Tag Archives: people

Waiting for Baby

Silliness in Zion National Park

Lying in bed this morning, my husband reflected that it was five years ago this month that he asked me to marry him. We were in Bozeman, MT in the midst of a two week hiking and backpacking trip, and when his plans of proposing on top of a mountain fell through, he asked me in a cozy cafe over a plate of peach crisp. A year later, in front of family and friends, we vowed our commitment to one another and to a life filled with love and adventure.

Today we await the birth of our first child. It’s an interesting time, the end of a pregnancy. This time of waiting, not sure if the baby will make an appearance tonight or ten days from now. It’s a time of limbo, filled with excitement, nerves, and uncertainty. Time to think; hoping that our decision to bring a child into this world was the right one.

Wind River Range, PIngora Peak in the background.

As I wait, I’ve embarked on a long overdue photo project, sorting through all of our digital photos from the seven years we’ve been together and choosing which to print for photo albums. It’s been so much fun looking back at what we’ve shared. Photos highlighting our travels, hikes, climbs, friends, and time with family. We certainly have filled these years with love and adventure, just as we promised one another we would.

There are photos of us on top of mountains and on the sides of rock formations, hiking and camping in the mountains of the west, rain and shine. Photos of us taking shelter under rocks during rainstorms, sharing laughs and disappointment when things didn’t go as planned. Photos of us exploring the deserts of the southwest, and bundled up against below-zero temperatures on the ice of Lake Superior. Learning to cross-country ski, building snow caves in the backyard, embarking on our first trad leads, multi-pitch climbs, and getting ourselves to the top of the Grand Teton on a picture-perfect day. We’ve had some great experiences together, and the list of things we still want to do is ever-expanding.

Exploring the hillsides of Ireland.

Sunset over Boulder, CO, on top of the first Flatiron

Out on frozen Lake Superior, to see the ice caves. Temp = -15F.

On the summit of a drizzly Twin Sisters Peak in RMNP.

Parents and non-parents alike have loved telling us how much our lives are going to change once we have this baby. Some have even told us, in dramatic style, that our adventurous travels will come to an end completely. Like so many others, we wondered if we were willing to give up the lifestyle we enjoy so much, to give up those experiences that bring us closer to one another, each adventure that we share strengthening our bond.

Even after we made the decision to have a child, I have sometimes questioned if it was the right thing for us. Pregnancy unexpectedly curbed the season’s hiking and climbing ambitions, keeping me close to home while Seth went on trips without me. We spent the summer working on the house instead of embarking on our usual adventures, and I wondered if this is what my future would look like; longing to climb and hike and spend time in the mountains, but unable to. As my belly has expanded and I started to feel this little person take on life, my excitement has been tinged with discouragement. What if this was it? What if all of the people telling us to kiss our lives goodbye were right?

Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton

All smiles in the Black Hills after my first trad lead.

Biking through Yellowstone National Park

As I sort through these photos of our time together, of all of our adventures, big and small, I feel the doomsday words of others dissolve. Instead of imagining a life void of travel and adventure, I look at these images and imagine our child in them with us. A family of three instead of two, exploring this beautiful world we live in. Camping together, hiking together, traveling together, and eventually… maybe even climbing together. I imagine our child growing up with parents who continue to nourish their souls, both separately and together. I don’t grieve over the end of an era, but instead find myself looking forward with excitement to the challenge of a new one.

The pessimism of others is replaced with a sense of optimism about what can be. Our adventures may look different for a while, but they certainly won’t end. I’m so excited to share the things that we love with this person we’re bringing into the world, and for him or her to share the things that they love with us. Our world isn’t shrinking, as so many would have us believe. It’s growing.

Hiking outside of Big Sky, MT

I love conversations with parents who can’t stop gushing about how amazing an experience parenthood is. They’re overflowing with excitement for us and don’t even try to contain it. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s challenging, but it’s also the most amazing thing they’ve ever done.

Seth’s traditional summit proposal atop the Grand Teton.

So, as we wait to meet this little person who’s been rattling around inside of me for the last nine months, I feel a sense of optimism. Our photo albums are about to change, and it’s not for the worse. They’ll be filled with new adventures, new challenges, and a new face.

