Thursday, May 7, 2015

Coming Full-Circle on a Magical Night at Devil's Lake

It has been about twelve years since I have gotten paid to go climbing (which in my case usually means getting paid to build anchors and belay - not pull down). I loved guiding when I was in college - it provided me with a great avenue for sharing the skills and knowledge I had acquired, put me in generally amazing work environments, allowed me to meet a bunch of cool people (my wife included) and gave me the opportunity to really build my skills by having to know them so well that I could teach them to a variety of people in a variety of circumstances.

About six months ago Nick Wilkes, owner of Devil's Lake Climbing Guides, and I were introduced through mutual friends. Nick and I began a conversation that led to him hiring me on as a part-time guide. I helped him out for the first time on the night of Wednesday, May 6th - it was a blast working with clients again, and I look forward to more of the same as the season goes on. As fun as guiding was, the highlight of the night came after I said goodbye to everyone in the parking lot. With gorgeous temps (and 0 pitches to my name for the evening) I grabbed my shoes, chalkbag and headlamp and ran back up the Balanced Rock Trail for a few quick solos.
The night was amazing, perfect temps, a light breeze, the stars, the moon. I did five quick "pitches":
Balanced Rock Wall is the perfect place for this kind of thing, if one is so inclined. Fun climbing, low cruxes, and easy access.

Heading back down the trail on a perfect spring evening.
Walking down the trail in the dark, the climbing behind me, the talus still radiating the now-faded sun's heat and the warm breeze on my skin...all of  it, lit only by the small cone of light from my headlamp...I felt a deep a peace, a sense of place, and reverence for all that surrounded me. I felt in sync, if only for the briefest of moments, with the world pulsing around me. In that moment, life was not a struggle, or a race, but perfectly-natural, and easy - the whole universe was properly ordered, everything, including me, was in its place. The stars twinkled in the vast, unending sky and I touched eternity.

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