Well after one month in the South East, I was overtaken by humidity, perpetual downpours, and a general lack of a muerteness. I made a clutch decision, bought a plane ticket, gathered my gear and flew back to Colorado with the fire. As I was feeling defeated by weather, typically leaving me with a mixed sensation of insignificance and a temporal sensation about life on planet Earth, I gathered my shit, installed myself in Nederland (far up canyon from the loathsome b-town) and prepared for a second onslaught of the Estes Park bouldering zone I was climbing at before and after my trip to China.
Memory is Parallax - Dave Graham
As hindsight is pretty 20-20, I deduced that my dabblings out East where nearly worthless, I had accomplished zero of the routes I wanted to try, and mostly sat in a house, listening to rain, freezing my ass off, chopping wood to survive, and watching the Wire (which is SICK btw). Many a homie had dispersed californi-way when the internet cut out, with everyone headed west to search for wifi, and get online. I hesitated, nearly not believing wifi was essential to my life and stuck it out, hoping for the best, but ironically surprised with the worst. Emily Harrington, who was an awesome climbing partner, and really syked on the mall, took off to Mexico to do some baller TNF stuff.. I bet she got to max out by the pool, drink expensive champagne, and ride in around all those TNF ferraris I heard about…whereas Joe and Colette improvisationally dipped out on a whim and made break for Chatti. It was so random, I half thought it could the work of the Lord, and was forced to ponder existence on a whole, wondering who is really in charge and what it all means, in order to understand their unexplainable migration South. Joe is in love with birds, and maybe he saw a flock he wanted to fly with, as he was gone with the wind…from one minute to the next…they were all gone…
In my head, I was a lil' like "i'll be damned"…but at least I had Andy Mann, and Sheyna Button for company, which was a big relief. I could climb with Nick Duttle and Ben Spannuth, which was really fun, but I couldn't shake the nagging oddity in my motivation; I felt something strange, an apathy, began checking weather reports, for Elkland, and think about the RIG…
Yes, I climbed about 45 routes onsight while in the Red, in between 5.10 and 5.13d, and felt like I was getting into some type of "good shape", but I was falling off the top of the Golden Ticket, completing one hangs, nearing success, and didn't give two shits. Something was wrong.
I didn't really want to be in the Red. After days of trying to understand my "feelings" I realized I wanted to go back to Elkland, and try the "Nickis" project some more. I was not going to do Golden Ticket, because the fire was not there, it was in Colorado. I cursed under my breath for a couple days, FURR SHURR, and was confused by my lack of inspiration towards one climb, and apparent wealth of syked for another! I was forced to follow the internal signals, manifest some type of plan based on the inklings, and PEACE OUT, trying desperately to not look back.
Like a little kid who had his toy taken away, I was pissed, bitter, and looking for something to blame. When I thought about my failure, I didn't want to blame my strength, I wanted answers, But I had already found them, and such is life. This was the yin is to the yang, replacing one thing with something better. I felt refreshed, like the same old child, now unhindered by the stupid toy which had been removed from my sight, feeling overall pretty good, drying up my tears, looking at a NEW toy. The Toy I really wanted. Letting go. Harnessing freedom on my side. America.
For some reason, the weather was immaculate in Colorado, especially in the mountain village of Estes Park. My new castle in Nederland was only 45 minutes from there, and these were seemingly the best conditions I had ever observed on the Weather Channel. I had been sitting through the five day stints of sideways rain down South, wondering if this jargon about sun and dry air in Colorado was fer real, doubting it due to my bad attitude about weather, half hopeful it could be the truth, but upon arrival I was stunned. This was like some surreal-shit to Dave.
Like the ray of light shining through the arch in Getu, China. I saw a light, through a tunnel, and started to gear up for the attack, a window if you will, of opportunity.
So I got my gators, my shovel, and my winter coat, drove out with my friends Cameron Maier (who showed me the problem originally) and Chad Greedy, developer extrordinairre. The conditions where amazing. 35 degrees with snow on the ground, wind gusting, and shoveling in order, we moved forward un-phased. I am a Mainer, Cameron a Delawarean, and Chad a Native American. We were born to be in the harsh elements, bred from warriors, raised by ninjas, forced to sleep out side all winter as children. Needless to say, the weather was awesome, with winds typically in the range of 30-50mph, snow would blow around extra fast, and it was kind like being in a big snow globe minus the liquid.
What did scare me, was to begin the tedious process of switching to bouldering mode after climbing routes for over two months. I felt in shape, physically, but the first day back on the rig, I felt weak, and found a lack of power. I felt sloth like, even though I had been climbing fast in the Red, and soon enough cut my finger. It was a drag, yeah, MAJOR BUMMER, but I had jet lag to blame, altitude, different skin from sandstone and resting, and the landing was all crunk and sketch. Fueled by my excuses, I remained confident, "the next sesh, things will go better" and low and behold, It did.
I had improved on one level after my recent trip. I felt like I was not getting pumped as quickly, and I did not tucker, after a long session of falling off the last move 6 times in a row, and screaming into the wind, drawing blood and eating shit down the hole, all was not lost, the routes did not bring me down, the only thing which could not be foretold, was the holiday season. Would we be forced to celebrate holidays for the next 6 days? The line up looked bad, X-mas then Gomez's B-DAY in Blackhawk, then the ever so big fiesta of the NEW YEAR!
