Ice climbing season is officially in full swing. Exactly one month ago today Michael, Ryan and I trekked into Huntington Ravine for an early season mission. It was a rough day for me, but revelatory also. The three of us launched up SKYWALKER, the ascent that became the catalyst for this blog. I started Shades of Granite that night, and today, one month later, it is poised to crest 20,000 views. The initial post that connected with a range of readers, Reasons to Climb, was basically a journal entry. I posted it to Facebook so Ryan, Michael, Peter, Scott and Paul would see it, never intending for it to spread. By the next day it had more than 1,000 views. Since then I’ve written several more posts that seem to have connected. There appears to be a hunger for a raw, honest discussion of fear, emotion and personal struggle. The fact is the climbing is just a metaphor, an easy topic for the conversation to revolve around.

I didn’t imagine a month ago the blog would strike the chord it has. Multiple people, most of whom I do not have a long history with, have called, emailed and texted to tell me something I wrote expressed something they have been unable to put into words. Partners and friends I haven’t spoken to in years have also contacted me. They say they are reading. They say they understand. And then they thank me. Such responses are humbling. I’ve had stories in the Boston Globe, on public radio and in many other magazines and newspapers, but never has my writing found such resonance. I feel like a translator — my fears and frustrations are the same as the fears and frustrations of others, and it is my charge to transform those feelings into words.

Shades of Granite is ostensibly about climbing, but in writing it I have faced a fear that has nothing to do with gravity — one about cracking open my emotions, leaving myself vulnerable to critique and judgement. In this way I have jumped off a cliff, but instead of falling I am finding I can fly. Instead of ridicule I’ve found a community offering compassion and connection, yearning to express it even. It’s been exhilarating, another adventure, one at least as rewarding as my climbing.

So in honor of Shades of Granite surviving its first month, and in celebration of 20,000 views, here is a short video Dustin Marshall shot of Scott and I climbing the second and third pitches of Diagonal on Saturday.

Now go find your fear and face it. Launch into it.

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