John Long's Rock and Ice Writing Symposium....
The sound of a Facebook instant message interrupts my train of thought. It’s John Long wondering how in the hell I am. I am always cheery via instant messaging no matter who it is, John Long is no exception. He is a “semi-famous” rock climbing legend (his words), storytelling genius, and most importantly, a friend. I enjoy hearing from him. We all know that to smile uses fewer muscles than it does to frown, so my message back to him is filled with the standard right facing happy face emoticons, “ :) I’m stoked to meet up with you up north! :), I’m stoked on the symposium.”
"Howz the injury? A fall like that would have pulverized anyones hip who wasn’t in good shape. Glad you’re okay."
Why did he have to remind me? I repeated his words typed in the right corner of my screen over again in my head. I quickly typed back “Good. I’m good. Healing. :) I’m truly ready to get out of here, a Colorado tour would be perfect. :) Can’t wait!" I needed the escape.
Thirty days ago I took a rather big fall, rock climbing. I’m still a few months out from climbing in a harness again. Falling happens as much as climbing does in this sport and I have put my time in, with practice runs. It paid off this time around. Dislocating my pelvis, a few bones in my right hand, and severely tearing numerous stomach, abdominal, and back muscles, I am healing very quickly, and motivated to do so. No broken bones, no fractures, just stretched and twisted in wild and painful ways. These injuries exposed muscles I never knew I had. What is strange is that I had little to no bruising, which was alarming, and on the verge of slightly freaky considering the amount of pain.
Before I took the whipper (on a short choss pile right outside of town, sorry Colin), John Long invited me to the almost alpine town of Carbondale, Colorado to attend their Rock and Ice Writing Symposium for five days. That is why John Long was instant messaging me on Facebook, making sure that I was still on board. Of course I was.
Knowing that John Long, Duane Raleigh, Alison Osius and Andrew Bishart’s expertise and know-how of the industry, combined with their no-fluff approach to storytelling and journalism would propel me into a vastly different and inspired workflow. (Writing, what is that?!) I want to change my perspective and see the world differently. This was an opportunity to do so and to apply it to my personal projects and to gain the confidence to dive into new branches of media production for clientele.
Taking my injuries in consideration, I took a few extra days to make my way to Colorado. Driving seventy-five miles an hour, darting northeast up highway 89 through the Navajo Rez, Bluff and pushing hundreds of miles east to Carbondale allowed me to contemplate. The mind-blowing light shows the desert offered during these summer months allowed for effortless driving despite my injuries. Eight hours of “god lights" filtered in and out of monsoon downpours, lightning strikes, providing eye candy landscapes that allowed my mind to wander with anticipation about the up and coming writing symposium. Contemplation led to anticipation.
Anticipation and long drives by myself builds up the what if’s. I stare aimlessly into the expanse desert grottos, curiosity inevitably builds of who I will be spending the next five days with. The simplest of questions filtrate my mind. I imagined their faces in the sky. What will they look like, what is their background? Writing skills. Do they write professionally, am I out of my league? Is this what they do work? How old are they? Will I be the oldest? Who are these folks and what are they writing about?! Silly questions, one after another. Questions that have no answers until you arrive on Monday morning to shake their hand.
Here are the incredible individuals that I spent the five days with. An elite group of informed and aware individuals that love their lives as rock climbers and our diverse, radical climbing communities: