Sunday, March 16, 2008

The best of both worlds

I have never been so inspired by a group of women before I went to the Ice Pixies Festival in Valdez this weekend. These are the best women ice climbers in Alaska. They not only kick ass on the ice, but they really know how to have a good time.

For awhile I thought I probably will never reach my full potential in ice climbing. I see these super focused people in the rock gym, in the canyons or down in Ouray that climb 5 days a week and live, eat and breath climbing. Every conversation seems to lead back to climbing. Ugh. That is not appealing to me, so I was okay with the fact that I will probably be just an average climber for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I wonder if they ever get to stop and have fun. My friends and I hike into canyons laughing and giggling and joking around the whole way. Occasionally we'll comment on something we want to work on, but our main goal is to have a good time, and there is no pressure to "get to the top of something" or to "do a first ascent". These have been some of the best days of my life.

This weekend I realized that you can have the best of both worlds. I met some amazing women who are the best in ice climbing, but they also have families, dogs, careers, and other activities like skiing, yoga, and biking that they participate in. And they are good at ALL of them. But the most inspiring part of it all is that they don't take themselves to seriously. We laughed and joked around all weekend. We painted the ice climbs with food coloring, ate salmon, pulled the keg up to the bottom of the climbs and then drank beers and danced into the night. All the time, not really talking about climbing at all. It was perfect.

The next day as we drove out of Valdez, through Keystone Canyon we saw the same women we danced with the night before halfway up Bridalveil falls (picture above). And it made me realize that some day maybe I can be one of the best. I can work hard and have fun at the same time. I can have variety AND focus in my life. The one thing I won't give up is laughing with my friends, but I don't need to give up the idea that I can also be a great climber.

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