What a wedding!

I have been to a handful of inspirational and touching weddings, but the wedding I went to on the 29th of July was without question the most unique and appropriate for the couple. Gwen Hobbs and Eric Bostard who own Redpoint Climbers Supply in Terrebonne Oregon tied the knot at sunrise on top of the Monkey Face pillar in Smith Rock State Park. Gwen's mother and sister surprised her the day before the wedding and my boyfriend officiated the service. As if that wasn't enough awesome, Gwen and Eric swung on the 100ft pendulum Monkey Swing together just hours after exchanging their vows. 

It was awe-inspiring to see the community come out to support them especially given how early it was! 

The officiant and I decided it was probably okay to also step off the cliff on the Monkey swing after the newlyweds tested it. Among the others who jumped; a mother and her 7 year old daughter, Gwen's mother and sister, and a handful of other brave guys and gals. 

I have personally struggled with the idea of marriage for most of my life, but seeing more of my friends come up with unique and brilliant ways to represent their relationships and the lives they want to have, makes the idea of nuptials slightly less terrifying.

Thank you Gwen and Eric for being the pinnacle of what is possible in a functional fun-loving relationship and for setting the bar high.   

Official West Face Variation Trip Report!

“Breathe. Breathe. Just breathe,” I say to myself in a reassuring loop as I get frustrated and scared trying to place an orange number 3 cam in the crack, my legs shaking and tired.  “Breathe.” My breath is one of those simple things I constantly take for granted when I’m at dirt level. “Breathe.” I let my body relax, soften my focus, slow down, and gently arrange the cam back to its happy place. I am on the second pitch of the West Face Variation on the Monkey Face and this is the first time I have ever lead a trad climb in it’s entirety from ground to summit. That orange cam I was freaking out over was a good placement before I started messing with it and shaking myself silly. I’m still learning.

I make it to Bohn Street and belay my boyfriend Mike up to me. He’s one of my favorite climbing partners. Mike knows when to shout encouragement, when to keep his lips zipped, and makes me feel strong and powerful on the sharp end. When he reaches me at the belay station, he gives me a positive critique on my pieces, and takes a seat next to me in the bright spring sun. It’s empowering to switch roles. Normally I’m following Mike up the harder trad pitches, or we will swing leads on sport climbs, but this is new territory for both of us.

The next two pitches are challenging for different reasons. The aid ladder that leaves Bohn Street and finishes in the Monkey’s mouth is an exhausting cluster of webbing, draws, beaners and cursing topped off with a not-so-graceful flop to the anchors. The next pitch, aptly named “panic point,” is a highly-exposed, airy sport-pitch to the nose block of the Monkey. This is where breathing comes in handy again. The climbing isn’t difficult, but the obvious 170-foot drop to the ground out the Monkey’s mouth instantly puts my head in check. My breath and I keep our composure, though, and are blinded by the sun as we met the Monkey’s nose. One more little pitch to the summit and I had successfully lead my boyfriend up a classic route of trad, sport, and aid climbing.

At the summit, Mike laughed at me, blissed out and vibrating with joy as we soaked up my victory in the sunshine.  Before we rappelled down, I had to do a handstand on top to seal the celebration. Once our soles were joined with the dirt again, I stared back up at the Monkey. I just climbed that! I lead every pitch--all of it! I placed my own gear, got scared, took my time, trusted my pieces, and belayed up my second. I stood on the summit, was blinded by the sun, the skyline, and soaked in the warmth of my achievement. With the exception of borrowing my boyfriend’s rack, that was all me, and it felt exceptional.

I have felt empowered at other points in my life: When I sent my first highball, when I went through security at PDX to start my solo travels around the world, and when I cursed at a man in perfect Italian who had been harassing me for an hour. I think everyone wants to feel powerful. I think everyone needs that sense of invincibility with just the right dose of reality. I find that sense of empowerment by challenging gender norms, challenging cultural expectations of what I “should do,” and of course, challenging my perceptions of what I think I can do. This process of seeking empowerment is not always a smooth one. But, when I get scared, frustrated, or start to shake, all I have to do is remind myself to breathe.    

Weekend Warrior

Urban Dictionary has a long list of definitions for "weekend warrior." The most popular being "a person who regularly parties on weekends."  I certainly don't "party" in the traditional Urban Dictionary context, but I have my own malleable definition and try to celebrate every moment of my weekends in the fullest adventure style possible. 

To recap the month of May... 2500 trip miles, 615 photos taken, 11 days climbing outside, 4 states, 3 hot springs, 2 new phones, 1 yoga retreat, countless bruises, and more laughter then I have embraced in a very long time. My weekends, my evenings, all of my time is meant to be full of awesome! I have chosen to have what I call a big-girl job and that takes up about 40 hours a week, but there is plenty of time left over to "party!"

I'll admit it is hard sometimes to get home from a trip after midnight, unpack the car, make food for the next day, and shower only to get 5 hours of sleep and still get things accomplished on Monday. But it's worth it. It's worth it to have my ankles bruised to the point of limiting my professional foot attire, my muscles ache to the point of limited movement and my car/road-trip-rig smell to the point of limited breathing and almost embarrassment. I'm not embarrassed though and I know I'm not the only one that lives this way.

Some people like myself live many lives in a week. I have my business casual life during the weekdays and on the weekends I have my wanderlust adventure warrior life. There are moments of frustration on sunny days behind my desk, moments of anguish on rainy days hiding under rocks, and moments of chaos when I can't seem to counterbalance my two lives, but again it's worth it. I learn more and more about myself as I transition between my two lives, reflect on the importance and benefits of each, and try to grow and adjust as necessary.

So for the time being I'm stoked on my business casual/adventure warrior juggling act and since nothing is really set in stone, if I choose to take an extended trip or spend the weekend at home in my hammock that will just have to fit into my definition of "party."