My life took a surprising turn recently.
Earlier this month, I was happily climbing in Mexico but missing home sweet Smith Rock. I was anxiously anticipating getting back to that sweet, sweet techy slab after nabbing my first 12a. The plan was to triumphantly return home — brimming with confidence — and crush it.
And then my housing arrangement in Oregon fell through.
At about the same time, my friend told me about a job at Crystal Mountain ski resort. She’d also found me a place to live nearby.
Conveniently, my whole life was packed in my car and parked in front of my folks’ house in Washington. More than I believe in “signs,” I definitely believe in flow. My flow was taking me to Crystal.
Day one on the mountain: I nearly drooled on myself looking at Rainier from my (now daily) gondola commute. Beneath me, the resort looked enormous. I saw treelines, steep groomers, meandering trails… I was dangling above an enormous playground that I was about to have wide-open access to. (Is this even real life? It can’t be!)
Day two on the mountain: Humbled. Ohhhhhh soooooo humbled. Turns out climbing in Mexico for three weeks isn’t good training for skiing. Instead of reading the map and choosing an easy route to warm up on, I decided to wing it. Just go for it. And then I found myself skiing steep trees and praying to god to have mercy on my tumbling soul. At the end of my first run, my legs were shaking and my feet were aching something fierce. I had done a terrible job fitting my boots and could hardly get myself back to the lift.
Today was different. Today, I wore boots that fit. I wore goggles that both shielded my eyes from falling snow and allowed me to interpret terrain. My clothes were warm. My skis were the proper length and f%cking fun. While I definitely took falls, I took them with a shit-eating-grin on my face. I brushed myself off and then charged down the next hill. I felt out the edges of each of my skis, cutting tight and wide turns in the snow. I found myself a few powder pockets and looked around — amazed that nobody else had beaten me to it — and went for it.
As I got to work today, I noticed that my fingertips are starting to fall apart. The callouses are withering away, but I don’t think I’m going to need them for a while.
Today I discovered that I’m more than just a climber. I’m a goddamn skier, too.
And I’m STOKED.