Most of us live in cities, only to rush into the forests the moment the weekend arrives; conflict or balance? Many of us own thousands of dollars worth of the most technically advanced gear available, just so that we can go into the woods to “live simply”; conflict or balance?
All parts of life are ripe with these conflicts (or balances), and climbing is no exception. Last week I was smacked in the face with one, the Conflict of Adventure.
This summer, I will embark on another large, exploratory climbing expedition deep into the Alaskan wilderness. As a group of four, we will spend approximately three weeks attempting to establish new rock climbing routes in the isolated Arrigetch Peaks, a sub-range of the infamous Brooks Range mountains. Our trip to these peaks will involve an 8-hour drive down a dirt-road, a flight on a small bush plane into the depths of the Gates of the Arctic National Park, and two days of off-trail hiking through grizzly country, all just to reach the base of these mountains. Needless to say, this place does not see so much traffic and was chosen as our destination specifically for its adventurous characteristics.
Over the last couple months, I have spent an increasingly long amount of time researching, planning, emailing, calling, questioning, and trying everything I can think of to locate even the tiniest granules of helpful information about this area. During one of my many middle-of-the-night, cross-Atlantic phone calls to previously unknown climbers who have visited this region before, the man I was speaking with was hesitant to share all that he knew because, in his words, he didn’t “want to give away the keys to the castle”. In short, he was worried about spoiling that unknown that I so fiercely desire.
Why is it that while I crave the Unknown, so much so that I am willing to travel to another continent for an opportunity to experience it, I am simultaneously trying to shatter it by collecting page after page of information that makes it “known”?
I feel, that as climbers, this tricky balancing act occurs on almost every route. Whether it is a first ascent on a remote peak, or a flash attempt at your local crag, we all want to have enough information so that we feel; a level of safety, a level of comfort, and a chance of success, whatever the goal may be. It is only after this, that we are ready and willing to step into the Unknown.
For more stoke-inducing photos of the Arrigetch Peaks, as well as a trip report to the area, click here!