Can you rest on your laurels?


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Jim Clipper

Dec 2, 2018 - 12:07pm PT
There may not be much value in worrying about being someone you're not, unless it somehow makes you better.

Someone said something about Europeans who try to be the best they can at being their age. Cultural views on aging, as well as the value of the aged varies.

Insert your own trite statement here. Finally, the bar seems to be set pretty high on the taco. Who you consider a peer, or want consider a peer, may be very different than if you examination the American population in general.

get out there...

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2018 - 12:07pm PT
Wow, al lot of great stuff here. Good advice. Thanks everyone. Means more coming from climbers.

Pretty sure those monstrous packs were not indicated.

Carrying skis, boots, a comfy bed, and 2 weeks of food up to the Palisade Glacier every spring was most definitely indicated! :)

I think the most important pressure on our human psyche is finding some way to approve of ourselves... So if we need to create some attractive fiction that helps us believe how much superior we are to all those other mortals...
I won't lie and say that I never felt that way. When I was 18 years old, climbing was all about proving my self worth. I got into free soloing very young, but that taught me very quickly that I was climbing for the wrong reasons. You can't lie to yourself when you're 1,000 feet up, alone and gripped, and asking yourself "Is this what I really want?" However, I loved climbing so I listened to my inner self and changed my ways. I still went free-soloing, but I dialed it down, enjoyed the adventures, and never felt bad about backing down. It took another decade or two, after a failed marriage and personal and professional setbacks, to fully realize that you have to depend on an inner sense of self worth, and not external approval from others.

I never got into speed climbing because I enjoyed climbing so much that I liked to slow down and savour the experience. On all of my trips I always scheduled a "rest day" every 4th day, just to sit around and watch the mountains erode around me. I loved it so much...

The crux of the problem I think is not what you can or canít do, but of adjusting your identity and sense of self to comport with your present reality.

Yes, that is the crux. I'm still looking for beta to figure out the sequence of moves to reach the next belay station.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Dec 2, 2018 - 12:28pm PT
Iím happy....had my day in the sun in my youth, have had and still maintain close relationships with my friends, relatively active for my age (60) and still have things I want to do. Have my health, but wish I was fitter. Iíve had a great career, still work in helping people....most proud of my marriage 38 years and our family, thatís what Iíll rest my laurels on. I guess I donít look back on my past accomplishments too much to use those as a measuring stick.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 2, 2018 - 12:37pm PT
These are the first few lines from a chapter of a book I'm working on. It's word for word...

ďDo you want to climb again?Ē

ďYes of course, without a doubt.Ē

The doctor looked up at me from her notes. ďYou know, you might be able to climb, or you might not, or you might not climb well enough to satisfy yourself. Itís impossible to say. But it will be a shame if you paint yourself into a corner where, if you canít climb, you let it ruin your life.Ē

I'm very happy with my memories. In fact I cherish them, they're what I'm made of. They aren't all good, I've done a lot of things I regret. One of the big one's is not keeping a climbing diary. I'd have a lot more memories if I had.

Big Wall climber
Dec 2, 2018 - 12:46pm PT
Get new goals. Lack of sense of purpose and direction is a major downer. Volunteer somewhare (whereever your physical capabilities allow). Hell, just go help a neighbor with company or menial tasks. It will be vastly more rewarding that sitting on your ass pining for the fjords.

Sport climber
Dec 2, 2018 - 01:08pm PT

Albert Alvarez (A or Al Alvarez) is known mainly as a poetry critic, anthologist and novelist, but none of this would be apparent from this recent journal, which deals with his daily routine of swimming in the Hampstead and Highgate ponds. We learn a good deal about the vagaries of English weather, the various waterfowl that visit or are resident on the ponds and the fact that our author is an ardent poker player, but literary talk is kept to a minimum. The prose is disarmingly simple, largely restricted to facts about wildlife, the changing seasons and their effect on the writer. Hence on Saturday 10 May, 2008, after recuperating from a stroke: `A beautiful summer day - almost a week of them in fact - but better than summer because it's the beginning of May and everything is suddenly in bloom. The mayflowers are heavy with blossom and the chestnuts with candles, Queen Anne's lace is waist high, the great copper beech shines and shimmers with light, the air smells sweet and the whole world is green and young and fresh.'

The ponds, especially in winter, are frequently seen as a Paradise, and the daily swim, which becomes increasingly difficult for the geriatric Alvarez, is essential to his bodily and spiritual well-being. But this is a story not only about the delights of moving in water, but about the process of growing old, of facing up to failing powers and the author's ultimate demise.. With his eye open and his senses alert, Alvarez has described the water, the air and the natural world supported by these elements with precision and accuracy. Nature, especially water, has kept Alvarez literally and spiritually afloat in a world that is beautiful but sad - at least to we humans. As he struggles to swim a few yards, flanked by two faithful lifeguards who will help him to dress and hobble to his car, Alvarez begins to lose interest in reviewing, finds life literally a pain (he has been a cripple for years, after suffering from a mountaineering accident) and has to admit, `the truth is I really am falling apart depressingly fast.'

