Rewind: A Life Without Climbing?


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 41 - 60 of total 133 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.


Social climber
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! :)

Social climber
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.

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.

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.
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
Credit: R.W. Hocking
Summit Baggin
Summit Baggin
Credit: R.W. 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: R.W. 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,

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


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

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...

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.


Messages 41 - 60 of total 133 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews