I breathe deeply as I tie my knot, looping the rope the same way that I always do, dressing it carefully so that its layers lie comfortably amongst themselves, the lengths all perfect, the tension equal. I sit down to put on my shoes, left first, pulling the velcro taught and flexing my toes against the rubber, then the right, moving laterally in my ritual as if reading whatever it is my body has to say. It is the same each and every time and it is a process, one that I take slowly and with care not to rush. The moment I step off of the ground I am attempting to enter a unique space within myself, one of focus and calm, and if I rush to get there and end up throwing open its door, then I risk having that echo through my mind until I am back on the dirt.

The climbing psyche is delicate, or at least mine is – the slightest imbalance in my temperament will greatly affect my functioning, the day’s butterfly wings creating a storm somewhere much further away, somewhere less tangible. And the chaos of the mind is constant, unable to be avoided. The brain’s radio chatter and our learned receptivity to the infinite stimulus of the 21st century often times push quiet out of reach. Thus the true joy that I find in climbing: yes, the fluidity of movement, the beautiful places, the communing with nature, the feats of strength… they are all great impetus, but soothing the burn of my overactive sanity and finding a calm that I have never known is what pushes me ever higher.

Andrew Tristan Lenec grew up at the foot of one of the East Coast’s most popular climbing destinations, and has still never touched any rock there. He enrolled at the New School University in Manhattan to study Creative Writing before leaving the city and moving to Hawaii, where he eventually received a degree in Music and was discovered by climbing. After spending time in Australia and the Pacific, Andrew moved to Boulder to pursue the sport and in a futile attempt to sate his wanderlust. He is currently an Instructor at ABC Kids Climbing and, when not working with children, can usually be found in one of the city’s many parks with his nose as far in a Kindle as one’s nose can be, because actual printed books are unfortunately too heavy and cumbersome to travel around with constantly.