By the seat of my pants

I’ve been climbing for 17 years. In that time, I’ve done many routes and problems all over the country which I’m proud of. But when I think about what defines me as a climber, it isn’t my hardest and scariest sends but rather how many times I’ve been able to thoroughly and completely embarrass myself while climbing. And for a reason I think I can explain, these moments are all centered around the butt of my pants.

I’ll go in chronological order. About 8 years ago, I went bouldering at Emerald Lake in RMNP with my then boyfriend/now husband (let’s call him Wilbur). We had separate projects at separate boulders, so after we warmed up, I took off to another boulder with three other guys that wanted to work on the same problem. After some effort I finally sent and had started the slightly tall but very easy top out when I heard one of the guys below say “Um, you have a hole in your pants.” Now, I was aware of the fact that I had a pin prick of a hole on one cheek of the butt of my pants. Assuming that this was what they were talking about, I yelled down at them that I was aware of the hole and that I wasn’t worried about it. Afterwards, I went back to Wilbur, let him know that I had triumphed over the boulder problem, and we packed up and headed out for the long hike followed by the long drive home. Once we arrived at home, I took my pants off to take a shower and finally saw the hole the guy was talking about.

It wasn’t a hole. It was a rift in the space-time continuum. The seam adjoining the back of my waistband with the crotch of my pants was completely blown. I easily fit my head through it. And all I could think of was my cavalier response to my spotters acknowledgment of the situation and what a dummy I must have sounded like. I showed Wilbur, we laughed, and I wrote it off as a one time incidence. I was wrong about the rate of recurrence.

34The next incident happened at the Satellite boulders in Boulder. I had gone to try to finish a nasty little problem called Re-Entry Burn. I have put in over 100 attempts on this pile to date and, due to my recent foot surgery, I will most likely never send. *pause for a moment of bittersweet reflection* Anyway, once again, Wilbur wanted to work on a different problem so I ambled over to my project and found three guys working on it. I asked if I could join them and promptly got to work at getting shut down. After about an hour of enthusiastic attempts and asking them for power spots, I conceded yet another day of failure on the four move problem and headed back over to Wilbur. He took a look at the back of my pants for some reason and said, “What in the hell have you been doing??!!”

I looked at him with wide-eyed innocence. “What do you mean?”

“Your pants look like you’ve been mauled by a bear.”

He was right, this wasn’t an ordinary hole. It really did look like a vicious three clawed predator had taken a swipe at my butt. My immediate reaction was fury. I yelled over at the guys I had just been climbing with on the other side of the Flesh Fest boulder.

“Why didn’t you tell me my pants were blown out?”

A single sheepish reply, “We thought you knew.”

Uh huh. I had just spent an hour making these strangers feel keenly uncomfortable while power spotting me with my fanny in their faces. The rest of that day involved me feebly trying to climb with a jacket tied around my waist. Needless to say, there would be no sending for your courageous author that day. My thoughts on the hike out were filled with wonder as to how I managed a repeat performance of the RMNP incident. The one time occurrence was sadly turning into my shtick.

35The last episode of my butt baring escapades happened a few years ago at Area D at Mt. Evans. It was so exhausting just getting in and out of Area D that the details have become a little fuzzy to me. In a nutshell, it was discovered that yet again, I managed to rip a colossal hole in the butt of my pants. There weren’t many people there that day, so I tried to bravely forge on ahead with trying to climb at that altitude with a drafty derriere. But while working the top out of the problem I wanted to send, my friend Jackie walked around the boulder at the precise moment when I was milking a sweet high heel hook and caught a glimpse of naked cheek. All I remember was her saying something to the effect of, “Sheez, Amy, seriously?” It was so cold that I couldn’t think of sacrificing one of my jackets to my cause of modesty. Instead, I made Wilbur go behind a boulder with me and give me his underwear for the rest of the day. (Coincidentally, he climbed strong that day. Correlation?)

36I know what you’re thinking now. What on earth does this idiot do to blow out the butt of her climbing pants so frequently? After much deliberation, I believe the answer is in the fact that I am the world’s suckiest hiker. I’m so bad I could win awards at inept hiking. Any trail or boulder in a talus field approaching a decline of more than 5 degrees has me scooting on my butt like a dog with worms. I have no shame when it comes to a good rump descent on a hike out. I truly believe I was born devoid of quads, and I have sprained both ankles so many times that muppet ankles have more stability than mine. When you have these adversities working against you, you either scoot on your butt, thereby distressing the fabric of your pants, or wear a helmet and shoulder pads on every approach. And while I would rock the shoulder pads, I don’t look good in a helmet.

So there you have it. I am a boulderer that has a propensity for mooning people because I possess the leg strength of Kermit the Frog. I also have an aversion to foods that come in basic geometric shapes, but I’ll save that last nugget of info for another time.

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