Rewind: A Life Without Climbing?

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Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 28, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Rewind however many years it takes.
Imagine you'd never been introduced to climbing: big fork in the road type hypothetical thought experiment.

Some bases you might tag here:

 Do you think it was inevitable you'd find something else sort of risky to sharpen your teeth on?
 Were you already doing some parallel physical activity, perhaps similar in terms of passion and risk prior to becoming a climber and would you still be doing it instead?
 What would that alternate activity to climbing be in your case?
 Has that [pre-climbing] pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?
 Is it likely whatever your path, that it would be essentially an individualistic one such as climbing?
 Characterize your transition from your prior passion to climbing.

This is a direct query about our innate drives and how we find an outlet for them and what other kinds of things might have met that need for self-expression.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2013 - 10:51pm PT
Example:

From ages 10 to 13 I was into motorcycle/dirtbike riding. This was the early 70s, literally 1970-1974: the golden era of dirtbike riding when land was more plentiful, gas was cheap and effective incomes hadn't started taking a big hit yet. These were the golden years of Dirtbike Magazine and manufacturers of sleek lightweight machines abounded. There was risk, there was an engagement with the natural environment albeit with a sophisticated tool as an interface. There was a lot of balance and body english, stamina and strength involved. Certainly there was commitment and adrenaline.

In Southern California surfing and motocross were big. On any Sunday, a seminal film about dirt riding, was produced by Bruce Brown who also produced Endless Summer, the breakout surfing film. It was likely I was going to do something individualistic and highly physical. I was intelligent and was going to need something that challenged me on many levels; something I could sink my teeth into.

Lots of people got really busted up riding and racing motorcycles. I was an enthusiastic Grand Prix auto racing spectator at that time as well, because that was my father's passion. Watch Steve McQueen's LeMans to get a really good look at motor racing from that era. Both motorcycle racing and auto racing are blood sports, with the exception of recreational dirtbike riding. But motocross can be pretty nasty. The advent of Supercross really upped the ante and busted up a lot of riders. We don't even have to get into GP bikes. Both the sports were fairly expensive, auto racing almost limited to the rich. The social milieu of those sports is very tribe like and I'd say the bonds are equally strong between people who pursue motorsports to those who pursue climbing. Racing is you, machine, track, and competitor … And all your buddies that do it.

I was never going to be a team sports player. As a young teenager I didn't really have access to money. We essentially invented bicycle motocross, mimicking real motorcycles with our Schwinn Stingrays. Motorsports, although individualistic, could be considered to be antithetical to wilderness activities. Was it an unlikely transition? I don't know. I'm still a motorsports enthusiast and yes I believe in global warming. Cognitive dissonance? Not sure about that!

I transitioned to climbing at 13 in 1974 and quite simply it may be only because I had easier access to it and it clicked with me very quickly. The patriarch of my father's group of friends, Dave Fitzpatrick, who had land out in the desert and provided something of a locus for all of us to participate, died New Year's Eve, 1973/1974. Essentially our group of riders disbanded. My childhood friend, Doug Munoz, had access to climbing through the Boy Scouts. Very little in terms of machinery to break and maintain I thought. You could do it on the cheap cheap. Most racers are half part mechanic and half part racer. Climbing is much less encumbered by mechanical necessity. Perhaps my natural abilities were spurred by the aggressive physicality provided by riding dirt bikes. Lots of forearm conditioning happening there! Plenty of fear to manage!

Perhaps, alternatively I would've stuck with the riding, become a landscape architect, Gotta have real cash to do the motorsports gig, … so I would likely not have really chewed off anything so big and all-consuming as rockclimbing, guiding full-time and so forth. Maybe I wouldn't have been as dedicated to anyone thing: more well-rounded as they say. Frankly it's hard for me to imagine. I never wanted a family. I was free to throw the dice. That's how I got here!

How about you?
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:10am PT
I must think before I post because this IS a serious matter.
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:20am PT
I was also into dirt bike riding. Late sixties/early seventies, every Sunday was spent at Indian Dunes out by Magic Mountain.
Got into hiking, the climbing
Got into mountain biking in the mid eighties( but continued climbing).
As I've gotten older(59), I find myself interested in ww kayaking


edited to add, was never into team sports. I did run cross country while a freshman in high school.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:36am PT
I've never had a life without climbing.
I'd have to rewind to 4 years old when I took my first
fall climbing the rock terrace in back of our house in Japan.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 12:44am PT
10B4me:
Indian Dunes. We have that in common.

You can get the entire catalog of Dirt Bike magazines from 1970 through 1974 on CD.
I've been having a lot of fun reading each and every one cover to cover!
I actually miss it; but it isn't going to happen. Arms.
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:53am PT

"Do you think it was inevitable you'd find something else sort of risky to sharpen your teeth on?"...

Pretty much my entire life has been RISKY...

Climbing fits in PERFECTLY!!!...

Without it, no doubt I would have just continued on my merry way straight to HELL...







Like others here, I also rode dirtbikes and may have gone further into that direction, had climbing not made it's way into my life...








McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:53am PT
I just got into motorcycling 5 years ago to save gas and the polar bears and discovered it's a way to do something dangerous every single day - something I could not get from climbing because of proximity. It keeps the brained tuned to danger - even if it's just #@&%es with cellphones stuck to their ear - I pretend that's just falling rock potential. I have discovered the 'big slab' - these wonderful endless isles of concrete to rip around on - a boyhood dream come true. Course I have a dirt bike too now. It's heartening to be able to experience a thrill by just commuting.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:59am PT
Damn, We did bicycle motocross in the 70's as kids in the UBC Endowment Lands.

It got so out off hand that the owner of Dunbar Cycles at the time organized it to happen at a certain time and place. This stopped a random bee swarm of kids on bikes from terrorizing the gentle hikers. Early mountain biking with no mountain I guess.

I'm wracking my done in head to remember his name and say thanks !

EDIT: It was Mr. Schultz and It was great to have had someone like him to point the way to controlled mayhem as a way of life.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:01am PT
My passion has always been for the mountains. I love everything about them. I was always interested in climbing growing up, but didn't know any climbers. Climbing has become my favorite way to enjoy the mountains, along with river fishing, canyoneering, caving, backpacking, hiking, photography, whitewater, natural history, snowboarding, and other things I can't remember.

My main transition was from snowboarding to climbing to avoid injuries, but snowboarding still scares me more (at least how I used to do it).

If it wasn't for climbing I would still be in the mountains, but I don't know where I'd get my adrenaline fix.

I'm paying for my love of the mountains now though. I got out of knee surgery about 6 hours ago and I'm 27. "Over use" they say... On the bright side, I'm still doped up and it's nice. I probably didn't answer the questions in order, but to that I say; morphine!

klk

Trad climber
cali
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:03am PT
like most of us, if i hadn't found climbing,
i'd be either dead or in prison.

not that posting to st is all that different
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:04am PT


One of the BEST lines of the day!!!...


"On the bright side, I'm still doped up and it's nice"...


LOL!!!...

S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:05am PT
I started climbing at age 30 and I was caving at the time, so I think the answer is yes I would have continued with other risky activites.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:10am PT
i'd be either dead or in prison.

not that posting to st is all that different

hahahahahahaha KLK you rock!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:12am PT
I would have been a loser, rather than a dirtbag.

Deep question

Will have to come back to it
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:14am PT
This last Fall I successfully fought off the urge to buy a metal detector.....was looking into them, calling about them....... I'm just not ready. I think I was in a spell of depression from healing up an Achilles Tendon.
Rolfr

Social climber
North Vancouver BC
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:14am PT
Started out caving in 1974 and would have continued expect my brother took a mountaineering course that included rock climbing.
He told me it was just like caving, but without the wetness and darkness and on dry sunny rocks. Daddy didn’t raise no fools, we never looked back.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:17am PT
Thanks folks!
This is exactly what I'm looking for.
A way for us to know something more about one another, but still on the climbing topic ... yet slightly tangentially.
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:22am PT

Well...
Probably lots and lots of surfing and high performance sailing and sail boarding.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:23am PT
Jim Brennan said:
I'm wracking my done in head to remember his name and say thanks !

I got a hold of one of my dad's buddies, the guy who was really my mentor with motorcycles.
Had not spoken to him for 40 years. He 'still kicking, 80 years old, road bikes until he was 70.

He noted that I had good balance way back when.
I wanted to thank him for that vote of confidence: it was really cool to touch base.
skywalker

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:29am PT
Leading up to my start of climbing I tried every sport out there. I wrestled, started offense/defense in football, karate, you name it. I told my parents I wanted a motorcycle at age 12 they said you have to buy it yourself. At age 13.5 I had enough to buy one.

Then the climbing part hit around 14, I quit all "mainstream" sports. We started by using cotton clothes line. Nearly died a few times but as a group saved enough money to buy some real stuff.

Do I need to do it? Yes and No. I still love motorcycles, and I picked up whitewater kayaking about 20 years ago, and I of course still climb.

To be honest, I'm not as psyched on the later 2 at the moment and want to pick up on paragliding. Never done it but looks cool as sh#t! I don't want to be 3 dimentional I want to be 10 dimentional. I climb and have religeously for 25 years but I'm NOT a climber! Or so I tell myself.

However the theme in my life has been one of "alternative" recreation, so I think I'd be O.K. without climbing but will always be a weirdo.

S...
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:33am PT
Art collector, professor, assassin, and bowler.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:37am PT
All on the same business card Larry?
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:38am PT


"Art collector, professor, assassin, and bowler."...



I think he forgot one...



















































PIMP...














EDITED:


"Sending"...


LOL!!!...
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:43am PT
For realz though. I would probably die without the big stone.

Sending!
Sending!
Credit: The Larry


Edit: ...and my babes.

Paul Bunyon and his babes.
Paul Bunyon and his babes.
Credit: The Larry
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:45am PT
I climb and have religeously for 25 years but I'm NOT a climber! Or so I tell myself.



There are probably a few others here like that! I stayed away from kayaking - I just knew I did not want to drown. But I have done a little scuba and windsurfing and I sail. Then there are the motorcycles now.....the damn motorcycles - the simplest riding is seductive but I get on a bicycle enough to stay strong - I love riding. There's something about water for sure . I always wanted to surf-fish. I still have the gear from when I was 15 or so - practiced casting with the baitcasting type rig and everything. Climbing robbed me of my surf-fishing life! How many here hung out at Malibu Pier fishing for Bonita?! Those were the days. Now I worry about Fukushima radiation in the water. Life is complicated - at least making room for some fun is.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:46am PT
You are "all over" that bad boy Larry!
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:47am PT


"Sending"...

I fuking LOVE that shot man!!!...

