When I was a younger climber I used to collect guidebooks. I enjoyed the possibility of going to a new area and each time I'd open a new book I'd instinctively flip to the history section.
One of the things that continues to draw me towards climbing is how diverse each area can be. Whether that's a different type of rock or a new set of ethics and style, no one place is the same as the next.
Looking at Devil's Lake in particular, it's incredible the rich history we get to see every time we drive over the last hill or around the next corner and the water comes into view. I'm always struck by the landscape when we bring a person that hasn't been to the area before. Inevitably they're taken aback by how cool of an area it is.
Our climbing history is filled with a similar, awe inspiring nature. Weissner, Zschiesche, Cleveland, Bechler, Groth, Gill. It's amazing when you really start to think about it.
About 5-6 years ago I was working in Fontana and was ringing some dude out. Forgot long ago what he was buying but as I grabbed his card to swipe it I spied the name. Rich Bechler.
I paused for a few seconds before asking him if he was the climber, which he was. We chatted about Huston's recent lead of Acid Rock for a few minutes, before grabbed his bag and walked out the door.
All I remember was being in some sort of awe that I'd actually just met a DL legend.
A year or so later a buddy of mine got a summer job with a t-shirt printing company, I think. A few days into it he went into his bosses office for some reason and saw a climbing picture on the wall that he hadn't noticed before. They struck up a conversation about it and after a few minutes he found out his bosses last name.
A few days ago Katie and I had a nice little night at the gym. It was great. Quiet. Low energy. Good People. We climbed some things, fell off of others. One of the better nights at the gym recently.
About 3/4 of the way through the night a friend of mine walked up and sat down. I hadn't seen him in years and it took me a second to recognize him. We chatted for a while about boulders, hidden areas that he'd long forgotten about and other randomness.
He's a classic, old school dude. Total hippy and it's great. I really enjoyed seeing him again and we made each other promise to climb together next season. I told him we'd show him all the new stuff that's gone up and he seemed psyched.
The whole time we were talking, Pat and Ellen milled around us. Adam, Sam and Blake were all working on various problems. I think Jeremy was at the desk and little Luke may have been around somewhere too. I'm sure none of them knew who I was talking to, nor did anyone realize that he's largely responsible for much of the bouldering at Devil's Lake.
My friend was someone that no one in the gym would have given pause to. I guess that's one of the other reasons I love our history here. It's totally unassuming.
As he got up, said goodbye and got ready to head home for the night Katie looked at me and asked, "Who was that?".
"Oh that was Paul...He found the Reserve."
5 months ago