First a comment to RG: we climbed adjacent to one another one day this fall. You were on Alphonse as I recall. What was obvious from the way you moved up was the relaxed fluidity that speaks to years of experience. Lingering effects of your knee operation were not outwardly visible.

I can also speak of injuries, although mine happened in the late fall of 2011. A loss of footing, a popped cam, and I went ass over teakettle into an oak with my back hard enough to break a scapula. So my spring start-up was slow as I nursed a weak back and a weakened sense of confidence. Add to that the awkward schedule of working alternating semesters in Oregon and New York and I barely got out to the Gunks at all before September. The little I did on May was cautious and with trepidation.

But my time in the west this summer was great. While there's certainly volcanic choss in the Cascades, I've begun to learn about the stellar climbing on the basalts at Trout Creek mesa. I also indulged my pleasure in summiting snowy peaks. The highlight of this year's mountaineering came when I climbed with an old friend in Idaho and we put together a line on the East face of Borah Peak that he'd been eyeing for over three decades. Completing the route meant climbing over a dozen pitches of rock, snow, and even 25 m of water ice in a gully, surviving a cavalcade of rocks unintentionally showered down on us by trundlers on the summit, weathering an afternoon snow squall, and completing a descent as tedious as any in the Rockies before making it back to camp by headlamp after 18 hours on the go.

The positive note to the autumn didn't have so much to do with my climbing achievements as with my climbing attitude. When I came back east, I was without a regular partner. By good fortune I met up with an engineering student who has been interning in an upstate plant. We only teamed up for a few trips together, but his enthusiasm and willingness to hang it out there in one onsight attempt after another helped light a fire under me. It was a hoot to re-visit some of the classics in the Trapps and the Nears and swing leads with someone excited by the challenge of devouring as many multi-starred routes as possible in a day. Now, if I can only keep that high energy level going until spring….