After spending the past two months bouldering in the gym and skiing in Tahoe, I went to Colorado to visit my parents and go to the Ouray Ice Festival. I decided to do the competition, despite my serious lack of commitment to mixed climbing in the past few weeks. I figured that participating and performing poorly was better than not participating at all, especially since there always seems to be a serious lack of females competing in the event each year. Last year I won the women’s competition, but this year, the woman’s field proved to be stacked. Four Europeans had made the journey to compete, including the legendary Queen of ice climbing Ines Papert. She schooled the field (men included) and would have placed 3rd overall had she not grabbed too high on a dangling ice axe part way up the upper headwall and been counted down for going using an “out of bounds surface”. No matter, she still won the women’s field with the same poise and grace she’s known for. I surprised myself by placing third behind Ines and another talented Euro, the powerful Marianne Van Der Steen from the Netherlands. I think that bouldering this winter combined with the experience I’ve gained mixed climbing in the last three years helped me move confidently and strongly up through the bottom of the route. Then I blew it on the hanging log because I was too pumped to swing hard enough and my tool blew out, only moments after I waved enthusiastically to the crowd like a total dork. It seemed to be a crowd pleasing moment though and that’s all that really counts in the end.
(Landon Bassett Photo)
(Adrian Ballinger photos)
Following the festival, I traveled back home to Tahoe to ski some more and watch my boyfriend Adrian give a rad slideshow about skiing 8000 meter peaks to a packed house in Squaw before heading to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Trade show. OR is always a fun albeit exhausting endeavor. This year’s show felt exceptionally debaucherous for some reason; full of too much socializing/too little sleep and too much alcohol/too little water. But it’s always a good time and definitely worth the head cold I’ve acquired as a result of my irresponsible yet awesomely fun choices.
So now I’m back in Tahoe, the only place in the US that doesn’t seem to have new snow, but it’s sunny and warm and feels like Spring all of the sudden. Adrian departed for the Kashmir in India this morning to go heli-ski guiding, and I’m headed to Spain on Sunday to go sport climbing with Joe Kinder, Colette McInerney, Beth Rodden, and Randy Puro. We will both be back in March; and although I’m ecstatic to be departing for the mecca of sport climbing with some of my very best friends in the world, I can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy today, a sort of finality. Winter in general is far from over, but my own experience with it, and my first Tahoe winter feels like it’s approaching the end. I’m sitting here watching the bright sun melt the snow outside the window, all the while trying to figure out how to gain some rapid endurance for the many projects that await me in the coming weeks, and wondering why I feel so sad all of the sudden. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been playing hard and enjoying the company of good people; you don’t want to see it end. That simple and cliché realization – that all good things eventually come to an end – is one that makes me smile and feel grateful. All there is left to do now is ski some soft snow in the sun, try to send my gym project, and know that the next good thing is just around the corner.