Five years ago, my husband and I sat in a cafe and decided to spend our lives together. We vowed to one another on our wedding day to fill those lives with love and adventure. In this time of limbo, as we wait for our baby to arrive, I am realizing that our adventures aren’t ending, they’re just changing. And, in a way, they’re just beginning. We are about to step into a great unknown, the biggest adventure we’ve ever undertaken.

Trip Report: Boulder Birthday Adventure!

How to have a whirlwind weekend birthday adventure, in 20 easy steps: First, find cheap plane tickets to Denver. When the weekend arrives…..

Saturday:

Leading the North Arete on the First Flatiron

Leading the North Arete on the First Flatiron. Photo: Seth Iverson

  • Wake up at 3am, drive to airport.
  • Catch a 6am flight to Denver.
  • Once in Denver, hop on a bus to pick up your car rental, a 1996 Honda Accord from a nice gentleman you found through RelayRides.
  • Drive to Boulder, have breakfast, fill up water and pick up snacks.
  • Head to the Flatirons parking lot. Cover the car windows and change in the backseat.
  • Climb a flatiron. We went with the First Flatiron, via the North Arete route. Perfect weather and forecast, started early afternoon, finished early evening (I led all four pitches, and felt great!).
ElizBelay

Belaying Seth across. Photo: Seth Iverson

ElizovertheSun

On the Quartz Crystal Pitch. Photo: Seth Iverson

Seth high on the first flatiron

Seth high on the first flatiron

Summit Marker for the First Flatiron. Photo: Seth Iverson

Summit Marker for the First Flatiron. Photo: Seth Iverson

  • Head back to the car, then out for dinner.
  • Drive to Golden, set up camp in the dark at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
  • Fall asleep in about 3 seconds.

Sunday:

Our lunch spot, partway up the second flatiron

Our lunch spot, partway up the second flatiron

  • Drive into Golden for breakfast, then back to the campground to check in, because you got in too late the night before to do so.
  • Head back up to Boulder. Downgrade climbing plans to account for a late start… due to the aforementioned need to check in at the campground.
  • Hike up to the second flatiron, realize you’re completely exhausted from the day before. Also realize that you’re 5,000 ft. higher in elevation than you were 24 hours prior.
  • Rack up, climb two pitches, decide that’s good enough. Stop for lunch, enjoy the views. Exit off the side. Hike back to the car.
  • Head straight for ice cream in Boulder. Make sure to get sprinkles. Use your first aid kit to fix up a kid who put a gash in his leg.
  • Drive back to Golden, change in a gas station bathroom. Attempt to make hair look presentable.
  • Meet up with friends (who don’t care what your hair looks like) for drinks. Be reminded, once again, that you’re over 5,000 ft above sea level when the alcohol hits you hard. Enjoy a fun evening with great people.
  • Crash at campsite.

Monday:

  • Wake up at 5am, pack up camp, make your way to the airport.
  • Fly home, stop home for a quick shower, and go to work.
  • Fall asleep on the couch at 8pm.

Birthday weekend complete!

First Flatiron summit. Happy to get four more trad pitches under my belt!

Seth and me on the First Flatiron summit. Four more trad pitches under my belt. Happy birthday to me!

Trip Report: Red Rocks March 2014

Beautiful Red Rocks

Beautiful Red Rocks

I’m not a big fan of Vegas, but I *am* a big fan of the large rocks that sit just outside of its borders. That would be Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Red Rocks for short. This was my second trip out to the park and it’s becoming very clear to me why this is such a popular destination for climbers. There’s tons of sport climbing (that’s mainly what we focused on our first trip), and even more trad, of all kinds. Short approaches, long approaches, single pitch, multi pitch, easy, moderate, hard…. And there’s a LOT of it.

The crew.

The crew.

This time around we focused on traditional climbing instead of sport. In six days we didn’t even begin to cover what the park has to offer. As a group, our goal for the week was to seek out easy to moderate trad routes and improve our trad skills in general, including gear placement, rope handling, climbing as a team, etc.

There were five of us. Myself, Seth, Russell, Zack, and Paul. We flew out the 3rd week of March, rented a condo in Summerlin (only a 10 min. drive from the park entrance) cooked our own meals, and had a pretty fantastic week overall. We mainly used Jason Martin’s guidebook “Fun Climbs Red Rocks: Topropes and Moderates,” supplementing route info with the Handren guide and Mountain Project. Here’s where we climbed:

IMG_4009

Paul on “Chips and Salsa”

Chips and Salsa

This is a short, 3-pitch climb in the first pullout on the Tuna and Chips wall. The approach is only about 10 minutes.