Classic!!!...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:57am PT
Once I started climbing, I shunned almost all speed sports for fear of getting hurt and messing with my climbing. I know. What a pussy.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Jan 29, 2013 - 02:01am PT
"sending"

Every time that shot pops up on a thread it gives me a laugh. Especially the tiny pink chalk bag!
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 29, 2013 - 02:04am PT
Once I started climbing, I shunned almost all speed sports for fear of getting hurt and messing with my climbing. I know. What a pussy.

Roy, I think mountain biking has a higher risk factor than climbing does
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 02:09am PT
Cripes what doesn't?
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jan 29, 2013 - 02:17am PT
Hard to imagine my life without rock climbing, so...never mind...

I was into downhill ski racing, river running, motorcycles/dirt-bikes, flying, Formula 1/CART/SCCA/FormulaContinental, SCUBA, skydiving,fencing, etc...

All just sideline entertainment relative to my passion for rock climbing.


Edit:

Don't get me started talking about racing; moto-cross at Little Rock (Mohave),SCCA driver(D and E classes), F1 mechanic (Lotus - Jimmy Clark and Graham Hill), FC mechanic (Ron Pelman), CART AI suspension setup system using Symbolics computers (Bobby Rahal)

There was a girl in my high school in Boise who encountered me years later and told me she was always convinced I had a death wish. Then years later she realized that if I had even the tiniest bit of a death wish, I would never have survived from one year to the next.


Most of my climbing partners, as well as colleagues in other activities, get quite frustrated with my obsession for safety. A lot of my work at NASA involves imagining and proposing handling for everything that can go wrong with a launch vehicle and spacecraft; including ISS, Constellation, RpK, and SpaceX. And that's why I was tasked as lead systems engineer to write the risk management plan for FAA for the next generation air traffic system, NextGen.

1965 TU
1965 TU
Credit: TomCochrane

2008 'a round will get you down, but a square will get you there'
2008 'a round will get you down, but a square will get you there'
Credit: TomCochrane

Credit: TomCochrane

Credit: TomCochrane

Credit: TomCochrane

Credit: TomCochrane

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 02:20am PT
Tom: spectating or driving?
You still get out to the track?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 02:22am PT
It seems clear quite a few of us, most of us aren't buying this life without climbing gag. Good to see. And a bit predictable.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 29, 2013 - 07:51am PT
I'd probably be more successful in business. I'd certainly have more money. Lacking the Grand Charade, how would I boost my ego? Kinky sex and high end vacations of course!

But then again, maybe I'll just do it all. You don't mind do you?

DMT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:06am PT
DMT
Credit: GI
You coulda been a effin' offender, too, instead of such a sweetheart...

As I read thru these posts earlier--all very serious and intense, as they should be, right Larry?--I was wondering when Tom C. would be posting. So many ways to kill oneself, eh?

And, "Where's Throwpie?"--Katie

hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:52am PT
early dirt bike enthusiast here, but modeled myself after the trials and enduro influences which were cross country rather than speed driven. thank goodness nor-cal wasn't proximate to desert racing or more throttle might have been a factor. as it was, steep-rough-muddy sufficed.

practice on tight technical sections, with an emphasis on continuity of motion, and acceptance of adverse conditions transferred to my approach to climbing but above all admiration for the line.

can't discount the effect of general vagaboondury as a theme, but i think it all comes back to laying eyes on the landscape, onsight reading skills and adaptive response in the face of impedimentia driven by desire to measure up to what impresses. epic avoidance being its own reward

edit: avoid epic or epic avoid ... perhaps a little slip there?
Captain...or Skully

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:02am PT
I had a couple dirt bikes. Climbing is quieter. I like that.
I can't imagine my Life without climbing in it.
Your query is a Brain bender, Tarbuster. Whoa.
I reckon I'd still be at Sea.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:09am PT
Jeez louise!
Do you think it was inevitable you'd find something else sort of risky to sharpen your teeth on?
Were you already doing some parallel physical activity, perhaps similar in terms of passion and risk prior to becoming a climber and would you still be doing it instead?
What would that alternate activity to climbing be in your case?
Has that pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?
Is it likely whatever your path, that it would be essentially an individualistic one such as climbing?
Characterize your transition from your prior passion to climbing.
------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm trying to put all of these questions into a blender and turn out a smoothie, but it's challenging! Inculcated- good word!

I think everything I'd done prior to that first true rock climb led up to that first true rock climb.
From rambling around the Southwest with my parents as a child, familiarizing myself with rock and juniper and sun and snakes, to eschewing soccer for an individual sport like tennis, then something more risky and alternative like skateboarding.
The framework for fringe oriented, risky pursuits was materializing.
Then the first high and the return to the outdoors. Tripping out on lichen and faces in the rock. I wanted to be closer to the rock.
But then came rock and roll, and Deadicated I was. But that got old, parking lots in urban areas.
That's when I moved somewhere that had lots of rock and I dedicated myself solely to climbing.

My upbringing, my mental wiring, and my surroundings dictated thaiit I be a climber.

Later in life I had to see what "life without climbing" was about and I left my rack behind and moved to the beach for the sole intent to follow the childhood dream of surfing.
All that framework sh!t from before- outdoors, mental wiring, passion, solo "sport" was there too and I was good at it.
"Life without climbing" was good! For twelve years it was good...great in fact.

But the call of the desert, my hometown, family, and....climbing, was strong enough to leave my surfing life behind.

And let me tell you,
The return from "A life Without Climbing" was better than the original life of climbing.

Here's the cliff notes: I was always going to be a climber.

Sorry for the babble, Tarbuster, and I'm not sure I even tagged the bases you listed but it was a good morning exercise for me. Hope my smoothie doesn't taste like sh!t.

Edit
From the Granite Mountain guidebook, one of my favorite quotes from Lovejoy
"This book is dedicated to the rock. If it weren't for the rock, we'd all be surfers"

MisterE

Social climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:54am PT
I started skiing when I was 14 or so, and ended up 15 years later searching for the crazy lines. My friend, Ted and I even started th "Over 60 Degree Ski Club", and would seek out the extreme lines. Even had shirts made. After 20 years or so, I got bored with the planks and switched to snow-boarding. I loved the risk of slaloming the trees in deep powder, and had more than a few close calls alone, in the back-country.

Then I started moutain-biking, and again ended up looking for the extreme technical descents, the thrill of the exposed trail, etc. This turned into bicycle couriering in Seattle, probably the most dangerous fun job I have ever had. Again, I thrived on the risk and required fast reponse time to dangerous situations. My cat-like roomate, Tim even taught me how to fall and not get hurt:

"So, as you are flying through the air, about to hit pavement here's what you do. With every ounce of energy you have, throw your body into a spin. If successful, you will take that external force of the fall and bring it to your center. You can then take two or three rolls, stand up and walk away without injury."

I tried it the next time I caught my wheel in a drain-grate, and damn if that sh1t didn't work!

Eventually, I realized that all of the sports I was drawn to were individual sports, and what I really needed was something between "team" sports and "individual" sports, that still involved some level of risk (I was hooked on adrenaline by this point).

Climbing fit the bill perfectly.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:54am PT
Interesting subject.

I was first and foremost a glass artist. It was my passion and I really wasn't interested in much else. Climbing was really the farthest thing from my mind until my 30's. The fact that it is now my real passion is a surprising turn of events. Life without climbing was a continuous circle of art shows and custom work for clients.

@Jefe.. I think what you said about "upbringing, my mental wiring, and my surroundings dictated that I be a climber. " really rings true in my case as well.

I had athletic parents.. they were primarily skiers and dad was a former life-guard and competitive swimmer, so we spent a lot of time at the beach as well. We lived in the mountains and had horses to roam the wilderness . I was a bad-ass kid-skier BTW and my parents would have moved permanently to Mammoth had I ever expressed an interest in serious training. As a teen-ager I lost interest in athletics completely and wanted to be an artist, so I ceased any physical activity for more than a decade to pursue it. (successfully I might add).

I could easily have continued as an artist, but occupational health issues, a slump in the market, frustration with clients, and people in the industry burned me out.

Climbing had been a casual activity that I had tried a few times. After a 2004 trip to Thailand I fully had the bug. I guess it's not surprising to come full circle back to a sport that involves that love of the outdoors, physical activity, and interaction with interesting people. I'm not really a risk-taker, but now it's all I really want to do these days.
TwistedCrank

climber
Dingleberry Gulch, Ideeho
Jan 29, 2013 - 10:13am PT
A life without climbing would have been a life without appreciating people who have wicked senses of humor.

The climbing is nice - fun, adventurous, sometimes thrilling even, but for me it's always been about the people. There's nothing like the gut-busting belly laugh you get with from others who "get it".

So, without climbing I would have been dark, brooding, dangerous, immoral, irresponsible, money-grubbing, spineless, toothless, and would have had no fashion sense.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 29, 2013 - 10:23am PT
I think a life of climbing means that you don't have to have a mid-life crisis.
micronut

Trad climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:29am PT
Good thought Roy,

If I rewind, I think my path as a climber was set in motion long before I tied into a rope.

It began backpacking and trout fishing with my dad as a kid. I think he planted that seed in me that grew into this "thing." That "thing" is a desire to see what's over the next pass, beyond the far side of the meadow, around the next bend in the creek with a flyrod in my little hand. That has never gone away.

So if it hadn't been climbing I think it would have been something else. I can see myself as a surfer. The connection with the sea, the raw power of the wave, the details in the motion. I've even found the same thing in golf. The intricacies of the swing. New courses, new hazzards, weather, plying my mind against my muscles.

I was an Olympic hopeful in swimming from 92-96 and found the very same thing in climbing. Great friends. Lots of laughs. A common goal/mindset/vibe. One thing is for sure, I was never gonna be a soul without my compas pointing to the unknown. I love the direction and the places climbing has taken me, and I'll always be a climber, but its what's around the next bend in life that fascinates me most.

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:31am PT
Forgot to add that I started skiing in 1980, xc, then bc, and downhill. Bad knees have brought me full circle back to xc skiing
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:34am PT
My first love was skiing, the steep and deep. Deep powder in really steep trees was about as good as it gets. I was an instructor at 17 and went to Western State because of the proximity to Crested Butte. Then I was introduced to the smell of perlon rubbing over warm lichen, it was the ultimate experience for the senses.

All of that talk above about dirt bikes reminded me of a roomate I had, in the mid 70s, from Sacramento that had a huge stack of motocross magazines. I read them cover to cover and still remember following guys like...
Roger DeCoster, Heikkie(sp?) Mikkola, Jim Weinert, Marty Smith and Mike Hartwig.....haven't thought about those guys in a long time.
Dr. F.

