Sure, it all started with an REI class and this idea that I’d be some super jacked rock climbing badass, but it quickly turned to something entirely different. It’s something that I could always relate with in surfing, that I had a hobby that I was so intrigued with that I would travel to beautiful and remote places to pursue it. The waves were always the objective, but sometimes I found that the waves are not the most aesthetic part of the whole experience, but instead a combination of movement and ambiance. Yosemite has great rock, but I probably wouldn’t need to convince anyone that the views are even better.
I’ll never forget the first time I drove out to Tahquitz in Idyllwild. It was early on a Friday, and I was meeting my partner–a woman I’d met on the American Alpine Club’s Partner Finder–for the first time. As we drove through Anza I saw Cahuilla mountain and thought that it was Tahquitz. I told Emma that story on our way out to Idyllwild early this summer and she laughed, “That’s so cute!” It really is. It is just a true indicator of just how naive I was when I started pursuing traditional style rock climbing. I had never left the coast of California, and here I was hopping in vans with strangers bound for gravity defying adventures in the mountains! When Tahquitz did come into view an hour and a half later I felt my stomach churn and instantly had to take a shit. It was the biggest thing I’d ever seen.
We have these ideas of what things will be like, but I’m just not creative enough to challenge reality. My first time in Yosemite we arrived the in the campground at night, and left early in the morning long before the sun rose. We racked up in the dark and hiked into the woods out of Porcupine Flats towards North Dome. I had no clue what I was walking into, or what I’d see, or how amazing Yosemite Valley looks from the top of a granite peak. After an hour and a half we stepped up onto the top of North Dome (we would skirt down and along the base to the technical route) and I was struck with the most stunning view I’d ever seen in my life–Half Dome with a rising sun lighting the valley below. My eyes welled up and I started to feel that lump in my throat, and I got one of those big shit eating grins–the ones that make your face cramp. The main photo at the top of my website was taken at the base of North Dome just before we started climbing.
There was that time in Joshua Tree with Alan, a close friend who I met at the Peoples Wall in La Jolla and coerced into belaying me on my first trad leads–all onsights in Joshua Tree, and it was freezing ass cold and the park was pretty empty by J Tree standards, but we continued to climb nonetheless. Our fingertips ripping off, and possessed by the mystique of the desert. We embraced solitude, and faced icy winds and were surrounded the strange formations arising like pleasant forgotten memories that we’ve rediscovered in youthful surprise. We climbed up an easy classic called “The Eye,” for our last climb and that’s where the feature photo for this piece was taken, stemmed out in silhouette not just enjoying the view, but embracing it–just figures on a landscape.
It’s not about climbing. Climbing is just a really really intense form of hiking, and we experience some spectacular views along the way. I think the biggest difference in me now from two, three, or four years ago, was that I focused solely on the destination, and I neglected experiencing the journey–the view. The view is not something we see with our eyes, it’s something we yearn for deep inside and chase like desire, and if we’re lucky enough we’ll let it take hold of us, and our dreams and passions can sculpt our lives into one that far surpass our expectations. Creativity can’t recreate, or imagine the bliss that awaits you out there. There are some things that words can’t explain, and pictures can’t show, and that’s why you need to go out there and see for yourself!