Sunday, July 4, 2010

How Bad You Wanna Climb (and is the wife ok with it)?

If you live in the Midwest, there has to be a reason. It could be your job, your family, or it could be you have just dropped climbing, and living near the mountains fell off the priority list. Some of you may be like an Iowan surgeon I know who has never dropped his commitment to climb, and trains religiously in his barn that he converted to a rock gym and ascending the huge trees around his property. But most people who wander into Midwest Mountaineering after years away from the game have had other things settle into that space out back in their priorities where climbing once resided, and like all roots in the black dirt of the Midwest, they grow deep. And why shouldn’t they? Good jobs, strong marriages, children you love more than life itself…its all there to make life as wonderful as it is.

But aggressive climbing, as you remember it, requires a level of commitment much like unto surgery, consuming your life to a certain extent, and it has a similar divorce rate. So is it possible to become anything more than an REI-clad guy trudging around the rotten rock quarry looking for someplace to hang a top-rope without dumping your marriage and/or the Midwest? I am convinced it is, and guys like Steve Edwards, one of my personal heroes, is living proof.

It starts by establishing where you want to be, and in what timeframe. Why is P90X so dang successful in its marketing? Its because it infomercials the end result. What needs to take place is an infomercial in your head of the leanest and meanest you, and how much you are willing to pay to get there. For me it has been a stepwise process of brutal honesty, and putting myself in places that would painfully dig out of me what I really am willing to make happen. The Ruth Glacier this last May was the pivotal piece of that process, taking me out of anything I do normally and thrusting me into what I have been telling myself and everyone I know that I want to do with my free time someday. There is no escape from that atmosphere, and taking a break in the tent only makes the avalanches sound louder. At the end of that trip there was no doubt in my mind that I was committed again to climbing, and the freedom that came from that realization put the smile on my face that made my wife willing to let me do that trip again. I also knew and understood that I needed to dump another 15 pounds and to do some real work on multi-pitch big-wall if I am going to take it where I want to go.

With the right vision in mind it all becomes details. Raw cardio is a must, and it happens about four times per week, preferably before dinner. Core strength has to have its place, and I rely on Tony every night when I do P90X, no matter how late it is (and I got done at 1:30 this morning with KenpoX, just in time to shower and hit the ER again). What about the wife and kids? Well, the wife promised me that if I quit swearing she will start training with me, and holy smokes if the two boys don’t think P90X is the coolest thing on earth. Sounds like quite a transition, huh? It was. It is. And the wife is cool with it not because I am holding climbing above her and the kids, but because a very real part of me has come alive again, and she sees me energized about being alive.

Tomorrow I will add a new addition to the backyard playstructure/boulding wall, and this next weekend we're camping at Devil's Lake, and climbing like banshee's...not a bad family outing, says I.

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