I found myself immersed in a landscape of insatiable red, bisected by a flowing emerald river, speckled with the pastels of shrubs under a sponge painted sky. Moab. Just me and my pup Lucy. Van dwelling and rock climbing. I have been fortunate enough to be gainfully unemployed a few months out of the past few years due to the wistful pursuit of seasonal employment. It has it been an amazing opportunity to pursue my own self-indulgent lifestyle of climbing.
Most recently I loaded up my van and headed to Joe’s Valley to meet Kevin, a good friend I met during my stint of Fun-employment last year. The last trip to Joe’s had been a tale of ego destruction and projects left undone. Resident Evil, a Joe’s Valley classic, had left me broken, mentally and physically after falling from the finish jug about twenty times. This year was different. Armed with a new mindset, good vibes from Kevin and Matteo, and more finger and core strength, I sent the nemesis rig. Finally!
This is where I start to wonder about what rock climbing means. True, I just wrestled my way to the summit of a black and tan beauty, but for what? I mean, I had put in blood, sweat, and (I’ll admit it) almost tears into this climb. It had broken me last March, and almost stole my overall psyche on Joe’s Valley. And yet there I was, sitting on top of this stupid hunk of rock that had haunted my dreams. I felt relieved and entirely satiated, accomplished. It’s the fight that makes it all worth it, the physical and mental battles all climbers play on a daily basis.
I rode the excitement and ended up sending yet another classic line, Nerve Extension soon after. Techy, glossy crimping to a points off dyno. Boom! Next up was Death Scream, where I first met Tyler and Dana in a completely random chance of fate, again recognizing how small the climbing world really is. And of course Lucy started the stick fetch game. It never stops, kind of like a Pandora’s box of doggy fun. Lucky for Lucy, these Flagstaff homies indulged her.
All of these great things were happening. I had sent three of my super projects in a month, I was feeling stronger than ever, and having an amazing time fueled by the simplicity of life in a van. No rent, no bills, only a Chevy Express of a mobile home with enough room for me and Lucy. And yet, my bank account was dwindling and stressors were building. I had to make a choice. Do I push through, head to Bishop, keep climbing and be on the verge of broke? Or do I head to Boulder, CO, and immerse myself in the town? I had a job offer from an earlier trip to work at a brewery, and knew winter climbing was fully possible. So after a completely indecisive month, I loaded up my American Flag camp chair from camp, and made my way to the climbing Mecca that is Boulder. Did I make the right decision? Only time will tell. But for now, I am happy. I live in an apartment, have a job, and have numerous crags within 15 minutes of the house. I guess you could say I am becoming normalized.
Here is the funny thing. I mean, although van life has an undeniable purity most climbers long for, there are draw backs…like not being able to stand up, struggles putting on pants, a horrible situation when the dog poops in the van, no oven, no bathroom, and constant cold nights. But, these minor inconveniences are all worth the soul cleansing beauty of opening the van doors every morning to a vivid landscape, with no traffic, no car noise or buildings. We’ll see how long this stint of domestication lasts until my wanderlust grows to an insuppressible amount and I must hit the road again. I would like to thank all the friends that made my Joes trip memorable and to Scientia for seeing my passion, and letting me join the team!