Pick up any publication pertaining to the sport of rock climbing, and chances are, you will see a smattering of descriptive chronicles highlighting the travels and adventures of the prolific scribe Abbey Smith. A climber and writer for over 10 years, Abbey travels extensively, financing her jet set lifestyle though her writing, allowing her more opportunities to pursue her love of adventure. Abbey has reported on a myriad of topics. From the exclusive hobby of vintage motor racing, to sassy, healthy-savvy posts on BeThree.com, to being on the editorial staff of the independent green publication elephant journal, a quarterly magazine devoted to living the "mindful life" through conscious consumerism, sustainability, eco-fashion and non new-aged spirituality.
Abbey's energy for writing is ravenous. When she speaks of it, her article ideas roll out of mouth in constant barrage without commas, periods, or other punctuation, but when placed in front of a computer, the word stream subsides into descriptive prose reminiscent of Joanne Harris. Dead Point Magazine is privileged to have her as a contributing blogger.
"Rock! Rock!" a woman's voice echoed from 100 yards above. The horrific sound of crashing rock immediately followed as I ducked down turtle style near a three-foot wall for shelter. When the rumbling ceased, I crawled out shaking and alert like I'd just heard a gunshot and made a quick head count. The bowling ball sized rock stopped only 10 feet away. This can't be happening I thought to myself, while standing on a steep and loose talus slope above 12,000 feet at the Aerials on Mount Evans. Black storm clouds swirled around the dominating skyline of thirteen and fourteeners. We still had a few miles and over 1,000 feet in elevation gain to the car. It was July12, the day after the public memorial for my bros Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson. I'd just finished writing their story-one filled with the constant threat of rock fall-and understood how they felt everyday on Mount Edgar.
Above the unstable talus field, from a diving board shaped rock, I said a prayer for my friends and threw poppy seeds into the wind. The lightening felt like a stalking predator, and we were its defenseless prey desperately scrambling up the exposed ridge of vibrant green moraine and alpine flowers with thinning air. The wall of black, thundery clouds stayed off until we reached the car and then pea-sized hail began to fall.
After years of seeing photos and hearing stories, the Aerial's well exceeded it's reputation. I instantly fell in love with the burly hike, pristine environment, erratic weather, and endless potential. I can't wait to return to the remote stash of perfectly cut granite boulders.
For the last month, I've been training hard for the alpine season and also to forerun for the Mammut Bouldering Championships during the summer Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. On Thursday, July 16, Jason Kehl and I joined the NE2C team of Jason Danforth, Pete Ward, Jackie Hueftle, Kyle McCabe, Joel Zerr, and many others to set the stage for the pro climbing competition. The tiger striped Walltopia "Prometheus" wall was a thrilling 20 feet tall and the positive energy was motivating despite the sweltering 100+ degree temps on the top floor of the Shilo parking garage. Once the sun dropped behind the high-rise buildings, we started testing the finals problems. Each setter has their own unique style and the problems are refined as each move is dissected and perfected. At midnight, while testing women's problem #3, I missed a double handed dyno to a tubular Etch hold and plummeted directly into the seams of the pads. My left ankle, badly sprained two years ago, had gotten tangled and twisted again. Apparently the black clouds from home had followed me to SLC and decided to strike me down while plastic climbing in the city instead.
For the next four days before the trade show began, I hobbled around on crutches and stayed involved by filming from behind the scenes and providing moral support to the setting crew through the long hours of the night. I thought about Micah, who had broken his heels from a ground fall in Canada last year and limped around the show on crutches. Despite the discomfort of immobilization, he always maintained a positive attitude and good humor. After a dozen acupuncture needles in my bruised and swollen ankle and one-footed top rope climbing, I'm gaining strength and healing quickly. Most importantly, I'm staying present and optimistic, because life's too fragile and short to be melancholy.