The first place I rock climbed was at Miner's Park,
Philmont Scout Ranch in 1992. It was an experience that I couldn't forget
I returned to Philmont as Staff in 1996
and shared a tent with a climber by the name of John Demuth. He wasn't the
greatest or most knowledgable climber, and he almost killed himself trying
to repel off of John's Wall, but he had the gear and knew more than I did.
That was all it took. I bought a harness and some carabiners at a gear shop
in Taos. We climbed a couple times on our days off from Philmont. John's
Wall, north of Taos, New Mexico, was the only place we knew to go. I did get
to go back to Miner's Park though, and also climbed the easy routes at
That fall I started college at the University of
Oklahoma, GO SOONERS!! I joined a fraternity and met a couple guys who shared
my exitement for climbing. I was still very new to the sport, so I thought I
was extremely lucky to discover that OU had an outdoor club,
I went on a few trips with them to the Witchita Mountains, but they always had
a lot of people and I didn't get to do that much climbing.
The next summer, 1997, I returned to Philmont again to
work as a Ranger. I shared a tent with a guy a knew from the previous summer,
Ryan Popple and he was a more experienced climber than John had been. I made
it to John's Wall a few moretimes during the summer and climbed with Ryan and
other Philmont staff members. As a Ranger, I could get into the backcountry
camps more. I visited Cimarroncito and Miner's Park and made use of their
walls and staff bouldering rooms.
Back at OU that fall, Drew Williams returned from
USMC training and Collen Godfrey returned from Louisiana. These two, along with
Garrett Green became my climbing buddies. Drew and Collen had climbed in
Yosimite during '96. They taught me how to place trad gear and lead a
route while on top-rope. They also introduced me to the world of crack
climbing. Drew was and remains today an avid crack lover and opposes
face climbing and bouldering like it was the plague.
Drew was the most
daring of the four of us. He never seemed to worry about taking a fall
on lead, and would push to get to the top of where ever we happened to be.
He and I developed a bit of competion between us. If he couldn't get up a
climb, then I'd give it a shot. Sometimes I succeeded where he had got stuck.
And sometimes neither of us managed to get the right sequence.
Garrett was/is the responsible risk manager. He kept us out of trouble and
stopped us from taking too big of a risk.