It's been so long.

IMG_5745 So many things have happened since my last post. The last two years have been full of big changes, sudden turns, and unexpected challenges. Even when I've had time for storytelling, I haven't had much energy.

Overall, life has stayed beautiful. I've conquered fears, made mistakes, tested my spirit, and proved myself wrong. I've learned about failure and myself.

At many times and in many places, climbing has kept me above the waters of confusion and self-doubt. It's hard to explain my relationship with this sport, the essential balance that exists between the rock, my body, and my mind. I'm so grateful for climbing, for words, for friendship, and for fear.

I want to keep sharing my life here. I've wondered for months how I would execute my return. I never finished profiling Ecua-crags, and I didn't meet all of my training goals. I've been to so many new places. Where could I start?

I'll start here, with an excerpt from my first contribution to the Steep South website:

I left Ecuador to work for The Climbing Academy, a traveling high school for rock climbers. We began the semester in Bishop. Eighty-three miles closer to home but on the opposite coast, I felt farther than ever from my roots.

The Happies and Sads offered a final humbling taste of volcanic bouldering between school days in our rental house. After a month in snowy California, we headed to Mexico.

In Potrero Chico, I climbed on limestone for the first time. After a few sketchy falls on crumbling choss, I found myself rebuilding the sharp-end confidence I’d developed in Ecuador. “This is limestone?” I asked myself. The tacos were worth it, but only just.

Weeks later, though, the tufa wonderlands of El Salto enchanted me. In the otherworldly Tecalote cave, I decided to become a capital-S-C Sport Climber. In Nevada, I fell in love with Mount Charleston’s deep pockets and invisible feet. I discovered a style to which my body felt truly suited. Taking whips and trying hard, I finally trusted the rock and myself. (Read on for the rest.)

I won't make promises this time. All I'll say is this: I want to tell many more stories.


Ecuador's Multi-Pitch Mecca: Clipping bolts in Cojitambo

Shattered boulders litter Coji's landscape. The town's traditional occupation is shaping tiles from the rock long-scattered across its hillsides. It’s a bittersweet sight for boulderers in a sport climbing mecca, but the area’s most important faces remain intact.

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Reasons, promises, and Cuyuja climbing

I knew no one in this country. I had never lived more than 15 minutes from my parents, and my knowledge of Ecuador was limited to a vague mental image of an alpaca in a poncho. I had never even been to South America. So I understand why my presence here seems pretty random to taxi drivers, coworkers, and even fellow gringos. Maybe it seems more random when I tell them that I moved here for the climbing.

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Rain and Ropes: A jungly affair at Santa Clara Alta

In the meantime, though, I have Santa Clara Alta. Its gray volcanic rock has little in common with that of the Canyon, with few roofs, thin cracks, and what I must describe as chunky slab. The approach, however, feels like I'm back in Alabama — if Alabaman forests were jungly Andean affairs, home to giant birds and (probably) baby dinosaurs.

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Second Impressions: La Perrera's volcanic wonderland

I believe the first phrase I used to describe the boulders at La Perrera was “Cotopaxi’s dried-up lava barf.” While these gray beauties are mementos of volcanic eruptions past, that description may not capture the magic of this place. In fact, after a weekend in the lush green playground of igneous rock and baby waterfalls, I still don’t think I’ve processed the wonder.

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Ecua-Crag Introductions: Las Canteras, Sigsipamba, and La Perrera

The thing is, I haven’t been super motivated to climb recently. I sent my first two V6es the week before Peace Corps staging, and then I didn’t climb for two months. It sucks to feel how weak I’ve gotten so soon after that milestone, and I’ve had trouble dragging myself to the gym ‘cause I know how much bruising my ego will take once I get there.

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Feelin' My Silly: Eat & Climb's first award

Bloggers like myself pass the Liebster Award around the Internet to help their Internet friends find new blogs to read. The lovely Misotravelsandclimbs nominated me and asked me 11 questions. Once I've answered them, I will nominate a few other blogs and make my own list of questions.

Here goes!

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