We kicked off our week with this route, and it was a great choice to start out on. The climbing is fun and fairly casual, and it was short enough to take our time and work on our systems. At the top of the route is a big, beautiful area to hang out and have lunch, and the view is quite lovely.

I would have liked to go back and climb this again at the end of our trip, but unfortunately we ran out of time.

 

Sorting gear on top of “Chips and Salsa”

Seth leading Tonto

Seth leading “Tonto”

Willow Spring

We originally chose this area for its afternoon shade on a day when the temps climbed into the 80s. It ended up being the most frequented of our trip. There are a quite a few solid options for single pitch trad, and it’s a great spot to climb. Bring your long sleeves; it can get chilly when the sun tucks behind the rocks in the afternoon.

We climbed mostly on the Ragged Edges wall. My personal favorite route was “Tonto” (also my first lead of the trip, so I might be a little biased).

Other routes climbed were “Ok, Ok, Ok!” “Ragged Edges – 1st pitch,” and “Go Ahead and Jump.”

 

Seconding "Ok! Ok! Ok!"

Seconding “Ok! Ok! Ok!” (Photo: Zack)

Zack on Ragged Edges

Zack on “Ragged Edges”

Seth on Peaches

Seth on “Peaches” (photo: Zack)

 

We went back on our last day to the Children’s Crag and climbed “Peaches,” which was also a fun little climb.  The descent is a bit tricky; I’d recommend a double-rope rappel over the walk-off.

 

 

 

Paul on Peaches

Paul on “Peaches” (look closely, he’s up there!)

Rusty on Scramblers Wall

Rusty on Scramblers Wall

 

Scramblers Wall

Our group headed here for its low grade trad climbs. It was fun, easy climbing, but a bit chossy and very run-out. If I could go back in time, I’m not sure this area would be my first choice for the day (I’d probably check out the Romper Room Wall in First Creek Canyon instead).

That being said, it did end up being a full day of climbing, and the group climbed every route on the wall. Leading, following, working on skills… I think for most of the group it was a confidence builder. The very next day, Seth and Paul tackled “Solar Slab,” and Rusty, Zack, and myself headed back to Willow Spring, where I got my first lead of the trip.

 

 

Solar Slab

Solar Slab

Paul on Solar Slab – Pitch 3 (photo: Seth)

This is where our little family of five split into two groups. Seth and Paul took a day and climbed Solar Slab. I’m trying to get Seth to write a trip report, but for now, here is my second hand account of the climb

They approached through Solar Slab Gully (five pitches). That gets to the base of Solar Slab itself, which is another seven pitches.

It sounds like the first two pitches are pretty straightforward, and after that it gets more exposed with harder climbing for pitches three and four. The route then gradually eases up. Paul and Seth chose to stop at the top of pitch 7 (that’s the recommended way to do it). There’s an off-route rappel, which Seth really liked. It keeps rappelers out of the way of climbers and also results in fewer rappels than if one were to rappel back down the route.

Seth on top of Solar Slab

Seth on top of Solar Slab (photo: Paul)

 

This route does get very busy. Seth recommends getting a start earlier than the 6am park opening time. You can park at the loop exit lot, and there’s a trail from there to the Canyon. We heard from several parties that finding the way back in the dark is challenging. There are lots of braided trails, so its very easy to get lost and end up wandering through the desert. Another reason to get an early start.

Overall, with some waiting for others and route-finding, the day was 14 hours total for those guys. The overall report? Exhausting… but a very fun climb.

 

 

 

Solar Slab Gully

The hike in to Solar Slab Gully

Hiking in to Solar Slab Gully (photo: Zack)

That's me starting the 3rd pitch of Solar Slab Gully

That’s me starting the 3rd pitch of Solar Slab Gully (photo: Zack)

Seth and Paul needed a rest day after their climb of Solar Slab, but they recommended the Gully as a fun climb all on its own (and a good route for a beginning lead climber like myself). So, Zack, Russell, and I headed out the next day to tackle the Gully. It’s five pitches officially, but we linked the last two short pitches into one. I thought this was a very fun climb.

This is a very popular route, as it is one of the approaches for “Solar Slab,” and a route that folks climb on its own. We were behind two other parties when we arrived, so there was a bit of waiting. Something, maybe, to expect on this wall.

