Monday, March 16, 2009

A little help from my friends

Right now I´m back in Buenos Aires. The city is bustling, as always. Hostel dwelling travelling kids compare bus routes, beautiful women strut down the street dressed to the nines, taxis swerve and honk, shirtless old men pass each other the mate gourd on street corners. Argentines are emotional people. I have never seen so many people sobbing and kissing at a bus station before. Male friends all kiss each other on the cheek in greeting. That just doesn´t happen back home.

Tomorrow I will be back in North Van. It has been a two month trip for me, which is usually longer than I like to do. By this point, my motivation tends to wane a bit. But it has been a good trip, if a little draining at times. But I can feel my psyche level cranking back up again, mostly proportionate to the number of cafe con leches I drink.

I can´t remember who said it first, but I totally agree on the sentiment: who you go climbing with is more important than what you climb. This trip started off with one of my best buddies, Matt Segal, picking me up at the airport in El Paso. After a week of bouldering in Mexico, Matt put aside a week of his time to support me on ´Musta Bin High´, a route I wanted to climb in Eldorado Canyon. In Squamish last summer, I skipped work to belay him on the Cobra Crack.

It mostly snowed in Boulder. On my last day, hours before my flight to Patagonia, I had yet to send. Musta Bin High is notoriously sketchy, and a fall could result in injury. I had only one good day of sussing it out, hardly enough to lock the sequence into my brain. Given any other circumstances, I would have thrown in the towel and waited for another day. After all, this wasn´t just some sport climb. If the half-driven knife blade broke at the crux, the consequences would be dire. But the clock was ticking. As the sun was setting, I blocked out the nervousness, tied in, and climbed it. The next morning, Matt dropped me off at the Boulder bus station and I was on my way to Patagonia.

It all reminds me of an old story I heard about Jim Bridwell, one of the most accomplished climbers to ever live. As with most climbing stories, perhaps the specific details have been blurred over the years. But the theme remains the same. As the story goes, at the bar one night, when asked about his most proud accomplishment, Bridwell pushed the question aside. ¨In the end, it doesn´t matter what routes you climbed. All that matters is how many people you helped along the way.¨