Training Journal – 8/19/19 – 8/25/19

The big shift is re-focusing on training indoors and reducing time outside. I’ve been prioritizing writing and heading outdoors during the week simply takes too much time.

With that, my workouts center around 1) Endurance 2) Power Endurance 3) Strength + Power, and include specific climbing workouts, lifting exercises, and hangboarding. The cadence is two days of climbing, one day off.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been lazy and haven’t updated the Training Journal (oh well). But, I had started hangboarding a few weeks back and concurrently didn’t reduce the intensity of my other workouts. It severely negatively impacted my climbing (for example, I went to Rumney and was unable to do climbs I would normally be able to do; my strength was depleted). All of this to say, these are the reasons I’ve altered my approach.

So far so good.

Monday
Rest day.

Tuesday
Power Endurance: 4x4s (climb up, climb down, climb up, climb down)

7 sets, up to a peak set of a V4/V5 and a V2. Focus was on overhanging routes in the V2-V4 range. Arms got quite pumped by the end (they are supposed to).

Core:

  • Weighted sit-ups: 15(35), 15(35), 15(35), 15(35)
  • Hanging, raised legs, lateral: 4, 5, 5, 5


Wednesday
Strength + Power: Projecting. Mostly worked V4-V6 at Cambridge (known to grade harder). Focus on crimps, pinches. 13 problems total, multiple tries each. Did well sending up to V5. V6s require more work. Will push the grades more next time.

Lift:
1)

  • Lunges (dumbells): 10(30#, 60# total), 10(45), 5,(60)
  • Flies: 10(15), 10(25), 5(35)
  • Shoulder Press: 10(40), 5(50), 2(55)
  • T2B: 10, 10, 10

2)

  • Weighted dips: 12(45), 10(70), 10(70)
  • 1-Leg DL: 10(10), 5(20), 5(20)
  • Back extensions: 10(25), 10(25), 10(25)



Thursday
Rest day. Foam roller.

Friday
Endurance: 20 minutes of climbing (2:12 min. on, 2:12 min. rest) on a circuit. 9 reps. Had to work in with someone else so halfway through ended up doing 2:30 reps going around the circuit twice for 60 moves, and longer rests.

Hangboard pull-ups:

  • 4 finger deep edge (4FD): 1rep(10s), 2(10), 3(10)
  • Pointer-Middle-Ring deep (PMRD): 1(10), 2(10), 3(10)
  • Middle-Ring-Pinky deep (MRPD): 1(10), 2(10), 3(10)
  • 4F Lockoffs medium (up to chest, 90 degrees, 120 degrees): 1(5,5,5s), 2 (5,5,5), 3(5,5,5)
  • 4F Lockoffs small: 1(5,5,5s), 2 (5,5,5) 3(5,5,5)

Lift:
1)

  • Bench: 5(135#), 5(165), 5(185), 5(195)
  • Deadlift: 5(135), 5(165), 5(155), 3(215)
  • Toes-2-bar: 10, 10, 10, 10

2)

  • Weighted pull-ups: 5(45#), 3(70), 3(70)
  • Front and lateral shoulder raises: 5(15), 5(20), 5(20)
  • Weighted sit-ups: 10(35), 10(35), 10(35)


Saturday
9 mile hike, 3,800+ ft. of elevation: Mount Lafayette loop.

Sunday
Rest day. Foam rolling and stretching.



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for August:

  • Days outside: 8
  • Sport leads: 10
  • Trad leads: 10
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+ sport, 5.7-5.8 trad, multi-pitch 5.7
  • Focus: Lead more trad routes, easy multi-pitch routes, bouldering
  • Stretch goal: Send V6 outside

Progress on July Goals as of 8/25:

  • Days outside: 3
  • Sport leads: 0
  • Trad leads: 4
  • Multi-pitch: 0

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Send a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 8/25:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~34/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~46/300 lead climbs on real rock



El Penon de Ifac photo source: La Marina Plaza
Feature photo source: The author

Training Journal – Really Just Gym Bouldering: 7/22/19 – 7/28/19

Wow. I didn’t sport climb at all this month. I spent one day trad climbing, and several days outside bouldering.

