Sam became my climbing partner while Derek took his sixday long Rock Instructor Exam. Amazingly enough, this was the first time in my 10 year climbing history when my main climbing partner was someone other than my boyfriend or husband. I had climbed with other folks in group settings, but never had a dedicated partner like this. This change for me was both exhilarating and a little scary. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew this was an opportunity for me to really start pushing beyond my comfort zones and with Sam's support, I did.
My first order of business was to make my own tic list, something I rarely did when partnered with my objective driven husband. Not that I couldn't with Derek – he is ridiculously supportive of me pursuing anything even remotely related to climbing. Seriously, if I mention that I want to climb something, he gets this fanatical glow in his eyes that screams “YES, I have a rock climbing wife!” But, I've just become a bit intimidated by his own intensely motivated climbing goals. Remember – this is the kid who I took for his first day of outdoor climbing before he was old enough to drink (yeah, I'm a cradle robber) and now he's a freaking certified guide who can climb circles around me.
I didn't get every climb on my tic list, but in six days I led more routes than I did in the entire previous year. (Now, to be fair, in the previous year I had worked full time, finished grad school, and got my home wiped out by a tornado. Still.) It sent a clear message to me that if I wanted to be a climber, I needed to do more than just get out and climb. I needed to set my own goals. I also needed to get out and climb with people other than my life partner, so that I wouldn't fall into the bad habit of relying on Derek to take care of everything on a climbing day.
In the upcoming summer, I would have plenty of opportunities to get out with a variety of folks while working and living at the Outward Bound Cedar Rock base camp in Western North Carolina. After Derek passed his exam (YAY DEREK!!!), our trio began the long drive back east. Derek and I left Sam in Alabama on our way to our new home in the green forests of the Appalachian Mountains.
Derek made this cool video about his Rock Instructor Exam for the climbing shoe company 5.10 -- they gave him a partial scholarship which was a huge help to us financially.
Only 12 days until my SPI Exam with Fox Mountain Guides. I'm going to be wrapping up this story pretty quick!