No Climbing For Six Months? Time to Write a Book!

Szu Ting no climbing for six months

In January of 2017, I had an operation to remove several abdominal tumors. The operation was successful and the tumors were nonmalignant. The downside, for me, was the lengthy recovery period.

The doctor told me that with proper healing I would be able to climb in six months. Six Months! Since I started climbing 10 years ago, I have never taken such a long break from climbing.

I grew up in Taiwan and the culture there places high expectations on achieving academic excellence. As a result, most of my time was spent in the classroom, library or reading at home. In my spare time, I loved to read adventure books about explorers traveling to previously unknown locations.

When I came to the US to pursue my Ph.D., I was introduced to the world of outdoor pursuits and dabbled in skiing, biking, and kayaking. While all of these activities allowed me to visit wild landscapes, nothing grabbed my full interest like climbing. The combination of mental skills required to solve the complex puzzle of climbing a rock wall reminded me of the programming languages I studied. Having no athletic training as a child, the physical aspect of climbing came slower for me, but I gradually increased my fitness.

Video: Moon Cakes and Rice from David E. Anderson on Vimeo.

Not climbing for six months seemed like a lifetime. I resigned myself to a slow healing process and turned to familiar activity, research, and writing. But this time instead of just reading about adventures, I had the opportunity to explore over a dozen public lands in the Western US, while working on a hiking guidebook.

After over 700 miles of day hiking, it was time to write my book and start climbing again. My main passion in climbing involves putting up new alpine rock routes in the big mountains, but for training, I love indoor bouldering. Being able to push myself in a controlled environment gives me the confidence both mentally and physically to push myself in the mountains. My husband and I live, work and travel in Magic, a Nissan van. 

However, for the last month, we had a house-sitting opportunity in Washington and access to a great climbing gym. This video is about the daily activity of many climbers, balancing life, work and making small improvements in our climbing that keep us motivated for the future.