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I adjusted the top sleeve of the sweater again, pulling it ever so carefully into position like a member of the bomb squad cutting the red wire. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. If I pulled it too far, it exposed that extra inch of skin on my ankle, but if I didn’t pull it far enough it didn’t provide enough coverage on my butt cheeks. Tick. Tock. But having cold cheeks wasn’t my only problem. The problem was, the sweater was on my legs, a size too small, and I was in the trunk of a sedan. It was my first extended road trip and I didn’t own a sleeping bag. KA-BOOM!

We crashed out three miles down a rutted out dirt path in the desert outside of Red Rocks National Monument. Everyone else was outfitted in fancy fleece jackets, and expensive gear imported from the moon as far as I knew. I had a harness, a hideous pair of high top rock shoes that might as well have been roller skates, and a lot of questions. I didn’t have much, but what I did have was a big barrel of psyche. Somehow, almost two decades later I still do.

When people ask what I do for a living, I say, “I’m an artist.” I’ve found it’s much easier than explaining all the complex ways I exist in this world, seeing as that I barely understand it myself. Climbing rocks and having adventure is certainly one way of making art if the canvas is life. But I do mean it in the more pedestrian sense too. I take little tools and make marks on paper, and feel an exceptional depth of gratitude that I get to do it every day.

Those little marks on paper have lead to little marks on film, little marks on canvas, and little marks on the landscape via first ascent rock climbs around the globe.

Climbing up untouched rock is possibly one of the most satisfying marks I get to make. It’s so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t cure cancer, solve the earth’s problems, or even pay the bills, really. I can’t hang it on the wall at the local museum for the local well-to-do to admire. But it’s one of the most pure marks I know. It’s just you, a chunk of stone, an idea, some birds overhead, a song in your head, and a good (or exceptionally ignorant) friend at the other end of the rope.

I suppose the idea is that all the little marks add up to making one big one.

Follow my adventures here and at www.jercollins.com

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About Jeremy: “Whether your journey is from east to west, or from ground to summit, don't miss the path from heart to head. Between these two destinations we find our voice.” As an artist, climber, filmmaker and adventurer, Jeremy Collins is a Chaconian ambassador with the unique ability to find beauty around the world and translate it in his own unique way. View his films and photographs at the 5Point Film Festival and Banff Film Festival as well as special showings and online at www.jercollins.com and on Facebook

 

 

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