The past two weeks I’ve gone back to gym climbing because it’s just much more convenient. I need to figure out a balance between going outside and training indoors.

Monday
Gym bouldering at Worcester. Hangboard session with slopers, 2-pad crimps, 1.5 pad crimps, 3-fingers, etc.

Tuesday
Rest day (felt sick).

Wednesday
Rest day (felt sick).

Thursday
Rest day (felt sick).

Friday
Gym bouldering at Waltham. Emphasized climbing more aggressively (with bigger throws, less pauses to consider moves). This was a direct result of watching and talking with a strong climber (former comp climber, 16+ years experience).

I noticed that he was both aggressive and smoothish (not the most beautiful style, but controlled and dynamic). I’ve noticed that by going too controlled, I can waste momentum and tire out. Part of this is to figure out when to power through and when to rest.

Campus board: 1-4, 1-5, and seeing if I could touch rung 6 (1-6). A few hangboard sets.

Got a free beer! (For flashing the V5 boulder problem of the day).

Saturday
Gym bouldering at Boston. Focused on skipping holds, dynamic moves.

Sunday
Gym bouldering. Arms and fingers felt weak, so this was a lower volume, easier day.



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for July:

  • Days outside: 15
  • Sport leads: 30
  • Trad leads: 10
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+/5.11- sport, 5.6-5.8+ trad, multi-pitch 5.8-5.9 range
  • Focus: Lead more routes, push grades (project a few 5.12s), easy multi-pitch routes, bouldering
  • Stretch goal: Send V6 outside

Progress on July Goals as of 7/28:

  • Days outside: 8
  • Sport leads: 0
  • Trad leads: 3
  • Multi-pitch: 1

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Send a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 7/28:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~31/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~42/300 lead climbs on real rock



El Penon de Ifac photo source: La Marina Plaza
Feature photo source: centralrockgym.com

Training Journal – Gym Bouldering: 7/15/19 – 7/21/19

I started my gym membership back up as it was getting annoying/ repetitive to have to drive to different bouldering spots.

With that, I’ve begun doing hangboard exercises (for finger strength), in conjunction with hanging on holds (to emulate hanging for trad).

Monday
Gym bouldering. I looked like a goober wearing harness and pro, but the point was to do mock placements and train hanging and finding good stances. Someone made an incredulous comment, but who cares. This is about emulating the positions and actions required for trad, because The Diagonal showed me my endurance/ hanging time can be improved upon.

Tuesday
Rest day.

Wednesday
Gym bouldering. Focused on endurance, doing up-and-downs, and repeats (2 up and 2 down, sometimes more). I ended with a few routes where I hung for 5 seconds at each move, going up-and-down. Finished on the hangboard.

Thursday
Gym bouldering (~ 2hrs.) + shoulder exercises and core.

Friday
Gym bouldering (~ 2hrs.).

Saturday
Rest day.

Sunday
Rest day.



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for July:

  • Days outside: 15
  • Sport leads: 30
  • Trad leads: 10
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+/5.11- sport, 5.6-5.8+ trad, multi-pitch 5.8-5.9 range
  • Focus: Lead more routes, push grades (project a few 5.12s), easy multi-pitch routes, bouldering
  • Stretch goal: Send V6 outside

Progress on July Goals as of 7/21:

  • Days outside: 8
  • Sport leads: 0
  • Trad leads: 3
  • Multi-pitch: 1

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Send a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 7/21:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~31/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~42/300 lead climbs on real rock



El Penon de Ifac photo source: La Marina Plaza
Feature photo source: centralrockgym.com

Training Journal – Bouldering, Trad: 7/8/19 – 7/14/19

Lower key than last week. Felt tired earlier on and wanted to make sure I got more work done for writing, as I didn’t do much during the trip to Vermont.

