We had an amazing Rewilding climb last week! Well, kind of…
Kind of, because I messed up and chose the wrong climb. It was too big and technical, not the best climb for someone’s first, especially someone who had never been hiking before. That said, even when the stakes are high and fear is real, I find myself blown away, again and again, by the courageousness and daring of the guys we get to take on these adventures.
This time we got to know Lamar, and he flat-out blew us away.
We ended up climbing a 400 ft route in Eldorado Canyon (Swanson Arête, 5.5). It’s a gorgeous route, but the rating is woefully misleading when you consider the other characteristics of the climb. It was too tall, too technical, just too much. Lamar was clearly further out of his comfort zone than I would have wanted. I was kicking myself early on realizing my now obvious error in judgment. Halfway up, a climber around the corner from us took a big fall and badly broke his ankle. We heard it all. The screams of pain and “call 911.” It didn’t help Lamar’s comfort level.
But, even in the face of fear and overwhelm, Lamar’s character shone brightly. He was scared but he continued on, and foot by foot we made our way upwards. More fun for me that the climbing, and what made the day truly “Amazing,” was getting to know Lamar and hear his story. He expressed himself in a style and with a perspective that was totally unique to me.
Lamar recently spent 6 years in prison (age 20-26) for selling drugs. He told me for him it was “like college” and that, “you get out what you put in.” He read constantly, utilizing a library program that gave him access to any book he wanted. He got informed. About the circumstances he felt he was born into, about the world, government, history and lots more. He told me there were smart people in jail, more than you’d expect, with information, ideas and experiences of value.
He didn’t pretend it was fun. He said it was really hard. That you’re tested regularly. That you have to be strong. He told me he never joined a gang because he’s not a follower.
Lamar takes responsibility for what he did. He said he knows it’s not something to be proud of. He also questions if selling drugs to consenting adults should result in a prison term and felony class equal to that of a violent sex offender.
We talk about where he grew up. He leads the conversation as we examine the circumstances that exist in communities like his and how they contribute to young, black men choosing crime. How opportunity for many in his community feels nonexistent. How the system is set up for him to fail. How it often feels like the choice is between selling drugs or being homeless, or hungry or cold. How those circumstances are not being addressed. We talk about schools in poor neighborhood where teachers are paid like shit and so the education is shit. We talk about the military budget vs the education budget.
More than what he says it’s how he says it that I’m so impressed with. I’m familiar with the information he’s sharing, I agree with him, but I’m not so sure I could present it so clearly, calmly and earnestly. I’m certain I couldn’t if the tables were turned. I find him exceptional. I hope he’ll give me a second chance at a better adventure. He hints to me that he will!
So yes, it was and amazing day, kinda…