Ice climber
SoCal
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:34am PT
I gravitated to cactus because of the huge risk factor of getting poked by those death like spines
jopay

climber
so.il
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
Like Tarbuster I had an early interest in racing, in particular Grand Prix now called Formula 1, did a speech in high school circa 1963 on the subject and few had any idea what I was talking about. I read Road & Track cover to cover and my heroes were Jim Clark and Graham Hill, I loved road course racing and still do. Prior to that I was determined to be a bush pilot and go to Alaska, I lived a bicycle ride from our local airport and that's were you would find me bumming rides, usually with the same Cessna 170 owned by a local car dealer who loved to stall and "buzz" the field, a great pilot.I almost never considered team sports would have bored me silly. I was 36 when climbing found me or I found climbing but it fit like nothing else before had and has enriched my life in too many ways to describe and still does.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:49pm PT
There is no life without climbing!




Seriously, rewind to 1974. Before climbing there was only basketball and hiking. I was a damn good ballplayer, starter at a 3A school, but it wasn't gonna lead to the pros or anything, or even a college scholarship most likely.
I discovered climbing at the same moment I discovered that there was more than bball. I so loved the high and wild, and especially the individual freedom, compared to depending on coaches yelling at my ass to be successful.
Hard to imagine where I could've turned differently. I probably would have stayed and finished 20 in the military for one thing. But as it happened, I was already too schooled in EXTREME FREEDOM, to do that.

Probably still would've ended up being a dad. It's my greatest accomplishment in life.


Credit: survival
G_Gnome

Trad climber
Pebble Wrestling.... Badly lately.
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:11pm PT
As a kid I grew up trout fishing on rivers and creeks and then started water skiing and surfing at 13. Was a gymnast thru skool then like Roy I took up riding dirt bikes. I raced motocross for a while but everyone I rode with got broken and I could see the writing on the wall. At 23 I found climbing at Stoney Point and have been there ever since. I might still be surfing if I hadn't started climbing. I have been out on some huge days and dropping into big wavves was a one of a kind rush. I still love going around twisties in cars and love my WRX. Part of the fun of going climbing is the twisty roads to get into the mountains! So yeah, always an adrenalin junky and always aiming for the weekend in the wilds, even still.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
hey there say, tarbuster... very NICE to hear from you... neat post too...

will be back to read it... just now taking the ol' pupdog for her 'update it' rabies shot...


god bless to you and the family! :)
crunch

Social climber
CO
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Hi Roy,

yeah, I've owned a few motorcycles, but climbing came first. Started climbing when I went to college, age 19. Before that, I used to paint and draw, was really into art.

Climbing satisfied that same, creative urge, plus was way more exciting, and sociable, and fun. I did not quit painting, I just did not need it any more.
chill

climber
between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
Before I found climbing I watched TV and read books. I was a pale, pasty dork. In a book store I saw some pictures of Roger Briggs on "Death and Transfiguration". That changed my life. I'm still a dork, just a little less pasty.
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
Stay pasty, dood. . . dermos cost a fortune later in life!

:-)
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
I was actually bred for risk taking with T-types in both paternal and maternal lines.

My father was a performing artist and my mom's father (as much of a father figure to me) was successful as a young diamond dealer because he hired a new fangled aeroplane (open cockpit) to shuttle him from Amsterdam to London a day ahead of the competition when the shipments came in from South Africa. He was also an inveterate gambler and philanderer.

Indeed, if it wasn't for the "caution genes" that I must have gotten from my grandmothers I likely would have been long dead.

But I grew up in the woods of New England loving nature so when I was exposed to climbing at 14 it was a natural progression.

For me a more intriguing question is what path I would have been on if I hadn't been labeled a criminal since my teenage years for smoking weed.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jan 29, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
Cool exercise in self examination Tarbuster.

This may take awhile and I'll include some illustrations of my youth history that my father drew when I was young.
Big Boy
Big Boy
Credit: T Hocking

I think I was born with the climbing gene if there is one.
My parents had told me that when I was a toddler they would often find me
climbing or on the top of furniture or cabinets around the house. They had a tall dresser/armoire that I would climb using the drawer handles for holds, I'd get to the top and just sit up there until they got me down.
They also told me that my favorite "toys" were dangerous or sharp objects
around the house.

So adventure and risk started young with me.
Tads Toy Selection
Tads Toy Selection
Credit: T Hocking

Dad was a P.E. teacher and coach, so sports and athletic competition were always part of my life. Little League Baseball, Midget Football, High School Football, Wrestling and Tennis. Blew my knee out the first week of
J.C. Football so the team sports thing ended then. Started playing golf and still do.

Did the team sports thing.
Little League Catcher
Little League Catcher
Credit: T Hocking
Football Center
Football Center
Credit: T Hocking

Like many here motorcycles played a role in my adrenaline quest.
First bike was a Honda Trail 90, others included Yamaha 250, Honda CB 500,
and a 76 Kawasaki KZ 900 at the time the fastest production bike made.
Got the KZ up to 125 mph before front wheel vibration made me back off.

Motorcycles filled the need for speed.
Honda Trail 90
Honda Trail 90
Credit: T Hocking

I liked sports cars like MG's, Triumphs and the first car I bought was a
Sunbeam Alpine($900). Back in the day when the road on Mt. Rubidoux was open, I would race the Alpine up the road timing myself from the gate to the top lot by the cross. Then go bouldering or top roping for a few hours,
then race down the road timing from the top lot to the down road gate.
Can't remember any of my times but I got pretty fast at it and Mario
Andretti would have been impressed. LOL Looking back now, my racing on the
Rubidoux road was way more risky than the climbing I did up there.

So anyway the Alpine met it's demise one night while a buddy and I were
chasing a couple chicks in a Camero that we spotted cruzzin Magnolia Ave.
We pulled up along side of them at a red light and asked if they wanted to party. They chuckled and one of them blew us a kiss, the light changed and I fell in behind to tail em. I followed them to some side streets when they decided to ditch us. The chase was on at speeds that fractured the limit. As I got close they took a quick right on a street that fronted a
cemetary, they made the corner, I tried but had too much speed, lost control slid into grass and wrapped the front end around a palm tree.
My buddy and I were not hurt, the Alpine totaled (unibody const.) and when we got out of the car we were steps from a line of tombstones. I took that experience as an oman and never drove like Andretti again.

I was always into wilderness adventures and like some here a Boy Scout.
Troop 13, Riverside, Ca. in the early 70's was fortunate to have a scoutmaster (Mr. Brophy) that placed more importance in trips to the wilderness than wearing uniforms and earning merit badges. Every summer
for 5 years our troop would take 10 day backpacking trips into the Sierras
each time hitting a different area. Other trips included Grand Canyon, a Colorado River canoe trip, Death Valley, Panamint Mountains, exploring old
mines in the SoCal desert, Joshua Tree, San Jacinto, San Gorgonio and San
Gabriel Wildernesses. I never made Eagle Scout, Life Scout was the highest
rank I achieved but more important was the time spent and skills learned
in the wilderness.

Wilderness Adventures Abound
Backpacking
Backpacking
Credit: T Hocking
Summit Baggin
Summit Baggin
Credit: T Hocking

I witnessed rock climbing for the first time while on a scout trip to Joshua Tree in 71. Told myself that looks like fun, went to the public library and checked out "Mountaineering:Freedom Of The Hills" read it,
then bought a 3/4 in. X 100 ft. hemp rope (Gunna Die). Our house in Riverside backed up to the Box Springs Mtns., so I put on my hiking boots took the rope and headed up the hill to a 20-30 ft. rock face behind our house. I set up a rappel anchoring the rope over a large boulder at the top of the face and proceeded to Dulfersitz rap it then batman
back up, did this a few times, I was hooked and wanted more.
Next book I bought was Robbins Basic Rockcraft memorized it and asked my parents for a real rope for Christmas.

My Climbing Mentor/Partner gaining Stonemaster status
Jim "Rubidoux" Wilson
Jim "Rubidoux" Wilson
Credit: Dave Evans

About this time I was fortunate to get 2 gifts, the first was that new Edelrid 150 footer, new P.A.s and the second was my Dad introducing me to Jim Wilson (pre Stonemaster status) who was in one of Dads PE classes at Ramona HS. Dad knew Jim was a climber and that I needed a mentor/partner
so he hooked us up. Under Jims guidance we climbed together for about a year and a half at the usual Socal haunts and a trip to Yosemite Valley. I learned the ropes and gained confidence in my climbing ability and was
soon leading climbs and mentoring my friends from the scout troop, while
Jims natural ability gained him Stonemaster status. I continued climbing
through my high school years in Riverside.

In 76 I moved north to Susanville, Ca. for 2 years of college.
I continued climbing at the .10 level, pioneered a new crag and put up
some first ascents in the area. Returned to SoCal in 78, and climbed until
82 when life events ie. moved again, marriage, mortgage, daughter and work ended my climbing activity.

A Decade of Climbing
Rock Climber
Rock Climber
Credit: T Hocking

My climbing took a 30 year hiatus while I continued to backpack, golf, fish, and play bass in blues/rock bands. I also got into whitewater rafting
and kayaking to keep my adrenaline stoke alive. Not to mention a career,
and family.

So I did live 30 years of my life without climbing but started again 4 months ago after becoming a grandfather,
IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK!!!

Tad
Not too bad for an old fat guy. <br/>
I love this sh!t and regret my 30 ye...
Not too bad for an old fat guy.
I love this sh!t and regret my 30 year hiatus.
Credit: T Hocking



donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 29, 2013 - 04:36pm PT
Tough question to answer when you have spent 47 of nearly 70 years obsessed by climbing.
I was introduced to climbing by a couple of British SAS guys while on a training problem in North Carolina and never looked back.
Life is full of unforseen twists and turns that can change your trajectory for ever in a nano second. I wouldn't have joined the army if i had not been in a fatal car accident and if i hadn't joined the army.....well, you get the point.
I was a good middle distance runner in High School and College, perhaps i would have become a running nut. My fraternal twin brother Bill, who didn't have my ability, ran a 2:26 marathon when he was 41.
What you would have done is mere conjecture....what you did do is the body of your life's work.


edit: T Hocking, love your attitude. I'll be in Yosemite the entire month of May....come down and tie in.
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Jan 29, 2013 - 05:39pm PT
nice thread.

I never gravitated much towards team sports. I played them, and had a best friend who was really good at them all, so I paled in comparison.

I always had a love for the mountains and being outside. Scouting mostly exposed me to that - camping, hiking, fishing. During my teen years, my Dad (a very goal oriented professor), older brother and I started peak bagging along the Wasatch Front every weekend in the summers. We occasionally got in over our heads without proper technical skills.

When I was first exposed to climbing thru a very outdoorsy fraternity, it seemed like one of the most intimate experiences I could have with nature, as kooky as that sounds. I excelled at art from a young age, and climbing was such a creative process and challenge on a micro and macro scale. I got hooked pretty quick. Mt. biking was a big attraction as well for awhile.