Monday
Rest day.

Tuesday
Pull up workout.

Wednesday
Arms, shoulders, chest workout.

Breaking in the new shoes!


Thursday
Bouldering at Berlin Boulder. Did some easier stuff.

Friday
Rest day.

V3 problem and the last of the day.


Saturday
Bouldering at Rose Ledge. Sent two V2s and a V3. Worked a V5 and made up my own V3 (a variation of the V5).

The Diagonal


Sunday
Trad at Crow Hill. Led my hardest grade, The Diagonal, 5.8+ (but according to commenters on Mountain Project is closer to 5.9/+).



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for July:

  • Days outside: 15
  • Sport leads: 30
  • Trad leads: 10
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+/5.11- sport, 5.6-5.8+ trad, multi-pitch 5.8-5.9 range
  • Focus: Lead more routes, push grades (project a few 5.12s), easy multi-pitch routes, bouldering
  • Stretch goal: Send V6 outside

Progress on July Goals as of 7/14:

  • Days outside: 8
  • Sport leads: 0
  • Trad leads: 3
  • Multi-pitch: 1

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Send a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 7/14:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~31/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~42/300 lead climbs on real rock



Photo sources: La Marina Plaza

Training Journal – Bouldering, Trail Run, Hike: 7/1/19 – 7/7/19

This was a really fun week as I spent most of it traveling and bouldering through Vermont. Included was a stay at a new campground where several impressive boulders are just now being cleaned and developed.

I enjoy bouldering for the solitude/ space it confers, but am also aware that it is not the most direct way to improve at leading sport. I may try to be more intentional about the ratio of climbing, maybe aiming for a 2:1, bouldering:sport balance. My main concern is I’m not able to work on endurance on outdoor boulders as easily as I can through other means.

I have begun mixing days with a run/ hike and bouldering and finding that the muscle and energy systems don’t really overlap, so I can do both without noticeable negative effects to either activity.


Monday
Stretching, foam rolling. Pull up work out.

Tuesday
Bouldering at Rumney. Sent The Whale’s Tail (V4+) and Ahab Calling (V3).

The Gem boulder at Kettle Pond, Groton State Park


Wednesday
3 mile trail run around Kettle Pond in Groton State Forest.

Bouldering afterwards on The Gem boulder. Worked a few V2s and V3s.

Thursday
Bouldering in Bolton, VT. Worked a V6, some overhanging stuff.

Working “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” (V6) in Bolton, VT


Friday
Hellbrook Trail up Mt. Mansfield, a 3.7 mile hike with 2,683 feet of elevation gain.

Bouldering at Smuggler’s Notch in the afternoon. Sent Primate (V3), Workout Traverse (V3), among other easier ones.

Saturday
Rest day. Stretched and foam roller.

Sunday
Bouldering at Lynn Woods. Worked Dean’s Problem (V6), Phat Lip (V4).



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for July:

  • Days outside: 15
  • Sport leads: 30
  • Trad leads: 10
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+/5.11- sport, 5.6-5.8+ trad, multi-pitch 5.8-5.9 range
  • Focus: Lead more routes, push grades (project a few 5.12s), easy multi-pitch routes, bouldering
  • Stretch goal: Send V6, send 5.12

Progress on June Goals as of 7/7:

  • Days outside: 5
  • Sport leads: 0
  • Trad leads: 0
  • Multi-pitch: 0

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Climb a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 6/16:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~28/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~39/300 lead climbs on real rock



Photo sources: La Marina Plaza

Training Journal – Bouldering (Hammond Pond, Gloucester), Trail Run: 6/24/19 – 6/30/19

Lower key week. Bouldering, a trail run.

Monday
Foam rolling + pull-up routine.

Tuesday
Walk with the dogs + chest, shoulders, arms, core.

