A few days ago a friend called me out on the lack of updates on here recently. Partly that stemmed from the month I spent with a pulled lower back muscle, but I guess I've also made the mistake of waiting for big things to post about rather than just celebrating the little things along the way. Even if I haven't gotten out and climbed as hard as I've wanted, it's really been an inspiring season as I see so many of my friends putting down exciting new projects and testing themselves on classics. The Sykesville crew has especially been hard at work, and I'm psyched to get out and try some of their new problems at Levitation.
Some of the most exciting days for me these past couple months have actually been ones that I've spent mainly watching others climb. One of those days came in early November when we finally got Dan Michels out to Bushwhack before he left us to move back west. As usual he crushed almost everything he got on, but the real inspiration that day came from Katelyn Dolan's static ascent of Flipping the Switch, locking off to a bad intermediate crimp through the first crux and switching to an undercling for a calm reach through the finish.
A couple days later I joined Dan at Northwest Branch as he attempted to finish Prelude to Crimps. Although he didn't send it that day, he managed to get everything dialed enough that he put it down first try on his next session. I'm sure it felt way harder than he made it look, but I never thought I'd see the match into the stand start done so smoothly.
That weekend I was back at NWB for the Adopt-a-Crag, and after a good morning's work a few of us went down for a session at Long Wall. Charlie Garcia, Ryan Jones, and Katelyn quickly found their way up a crimpy line in the center of the wall that topped out through ridiculous thorns.
From there the group moved on to Curtain Call, with no sends that day but lots of close misses. It was funny to see how everyone seemed to be shut down by a different move, especially since the only move that gives me trouble was going completely statically for everyone else!
And as usual, Emily and I went out for our usual Thanksgiving in Vegas, this time joined by our friends Mike and Becca. It was one of the lazier days I've had at Red Rocks, and I actually didn't even put my shoes on more than a couple times, but the weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous. All around a nice way to start a trip full of barhopping, people watching, and eating some of the most deliciously rich food I've ever had.
Yesterday I celebrated the last day of fall with a quick trip to Northwest Branch, hoping to make some progress on Prelude to Crimps. I started going through every foot placement I could find, hoping that one of them would give me the balance point to make the match. No luck. Not even close. It's funny that I expected it to go any differently though. Between the flexibility work I've been doing and all of the time I've put in on the system board, I somehow thought that a difficult move would now feel easy. Instead it felt impossible. I headed back to Columbia, ready to spend the next couple hours wrecking myself on the system board, and irritated at my inability to do a move that someone else had made look so easy. Then I realized how stupid I was being. Yes, that move felt impossible. But a couple years ago the stand start felt impossible too, and yesterday I warmed up on it. It's so easy to forget about the progress we've made when we're so focused on what's ahead.
Maybe it's fitting that my brief psychological low came at the low point of the year. It was a good reminder that we all have our dark days, but for the next six months every day will be brighter than the last. And while Christmas decorations may seem odd in the 65 degree temperatures we'll have today, the lights and the smiles and the good food all around remind me that I wouldn't miss this time of year for anything. So celebrate the long and the short, the light and the dark, the high and the low, the success and the failure, the commotion and the silence. Whatever you choose to celebrate, I wish you a joyful winter season, safe travels, and a warm bed at the end of the day. Happy solstice!