Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gotta get out more - hanging in Valdez

Last week someone from the East Coast opened up their laptop and Googled, "Gotta get out more". They ended up on my blog. I've been checking all of the Google searches lately, because well, I find it comical what people type into Google.

I'm pretty sure what came up on this blog was not what that person had in mind, but to be honest I really can't figure out what they were looking for. If you wanna get out, then GO OUT. Get outside of your house and do something. It's not a good sign that you are trolling the internet for life experiences. It could explain why you feel so bored.

Anyway, the title of my post was inspired by that Google search but fits my weekend experience perfectly. But by "out" I mean, out of the Anchorage area. I love Anchorage, don't get me wrong, but traveling to small towns around Alaska is where you find the real Alaska. And I may even go as far as to say, sometimes, where I find the real me.

This weekend in Valdez was every bit as fun as it was last year. There was really good steep climbing. There was sunshine. There was salmon cooking on the grill. There was much laughter coming from women that I look up to and interesting women that I had never met before. There was good conversation. There was of course, lots of uninhibited dancing.

For such a small town, Valdez has a lot of energy. Maybe it's not the town at all. Maybe it's the energy that the Pixies bring to town, like the excitement of so many strong women entering town at the same time. Whatever it is, it's like an explosion of Good Karma.

After arriving in town at 2 am Saturday morning, and waking at 6 am to the bark of Kim's dog Milo, Kim, Jill and I got a pretty slow start to the day. We drifted in and out of sleep for the next few hours.

We ended up taking the dogs for a hike at Mineral Creek before getting over to the climbs at 3pm, a bit more than fashionably late. But there were many new beginners this year and lines of them waiting to climb on the three ropes that were set up on Keystone Greensteps. So, we hung out in the sun and ate some salmon while chatting with the women.

I finally got on the steepest line towards the end of the day and was amazed at the ease I felt. My feet felt solid, my technique felt efficient. I was moving slow, but not once did my arms get pumped, even when the climbed seemed to kick back past vertical. I felt the strongest I have ever felt climbing before. I was not falling off that wall.

I really admire the women who set this weekend up. They get out there and lead these super steep climbs to set up the ropes and then hang out all day helping beginners learn how to ice climb. They are very patient and really positive and supportive of everyone.

I'm sure this is not only in Alaska, but it seems to be more prevalent here. This idea that once you gain knowledge of something and master it, it is time to pass it on to those that are just beginning. This always inspires me to help people more and teach what I have learned. And there is something so motivating about women helping women. Especially in a sport like ice climbing, which is dominated by men.

Oh! And I finally met Sherrie, whose blog I have been getting ideas from for the past year. She is a really strong ice climber and a really nice person. Since I forgot to take my camera to the climbs, oops, you can see some pictures in Sherrie's write up.

After climbing for a few hours we headed back towards town around 8pm to have some dinner and go to the after party. We ended up dancing at the party until midnight and then heading over to a local bar, where a band was playing, and dancing there until 2am. Good times!

1 comment:

Sherrie Soltis said...

Hi Julie, it was nice to finally meet you at the Pixies! For some reason I pictured you to be like a six foot amazon woman with all the crazy biking and stuff you do. It was funny because you are super thin and petite. : ) hope your getting out and enjoying the last few weeks of spring climbing!