Wednesday
Hammond Pond bouldering.

Photo by @jaredheathphotog


Thursday
Bouldering at Thee Boulder (V4/V5), big ol’ crack. New skillset (hand/ fist jamming), hard on the body. Left bruised and bloodied.

Friday
Rest day.

Saturday
Trail run with hill repeats (hiking).


Sunday
Bouldering at Thee Boulder (V4/V5), big ol’ crack. Really did a number on my body, as a carry over from Thursday.


Feature photo by @smellybagofdirt



El Penon de Ifac – Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach


What I’m working towards: My objective is to climb the Diedra UBSA in Costa Blanca, Spain in November, an 8 pitch, 5.10a PG13 mostly sport route. This trip and objective is sponsored in part by the American Alpine Club + The North Face’s Live Your Dream grant.

I first came across the Penon d’Ifach, the massive limestone block that emerges from the Balearic Sea, while researching climbing in Spain last year. The striking outcropping has stayed on my mind since.

The grant is designed to help you “level up” your skills in a specific and measurable way. For context, I started climbing more seriously in 2018, and had only done about 30 lead climbs (in the 5.10 range) when I applied. I chose this route because it combines skills I’m keen to develop: Multi-pitch climbing, traditional climbing, anchor building, and endurance (suggested time is 6-9 hours). The goal date allows for six months to incrementally develop my technique and know-how.

So far this year, I’ve: Begun leading on trad, increased time on rock (as opposed to the gym) bouldering/ sport/ trad, practiced anchor building, did one multi-pitch (albeit a short one) and practiced belaying from top.

The longer-term dream is to do big alpine climbs in the Wind River Range.


Goals for June:

  • Days outside: 10
  • Sport leads: 40
  • Trad leads: 5
  • Multi-pitch: 1
  • Grade aim: 5.10+/5.11- sport, 5.6-5.8+ trad, multi-pitch 5.8-5.9 range
  • Focus: Increase experience with leading, push grades a bit (try a few 5.11s), easy multi-pitch routes
  • Stretch goal: Send The Buttermilker (V7)

Progress on June Goals as of 6/30:

  • Days outside: 11
  • Sport leads: 22
  • Trad leads: 2
  • Multi-pitch: 0

Goals for 2019:

  • Lead 5.11c/5.11d comfortably (sport)
  • Climb a 5.12a (sport)
  • Lead 5.8-5.9 trad comfortably
  • Send a V7 outside
  • 100 days of climbing outside
  • Lead 300 routes on real rock

Progress on Year Goals as of 6/30:

  • Lead 5.10+ comfortably (sport)
  • Lead 5.6-5.7 trad comfortably
  • Send V4/V5 outside
  • ~23/100 days of climbing outside
  • ~39/300 lead climbs on real rock



Photo sources: La Marina Plaza

Of Walking in Place on the Crawford Path

Screeching trees and silent birds. Wind gusts blot out all beyond the chatter in my head. I am a cone cut off by walls of thrashing air. We are a skipper within a rushing sea, we are pods against the current, we are looking down on the world. Eyes watering.

For the next hour my ears ring with an acquired tinnitus. Emergency radio broadcast signal or post-concert hum. Chili at 10:40 and a muffin with “blueberry filling.”

“I’m tired.” “Oh me too. “Do you have to walk back down?” “No.” “Lucky.”

I lunch at a table with a view out the window that shows sky but censors everything below the sill: undulating mountains, rolling silhouettes that fade from deep blues to whites as they drift away and fall off the edge of the earth. I can’t see them but I can sketch the angular pop outs from the contours I traced with my legs on the hike up. Families gather by the glass to snap photos.

Overlooking the Lake of the Clouds



Today it’s just me and travel, me and conquest, me and stringy cheese catching in my beard. I dab my face with a paper napkin after each bite.

