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CT BLOG » Climbing

My name is TJ Maurer,  I live in Chattanooga, TN, and I am a sales rep for Fayettechill. My wife and I moved to Tennessee 5 years ago not for a job or out of necessity.  We moved here because where we are now, while I am writing this, is...

One of our Sales Reps TJ Maurer, On Balance in Work & Play

My name is TJ Maurer,  I live in Chattanooga, TN, and I am a sales rep for Fayettechill. My wife and I moved to Tennessee 5 years ago not for a job or out of necessity.  We moved here because where we are now, while I am writing this, is exactly where we wanted to be – which is a whole other idea of serendipity we can talk about on a long drive or around a campfire one evening.

 

I climb rocks, I ride bikes through the foothills, I chase trout, I run about both visible and invisible trails through forests, I sleep in my truck, I have two chickens, and when I am not doing any of that, I rep for outdoor brands that I believe in.  I escape to the mountains as often as I am able, which seems to motivate me to work as hard as I can while in town, which then leads to anticipation and drive for more play. Both the love of home and the strive for balance in all facets of life seem to be two similarities shared with Fayettechill, myself, and countless other individuals.

Seeking balance in life is a simple idea, ancient and easy to practice, yet seemingly overlooked. I strive for a balance of work and play, of urbanscapes and natural environments.  A balance of encircling myself among like minded individuals and also those who think differently.  I see it pretty simply – I work hard and, thus, play hard.

 

 

 

But there is an imbalance in work and play that is two sided. On one hand, those who despise their job. Problem doesn’t lie with the 40-hour work week, but within the increasing number of people who settle for situations they detest. On the other side, those who deny jobs all together, a generation of social media enthusiasts quitting their job, living out of a van, and traveling to see the world. I’ve done this myself and I can assure you I would make the decision to travel and drop everything again, again, and even again. However, we have begun to romanticize people dropping everything and unsubscribing to the conventional way of thought previous generations laid out before us. If one thinks a bit more about the consequences of this lifestyle, especially if we all lived this way… we would not exist, the luxuries we have would not be available, and there would be absolutely no way to live in vans and chase adventure.

I hope I portrayed both sides of the equation fairly here.  The main point I want to make is that both ways of living are not mutually exclusive.  We can work a conventional job, even a 9-5 one, but find balance through habitual satisfaction of our wanderlust. I think the simplest way to practice this balance starts by appreciation of the zip code you live in.

Since living in Chattanooga, my concept of vacation has changed. Now when on vacation, I do not dread that last day or even the day leading to that last day of the vacation, the long road back home and the restart of daily life.  It could be because our vacations are adventures in the woods, the high desert, or lesser known coastlines – all generally without warm showers.  At the end of it all, our return to the daily grind is coupled with the return to our hometown of undulating trails, warm hued southern sandstone, overwhelming vitality of the Appalachian foothills, a community of some of our best friends, and warm showers.  

 

I imagine it to be no different for the folks at Fayettechill. They adventure all around the world, climbing mountains, fishing rivers, and surfing waves.  Despite their near utopian travels and weeks abroad, I can safely bet they long for Fayetteville at the end of it all.  They are motivated and inspired to realign themselves with their work and continuing to better themselves, the company and those around them upon returning.

Despite working a “real job”within the real economy, we can still attempt to inspire both ourselves and others through the other 80 hours a week. We can still take post worthy pictures, we can still embellish the already pretty awesome stories around the campfire. We can still strive to create – create photos, stories, climbs, trails, flies, gardens, and shiny new bikes. We can stop wasting time thinking about greener grasses and see the absolute best in where we are and where we are going.  We can love the home and community we chose to reside, grow, and learn within.  We can be involved a bit more than we maybe feel comfortable doing and meet a few more people outside our social circle. Hell, maybe have a beer with them. These are things we can do. These are things we should strive to do as people and organizations and collectives of people. As we do it, we motivate others to do the same. We play hard and work harder, all for an end goal to leave this planet a little better off than we came into it. We all take a personal responsibility to inspire ourselves and those around us. We aspire to be a collection of individual who value both the journey and the destination.