I must say I was also initially attracted to climbing because it seemed exclusive. (Ha! not so now with the advent of gyms!) I liked to do things most had not, and not in order to beat my chest or whatever, but because I liked pioneering for some reason - making my own way I suppose. The same thing still attracts me to exploration in art and design - trying things that might actually be unique. The common innate desire for many of us to break new ground could be a whole 'nother meaty thread, I suppose.

EDIT: Don't think I directly answered any of the questions in the OP, but I must say that risk never seemed to cross my mind as an attraction to rock climbing. I don't think I viewed it as that risky. Scrambling up steep stuff in the mountains, which I'd done before enough to get spooked, was risky stuff, but geez, climbing used ropes and gizmos to save you from stupid mistakes.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2013 - 06:47pm PT
I might be spending too much time around Tom Frost but I think CLIMBING FINDS YOU, if you are fortunate and prepared to receive the unique learning and personal growth opportunity it presents. You define climbing and then it defines you...
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 29, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
Tar: A great introspective question.
A life without climbing?

Strangely, although I was very outdoor oriented in my youth, I was not into “risky-schist” before climbing. The fact that I was a 3rd rate athlete may have had something to do with that.

So-------I was doing fly-fishing, hiking, skiing and drugs by the time I took up roped climbing at age 19, but what would have replaced the adrenaline rush I do so enjoy from scaring myself climbing?

Kayaking? Due to climbing contacts I became a river guide, but never was much at kayaking.

Sky-diving? I had friends I met through climbing that were sky-divers. Heidi was a sky-diver and had no climbing background when I met her. I think I would have been bored spit-less by all the standing around, and the party-life would have been the death of me.

Hang-gliding???? I’d be dead or a vegetable.

Let’s be honest here, I’m among friends-----right?

Half the enjoyment of climbing was: for the first time in my life----I was something besides a nerd!

Women ---or at least some of the more interesting women around me, thought climbers were cool!

Woohoo! I had a social life and the adrenaline rush both!
High-scool senior cautious nerd.
High-scool senior cautious nerd.
Credit: Fritz
1971, 4 years later.  Smelly, but confident climber/hippie.
1971, 4 years later. Smelly, but confident climber/hippie.
Credit: Fritz


I guess the only alternative career path would have been to become a piano-player in a whorehouse.

Sigh.

T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Damn Fritz, at first glace I thought it was Buddy Holly!

edit: T Hocking, love your attitude. I'll be in Yosemite the entire month of May....come down and tie in.

Honored Jim and thanks for the kind words and generous offer.
Already have a week in May set aside for kayak fishing on the big blue
out of Shelter Cove, so my wife approved road trip time may be in the red.
If you find yourself in my neck of the woods needing a belay give me a shout. Good luck with the NIAD, I'll be rootin for ya!!
Tad




Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:12pm PT
T Hocking! Re. your comment:
Damn Fritz, at first glace I thought it was Buddy Holly!

I am always bothered looking at those old photos of Buddy Holly. At least he could sing his way to overcoming his nerdish looks.
mhay

climber
Reno, NV
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:18pm PT
I couldn't really pull climbing out of my past and remove it by itself. I grew up backpacking, moved into more demanding travel routes through the mountains and desert as I became a teenager. By the time I was 20 I wanted to get even better at 3rd classing stuff, even though I didn't know at the time that that is what it is called, so I learned how to rock climb. I figured it would be good practice for mountaineering, but quickly figured out how much fun it was in it's own right. It was not introduced to me, I searched it out. For me, it's just another way to travel in and experience wilderness areas. There's also walking, skiing, boating, and running. Risk is not the top of the list for why I take part in activities that others may consider risky. Some people may observe an activity that they view as risky, and their focus is the riskiness. However, there are other reasons for engaging in those activities; natural beauty of the area, self-reliance, connecting with partners, the ability to ignore the rest of the world for a little while and focus on simple and immediate problems.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 29, 2013 - 08:25pm PT
Don't undersell yoursef Fritz....Heidi told me that when you're in the shower there emanates from therein the dulcet tones of a Nightingale.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 10:17pm PT
Thanks for humoring me everyone!
So much good stuff in here and a somewhat busy homework assignment to boot up for. Ha ha.

Why didn't I just say: "dude, what's your back story?". It's the antecedents to climbing that I was looking for and that are coming out so well here.

Donini is correct: what you didn't do is pure conjecture. Using the phrase life without climbing was used more as a hook than anything, but it serves to get the juices of reflection going because it's a subtractive tactic, to see what's underneath.

After carefully reading these, the first nugget I'm gleaning here is that nobody sits down with a beer in high school and thinks to themselves: man I really need to get me some risk and adrenaline happenin' for my bad self ... Where should I turn? We are simply drawn to activities.

Micronut nailed that one:
but its what's around the next bend in life that fascinates me most.

We are all highly curious cats, drawn to places in life that for reasons perhaps not yet so well understood, compell us outward, beyond where we stand.
wstmrnclmr

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:06pm PT
Wow Tar, What a great thought provoking thread. And on topic! Parallel lives.......We were so lucky when younger. We actually had a motorcycle shop in middle school! Rode cycles around the school field instead of baseball. Probably the first and last of it's type. And the first ever GP motocross race was held in Marin at China Camp.
Dick Mann ciraca 1971  Photo: Dave Duffin
Dick Mann ciraca 1971 Photo: Dave Duffin
Credit: wstmrnclmr
That's me lower left holding the helmet about '70 or 71' and that's Dick "Bugsy" Mann who just won the AMA championship. He came out and flat tracked the ball field for us.

Your line about motocross being dangerous and getting in the way of climbing so true although they both are very individualistic sports. But interesting how many here share cycling in our pasts.

I started climbing later (31) and found climbing to be the only thing that could make me focus so intensely and take me as close to meditation as I'll ever come. And that reason still keeps going now. But you are right in that perspectives change due to physical and life changes. The favorite book you read in your youth maybe a completely different read later in life. But that focus is what keeps me climbing. It used to be about goals and numbers but now it's about the experience. And none of us has more or less fun or adventure then anyone else. It really has become relative. So that singular reason for climbing is still much the same as when I started.
Surfing was and still is the parallel to climbing and is also an individual pursuit. I think most who come to climbing are very unique characters for the most part but still, somehow find their people.
Someone on another thread said that the generation before mine thought of athletic pursuit as having a short shelf life and thought that in the case of climbing, you were done by the time you were thirty and you moved on to more serious life pursuits. That perception seems to have changed dramatically and many of us feel that we can climb, at whatever level until old age. Maybe we look at what climbing, as a pursuit means to us differently? But certainly age brings us pause to look back with perspective as you have done Tar. Thanks for a great thread. It's why I come back.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 11:27pm PT
wstrmrnclmr: I was just reading about Dick Mann the other day. He and some of those other 60s & 70s guys still ride and race from what I've understood.

Sports car racing guys: I'd like to know what years you were involved. Again I was just a spectating kid, my old man was a turn worker. I got to see the 1971 'n 1972 Can Am Series: Dennis Hulme in the McLaren, Jackie Stewart in the Lola T260. Followed by the Penske/Donohue Porsche 917 10K 30 dominance which essentially ended it. The Shadows were cool, but didn't get it sorted out in time. Big bore racing like that hasn't been seen since, except perhaps Group B rallying in the mid-80s? Other names of less heralded but keen campaigners come to mind, Milt Mintner, Lothar Motschenbacher, Scooter Patrick, Dennis Hobbs & many more. My father liked to call the guys who could really get it on Doers.
weezy

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
october 1990: got chucked out of the back of a pickup truck that was trying to evade a police car. dislocated pelvis, shattered wrist, yada yada. had a month in traction to re-consider the kind of people i was hanging out with. had a dream about snowboarding in powder so i got a board and clipped tickets at mt. baldy (mt. san antonio). quit hanging out with shitbags and thugs. snowboarder friend was a climber and i prayed he would never asked me to go because i though that sh#t was bananas. he asked anyway and i had to go because i didn't want to look like a punk. climbed some chossy 5.7 underneath the bridge in victorville. saw a picture of the southwest face of el cap and was hooked. climbed a bunch over the next ten years, never sent anything harder than 11+ but whatever. utility player mostly. then i moved to moab and got a mountain bike. solo rides with the pooch started to appeal to me more than digging for partners to go flounder up the sandstone. legs got strong, arms got weak. then i had an accident last september that took me out of the game for a while. tendons, nerves and my ulnar artery. the hard sends are behind me. i'll probably never climb 5.12 but i have my eye on some chossy easy towers and domes with a summit brewski clanking around in my pack. i do want to send standing rock so i'm going to have to get it together at some point. but i'm definitely riding my dirtbike out there for that. and that's where we're at, a climbing career thusfar bookended by serious injury to my left wrist. tommy caldwell is trying to send the hardest route ever with half an index finger so i guess i have no excuse.

see you at the crags.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
Good reads up in here!

Thanks for starting a proper thread tarbuster!
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:47pm PT
utility player mostly
if that does not sum up just about everything in my life so far ,i dont know what would.sorry for my mediocrity,hockey,surfing,bouldering ,lifelong cyclist,bc skiing,kayaking and climbing and mountianeering.

i just hope it does not stop

however you arrive,lets hope it was a hell of a ride,great thread,some real inspiring reads.cheers wilbeer
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 11:47pm PT
Thanks Jefe! Glad to be of service.

willbeer: brevity works!

T Hocking: thanks for that wonderful pictorial spread from your father!

Illustrative to say the least:
My parents had told me that when I was a toddler they would often find me
climbing or on the top of furniture or cabinets around the house. They had a tall dresser/armoire that I would climb using the drawer handles for holds, I'd get to the top and just sit up there until they got me down.

Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
Jan 30, 2013 - 12:10am PT
Alpine ski racing that led to bordem of organized racing. The goal became to climb steep backcountry lines and ski them. After scaring myself on the climb portion a number of times, I figured it was time to fall in with some true climbers and learn rope skills. College in Boulder and the realization that I was going to kill myself skiing increasingly steeper and more dangerous lines led me to the relative security of the rock :-)
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 30, 2013 - 12:10am PT
Tarbuster;
thanks for the best concise topic on this forum, except perhaps for the too open-ended "A life with Climbing" thread (sorry if that was said up-thread, I didn't read it all).

()= over-share alert
For me it's just so difficult to imagine. I don't climb enough now; but I do some, and climber is still how I think of myself. I think back to high school (1968) and my mom was dying and I needed something. I hope it wasn't a choice between life and death, but it kind of still feels that way.

dar
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:45pm PT
Tarbuster,

Really interesting, and pertinent question. I had to have enough time to give it a proper response.