The first pitch is a bit tricky and exposed, and the crux of the route, in my opinion. Our fearless leader, Russell, rocked it (thanks, Rusty!). The remainder of the route has a lot of really fun climbing. Some chimneys, some run-out slab, and huge belay ledges. Advanced climbers may think this route is boring, but those climbers would probably continue on to climb the rest of Solar Slab. Personally, I thought the gully was great fun and the perfect way to spend a day.

Zack, me, and Russell on top of Solar Slab Gully

Zack, me, and Russell on top of Solar Slab Gully (photo: Zack)

A bit of rappel beta: from the hang out spot on top, look back down the slab towards the canyon and you’ll see a big rock perched below. Just to the left of this, looking down, are a set of chains. A double-rope rappel from these drops you down to the landing at the top of the 2nd pitch of Solar Slab Gully. From here it’s two more raps to the bottom (a single and a double). So glad that Russell and Zack scouted this out. Way faster than rapping down the route.

And… that was our week, with a lot of goofing around in between. We had a great time. I want to go back again RIGHT NOW, but alas, it is not to be. Aiming for a similar trip next March. Thanks again to my awesome crew for a great time.

Clouds over Red Rocks

Clouds over Red Rocks

—  

Other posts from this trip:

Diary of a Trad Leading Newbie: Part 1

Diary of a Trad Leading Newbie: Part 2

Embracing Winter

Breaking trail.

Breaking trail.

I live in Minnesota. Winters here are usually cold, and snowy, and long. This particular winter has been one of the coldest on record. The National Weather Service reports that we’ve had 50 days this winter when the thermometer reading was below 0F. It’s been cold. And we’ve had a good amount of snow, as well. The snow here doesn’t melt, it just piles on top of whatever’s left over from that storm a few weeks ago, or a few months ago. So, at this point in the year there are multiple feet of snow on the ground. I haven’t seen the pavement on the road in front of my house since November (and I live in the cities).

That’s pretty much what to expect from a winter here. Yes, it’s been colder than average this year,  but it’s generally pretty cold anyway, and it’s generally snowy.

A lot of people around me hate this winter. Really, really hate it. They feel trapped. Spirits are low, it feels like spring will never come. Every morning at work I am struck by how miserable the people around me are about the weather.

I’ve had a hard time relating to their misery, though. In fact, I’ve been loving this winter. The contrast between my attitude and others around me is so stark that I had to wonder… what’s the difference?

Backyard Snow Cave

Seth’s backyard snow cave.

When I look around me, I realize that not everybody is miserable. I find that my adventuring friends are feeling pretty good about this winter. Snow and cold that sticks around provides all sorts of fun activities that don’t exist at other times of the year. We’ve been cross-country skiing, ice climbing, building snow forts, shooting rockets off of frozen lakes, testing out our layering systems, and generally taking the cold temps as a challenge. I have a friend who went out for a short ski when it was-25F (that’s air temp, before windchill) just to see what it would be like. Another friend, Dave, waited until the coldest night of the winter, and then went and slept in his backyard.

It seems to me that the difference between feeling trapped and miserable about winter and feeling stoked is a willingness to play outside anyway and just a little sense of adventure. Cold and snow doesn’t mean being trapped indoors. It means putting on warmer clothes and taking a pair of skis out with you, or a sled. Or some good snow boots. It means walking out on frozen lakes. It means snow forts and throwing snowballs with the neighbor kids. This winter, it meant that Lake Superior was frozen solidly enough to see gorgeous ice formations in sea caves. And for me, it’s meant learning to climb ice. Another great way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter.

That's me!

That’s me! (photo credit: Fred Child)

Living in a place like Minnesota requires one to embrace the seasons. All of them. Winter is long. Adventures big and small are out there waiting, the cold and snow just present different options. One can either hunker down and wait it out, or get out there and play. My very small, unofficial, and unscientific study tells me that the people who choose the latter are happier.

0126141704a

Paul showing his winter stoke.

(As I post this, we are getting our first taste of melting. The sun is shining and temps are crawling above freezing. Sad to see our winter adventures go, but looking forward to the adventures that warm weather will bring)

Big Adventure Turned Tiny

Here’s a story about how plans don’t always work out the way one intends, and how sometimes, that’s just fine. A big adventure turned tiny.

Red Rocks 2012. Can you see me?

Red Rocks 2012. Can you see me?

