I just wanted to climb

Written By

An open letter to the Edgeworks Community

written by: Hal Warren

To my Edgeworks family,

In light of the pandemic that we all have been affected by, I would like to speak as an athlete whose lifestyle is inherently intertwined with training at the gym and getting outside to climb. But most importantly, I would like to speak as a member of the Edgeworks community. A community that has practically raised me since I was 11 years old.

Things are difficult. And for most of my life I have dealt with difficult things by going climbing. Over the years, the sport became an outlet like no other, a perfect mindfulness practice, and a place where I could freely and unapologetically express my personality. Edgeworks, alongside the local climbing areas in WA, became my sanction. In the same way Washington’s wild beauty serves many members at Edgeworks, I felt the happiest when out in the forest climbing.

When my school shut down and Edgeworks didn’t, my first response was psych that I now had 30 extra hours in my week to be at the climbing gym. Then Edgeworks closed. And I got ecstatic that I would finally have time to put down some of my sport projects at exit 32 and to finally send my projects in Index. With that excitement for all the climbing I was about to do came the statewide “Stay Home Stay Safe” initiative by Gov. Inslee, an act to keep Washingtonians safe and make sure those who need the resources we do have can receive the care they need.

At first, I was confused and had trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I was going to have to spend the near future at home. Not in the climbing gym, not at the crag, and not with my people. Confused about why my happy place in the forest was suddenly not where I was supposed to be and why it would have any effect on others if I just made my little escape to the rocks. My privilege slapped me across the face. I was worried about my little escape to the forest more than I was worried about people’s family members dying. And how could I not? I was only acting out of instinct and doing what I’ve always done. I just wanted to climb. As climbers, smart Washingtonians, and humans, we have an obligation. An obligation to help our climbing, state, and human communities stay safe. We can’t let our personal desires get in the way of doing what is right.

With the closures of areas like Bishop and Moab, I started to think about our own areas here in Washington that need protection. If we flood the crags and boulder field parking areas at first chance once they reopen, we are at risk of access becoming limited, restricted all together and/or worst case, we risk our reputation as climbers. We must think holistically and proactively as to how we are going to continue to help our own community and at risk communities with limited resources. We must be aware of the impact our recreation and sport has on smaller communities and we must take initiative to ensure that we as climbers are helping, not making things harder.

I am committed myself and encourage you as a community to think about how your actions as climbers and outdoor enthusiasts will affect the places you love. Before you launch out of the house at first knowledge that areas are opened again, reflect on your impact and how you will reduce it. This is a defining moment for us as climbers to do a small bit of good in the world. And the world needs as much good as it can get.

With love,
Hal Warren
Team Edgeworks coach and athlete

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