Do you think it was inevitable you'd find something else sort of risky to sharpen your teeth on?

Were you already doing some parallel physical activity, perhaps similar in terms of passion and risk prior to becoming a climber and would you still be doing it instead?

I'm not sure I ever jumped into climbing because I was attracted to risk. I very well may have been attracted to risk but it wasn't conscious. Unlike most of the posters here I wasn't very athletic, I wasn't very strong, and I wasn't particularly good at physical activity. I played violin in the orchestra. PE ruined my GPA. I often ran stairs other than participate in team sports during class. I was on the swim team but I wasn't very good.

What I found when I went climbing was something that I was, or at least could be, good at. It was a big deal. It had a huge effect on my self esteem. I think it changed my life in that it gave me confidence in my career, socially, all those non-climbing things. I was also attracted to the colorful cast of eccentric characters that seemed to populate the sport in those time. Some of those are still great friends. I'm not sure there really was another sport that could have fulfilled me in those ways.

What would that alternate activity to climbing be in your case?

Possibly back-country skiing since most of us do that anyway. Mountain biking? Hard to know.

Has that pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?

This is perhaps the most interesting aspect to this research to me. I think there are negatives, although probably not in the sense many do. I never thought that gear, protection, styles and ethics would remain constant. I'm mostly a sport climber myself these days and love clipping bolts on steep rock. Seems a natural progression.

What concerns me is my reliance on climbing. It is integral to my validation, my happiness, my social life. I'm not sure I like being dependent on something like this as a single source of contentment. What happens if I have an injury that I can't recover from? What happens when I get older and can't crank hard anymore? I'm seriously worried about that.

Climbing has for me been about goals. It doesn't even matter what they are, so much, whether it is a wall on El Cap or the green route in the gym. Those goals, that sense of purpose, seem hard to find a suitable substitute for. For me, it's all about the process of working on those goals, much more so even than the outcome. What would life be like without those little projects to aspire to?

mike
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
Wow Roy, good one! I'm gonna have to think on this, because it pretty hard for me to rembember much about before climbing...but I ca say I was headed in that direction by 4th or 5th grade...
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jan 30, 2013 - 08:33pm PT
Seems like I may be a little atypical, but I was totally a jock my whole life. First football/baseball/basketball, then swimming and water polo, and then rock climbing. Well, actually the last two overlapped. When I'm really being honest with myself, I have to admit that I was only a decent football player (receiver), mediocre baseball player, and an average white guy with below-average jumping ability as a basketball player. If it wasn't for climbing, particularly in light of the athletic success of my (4) older brothers in all of the non-climbing sports, sheesh, for all I know I would have committed suicide. There was a particular moment in my baseball "career"...I think I was a freshman in high school. Anyhow, in left field I ran up (that is, towards home plate)on a fly ball that soared over my head (that is 180 degrees away from home plate). I'm sure if I met any of my former team mates, they could and would hold this over me (damn them!)

So what was the question? Oh yeah...I would be some pathetic weekend warrior pondering the fact that I was the 5th-most talented brother in my family in my pathetic little other sport of choice.
Michelle

Social climber
Toshi's Station, picking up power converters.
Jan 30, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
I've always been doing alot of stuff outdoors as well as individual sports or dance. Gymnastics, artistic skating for years, dance, cheerleading (yes, seriously). I started snowboarding but never liked hard lines, more of the big sweeping turns and I like to xc ski. I did some kayaking, but again, nothing extreme. and then..

CLIMBING FINDS YOU

I blew off my engineering degree and haven't looked back. I'm cool with how things turned out, despite the many ups and downs. I wouldn't be the person I am today :)

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 30, 2013 - 09:13pm PT
Mike Friedrichs answered one of the questions:
question: "Has that pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?"

Answer: This is perhaps the most interesting aspect to this research to me. I think there are negatives, although probably not in the sense many do. I never thought that gear, protection, styles and ethics would remain constant. I'm mostly a sport climber myself these days and love clipping bolts on steep rock. Seems a natural progression.

I know you are a reader Mike so this tells me I didn't pose the question so clearly:

What I'm looking for is a comparison with climbing to your previous passions. And I'm asking if your morals, ethics, worldview and that kind of stuff have changed because of your climbing having taken you to a different place than you were.

For instance: I was into motorsports, they may not be the most ecologically sound pursuits, while conversely, climbing trends in a direction of ecological conscience. So would I now look on motorsports through a different lens, perhaps even negatively. Well, with me particularly the answer is no. But someone else might say: "I saw the light and gave up all of that nasty polluting ripping around in cars and on motorcycles, tearing up the desert and so forth".

Or the flipside might be: "I was a bike racer and that got fouled up by doping so I'm glad to be out of it and glad I didn't stay with it. Climbing is 'cleaner'".
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jan 31, 2013 - 12:53am PT
It's simple. A life without creativity or discovery would be dreary. Climbing is only one aspect, transitory for most at that.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2013 - 12:56am PT
I had to know this list of questions was a bit lengthy and potentially convoluted.
I'm really psyched to read what people have done with it!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2013 - 12:56am PT
Question:Where the hell are we?

Answer(s):

Geographically: Northern Hemisphere
Socially: on the margins
Narratively: with some way to go!

 From: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
cowpoke

climber
Jan 31, 2013 - 08:21am PT
Imagine you'd never been introduced to climbing: big fork in the road type hypothetical thought experiment.
...
This is a direct query about our innate drives and how we find an outlet for them and what other kinds of things might have met that need for self-expression.

At the risk of hyperbole, I believe you have posed a beautiful call to introspection. The beauty is, I believe, in recognizing from the outset the confounding dilemma of gene-environment correlations, and forcing us to wrestle with that correlation in our own lives. Thus far, I have found the challenge too great to finish formulating my personal reply (I keep going back and re-writing my history, and struggling to see it in a coherent path, for better or worse), but the alternative life-trajectory hypotheses (and evaluations relative to contemporary state of pre-climbing pursuits/passions) of those of you who have tackled this head on are fabulous.

In a further effort to delay posting my story, and yet feel I have managed a contribution to the thread (small as it may be), I'll add a story of a field grappling with the issue that makes Tarbuster's clever question(s) so elegant.

In 1983, the Yale developmental psychologist Sandra Scarr and her then graduate student Kathleen McCartney (recently announced as the incoming president of Smith College) published a theoretical slap on the wrist to the field of psychology (and all disciplines tempted to understand human development and behavior simply through observation of person in context). The point of the paper: genes and environments are correlated, in a developmentally progressive manner.

In a nutshell, here is the progression:

First, genes and environments are correlated in a passive manner. The correlation is considered passive because the child has no choice in the matter: both the genes and the environment are provided to the child. For example, parents who are athletically gifted pass along both the genetic material related to that giftedness and, usually, provide an environment correlated with that giftedness (e.g., sports are emphasized in the home).

Second, genes and environments are correlated in an evocative manner. Beginning early in life, children evoke from their environments responses that are correlated with their genes. Imagine, for example, an elementary school field trip is taken to the mountains for a nature hike: when the naturally gifted climber/scrambler takes off ahead of her classmates, jumping from rock to rock and scampering up talus and choss, her teacher might exclaim: "Suzzie, you little mountain goat, you! Hey, everyone look where Suzzie is, up on that boulder!" Which, in turn, likely reinforces for Suzzie a continued engagement in the activities for which she was genetically predisposed.

Third, genes and environments are correlated in an active manner, because we niche pick in a fashion that is correlated with our genes. Suzzie, for example, when choosing between colleges very well may think about matters other than academics such as: "How far is school x from world-class climbing?"

If of no other use, this rambling underscores the beauty of the original question(s): it took me multiple paragraphs to explain the crux of a question that Tarbuster sets up in a couple sentences and a few bullet points on chance, choice, and innate drives. Parsimony = elegance.

Now, back to introspecting...

[But not before saying: I hope my effusive praise is not mistaken for anything other than genuine delight that you are back around these parts, Roy. Like the hero come to save the damsel in distress, just in the nick of time. (uggh, speaking of evoking: ST as a fair maiden, huh?)]
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Nice, furthering and deepening the discussion is worth more than any praise! Great job.

And remember the question which elicited the fewest responses:

Has that [pre-climbing]pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?

To paraphrase: do you see your starting point differently now?

Cowpoke: following your deconstruction of my study and looking into the extra stuff that you brought with, namely the nature/nurture collusion as the antecedent, I would hazard to guess that none of us really broached that orphaned question (controlling for it just being poorly written of course) because we don't typically encounter much friction or cognitive dissonance with our past passions. Climbing is an outgrowth of those earlier pursuits. Those earlier pursuits were the incubator!

As with bronze baby booties, or our "eggshells" ... We have little other than fondness for them!
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Feb 2, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
I happened upon this by skywalker:

...but I'm NOT a climber!...

However the theme in my life has been one of "alternative" recreation, so I think I'd be O.K. without climbing but will always be a weirdo.

...and then went back to the beginning and read everything, my eyes practically popping out of my head by the time I finished reading cowpoke's post on genetics & environment.

All this being said, I don't think I'm in a place to comment on climbing from the perspective of it being a fork in the road, having only very recently ever even entertained the thought. Lest you think I'm going nowhere with this, and to prevent your eyes from rolling back in your head in boredom over a n00b's ramblings, I'll try* to address the questions.

I grew up believing that I had no athletic ability, that I was too big/cumbersome, that I was lazy and at best, a bookworm. I didn't discover this side of myself (except for having been on skis since I was 4) until my 20s, and only later then that I'm mad about adrenaline.

A word about being "A" anything (see skywalker's quote above): This struck a chord with me because I've always resisted calling myself anything, except maybe a skier because I've been on skis for as long as I can remember. I'm not a climber, swimmer, golfer, blader, gymnast, yogi, lawyer...whatever. These are things in which I engage and/or that I train at/am learning to do. I would mostly consider myself an aspiring any-of-those-things -- life is a learning process until the sun goes down and the stars don't appear.

I've always challenged myself with the things I'm least good at. Perhaps because this is where the unknown lies. This particular trait caused a lot of friction in my family growing up, as did my innate stubbornness, which, as my parents will tell you, they tried to quash. The harder they pushed me towards conformity, the more steadfast I became in my belief that there was a conspiracy amongst "normal" people to override and crush individuation, original thought and the very idea that any "known" entity could and should be questioned (if for no other reason than it was a good mental exercise, and who knows, something new might pop out...gasp). As an 18-year-old, the idea of flock-dom scared the sh*t out of me due to its blind uniformity...and very dull prospect of ever involving anything remotely new or interesting, so I decided to take a year off and head to Germany to work as an au-pair. (The school called my parents and asked them to try to talk me out of going abroad because it would have a negative impact on the school's "straight to college" percentage. True story.)

