January 1, 2018

2017: Climbing

While spending New Year's Eve with a friend I've known for 15 years, she asked me what my word for 2017 would be, and it was easy: climbing.  And if I had to choose one defining picture, it would be this one, of us climbing in parallel.

I'm so incredibly grateful for climbing in parallel with such strong, giving women this year.  On rock, in medicine, in all the life between and around.

I know that a lot of my friends this year are grateful for giving birth to daughters, as they should be.  On my end, I'm grateful for all the women in my life who give birth to so much love.

Thank you to all the women who pushed and supported each other to climb hard and face fears and take falls--I honestly cannot think of happier times than the days spent with you outside.  Except maybe for the long drives to rock talking about everything, the after-climb pizza and (sometimes warm) beer and (always cold) ice cream, the ladies' nights spent in your company with nothing else needed.

Thank you to my women co-workers who take such good care of our patients and of each other, who feed each other and affirm each other and remind each other of why this climb is always worth it.  For using what we've been given to lift others, even when we hit bottom and further than bottom.

Thank you to my girlfriends, people I've known for over two decades, for over a decade, for over a year, who are all equally loving and generous and accepting.  Who are close, who are a country's length away and remember each other's presence all the same.  Who have never once made me feel lesser for my neuroses.  Who during a time when so much of us is being torn down, so naturally build for and with each other.

Thank you to the caregivers in the families in my life--my mother, my sisters-in-law, my cousins--who quietly and powerfully sacrifice so everyone else can climb.

Thank you to every single woman in my life who loves and climbs in your own individual, strong way. You are so many and so much.  I love you so much.


January: South Africa

Climbed to these viewpoints in South Africa with a friend from residency, to visit a friend from residency working in a rural hospital, lucky to know a woman dedicated to helping people different from herself, lucky to be accompanied by a woman who actively pursues adventure.

February: Bishop CA

Drove through terrifying snowstorms to climb in Bishop, the anniversary of a climbing trip with an old friend and the first climbing trip with a new friend, the beginnings of a connection that defined the rest of the year.

March: Mount Saint Helena CA
A beautiful day with beautiful ladies, ending in pizza, beer, brownies, and ice cream.  

April: Red Rock Nevada

Saw how far we'd come since our trip here a year and half ago when we really didn't know what we were doing.  Wheedled our way into swimming pools, used carabiners to open beer bottles, and shed our clothes for the heat of this amazing place.

May: Olympic National Park Washington

 Reunited with my best girlfriends from medical school with a trip to Olympic National Park where we hiked to snowy mountains, foggy overlooks, and sunset beaches. Remembered where we began and how we've fulfilled our goals and still working on others. Celebrated my birthday with 33 desserts, orchestrated by my ever-giving girlfriend who filled the venue with flowers and love, and attended by my med school wife who changed a plane flight to make it to the party, and my co-workers who crossed the bridge from East Bay to San Francisco on a weekend night for me.

June: Yosemite

A shoutout to the men who support women, knowing we can do the same and better.  To my old friend who took me on my first trad climb a year ago, and to a stranger who taught me without any expectation of return, both making possible my independent trad climbs later in the year.

July: Emeralds CA & Boulder Colorado

When we got lost (again), swam, camped and also climbed a lot.  Celebrated July 4 by feeling lucky for our independence as women who will (eventually) navigate to our destination, start fires, and get dirty.

The Colorado trip where we crossed rivers to climb roofs, and I climbed my hardest grade outdoors yet (11d), in huge part because these ladies said: try it.

August: Lovers Leap CA

Spent a weekend leading my first traditional climbing routes, absolutely terrified and ecstatic.  Especially lucky to climb them with my colleague and friend, who amazes me every day with her patience and kindness.  She spends hours with her patients, in and out of clinic, and still manages to hug everyone else in life.

September: Lovers Leap & the Emeralds & Yosemite (All Again)

The month where we returned to previous places, progressing and changing.  Growing in strides with each other. The lake, with its receded tides, looked and felt entirely different.  And so did we.

October: Red River Gorge Kentucky

When we told ourselves we're not limited to being grade 10 climbers and we all climbed a gorgeous 11a together. When we committed to different styles of climbing, tackling crimps and overhangs, finding that our hands can shift and diversify.  When we saw fall colors change gradually and dramatically over the course of days.  And also drank a lot of bourbon.

November: Red Rock Thanksgiving

A return to one of my very favorite places in the world, the Gallery at Red Rock.  Four days of climbing in yellow sun and red sunsets on red and orange rock.  In which I fell when rock broke, climbed down and climbed back up to finally get a frustrating move, and said yes I will begin that without knowing whether I would finish.

December: Sonora CA

Took three trips to Sonora this month, in which I tried and bled.  I colored my partner's hot pink rope in bright red blood, trying over and over to finish a climb and falling twenty feet over and over.  I left blood on rock while trying to climb real outdoor cracks for the first time, feeling humbled and happy doing something I was really bad at.


We cried so much in 2017, and it blows my mind how much I received while so much is being taken away.  What I take away most from all I've been given in 2017 is the need to climb togetherThank you for letting me be there and for making room, giving me hope for all the space we can create.

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