Back in the day,
when I was still old enough to be playing in a little 5 gallon bucket of water in the front yard of our house (definitely naked), I would strap a grocery bag to my back and jump off a set of three stairs we had in our garage. I thought the bag would most definitely slow me down and I’m sure I thought it did. Heights, at this point in life, didn’t seem to scare me too much. I had dreams. Big dreams, of flying primarily, (hence the makeshift parachute) and even went out a few times with some family friends who were pilots to try it out myself.
As per usual with puberty (fast forward a few years), you leave behind all that you once knew and loved and were comfortable with. Within all of these things I left in my preteen years (fire truck underwear, playing in the front yard naked, crying because my mom made me try an artichoke, screaming because dad did nothing, an all around mellow life) was stashed my comfortability with heights. I stopped wanting to fly, stopped praying I could fly, and started getting really wobbly legs when looking over our rear deck down to the ground (cough 20ft below). Predictably, I also started skateboarding (because that’s what you do when you are a teenager who wants to push boundaries a little bit, right?) and that fueled my sense of adventure through high school but, as I got to college, I realized four wheels, a piece of wood, some pieces of metal, and the cement weren’t going to get along with my body too well so I needed a new sport to keep me on my toes.
Climbing in a gym was a healthy first step toward a potentially fun hobby so I started going with a few friends and kept it mellow on those low-ball boulder walls. As a 19 year old, I had an obligation (because I was 19…why else?) to push my own limits of comfort and to dive into my fear. I had a friend teach me how to belay in a stairwell, went to the local climbing gym, and passed the test the second try. Bigger walls started to become more appealing as time went on so I kept moving to higher points on the walls of the gym until eventually, I was out of room in the gym. Naturally, I took the next step and I worked for my aunt and uncle for two weekends, moved a literal dump truck full of mulch, and made enough coin to buy a rope and some other gear to help me stay safe.
Outdoor climbing became my new jam. Back in Santa Barbara there are plenty of delish (good) routes minutes from my house that I frequented and got comfortable with. Back in Seattle, besides the gym 5 minutes away, outdoor climbs were an hour or more away so I rarely hit the outdoor features the PNW had to offer. That being said, dreams had always been exchanged of braving some new routes in the North Cascades. Rumor actually had it there was an 11 pitch (11 rope lengths - 1400ft) route deep in the Cascades that my friends and I talked about for the better part of three years but never actually braved it.
At least not until Isaiah said his Labor Day was free, he wanted to climb, and this route was calling his name.
Three and a half hours seemed like a pretty easy drive until the engine of my newly purchased (owned it for less than a week) 1984 VW Westfalia started pouring oil out of the engine. Essentially, Isaiah heard a thumping from the back, we pulled over, oil was spewing out, I put on a rain jacket and my climbing pants, did some tinkering, we pushed the car to a flat surface (I almost threw up…cause I was in terrible shape and that car is heavy), checked the oil and it was full, waited ten minutes and checked the oil, it was full, so I pulled off the rain jacket and declared we would continue to drive to our destination (or until something worse happened), we made it, drove 5 miles up a fire road through mud and tall grass, found a camp site, turned off the engine, woke up at 3am, made food, got to the base of the trail, looked up, and realized we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. (photos in order of commas)
Regardless of the 1400ft wall of rock standing above us we powered through (because what else would we do?). We had multi-pitched before (2 pitches as opposed to the 11 we were looking at) so we were confident in our safety, just not our timeliness. After searching for the first pitch for over two hours we finally found it and so did the crowds of people. (So waking up at 3am was worth nothing) Thankfully we were the second crew to get on the wall and thankfully, you don’t have to read anymore. I’ll let do the photos do most of the talking…
After getting absolutely beat after 7 pitches, we decided we just weren't big wall climbers so we turned around, rappelled down, moved the van next to the river, fished, popped the top, kicked our legs up, and enjoyed the sunlight.
A treat on the drive home.
Washington Pass. Creation, visually tangible.
This big wall climb, climbing in general, skateboarding, surfing, biking, and the many other ridiculously enjoyable, adventurous activities I have engaged in have taught me so much about who I am. For me, the interesting element each one of these shaping activities share is fear. Fear of the unknown.
Climbing: what if my gear breaks/what if I die; skateboarding: what if I fall at 50mph/get hit by a car/fly off a cliff (happened to a buddy of mine once; he's all good though); surfing: what if a big wave holds me under/a shark bites my legs off/a sea-lion comes within 200ft of me(hate them); biking: what if I hit a rock on a gravel trail and break my head open on a tree after I've fallen 200ft down a ravine/break the nice bike I am riding?
If I hadn't tried to conquer my fear, "The Evolution of (My) Adventure" wouldn't exist. I would have almost no sense of adventure.
The climbing trip described above was one of the most bonding, joyful, radical experiences I have ever shared with Isaiah. If I hadn't stepped into the unknown and pushed through my fear, that would not have happened.
Think about it the next time you are afraid to do something because it is unknown. Stepping into that mystery could yield some of the best experiences you will ever know. Try it.