I'm a "weirdo", too, I guess. I've stated elsewhere that when I went to Facelift 2012, it was the first time I ever felt like I fit in anywhere, which in and of itself was a r e a l l y s t r a n g e experience. I'll leave it at that.

I'm not doing a good job of answering questions, I don't think, but I'll just offer that these are the thoughts that the questions evoked, for whatever it's worth.

Twice I've been climbing on rock. Thank you, Ben & Dale and Ed & Anders...for introducing me to the dark side...wicked, tantalizing master that it is. Great BIG grin.

Prior to learning who my birth parents were, I never once entertained the idea. Madness. Horrifying. And totally pointless. Somewhere between early March of last year and some unidentifiable point in time thereafter, I got clipped in to a rope to which I'll be attached until my sun goes down for the last time. I'm not a climber, but am drawn to climb. (Where did my paralyzing fear of heights go, I'd like to know?)

cowpoke highlighted some really interesting concepts and observations, and I'll have read about the research. TFPU, cowpoke.

I don't think that I would have ever wound up climbing had it not been for Don Lauria posting up the Dolt Stories thread. (I tried for months to figure out what a "mountaineer" is before learning in April or so last year that my birth parents were connected through a love of climbing, and...er...a certain affinity the Dolt had for ( . )( . ), which apparently run in the big and beautiful category in my birth mom's family and, naturally, skipped my genetic lottery. LOL.)

Yet, at the same time, from the limited exposure I've had to actual climbing, voracious reading of stories, articles, books, forum posts, etc., climbing just fits....me. As far as I can tell, it requires balance, with a desire and willingness to move and play with every possible variation of balance one could intuitively explore...100% presence and complete awareness of all things external and internal (including all 5 (maybe 6) senses), with the ability to absorb and process all of this information in a non-linear fashion...ability to control emotions and be disciplined mentally together with 100% access to unbounded creativity at the same time (and the understanding that these are not inherently opposing forces). There's a certain desire to be continually bombarded with puzzles, dead ends, what ifs, failures...and the knowledge that in one's deepest recesses the strength and will are there to try to overcome any obstacle again, and again, and again, even when reasonable prospects are dim (and to be enlivened by these prospects...and to genuinely desire more).

An idea I've been thinking about for many months now, is whether there is a possible genetic necessity to continually bump up against and exceed previous physical limitations and knowledge of terrain, including regular, all out efforts, for both mental and physical survival. Switching to a no-grain diet and swimming 6 days per week literally saved my life almost 1.5 years ago. Prior to that, I had been virtually house-bound for 5 years (and chronically depressed for 40), without medical explanation. Until I climbed with Ben for the very first time last year, I had never experienced a sport that completely exhausts the body from head to toe and that was simultaneously so mentally stimulating and exhilarating. If I didn't have to work to both dig myself out of the financial hole being sick for 6 years created and provide for my little muppet, I can tell you without hesitation that I would be climbing anything and everything I could find.

While I may have figured out how to get my life back health-wise, I would never have ever known who I AM relative to this world but for Don Lauria and BooDawg, who provided me with the connections to the origins of my life...right here on the Taco. In my heart I will be forever grateful. Thank you Don, BooDawg and CMac, for giving me the gift of climbing and more.

LilaBiene

* I tried, I really did.

Edit: Okay, I did a mass edit and will give it a go again another time. I don't enjoy re-reading my garbage at all! ;D
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 2, 2013 - 09:09pm PT
A life without climbing....hell, i have trouble going a day without climbing.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 3, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Hang tuff Jim! We are all pulling for you. Heh.

LilaBiene suggested an answer to Jim's ... er, Struggle:

whether there is a possible genetic necessity to continually bump up against and exceed previous physical limitations and knowledge of terrain, including regular, all out efforts, for both mental and physical survival

* I tried, I really did.

And you succeeded!
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Feb 3, 2013 - 11:26am PT
Took an awful long and meandering trail, though, eh? I'll edit down the excessive drivel. ")
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Feb 3, 2013 - 12:38pm PT
Has that [pre-climbing]pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?

For sure. But I think it had a lot more to do with the climbers and perhaps less so with the climbing. I grew up in a very conservative family, in every sense of the word. It was also very tightly controlled -- who my friends were, what my activities were, values, politics.

The crazy, eclectic, creative, sometimes self-destructive, emotional, authentic nature of the people I met along the way had a profound effect on me and changed my earlier path about 180 degrees. I no longer saw experimentation as a distraction from the goal but perhaps the goal itself. Instead of being closed and judgmental (although I can fall into this at times, as most of us perhaps do), I became a lot more open to all the possibilities that this wonderful journey provides, both on and off the rock.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 3, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
Thank you for revisiting that Mike!

The crazy, eclectic, creative, sometimes self-destructive, emotional, authentic nature of the people I met along the way had a profound effect on me and changed my earlier path about 180 degrees

Perfect.
So you look back on your earlier pursuits as having been overly regimented. This is an outcome of the expanded perspective which your climbing activities have rendered.

We really could float the question in a separate thread: "How Has Climbing Changed You". I'd like to look around a little deeper and see if we already have one, it's such a no-brainer.
yedi

Trad climber
Stanwood,wa
Feb 3, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Hey Tarbuster, there is a national org for those of us who still love to race old dirt bikes on courses designed for them. Check out AHRMA. We have organized races all over. Look at AHRMA NW for events N. Cal.up to Canada
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 3, 2013 - 03:29pm PT
Took an awful long and meandering trail, though, eh? I'll edit down the excessive drivel. ")

Dontchya dare...I am entranced by your writings!

Susan
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Feb 3, 2013 - 04:16pm PT
I got involved with risk sports when I was 17 and started whitewater kayaking. I was pretty good at it and I had zero judgement- which meant i was up for most anything.
My skill level was a solid class IV boater and a good 5.10 trad leader.
I ended up getting a job at the local EMS which then brought me into a group of people who rock climbed.
On and Off to college- I basically failed my way through school but I did graduate (after 8 years--being a freshman really were three of the best years of my life!) I had a bucket list and part of that was to take these long solo hitch hike trips out west to go climbing.
I had very little money and the climbing scene did not require cash so that was a good fit.
Climbing helped me get a lot stronger and definitely took the chip off of my shoulder.
I have never had the nerve to get it up day after day after day- i would always get crushed with a good solid case of Snail Eye.
When I started teaching and got married the need/desire/ability to pursue risk sports tapered off and was replaced with other things.
I'm glad I climbed and I'm glad I was fortunate enough to never have had a bad accident.
I think Bridwell said something to the effect of you won't remember the moves but you'll remember the people you climbed with. I found this to be true- I liked the climbing crowd and the social scene. It felt so hip to be broke, dirty and dedicated to a pointless craft.
The other thing about climbing was it gave me a reason to venture out into the world, and out there nobody gave a shti about what slot you fit into in high school. It was just On Belay and off we go. So nice to have a chance at a clean slate.
nah000

Mountain climber
canuckistan
Feb 3, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
appreciating the contributions you've been making tarbuster. another interesting, worthwhile and, for me personally, timely set of questions. you should get business cards with campfire conversation curator printed on them.

back to the questions: the first fork was away from skiing. but, likely, this was only due to the happenstance of the landscape my formative years were spent on. growing up on the western canadian prairie, there was no climbing within a half days drive [and believe me i checked. i even looked over the geological mapping. there was nothing except a couple of glacial erratics for hundreds of miles in every direction]. so though i climbed trees like a m-f from a very early age, and knew that i wanted to climb rocks after having the good fortune of tagging along with a couple of mountaineers in the canadian rockies, there were no convenient opportunities. otoh, there was a river valley skihill 45 min away. so that is how i spent my weekends and the evenings when nightskiing was available.

when i moved away, i chose where i went to university in large part so i would be close to somewhere i could learn to climb. within a few months i was obsessed with climbing. by the end of the first year i had effectively dropped out because of that obsession. the next few years were centred around road tripping, cragging, and making money to facilitate those adventures.

after this first fork, there have been many more. in retrospect balance has not been my strong suit. haha. i have, in turn, become singularly focused on skiing, climbing, ski touring, construction, etc. by the time i was done each phase i'd be burnt out either physically, emotionally, or psychologically, and i'd turn to the next pursuit. each one of these pursuits would have similar themes, but would also be different enough that i could recover from the aspects of the previous pursuit that had left parts of me drained.

and so as i've been thinking about this question i've been realizing how even the way i've chosen to make a living has really been just an extension of the same core motivations. and to cut to the chase, these pursuits are all centered around the desire [need even?] to be creative, to explore my bodies endurance capabilities, to be either my own boss or in a small team, to be outdoors, and to be, at times, in a martial environment.

and so the short answer is that if i didn't climb, i would have just spent more time on the other activities i've been involved in. because in the end, they are all just extensions of the same drivers.

but this is a bit of a non answer and most of this i already knew about myself. in continuing to think about it i realized that much of who i am has to do with where i happened to be raised. for example, i suspect if i'd been born in an inner city, prior to artificial climbing walls, and far away from natural rock climbing/skiing/etc, i probably would have ended up in the martial arts, even though that is something i have never pursued [my brother otoh, ...].

and so all of this ends up tying back to cowpokes post a bit back. the correlation between genetics [so many of these tendencies and drivers are exhibited by many within my family] and in this case the physical environments that those genetics have been intertwined with.

i once had a dream that i was showing up at a martial arts gym asking for training, because i wanted to fight. the "master" just looked at me laughed and in dream communication said: at your age?

this lifes weaving of paths, landscapes, families, eras, forks... it's a beautiful one, even if it tends towards the brutally short. interesting to think of what might have been as a vehicle to understanding what has become.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Feb 3, 2013 - 09:43pm PT
None of this would have happened had it not been for climbing.

I would have been an angry working stiff with no means for a means for a better anything.

I was a worker with nothing on my plate. Spending plenty of money on getting stoned and not thinking that I had any kind of future.

I owe everything to the UPS lady who let me know about the gym that was within walking distance to my then apartment/townhouse share.

The short version: I would never have developed into the truly wonderful person I am now without my exposure to climbing.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Feb 3, 2013 - 10:38pm PT
A Life without climbing
would be a, No life for me.
Bad Climber

climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 12:23am PT
Wow, a totally different existence--and hard to imagine. I was into hiking and hunting with my dad, so I suppose I would have continued in those activities, perhaps graduating to some sort of extreme big game hunting like Dall sheep in Alaska or something. I've always had an intense, rather romantic view and love of the outdoors, so that would probably have continued. But without climbing? Let's see: I would have married a different woman, and our last 26 years together have been the rock (pun intended) of my life would have been with a different person for sure. We met when I was working outdoor retail and she needed crampons--true story. Had SHE not been a climber, she never would have come into that store.