Last year, some friends, Seth, and I were planning a big adventure. A trip to Red Rocks. Our trip the previous year had been a lot of fun, and we wanted to get out on some of the multi-pitch in the park this time. We had a week that worked, everyone was in… but the trip was cancelled. It turned out I was needed at work.

My friends, the troopers that they are, immediately came back with the idea for a medium-sized adventure. We would take a three day weekend and head out to Devil’s Lake, WI. There’s some nice climbing there, it’s only a 4 hour drive from the cities, and less time commitment overall. A great compromise! But, that fell through, too.

So, we settled on an even smaller sized adventure and decided to head up to our local crag instead. We booked campsites for two nights so that we could at least ‘pretend’ we were on a trip. We would head up after work on Friday, climb all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday before heading back.

As the weekend got closer, though, the weather forecast got worse. Highs in the 40s, lows just below freezing. Chilly, but climbable. Then the cartoon rainclouds appeared on the forecast. Then the snowflakes. Every day we checked the forecast, and every day it seemed to get worse. Colder, rainier, snowier. Friday arrived, and we decided to just go anyway. Maybe the weather people would be wrong.

CampfireThat night of camping was great fun. Seven of us around the campfire, a full moon above, and no rain. We cooked our food on the fire and laughed late into the evening. It was fantastic. The weekend was off to a great start, and I knew that even if we didn’t get to climb the next day, that night of camping and laughing around the fire was worth the trip.

At the end of a great night, we crawled into our tent. A few moments later the first raindrop bounced off of our rainfly. Then the next. We awoke the next morning to cold, cloudy, and still raining. The group broke camp and headed out for breakfast. We did get some climbing in that day, but it was back in the city pulling on plastic at the climbing gym.

What started out as a big, adventure-filled week out in Red Rocks working on our multi-pitch trad climbing was eventually downgraded to one night of camping and some gym climbing. And you know what? It was great. I spent a night around the campfire with people I love, laughing until my stomach hurt. It was good for the soul.

That weekend reminded me that even if grandly planned adventures don’t quite work out as expected, it’s important to stay open to other possibilities. Adventure comes in all sizes, and a lot of times it’s the people you’re with that makes something great.

So, you’re still doing the climbing thing?

This is a question that’s come up a few times recently. And it always takes me back a little. “Oh, so you’re still doing the climbing thing?”

I started climbing 5 years ago. I wandered into a climbing gym to get a gift certificate for someone else, but as soon as I saw those walls I knew I had to come back and climb for myself. And I did. The next week I went back on my own and climbed the auto-belays until I got hooked up with a group of folks to climb with. In the five years I’ve been climbing, I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym, but I’ve moved as much of my climbing outdoors as possible, climbing in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, California, Nevada, and Colorado. I’ve done big multi-pitch climbs, climbed a mountain, and have ventured into the world of trad leading. I’m still doing the climbing thing. And I have no intentions of stopping any time soon.

This question makes me think, though. What *is* this climbing thing that I’m doing? Why do I love it so much? And why don’t I share that more with non-climbers?

Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton

Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton

In my calendar, climbing takes up one to two nights a week at the gym. When the weather’s right, I’ll be out a few times a month on the rocks nearby (or ice in the winter). And then there are usually a few big trips a year out to places with bigger and better rocks.

For me, climbing is so much more than a fun activity. It also makes me a better person. That probably sounds a bit cheesy, but there it is. Dealing with the risks and the fear involved in climbing makes most of the stuff in my daily life seem pretty small and manageable. It puts things in perspective. A challenging lead climb in the gym makes the rest of my week feel calmer. When I’m doing the bigger stuff, a nice multi-pitch climb perhaps, a lot of the unimportant stuff melts away. My goals are to stay alive, to stay as safe as possible, and to hopefully have a successful climb. That’s it. No room for worrying about anything else.

That simplicity bleeds into the rest of my life. I find myself more and more wanting to keep things simple in all aspects of my life. When climbing, simple is better. A simple anchor system is easy to check. Simplicity is often the most efficient, and efficiency is key when moving up big rocks. My life works better that way, too. The simpler the better. I want to spend time with the people that I love. I want to fill my life with things that I enjoy. I want to do good work and contribute to the world in a positive way. Anything that gets in the way of those things just complicates everything.

