The Overwhelming Gravity of the Black

Lynn Sanson following the second pitch of King Me, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO.

What is it about this place that gets under my skin, that so thoroughly permeates my being like nowhere else I’ve ever been? The buzzing, anxious energy on the descent, the grandeur of being surrounded by these walls, the improbability of the routes that climb out of them.

The first couple pitches always seem to feel clunky and awkward, like the canyon doesn’t want to release it’s grip on me. But as we move higher, the momentum builds and I begin to find the rhythm of the place. Unlocking the subtle granite footwork, reveling in the joy of a good handjam or making a big move and reaching up to a perfectly incut jug.

As we climb, I’m silently tallying up the pitches, comparing what we’ve done to how much is left to do, coming up with an estimate of how long it’ll be until we stand on the rim. And every time I top out, my thoughts are immediately drawn back down, simultaneously rejoicing in our success while pondering what the next adventure could be.

Driving home, the overwhelming gravity of the place slowly begins to fade, but never quite loses its pull, a constant lingering at the edge of consciousness. The guidebook finds a more prominent place in the living room, the pages are devoured with a new fervor, and I rest in the simple fact that the next adventure is only a stone’s throw away.

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