Today our guest contributor, Meg, combines her love for climbing, art and the community. She will be collecting images via email, Facebook or Insatgram using the hashtag #ConnectwithSmithRock, and then will transform those images into art. Get involved!
It was 2am on a Friday and I was just leaving the office. Coffee in hand, car packed and music blaring, I got on the highway with the windows rolled down and drove east. I was determined to get to camp like I promised. The Dollar Tree parking lot provided a great nap location and I had the car started again by sunrise. Physically I was exhausted, running on empty, and bubbling over with excitement as I awkwardly parked my Subaru on an incline next to our packed campsite. Success! I had made it in time for breakfast. These are my people. The folks I love to be around even if no one has showered in over a week. The guys and gals that share food, beverages, gear, laughter, rides, and stories around a campfire. The people that exemplify a spirit for adventure. These are climbers.
In general when I think of climbers I think of people passionate about being outside. They don’t mind if they get dirty, and if they have a cell phone they would rather it not have service when they’re at the crag. Climbers are resourceful and would rather make a “selfie stick” out of an actual stick and duct tape than buy a synthetic one. I think climbers are interested in physical and mental challenges but also take pride in challenging social, cultural and gender norms. They spend hours daydreaming about their project, new line, or how to build a woody in their apartment. They are usually reliable, driven and easily excitable. In my opinion climbers are rad! They come in all shapes and sizes, classify themselves as dirtbags to weekend warriors and are able to recognize their kinship through their similarities and shared experiences.
As an example I took my first trad lead fall this year and still have the scars to prove it but I’m not the only one with that experience. Share the story of your first fall with another climber and you will be met with support, excitement, and a genuine understanding of the importance of that experience. Taking your first fall, cursing at tight shoes, sleeping on crash pads, learning how to clip, tying a figure 8 are all universal experiences in the climbing world and act as milestones in the climbing community. By continuing to come back to the rock with our partners and new friends, we can push through high anxiety situations, double gravity days and build on our shared experiences to make it feel like home.
The need for rocks obviously ranks number one for any climber across the globe, but there are other important secondary needs that must be met; such as thirst, hunger and gear collecting. All climbers share these needs which contributes to the cultivation of unique gathering places. In Bishop California, Wilson’s Eastside Sports is right next to Black Sheep Coffee Roasters and regardless of how full my car and stomach are I still like to take a walk through both. In Terrebonne Oregon, Redpoint Climbers Supply has recently added beer taps and an espresso machine to their gear store, which means as soon as they build a bunkhouse, no one will ever leave. These places and countless more like them go beyond just providing a service or meeting the needs of climbers. They provide an inclusive environment where we are free to be ourselves, connect and share.
I am incredibly grateful to be a part of such a welcoming, wanderlust community and beyond excited that I have found a very personal way of giving back to it. Earlier this year I received a Live Your Dream Grant from the American Alpine Club to start trad climbing and build a collaborative painting as a fundraiser for Smith Rock State Park. My goal is to share the story of the park and the people through hundreds of community submitted images. Anyone that has ever visited Smith Rock and taken a picture can be a part of my project.
I will be collecting images through the end of September via email, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #ConnectWithSmithRock. The rest of the year I will be arranging the images on 3 boards equalling 4ft by 8ft and painting/sculpting a picture of Smith Rock over the top. Once the piece is finished it will hang in Redpoint until May 2016 when it will be sold having 100% of the profits go back to the park.
Being a climber is a huge part of my identity and I hope this project gives other climbers the opportunity to share their stories and participate in our community in a new unique way.
Climb safe everyone, and if you haven’t visited Smith Rock yet it’s worth the trip.