Do I live to climb or climb to live, someone asked me once. In years past I would without hesitation have to say I live to climb but as the years move on and other life choices happen that answer isn’t so obvious anymore.
Growing up as a climber in Louisiana all I ever wanted was to live in place where I could climb year-round. When I lived to climb I made every choice centered around prioritizing climbing and as luck would have it I settled in Bishop. It’s been 12 years since I moved to California and 8 since we started calling Bishop home.
This year, my 38thyear has been perhaps the busiest ever. My husband and I bought some property in Bishop, CA last summer and we’ve spent close to the whole year tearing it apart and rebuilding. The idea is that this investment is our retirement plan; you know for when we’re so old and arthritic that working as professional climbers just doesn’t cut it anymore. Knobby fingers crossed that isn’t for a long time coming. In addition to that mega art-project I’m still training, working as a nutritionist, writing a column for Climbing Magazine, working with Sacred Rok and climbing. It’s not that climbing has taken a back-seat, far from it, it’s more that climbing has become my respite.
Despite the busy schedule I’ve had one of my best climbing years. I’ve stayed in California all year rather than venturing to Europe; something that hasn’t happened in quite some time. It allowed me to spend the Fall in Yosemite Valley, the winter bouldering in Bishop, the spring projecting in Pine Creek and the start of summer moving from one home crag to another. The abundance of different styles and rock has kept me entertained beyond what I could have imagined.
In the long days when I’ve been cutting wood, scraping cement, rebuilding walls, endlessly painting, giving nutrition talks, working with youth and hammering out words on the computer I go to bed with excitement for the next climbing day. I live for those moments where rock bites into skin, where that hyperawareness comes into play when on the sharp end, where the wind chaps my skin and the smell of the atmosphere permeates the air.
These days I would have to say I climb to live and I feel quite fortunate in that regard. Each year has been better than the previous, every experience building upon the next.
I know that one day bouldering double digits, climbing 5.14, and big wall climbing will be harder and harder and that’s ok because climbing has given me so much more than numbers and goals. My foundation in life has largely come from climbing, those 10,000 hours of practice my guide for the future.