So it’s springtime in Colorado, and the weather has been more inconsistent than an adolescent romance (I’m an educator, so the analogy is apropos). In between the storms and heat waves (a reference to the weather, not adolescent romance), we’ve managed to get out and climb some fun stuff around Durango. I always love this time of year as the days get longer, the weather warmer, and the rock dry enough to climb. I kind of feel like a bear coming out of a long winter of hibernation in a dusty climbing gym and finally getting to stretch out the rope in the great outdoors.
This spring has been particularly satisfying as I have finally gotten some lingering finger injuries to a manageable level. Since last August I’ve had three separate finger injuries. While none of them have been the full finger blow out (a technical medical diagnosis), they’ve all seriously limited my climbing. I’ve learned enough about injuries that they take a long time to heal, even if they feel strong, and so I’m still taking a lot of preventative measures. That said, in the last few weeks I’ve been able to really start trying hard again, which just feels so darn good.
All of my recent enthusiasm has been directed at a specific new line here in Durango. The line is obvious, one that I noticed on my very first visit to East Animas nearly two years ago. It begins up the classic Punta Magna then cuts right across a magnificent steep, streaked wall. Someone aided it many years ago leaving a fixed bashie and some old studs along the right trending rail. About a month ago, my friend Marcus Garcia went up the line on aid to investigate the free climbing possibilities. I joined him on the second day to finish cleaning and bolting the line, and then we started working out the moves. We both immediately became obsessed. The climbing was clean and aesthetic, and we quickly realized that this route could possibly be a new level of difficulty in the area.
After several more days and attempts, I managed to stick the precise yet dynamic crux on sidepulls and crimpers to redpoint the route, a deeply satisfying accomplishment for me after a long winter and battle with injury. I’ve tentatively named the route “The Corrections,” which just so happens to be the book I’m reading right now. I like the name for several reasons. First, the route is something of a “correction,” taking an obscure aid line and bringing it to high quality free climb status. Second, I love the book, which is reason enough. I think there’s a further connection between the themes of the book and the route, or at least my experience with it. The book traces the paths of five members of an average American family through the boredom, longing, disappointment, desperation, and rare moments of satisfaction that each person’s seemingly normal yet extraordinary and often messed up life presents. The word “corrections” comes up frequently in the book in reference to how each person subtly refines their life in some way, sometimes in reference to taking drugs and others simply in terms of seeking satisfaction where they can. In a similar way, climbing has felt like a lot of work and tedium recently: lots of rehab, patience, training, and climbing with much restraint in between the even greater struggle of balancing that with other life responsibilities. In my case, the “correction” was finding an inspiring line to try hard on. This is something I’ve slowly come to learn about climbing: The exhilaration of success tends to come in short bursts connected through the process and the pursuit of goals. Ultimately, satisfaction comes from appreciating what we can get out of both of these.
Here’s a short video I put together of Marcus and I working the route. Andrea Sokolowski shot the footage, and I really appreciate her help. The disclaimer for this video is that it was our first time out shooting video, and this is my first attempt at real video editing, so it is admittedly rough. Still, the aesthetic qualities (or lack there of) aside, I think it captures the story of the first ascent of “The Corrections” pretty well.