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.
“When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”
That provocative first line from a Stars song sparked a revelation last month as I zipped though downtown Boulder, past familiar faces and favorite spaces. It had been two months since I had left my cozy home on a quest for southern sandstone. But for some reason, my desire to dine-out, pull on granite, and join the social scene wasn’t as desirable as I’d expected. I was restless and hadn’t written a word in days. All I wanted to do was climb and create.
A sunny 60-degree day in the Poudre Canyon outside Fort Collins was punishing as I slipped and over-gripped the frictionless granite holds. I felt spoiled by the soft and friendly sandstone in So ill and now granite felt cold and hostile. I did manage to pull off Bubbleiscious — a beautiful bulging granite blob with a cruxy move to a unique football shaped feature. The day ended by almost breaking my leg, slipping off a polished rock while crossing the freezing cold river. That day also ended my motivation to suffer through another frigid winter in Colorado. I decided there was nothing left to do, but set my life on fire and go back on the road again. Five days later, Vanessa Compton, Jason and I piled into the van, followed by my brother Zach, and headed south--Hueco Tanks bound.
Hueco needs neither introduction nor explanation why it’s the best place to boulder in the states once the snow falls. As soon as we turned north off Montana and toward Hueco Tanks State Park, I felt an immediate release and my inspiration was reignited. Entering the Hueco Rock Ranch was like coming home, a reunion of my extended family. When I awoke the next morning to coffee on the warm and sunny porch, I realized I had found exactly what I was looking for.
Since it’s the holidays, I’ve decided to spoil myself in all that Hueco has to offer. I’ve completely indulged in ripe and buttery avocados, played several hands of Texas Hold’em, and consistently climbed three days on and one day off. For the last few weeks, I’ve been repeating the classics and looking at problems, that I once deemed impossible, with a fresh perspective. By climbing on a variety of stone with diverse styles, I’m able to look at the same problems in a new way. The problem solving has kept my mind sharp, clear and creative. With old projects and newly found classics, there’s a lifetime of climbing in Hueco--just never enough skin.
When I can’t gamble on the rock, I take it to the poker table. Even though I’m pretty much guaranteed to lose to the house, it’s tradition and a valuable mental exercise. What I learned from winning and (mostly) losing at Texas Hold’em is the value of commitment, especially with a good hand. It’s easy to back off and fold when the pot gets too big, just like in climbing when the boulder gets too high or the moves seem too hard. But most times when you let go, you realized you should have gone big and held on to the end. So I’ve decided to take the advice of my dear friend and owner of the ranch Rob Rice…I’m all in.