Updated: Mar 16, 2019
Climbing is something that never leaves someone. If you are in it for the right reasons, the solace you find in the mountains will never leave you. It’s not about ticking a summit off a list or coming back with an award-winning image or film. Climbing is about being in the mountains. Climbing is about quiet moments with your closest friends. Climbing is about being there.
I am a grad student and I work in information security. It’s alright; there is a climbing gym close by and the cost of living in Memphis is low. I spend most of my time doing math homework or editing photos – but it never feels like I spend enough time doing either of those things.
If you were reading closely, you read that I live in Memphis. Yes, that’s Memphis, Tennessee. A quick Google search will tell you lots of (un)interesting things about Memphis, mostly about Elvis, the Grizzlies or Beal Street. I’m not really into any of those, I’m into mountains and I bet your Google search didn’t tell you anything about mountains in Memphis.
I’m here for grad school and, I guess, a dose of perspective. I’ve always had mountains close by and it has never been hard to get to America’s often sought climbing destinations. I’ve called the Westcoast home my whole life, Memphis is far from that: culturally and geographically. Hence the perspective. I didn’t want or think I needed perspective, at least perspective that took me away from the mountains. What would I ever have to gain of a quarantine from mountains? As it turns out, a lot.
The mountains don’t move. Despite being 2,000 miles from the Northwest, the mountains still have an undeniable enticement, a pull from which I cannot turn. The maps and images that traveled with me are the tangible manifestations of this allure crafted by mountains, but the real cunningness of the mountain lies in their deep-rooted stronghold of the mind: cold wind in my face resurfaces memories of cold, silent mornings crawling through the dark up Mount Olympus and early mornings in the city hold an eerie similarity to the alpine start of a summit bid.
The mountains know I must once again venture to their now distant domain; the climbing has not left me. As perspective begins to degrade the various aspects of my life which leech themselves to the periphery, what is left are my closest friends and the mountains. The alpine, the mountains begin to beckon in the same way an old friend longs for reunion: their call genuine, their embrace warm and welcoming. Upon your return, they share with you all you have missed and for some time you are home once more.
Mountains never leave you.