TAKING THE REINS – LESSONS LEARNED WHILE LEADING MY FIRST CLIMBING TRIP
My first experience multi-pitch trad climbing is what inspired me to work in the climbing industry and in many ways changed the course of my life. I remember getting to the top of Seneca on that first trip and thinking, “Now I get it! This is what climbing is supposed to be for me”.
Climbing, while often a social activity, can also be very personal - a person’s goals, priorities and motivations are their own. At the top of Seneca I found my reason to climb and keep climbing. I wanted the ability to inspire others in the same way - it was time to plan a big climbing trip to expand my horizons and better hone my skills. I, along with Emily Sillcox and Sherie Lou Santos, was awarded an Earth Treks Avi Sengupta Staff Climbing Scholarship to venture out to Red Rock, Nevada and pursue my goals.
TAKING THE REINS
From the start of our trip to Red Rock, Emily and Sherie Lou allowed me to take the reins. In the past, I was happy to let those more experienced than I take charge, but this trip I was determined to take the lead. I had no idea just how involved the planning became and how much more pressure I felt for everything to go well. I planned which climbs we would do, which days we would do them, who would lead each pitch, what gear to bring and what time to wake up and hike in each day. I read guidebooks, looked at online comments, printed out and laminated topos and took detailed notes on our climbs and descents.
I learned a lot on our trip to Red Rock. Everything takes longer than you think it will; if it looks like rain, expect it to rain despite what your weather app says; and plan ahead for your bodily functions...especially in the desert. Most importantly, I learned that good partnership doesn’t come from good climbing (though I loved every moment of every climb we did), it comes from good humor, good intentions and a lot of patience.
In the spirit of Avi’s legacy, this scholarship allowed me to accomplish my personal goal of becoming a more comfortable leader on multi-pitch routes and better understand the extraordinary impact climbing can have on people. My skillset has grown exponentially - now I am bringing other Earth Treks staff to Seneca in hopes that they, too, will find inspiration as they tight-rope walk that final traverse towards South Peak.
Erica Espenak is an avid climber and assistant director at Earth Treks Crystal City.
The Earth Treks Avi Sengupta Climbing Scholarship supports the climbing dreams of Earth Treks employees. From a young age, Avi understood the incredible impact climbing can have on people, and unselfishly went about sharing his passion for climbing, and life, with anyone and everyone. It is in his honor that Earth Treks supports staff growth through climbing adventures.