This is a special one - a collaborative effort. You will find words from both me and my good friend, Jamie Tinnin. Jamie is both a student of Colorado State University - Pueblo majoring in History and English as well as a student of life. He spent the last 6 months living and studying abroad in Prague. With his return to the States long behind us, we're back at it. Climbing, crushing, and living life. It is with great excitement that I bring you this collaborative anecdote from our recent adventure. Without further ado:
I have been living out of my car for 3 weeks now. No job; no income; just life. People ask me, "What are you doing with your life? Like, what's your direction? Like...uh..." They don't know how to respectively and softly put their complete confusion and disagreement with what I'm doing. "What am I doing with my life? I wake up every day and do what makes me happy. If it doesn't make me happy - I don't do it," I reply. "Oh." I don't think they get it but that's fine with me. I'm not doing it for them; I'm not really even doing it for myself; I'm just doing it.
With this new life motto of doing what makes me happy I've naturally been doing a lot of climbing and traveling. The Northwest Coast of Washington, climbing in the Cascades, City of Rocks in Idaho, The Black Hills of South Dakota and Colorado have been my home. A cleverly built loft in the back of my '06 Honda Element has been my bed. My dog, my climbing partners and nature have been my company. I have ticked off a lot of "to-dos" during this time frame. The onsites of both Infinite Bliss (IV, 5.10c, 23 pitch) in Washington and The Needles Eye (5.8X) are the two most notable accomplishments of the past 3 weeks. "So what's next?" I ask myself, "Well, I've always wanted to climb The Prow (5.8R) of Kit Carson." This has been on my to-do list for a long time. Alpine climbing is my calling and I wanted to get into that discipline and The Prow has always called to me. "So go climb it" I commanded. Done.
"You want to try and send [The Prow of] Kit Carson this weekend?"
"Yeah dude. But I might have to work Saturday. I'll talk to Marv and see if I can get out of it."
"Cool. Let's make it happen."
This is what I've always liked about Jamie. He understands that life is a lot more than school, homework and a job. He values those aspects of life, definitely, but he isn't ruled by them.
"We got sending weather this weekend."
"Sweet dude. Then let's do it."
With our text-versation confirming our next adventure was taken care of we dived into beta, trip reports and directions.
"The approach sounds kinda confusing. I'll try and get it figured out."
"I'm still trying to decipher the approach."
"I've read info about the technical section a bunch but that's it..."
"Yeah I have too. But I've read a bunch of different stuff about the approach. I'll figure it out....And do you want to bivy on sat night along the trail?"
Before we knew it, it was Saturday. We were heading to the trail head as soon as Jamie was done with work. I was making dinner at 9 in the morning to eat that night and the next day. A great concoction of rice, beans, potatoes and local Pueblo vegetables. Sending food.
After some last minute packing, decisions on gear and a grocery store stop, the adventure began....
We got worked. So worked. By the time we got back to the car, we were destroyed.
The climbing was the easy part.
We couldn't believe how worked we were. "It's only like 10.5 miles round trip, ya?"
Then why are we so worked? We were so worked we couldn't answer that question.
Pat hates hiking. So we hiked. We hiked about 3 miles up to where we made camp on the first day. We carried our packs over streams, through bushes, back over streams, over an entire section of burned logs, and gained around 2,700 ft.
I really hate hiking. So much so I've stopped doing it for recreation. Unless there is climbing at the end of the hike I don't do it.
We carried our packs over streams, through bushes, back over streams, on logs over streams, under trees, over an entire section of burned logs. We hiked. I hate hiking.
But, while eating a concoction of rice and beans out of a Ziploc, we sat under the looming Prow, and we were stoked for what the next day would bring.
"I hope we come out of these trees and it's like, ka-prow!, there's The Prow. You get it?" I laughed, "yeah, I get it..." Ka-prow, that's a good one. And sure enough. We came out of the trees and Ka-Prow! There it was.
We woke at 5. Then again at 6. And finally, we possessed enough courage to crawl out of our sleeping bags and step into the frosty morning. And that frosty morning was the beginning of us getting worked.
Jamie isn't telling the whole truth, here. I got up at 5. It was cold. I wasn't mentally prepared for 35 degree mornings. I just got back from City of Rocks, Idaho where it was 90 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. So I went back to bed. Woke up at 5:30 - still no sun, still cold. Woke up at 6 - still no sun, still cold.
Finally, we got moving at 8am. It was still cold and still no sun but we had to get moving and get up...to get worked.
We thought we were a lot closer to the base of The Prow than we actually were. A couple more miles, a couple more thousand feet of elevation, and two and half hours later, we were finally roping up.
This hike was the worst. 1.5 miles over 2.5 hours. Up hill; over big rocks and small rocks; loose rocks and solid rocks; constantly and consistently up hill.
The pitches came and went. But they kept coming. Each pitch was somewhat similar, with one or two crux moves and then cruising over the conglomerate ridge. Place a piece here or there, and then just go. We were climbing quickly, but the pitches kept coming. False summits kept us thinking we were at the end.
They were fun at least. Full 60 meter long pitches with, at best, 3 or 4 pieces of gear protecting the leader if they would fall. Yeah, this route is definitely runout.
And after a long climb of six hours we were at the end. A couple photos and a pull of Serbian plum brandy later, the work started. We started down through a gully. Then continued down the gully. About an hour through this never-ending gully we were both tired. Pat looked at me and said, “I’m over it.” I agreed. If only we knew how much longer we still had to go.
Oh, I was over it. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my head hurt, my arms hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurt. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the work.
We finally made it to a clearing. At this point it was dark, so I stumbled behind Pat and his headlamp (I forgot my headlamp back at camp). Then we couldn’t quite find camp. Then we finally did.
We sat down at our humble camp of a tarp, which was anchored between trekking poles. We wanted to crawl under the tarp and sleep, but I needed to get down to go to class at ten the next morning. We ate the remaining bites of our food and started down, with packs made heavy from our tired legs.
"I'm tired," I wined to myself, "I hate hiking."
So we hiked. Back down through the meadow and over the burned logs, through the bushes and over the streams. Three miles never felt so long. Pat didn’t talk. I was mentally exhausted and cruised, hoping to get back to the car as soon as possible. We hiked, being “over it” for four hours now.
"Why am I doing this? It isn't making me happy." I was right. I haven't done anything that didn't make me happy over the passed 3 weeks but I was doing it now. If it was up to me I wouldn't have packed up camp. I would have crawled under the tarp and slept. I didn't need to get down to go to 10AM class the next morning so why was I making myself so miserable? Because Jamie needed to get down to go to class the next day. "Fine. I'll go."
I convinced myself to keep walking; to not sit down; to keep up with Jamie, "Man! He's cruising!"
And eventually the car was there. We sat down and ate some hummus. It was midnight.
We talked about asking the Crestone Mountain Zen Buddhist Monastery if we could have some tea and cot to sleep on for the night; pretending we were dusty foot philosophers needing a place to rest their weary legs. Jamie talked about how this would be a logical and acceptable reason to miss class the next day. I agreed. But as we laughed about how cool of story that would be, we turned onto the highway and headed back to Pueblo.
Three hours later, back at my place in Pueblo, we said goodnight to a solid day.
Pat still hates hiking.
More trip photos can be found here