The air inside is stuffy and cold like a dirt cellar. I want to bounce but my body has captured the mind and I fade from the room daydreaming of sleep. 

I take my time. The passing of the clock means little beyond accumulated fatigue, or recovery in this instance. There’s no dark to beat back, no deadlines.

On the way down an older gentleman in a yellow wind jacket is battered about in the gales. He teeters on each landing, catches himself and readies for the off-balance maneuvering of the next step. He reminds me of a circus clown on stilts performing an exaggerated expectant tumble. He lets me pass.


Mount Washington ensconced in clouds


Mounds as distance markers, wind as companion, clouds as serpents slithering over crests and shadow monsters crawling on the granitic carpet. A free market landscape of vastness and motion. 

I wonder, what if I moved the world back with each step instead of pushing myself forward over its surface? How would that change things, to know you remained in place? It’s not that different than the lived experience, I decide, to feel as if everything revolves around your center of gravity.

Instead, what if you could experience the world barreling through space, or rotating on its axis? Would you feel enlarged, battered, guided by outside forces?

I’ve also heard walking described as controlled falling. 

Descending uphill, I see dots in the distance that become human presence. Approach, smile, pass, approach, smile, pass. Each is a sample of tenderness or grief or tension or levity. How are there so many emotions on the trail?


Bounding up a boulder field towards Mt. Washington


An old man in a green AMC shirt works the lodge with a gaggle of a younger generation who giggle lots, fall into summer flings, and play pop music loudly from the kitchen. 

The younger male attendant gives cleaning orders to the predominantly female staff, which consists of soapy water on floor for mopping and is met with gaiety in fulfillment. He moves to the window overlooking the west side of the ridge, a friendly companion sliding up on his right as they gaze out and talk of yesterdays ascent. They sneak intimacy in public view. She kissed him by the bathroom door, out of sight. I wonder what the old man does for companionship.


I wasn’t going for style points today, or hygiene; I’m hoping the clean boxers and shorts mask the day old damp and miasma that comes from climbing and no shower. 

Some couples have full on matching dead bird kits: raging red, athletic cut, sunglasses atop head, uniformed to showcase they are on the same team. We talk about the wind.


I got my summit photo


No Everest lines here, but plenty of eager train-goers who paid the price of admission for a summit push and mob the sign declaring top. “You should let someone who earned this view through brawn take a picture,” I think to myself. 

They are accustomed to standing on an escalator for their chance at cherry pie, elbowing about for a shot, of what I wonder? What does getting to the peak of a mountain under mechanical means mean to someone of able body? “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” and other such silly messages we display. 

Mostly I’m annoyed that people push through while I wait my turn, then take so long for photos commemorating a cheap thrill. It’s a bit like a trophy for showing up, or paying your way into Harvard. 

But maybe that’s because I relish in movement, of covering distance on my own accord, of seeing where you end up under motive power. The journey is me, the reward is my own. If I just wanted fast kicks I’d go to an amusement park. Oh curmudgeonly me…


The drive home is a route I’m getting accustomed to. Weekends at Rumney: climbing up then down, careening up then down, emotions up then down.”

Some people say they get depressed after sending a big project, “post-send blues” they call it. It’s a low after a long, hard push: of achievement and the release of emotional toil. These goals become a driving force in their life. Once achieved, there’s an overriding sense of not knowing what’s next, of what you are, and why you exist, to some extent. Mountaineers who spend 3-5 months in the Himalayas talk about re-entry to home life with similar complexity. 

I don’t experience this, but I have a micro-lull come Monday. The come down is like withdrawal, I imagine. 

Partly I feel utterly free on a good day of climbing. All concerns vanish and I wade in an ocean of unconcern until I get back. Climbing helps me reset and recalibrate. It’s a step back that let’s me see things with clear eyes, like emptying the cache in your browser and not getting guided suggestions on your every query. The history vanishes and you can attune yourself to what’s important now. 

Until next week.



Photos by the author.