I’ve gone on about 25 trips so far in 2016, most of them being climbing trips, a few involving less climbing than I would’ve liked but everyone needs breaks sometimes. Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport, and we minimize all the risks we can but you can never take away 100% of the risk, and who would want to anyways. Part of the allure of rock climbing is the danger to me, the adrenaline rush. I never used to be the adrenaline rush guy, and I still don’t like roller coasters. But I love the feeling you get from managing the risk or relying on your skill and knowledge to navigate yourself safely through a scenario.
Climbing is relatively new to my life being that I started only 2 years ago and has become a huge piece of my everyday routine. I am only 21 years old and most of my friends are in University far from where we all grew up, but I’ve stayed home and gone to community college at night and worked full time for about 4 years now. I went to visit one of my friends who goes to school at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX because I’ve been telling her since forever I’d come up and visit. A little background on my friend, She is in a sorority and lives with 5 other girls in a house near their school, all of which are also in sororities. I’ve never visited a University other than like SMU in Dallas ever, so I really had no idea what to expect and I didn’t really expect much..Lubbock is kind of a boring town in the middle of nowhere, Texas. I quickly got introduced to all the girls in the house and their cute dogs that get insane amounts of love (I wish I could be a dog in a sorority house). One of my favorite things to do with people is hear their stories, because it gives you such a good judgement of character of a person and they don’t even realize. The girls start retelling stories of crazy drunken nights, of Arrests, being detained, being so drunk they don’t remember the night, of horrible men, pretty much everything you can think of. And I was in awe at the insane crazy lifestyle they live, it really seemed out of this world to me I couldn’t even believe it. I like to think that I live a really exciting life. I go out every weekend and physically exert myself for 6-8hrs usually sometimes longer for the thing I love to do. Most of the time I’m doing things that if I hadn’t known and been trained to do them properly I could die. And people that are trained and have been doing these things for years still die. I think it’s insane hahah. I have even free solo’d 5.7s in Austin (nothing insane and I had a Personal Anchor System the whole time) but still I like to think I live a crazy life. But here I am sitting in a sorority girl’s room awe struck at the crazy life she lives.
Climbers have a term we use called “Acceptable Risk” and it basically means the risk you’re willing to put yourself in to enjoy yourself or complete a climb. Acceptable risk doesn’t just apply to climbing though, everyone makes choices in their life of the risks they’re willing to take. I’ll give an example: Last week in Horseshoe I was warming up on a 5.10a about 50ft, and had like 9 bolts with 2 anchors (11 quick-draws total). However being that it was a warm up route and me wanting to get on with my day I didn’t count the bolts or read the guide book and I only took up 10 “draws”. When I got to the 9th bolt on the climb I realized that I only had 1 draw and I still had 2 anchors to clip at the top. Between the 9th bolt and the 2 anchors there’s about a 10 foot section and below me (My last clip) probably another 6-10 feet. A made a decision to unclip the 9th bolt and “Run it out” to the finish. This means that had I fallen close to the Anchors of the climb I could have taken a roughly 20 foot fall, potentially breaking ankles, toes or worse if I landed incorrectly. But I recognized the risk in my action, and deemed it acceptable (All of this happening in about 10 seconds on the wall). Some people might hear taking a 20 foot fall and risking breaking bones to be absolutely insane, but for me it’s an acceptable risk. I trusted that I had the strength to finish the final 10 feet of the climb and so I went for it. The same can be said for my reaction to hearing the drunken nights from these sorority girls. It’s absolutely insane to me that these women are going out and drinking and driving, or getting picked up for drinking under the age and getting ticketed. But if you just analyze a little further, to them it isn’t that insane i’m sure. It all falls into the acceptable risk category. I just find it super unique that for someone like myself who considers what I do pretty crazy sometimes that I can’t fathom doing some of the things these young women do. But on the other side me saying that i’ve “free solo’d” a 5.7 (Meaning I had no rope to catch me if I fell) people would tell you that I’m an idiot for. Just remember that next time you hear someone telling you an Insane story that you can’t believe, everyone’s comfort levels are different!