I spent the past week in the beautiful Adirondacks with an amazing group of people. We swam in the lake, rock climbed, kayaked, hiked, had campfires, saw shooting stars and satellites zooming through the night sky and it was wonderful. I miss it already. I miss those trees and those mountains…that fresh air and clear, clean water to swim in. I miss this incredible view…
It was my first time rock climbing outside (I did a chimney climb a few years ago but I didn’t have much I needed to do except go straight up- so I don’t really count that one). I climb in the rock gym a lot but I was so excited to finally get outside and climb!! I was lucky enough to be with the guys from United Climbing – Matt Ferrara and Alex Todd. They know what they’re doing and I knew I was in good hands, so I was up for anything.
We made our approach to The King Wall in Chapel Pond Pass which was a pretty rugged approach. The trails are overgrown and you basically hike up a creek…well…here is the official description of the approach from mountainproject.com:
“Located behind the Emperor Slab is the tremendous King Wall. This wall, at roughly 300′, hosts some of the Adirondacks premier hard face routes. When looked at, the cliff resembles a large concave face; gently overhanging at the center right end, and it seems relatively devoid of anything climbable. As a result, many of the routes here are bolt protected and very thin.
Unlike the easy access to many Adirondack crags, this mysterious cliff is guarded from the road by a 25 minutes uphill slog through a thick forest and a wet, loose gully. This cliff IS worth the hike, even if you aren’t a climber. It is truly a magical place with a very powerful aura unlike anything else you’ve experienced in the Dacks.”
So all of that is accurate but if I was writing that description I’d make it a little more dramatic. It was maybe the hairiest hike I’ve ever done – especially carrying a pack on my back. If you do it, you better have great traction on your shoes! The hike is worth it the moment you set your eyes on The King Wall. It’s truly tremendous.
So let’s start with something really impressive. Check out Matt from United Climbing crushing a route on The King Wall:
As you can see, Spider-Man exists. Here are a few more shots of this epic climb. Matt crushed it in one shot – start to finish!
Pretty rad. I have no idea what he was holding onto. Tiny match stick sized holds? Are his fingertips made of glue? It remains a mystery. 😉
My climb was much less difficult by comparison, but still tough and legitimately scary (for me) in it’s own right. Matt climbed on lead again and set the route for me with Alex on belay (since I’m still a beginner) and then up I went. I really like the third photo below. That’s where I demonstrate the rare “crawling so I don’t die” technique. It’s taken me years to craft and hone to perfection.
I felt a huge wave of relief when I finally made it over to Matt (last pic on the right above) until he said, “I need you lean back and swing around me to the right side” which oddly sounded exactly like: “I need you to jump off the rock and fly” and I was momentarily terrified to swing around him, which reminded me that this is ALL mental. I mean it’s truly one of the biggest pieces of climbing for me – getting the world inside my mind to quiet itself. If I trust my gear,which I do, and I trust my climbing partner, which I do, then all is well in the world. It’s just overcoming that internal voice of fear that sneaks in and tells you that you really should be back on the ground and not clipped into an anchor high up on a rock. But that’s also the part I really love – the challenge and pursuit of controlling my mind and breath and finding the calm in those moments. Matt was singing and joking and just chilling up there which really helped me relax and enjoy the view.
There is something so beautiful in the physical and mental struggle of climbing. You’re discovering the rock and the line for yourself and your body will move differently than others…so the way you climb is all your own. And your mind works differently than others – so the fears and thoughts that you’ll have to master that creep in – those are all your own too. You are forced to be in the moment. There is no place else to be BUT in the moment when you’re holding onto a rock with your feet on a tiny ledge high up off the ground. The past and future don’t exist. Just that movement in the moment of your feet and hands and breath. When fear crept in, I heard myself say, “Life is too short to be afraid!” and I kept going. Reaching the end was exhilarating. You don’t conquer the rock. There’s no conquering of the mountain. I always hear people say that and it’s not true. You’re not conquering yourself either. You’re interacting with the rock. It’s so much more like a dance and until you go outside and climb yourself, you don’t see that part. You just see someone climbing a rock. I’m so grateful to have had this experience and I hope to have many more!
I also tried bouldering outdoors for the first time. I’ve done it in rock gyms but never outside. It was super intimidating and I had a freakout moment, but once I was on the boulder and moving around, it became super fun. In a gym you have bright colorful holds telling you where to put your hands and feet, but outside, you get to choose and that is pretty darn cool. I really want to do that again!
We went on a hike up Rogers Rock and Matt found blueberries on that hike! See, there’s RAW FOOD in this blog post! 😉
And this was the view from that hike, in case you want another shot of the gorgeous scenery up there:
Okay, this post could go on forever because I have 500 photos and we did so much during the week – but I wanted to focus on climbing for this blog post because it was a pretty awesome thing for me personally to be able to climb outside and boulder outside, especially in the Adirondacks AND climb with Matt and Alex of United Climbing. They’re the best. Check them out if you haven’t yet.
Lastly, if there is an adventure you want to go on, or an activity you want to try, go do it. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines! I hope this post inspires you to get outside and get moving!!!
Peace, love and veggies!