One of the most special things about spending time in the mountains is the company you share it with. Growing up, I had no exposure to climbing of any kind. Rock climbing was a foreign world to me. I had never even heard of a sport like scratching up rocks for fun, let alone seen anyone do it. It wasn't until I was in my late twenties and saw a photo of someone on a wall where I thought, "WHAT is THAT? And how can I do it?"
Rock climbing is not an easy sport to get into. There is a seemingly large assortment of barriers, beyond the economic and social, that make it a bit tricky to ease into. Unlike some sports, there is the element of safety and your life on the line that make it so you can't just make things up and figure it out. The community is evolving every day, and it has its own set of challenges that are improving in wonderful ways. I was lucky enough to have a friend show me the ropes early on, and from then on, I dove into climbing with individuals with much more experience than me and taking courses to learn what I didn't understand.
As an Idaho raised skier, I came into climbing at a time in my life where I was drawn to its ability to challenge me. I had never found a movement like this--one that demanded my whole body, and mind, and even tugged at the heart strings. It was a full human experience, and I knew I had to keep going. Learning a new sport is one of the most exciting things I can think of--not knowing what you're doing, making mistakes, and asking a lot of questions, correcting them, and learning new ways of doing things are all exercises I think everyone needs to take part in as regularly as they can. It keeps you young, motivated, and thriving. I remember this feeling like it was yesterday, because even today I have moments where I think to myself, "Wait, don't I know how to rock climb?" I think this might be the beauty of the sport. It doesn't care how long you've been at it, or how many routes you've sent. When you put the time and effort into climbing regularly, you'll reap the rewards of stronger climbing.
Whenever I have a friend come to me that is scared or interested or intrigued by climbing, I am stoked to share a rope with them. Whether they're a boulderer who never gets on ropes, or someone who wants to try crack climbing for the first because they'd rather clip bolts--it's exciting. This summer, I took several trips with some of my closest girlfriends to enjoy the mountains and whatever climbing we could get into together. From the backcountry of the Wind River Range and Tetons in Wyoming to the dewy, lush cracks of Index in Washington, we ventured all the way through the Eastern Sierra of California into Squamish, Canada with all the goodies to get us up a wall.
During my summer of road trips to crags, the beginning of my journey North to Canada via Washington was joined by my friend Chey. Eventually, I wrapped up late season Sierra cragging with my friend Latasha. Both of these women are special in my life, to whom I hold a lot of love for. Conversations are heartfelt and meaningful, laughs abundant, and being friends feels easy. You know you have a deep friendship when you walk away sad to say goodbye but so glad it happened. Chey and I have spent a lot of time on the trail together walking into beautiful places and having deep conversations about life, love and everything in between. We call each other soul friends. I’m in constant gratitude to have a friend like that in my life. Latasha and I have known each other for many years and have shared countless adventures around the world frolicking in the mountains. We share a special bond where she calls me big sis, and she constantly makes me laugh and always knows how to keep life real. Both of these friends make a climbing trip much more than a climbing trip–and more about real friendship.
At the end of the day, rock climbing is one of my favorite activities in the world and certainly where I spend most of my time, money, and energy. It’s deeply rooted in my lifestyle and those I surround myself with, but it’s more than just questing up a rock for the sake of fun. It allows me to ground myself, focus on improving my weaknesses, develop strengths I am proud of, and spend quality time with quality people. It turns out, when you see a picture of something that makes no sense to you but you’re pulled to explore, just do it. Follow your call to curiosity. Find people you can joyfully share it with. Enjoy every moment of the process. Climbing is supposed to be fun and if it isn’t, find a way to make it fun again!
To see more of Kylie's photography and adventures, follow her @kylie.fly!