Hey E. A.
Sorry I missed your response, thank you for writing. I went up to the site with a few of his close friends not long after, and didn't see anything that jogged a memory. I think next spring I will be ready to climb those routes again (I've been dreaming of doing the Super Pooper to Price of Fear link-up once more) and I'll take a closer look at the base of the Vampire Direct start. Who knows, I might even get on it again, but right now I'm not in that kind of shape : /
seven months, almost to the day, and my biggest take-away is that there isn't anything wasted. A day I get rained out, a day I call it after a single route, a day I fail at an onsight and blow a sequence... it's not a big deal anymore. A little bit of that has made me more lazy, because I used to care so damn much that it would eat at me. Now, if it's right the good things will happen, but the bad things happen to, and fnding a way to accept them without giving them weight one way or another is just another part of the game.
I will be back in Idyllwild come mid-April, working at Nomad Ventures with my good friend Jim, fitting stinky PCT hikers with fresh socks. I really like it there. I hope to see many of you, and when(if) I get time off I'd love to cruise around some of those route again. It's been years since I'd climbed The Open Book...
The two year mark just passed this weekend and as I'm typing this at work in a tie I'm realizing there isn't much to say aside from "I'm OK."
I tried to keep climbing for about a year after the event, always kind of filled with dread and terror, particularly when trad and alpine climbing. It was all I knew of how to climb, though, forward and faster, and sometime last summer I was kind of 'over it.' Over being scared, seeing every loose rock or sketchy wired nut and connecting it to helicopters. Gleefully leading I would look down between my legs at a slack rope and my heart rate would wollop out of control. All that said, for that first summer and through the winter, I actually kept climbing at about the same standard despite really really really hating it.
I kept going out all last year, with friends and family mostly just playing a guide role. I would never consider getting the kind of job that takes a full 50+ hour a week commitment, with no weekends off or time off available, but after accruing sufficient debt and moving back in with the parents it became a reasonable option.
Now 6 months into a life I never thought I'd live (one with a 401K, slick-soled dress shoes and mandatory daily grooming) I'm discovering climbing again. Not the climbing I'd known and cultivated through Lucas, but my own idea of what it is I like and how I want to do it. I suck again, which is cool, because 5.10 is supposed to feel hard. Also too I'm not exactly climbing on tahquitz again, and while I've repeated a few west face short routes I am deathly afraind of the North face and FBT ledge routes so those might have to wait a few years. But, some short cragging and bouldering are keeping me sane amid a stressful week of hitting sales goals and getting verbally beaten by people whose money I want.
Anyway I think you guys might want an update. Baby steps, but maybe life will lead me back to parking lot bivies, good friends and long summer days in the mountains. I hope it does.
The hardest will be the subtil smells and sounds that hit your subconscious at odd times. However, being open and clear in your own mind can be of great assistance. One way to help clear your head is to recreate those positive, happy experiences of earlier joyful years a few times to sort of "overwrite" the repressed bad memories. So if you have a favorite easy route, grab the partner you most totally dig, and lap it over and over on perfect weather days. Move to some other routes and bring those feelings along. In 10-20 years, your great memories of Lucas will remain as will the sadness when you are quietly reflecting, but the subconscious control of the smells and sounds that accompanied the gut-punch sicking experience of his horrible fall, will all but disappear.