How many times have I worried about whether to go climbing or not because of some seemingly important event that somehow meant I maybe shouldn't go climbing?
And how many times has that event felt even half as important on the drive home after climbing? I can't remember one, that's how many.
How many times have I tied into a rope?
As many time as I've untied. Except five or six times when I was too pumped to untie and somebody did it for me while both of us laughed.
How many times have I tried to climb something I didn't think I had it in me to climb that day--and then somehow made it to the top? More times than I've fallen off when I was sure I wasn't going to.
How many times have I had a hard time turning the key in the ignition after a day's climbing? Enough to recognize that peculiar feeling and smile with recognition, like tasting something from childhood that I'd totally forgotten about.
How many times have I gone climbing with someone and had a really good time? So many that I've forgotten half their names but none of the feelings.
How many times have I gotten so excited to see someone else send something hard for them that I completely forgot everything else? More times than I've watched someone stroll up something hard for me and felt bitter about it.
How many times has it been hard to put my hands into hot water? More times than the scars I wear with pride.
How many times have I seen some pathetic punk curse as he falls off a hard route or boulder problem? Enough to recognize that punk as myself on a bad day.
How many people have I seen give their absolute best while climbing and their absolute worst on the ground? Enough to know that climbing brings out the best in us.
How many times have I swung an ice tool and waited to hear its sound? Enough to know that it's still important, each and every time.
How many times have I stopped climbing for months at a time? Enough to know that it always feels good when I start up again.
How many times have I chosen to stuff my feet into how many pairs of rock shoes and go through how many barrels of chalk just to get to the top of a rock I could have walked around to the back side of? Enough to know I'll keep doing it for as long as I live.
How many times? Who cares, better go climbing.