Words & Photos by TJ Maurer | @ticklejeans

Raise your hand if you've ever wanted to try rock climbing, but just haven't found the time to do it yet. I see you over there. Go ahead. Admit it.  Nashville is lucky enough to have an amazing local climbing gym and climb community here, but many people are intimidated...

Team Green Tuesdays: Rock Climbing Night!

Raise your hand if you've ever wanted to try rock climbing, but just haven't found the time to do it yet. I see you over there. Go ahead. Admit it. 

Nashville is lucky enough to have an amazing local climbing gym and climb community here, but many people are intimidated to go for the first time. That's why our friends at Team Green Adventures started their Beginners Climb Night every Tuesday night at Climb Nashville West.


If you're a Team Green Adventures member you'll get admission into the facility, belay lesson, and rental gear all for just $12 (normally a $37 value). Not a member? Come on Tuesday nights and still get in for just $17 with Team Green Adventures. Click to find out more about Team Green Adventures Membership.

 

Already a climber? Don't forget to check out our climbing gear online, or head into the Cumberland Transit store on West End Ave. in Nashville to check out our selection. We'd love to help you find the gear you need for your indoor or outdoor climbing needs. 

Wind whips across my cheek making my delicate position seem more precarious. It feels like a maelstrom compared to the enjoyable breeze I experienced on the hike to the base of this sea of granite. I glance over to spot a weakness in the rock. My hip cramps as I...

Lessons Learned While off the Ground

Wind whips across my cheek making my delicate position seem more precarious. It feels like a maelstrom compared to the enjoyable breeze I experienced on the hike to the base of this sea of granite. I glance over to spot a weakness in the rock. My hip cramps as I hike my left leg up and stab desperately towards a small edge.

            A few hours prior, this edge was of no importance to me. I was not even aware of the existence of this small grey seam. Now, in the present moment, nothing else matters. A few miles of hiking and scanning over the topo maps of the wall did not promote any conversation about this fold. Even studying the pitch by pitch breakdown did not leave me thinking twice about it. The duality of present moment focus neighboring a huge amount of awareness creates a fire and ice reaction that I find incredibly addicting. Weeks of planning, watching the weather, reading trip reports, and the expectations created during the approach all clear like a heavy fog as soon as your feet leave the ground. Nothing else in my experience brings life's duality so close to the surface. However, this partnership provides a glimpse to the dualism I find in the rest of the world. Loneliness and companionship. Rich and poor. Depression and elation. Good and evil.

            The left foot opens up a realm of possibilities. It provides access to a myriad of handholds. A calming assurance flows through me as I drive off the foothold up to a large shelf in the rock. In a moment, the the importance of the foot will have disappeared from my consciousness. This progression and flow of time reflect the movement that happens in our life. Movement is inescapable. We may drag our nails and stamp our feet, but movement happens nonetheless. The sages among us have learned not to fight it, but to harness it like a skilled sailor does with the wind.

            The next handhold looks promising. I twist my hips and hug close to the wall to maximize my reach. My fingers find greasy polished rock. My stomach turns and I am airborne. The indifference of the rock actual comes as a comfort to me, once again a parallel to the rest of life. The mountain does not decide when to unleash an avalanche. A storm cell does not wait until you reach the crux pitch to erupt in a thunderstorm. The hold did not shrink in size and become greasy during my moment of need. The only force that I can pilot is my own

            I pull my weary body to a small ledge. I spend a brief moment locating several cracks and then dig through my gear to find the appropriate piece of protection. The rope feels heavy as I pull up slack to the belay. Normally, belays feels like a safe haven. The difficulty of the pitch below has been conquered. The ledge and equalized anchor mean protection until the next push into the unknown. My mind and body take a brief rest as I belay my partner up. However, despite the rest and safety there is always one belay where I feel so lost. I want nothing more than solid ground. I want my harness to be hanging in my gear closet instead of chafing my waist. I want a cheeseburger.

