Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Don’t Forget to Look Out!

Stopping to absorb the Artistry on a day-hike in Yellowstone National Park


I’m a little better about it now, but when I first started climbing outdoors, I was notorious for climbing to the top of a route, getting lowered down, and then proceed to hear every person that climbed after me rave about the spectacular view they had when they turned around to take in the gorgeous views of the world around them.  I would tell myself as I was tying in and putting my shoes on, “Make sure you look out this time,” and invariably, it would not come to my mind again until I was back on the ground untying my knot and taking my shoes off again.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times my husband has yelled, “Don’t forget to look!” during my climb.  (Thankfully, he is both sensitive and smart enough not to time his yelling appropriately…)

The view from one of the upper pitches on Supernova (5.11a) in El Potrero Chico, Mexico

It’s not that I’m afraid to take my eyes off the rock and look out.  As soon as Steve yells up to me, I immediately turn and get an indescribable rush of beauty and wonder.  It’s just that I get so caught up with what I’m doing, that I forget to look around and see what else is going on around me. I feel like that’s how life is sometimes.  We get so inundated at work or so involved in a project of some sort, that we forget to stop and see what else is going on – to “stop and smell the roses,” as the old cliché goes.

The times that I forget to look out and just come right down – does that mean my whole day is ruined, that my climbing experience is somehow tainted?  No, of course not.  I move on to the next route and continue to have a fun day.  But can I ever get back that split second moment of child-like awe that I would have had if I would have remembered to turn around and look at the 360 degree panorama of the Blue Ridge mountains in full fall color?

Taking a break halfway up Deidre (5.8) in Squamish, British Columbia to bask in the surrounding beauty!

It’s the same with life – we can easily go through it focused on what is right in front of us, never turning around to see what’s going on behind us or out of the corner of our eye, but if that’s all we ever do, we will be missing out.  Maybe not missing out on some gigantic life changing event (although sometimes that may very well be the case), but missing out on the sweet smell of honeysuckle 5 feet off the path, a great conversation with a friend over coffee, or even watching your cat sleep in a precarious position on a shelf, wondering how on earth that could ever be considered comfortable.  So the next time you think of it, stop and look out.  You just never know what your missing if you don’t!  Anyone else feel this way?  When’s the last time you stopped to enjoy a small piece of beauty and wonder?

Spectacular sunset a little closer to home - from the top of Moore's Wall in NC


11 Responses to “Don’t Forget to Look Out!”

  1. christie

    read @ 10:18 am on 5-23-11 😉


  2. ok, now seriously great post and very true. Sometimes i get so wrapped up in trying to please everyone else that i forget about myself, it is something i am often criticized for but trying to improve upon for my own sanity. Life is too precious and the world too beautiful to miss the little things that make us glow on the inside.


    • “The little things that make us glow on the inside” – Christie I love that phrase 🙂

  3. Wonderful new post from @cragmama this morning who reminds us to stop and look around at the top of a #climb & in life:


  4. Thanks so much for sharing this, Erica! I think this is a great life lesson; we need to be present, and remember to take in everything around us. It certainly applies to climbing, but I find myself taking pause on my walk to work too! I’ll see trees I didn’t notice before, intricate stonework on some of Philly’s historic buildings, all sorts of stuff. It’s awesome 🙂


  5. Amen! I’m usually in a hurry to climb to the top and get back down before the kids start fighting, or before my youngest bails off a cliff or something… This is also why climbing ‘without’ kids can be good.


    • @Katie – Don’t you love how lessons learned while climbing can apply to “real life” as well?!?

      @Lindsey – You’re right kids definitely add a whole ‘nother level of distraction!

      Thanks for the comments, ladies!

  6. Don’t forget to stop and smell the granite? Avoiding tunnel vision in #climb ing and life from @Cragmama


  7. I totally agree. It’s hard to remember to appreciate the things (and people) around us when we get super focused on goals. It’s hard to remind yourself to chill out for a second and slow down, but usually it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the day. I just got back from a weekend at the New and on one of the days I belayed Melissa from the top of Ritz Cracker (a 5.9 trad route at Fern). I got to take my shoes off a sit under a shady tree with my feet over the edge of the cliff and watch rafters go down some wild rapids for 20 minutes. It was one of the best parts of the trip, especially once Melissa joined me at the top. Too bad I forgot the camera…


  8. Enjoyed this post; shared to FB. Keep up the great writing!


    • Erica

      Thanks for commenting and sharing on FB, Jeffrey! Glad you enjoyed the post!

Leave a Comment Life is in the conversation.


Your email will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN