Life changes... and finally, a little time on the rock

Major life changes are happening right now and most of them are pretty exciting, except for my climbing ability (but more on that in a minute). Last week I finally made the decision to attend graduate school. I had been dragging the decision out for some time, party because Melissa wasn't sure if she wanted to go and thus pay out of state tuition. (We both got accepted into the Speech Pathology program at Appstate.) We finally decided last weekend to go for it and do school. Aside from the tuition issue, I just got promoted to Editor at my job from Assistant Editor, and that made it a hard choice, too. I'd been working hard for years to get this promotion, but now I'm walking away after having the promotion for a month to give Speech Patho a try.

I've tried for a long time to find a career that could provide a good fit for climbing, and this seems like a good choice. Decent pay, you can work pretty much anywhere, you can have summers off if you work in the schools, you can do travel therapy. And you also get to help people. So I'm thinking it's worth going for it. Plus, I get the bonus of going back to Boone for a couple more years. The irony is, of course, now that I'm finally getting to go back, I can't climb worth a damn. Oh yeah, that made the decision harder too! Why pursue a career that has more freedom for climbing if I can't climb so well anymore? Hope springs eternal, I guess. Nothing inspires me like climbing, so I just gotta keep hoping I get over this injury stuff. Regardless, life is changing fast. I'll be leaving my job, fixing up and selling my house, and moving to Boone in the next 2 months. As well as completing 2 intense online courses. Whew.

Speaking of injury, it was just about a year ago that I jacked up my shoulder and neck and have been climbing like crap, with differing amounts of pain, ever since. But I have a new plan! For the rest of the summer I'm not climbing anything harder than V2/V3 or 5.10. I feel like I've been both babying my injury then overdoing it over and over again for the last year. So I'm going to try this approach and see if it makes a difference. Build the strength back up slowly, that's the goal.

It worked pretty well this weekend, when I got a chance to quickly run out to the North side boulders at Looking Glass early Sunday morning. I climbed a bunch of easy stuff and had a total blast. There are some really fun problems there, and the place gets so little traffic that it feels really isolated and natural. There are still plants and leaves at the base of the climbs--how often do you see that? Aside from the mank and the bugs (of which there are many) this place is at least a cool summer destination that can be a fun diversion.

Now that the cats out of the bag to work about me going to school, I'll keep updating as things move along. It's a lot of changes, but exciting ones, too. I can't wait to have boulders within a 10-15 minute drive from my house again. Now I just hope I can climb 'em....


  1. Congrats...grad school was the best decision of my life. It opened up my life to me and my wants instead of only my career needs and making ends meet, and gave me a good job with enough flexibility to enjoy life to its fullest! I'd recommend it to anyone with the ability and desire!

    I also like your idea of working up to a V3 base level and then going bigger, later, from there. I had a season ending injury a few years ago after focusing too much and finally sending External Gradient, a V5 at Lilly. At the time it was my hardest climb and I was so focused, I didnt care if I injured myself, which I did on the final send...3 months later & I still could barely even pull on a V0. After 9 months of rest and no climbing, I basically had to start over with V0/V1's and build back up to full strength over a year or so...but I think it was the best way to deal with my shoulder injury (torn cartilage and ligaments/tendons). It allowed me to rediscover climbing and realize how important and motivating it was to me...it was like being a newbie all over again, but in a good way.

    As if this wasnt long enough yet...I also totally agree with you on North Side boulders at LG. This is one of the best summer bouldering spots I've found. I've been keeping a topo over the last 5 or so years of the place...shoot me an e-mail if you want a copy. Its hand drawn but I have recorded around 100 routes, under Glass Menagerie, so far. The boulders under the Brain wall are still not that developed, but there is a great V1 highball I've always called "Grandma Nobody" that is still one of my favorite climbs there. And Mike's website on Linville Gorge is absolutely awesome. I added this, along with some other info, to my website a few months back...I hope to get up there sometime soon.

  2. Brad, I'll try sending you an email too, but I'd love to get a topo of the N. Side boulders. That place is really fun...of course, part of the fun comes from wandering around and not knowing what anything is, but it'd be sweet to have a topo too. I thought about trying to make one myself as a summer project, but I think I've got enough to worry about right now! :) Also, I didn't even know there were boulders under the brain wall. Nice.

    If you're ever heading out there, drop me an email or something. It'd be cool to climb there together. I also want to bring some more padage for this V3-ish highball I was trying that has a really committing move at the top. It's kind of an arete squeeze route...really cool, but my little organic pad was looking small after I got a few moves up! :) I probably shouldn't have been on it considering my injury, but it looked too fun not to try.

    As for the injury, this new approach is gonna be good I think. i'm just amped to climb on anything these days, specifically things that don't cause a week of pain later. I've gone through this once before when i had surgery on my labrum in '03. Had to take 2 years off and start at V0-, but I had tons of fun just loving climbing again without focusing on grades. So I guess I get to redo that experience now. But thanks for your insights on it; injury seems to be something all climbers have in common, eh? As well as thr inability to not pursue a sport that keeps hurting us. :)

    If you send me the link to that other info about the gorge on your site I'll update that posting to link to it.


  3. http://upstatebouldering.blogspot.com/2009/10/wnc-local-spot-linville-gorge.html
    Here's the link with the collected info about Linville Gorge bouldering. I just tried to make everything a little more "clickable" and easier to find. Might be easier to understand for those folks that dont hit the Gorge too often or never at all. Mike has done an amazing job with his site and its awesome that he's open about the area and the topo with anyone!