The Big Picture

In life there are moments when the rare and grim realities of the outdoor sports we love are thrown in our faces.  Moments that make us realize how fragile life is, how delicate we are, and how fast it can all change.  They hit you like a freight train, smashing the wind from your chest and leaving you speechless and hurting, a hurt that is only cured by time.  The last several months have brought too many of these sad moments.  

These accidents leave me feeling hollow and lost.  They force me to look inwards at what climbing means to me, its value and importance in my life, and at the risks and at the tradeoffs.  

When you ask questions like these, you don't always find the answers you hope for or expect.  I find ways to justify why this happened to someone else and why it won't happen to me.  Perhaps many of the reasons are true, but the reality is that you just never know.  More often than not climbing is a very safe sport, there are almost always ways of mitigating or eliminating risks, but then there are the times there are not, or when you make a mistake.  But do you quit and throw in the towel because of the possibility, the chance, or do you heighten your senses, increase your awareness, be more careful, and forge on? 

In the last few months, since I got back from Patagonia, I have had so many great days in the desert around Las Vegas, in the mountains, and at home.  For the first time in nearly three years Carmen and I have a home, somewhere we are excited and happy to be.  We are close to the beautiful desert mountains and everything they have to offer.  Carmen is hard at work at her internship-turned-job, but revitalized by the desert beauty that surrounds us.  For me, I have had enough time to reflect on life and to realign my path back to nursing school and a future in health care, a choice I am excited about.

As I prepare for a trip to The Great Trango Tower in the Karakoram I have mixed emotions and mixed opinions on life and climbing.  I love my life, my wonderful girlfriend, my family and friends.  And I love exploring, challenging myself to the extent of my abilities, seeing huge mountains, and climbing huge rocks, these are many of the things that make me who I am.  These passions have driven me in life for the last 8 years, they have sculpted my relationships, my jobs, and my experiences in life.  I can't imagine quitting climbing or traveling, so I think I need to learn from the lessons of others, be aware and be careful, and continue on.


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