Adele Gant on Gunsmoke Traverse Kai Staats on Chube, Joshua Tree; photo by Adele Gant Luke, Joshua Tree; photo by Adele Gant Kai Staats, J-Tree; photo by Adele Gant Kai Staats fingers bleed; photo by Ben Scott
Kai Staats, J-Tree; photo by Adele Gant Snow in J-Tree Coyote print in snow, J-Tree Snow melt drop
Kai Staats on Chube, J-Tree; photo by Ben Scott Ben Scott on Saturday Night Live Ben Scott on Planet X Ben Scott on So High Rob Miller on Diary of a Dope Fiend; photo by Ben Scott Rob Miller on Streetcar Named Desire; photo by Ben Scott Kai Staats on aret, South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona; photo by Ben Scott

Fulden Cetin at Akyarlar, Turkey

From the South Coast of Turkey to Phoenix’s South Mountain; from Joshua Tree National Park to Red Rocks State Park, Nevada, I have been fortunate to enjoy a tremendous three months of climbing.

Not just climbing, no, but ample time on rock to remain physically strong and spiritually engaged. I entered a gym just a few times, and found renewed passion for the out-of-doors.

I pressed hard, completing problems which had eluded me countless times before. I tried new problems, both succeeding and failing. And I worked through routines which my hands and feet traversed without eyes. The silence and solitude of sitting atop a boulder can be as strength building as the effort to obtain that position.

Kai Staats on Diary of a Dope Fiend; photo by Ben Scott

There were painful moments when too much skin detached from my fingers too fast. And there were elated moments when what felt impossible became possible, even repeatable, the internal wiring of my body-mind forging new pathways which replaced, “I don’t know if I ever will …” with “I can!” and “I did!”.

There were afternoons in which I was surrounded by a multitude of people followed by evenings in which I was alone in my tent. The rain and snow reminded me that the most cherished things in life are often the simplest: warm, dry clothes, nourishing food, and a safe place to sleep. Nearly every night in J-Tree I took long walks seemingly alone but for the coyotes celebrating the rise of the moon over the desert mountain ridges.

Rob Miller; photo by Ben Scott

During my second trip to J-Tree, I was in the presence of Bennett Scott and Rob Miller, each a master of climbing in their own regard; each climbing from a place of personal power. Most memorable were the intense, stimulating, and truly opening conversations we carried while piecing together Diary of a Dope Fiend high on a shaded ridge. I came away from that time with an improved understanding of the potential in climbing, and a renewed passion to fulfill that understanding with my own ability.

Ben Scott on In-n-Out burgers :)

Of course, there was laughter. A lot of laughter. That’s the stuff that binds the entire experience, a funny sort of glue that gives memorable form to the otherwise discombobulated string of events.

Thank you Fulden, Jae, Mom & Dad, Luke, Matt & Adele, Ben, Rob, Mike and Steve. It was a good three months, a good time for climbing.