So…It’s Climbing Season Again…

The jumbled mess...what a heap...

The jumbled mess…what a heap…

Spring has sprung with a vengeance!  As I write this, sitting on post in my (barely air-conditioned) ambulance, the temperature is in the mid-80’s, with clear blue skies and bright sun.  This can only mean one thing.

Climbing season has begun.

Each year, at the beginning of the season, I try to do a little organization/maintenance on my gear.  So, last week, I pulled my climbing pack from hibernation.  I dumped all my climbing gear out onto the living room floor, forming an untidy, but colorful jumble.  The cats were immediately interested and curious.  Milo, the new kitten (dumb as a rock, incidentally) had never seen the process.  He immediately began picking through the gear, sniffing everything.  Oliver, who had seen this foolishness before, sat nearby.  Though he pretended that he wasn’t interested, he kept a close eye on the proceedings.

"Never Stop Exploring."

“Never Stop Exploring.”

My helmet got a wipe down to remove some of the grime and scuffs from the winter.  I haven’t been able to wear my helmet as much in the past year as I’d like, so it had spent a lot of time in my backpack.  In fact, I think the last time I climbed while wearing it was last spring.  My dad and I spent a day at Seneca, and climbed Conn’s West, a (very exposed) 5.4-5.5.  As I cleaned it, I noticed the North Face sticker on the top, and I couldn’t help but think about TNF’s slogan:  “Never Stop Exploring.”  It’s seriously my favorite marketing phrase, from any company, anywhere.  While I try not to be a hyper-consumeristic individual, I have no problem admitting that TNF’s marketing campaign resonates with me.  In fact, I’d probably make it my blog’s slogan, but it’s a trademark and I’d probably get in trouble.

Gear in need of re-taping.

Gear in need of re-taping.

I also spent some time inspecting each piece of hardware, making sure that the gates and locks on the carabiners were functional, and making sure that my ATC isn’t developing sharp edges.  I’ve had this ATC since I was 13, and it actually holds some sentimental value for me (someday I’ll share that  story).  I also replaced tattered marking tape on the pieces that needed it, and put new tape on some recent acquisitions (mostly Black Diamond stoppers and a few pear-shaped ‘bieners).  I spent a good amount of time checking my runners and webbing.  Two years ago, a climber fell to his death after a mis-tied knot in his anchor webbing failed.  I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to me!  So, I spent a few minutes with each runner, making sure there were no rips/damage to the material, and making sure the knot was sound and fully complete.

I re-racked and organized everything so it was easy to use.  No more jumbled mess!

Now I just need a day…

Oh, that's much better!  Milo and Oliver had to make themselves part of the process.

Oh, that’s much better! Milo and Oliver had to make themselves part of the process.

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About Ethan Zook

I'm 27, and happily married to a pretty girl named Melissa with a little boy named Elijah. From the Shenandoah Valley, currently hanging out in Richmond, VA. I love exploring the wild places around the area. I write two blogs; Mountain Ramblings is about my personal explorations in the mountains and valleys that I live around. In Mountain Rescue Blog, I write about issues faced by rescuers in mountain environments both locally and around the world.
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