The reader, however, comes to admire the author's scrupulous honesty in recording this gradual process of decline and his heroic determination to carry on. We understand his anguish and anger - as when he is refused renewal of a disabled sticker because he can still walk. The getting into a car before a swim and doing up buttons after it become huge challenges. Thankfully the author still has a devoted wife, loyal friends, and, one trusts, many readers rooting for him.

[Click to View YouTube Video]

And yes, helping people often helps...

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 2, 2018 - 01:11pm PT
Ron's got it right!
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Dec 2, 2018 - 01:25pm PT
Wonderful poem TIm!
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
Dec 2, 2018 - 02:22pm PT
Laurels as a climber? No. But my experiences and memories of some of my best days in the hills keep me proud of who I am and what all my partners and I accomplished or at least survived. Day to day we have to continue to build on who we want to be. Of course thats going to change with age. Look back, shake your head, and smile. Now look ahead, shake your head, and smile.

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
Dec 2, 2018 - 02:27pm PT
I have to say Harry ,this is surely a topic of interest here.

Not immune to it either,at 59 , I am feeling it as well. I like what has been said here. Some interesting perspective.

We all need that.

Pulling finger cracks,class 5 rapids,long slogs and epic ascents,Mtb crashes,whippers,swims in places you should not be,triggering large sloughs,rappelling that scared the phuck out of me,ice ...climbing,man , It was all worth it

45 years of Hockey,40 years of Carpentry,if I stop any of it , I will hurt,bad.

Have to keep going.My larurels donít mean much to me ,but ,the memories of friends and places certainly are not going to kill me.

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
Dec 2, 2018 - 02:38pm PT
Norm Larson,your last two sentences are pure gold ,man.

Edit,This group ,right here,would make a hell of a happy hour.Laurels or not.

Dec 2, 2018 - 03:57pm PT
You should rest on who you actually are in your present state and NOT on who you were or thought/think you were/are ......

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
Dec 2, 2018 - 04:00pm PT
Yes, but I still have to shake my head,lol.

4 Corners Area
Dec 2, 2018 - 04:01pm PT
You should rest on who you are in your present state and NOT on who you were or thought you were ......

Perhaps the best WBraun quote I've heard yet . . .

Dude, you're like the next Yogi Berra

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Dec 2, 2018 - 05:18pm PT
Hey Norm,

I like those last 2 sentences of yours too.

I still remember that Elk jerky you gave us below Mid Summer Dome. Have a merry X'mas.

Ice climber
Dec 2, 2018 - 06:03pm PT
Herr Braun speaks the truth.

No harm in enjoying the memories of what you did before nor enjoying what you are doing now!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 2, 2018 - 07:36pm PT
First, let me assure the good climbers here, that by their standards, I was never a good climber. Despite that fact, from 1970 to about 1982, climbing defined my life, along with white-water boating, & relationships with good-looking women.

From 1983 to now, I stopped climbing waterfalls & alpine routes on big mountains, since I knew with some certainty that I had used my luck up. I kept doing rock climbing, but at a vastly reduced pace.

In 2000 I tore my right biceps muscle lunging for a hold on an under-protected 5.7, then a week later rowed our raft down a very low & rocky Middle Fork Salmon for 8 days of pain. Happily, there was a Doctor on the trip, who gave me what I needed to keep rowing, & rowing, & rowing.

In 2010, my ďoldĒ pal Jim Donini & I stated climbing together again for an annual week of fun punishment, for me, at City of Rocks.

Now at age 69, I still enjoy easy routes & even led a 5.6 last summer. However, I am no longer defined by climbing. My memories are pleasant & my un-climbed goals do not keep me awake at night. Iím pretty darn-mellow about resting on my laurels.

Iíve been writing about some of my more significant climbing adventures since about 2000, because I realized my stories were worth sharing. That sharing of stories is good for me & meanwhile, after getting a knee fixed in 2017, Iím hiking good again & totally enjoying the slices of life I have left. I have the love of a good woman & the best cat ever.

That could change tomorrow, with the Doctor who really wants to see me after a Cat-scan of my neck last Friday.

Hereís to mellow! Sluuuuuup.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Dec 3, 2018 - 04:10am PT



Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Dec 3, 2018 - 05:07am PT
Dec 3, 2018 - 04:10am PT


Sorry, but my computer skills suck, but that was incredibly poetic, and one of the best comments I've ever seen on the Taco! WOW!!
and Fritz,
I know a few former great alpinist who probably feel exactly like you, did their thing and now have gone on to new paths.
Don Paul

Social climber
Washington DC
Dec 3, 2018 - 05:11am PT
I knew ST was mostly geezers but now that you mention it, survivors is a good way to put it. When I was a beginner, I had lots of close calls, which I chalked up to inexperience. At my peak, I had to put my life on the line every time, otherwise it wasn't worth doing. Now I can look back and reflect on how lucky I was.
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