The Fork In The Road


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Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:18am PT
One of my biggest regrets is not going to college. I went to work instead. My best ever climbing years was 190 days. I have been blessed with some amazeing roadtrips, great friends and owned a few pretty cool vans. Spent my time in camp Slime. Mostly BINTD I worked in restraunts in the kitchen. worked my way up from dishwasher to eventually head chef. Mostly worked nights, trained martial arts, climbed and skied in the mornings and those spring layoffs. Working ski towns you go on unemployment the day after Easter and not full time again untill 4th of july weekend. State climbing and drinking team we called it.
Burned out on the food service industry and finally came to the realization that the pay sucks and no benifits. 20 years in the same steak/seafood joint and no pension, no health ins. The owner was nice and gave me $1,000 that I used for 6 week climbing roadtrip out west.

I became a professional ski photographer when I got back from that trip. Shot Equine events in the summer eventually becomeing self employed. Road that horse untill the combination of the economic crash and the digital revolution gutted the industry. Still do the photography part time but not much $$ in it these days.
The last 5 years I have been in the construction buisness as a day laborer. I make more money as carpenters helper than I did as the head cheff of a 100 seat restraunte. Still no health care. Both knees and shoulders need new wheel bearings. Body is worn out and no way of getting it fixed. Can't even afford new eye glasses that I desperatly neeed. Bad tooth that I can't afford to get fixed. Still paying off the debt from my photog buisness...

Yes I wish I went to school. I climbed 90 days so far this year. 12 FA's but no security and no money to travel and take time off for a roadtrip...

Dec 9, 2012 - 09:43am PT
Yours is an interesting counterpoint to Base's stories, Tradman.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:43am PT
Just been layed off for just a week and got a call that I can start annother carpentry job tuesday. Part time , not sure how many hrs. Just missing one weeks work and $$ is tight already. Knowing this job will only be part time and that I have to prove myself on a new crew @ 50 yrs old but not as experienced in the field as most my age. Woke up with a sore throat and chest crud. Scared about about being sick starting the new job and my knees hurt. Scared about makeing rent this month and the bank payment on my debt. scared about not haveing any money for Christmas..

Most of my life I would not change but I do wish that I had been smarter about education and money. I was taught that money is not important. How you conduct yourself and what you contribute to society is important. I put as much work into getting a 4th dan as many probobly put into a college degree yet I never charged money for teaching. All I expected from a student was blood, sweat hard work and loyalty.

I am finaly realizeing that money is esentual to keep a roof over your head and keep your body functioning as you get older...
Mark Force

Trad climber
Cave Creek, AZ
Dec 9, 2012 - 01:11pm PT
Early one morning in the late 70s, while brewing up some coffee and making breakfast in C4, Jim Bridwell, who was camped in the site next to mine, came crawling out of his tent after a hard night partying and looked pretty rough.

That was my moment contemplating the fork in the road, looking into the future of my current path and, while sitting at that picnic table, I took the one that led to a wife (of now 33 years), kids, grandkids, and a profession; all of which give me great satisfaction. Still enjoy climbing (though at a distinctly easier level), now with my wife, kids, and grandkids. I also enjoy having a much broader world of interests to enjoy.

Never did thank Bridwell, though he never knew me (I was never on the A team; don't think I made the B team, either).

It was fun to dirtbag for a while. Still have fun grossing out my kids talking about dumpster diving and picking up breakfast off the conveyer belt at the Yosemite Lodge cafeteria!

Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2012 - 01:56pm PT
Yeah, the best thing of all is the friends.

I wasn't so great at making friends, I was usually a worshipping subman, but DAMN do I have friends from every walk of life.


El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 9, 2012 - 02:01pm PT
I've never thought of them as "forks in the road" but more as reference points.

The moment when I chose to quit climbing for twelve years.
I remember that instant, that hold, the view, all I was focused on and all I was missing, and everything I needed.
That one decision led to personal development that needed to happen, learning a trade, growing up, and living the ocean life.

The moment I decided to quit southern California and the surfing life and move back to my hometown in the desert.
I remember that last wave as a local- the speed, every cutback, the color of the sky and water.
I remember driving away, the bewildered looks of friends, and all that I learned and all the years that melted together in the blink of an eye with every tide, each new swell, and evey mini monthly financial crisis.
That decision brought me home, to a sense of place, to my Mom, to the old crack in the sidewalk I've tripped over since gradeschool, to the streets my grandmother, my great grandmother, and my great great grandmother rode burros on.
It led to a surprise career, a word I formally thought of as synonimous with "deathwish". It brought me back to rockclimbing, a crucial thread in the fabric at the core of my very being.

I've tried to embrace each "fork" as not a fork but just a turn, which around just lay more beauty, more struggle, more learning. It's just called life.
Believe in the mystery.

Hey BASE- thanks, brother, for the awesome posts and ensuing thread.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2012 - 02:10pm PT
Yeah BK,

The book or piece is called "Feeding The Rat." My BASE buddies called it Feeding the Monkey.

Sometimes you just can't be happy unless you are doing intense things. Feeding the Monkey.

I'm like that. Gotta feed the monkey.

I am buying a sailboat on Cheapeake Bay right now. Not some zillionaire sailboat, but a 27 footer with a good reputation of sailing around the world many times, some trips around the horn. All that. I'm gonna take off next summer and go live on the boat and sail it in the bay for the summer. I got some learning to do. My sailing experience is racing 18 foot centerboard boats on lakes.

The best thing is that you can buy an Albin Vega in decent shape for less than 10 grand. I know of one for 8 grand. Not exactly a rich man's toy, but a vehicle for adventure. There are hundreds of these boats on the market at any time, but I couldn't find the right one on the west coast, which is much closer to the S Pacific and all that fun.

Don't tell my wife she doesn't even know. I've done this on the down low searching for the right boat for months.

The friends, though. They will stay with you for life if you just keep up and don't blow them off.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 9, 2012 - 06:46pm PT
My current money/ health situation is not from lack of working hard. It is from not working Smart. I work my butt off in jobs that beat up my body but have no real security.
Jebus H Bomz

Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Dec 9, 2012 - 07:32pm PT
Awesome thoughts and shares, I wish I were wiser.

Forks, turns, whatever, I've learned that I can do a lot of different things and still be the same as#@&%e, just in a different locale doing the same old thing. Real, conscious change, that is much harder to instill. It took a severe, near-death beating for me to even confront that monkey.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 9, 2012 - 07:45pm PT
2006.. quit drinking. Can only imagin what my situation would be now if I was self medicating.

right here, right now
Dec 9, 2012 - 08:32pm PT
Can you all share a couple of those moments that our burned into your brains? Just the good ones.

Here's a bunch of good moments, collected stories written by lots of your buddies here on the forum:
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