Normally I write a “year in places” post, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent much of this year at home, in Colorado and other states of the American West (WY, UT, CA). A look back on the year thus involves a bit less horizontal distance, and a lot more vertical!
Most of these climbs involve 5-10 miles of hiking in addition to the technical climbing. This isn’t Europe, and you can’t ride the telepherique to your objective. Here, you gotta walk.
This photo was taken above 4,000 meters on Long’s Peak, after a climb of the Notch Couloir, June 2020. My partner and I had dawdled on the way up, and we got caught up high in a light afternoon thunderstorm. Deciding our best option was to wait the storm out, my partner and I stashed our ice axes, crampons and other metal gear fifty yards uphill, and took refuge in some small talus “caves.”
In reality, my boulder was barely large enough to provide shelter. My legs, pulled up into my chest, were still getting wet. My partner, a few yards away in a better cave, described themselves as on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
I shot this photo on my 35mm film camera. The storm soon passed. We summited an hour later.
As the Coronavirus crisis was mounting in the US, we were in Southeastern Utah, near Moab, rock climbing the impressive desert towers that dot the area.
My climbing partner was a Swedish woman, Anna, a full-time climber who lived on the road. A “dirtbag”, we say in the climbing community. Without a permanent home, remote desert was about the most socially-distanced she could be.
I had a home; but amidst the mounting anxiety, I’ll admit: I wanted to escape. Lockdowns had not yet begun in the USA. But I read the news everyday. Italy closed. France closed. That omnipresent graph, always growing. It was coming.
Last month I took a short trip to Europe to see my buddy Shawn. After three years living in Budapest, Shawn’s finally moving on. But he wanted one last little European hurrah, so we planned a climbing trip.
But not to Spain or Italy or Greece or any of the other world-class Euro climbing destination. Nope. Shawn chose Bosnia.
When I travel internationally, I like to send postcards. I have quite a long list of contacts now, many in the USA, some abroad. Every person on my list means something to me; the postcards serve as a way to let them know that no matter where I was, what I was doing, they were on my mind.