Derek has recently decided that he wants to get into adventuring with me. What more could a father ask for from his 16-year-old son. Now we're concentrating on building up his skills a bit. We started first in the climbing gym at Movement in Boulder. He's now been climbing for a couple of months, two days a week. He's gone from TRing 5.7's to now leading 5.11c. He's led a number of 5.11a's, one 5.11b, and is now working a 5.11c. He's done it clean on TR and now has four lead attempts on it, three of which he only fell once. He seems to have no fear of falling and is fast improving. He's clips are polished and he's deciphering sequences better and faster.
Yesterday in the gym, I sent my 12a project on my 20th try. I'd love to say that I'm setting an example for tenacity for Derek, but in actuality I'm just showing off my weakness. This is the hardest grade I'll ever climb. I suspect Derek will be climbing harder before the end of his first gym season. With my project dispatched, I moved on to another 12a. I tied into a top-rope and proceeded to fail on the first hard move to tiny, small edge. I fell off 5 or 6 times before giving up and moving on to another route. As I untied from the rope Derek calmly walked up to the route and easily bouldered out the first few moves... Punk.
Today we went out for our second day of backcountry skiing. On our first day a couple of weeks ago, we did six miles in Wild Basin. Our goal today was an 8-mile loop around Brainard Lake. Derek was all for it when I woke him up at 5:45 a.m. At the parking lot, he was still keen, even though it was very windy and cold (5 degrees?) outside. We started up the trail, well dressed and warm, and it wasn't long before Derek was lagging far behind. He didn't seem to be putting any effort or enthusiasm into the skiing. I was moving along at a very slow pace (2 mph) and he was falling behind. I didn't know why and kept checking with him but he said he was fine. He was not.
After two miles I skied back along the trail to find Derek stopped and calling for me. He said he wasn't having any fun and wanted to go back. I asked why. He said he just wasn't getting it. He didn't have the hang of skiing. He was picking up his feet with every stride, like he was hiking. I tried to gently coach him to slide his skis forward instead. If he was trying, it wasn't showing. I told him that I'd been skiing for 40 years and he couldn't expect to master skiing in just two days.
But he didn't have to like skiing. We didn't have to do it together. I love him so much and doing anything with him is a thrill for me. Heck, I love just watching football with him. If we get to adventure together, great, but if isn't backcountry skiing that's fine. We were only doing this because it was the season for it and backcountry skiing is the best way to approach winter peaks and have an adventure. I told him that most people don't like going uphill in winter. That's why downhill skiing is so much more popular than backcountry. Adventuring in winter is tough. It's cold, windy, and a lot of hard work. It's okay if he isn't interested in that. Most people aren't.
I told him all this and we turned around. Derek immediately perked up. He kept right on my tail on the way out. He slid his skis along the snow instead of lifting up his feet with a hiking motion. When he fell on a couple of times on the downhills, he smiled, shook it off, stood back up, and was ready for more. By the time he got back to the car, he was really enjoying himself. He changed his mind on skiing and decided to at least try it one more time. I have no doubt he'd be a great skier and a great adventurer, if he truly wants to be. And if he doesn't want to be, that's fine too. At least he's on track to be my summer climbing guide...