Work gives me purpose. It gives me direction and meaning. I find happiness in teaching others, living simply and encouraging others to do the same. Work is spent in the back country or base camping at popular climbing areas throughout the American west. The good students are engaged, excited to learn, ready to listen and work hard. Hanging out and getting to know them is one of the highlights. Spending time in kitchens, hiking groups and on climbs allow an interaction on a personal level that helps me facilitate a connection. I do this about twenty seven weeks out of the year.
The other twenty five though, they are different. Lately I have found myself directionless during these periods. TIme somehow has a way of slipping away. When measured in three or four week chunks, I perceive it to go quickly. Some folks work fifty two weeks out of the year. I work about twenty seven or so. That means I have twenty five off.
While my lifestyle might not resonate with everyone, for the most part it brings me happiness. I own a two thousand and one Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. It is my most valuable (monetarily speaking) possession. I used to say that I lived in it. I would not make that same statement today. Most of my possessions are stored in two storage lockers at the Noble Hotel, NOLS’ dormitory, in Lander WY. My primary storage closet is in 306 and there are some niceties that I have added to it, namely shelving units, that make it quite hospitable. I no longer live out of duffle bags or rubber maid bins. The closest allows for clothing and gear to be organized on shelves. When I am in Lander I have digressed from the dirtbag lifestyle to one of frivolous luxury. No longer do I subject my self to camping at the city park (though sometimes I still do, but only occasionally) but instead will pay the wonderfully low rate of seven dollars a night to sleep in a real bed in three oh six. Amenities include a communal kitchen, a guest bed, wireless internet, a communal bathroom, laundry, etc. It really is the best deal for inexpensive housing, though in the summer it is full with instructors.
Off time spent in Lander usually involves sunny afternoons up in Sinks Canyon. With over three hundred climbable days a year, Lander is a true climber’s town. Well bolted, easily accessible sport routes grace the mile long Main Wall which is a fifteen minute drive from town followed by an uphill walk of the same. January or July, the east west running canyon is soaking up the sun when you want it and cloaked in shade when you need it. In warmer times, longer stays in Lander might involve a sojourn or two into the Wind Rivers. A mere two hour drive from Lander, Big Sandy Opening is the gateway to one of the America’s premiere alpine rock climbing destination. A mostly flat eight mile hike will have me situated smack in the middle of the Cirque of the Towers or lounging on the shores of Deep Lake, scouting tomorrow’s line up any number of objectives. A two hour drive north of lander will put me at the Glacier Trail parking lot, giving me access to the high peaks region of Wyoming. Sometimes in the summer I find myself going for a run or an early morning bike ride.
With all of this climbing and much, much more at my finger tips, it is hard to leave, but I usually try to find a destination to head off to. Much to my mother’s disappointment, NH is not usually my first option. Road trips to the desert and Colorado plateau are fall mainstays. Last year a lot of my off time was spent working on the guide book that I am writing to the Capitol Reef area of south central UT. Other common destinations for getting out of the Lander area include City of Rocks, Joshua Tree, Red Rocks and of course Indian Creek. This past January I headed to El Chalten, in southern Patagonia, where my friends and I roped up to try our hands and test our mettle against the savage Patagonian weather and steep, granite spires of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs.
So it would seem that the other twenty five would be riddled with climbing. That is somewhat true, but for the amount of time I have off I don’t climb that much. I am not entirely sure why, but I do know that to me climbing is truly just a really good excuse to hang out with my friends and it seems that as long as I have twenty five weeks a year off I will get to do a little of both.