Monkey Business

Goal: an at least one month long climbing/camping trip

I’ve been having the hardest time writing this blog entry; I’ve  tried starting it a couple times already but it always comes out inadequate or somehow stiff which is kind of funny considering the fact that I usually have no problem ranting and raving about the awesomeness of climbing to my friends and family or complete strangers on the bus. Some give me strange looks, especially since I remain so enthusiastic about the sport even with a gimped ankle. Maybe it’s because it’s something that’s so dear to me that I worry whatever words I do use, they won’t be able to convey the awesomeness of this sport.

I was reading an article in the Globe and Mail a couple days ago about how running was a lifestyle and that got me thinking, rock climbing is too. For those who are not sponsored, how do you make that decision to drop everything and head up to the mountains and live to climb? I suppose this goes for all outdoor and backpacking enthusiasts. As a Chinese-Canadian, the plan for me was to go to university, get a job that provided financial stability and keep it. With my relatively plush government job, I suppose you could say that I’ve met this goal..but is this grey cubicle really the definition of success? Don’t get me wrong; the time between my EU internships and the offer for this position was terrifying and when I got this job, I was relieved. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was, especially when I saw my equally if not more talented friends remain unemployed or under employed, not due to the lack of trying to find a position in their fields but more so from the difficult job market. However, as I stare at the walls of my cubicle, I can only think of the glorious outdoors that await me. Here comes the question of work and ‘life’ balance. A very big part of me wishes I could drop everything and just head out, hitch hiking and backpacking my way through mountains, countryside and occasional city. Perhaps this is a backlash from all the things I’ve done in the past couple of years; none of it has really been for pleasure but for career growth and opportunity. I don’t regret any of them, in fact I cherish all the experiences that have made me who I am now and undoubtedly played a big role in why I’m working. I’ve always felt charged to do something that will evoke a positive change in whatever niche God wants me to work in and have always looked for opportunities to ready myself for whenever that time may come. Yet now, I want to take time to enjoy my life too, to go out and explore and enjoy just for the sake of enjoying something.

So, why rock climbing? Sure it gives you man hands and big muscles to some (I am not one of them), but really, what’s the appeal? For one, it’s beautiful to watch a good climber go at it. Actually, it’s down right sexy. The intricacies of shifting your body, placing your feet and/or hands on that sweet spot, methologically movement is like watching ballet on a wall. In fact, climbing shoes in Spanish means ‘cat feet’; very appropriate. Another thing is the community; wherever I have gone, I’ve always found great friends in climbers. They’re a friendly bunch and welcome new people into the fold easily despite language barriers or cultural differences. The climbing halls with these fantastic people have always given me a home away from home. Climbing is also a great way to travel. I haven’t done this yet but I really hope I get a chance to. I’m already part of the Couch Surfing community and there happens to be a ton of climbers on there as well (not really surprised to be honest). How awesome is that? Come November, I’m planning to head over to Europe to visit J and friends and we are planning to travel through France on a mini climbing trip. The plan is to go through Fontainebleau (premier bouldering spot for you nonclimbers out there 🙂 ), check out the countryside, head down to check out Marseilles and spend the remainder of our time near Avignon, where J’s sister has settled. There, we undoubtedly go on a number of climbing expeditions where I will be the super newb and play with the fluffy puppy whilst nursing my injuries. And last but not least, you’re always surrounded by nature if you go climbing outdoors. Even though I’ve only gone once, I can’t wait to go again. It’s a completely different experience than climbing indoors and might I say, much better. Not only are you not inhaling chalk particles and stinky BO from your fellow climbers’ feet (although it is generally understood and ignored since we all have stinky feet) but drinking in clean air, the rock is real. I know, I know; obvious right? But it’s an interesting experience of poking around to find that good hold that I would like to do over (and over) again.

Even as I remain gimped for the next month and a half, all I can think about is getting out there to enjoy the great weather and outdoors. Although I will be limited to short trips for the time being, my at least month long climbing trip is never far from my mind. Everything that I’ve been looking at the purchase for my outdoor excursions has this trip (and hopefully many others) in mind. I don’t think I’ve done the best job to explain why I want to do this trip or why it’s a great idea, so I encourage you to try climbing whether it be indoors/outdoors and then go for a trip to the mountains, put the two together in your mind. Voila! Magic 🙂



Perhaps it’s that age when I realize that there are still many things I want to do and accomplish. Perhaps it is driven by the fact that I’ve been spending the past week getting excited for a yet-to-be-determined camping and/or climbing trip from my office chair in my cubicle. Regardless of the reasons, I figured that creating some sort of bucket list was in order. Sure I could’ve kept this private and initially I was, but I think that my goals are a good indication of who I am now, who I aspire to become or at least particular steps towards whatever ‘be’ is and perhaps, give you to reason to pause and think about what you want to accomplish in your life. I noticed that the initial 7 things I’ve listed are more or less unrelated to any sort of career aspirations; it’s not that I don’t have any, but the past few years of my life had been devoted to just that. I think that this list represents my current mini tug-a-war on the particular lifestyle I want to live.
I hope to keep adding to this list and crossing out things as they go. Small explanations of why I want to accomplish X goal will be interspersed between my usual philosophical rantings (or just rantings). This will be an interesting learning experience no? 🙂
  • adopt a child
  • own a Leonberger and/or a Westie
  • take advantage of the working holiday/youth mobility agreements that Canada has with 19 countries (considering New Zealand/Germany)
Update (July 8/2011): So I’ve decide to add a subcategory to my bucket list because there seems to be a lot of ‘outdoor adventure’ related things I want to accomplish and I think it would be worth distinguishing them from the rest of my aspirations. I think most of these aren’t as ‘lofty’ as my other goals…maybe lofty isn’t the best word.
  • live in a treehouse (Costa Rica)
  • go at least once for at least an one month climbing/camping trip
  • return to Granada, Spain and climb that waterfall
  • learn how to snowboard
  • sky dive
  • volunteer with Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi for a month (at least); check out the volunteer website and the Outside Magazine article on it (awesomeeeee! just don’t tell my family :D)
  • hike up to Lake O’Hara and then to Abbot’s Pass/Hut
  • bike the (paved) trail between Banff and Canmore
  • go on a (short) backpacking trip before the 2011 season is over