A good friend just sent me an email detailing the deaths of two climbers up on Denali. They were on the Messner Couloir. I don’t yet know the details of the accident, but I know that it wouldn’t take much to send a man rolling down that slope. I remember standing in the twilight at the 14,000 foot camp watching Adrian the Romanian ski that line - I thought for sure I’d see a man die that day.
Another friend, who left God’s country here in the Northwest for Park City snow, sent a second email telling about three super hot climbers who were recently swept into the next life by a Chinese avalanche. He sent along some cool video footage of the trio http://www.vimeo.com/5065740, man those guys were so full of life, what a loss.
Both accounts remind me of how happy I am to have made it out of the climbing world not simply alive, but also with enough intact fingers to type this here blog. I was never what you would consider a hot dog climber, but I did have a few “whoa boy you’d better keep it together lest ye meet yer maker” moments. Man I loved climbing, moving fast and light through the mountains with the best people humanity has to offer, there’s visceral joy in that, but it’s time to move on.
Life, I’ve discovered, comes at us in phases, and the secret, it seems, is the ability to not overstay your welcome in one phase and thereby miss the open door into the next. I’ve gone from climbing to endurance sports such as ultra running and Ironman triathlons, and I don’t regret the change. It was time for me to move on, to seek new opportunities and new challenges. Yeah I miss climbing, but I still have the friends, the memories, the self knowledge, and as Kenny Rogers said, “you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” I counted my money while sitting at the table and lived to tell the story, which in the end is all that matters