Looking for the next move

Out at Taylors Falls, MN

So, yes, climbing is a big part of my life. And it’s about more than just the climbing. But, I’m not very good at sharing that with my friends and family who don’t climb. I know that to some it seems really scary. “That’s crazy” is a response that I’ve gotten very used to hearing. I tell my mother that I’m going on trips, but I don’t give her the details. I know that it makes her worry, and I don’t want to do that to her.

The risks that we take climbing are hard to explain to non-climbers. In a society where risks are seen as something to be avoided, I’m sure it’s baffling to see people who deliberately choose to do something that’s seen as risky. Yes, climbing is statistically pretty safe, but the consequences of things going wrong are big. It’s a calculated risk, and it’s one that I’ve decided is worth it. I’d rather take that calculated risk than to sit in my home feeling afraid of the world. I’ve been there before, afraid of the world, and it was no fun. Climbing is a big reason that I’m not there anymore.

Calculated risk. That’s where I think we, as climbers, can connect with others about what we do. There’s a saying that goes “do something that scares you every day.” That scary thing is different for each person, but it exists for everyone, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground. What is that thing for them? Why do they do it, or maybe dream about doing it?

I’m interested in hearing how you connect with non-climbers about your climbing. Is it important to you that your friends and loved ones understand what climbing is to you? Or do you generally avoid talking about it? If you share, where do you find common ground?

Tiny Adventures: Searching for Ice

When the weather first turns cold, I always find that it takes a little bit of time before I realize that I can still go outside and do stuff. You’d think I’d remember from *last* year, or the year before, but I mostly just want to stay inside, in the comfort of a heated home, warm kitties, and blankets.

I snapped out of it last weekend, when Seth wanted to go searching for ice. I pulled on some baselayers, geared up, and headed out into the cold. We picked up a friend on the way, and went exploring!

The Mississippi River runs through Minneapolis, in some parts separating the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. We knew of one place across the river where ice forms, and I had heard of another spot, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was.

Our search for ice turned into a lovely little tiny adventure!

Ice

The ice is getting there! Just needs to stay cold….

One of my very favorite things about the Twin Cities is that it takes only a few minutes to feel like I’m *not* in the middle of a city. These falls are less than two miles from our house, and only a five minute walk from the busy streets above.

Listening to the ice

Listening to the ice

We continued our adventure from here, following trails down to the river, up little rock faces, down gullies and inlets.

There was one spot where plates of ice from the river were washing up on the shore. Among the sound of the waves was the delicate clinking of ice. Like little glass xylophones.

That was my favorite part.

From there, it was on to some climbing shenanigans. We tested our undercling traversing skills along the side of a wall:

Rob and Seth working on their undercling skills

A long ways to go.

A long ways to go.

 

And then headed out to find more ice.

This ice forms at the end of a city aqueduct that eventually drains into the river. When we climbed up top to check out potential anchors, we found some already there, bolted into the concrete. Yay!

 

 

A successful day of adventuring, only a few miles from home. The very definition of a tiny adventure.

Proof that we were still in the middle of the city? This graffiti, right above the anchors for that last ice climb.

 

There He Goes Again…

I was at the beginning of a pretty normal day at work when this photo arrived on my phone.

Seth in Smith Rock, Oregon

That’s my husband, Seth, on a climbing trip in Oregon with one of his buddies.

His previous trip was in July, to the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Him and two friends made a whirlwind trip to the Cirque of the Towers and climbed Wolf’s Ridge. That was a big trip, with some big stories. But I wasn’t there.

After my first trad lead

After my first trad lead

The last climbing trip we took together was in May, over Memorial Day weekend. We headed out to the Black Hills in South Dakota and together we ticked off our first trad leads. I was super excited to do more, as was he. He’s had the time to take more trips since. I just haven’t been able to get away.

It never occurred to me that he could eventually be seeking out climbing trips on his own. Seth initially began climbing because I climbed. It was something I had fallen in love with. When we met, I was just getting my first multi-pitch climbs under my belt, doing some sport leading, and starting to work on my trad skills knowing that’s what I wanted to be doing.

Now, Seth is not only climbing, he’s surpassed me in a lot of ways. And my own reaction, although I’m not proud of it, is interesting to observe. When he was out in Smith Rock, I found myself grappling with my own feelings of jealousy, resentment, and plain old selfishness. Since our first trad leads in May, Seth has gone on to lead close to 10 more pitches of trad. I’ve led none.