Like many here, much of my life has been constructed, bent, directed to get me into the mountains and up on the rock. Whatever short detours I've taken have always led me back to where I began, a fifteen year old punk yearning for something bigger, wilder, more committing than life on the flats. The road not taken? I didn't take it.

BAd
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2013 - 12:39am PT
This thing is really cooking right along ain't it! You are all such swell sports.

Yedi suggested:
there is a national org for those of us who still love to race old dirt bikes on courses designed for them.
Thanks for highlighting that specific organization! I've understood a lot of this retro racing has been going on. If my arms didn't get totally pumped searching through my pack for things like antacids or my bus pass, I'd be all over it. I would own and campaign just these two early 70s bikes: Penton 175 Jackpiner, Maico 250 radial, Bultaco Pursang, Ossa Stiletto, and CZ Falta. (Just those two, no more … heh) … But/and/also maybe something like a 125 Rickman Zundapp Metisse , or better yet/and/or/probably also a Hindall framed thumper. Yes like that: I'd keep it simple!

Hobo Dan, dropped a perennial favorite! :
--being a freshman really were three of the best years of my life!

nah000 cut to the chase:
in the end, they are all just extensions of the same drivers
these pursuits are all centered around the desire [need even?] to be creative, to explore my bodies endurance capabilities, to be either my own boss or in a small team, to be outdoors, and to be, at times, in a martial environment.
& Also noted something I just got lucky with when composing this junket:
interesting to think of what might have been as a vehicle to understanding what has become.

SCSeagoat said to LilaBiene about downsizing her contribution, and I heartily agree as I read every phrase with rapt attention:
Dontchya dare...I am entranced by your writings!
yedi

Trad climber
Stanwood,wa
Feb 4, 2013 - 11:03am PT
1967 CZ 360 twinport
1967 CZ 360 twinport
Credit: yedi
Tarbuster, most of us are in the same boat. Although the skill level runs from ex-pro to green novice we are all in separate skill classes and motos. The bikes you mentioned are all out there too. Here are 2 of the bikes I rebuilt and have been racing the last few years:[photo
This is 1963 Jawa 350 twinpipe motocrosser. The only one racing in the...
This is 1963 Jawa 350 twinpipe motocrosser. The only one racing in the US at this time.
Credit: yedi
id=288082]

The key to it is just having fun. It took me till I was 45 to actualize the dream I had to race MX when I was 13, never got the chance back then. After 25 some odd years of climbing and not going much I needed the adrenaline jump, the road trips and comradeship that stuff like this involves.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Feb 4, 2013 - 11:29am PT
Tarbuster writes:

'We really could float the question in a separate thread: "How Has Climbing Changed You". I'd like to look around a little deeper and see if we already have one, it's such a no-brainer.'

I'm not certain whether this occurred on this forum or another one, likely
rec.climbing, but Matisse (formerly known as something else) had the show-
stopping response:

"Bigger boobs, smaller ass. YMMV."
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
This is a great thread and a great question, Tarbuster.

I cannot even imagine what my life would have been like without climbing. In the first place, climbing for me is inextricably linked with my husband of thirty plus years, who was the person to introduce me to climbing. It's hard to imagine the path my life would have taken without him.

Secondly, I didn't know that such a thing as "rock climbing" existed when I met my husband. I grew up in an urban/suburban environment in a large working poor family. We never took vacations so the only natural environment I knew were the New England woods near my house. I loved to walk in them with my dog. Then I went to college and grad school in a city and the only outdoors stuff I did was ride my bike through the city streets to class, and to go for walks along the Charles or at the Arboretum.

Without meeting my husband and without climbing, I probably would have gotten into hiking at some point, but probably only day hikes. I would probably look very different than I do. At 60 now, I'm still pretty fit. I have no willpower and I love to eat but the desire to be able to climb and do approaches and descents has given me enough motivation over the years to keep in some semblance of shape.

And with that - I need to get to the gym!
Thanks for the topic!
Phyl
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Feb 4, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
Most of my childhood I was one of the last ones left to be picked for teams, along with the obese or mentally deficient kids. Maybe that was a side-effect of moving a lot and always being the new kid. It frustrated me because I thought I had more to offer, though I was continually reminded that others didn't see it that way. By high school I rose to the level of proper mediocrity, captain of the football team (along with the only other 4 players left in 12th grade at my small school) but that was my sporting zenith.

Climbing helped my athletic self-image take a turn for the better. It's not so much that I'm good or even mediocre at it, but that there are relatively few people doing it to perform at a lesser standard than me!

Heh heh I don't spend much time comparing myself to others for athletic ability, but I do have more confidence about my abilities from backpacking, climbing, and outdoor adventures.

Without climbing, hell I would probably be a cubicle monkey chasing the corporate ladder, fairly "successfully" with a growing pot belly and butt to match. Now I'm a work-from-home monkey hanging on the corporate fringe but trying not to get too dirty from it, and enjoying an overall balanced and comfortable life.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 4, 2013 - 05:29pm PT
Nutjob I've found some of your adventure reports to be truly inspirational.

I mean that.

DMT
mhay

climber
Reno, NV
Feb 4, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
Now I'm a work-from-home monkey hanging on the corporate fringe but trying not to get too dirty from it, and enjoying an overall balanced and comfortable life.

Well played Nutjob. I'm trying to go that route also.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Feb 4, 2013 - 07:22pm PT
After reading some of the other very honest answers I decided to post, even though it is nothing I talk about, even to my good friends...


So I was born in the end of 1986 in an area that received a lot of radiation post Chernobyl disaster (which happened in the spring of 1986 I believe). Not sure if it was a cause, but since I was 5 years old I have met MUCH MUCH more doctors than I had friends. I was hospitalized wayyyy more times than I left the town. I had severe asthma and a skin condition (I used to scratch myself till the skin on parts of my hands/legs was literally gone). At one point in time I had weekly blood transfusions because my body was covered with pus filled pimples (arms, legs, back, all over). It would be up and down, better and worse.
When my family moved to USA it got better. The climate here helped me get over my asthma. I started playing sports at a playground but not enough. Through my first 3 years in high school I worked in Dominos Pizza and got free food as a benefit. My diet sucked and by the time I was 16.5, I weighted 300 lbs!

I joined my high school (George Washington in SF) football team in 2003 and lost 40 lbs in a year. We also were undefeated SF champions in m senior year- 2004. After HS I started running, lfting weights, and boxing. 18-23 I would do a lot of boxing, muay thai and weight lifting.
Summer 2009, my boxing coach invited to go up Mt. Shasta. By that time I was 220 lbs of mostly muscle (at 6'2). I used my HS backpack, borrowed sleeping bag, no pad, no crampons, no ice axe- neither of us knew wtf we were doing. It was my first camping trip ever. I got to the summit pinnacle and got down alive because the snow allowed me to glissade. I didn't want to do anything with snow till I started doing peaks in Tahoe in January 2010. Than my friends and I did Whitney in March 2010 where I fell in love with mountaineering. Later I started climbing in the gym and a bit outside. Did a lot of peak bagging in Sierra in 2010 and completed Sierra Challenge (2010). After which I got into trad climbing and fell in love. In 2011 a friend and I did Mt. Denali unguided. A few month ago I did my first onsight 5.10c lead in Yosemite on cracks and a few days ago did my first onsight of a 5.10c face climb at owens river gorge. I love climbing and I hope it keeps my health only improving. It feels unreal to visit some of the places I see and be able to do things I do after not being able to run at all, having transfusions, constant hospital stays etc etc. I mean, running a lap around a track was a big milestone for me at one point. Hell, waking up without wheezing was one of the best mornings of my life. Oh and now I weight 180lbs- 120 lbs less than what I weighted when I was 16.5!

Without climbing I would probably have much more social life than I do now. Would lift weights and talk about what some guy on TV said/did.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 4, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
^^^ Amazing story, thanks for posting it.

DMT
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Feb 4, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
+1
Very inspirational story.
Tad
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 4, 2013 - 08:26pm PT
You've come a long way vitaliy!
Amazing the personal transformations we can credit to the mountains(and ourselves, really)
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 4, 2013 - 08:44pm PT
From my Nose in a day TR

Again, it was weird, 35 years before I had first climbed El Cap. I was 18 years old and a senior in High School. Climbing had changed my life back then and here I was, 35 years later, living that changed life. I wondered how it could have turned out differently and couldn’t think of anything.

Now, four years later, same story.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 4, 2013 - 08:47pm PT
Vitality, DANG!!!!

Congratulations, good work and keep at it!,
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
I knew you'd come through with something vital for us Vitaliy.
No pun intended & thanks for posting!
john hansen

climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
You gotta figure its gonna be a pretty good story when it starts with,,

"So I was born in the end of 1986 in an area that received a lot of radiation post Chernobyl disaster "
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 4, 2013 - 11:04pm PT
Like many here, I was never particularly athletic and certainly not at team sports. I got into the out of doors because my family had a summer cabin up in the Colorado mountains and I used to go hiking on my days off from working at the local dude ranch. I heard about the fun trips my father and uncles took into the Snowmass Wilderness area on horseback and got invited along only because I promised to do all the cooking. The first Outward Bound school was established just above our cabin and I applied year after year to work there but was told that their institution was too tough for a girl (15 years later they did hire women instructors and I worked for them one summer). My parents stopped going to our cabin in the summers but I continued to work there and live alone in our cabin even though I was only in high school. I also spent Christmas vacations there by myself.

The summer before I went to CU in Boulder I was particularly active at high altitude hiking and arrived in Boulder very fit. My first weekend there I went with the CU Hiking Club to Rocky Mountain National Park, where I met a guy named Joe O'Laughlin who offered to teach me rock climbing. i was scared when trying to rappel and leaned in too far and fell, which was the best thing that ever happened as I learned the belay rope holds and I was never afraid to risk falling after that. About a month after I started climbing I met Layton Kor at a party and the next day we were climbing together in Eldorado. I loved the greater physical challenge that rock climbing provided and being out of doors. It's hard to imagine now but often Layton and I were the only ones climbing on beautiful spring days in Eldorado. I also climbed with Larry Dalke, Pat Ament and Rodger Raubach.

Two years later, I moved to California via a summer in Yosemite thanks to Rodger giving me a ride out, and so in 1965, was the first girl to stay on her own in Camp 4 as a climber not attached to another climber. Later I met and married my husband, Frank Sacherer. A few years later we went to Europe and in the Alps I developed a love of big snow mountains which was only magnified when I went to the Himalayas. My professional career as an anthropologist was made in large part because I was able to survive a year at 12,000 feet in a very remote and primitive Himalayan village. By the time I got there, I had already been toughened up by my mountaineering experiences.

