Finding Family: An Ode to Climbing Community

My time is limited.

I generally place isolation on a pedestal; look for the quiet moments in between conversations; worship hikes where the only whispered sounds are rustling leaves.

I seek out the earthy, organic solitude found while operating outside of comfort zones.

In the last three months, I have adopted the mantra:

My time is limited.

Isolation has felt suffocating. It’s been nearly overwhelming. Recently, it actually embodies its definition.

That experience must be limited.

I’ve been whispering it to myself while staring up at the unrelenting, California sun.

It’s been three months since moving away from my climbing family in western Massachusetts and I’ve struggled to find my place back in my motherland—the West Coast.

The past three months have been a mixed bag of exciting new beginnings and harsh reality checks. Though I was given the opportunity to check off a major milestone in my life—driving solo across the country—I landed in a confusing, isolating climbing family that I’ve struggled to navigate.

They say that you don’t realize how good you have it until it’s gone.

I think I knew before I moved, but it’s undoubtedly more salient now that I’ve arrived here.

When my experience existing in climbing family consists of open, passionate, loyal, interactions, it makes sense that without that, I feel out of place.

My new family seems busy. Consumed by their comfortable, air-conditioned worlds. Hesitant to drive more than 45 minutes or hit the crag with  humidity above 30% and conditions above 80 or below 70 degrees.

Nonetheless, a warm, polite, seemingly happy family. My assessment would suggest, between me and this family, there exists a disconnect. We don’t quite understand one another yet.

That, too, must be limited.

The family I understood woke up at 4am to day-trip to a crag two hours away.

My climbing family didn’t let me bring anything but fierce determination to the crag.

They yelled at me to climb higher.

They took me out to beer to celebrate.

They cheered me on while I trained.

My family fought with me to send.

The closest of them congratulated my partner and welcomed my daughter into this world.

They held me up while I sat collapsed on my floor bouncing my new, crying baby, in her first months as I was becoming a mother.

They met me on belay ledges, in headlamps, hungry and tired. Laughing with delirium.

My climbing family challenged me to be a better human. To educate myself and protect the rock I loved so deeply.

They loved me.

No strings attached—for all of me.

All of the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly I showed up with.

They protected me.

And I them.

My time is limited…

I now whisper to myself every time I walk into my new gym or the local crag.

Destined to make small talk with new acquaintances.

Poised to pitch climbing dates and gather new phone numbers.

Family is never far away. That’s why they’re called family.

It’s only a limited amount of time until you find your home.


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