Any climbing trip starts with a conversation. Kate and mine went something like this.
Kate: “What’s your fall look like?”
Majka: “October’s wide open.”
Both of us: “Want to go somewhere good?”
We considered Norway but were scared off by the rain; Germany was a strong contender but neither of us wanted to drink that much beer; and as crack climbers (aka sport climbing on tufas feels demoralizing) we were seeking a new ascetic in both the climbing lines and the surrounding culture.
Armenia became the (obvious) destination. Basalt has an incredible beauty. Armenia’s caves full of straight repetitive lines have hypnotized us. The inverted staircases are like the frescos painted on the arching vaulted ceilings of the world’s religious temples. And we want to go find new routes slicing through these pieces of art.
Kate and I started climbing together because we wanted to go to Africa together four years ago. We went. Since then we’ve also met up and climbed in various destinations in North America. Going somewhere new is easy when you have a partner who wants to explore just as much as you do, and whose personality and climbing skills are steadfast no matter what the locality (Kate) and who can charm her way into any conversation with any local in the city or at the crag (Majka). Staying home was not an option – I’d just committed to living in New England with a new house, new granite to climb, and new puppy to train. Kate was pretending to nest in Boulder while still traveling full time. It was clearly time to go somewhere. We just landed in Armenia and have 12 days of bold basalt beckoning.
Some photos from the trip so far:[Nighttime laundry on the streets of Yerevan – heading south tomorrow. Photo- Majka Burhardt (@majkaburhardt)] [Post-climbing party with the local farmers at the base of the cliff – fresh strawberries, vodka made from rose hips and the nicest people ever. Photo- Kate Rutherford (@katerutherford)]