Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Life for Adventure

Finishing up a new route I equipped on Independencia, Parque La Huasteca.
Name Undecided,  5.12d, 13 pitches, 350m,.
Credit: Matthew Parent

Adventure, It’s a word that sparks excitement and imagination. The thought of adventure often delivers a cocktail of emotions including fear, giddiness and bliss in a single shot. Sweetened only by our natural human curiosity, these feelings are what spurred climbers to the summit of Everest and man to the moon. But what an defines adventure? 

For some, the word bestows vivid thoughts of scaling snow capped peaks or venturing into the deepest, most unexplored parts of the world in search of the unknown, much like the stories you hear as a child about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his polar exploits. For others, an adventure can be as simple as short road trip or buying exotic groceries without the knowledge on how to prepare them. Quite simply put, its a step or a leap, into the unknown. 

One of my fondest memories is of an impromptu adventure to Mexico after hearing rumors that there was a canyon abundant with virgin rock. Hitting the road with a fellow climber and friend, we playfully switched up driving and DJ duties on our 2 day journey south from Colorado. As we transitioned from the familiar language and landscapes of the USA into the exciting unknowns of Mexico, we quickly realized that this was not going to be like any of our previous escapades. Sporadic police and military check points lined the highway to Monterrey and bathroom breaks became restricted to roadside “pop-n-squats”.

We ran a gauntlet of the traffic through the city of Monterrey, arriving victorious on the other side where we made a bee line for Parque La Huasteca, our final destination. Crossing through the thick barred gates into the the park, we were greeted by its signature view of the towering Pico Independencia. We were speechless! The build up of fear, apprehension and nervousness that we had struggled with on our way down seemed to simply dissipate and we relished in the breathtaking views that surrounded us. 

When the asphalt ended, we continued along the gravel road as it meandered over rivers and bridges, driving deep into the parks winding canyons which the native Huichol people believe lead to the centre of the universe. All around us, blade like formations of limestone shot thousands of feet into the air and and giant succulent plants as large as a car littered the mountain sides.

La Bestia Cave, Parque La Huasteca, Mexico
Credit: Gaz Leah
After hours of exploring, the day gave way to night and we retreated from the canyon back to the glowing aurora of the city lights. At the hostel that evening, we discussed the dream like idea of returning to Monterrey in the near future to contribute and nurture the growing community of climbers that called Huasteca home. During the 20 hour drive back to the states, I reminisced on our time in Mexico. The rock, the food and the culture had all become imprinted on my mind and I began to ponder if a future adventure would indeed be possible.

As it turned out, I returned later that year for a six month endeavor titled “Project Wall-E” to develop new routes, write a guidebook and help kids in marginalized areas of the city. An experience which has re-shaped my perception of the world. 


Climbing in Virgincita, a cave at the entrance to Parque La Huasteca.
Credit: Matthew Parent

Understandably, not every adventure has such profound effects on people, but they do build character and help us push our perceived barrier between what is possible and impossible. My personal belief is that the desire that urged me to travel to Mexico and to step outside of my comfort zone is built into all of us. Like the explorers of past times, who dared to cross oceans and continents not knowing what they would find, that same hunger for adventure that existed then is alive in all of us today. 

So whether your making a meal or sailing an ocean, don’t allow yourself to be limited by your fears and live life to its fullest by seizing the adventure that is awaiting you in every day!