12 Jul Euro Trip!
Do we climb because we are alive, or are we alive because we climb?
Well it was over three months ago now that I sat in an airport and wrote my last blog post. Three months full of incredible adventures and stories enough to fill an entire novel, and yet I find myself with almost nothing to say. How is it that these months abroad seem to have left me speechless? Perhaps because there is just too much? Too many wonderful people I met, too many lessons learned, too many amazing experiences to be parred down into mere words.
So maybe I’ll just start with the basics. On March 1st, 2018 I flew from LAX to London, Heathrow Airport, beginning what would become a three and a half month trip through Europe and the United States. I carried only one small backpack of personal belongings, and one hike/fly paragliding kit, which also held my basic climbing gear. I was traveling solo, and other than competing at the Climbing Works International Festival, I had no itinerary for this trip and no idea where I would end up. My only plan was to base the trip off of people I met and opportunities that arose along the way.
This trip was also my first step in a larger plan to refocus my life and career direction, and going into it, I was struck with two very distinct thoughts…either everything was going to be amazing…OR…everything was going to fall spectacularly apart!
I won’t give away that ending just yet, so in the meantime, below is an itinerary of places I went and things I did!
- London – Played tourist for a week, visiting all the popular sites, and trained at the famous Castle Climbing Centre.
- Sheffield – Stayed with my 3rd Rock teammate, Holly, for a week, bouldering in the peak district and competing at the Climbing Works International Festival, placing 23rd.
- London – Made a quick stop back in London to compete at Blokfest, where I tied for 4th!
- Cardiff – Played the tourist in this incredibly artsy city, and did my first twin rope trad climbing at Wintour’s Leap with IG friends from Wales!
- Crickhowell – Had an amazing hike and fly adventure with the SE Wales HG/PG club at Magic Mountain.
- London – Made a quick stop to play tourist for one day with my friend, Bobby, who flew in from the US.
- Paris – Bobby and I spend one night (literally all night) wandering the streets of Paris, taking photos.
- Fontainebleau – Rented a camper van and spent four days climbing and waiting out the rain in Font.
- Annecy – A quick two day stop to Paraglide and enjoy this gorgeous mountain town.
- Siurana – Bobby and I exchange camper vans, picking up our new rig from Mad Campers Spain (BEST CAMPERS EVER!), then spend an amazing five days sport climbing in Siurana.
- Barcelona – A night and a day in this city were not enough to enjoy all the sites, the amazing food, and the awesome skate spots. A return visit is mandatory!
- Athens – I said goodbye to one friend and hello to another, meeting up with my climbing partner, Mitch, in Athens. We spend a week eating cheese, enjoying Freddo Cappuccino, and climbing local crags.
- Delphi – Made a pilgrimage to the Oracle at Delphi, where we photographed amazing ruins and contemplated such questions as, do we climb because we are alive, or are we alive because we climb?
- Kalymnos – No climbing trip to Greece would be complete without a visit to this amazing Island! Mitch and I spent a week figuring out how to manoeuver around stalactites and make friends with goats.
- Zurich – I say goodbye to Mitch and travel to Zurich to explore this pretty town and meet up with my friend Travis. I also get in a day of local sport climbing at Utliberg.
- Magic Wood – Travis and I rent a car with friends and head to Magic Wood for an amazing four days of climbing in the alps!
- Czech Republic
- Prague – A free week leaves me wondering what to do. On a whim I decide to hop on a bus and head to magical Prague for some sightseeing. Here, I also find a welcoming climbing community and get to climb for three days with new found friends.
- Zurich – Back to Zurich for a few days, where we rent yet another car and head out to climb, this time in France.
- Fontainebleau – Weather cooperates this time around and we get a solid four days of bouldering in Font.
- Sheffield – With the trip winding to a close, I head back to England and get to spend a last few days climbing, horse riding, bike riding, and wild swimming with Holly.
- United States
- Michigan – It’s hard to leave Europe behind, but I have the best reason for returning stateside, the wedding of my best high school friend, Julie!
- Arizona – After visiting my old high school haunts, I travel to my parent’s house in Arizona for a family visit.
- HOME – And finally finally, after 3 1/2 months, I step back onto my little sailboat and I’m home!
Going into this trip, I had no real expectations. I simply wanted to seize every moment and say yes to all the adventures that came my way. Well I’m happy to report that in doing this, my life did not fall spectacularly apart as feared, but rather, so many new opportunities came my way! Due to this trip I got to begin working with several companies on creative film and photography projects, write articles, and even be featured in a documentary short. I’ve been learning so much about production and content creation, and am really looking forward to pursuing this as a new career direction. Maybe it will go well, maybe it won’t, and either way, that’s okay. Because if there’s one thing I can say I learned on this European Trip, it’s that the destination is not what matters, but simply the journey!