In March 2011 I set out to explore a different sort of adventure. After 24 months of some of the most difficult life trials I have encountered thus far, I reconnected with Scott Hurst for a day of ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon. We left Rexburg early and got home late. In all we climbed 6 pitches of WI 3/4 in the "Dribbles" area. After two years of absolutely zero climbing of any kind, I felt good about leading the first two pitches of "Dribbles" without looking like a complete novice. My sincere appreciation for Scott's patience and encouragement can't be overstated.
Two days after climbing in Bozman I drove south to warm, sunny Utah, where Dave Clawson and I climbed hard, clean quartzite faces in Johnson Draw at the upper reaches of Ogden Canyon. Ranging from 5.10 to 5.11d, leading these climbs proved both challenging and rewarding. The greatest reward, however, proved to be the camaraderie with a dear friend.
Climbing, in various forms and varieties, has been a defining activity of my life. I have always felt that it influenced me in significant ways that contributed a great deal to defining me as a person. Though my hiatus from climbing gave me the opportunity to take advantage of some long-desired educational opportunities, I sacrificed an essential element of my identity by forsaking both the activity of climbing, and the priceless associations that are a part of my climbing partnerships.
It is not an exaggeration to say that my soul has experienced a great famine during the past two years. Scott deserves especial thanks for not allowing my conscious decision to abstain from climbing deter our friendship. Upon my return to the mountains - while tied to the end of a rope - two things became brilliantly clear to me. First, among my most cherished friendships are those with climbing buddies - of which my climbing partnership with Scott is likely the most significant; and second, when sharing time with dear friends, the association is evermore meaningful when rock, ice, ropes, and gear are involved!