America part one, Joe’s Valley

Last summer I was excited. I was going to  Switzerland in the winter! And it was going to be great, I’d probably do all my projects and most definitely have the time of my life! So come December, what was I doing on a plane to America?

Well.. no one wanted to go to wintery Switzerland with me. I know, I’m a cool guy… I was as surprised as you. But anyway, a friend of mine David Mason was going to Joe’s Valley as it turned out, and he asked if I wanted to go too, so I did.  Many, many hours of travel later I touched down in Las Vegas.

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LA Sunset from the plane.

After landing I met up with David and Dom and we drove to Joe’s Valley to start the first part of the trip. Joe’s! As a big fan of sandstone and Dr PepperI’ve been wanting to check out Joe’s Valley for a long time, so it was a bit of a no brainer.

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Day One, Driving into the boulders.

This trip happened to come along at a bit of a turning point for me. Every time I go online, I read about people that are loving the climbing life. They just had the best day’s climbing ever, conditions were perfect, they sent everything they wanted to. Well for a change, I’m going to talk about something different. Let’s be honest, conditions are rarely that good and often it’s very hard to climb well for whatever set of reasons… and I have to admit that in the last year, climbing has really changed for me. I think I became a bit tarnished, climbing all of a sudden just wasn’t all that. For the first time, it seemed like climbing didn’t really matter to me that much, I could no longer quite see the point in putting all my effort and more into trying to be the 50th person to repeat some tricky boulder problem in some dank Swiss woods. I do understand, sure, it’s nice to have direction and focus and train for something hard, but it turns out that working towards my studies at uni meant I was using climbing to get away from the real work, as a distraction. But when climbing became the only thing that I had going on (and trust me, I’d been looking forward to climbing being the only thing in my life for a long, long time…) I really needed more, which was really hard to come to terms with. So I was apprehensive about going on this trip, a month long climbing holiday with some very dedicated climbers felt a little daunting.

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Dan Turner climbing a cool problem in Barn Canyon

Anyway to cut a long story short I had fun! I no longer felt so attached to my own climbing achievements in the way I previously had, so if I fell off or climbed poorly it didn’t really matter anymore. Sure, maybe I wasn’t climbing my best and didn’t come away with some big Send, but I did end up having fun and after all, who really cares if you climb this or that in the grand scheme of things! But maybe the best thing about choosing not to care quite so much is that I’ve started climbing better again, with my self-inflicted pressure largely off my shoulders. So next time you get mad at a boulder or obsess over a few holds, remember to look around. You may well be in some random woods, probably alone, probably trying to climb a tiny rock, and thats ok! Just try and enjoy yourself and keep things in perspective. And don’t forget that our sport can be pretty fun!

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James finishing of a scary lip.

We had almost perfect weather every day, thank goodness really because there are only so many hours you can sit in a cabin and watch the kardashians whilst eating pop tarts. The weather did eventually crap out and we moved on to Moe’s valley and Bishop.

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Dave Crushing on a very cold day!
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Dom Jumping above a crap landing, carefully spotted by dave in his trademark leggings.

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