Writer’s Rock

If you missed me yesterday (as I am the center of the universe and all) nothing happened. I took a pause from my own blog. I was writing a blog post most of the morning and it was actually ON topic for the RagTag Daily Prompt word of the day (survival) but it wasn’t for my blog. I was invited some time back to write a guest post for The Dihedral for their series Women in Climbing.

My biggest challenge, of course, is that I’m not a climber.

I gave the post a shot a few days ago with the idea of writing about teaching Critical Thinking through Nature Writing. After a couple thousand words, I realized I wasn’t even interested in what I was writing, and no one else would be, either, least of all climbers. English teachers? Maybe, but probably not.

I wrote to them that I didn’t think I could do it. After all, I’m not a climber. High-Clip, who’s coordinating the series, said she thought I was and maybe I could try again.

I began thinking about my rock climbing experiences — because I actually have some — and I thought about why, long ago, I stopped at a certain point in my progress. After a while, I saw how important to my life climbing had been. I climbed enough to understand what climbing is, and that understanding — of climbing and myself — led to my decision not to pursue it beyond what I was doing and had done safely.

I also thought about the differences between, say, 1969 when I was 17, and today for climbing. 1969 was nearly 20 years before the first indoor climbing gym opened in the US. It was 25 years before crash pads for bouldering came into use. It was a few years before Title IX opened opportunities for girls in school sports. Among my group of climbing friends back in the day I was the only girl. Now many women climb.

And then, within climbing itself, many devices and tools, shoes and clothing have been invented that make climbing safer and, some say, easier. Old-timers like Reinhold Messner have nothing but contempt for these things, but then he has been known to be contemptuous of oxygen. 😉

The Dihedral is one of my favorite blogs. It’s written by a group of young climbers writing about their experiences climbing and in life. I don’t know yet if the piece is going to work for them, but I’m honored to have been asked and honored to have been called a climber by people who actually do climb.


19 thoughts on “Writer’s Rock

  1. I’m NOT a climber either — I might get to the first level of rocks off the ground on a wall! But climbing is a wonderfully metaphoric topic for the struggles and challenges of life. I hope the Dihedral does accept your piece.

  2. I don’t mind the climb in life, but I’m not a fan of heights. My hiking this summer has challenged me a little with the “goat paths” I’ve had to take! When the Dihedral accepts your guest piece, you’ll have to let us know!

  3. I get vertigo when standing on a bridge and looking down – I can’t say I’d survive actual climbing! I always see the photos of that lone climber standing on the top of a piece of rock jutting into the sky and think – “I’d need a helicopter rescue to get down.” I do hope your article gets published… I does say much that you were even asked to submit a piece!!

  4. I was a climber as a kid and loved it. I think it had a lot to do with having no fear. That and being young and strong. I climbed whatever was handy. Stairs is something I try to do now whenever possible to maintain strength (so to speak). Nothing wrong with taking a pause. I did it too 🙂 I like your cool photo!

    • Thank you! Stairs are hard for me because of my left knee. I climb up and down stairs like a child does. It drives my friends crazy but they’re nice about it. As for me, I don’t care how I do it. AND if the risers are lower I can climb like a “normal” adult. 😀

  5. I did go rock climbing a little bit when I was younger. Had one almost – but not quite – catastrophic experience. What put an end to was my joints. They don’t like being used that hard.

  6. I was introduced to rock climbing in my 20s, and got to do some cool climbs in the Cascades of WA, Yosemite, and Smith Rocks in OR. I enjoyed the challenge, but…the gear requirements and that you always needed a partner eventually drove me away. Came to a similar conclusion when I briefly took up whitewater kayaking a few years later. I discovered I was much happier with sports I could do alone if I wanted (running, cycling, skiing), or better yet, with my dog(s), without needing to coordinate schedules and routes with a partner or group.

    • I was thinking about trail running after I finished the piece. The kind of attention is very similar to climbing a rock (without needing equipment). Almost the same kind of attention if you don’t want to maim yourself or worse (or better, I don’t know…) I agree with you about the solitude part.

    • I don’t know what will happen with what I wrote, but I came to see that running on irregular trails required the same necessary attention, involved some of the same dangers, but no one will depend on my knots and the entire risk is mine and to me. So, maybe it’s a mentality.

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