I hear how that sounds. Even reading it back, I hear a whiny little brat stomping her feet and saying “but why don’t *I* get to go?” I hate that I even *had* that reaction, but I did.

Just to be clear, I love my job. It’s been pretty hard to get away, but I really enjoy my work. My colleagues are awesome as well. Two of them even climb with me. And it’s my choice to be there, doing the work that I’m doing, and sometimes sacrificing trips to do so. Despite knowing that, it was hard to watch Seth doing the things that *I* want to be doing more of, and finding myself looking in from the outside.

Those feelings of jealousy and resentment are no good in a marriage, so we had to work through them pretty quickly. The solution seems to be to focus on my own goals, keep working on getting out there, even if it’s close to home, and, of course, to look past myself and realize that I’m super excited for Seth. I am! He’s out there having fun and doing things he loves. And yeah, he’s gotten out more than me this summer, but I have big plans for next season. We’ll get to do lots of climbing together, I have no doubt.

Seth has fallen in love with trad climbing, and it’s really fun to see that. Once I catch up, we’re going to make a pretty great team, and be able to do even more awesome stuff together. Maybe we’ll be like the Smileys someday. A competent trad climbing partner is a *very* good thing to have.

I’m curious to hear your comments. How do you balance work and play? Have you ever struggled with jealousy of a friend or partner’s adventures?

Changing of the Kettlebells Guard.

The only thing constant in life is change.

That’s how the speech started. Ron had just put us through one of his grueling workouts. Purposeful and calculated, as always. Ladders of strength and conditioning in neat little packages.

He left with very little notice, and very little fanfare. He kicked our butts one last time, gave a short speech at the end of class, and he left.

If I look back through my life, I can point to a handful of people who have had a real, lasting impact on me. People who acted as mentors, either purposefully or not. People who helped to guide me, encourage me, and served as examples of what I aspire to be. Ron is one of those people. He’s passionate about training, about kettlebells, and about teaching, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis (photo courtesy of Hennepin County Government Center).

I began kettlebells at a small studio near where I work. I loved it right away, and was hooked, but a few months later, the instructor closed up shop and moved across the country. I didn’t know where to go. My husband stumbled across Southside Kettlebells on a bike ride, and I went to a class the next week. That’s where I met Ron, and that’s where I stayed.

I was still new to kettlebells, and new to strength training in general, but eager to learn, eager to improve my form, my strength, and my conditioning. Ron took me under his wing, like he did for a lot of students. He encouraged me to work hard, I developed good form, I got stronger, my fitness improved, and Ron was always there, guiding me in the right direction.

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Ron helped me figure out how to eat correctly to fuel my body for training. He took extra time to help me correct form and meet my personal goals. I wanted to learn how to do pull-ups, Ron gave me a program to follow, progressions that would get me to my first one. And then, when I got that first strict pull-up, Ron shared it with class. Both congratulatory for me, and inspirational to others. Kettlebells training took me to the top of the Grand Teton last year, and that fitness is with me on all of my adventures. My quality of life is greatly improved, and Ron’s support has played a significant part in that.

So, for Ron… thank you. Your generosity, compassion, and dedication to your students will be missed by all who attended your classes. There are many of us who are truly your students, and a hole will be felt for quite some time. You, and your particular brand of ass-kicking workouts, will be missed at Southside.

I Did That! A Reverse Bucket List

Last week, Katie of Adventure Inspired wrote up her reverse bucket list, a list that looks back at things she *has* accomplished, instead of only looking forward. I loved the idea so much that I decided to write up one of my own. What a great way to reflect on the awesome things that I’ve done, and create a nice springboard from which to do even *more* awesome stuff! Here’s mine:

  • Climb: When I was a kid I could always be found up in the sycamore tree in our backyard. There was a perfect spot to hang out and read a book, or look out around the neighborhood. Now I’m climbing rock (and plastic) instead. Climbing is fun, it’s challenging, and it keeps me growing as a person. It takes me to beautiful places, both locally and around the country, and I’ve met some great people. Climbing has changed me for the better.

