As we were making our way out of the park last night, laughing at how Carol’s flight was about to leave in 10 minutes, we smiled back knowing that this day is something that we will forever remember, even if we did have a mini epic of a day. The adventure doesn’t start till something goes wrong, right? Well, we had one hell of an adventure!!! Let us rewind a few hours to the start of our day.
Knowing Carol had a flight at 6:10 pm later in the day, we set out to Red Rock Canyon National Park with a fun cruiser climb in mind called Tunnel Vision, that our new friend Kevin had recommended to us the previous day. We got into the park at 7:00 am making our way to the White Rock parking area about 6 miles into the park. Upon arrival, we unloaded our bags, double checked our gear and started our hike out…down the wrong trail. I guess we just got to excited and didn’t notice the rock face staring us directly in the eyes, but we quickly found out that we were on the wrong path, went back to the parking lot and started down a trail heading the right way.
Upon arrival to the wall, we searched for what we thought was the start of the climb, racked up and started climbing. I did quite a bit of route finding, thinking we were on the right path, creating a belay station at the bottom of what I thought was the second chimney pitch. I felt that I was doing a lot more bushwhacking and climbing on chossy rock for such a highly rated climb. When Carol got to the belay, I started up the second pitch, again, trying to figure out where I was supposed to go and really what the hell I was doing. I found the chimney, worked my way up, all the way to a decent belay spot. When Carol got up and I did some more exploring, I thought we might have been off route. We decided to rappel down to the bottom of the pitch, leaving bail gear behind. When we both successfully got back down and pulled the rope, after looking over the topo, we decided that we were on the right path and just needed to move out a little further left to find the correct line.
At this point, we had taken up a lot of time and were worried about Carol missing her flight. We were both feeling down on ourselves with our strength and mental game. Thoughts started flooding into my head about failure. How the hell could I be so off route on a 5.7 climb? Why could I not get the mental and physical strength to correctly lead us up the wall? Do we just bail on the route and give up on the day? At this point I was so down on myself for not being an able leader for our climbing party when Carol looked at me and said, “Do you want to finish this route? Don’t think about time, don’t think about other obligations we have for the day. There is nothing more valuable than working towards your confidence and peace of mind.” I knew turning around now I wouldn’t be happy with myself, I knew we had to give it another go and figure this out.
That happened in a type two fun kind of way.
Looking at the chimney from a different perspective, I got on lead, and went back to climbing. We ended up climbing a total of 5 pitches, not finding the tunnel that the climb got its name from, climbing over a hundred feet of complete choss that no other person had probably been on, and pretty sure we never found the actual route.
Some days are really great, some days are really bad, and some days you just have to enjoy whatever adventure you end up finding. We got to the summit and gave each other high fives while exchanging giggles as we enjoy the view of the majestic Red Rocks Canyon. “So I’m not going to make my flight. But I’ve been contemplating all of the other ideas of how I’m going to get back to San Diego.” Carol says with a smile on her face. As we hurried down the gully back to our packs we sang songs and enjoyed the sky starting to change color with the city lights joining as if in unison.
Getting back to the car, we took time to stuff food into our faces and replenish our thirst of water while calling around to figure out our Plan B. This whole time we felt relieved, we felt happy, and most of all we knew things would be okay. To have someone to share these experiences with, being able to keep both people in the party relaxed and level headed is something that is not very easy to come by. Stress can overwhelm oneself and distract you from the reality of life and the true meaning of happiness. In this situation, I knew Carol understood what was important to me, her act of selflessness shone through this whole trip allowing me to push myself and be at one with the things I was going through.
We drove through the park, as the sun set behind the mountains, making our way to the airport so Carol could pick up the rental car she had reserved. We said our bittersweet goodbyes and went on our separate ways.
I learned a lot from today. I learned a lot about my strengths and my weaknesses. Understanding how I process different types of information, how it’s ok when things don’t go to plan. There are a lot of reason’s why I’m here, doing what I’m doing, living the life that I have worked so hard to experience. I am so grateful to be surrounded by great people who constantly push me to be the best person I can be.
Carol, Thank you so much for all of the experiences we have shared over the past year, and turning into the best climbing partner and best friend I could have ever asked for. Your happiness and go getter attitude will forever stick with me, as well as your so far-out stoke on life that fuels everyone you come into contact with. I’m glad you made it home safe, and I can’t wait for the next adventure I find you on!