Jen Vennon: A Rock Climbing Proposal Story
Not My Everyday Climbing Warm-up
October 6th started like any other Saturday in of my life. I slept in until 9:00 am, feeling no need to rush to the crag. It was a bit chilly after all and I’d had a long week at work. After coffee and some good ol’ internet-ing Anderw and I headed out to Rifle with Brooklyn, the wonder pup, in tow.
The drive out was especially beautiful with crisp fall colors, blue skies, and a sense of the oncoming winter in the air. It was chilly, but climbing in the sun would be amazing.
As we pulled into Rifle I could see our friends climbing in the sun in their tank tops. Not a soul could be found in the shade so I was a bit surprised when Andrew suggested that we warm up at our normal location… devoid of sunshine and warmth.
“Come on, it’ll be fine,” he said. “Be tough!”
I reluctantly agreed to belay him, secretly thinking that as soon as he finished this freezing mission I’d high tail it to the sunny wall. I’d done this same warm-up at least 600 times in the last six years of my life. I didn’t need to freeze my fingers off today.
Andrew came down from Rehabilitator and began pulling his rope. I began packing my bag.
“You have to climb this one!” he said.
“Why?” I whined.
“Just do it Jen, it’ll be good,” he argued.
“But I don’t want to… let’s go climb in the sun where it’s happy.” I replied.
That’s when Andrew threw down the ultimate convincer for someone like me. “You have to do it because I don’t want my climbing partner to be a pussy,” he said.
Damn it, now I had to climb it. You just can’t let a statement like that go without a response.
Begrudgingly I tied in and put on my shoes. I did not however take off my down jacket! It was so cold.
“By the way, I put an extra carabineer up there, can you bring that down?” Andrew said as I left the ground. That sounded a bit strange to me, but whatever, I just wanted to get this over with.
About half way up the route I couldn’t feel my fingers. Two thirds of the way and I was numb to my wrists. By the time I was approaching my anchors I’d lost all feeling in my forearms as well.
Then I pulled into the final stance and looked up at the anchors. There was an extra carabineer up there, but it was a key chain carabineer. I remember thinking, “Wow, I hope he didn’t lower off that thing, it isn’t very safe at all!”
But then I looked a little closer and realized that there was a diamond ring hanging from the carabineer. Like an actual ring, with diamonds on it, just hanging there looking benign. I’d climbed this route at least 600 times, and I’d never seen anything like that hanging up there.
Without realizing what was really going on I took the ring and carabineer off of the anchors and clipped it to my harness. Then I very carefully clipped the rope into the anchors before allowing the situation to truly sink in.
“What is this?” I shouted down to Andrew. (Truth be told I actually used a much more profane statement than that, but it wasn’t very romantic so I’m taking liberty to edit the story at this point.) I’m a little dense and hadn’t quite figured out what was happening.
“What’s your answer?” Andrew shouted back. What’s my answer… to what?
“What’s your question?” I replied, at bit anxious at this point.
“Will you marry me?” he screamed.
“Yes, yes, yes,” I hollered back. “Let me down!”
By the time I got to the ground I was shaking, both out of being unbelievably surprised and also freezing cold.
Ever since that moment I’ve been nothing but smiles and joy. Turns out that the 600 and somethingth time up my warm-up was the most memorable climb of my life.
~ Jen Vennon, prAna Ambassador