  • Play in a professional orchestra: I studied bassoon seriously for a good portion of my life. I’ve performed with full orchestras, chamber groups, and in solo recitals, and worked freelance on a semi-professional level for several years. One of the high points was playing a few concerts with the Akron Symphony Orchestra in Akron, OH. I got to play some of my favorite repertoire with a fantastic group of musicians. It was magical.
  • Get paid to travel: While playing bassoon, I got paid to play in orchestras in the Cayman Islands and Monterrey, Mexico. All travel expenses included.
  • Move across the country on my own: I moved to Minnesota, leaving friends and family behind, and not knowing a soul in my new home. It was scary, but I did it, and now I feel that I could move anywhere and be ok (although Minnesota is pretty rad, so no immediate plans).
  • IMG_1292Build my own bicycle: With some help, I took my dad’s old steel ten-speed, stripped it down to the frame, repainted it, and rebuilt it as a single speed. I love this bike, and I love it even more knowing that I built it myself. I now can do most repairs on my own when I need to. Fun fact: my bike was recently used in a Columbia Sportswear photo shoot.
  • Take a trapeze lesson: I had a day on my own in L.A. a few years back, and decided to take a flying trapeze lesson on the Santa Monica Pier. Lots of fun.
IMG_2019

She flies through the air….

  • Learn to garden: My mom has a green thumb, which I did not inherit. But, the past few years I’ve been experimenting with growing my own vegetables. There have been successes and miserable failures, but each year I learn a little bit more. Last year I started some seeds indoors and grew my own seedlings to plant outside! It’s great fun, and I have big plans, already, for the upcoming season.
  • Climb a mountain: Actually climb, with ropes and equipment. I climbed the Grand Teton with my husband this past summer and it was so very, very cool. Definitely one of my life’s highlights to date.
Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton. Photo: Greg Duncan

Nearing the summit of the Grand Teton. Photo: Greg Duncan

  • _MG_0392

    My hand-knit hiking sweater

    Knit a sweater: I learned to knit about five years ago from a good friend, and before I knew it I was beyond hats and on to knitting socks that I actually wear on my feet. I’ve knit myself a hiking sweater and a vest that I wear constantly, and right now I’m in the midst of knitting a kick-ass sweater for my husband. I’m ridiculously proud to be able to say that I knit things like sweaters.

  • Drive a Tractor: I was on a farm, there was a tractor, and I ended up driving it. True story
  • Be physically strong: After four years of climbing and two years of consistent kettlebell training, I can say that I am strong. I can snatch a 16kg kettlebell and climbed across the ceiling again last night at the gym. I’ve learned to do pull-ups this year, and am working up to 3000 pull-ups with my husband.  Ladies, if you’ve never done any strength training, I highly recommend it. The feeling of strength is empowering (and you don’t have the testosterone in your body to get bulky).
  • Bike through Yellowstone: Seth and I rented bikes and rode 34 miles round trip to Old Faithful and back to our car. We cautiously passed a herd of buffalo standing at the side of the road, complete with frolicking baby buffalo.

    2010-10-28_16-10-08_275

    A cold ride through the plains of Yellowstone.

  • Overcome my fear of flying: I once got to a flight gate, turned around, and went back home, because I couldn’t will myself to get on the airplane. While I still have to use some tricks, I can fly when I need to and not have it completely ruin my day. I love to travel, so it’s something I’m glad I’ve been able to deal with!
  • IMG_1039Learn to Cross-Country Ski: Minnesota has taught me that when the winters are long and cold, it’s best not to stay locked indoors. When I get out and enjoy the snow, my sanity remains intact.
  • Write on the interwebs: This blog is small, and it has a only a modest amount of readers, but I know that some of my posts have had positive effects on people. Whether it’s inspiration, or just creating stoke for their own adventures, I love to be able to connect with people, even if in a small way. Here are some of my favorite posts.
  • 2012_11_06_02324Find a fairy tale relationship: A little sap to throw in here…. I got married in my 30s, so I went through enough relationships that didn’t quite work to realize what a gem I have now (turns out love is *not* all you need. Sorry, Beatles). My husband is the kind of man I’ve always dreamed of having in my life, and I am thankful for him every day. Not only do I have a great man in my life, but together we make a great team. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
  • Learn to play in the outdoors: I have *always* wanted to go camping and hiking and frolic in the great outdoors. But, for some reason, it just never quite happened. I blame the many hours a day chained to a practice room in my former life, but the truth is I just never made it happen. In the past few years, I’ve camped and hiked more than I had probably in my entire life before that, and I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

That was a fun exercise! Thanks to Katie for the idea. What’s on *your* reverse bucket list?