I was sitting with a friend on a bench at the base of a wall in Rifle the other day (yes, we have benches AND permadraws, it really is heaven). It was hot, we both had our shirts off, and sweat covered our bodies. And we we’re loving it, talking about how great summer is, and how it’s a shame that some people just don’t get it, instead complaining about the “poor conditions.”
It’s been an especially hot summer this year, although it’s cooling off here in Colorado, which you can tell for no other reason that Rifle is getting busy again. (Where was everyone when it was 95 in the shade?) The cooler weather has meant more humidity and rain, though, so the conditions haven’t really improved much, if at all. But you wont here me complaining, as summer is beautiful for what it is.
Long days, almost too long, where you feel exhausted trying to fill every waking hour. I’ve caught myself lounging on the couch after a long day, then realizing it was STILL light out, even though I felt like I was ready for bed. It’s as if the days are daring me to fill them with activity, a challenge I feel hard pressed to rise to sometimes.
There’s a beauty in the simplicity of the season. Until the recent monsoon cycle started up, I wasn’t even packing a jacket for a day of cragging. Just the climbing gear, and the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing. I’ve always loved surfing because of its simplicity, and I think this is the closest we can get in climbing.
The summer crags often aren’t the good Fall/Winter/Spring cliffs. We get to hang out in places that during the winter are covered in ice and snow. Take in the view from the top of the route, looking out over a canopy of green leaves, or the endless row of peaks reaching high into a clear blue sky.
And no, while the conditions might not be optimal, like my friend said, just lower your expectations a bit, and enjoy the climbing for what it is: fun! And when the fall does get here, things will feel that much easier.
These snapshots in your mind will be priceless when the inevitable winter comes. And though I can barely wrap my head around what it’s like to climb in pants and a long sleeve top and not be sweaty, winter will indeed come around, like it does every year. And when it’s here, and we are lucky to get five hours of climbable warmth during the day, I’ll think back to the days that seemed to have no end, and smile.