I think I can say that I pretty much owe everything good in my life to mountaineering and the mountains, of which I see rock climbing as only one part. As for danger, I never perceived rock climbing as dangerous. Only two people had been killed during the 1960's ( Jim Baldwin and Jim Madsen) both by preventable errors. Also, fortunately, that era was free of the rock fall that the Valley has suffered in later years. The Alps of course were another story.


Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Feb 5, 2013 - 01:29am PT
I knew you'd come through with something vital for us Vitaliy.

I saw your post where you encouraged me to post here, but wasn't sure if I should post, or how much. It actually felt good to share it, it has been sitting in me for a long time. So grateful to my mom and grandma for helping me get through the hell with my health. Now it feels great to try different things and see if I could do something I couldn't even imagine. Climbing helped me a lot. It is like meditation in a way. Another reality, where the past doesn't matter, and the only thing that does is here and now- the moment. It is kind of like going to a place of worship in a way, if that makes sense to anyone...
john hansen

climber
Feb 5, 2013 - 01:35am PT
Jan, you are a truly positive influence here. Always respect your post's
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Feb 5, 2013 - 09:10am PT
Bump for AWE...
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Feb 5, 2013 - 11:34am PT
Good story, Jan!
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Feb 5, 2013 - 11:47am PT
Vitaly's story (as many others) is awesome! You always do such great TRs, and to hear your back story is downright inspirational. Thanks for sharing what (if I understood you correctly) you don't often share.

As for me, I always steered away from team sports, except for out in the street in front of my house. I got into climbing in '75 in Poway, CA (I was 17), after watching that Chuck Connors narrated show "Thrill Seekers" (the episode about the filming of the Mike Hoover short, "Solo").

Prior to that, my focus was rodeo. I wanted so badly to be a bull rider. I had a horse (a family horse, actually, but I ended up being the only one who rode), taught myself tons of rope tricks, built a bucking barrel in my backyard, and was pretty obsessed. Once I found climbing, though, the shift was complete. I'm actually glad I never became a bull rider, though it still fascinates me.

I've since added sea kayaking to my list of stuff I do, and love to play in the whirlpool gnar of Deception Pass, etc., but if the sun is shining and the rock is dry...climbing still wins.
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Feb 5, 2013 - 11:50am PT
None of this would have happened had it not been for climbing.

Thankfully Chris Mac was into climbing, so he started a website that allowed us to tell are tales
Bad Climber

climber
Feb 5, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
Damn, Vitaly. You my new hero. Hope to see you out in the Sierras some day. Keep the faith.

BAd
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 5, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Another reality, where the past doesn't matter, and the only thing that does is here and now- the moment

Ummmm....probably what I love the most about climbing, mountaineering, and sailing.

Thanks Mike for your story...at the first line I thought it was going to be a satire then I went holy sheeeettttt.....

Susan
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Feb 5, 2013 - 04:28pm PT
Thanks for sharing what (if I understood you correctly) you don't often share.

Yes. I never shared it with anyone (I shared that I was very overweight, and had asthma but not about how bad it was and not about my skin), till I told my climbing partner this last weekend. It made me feel a bit better about it, because I was not hiding/running away from my past anymore. That's why I decided to share it here. In the past, a few people asked me why I like hard outings in the mountains etc, and I think this story in a way answers that question. Since I couldn't do any sports for most of my life (not by own will), it is natural for me to have the desire to test my body and what I can do. Can I climb this peak? Can I climb El Cap? Can I climb 5.XX? How about all that in a day? etc etc. It is exciting to finally being able to do things. And since I was born after the Chernobyl disaster in an area that got so much radiation, I don't really know if my life will be long or not (lots of people died and continue to die do to cancer in that area). So I try to live the life while I can...who knows what is coming.
...thank you all for positive comments. It means a lot. But let's hear some other stories... :)
cowpoke

climber
Feb 6, 2013 - 09:06am PT
Such a great op and continued probing, Tarbuster, and the responses (from funny to inspiring) are fabulous. Nonetheless, it has been a challenge for me to work through this thought experiment, and I’m not precisely sure why. Part of the issue is perhaps that much of my life without climbing was embarrassingly typical: frustrated, upper-middle-class-White-American-teen (who has to add the "upper" so you know I wasn't really middle class) = an undeserved abundance of resources, most notably a loving family, that all too often I took for granted and did not use for my well-being or others’. Climbing came during a positive transition for me, but what ailed (ails?) me is grossly inappropriate to juxtapose alongside real obstacles to life chances (e.g., radiation fallout from Chernobyl!). I was just a stupid, selfish kid yearning for risks big enough to quiet the angst…an angst that I believed was peculiar to me, but was nothing if not typical, average, commonplace.

So, yes, Roy: I would have found something risky, or at least kept searching, if climbing hadn’t found me. And, because climbing didn’t find me till my early-20s, I had some opportunities to try out alternative risk avenues: skiing and drugs, most notably. Skiing pretty quickly bored me stupid and the drug story isn’t anything we haven’t all heard a thousand times: “crack, yummy…hey where did all my family and friends go?”

Do I look back on pre-climbing pursuits differently than I viewed them at the time? Yes, having kids and teaching them to ski, for example, has been something of a family skiing renaissance – so much more fun than I remembered it.

Shortly before climbing found me, I got loved into a life worth living. Married at 20, we worked our way through college together and mid-way to our undergrad degrees, we started climbing together. It will be 21 years of climbing this year and 25 years of marriage next year.

But, what if the climbing part hadn’t happened? That is the piece I struggle most to answer. Contemplating this last bit evokes melancholy. I’m as screwed up as the next person, but I like where climbing helped take us and I fear that without it I would risk losing things of value. The only pursuit I have tried since climbing that seems similar in its potential to compliment my strengths, alleviate some of my weaknesses, and provide a buzz that keeps buzzing in a health-promoting manner? Surfing (yes, Roy, interesting that it is individualistic! What’s that about??). I’m sure there is other stuff out there too, but I’ve never found it.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Feb 6, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
cowpoke: You're awfully hard on yourself. Your criticism of yourself in your earlier years reminds me of how I used to view the pains of growing up, rebelling, trying on different pursuits, etc.

Throwing this out there a little differently...I strongly suspect that there are those of us that are driven to find something entirely physically and equally mentally challenging -- something that requires every part of our very being pulling its weight -- so that we can routinely push our boundaries.

There's something about engaging in this pursuit that acts like a "reset" button, after which we are returned to a state of equilibrium...until the clock gets wound again and it's time for another oil change, if you will.

The trouble is, when you're younger, you haven't the slightest idea what to do with the (at times) overwhelming urges to DO something or get rid of the pent up energy. It's not something that is taught -- there's a preconceived notion of what success means that's emphasized in school, advertising, etc. Very rarely are kids encouraged to try everything and not to worry about failure (i.e., everything is graded, with the looming judgment about whether success has been achieved). Try everything that is real (i.e., not a false attempt to escape the present) until you find your place in the world, doing whatever it is that gives you purpose and provides you meaning. Perhaps it is in the round about path that you are eventually able to recognize ultimately what this is?

I'm not sure if what I've written makes any sense. I probably need to noodle it some more.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 6, 2013 - 09:24pm PT
Lila,

You're drilling into our findings here and hinting at characterization and I'm following you. Notice how few of us mention team sports? And even fewer would be surprised by the absence of team sport interest in the archetypal climber. So much so that it's cliché. But this small sample bears it out. We climbers are searchers.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 7, 2013 - 06:09pm PT
I guess I'm one of the few.

I was a team sport enthusiast the first 30 years of my life. I played baseball and football in high school and in college and even continued to play football every year in my college alumni game until my 32nd birthday. Still love those years and still follow those sports, BUT then I discovered rock climbing in September of 1961 and my life changed forever. I was 29 years old. I played in the alumni game for the last time in 1964 and that was the end of team sports for me - climbing had become my life.

Within a year I was climbing in Yosemite and doing serious mountaineering routes in the Sierra, the Tetons , and the Wind Rivers.

I've posted in other threads and described how "the original Vulgarian" got me into climbing, so I'll just leave it there.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2013 - 08:19pm PT
Mugs Stump and Bob Carmichael both played football.
You know, just for the record.

Thanks for posting up Don!
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Feb 9, 2013 - 07:19pm PT
Regarding the "team sport" types, versus those who were not: for me, it was probably partly a way of thumbing my nose at sports I was never particularly good at anyway, and developing a certain prowess that even the most fit and successful team sport person couldn't begin to do. Immature? Yeah. Cathartic? Yeah. :-)
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 10, 2013 - 09:08am PT
(mooser: yes, the aspirational misfit card ... having played it, I'm familiar. shhhhh. It'll be our secret.)
cowpoke

climber
Feb 10, 2013 - 09:55am PT
The more i think about the individualistic aspect of this question, the more i am convinced that it isnt, for me, individualism per se, but the interaction of individualism and being in the wild. As a kid, I liked team sports (and don't dislike them today), particularly football. And, most individual sports are not my thing, e.g., golf. But being "alone" with nature to challenge myself = self actualized.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Feb 10, 2013 - 11:34am PT
(mooser: yes, the aspirational misfit card ... having played it, I'm familiar. shhhhh. It'll be our secret.)

Mum's the word...
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Feb 10, 2013 - 11:45am PT
We climbers are searchers.
Tar

Also
we are explorers
we are adventurers
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:52pm PT
A life without climbing?

Boring!

No transition sports prior to climbing. Just from the suburban couch to outdoors and rock. I entered this domain for psychic reasons. I wanted to do wondrous, impossible things, far from the ordinary. It had to be individualistic, not a team endeavor. I went to Colorado Outward Bound as a 16 year old and admired the instructors tremendously. My instructor was John Evans (Humingbird Ridge, Mt. Logan; first ascents in Antarctica and Yosemite). I found my greatest inspiration to enter the world of climbing from reading about the American ascent of Everest's West Ridge by Unsoeld and Horbein in 1963. Kind of an eggheaded point of entry as opposed to motocross dirt biking or other high risk activity transitioning into climbing.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:42pm PT
You finally roped me in, Tar. . .
I risked things early as a kid--slid down staircases in a box (ouch)!
climbed up steep dirt piles, just things kids do. . .

I played team sports as a kid--baseball, football a bit--too small,
then soccer, which I did well at. But I was kind of a loner--loved to
be outdoors by myself, hiking, just enjoying being outside. I'd visited Colorado as a teen and had seen climbers--those people are nuts, I thought.
A few short years later, trying to find some other friends to backpack with, I went to a class "backpacking and mountaineering". . . wasn't much about
backpacking, but it got me started -- and though it was kind of a slow,
rocky start, it just kept going, and still does.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
May 1, 2013 - 05:11pm PT
Bump for another cool Roy thread!
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