Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Returning to the knife edge

It was probably five or six years ago when my wife and I were walking out of a movie theater, and she turned to me and said, "It's nice to spend a Saturday with you."
In that wonderfully selfish manner that's second nature to all mountain climbers, I hadn't really thought about how much time I was spending away from home until Kate said that. It was summer, after all, and summers were meant for climbing peaks and checking them off my list.
Oh, how times have changed. I've been out once this year.
One of my BFF's said this would happen, and at the time, when I didn't have a kid or twins to bookend him, I thought no way. No way would my desire to explore and challenge myself and, yes, check off peaks on a list would ever go away.
Well, three things happened.
First, I didn't really lose the desire to challenge myself, it just changed into a more manageable sport. Running is the most challenging thing I've ever done. Climbing is second nature to me, so I'll always be dialed into getting up and hiking when most of you go to bed in Vegas (probably earlier, actually), going all morning, into the afternoon and evening, and facing fun scrambles. But running is different. It's caused the kind of agony I never thought I'd feel, yet it's a welcoming pain, not the agony of defeat but of accomplishment. I'm running three half marathons this fall and I've got a 10-mile race to run on Labor Day. I can't wait. And the best part? I can do these things and be home after two hours to play with my kids. I might be hobbling around, but they love it when I lay on the floor anyway.
Second, and this happens to most parents, my desires changed. I just don't want to be away that much anymore. When Kate and I happen to go to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, I want it to be unusual because we rarely get to see a movie in the theater together, not because there's an empty space on the couch. My kids should be happy to see me, not pleasantly surprised.
Third? Well, I accomplished my main goal, which was climbing all 54 14ers in Colorado. I've done a lot of what I want to do. I just don't NEED to be out that much any longer. 
But all that changes a bit starting this weekend. My longtime hiking partners, who were there for at least 25 of the 14ers and were the only ones who accompanied me on my last one, will be climbing Capitol Peak. They want me along, and I couldn't refuse. I've got some other dear friends along. 
You've probably guess that Capitol is rough. In fact it might be the toughest 14er of them all. It's long (17 miles), steep and features dangerous, exposed, tough terrain once you get to 13,900. 
It even has a knife edge, a 100-yard section thinner than a desk with a drop that would kill you if you slip.
It's also beautiful and fun and one of my favorites. And it's in Aspen. That's pretty sweet too.
Next weekend I'm climbing two tough 13,900+ peaks, Dallas and Teakettle, in the San Juans, perhaps my favorite place in all of Colorado.
Yes, I'm worried about whether this is stupid or not given I have a family. But I'll be careful, and when you're careful, you (almost always) don't die. Death is a byproduct of carelessness and cockiness.
Plus we've had a lot of shit in the saying "shit happens" lately. The van needed to be repaired and was under warranty, but we had to drive it to Fort Collins, 30 miles away, to get it looked at because the dealer just closed here (thanks recession!). I've already talked about the water in the basement, and we need to get the drywall repaired from that. We picked out new carpet last week (exciting) but may have to move some shit in the basement to get it done (not exciting). 
Oh, and the kids have all been sick.
I'm usually a big whiny baby during shit like this, but strangely I've been the calm one throughout this mess. 
I think it's because of the trips coming up. The mountains have always been there for me. And my desire to visit them has been compromised, but it won't ever completely go away.



KenP said...

Are you sure you want to carpet the downstairs again?

Carpets are dirty beasts in beneficial environments. I took mine up a few years ago and what was under them is shocking. I live in a sandy area and there was a half inch in spots. Now that is graphic. Think of all the little bits that aren't as benign.

You might consider tile with nice area rugs. Just a thought.

BLAARGH! said...

My vote is for wood with a couple area rugs, but hey - it's a basement... tile might be more appropriate :)

Really I wanted to comment because your post brought back so many memories for me. I used to hang glide (actually knew a ton of climbers that flew as well) and went through the same thing. For 10 years I flew EVERY time the wind looked decent (and sometimes when it wasn't - yikes), but it was an all day thing. Leave at 5 in the morning, come back at 11 at night. I saw folks come and go and swore up and down that that would never be me - I was doing this for life! That was great when I was single, but then I met my wife. Somehow flying wasn't as important... and I had done just about everything I wanted to do. (as an aside - flew colorado a couple times - out by dinosaur - wanted to do telluride, but never got the chance).
My knees are shot, so running is pretty much out, so I got into surfing to replace hang gliding and now I bike when I can't surf. Always looking for something to do that keeps me going, but leaves me enough time to spend with the family.

Then I found poker. Ugh. At least I mostly do that at home so I'm physically there, if not mentally with them :) And the workout I get from throwing things....