“Wheel of Fortune” is chiming in the background. The sound of money clanging through the metal runway of the slot machines fills the gaps in between turns of the wheel. Only in Nevada, I think, will one encounter gambling in the airport. Out of the 14 slots that adorn the aisle only one is occupied. I watch this individual and try to decipher if they are playing the slots in an act of desperation, a last ditch effort to win big before they fly away or if they are playing just to fill in the time.
I’ve one hour before I board a plane to NYC and then eventually across the Atlantic to Europe. Another climbing trip. Only 12 days ago did we get back from an expedition to the Yukon/NWT. I can hardly wait to climb again. But, it’s not like I haven’t been climbing – in the 12 days I was home I climbed 8 of those days. And the 22 days before that we were climbing in the Cirque of the Unclimbables. And the 4 months before that we spent climbing in Yosemite and on and on and further back.
The majority of my (our) time is spent climbing and if we aren’t climbing the time is spent organizing ourselves to climb or resting to climb or reminiscing about the climbs that came before. We occupy ourselves with time fillers like gambling, drinking, writing, cooking, gardening, working. Life becomes busy and hectic during all of our non-climbing time. We multitask and dream of other things. We are not present.
I am filling my time by thinking back on this last year and all the things we’ve done and places we’ve been. I think about our friends and their achievements and set backs and they inspire me. I think about the climbs that passed under us as we reached summits and anchors and made new records and the views that waited for us at the top. I think about the bonds that were created during those hard times and moments of digging deep. I think about my personal climbing achievements in the last year – climbing proficiently in the Valley and doing classics like the Crucifix, climbing El Cap with Eliza, freeing Half Dome in a day with my HUSBAND, making the second and third ascents of Mikey Schafer’s “Rise and Fall of the Albatross” in Tuolumne, my first expedition and the great success of it to the Cirque of the Unclimbables, being one of five women to ever summit Mt.Proboscis – climbing it all free in a day and being the only woman to do that, climbing Lotus Flower Tower with three great friends, and all the onsights and redpoints and unattained ascents in between. It has me excited about the climbing that is to come, about the places I will find myself in and the landscapes that await. I think about the vast wilderness that lives in the far reaches of the Earth and the quiet way it humbles us. I am longing for the simplicity of climbing.
That presentness isn’t back with us until we are climbing again. We think of nothing beyond the now when back in the mode we so dream of being in. It’s not about the next expedition, the next climbing trip, the upcoming bouldering season or where we just were- its’ about the holds we are on, the movement we are doing. Things return to being simple. We get to live it and it is in those moments we are where we are suppose to be – nowhere else.