Sunday, July 26, 2009


I left work at 7:30 Friday night after 5 straight 12-hour days. It's been this way for months now, and there's no sign of relief. I drove north on I-91 heading for a weekend of climbing with friends in New Hampshire...wondering if I was pushing myself to do too much...

Still dressed in business clothes, the tension in my back and neck was not dissipating fast enough. I was hungry and had a 3 hour drive in front of me. I drove into northern Massachusetts and stopped for supplies, dinner, restroom, and a change of clothes. By the time I was getting on I-91 again, the transformation had begun. I was no longer a I was a rock climber on his way to meet some very cool friends. The ride was long, but I was greeted by an old friend when I pulled into the weekend retreat. Matt told me about the anticipated arrival of his first child, and I was happy to hear the good news. Neither of us had arranged for a climbing partner, so it looked like we would be partnered for the weekend. Life was good!

Inside, I saw some old familiar faces and some new ones. In the morning, I was greeted by even more new faces. There was some ackwardness amongst us while we tried to get to know eachother. While I was still very tired from the week, everyone seemed anxious to get to the rock. I didn't understand the rush because the rock was still wet from the previous evenings rain, but we headed off nontheless. The trip leader, Natasha, asked if Matt and I would take two young ladies with us since they were relatively new climbers and didn't know the area. We were happy to oblige as we had both been new at one point, and now it was our turn to give back. The girls were college-age, so it was like climbing with my daughters. A little awkward, but we were all there to climb, and climb we did!

Matt had not climbed in awhile, so I did most of the leading. I led an easy first climb since the rock was wet and I wasn't sure what the girls could climb. I put up a second climb, somewhat harder, 5.9, and was feeling pretty good. Matt and I watched the girls to assess their skill level. I continued to push myself on harder climbs, but was careful to pace myself to get through the day. Sophia, one of the new climbers, told me she wanted to try following a 5.10 (harder climb), so I led one of my favorites, Lonesome Dove. It seemed surprisingly easy to me, and I enjoyed the balancy, thin moves as I moved up the clean rock. Everything seemed good, and I found myself being much more pleasant and sociable as the day went on.

We did one more climb and then headed back toward the car. It was great to hear the voice of an old friend call out my name in the parking lot, and I was able to chat with Larry for a few minutes before we headed into town for beer.

Back at the house, friends gathered to tell their climbing stories over chips and salsa and their beverage of choice. The pizzas arrived and we toasted the Chief and Dennis in traditional style. We thanked Natasha and others for their efforts on this trip, and the room was buzzing as we all told stories. I chatted with a couple from India who I hadn't met previously. We talked about running, climbing, and interestingly...about their arranged marriage. They had only met for 15 minutes before they were married 1 week later. Amazing! They've been happily married for 8 years...maybe we should try it in this country!

By the end of the evening, I don't think I had a stressed nerve in my body.

There wasn't much climbing to be had today as we woke to rain. A few of us tried bouldering, but the options were limited. I was still quite tired, and decided to head for home. I wished Matt luck with the new baby, and said goodbye to old and new friends alike. Heading down I-91 was a much different drive from the one coming up on Friday evening.

I was transformed from a stress-ridden being to one in peaceful coexistence thanks to the company of friends. The climbing was excellent on Saturday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it...but the social aspect made it that much better.

I'm at peace tonight as I type this note. Wishing you all the best for a wonderful week, and hoping we all get to spend time with close friends very soon!



1 comment:

Steve said...


Good read as always . RAin has been bad for sure . Wish I could have been up in Rumney also. I hurt my back almost two weeks ago and have been quiet.

Road racing is winding down and I plan to do some rock soon and a bit of ICE this winter .. I need to mix up my activities. I did do a mtn bike ride last night and had a blast.
Steve D