I learned to climb at the Gold Bar boulders in Washington, about an hour’s drive from the bustling metropolis of Seattle. I was in high school, and some friends and I had managed to weasel the combination to the padlocked forest service access road from one of the old timers at the Stone Gardens climbing gym.
The first time we made the journey down the Stevens Pass highway, driving through towns with names like Monroe and Sultan, passing the great grey granite walls of Index, I felt free. I was seventeen and we had a car and I was going climbing outside for the first time.
I remember hopping out of the ’98 Jeep Cherokee to unlock the yellow access gate and driving up the dusty switchbacks with the windows down and Phish playing on the stereo. I remember the way the trailed curled through the trees, overgrown with weeds and strewn with deadfall from the late spring rainstorms, and the precise switchback where the trees opened up and I caught the first glimpse of the massive freestanding granite boulders.
Thinking back on it, I remember almost nothing about the actual climbing we did that day. I’m sure I slapped my over-chalked hands at a couple of jugs and spent too much time sitting on the crash pads, pulling my shoes on and off.
I can, however, trace much of my love for climbing and being outside with friends to those few simple moments.
Mike Libecki, Angie Payne, and Ethan Pringle traveled to a remote fjord on the southeast coast of Greenland to climb. The three climbers came together from opposite ends of the climbing world. Mike Libecki has made a name for himself as a seasoned alpine and big wall climber. Angie Payne has won numerous ABS National Championships and has put up some of the hardest boulder problems in the world. Ethan Pringle is continuing to take his bouldering and sport climbing abilities to the next level.
Tucked away beneath a looming cirque of granite peaks for two weeks, the three climbers came together through shared experiences and learned that oftentimes climbing is far more than first ascents.
We tend to remember the little moments that, when strung together, make up the whole of our experiences in the outdoors. The articles in this series tell the stories of Mike Libecki, Angie Payne, and Ethan Pringle, and illustrate the little moments that make up a life shaped by climbing.
The moments make The Journey.
-Ken Voeller, Social Media Coordinator, Mountain Hardwear