The following was written for, and published in, the 2018 Guidebook to Membership Magazine for the American Alpine Club. You can learn more about them and support their mission here: https://americanalpineclub.org
I had been climbing a few years before I went on my first “climbing trip”— the kind you finish ready to quit your job and move into a van. Rumney hadn’t been high on my list of places to visit; images I’d seen of strongmen on lines like Predator (5.13b) deterred me until a crew of friends finally convinced me to give the place a chance. We loaded up and headed out for a long weekend. The trip was classically New England: camping at Rattlesnake, enjoying late fires next to the river, and climbing slick schist in the most humid, mosquito-infested conditions you can imagine.
Over those three days, it dawned on me that you don’t have to be the bro hang-dogging on 5.hard to be a climber. Each rope I flaked, each bolt I clipped, and each burnt pot of spaghetti brought me closer to this all-consuming world where I could be a climber. The climbing community is bigger than grades. We have shared experiences—no matter who we are, what we’re climbing, or whether we’re doing it with one arm or two. Near the end of that first day, I was close to sending my first route at Rumney. It didn’t matter that it was Granny’s Route (5.4)—when I got to the chains, my friends were cheering even louder than my heart was pounding.
Sitting in a lecture hall back at school in Vermont, scratching at mosquito bites and picking at tape lines, I wasn’t thinking of the lesson on the board but of the lessons from the rock. That failure is ok. That we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. That sharing in the wins of others can be more meaningful than our own.
Rumney became my first love, and set me on a path to many others. It’s already been twelve years since that trip, but the stoke hasn’t waned. I’m always left wanting and looking for more, and with the confidence and family I’ve gained since those first trips to Rumney, I know I have what it takes to find it