Many Thanks for Climbing

First there’s the obvious: I am thankful I started climbing.

Thank you to everyone who put up with this kid (aka me with seaweed on my head). Photo by Tommy O’Maley.

I’m thankful that my friends brought me to our local gym a few times the summer I started college; I’m thankful the UNH climbing team doesn’t cut kids who project V0; I’m thankful to have met some of the right, and best, people to help foster my love of the sport.

I thank my mom and sister for buying me my first pair of shoes. My grey Nagos are far from being the top shoes on the market, and they’re large enough that I can wear two pairs of socks in them, but they have gotten me to the anchors on enough 5.12s to show me that technique is what holds me back, not shoes.

I’m thankful for friends and friends of friends and sometimes friends of friends of friends who have taken me on many climbing adventures.
Here are some of them:

I’d never met Alec. I didn’t even have a bouldering pad to contribute to the Pawtuckaway expedition. Yet, Erin telling him I was psyched on climbing and one everything bagel with cream cheese were enough for him to pick me up outside my dorm. After we warmed up, he gave his project, Maxim (V7), a few burns but then spent the rest of the morning leading me and another novice around the park, pointing out rocks, tossing down crash pads, and encouraging us to send problem after problem.  Thank you Alec for one of my favorite days in P-way and many awesome bouldering sessions and trad lessons since. Your constant psych and genuine happiness at simply being outside makes every climbing day enjoyable.

Many thanks to Erin for spending several days with me at Rumney this summer, watching me over-grip 5.10s while she played on 8s to avoid becoming further concussed. Thank you for sharing an apartment with me and always being down to talk climbing, gear, food, and the philosophy of free soloing and for setting me up with other strong climbers when you’re too busy to climb yourself—that’s a true climbing friend.

Jared, thank you for being ever-psyched, spontaneous, and having the confidence in my ability to push me out of my comfort zone.
Jared had met me once before I texted him to climb—thanks Erin for knowing he was free. Two hours later, he was hanging draws for me at Rumney in the rain so I could project routes that he was cruising in approach shoes. He even cheerfully put up with me struggling, calling down for beta, and repeatedly pointing over every place I “wished there was a foot.” It was only after I clipped the chains that he told me he’d put me on a 5.11a—my first attempt at leading 5.11. “I knew you wouldn’t have gotten on it if you knew what it was,” was his only comment; he was right, having only sport climbed a handful of times, 5.11 seemed nearly impossible. He’d seen me climb four routes and already knew how to push me, which he’s continued to do since. Many thank yous.

Psych is energizing and infectious. If you’re not excited about a route, you’re not going to have fun, and neither is your belayer or those watching. Tommy does not have this problem; I don’t think I’ve met anyone more psyched on climbing. He got me the most excited about bouldering I’ve ever been at Lincoln Woods this summer, which is significant, as I’m more inclined to grab a rope and some draws to scale cliffs than a mattress backpack to play on little rocks. I’m lucky that Tommy’s major requirement for taking others climbing is that they have to be psyched. He has driven me all over New England, from Rhode Island to Maine, to climb, simultaneously putting up with my smelly climbing shoes (and sneakers), obsessive reading of roadside signs, and terribly dry snacks. Thank you.

Matt, I give you many thanks for letting me third-wheel on most of your weekend hiking and climbing trips this summer and for letting me tag along on your week-long pre-semester climbing trip.

Luke, thanks for being tent and seat buddies for HP 40. Also thank you for all the “short people beta” and understanding that I climb like a weak little girl, not a big strong boy.

Brandon, thank you for getting me rides with the boys to P-way last winter/spring; there is no way I would have braved all the snow and icy rock on my own. Also thank you for coming to my aid when I got myself stuck halfway up problems; those spots were quite comforting when I realized I was ten feet up, quite alone, and no longer over my crash pad.

Sarah, projecting V0s and hiking to perfect dihedrals in P-way with you is awesome; thank you.

To climbing in general: Thank you for the challenges, self-awareness, amazing adventures, and bringing me out of occasional states of college-stress-induced mania.

Originally published November 26, 2014, on 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s