This morning I wrote my friend Holly an email, we don’t keep in regular contact, but she was on my mind and I missed hearing from her.
The last time we were in touch was a year ago, I was on Midway, Holly was living in Yosemite still recuperating from her November knee surgery. Holly had left a real-estate finance job in Manhattan, which I could hardly comprehend and had taken to the open road in her orange Honda Element to live the climbing life. This was something I knew well and needless to say I was jealous.
Holly maintained a blog while she was on the road and an hour after I had sent my email I thought to check to see if she had made any updates. I could catch up on the world of Holly, the part of herself that she shared with the world.
I expected to read a recent trip report to learn what Holly had been climbing or where she had been lately getting turns, instead I found that Holly had died a year ago, she was 32.
I met Holly at a time when I was transforming my life and I guess she was too; I was embarking on my undergraduate degree and getting out occasionally to remember what climbing was like, she had only recently discovered the climbing world. I met Holly walking along the carriage road in the Gunks, she had been climbing with some friends earlier that day and now finding herself partnerless resigned herself to call it a day. I had just stopped by the Trapps to try and partner up for the afternoon, after a quick introduction It didn’t take much convincing for Holly to change her mind and we were soon tied in together and cruising some moderates.
My climbing was becoming what I always considered substandard, school and other responsibilities took their toll despite that Holly was a positive influence throughout that time she was always game to get out and offered a patient belay.
An enduring memory I have with Holly doesn’t involve climbing at all, during PA school I was hospitalized for the first and only time in my life, I don’t remember much of it. It was around nine thirty that evening and I was just waking after being passed out in a hospital bed when my phone buzzed. It was Holly, hysterical, on the other end of the line trying to make herself understood through stifling sobs.
I was in New Haven, Holly was in New Paltz but she implored me to come to help her, she told me I was her nearest friend, she was scared and couldn’t be alone. I couldn’t figure out what had happened or what might be happening, she was inconsolable and beyond reasoning with, I didn’t know what to think, I was terrified.
Fully awake now, although some might say having not come to my senses I pulled out my IV and after much haranguing by the nocturinst signed out against medical advice, I don’t think I mentioned I was going for a two-hour drive to New Paltz.
I arrived without incident and found Holly still hysterical and curled in a fetal position she didn’t answer the door, I put her to bed, she may have slept an hour that night perhaps two, I didn’t sleep at all. I was relieved from my vigil by another of Holly’s friend who had driven in from Boston. I headed back to New Haven and to bed.
We got out together a handful of times after that before she hit the road.
I never told Holly the circumstances of my being by her side that night. Before today I never needed to share it with anyone, but I would take those same risks and more to tie in with her again. I discovered today that that will never be.
Subject: Me again
Date: March 9, 2013 7:58:24 AM EST
Annual update I guess, hope your doing well and getting in more skiing this year then last. I didn’t spend this winter on an island so I got a couple of days in.
I’m still based in Seattle, for what it’s worth, it’s a funny town for climbers I think. I miss being near the rocks and on the rocks.
I finally got to France, last April I spent a week in Font but after that I can count my climbing days on two hands.
Truth is I’m frustrated, more so then I’ve ever been and I feel stuck, trapped, before I would get in a bad way but there would be a definite end, like a section of rotten ice or bad rock there would always be an end, and all I had to do was suck it up for a time. Now there’s no end in sight.
Are you still in Yosemite, I can’t even tell you how envious I am. The best I’ve felt in a year was the two days I spent in Squamish last May. It had been ten years since I had been there last when I was on the road. I felt energized and renewed moving over that granite. I felt like I had purpose, like I belonged.
After I started working as a PA I lost touch with who I am, I don’t like this other me. I miss being on a wall and feeling apart of the world. I think of you often.
Hope the knee is back up to spec. Hope you’re getting some for me.