15 years ago, I moved to Madison from Salt Lake City leaving behind a life of recreation that I believed could never be matched. I was a part of a close knit group of river rats who explored and led river trips down the Colorado, the Green, the Salmon, and other small bodies of water throughout the west. I rode my mountain bike and took backpacking trips all across Utah, including trails right outside my front door in the heart of a beautiful and accessible dry city desert. I was a long-time season pass holder at Alta Ski Resort where both backcountry and resort skiing were not just a passion, but an addiction. I lived a wonderful life of seasonal recreation.
When I made the move to Madison, I knew what I was leaving behind. Of all my recreational pursuits, it was skiing that I knew I would grieve the most. It was the thing that pushed me to take risks and falls, to understand the forces of snow and weather, and to find ways to perfect the ski line I worked hard to get to. It was skiing that I daydreamed about, and skiing that I read and watched on films. And so for my last season in '96, it seemed only right that I would pursue skiing excellence to the nth degree in the ways in which I knew it best. Steep and deep. Boldness. Technique. Style. Just GO! Kind of like my last hurrah.
It helped, you know? To leave Salt Lake with that personal goal, and to feel like I skied every bone in my body out until there was nothing left but patches of snow and ice to glide on. It made my move feel a bit more enticing, like I was actually going to something.
A lot changed once I arrived in Madison. I purposely came here blind to what the Midwest had to offer. When friends asked me what I was going to do here, I knew what they really meant – they meant, “What will you do without all the amazing recreation you have in Salt Lake?” Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do, except I decided I would be open to new possibilities.
Of course, that one new possibility is obvious to the people who know me well. Boulders Climbing Gym offered a half day course through UW-Madison and it was that day, and from then on, that my life gradually shifted. That was in January, 1997. Since then, climbing has been at the core of my recreation and just about everything else I do for sport or fun, is related to it.
I like to believe that climbing was the thing I was going to as I grieved my way out of skiing. I don’t think much about what I left behind anymore – I grew out of that with the evolution of my marriage to Brad, having kids, and integrating climbing into my lifestyle. In fact, sometimes the way I pursue climbing is similar to the way I approached my last ski season – with those familiar words that served both as my personal goals and mantra.
Steep and deep.
I love that the words I used to assist me in leaving something behind 15 years ago, are also the words I use to approach the thing I love today. And even though recreation here in the Midwest has yet to match anything I've ever done in the West, I hope I will never have to go through a last hurrah.