The Best Gifts Are Not Things You Ask For:
In 2004, I was perfectly happy not being a climber. I worked at the REI store in Phoenix and deflected all invitations to join my co-workers at the climbing gym. Then my brother piled a climbing rope he’d bought but never used into a box and put it under the Christmas tree at my parents’ house back in Iowa. When I opened it, I was nonplussed at best, and probably told him Thank You in the same tone I would have if he’d just gifted me an old toaster. I took the rope back to Phoenix and eventually went out climbing with some guys from work. I sucked. I was scared, had bad footwork, and was a bad listener.
But something was there. I had been treading water in life for a couple years, really without an identity. I stuck with climbing. Six years later, I got my first article published in Climbing magazine. A couple years after that, I stood on top of the Grand Teton with my buddy Chris, coiling another rope over my shoulders, my brother’s Christmas gift long retired. I don’t think either of us saw that one coming when I opened that box in 2004.