Susan E.B. Schwartz - Reader Blog 1

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Schwartz rapping off a flow in the Catskills, NY. Photo courtesy of The Schwartz Spot.

Schwartz rapping off a flow in the Catskills, NY. Photo courtesy of The Schwartz Spot.

My perspective is like that of many typical trad climbers. Our non-climbing friends and family are befuddled, bored, or perhaps even awed by our climbing. In the latter case, do we inform them that we’re perfectly respectable, nothing special climbers? But isn’t that also the point?

The closest I’ve come to cutting edge is what I use to spread peanut butter and jelly on my kids’ sandwiches. Nowadays, I’m a middle class mom whose life revolves somewhat around writing projects and trying to fit climbing into my family life, but even more around two young children and their school schedules, homework, soccer games, Spiderman birthday parties and weekend sleepovers.

Before children, I climbed nearly every weekend, even in January outdoors on the rock in the Gunks. I still feel like a climber, no matter how much – or little – I now climb. For me, climbing is less a sport or lifestyle but a state of mind and a spot on the psyche. To paraphrase myself in an article I wrote for the January issue of Climbing: Being roped to another human being on the rock captures what is truest and most basic about human relationships. Since my climbing heyday, my climbing partners and I have spread across the country. But when we get together, as I did a few weeks ago with my friend Patty from Boulder, we pick up just where we left off.

In addition to the enduring human relationships, there are so many factors in the climbing equation that explain climbing’s gravitational pull on me: the open spaces and exposure (arguably setting off some subliminal brain stem response)… aesthetics… satisfaction of moving upwards (also I believe hardwired)… mental challenge of trad climbing… fun of placing gear… fun of the physical moves… and the rare chance as adults to have fun getting muddy, dirty, slimy and smelly.

I’m not expanding on that last concept. At least for now.

But maybe in my next blog. I was thinking about blogging about fear but now maybe I won’t. You’ll just have to check back next month to see.

Meanwhile, thanks for reading my first blog.

—SEBS

PS: I welcome comments and suggestions for future blogs. You can email me by clicking here.

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