Unique by experience or pursuit, the drive we gain from what we do and why we do it will continue to challenge us, mold us, and define who we are. There’s a line that gets swaggered by many as they choose to only dabble in what they love. Then there are those who willingly let a personal drive within, guide what they do, and who they become. I distinctly remember walking out of Smith Rock state park two years ago and knowing that my life would never be the same – I found something I truly loved. The earth shifted just slightly and over the line I went, crashing violently into an obsession that I now proudly call my passion. We all fall over the line for different reasons, it’s more what motivates and inspires us to keep going that is the most noteworthy.
Almost Two Years ago on my first project - Vomit Launch 5.11b
Photo: Matthew Battarbee
Although three months off climbing seemed like the world ended just slightly, it enabled me to gain the new perspective I desperately needed. Coming back to Smith and picking my first hard project in almost a year was super exciting. I was inspired to find what is likely one of the best rigs in the park - Kings of Rap 5.12d. Ironically, it just happen to be right around the corner from Churning – my little tendon muncher. Kings climbs through powerful pockets onto a spectacular head wall with great, varied movement. From the first attempts of engaging my belayers in the most volatile whippers imaginable on this thing, to finally sending, I can breath in and know why I do this. I lower down and I simply want to get back on it – I can’t believe it’s over. I love what I do and I'm so thankful that my body (for now) allows me to do it.
Entering the Redpoint crux on the near perfect headwall. Photo: Ryan Palo
What drives you? What shouldn’t? Is it all just an emotional reaction to your ego as you swagger the line, never really allowing yourself to let go and do it for yourself. For women in our sport in particular, something seems like it needs to change.
|Boom! This route is serious off the ground! Photo: Ryan Palo
There’s no one standing outside your apartment with a stopwatch reminding you that being 5 minutes late to work is a side effect of being a woman. There will never be anyone at the crag that will remind you as you whip into the air punting off your project, that you probably fell because you have a vagina. I look at women who inspire me, and they’re the ones who climb because it’s what they love. Not because they are trying to spray some type of astro-turfed, misguided feminism that really just sounds like a left over Thanksgiving dinner of Nineties book clubs.
Paige Claassen on Kings of Rap. Photo: Andy Mann
Are you short/ tall, or negative/positive ape? Only then will your beta likely vary from the later. Never have I found that because I’m a woman, do I need to indicate that I deserve special attention for beta, climbing, or ascents. What do you think FFA means to most people? Watching a woman like local smith hard woman Kristin Yurdin crush 5.14 or Paige Claassen go on an onsight rampage can really make you eat your acronyms. Climb because you love it. If you’re a woman and you want to write about climbing, write something worth inspiring. These neo-feminist climbing blogs and vagina glory-ascent highlight-reels are degrading not only the women in our sport, but the sport itself. Whether your goal is to do the hardest onsight, red point, or to fit into the XS Metolius harness, few things are unobtainable to those who really want it and who have the drive to push back.