BMC event–about 60 in all staying in an old Counthouse of a tin mine, now converted into a climber’s hut. I shared a very small room with the other visiting women climbers–from Latvia, Israel and Kryzghistan. You would have loved how appreciated the climbing history is there. I thoroughly enjoyed climbing with the older generations of Cornwall climbers (as old at 72) still alive and full of passion who have had a hand in shaping the sea cliff climbing there. The climbing can be very adventurous. No fixed gear. 3 types of rock–granite (of varying quality), killas and greenstone. The movement and power of the sea brings such a filling element to the climbing experience.
The 30 international climbers got busy, climbing everyday. Some repeated hard, rarely done lines. One day, my host Pat Littlejon and I were lucky enough to find a roof crack on really good granite that hadn’t been climbed! That Wednesday was very special for me. Pat Littlejohn has been climbing around Cornwall and Devon since the 1960s and putting up cutting-edge climbs there since. We got on well and I felt up for anything with him. Nearly 60 now, he has calmed down a bit, but still has the eye for great lines. Anyway, he obliged to visit relatives of mine on Wednesday, who I was hoping to meet and who live at Porthgwarra, an old port now consisting of about 10 houses by the sea. It’s a beautiful place and after a lovely lunch with them (older couple and their grandkids) everyone was excited to see climbing. So we went out to a point, called Hella Point, that they often walked to by their house. Pat and I climbed a nice, established (E2 5c) crack. While finding this route, Pat spotted an obvious roof down in the zawn and a cave to its left. Anyway, we checked it out afterwards and low and behold an crazy looking line. It took some work and gear fiddling and falling to finally do the climb clean. (Someone else aside from me needs to climb it, but we’re thinking E7 7a–13a– especially if you can’t do this wild bridge I did). We topped out on the point at dark around 930 pm and then went back to my relatives and celebrated a remarkable day with some fine whiskey.
Anyway, back in London now. My uncle and I took a couple of his canoes up and down part of the Thames today. If the British Airways strike and the ash cloud aren’t too powerful for flight 175, I’ll be New York by tomorrow!