In the 2012 issue of the recently revived “Ascent” newly under the Rock & Ice publication umbrella, one particular article provided the perfect combination of literary strength and personal relevance. It was beautiful, poignant, and real all at the same time. The following excerpt from an article (“The Ones Who Go High”) by John Long made me think of the many ascent photos I have with my husband both before and after kids (much more in the former than the latter category).
Plain as day. We were five days clawing up El Capitan. I put the camera on timer and set it on a rock for a summit photo, an age-old tradition in climbing. We both were lighter, emptied out by the adventure. Moby Dick, the great white pig (haulbag), weighed more than Jill did. I fell 30 feet on the final headwall. Whether we smiled from joy or relief is an excellent question, but an action shot could never show us like this. Later that year we got married. Then came jobs, titles, fights, barbecues, miscarriages, beer, mortgages, ski trips, twin girls, wine, flings, separations, bankruptcy, reconciliation, windfalls, awards and commendations, graduations, funerals, bourbon and those desolate times stuck in traffic, wondering what if and how come, moments when we struggled to recognize our own lives. But in two or 20 years, or whenever we dig out this old summit photo, we know one thing immediately and for sure: That’s us, plain as day.
Thank you, Ascent, (and Rock and Ice), for reminding me that our experience, as a climbing couple living in the real world with jobs, and kids, houses and more is not a solitary existence. This is not an experience for the masses, but there are others like us. When we travel to Red Rock Canyon this week – without the kids (for the first childless vacation in 6 years), I’ll be sure to get a photo of the two of us. . . showing that we can do some really great things together, both on and off the ground.