All my friends peaced out, bailed home to their families, and I was posed with a new issue. The problem is dicey, situated on the backside of a big block, facing uphill, with a ramp like landing I built up over time to hold crash pads, and not just be an ice chute. You need spotters, and no one, I mean NO ONE, wanted to go up. I was pissed, but said, what ev Dave, enjoy the holidays, and do something different. So me and my dawgs hit the slopes up in Eldora. It was pretty damn legit, I did a double backflip in the HUGE park, and even jumped off the chairlift (not)…Then to was to have a shot at the gambling game! I always imagined I would be crap at it, and you know what? I was! My intuition guides me, and I said "Dave, watch yer SHIT" and proceeded to lose 40 bucks at Black Jack, while Chad and Gomez were outright banking! Come December 27th, all the festivities seemed to be over (minus the looming NEW YEAR party I didn't look forward to, in BOULDER) and people where returning from beyond, there seemed to be a new hope. I may get a shot, one last chance, to actually do something sick in DECEMBER...
New years Eve was a magical day. We started off by trying others rigs we had discovered, which seemed heinous and closer to 8c (OMG, where are those right-the next rage!) and was not feeling up to the challenge. I had a nagging split in my left index finger, and was convinced I couldn't do the last moves with tape on. The weather was primal, my favorite, wind, snow, freezing air, and I decided that it was at least worth a shot. After trekking over, I told myself not be a loser, and fall off the rig today, no punting, no slipping, and getting hurt. The light was nice, and I was feel in awake, seeming;y, everything could be alright…
The climb starts in a crack, you speed on up, much like Dean Potter on El Cap, or Alex Honnald… you know…like when they go extra FAST, cursing in the cracks, just onward and upward… well, you do that here for like 2 moves, then immediately its game time. You encounter a tricky section, forced to being engaging a seam, shuffling fingers in and out of special spots, and getting yourself poised on a couple perfect footholds. Launching up to the next crimp leads one into danger- don't cut your finger now- but make sure you crimp the hold enough to put the funky backstep in. Once in place you can roll top to a gaston, and launch into what I call the Dream Section. Perfect edges, amazing little pivots into more drop knees leads you close to the lip, where all hell breaks loose, and you are forced to do something less secure. An exit move to the lip is the penultimate moment, with many methods, leading to a piss easy top out, which is more or less Glory climbing.
So I got my shit together, fell off the middle once, then did the rig the next go.
It was exhilarating, and the last day of 2011…Retribution for any previous punting or short comings I had committed. No more splits on my index, no more eating shit down the hole. Maybe it wasn't the hardest rig I put up recently, but the experience contained a particular majesty, something difficult I struggle to define, or put into words. Here is an attempt:
This beautiful problem had an awesome place in my life during 2011. It was physical marker to relate and return to, a source of hope, and a goal to believe in. It was a place amidst my journeys, it stayed the same, just hung out, and did its thing. I would go there to hang out with my friends, to feel a part of the gang, and to have a place to go, a place to be, a place where no one would vibe me out, a place with wild turkeys and Elk abound. It was an exit for myself, a sortie, an escape from the gyms, the city of Boulder, and all its incomprehensible madness which has pushed me to the outskirts, ostracized and exiled by the cool kids and the, sitting at my own table, wondering what it takes to fit in…
Every year, life seems shares a type of voluminous depth to me. My experience as a professional climber continues, year 13, 30 years old, still got my hair, all four limbs, probably need some new clothes. This boulder was another stop on the road I have been in love with since I started it following it back in 96, and I am grateful that climbing means more to me now than it has ever before. Its not about numbers now or how fast I climb something, its about the rig, and what it was like to do. Who I was with, why it was cool, where it was found and by whom it was cleaned. Its about reinventing things for yourself sometimes, not the for rest of the world.
First ascents are sometimes a larger mental challenge then people generally assume. Wether its a route, a boulder, or a peak, the objective morphs, emotions exist and importance and worth gradually fashions a concrete desire, a will to live if you will. People argue bouldering is worthless, a game, and uninteresting. A contrivance, and or something that has been fashioned by someone who couldn't build.
But a meaningful experience is what it is. And it can happen in Bouldering. Things sway like that, in my world, warming up and doing some problems can be almost a reflex to me at times, meaning very little, similar to walking and running, and then sometimes it can make me happy, truly, deep down in side and put a smile on my face. Which proves to me bouldering is not stupid, no matter what others say.
In a day and age where each boulder problem is argued to be less and less significant (its not that hard, its not that cool, its not that tall, its not what I like, no one will go there, blah blah blah) I find it truly important to share when things do matter. When something I have done a boulder is significant. I took a lot from this experience as a person, even though I just climbed a rock, it was a massive milestone, and a true personal accomplishment, but it was because of how it fit into my life, where I was when I did it, and where I came from before I started trying it.
I am in El Paso now, climbing Hueco Tanks. A lot has happened since I climbed Memory is Parallax, and it reminds me of why I chose that name. I will try to put the chaos of thoughts in my head into some words over the next week, and keep everyone in the loop about the wheres, whats, hows and what-it-do's of the world I see.
FUERZA MY PEOPLE