By McKenzi Taylor

I learned what rock climbing was while I was in college and a good friend of mine was dating a climber (Allison, she’s a contributor). She would talk about the lifestyle they had, the adventures they went on together and the mystery that made climbing a thrill. While I was doing some work in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I went on a few little climbing adventures with her and her son Eden. At that point, I honestly knew I wanted to pursue climbing but didn’t really know how.

Fast forward about 5 years…

After graduating from college, I took a leap and moved to Southern California. Every one dreams of moving there, but I decided it would be awesome if I made it a reality. I moved from my small home in central South Dakota to the “big city”. It was there that I finally got more into rock climbing via Matthew, my significant other. I will spare the romantic details of our courtship, but he honestly had me when I knew he was a climber! 😉 I wanted so badly to pursue the sport of climbing, but like many people probably experience, I didn’t have the equipment, the friends, or the courage to do it on my own.

After dating for a few months and hearing him go on and on about his adventures, I knew I wanted to get out… I knew I had to see what this was all about. My first multi pitch “climb” was in the Sierra Nevada’s and it was Mt. Emerson. Yes, now I realize it’s not even a technical climb, but it was totally epic for me. We got off route a few times, I had to learn how to take out gear, and I seriously thought I was going to get eaten by a bear once the sun set… And the sun was set for about 7 hours before we finally made it back to the car (12+ hours is not a normal day for Emerson). What honestly ended up happening was, I freaked out. We were so so so close to the top and we could have had a nice easy descent but I froze.

What ended up being a nice DAY out in the Sierras turned into many many hours of finding our way down the wrong gully in the dark. It was epic and I was in love.

Long story short we made it back to the car by about 1am. I was starving but all I could do was fall asleep.

In the morning, I was thinking “did we just do that” and I thought about it over and over in my head as we drove home.

The strangest feeling came over me the next morning at work, however. I even had to call my friend Allison and describe it… I was sitting at my desk and I was like “what the shit am I doing here”. No one here can possibly image the adventure I had this weekend and even if I try to explain it, they will never understand. They will look at me as if I had fallen off the deep end. The work day was sooooo long. All I could think about is how amazing and free I felt (and a bit scared, not gonna lie). It was the moment at work that changed me. I knew from then on, I would never be the same. It seems dramatic, but I knew that I would continually crave these adventures, big or small.

That was 2+ years ago and I have tried to explore climbing as much as I can. I have my ups and downs with climbing but I always come back to it. I enjoy it. If for nothing else, I enjoy where climbing takes me. I enjoy who climbing has introduced me too… Sometimes, that’s what keeps me going. Sometimes I feel weak, heavy or like i’m not improving quick enough, but I know there is so much more to rock climbing than just the sport of it. It’s a community, it’s provides awesome travel destinations and it also provides awesome adventure.

What’s your story? What’s your first climb? Your first taste of climbing adventure?


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