Climbing & Loss

(Disclaimer: this post is vague. It's broad. Apply it to yourself.)


If you were to ask me why I climb, I wouldn't be able to answer you. Give me some time to think about it. I have too many reasons. It's been a lot more than "fun" for a while now. At this point, climbing isn't really something I do, it's something I am.

Cloak of the Tiger |V8|, Lincoln Lake, Colorado.

Sometimes I can't tell if my life is becoming more simple or more convoluted. It's impossible to look back on the past eighteen months without seeing progress. Most of it is forward progress. Some of it is not.

Besides my family, rock climbing has been the most consistent thing in my life for thirteen years. It's the brother I never had. It's my silent best friend. It stays the same while I change around it. Sometimes it pisses me off, but I always forgive it. I always go back; I have to.


Accidentally losing something isn't as bad as it seems. It disappears; who knows where it went? No use focusing on it, there's nothing you can do. Moving on is simple.

When you give something up intentionally, it can go two ways. You can say good riddance and move forward. Or you can give the loss a life of its own. You gibe it weight. You put it in a box that you store in your stomach. Its contents shift heavily with every step you take. It tastes like bile. You want it to go away. You want to keep it forever.

Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

When you lose something, with or without intention, you have little choice but to move on. Dwelling on the loss is like drawing and retracing a circle, over and over. It feels good – it feels right – to trace it perfectly. But when you finally let go, you can draw straight lines again.

In a post I wrote two weeks ago, I talk about my thoughts on choice. Choices are powerful. Even when we don't realize it, we always have one. I made a choice recently. Hovering on a fulcrum between two options, I chose the one that was the most painful. The one that I hope was right. Now, still balanced precariously, the only thing that gives me comfort is the knowledge that I made that choice at all. I made it, and I lost something priceless.

Climbing & Loss

I climb because I have to. I will always have to. Unlike most of the other elements of life, climbing remains static. If you haven't already, find something to anchor you to the ground. Find a tether that keeps your mind and body whole. Dealing with loss is nothing new – you can recover. I'm absurdly lucky to have climbing to keep me balanced. What keeps you afloat?

Whatever it is, hold onto it. Don't lose yourself.