2012 Year in Review

2012 has come and gone faster than I fall off my projects. It’s been an incredible year for me as a climber, and I can’t believe that it has been so eventful.

I started 2012 determined to make the year a special one. I set a handful of goals (i.e. consistent 5.12 climbing, send V8, get outside more), and I can happily reflect and be thrilled with my performance this year.

Stoked! Photo credit: Veronica Beman

Stoked!
Photo credit: Veronica Beman

I’m going to spray very quickly – I reached my goal of becoming (more) consistent on easy 5.12, I sent V9, and I have been consistently around V7 (all inside). On real rock, I sent my hardest climbs (5.11d, V6), but no matter what, I would have improved in that area this year anyway. I didn’t reach my goal of sending 5.13 by 2013, but that’s okay. It’s something I know I can achieve in the new year, and I’m excited to continue pursuing it (I know, chasing grades, but it’s more about breaking through to the “next level” of climbing than the number itself).

Working Reckless Abandon, NRGPhoto credit: Jessica Wan

Working Reckless Abandon, NRG
Photo credit: Jessica Wan

It was fantastic to get outside so much this year to chase the vertical dream on real rock. In 2012, I took trips to Joshua Tree CA, the New River Gorge WV, Jailhouse CA, and Yosemite Valley CA, as well as to several local areas (Northwest Branch MD, Rocky Gorge Reservoir MD, Governor Stable PA, and Mt. Gretna PA). For someone who could count the number of times he had climbed real rock before 2012 on one hand, it was most definitely a banner year. I wish I could have gotten out even more, but it’s so hard to be disappointed when you spend time in such fantastic places.

On Supreme Being (5.12c) at Jailhouse. Photo credit: Steven Roth

On Supreme Being (5.12c) at Jailhouse.
Photo credit: Steven Roth

These trips were marked by not only incredible climbing, but also incredible people. Each trip I took was with people I would jump at an opportunity to climb and travel with again. I had never really met many of them before my trips, and I think it’s a testament to climbers in general that they were all so fantastic. Additionally, I’ve traveled to great places, eaten amazing food, and shared memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. From snow in the Valley to “so…Mexican Food?” while lost on Mt. Ryan in JTree, the non-climbing things were just as memorable as the climbing itself.

Fun times in Joshua Tree! Photo credit: Veronica Beman

Fun times in Joshua Tree!
Photo credit: Veronica Beman

And along the same lines, I’ve had the opportunity to continue being a part of the wonderful community that climbing offers, both in real life and through social networking. I’ve met and talked with fascinating climbers from all over the U.S., and I’ve made close friends because of it. From California to Michigan, Florida to Canada, I’ve connected with awesome individuals within the vertical world.

The year also saw Earth Treks open a massive expansion in Rockville, and my duties expanded along with it. I’m now working at the front desk and teaching classes, certainly a change of pace from leading birthday parties. Even more importantly, however, is how much ET has come to mean to me. This year, I have continued to meet fantastic people and share amazing memories and experiences. In the absence of any real connections to the DC metro area, Earth Treks has become a home to me, and my coworkers have become a family. I wouldn’t trade ET for anything, and whenever I move on, leaving Earth Treks will be the absolute hardest part.

Fantastic coworkers from ET Rockville!

2012 has been dotted with other awesome happenings as well. In August, I got the unique opportunity to work with my friend Sasha DiGiulian in a private coaching session – but I was the one doing the coaching. After a summer of competing and climbing all around Europe, Sasha came back wanting to improve one of her weaknesses – dynamic movement and jumping. We’re similar in size and build, and I absolutely love dynos (and I’m not bad at them for my size), so it just seemed to make sense. We spent several hours working together, and it was an afternoon I won’t soon forget! I also participated in several competitions, some going well, some going not-so-well, but each and every one was a good experience. I now have a much better idea of what to expect during competitions, and my climbing/stress/time management skills have certainly improved.

This was a year that saw my confidence soar and my understanding of climbing and myself as a climber improve dramatically. I sometimes forget that I have only been climbing seriously for about two years now. I’m most definitely still learning how to be a “climber” – how to move, how to focus, how to train, how to exist as a being in the vertical world. I have been feeling a lot of this coming together this year, especially recently, and I’m thrilled to be charging into 2013 stronger, smarter, and more confident and determined than I have ever been as a climber.

At Mt. GretnaPhoto credit: Jennie Jariel

At Mt. Gretna
Photo credit: Jennie Jariel

Looking towards 2013, above all else, I just hope to continue my growth as a climber. I hope to send harder and more consistently, both inside and out. I hope to get outside more frequently and to new and exciting places. I hope to compete seriously during both sport and bouldering seasons, including local comps and some bigger pro comps (Ring of Fire Series at Central Rock). I hope to continue meeting fantastic and interesting people from all over the world and forging friendships based on shared experiences.

Me, VB, and Daniel at Mesa Rim in San DiegoPhoto credit: Sergio Martinez

Me, VB, and Daniel at Mesa Rim in San Diego
Photo credit: Sergio Martinez

And, most importantly, I hope to earn admittance to one of the Ph.D. programs I applied to and attend graduate school starting in the Fall. Regardless of where I go, I will be moving on from the D.C. area and Earth Treks, and this reality both excites and scares me. I know that great things await me wherever I go, and I can only hope to continue climbing and maintaining my passion in a new location.

2013 will be one hell of a year. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Happy New Year to all of you out there! Let’s raise a toast to hard rock, thin air, and a rope. Stay stoked and climb on!

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