Hanging up the Spurs in Ten Sleep | Team Mammut

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hanging up the Spurs in Ten Sleep

If I'm honest, the last year has been a rough one - and hopefully the final chapter in a three-year nomadic spree.

The past three+ years have involved dozens and dozens of flights and numerous trips across the ocean, all kinds of people and places, so many types of rock... and a lot of good luck and good weather.
However, the most recent year has proven to be, by far, the most difficult. Despite finally having a lot of freelance writing work and a regular climbing partner - and despite a full year without any major new injuries (my first ever!) - I've found myself constantly frustrated.

I know with certainty that this has been a direct result of bad weather, and therefore road-weariness. It has everything to do with living in a two-person tent in the rain, not having a car for months on end, bumming rides to the grocery store, gross showers, and unstable weather that never clears... all the while paying apartment-rate rent for camping, scraping together a living with underpaid writing gigs, not having a proper place to work, cooking in the rain/ wind/ snow, and not having a place to train.

On the road and abroad, I've run into many pro climbers again and again - logical, as these are the only other climbers consistently travelling year in, year out. I've often wondered how they do this: how they manage to travel all the time, pushed around by the weather and visa restrictions, nevertheless staying strong and apparently happy... It's only recently occurred to me that these people, through sponsorship or personal funds, have enough money to not only fly to Spain (or France or...), but to rent a house and car once there.

As I was saying, in my/our three-year road stint, last year was certainly the roughest. The negative feelings, for the first time, outweighed the good. Bad weather collided with a growing desire to hunker down into a stable life - a feeling that's been growing in me/us for a while. However, my Swedish "boyfriend-husband" and I have, as the law would have it, been playing the visa game: trying to optimize cheap living, decent climbing weather, and affordable plane tickets all around the world - all the while being sure to never overstay a visa... and meanwhile trying to generate some type of income. And though we're making plans to settle down together, these hoops take a LONG TIME to jump through.

As of a year ago, both of us would have much preferred to pick a home and adapt to the climbing and life there. But again, David's legal time in the US drew to a close, and off we went again! First to Sweden, (back to the US for me, then) France, then Spain... then Sweden... then Montana, then California. Doesn't sound bad, right? And it really isn't, so we shouldn't complain. But if you've ever grown tired of this lifestyle, then you'll understand what I'm saying:

We ended up overreaching our budget to stay in a crowded and cold gite in Fontainebleau, got utterly doused and chased around by rain in Catalonia (for weeks and weeks with a broken, two-person tent and no car), and landed in Sweden in November. David worked nearly every day in December. I flew home. He followed. I got sick. He got sick. I got sick again. In January we went to Bishop - and camped in the Buttermilks. I had a great time climbing, but David's fingertips cracked like a desert floor - despite all skin treatments possible and multiple long rest periods - so he essentially didn't climb at all for an entire month. We slept in 0-degree weather, cooked in the blowing wind, and lived (two people and one dog) in a passenger car for a month. This isn't fun if only one person is climbing, and the other is benched by a totally inexplicable skin problem.

You can imagine that if you're trying to stay strong and watch your weight, then this particular situation would not be too productive. After all, we're doing this all for climbing, right?

I think that, though it should prove fruitful in the long-run, a new-found appreciation for training has added to the frustration. Despite my ever-growing and -focusing interest and belief in training, and the results its given me (an injury-free year at the very least!), my inability to follow/ implement these new ideas has just deepened my cynicism about my lack of stability and resulting lack of fitness... and has made me feel bitter about the need to constantly get in shape (again) for climbing.

...

Fast forward a few months and many states. Here we are in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Trying to get back into shape. I just have to shake my head about it and the feelings of futility I have. But I am seriously motivated to push through it - now that I'm finally on the cusp of achieving a stable life with a life- and climbing partner. The thing that drives me to go through the process again is knowing that we'll be here at least four months. Hopefully more - possibly a lot more. And knowing that David will soon have permanent residency, and we'll be able to coexist within the same borders (without sprinting away at the end of a visa), and both work in the same country. And we'll be set for a bit... at least until we start working on my residency in Sweden!

So though I'm bitter and pissed-off about my seeming self-inflicted helplessness and lack of fitness, I'm hoping that this is really the final chapter in a generally amazing, but utterly expired, portion of my life.

We're now living with kind, supportive, and extremely motivated friends in an amazing place... rife with excellent climbing and good weather... and even a home climbing and fitness gym to boot! We're getting in shape for sport climbing... yes, AGAIN... and are trying to do so happily.

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