North Conway, NH
Motivation to Climb
Two things draw me to climbing: movement, and fear. The movement is like meditation—over ice, rock or in the mountains, the rhythm of climbing draws me into the present moment. It is calming, familiar, a chance to catch my breath. It centers me. I go to the cliff the way some people go to church. I think most climbers do. And the fear. I hate falling. I hate runouts, small gear, objective hazards and ice screws. But they are part of climbing, part of what makes it amazing. Fear is a limit we draw for ourselves, a limit without no foundation. In climbing I get the opportunity to snarl back at fear, to prove it does not own me, if only for a moment. Those moments are perfect.
Most Memorable Climb
Shockley's Ceiling is only 5.6, but I was new to leading, barely a 5.6 climber. I shoved a nest of cams below the roof (were any of them any good?) and started wrestling with the lip. I groped for holds with one leg stuffed up to my knee in a nearby crack; if I fell I would tear my ACL. I could feel my hands slipping. I tried chalking up, but neither hand had the strength. If I was going to move, it had to be NOW. When I stood on the lip, the crux below me, I felt like I'd done something remarkable. It was one of my first multi-pitch leads, and I'd made the moves clean. I'd been terrified, but I moved upwards anyway. Since then I've climbed harder routes, many of them amazing, but in a sense that first foray into the unknown tasted sweetest. Everything after has been an attempt to recapture that feeling.
Favorite Climbing Spot
Cathedral Ledge — best single crag in the world for both rock and ice climbing Shagg Crag — the perfect sport crag Yosemite Valley — because obviously
I was a teenager when I fell in love with mountains. Something about the freedom they offered called to me, so rather then go to college I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. That launched my habit of wandering. It has not yet ebbed. I'll climb anything—rock, ice, sport, mixed, boulders, mountains, bigwalls. To me, it's all climbing. Even skiing is climbing. There are no rules, just move. But I'm most at home on trad protected mixed terrain. Or in flipflops at the base of a sport crag. I work as a writer and guide, and I spend as much of the year traveling as I do at home. I love my passport, and I'm doing my best to fill it. I used to have a desk job as a newspaper reporter, the most interesting job in the world, but now I do my writing from the road. Which, as it turns out, lends itself well to climbing.[full bio]