The sun radiated through towering pines, laying a canopy over the dusty trail toward Suicide Rock. Idyllwild, California—the true birthplace of the YDS, home to the world’s first 5.9, and central to the rise of rock climbing in the States. On a clear Saturday afternoon, climbing parties danced up the trail to hop on all the classics. My mom and I planned to do our first traditional climb together—Graham Crackers, a two-pitch 5.6.
As my 11-year old self approached the park with my father, I was ridden with anxiety about date attire. Pretty pressing at that age. Come to think of it, I had no idea where this notion arose, but regardless, it was overpowering my thoughts entirely. In this case, “A walk in the park” didn’t imply …
The warmth of the sun has departed. Snow silences any stirring in the shadows of the forest. A faint glow above the treeline reveals dusk’s fading light.
What to say when the mountains call.
When looking for a partner, it’s tempting to consider someone with a nice-looking rack or a sweet set of nuts, but take it from me, you’re better off with a belay partner whose gear—and ego—is well-worn.
Staring at the towers above, I imagine a gneiss crack hugging my fingers as I sandwich my rubber toes in a one-inch splitter. A cool breeze flows through the canyon, lifting my awareness higher up the mountainside and further from the water I'm in. With the weighty nudge of a paddle against the back of my PFD and a yell, "Stop looking at the rocks!” I snap out of my fantasy. A sudden burst of water in my face, and I'm back in the front seat of a whitewater raft—and an integral part of keeping it afloat.