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.
Waiting for the high alpine bouldering areas to open makes me feel like a teenager counting down the days until summer break. The anticipation is agonizing. Nothing is satisfying. Not to mention, Colorado weather is a serious tease with 75-degree days in January and heavy snowstorms in spring. In mid-March my friend Justin reported the boulders in Mount Evans were dry and the trail was passable. I thought he was crazy, but I was wearing flip-flops and the last few weeks were dry as a bone. Immediately my thoughts were distracted with fantasies of my unrequited love: Silverback. Last September we were in synch, but I had to walk away and never returned before it was absorbed by winter. That weekend Tom Read, Justin Cothren and Ann Robinson and I made the journey.
When I woke up Saturday morning to infinite blue skies, I suddenly came back to life. I hadn't been that excited for rock climbing since leaving Hueco Tanks in mid February. By 11 am, our squad was slipping and sliding along the dicey snow packed trail toward the boulders. The tracks ended at the turn off to the boulder field just before entering the eerily quiet forest. The ominous grey clouds and fiercely cold breeze reminded me of the mountain's sheer power as we broke trail post holing through crusty windswept snow approaching area A.
An hour and a half and three miles later, we arrived at area A with high spirits and wobbly legs. To my surprise, the conditions were absolutely perfect and the granite was dry sparkling clean. We ran the first laps of the year on the usual warm-up circuit, starting with the pleasant rungs on the Ladder. Like carving the first tracks in freshly fallen champagne powder, grabbing the immaculate holds was blissful.
After warming up, we tiptoed through the tricky maze of electric green-lichened talus toward Silverback. When we arrived, its divine beauty once again struck me. It was like seeing an old love-that excited nervousness that brings butterflies and sweaty palms. After I obliterated my right-hand ringer finger last May, Silverback became my object of affection. It wasn't easy at first, but the sloppy holds didn't irritate my jacked up finger and I could still climb outside. I spent majority of the 2008 summer season driving 45 minutes and hiking three miles at 10,000+ feet each way to get battered on this extremely tenuous problem. The obscure body positions require a delicate balance between powerful heel hooks and invisible hand holds along a steep right leaning rail. By the time fall rolled around I had it dialed and began linking to the top in control. In September, two days before I left for So Ill, I gave it a final attempt. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful and left town without another chance before it got buried in a thick layer of snow.
This day, my energy was high, the coarse granite was sticky like Velcro and the moves felt easier than ever before. My body seemed to instinctively remember the movement and my crooked finger felt strong. Climbing on Silverback for a few hours jumpstarted my motivation to get into alpine shape and generated enough inspiration to last for weeks. Since that dreamy day, Colorado has been paralyzed by a fury of powerful spring snowstorms, thus concealing the boulders once again.