I still remember the first time I climbed. Geared up with my purple rental harness that had the look and feel of a repurposed seat belt, marshmallow rental shoes, and naive overconfidence, I rainbowed up plastic jugs. The route itself wasn’t too physically difficult, but as I got higher off the basketball court at the University of Nebraska, I could feel the exposure. Ten feet from the top I decided I had enough and stammered a request to come down. Jason laughed, insulted my balls, and told me to get to the top. From that point on I was hooked. How could I not be? The 20 routes set in our little corner of the gym provided endless challenge, puzzles and above all, fun. The friends I met waiting around for a rope to open up are still some of my closest today. But the movement and the feeling of improvement are what got me addicted and kept me coming back. Ten years on and well over 100 vertical miles later, here I am, helpless to resist such a compelling sport. I followed my heart and career from the endless Nebraska flatlands, through Moab, to Boulder and now to Yosemite’s shadow in the Bay Area. I’m just as motivated as my younger self and still in awe of the endless riddles nature poses on the rock.
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