As more and more slack piles across my lap, the impending certainty of the next pitch grows. In that moment, I want escape. There is so much work ahead, so much work that has already been done. I want to quit. My partner reaches the ledge, jarring about the quality of movement in the last pitch and his elation to have arrived at the station. I gaze at the next pitch, check my knot, sigh heavily, and begin moving upwards yet again. This feeling is one that comes all too often in life. The things we love and that make us come alive can easily be viewed as a chore minutes later. The wear and tear of life can corrode our greatest treasures, but, only if we let it

            Everything just flows. My head and emotions have re-centered themselves. Instinct takes over and moving up this sheer rock face has become as easy as floating downstream a gentle river. The original difficulty I felt in leaving the belay ledge has become completely unfounded. Such is the case in the rest of my life. Shedding off the wear and tear and hindrances is one of the things at the core of the human element. Often this does not resemble an act of hero, rather, it looks more like someone rolling out of bed. However, before you can blink we are off the floor and wide awake. Taking this "first step" becomes easier after repeatedly going through this process.

            The sun is barely starting to touch the pines on the ridge to the west of the summit. I stare out. Both the awareness and focus can rest. Movement keeps going despite my accomplishment, and despite my feeling of rest. The mountain does not feel conquered, nor does it applaud my labors. Everything is done, and it was done for it's own sake. This is perhaps my favorite thing about climbing and perhaps something that draws me towards writing. There is no prize, fame, or any other form of rewards. There are lessons learned and memories made. These are the reasons I climb. These are the reasons that I write. These are the reasons that I love. These are the things worth living for.

 

---Keith Erps is one of our ambassadors on loan to the Pacific Northwest for an undetermined amount of time.  While there he likes to ride bikes, climb mountains, and drink really good coffee.

  Cumberland Transit has been a Nashville staple since 1971.  If you ask a native Nashvillian where to go to find quality outdoor gear and knowledgeable staff, they will inevitably tell you to head to Cumberland Transit on West End.  They either know, Allen “The Godfather”, Ronnie “Grumpy”, or “Bungalow...

THE CUMBERLAND TRANSIT EXPERIENCE

 

Cumberland Transit has been a Nashville staple since 1971.  If you ask a native Nashvillian where to go to find quality outdoor gear and knowledgeable staff, they will inevitably tell you to head to Cumberland Transit on West End.  They either know, Allen “The Godfather”, Ronnie “Grumpy”, or “Bungalow Bill” in footwear.  CT is a perfect example of a successful locally owned business.  It is the exact opposite of big box stores and franchised businesses.   At CT we consider Nashville our family.  Just like a regular family, you take care of your loved ones and as part of our family, we want to take care of you.  This means that we aren’t trying to sell you gear you don’t need or don’t want.  If we don’t have what you need and can’t order it, by all means go to a competitor and take care of yourself.  We believe that a successful business is not about selling the most products, but reaching your customers on a deeper level and building a relationship of trust.  If we can do this, we trust that you will come back even if it is just to say hello.  Every week we get people coming in the store who got their first bike from us and are now buying one for their son or daughter.  These are the kind of relationships we cherish.  


If you have the time, we want you to leave the store more knowledgeable than when you opened the door.  We staff each section with experts who have years of experience.  Our staff includes road and off-road bike racers, yoga instructors, rock climbing guides, ski instructors, Appalachian Trail thru hikers, fly fishing guides, ice climbers, and this just scratches the surface.  If you know what you need and want to get in and out fast, then we will gladly point you in the right direction.  Otherwise, we use the gear we sell and are more than happy to talk about it and share our knowledge.  We don’t want you to just survive your next adventure, but thrive having the knowledge and the best gear possible.  Please come in and check us out whether you are just visiting or are a Nashville native.  Check us out on Facebook and as always stay venture ready!

 

Until next time,

Phil

After spending the last 6 years working in Utah and taking advantage of the infinite outdoor adventure opportunities, I’ve moved to Nashville to start another chapter in my life. The 1,631 mile drive was not the first time I’ve traveled across the country to search for new life experiences. It...

Phil's Finds

After spending the last 6 years working in Utah and taking advantage of the infinite outdoor adventure opportunities, I’ve moved to Nashville to start another chapter in my life. The 1,631 mile drive was not the first time I’ve traveled across the country to search for new life experiences. It was a little nerve racking, and there was plenty of apprehension & second guessing. Still, absolutely every time I’ve gone outside my comfort zone and taken a risk, it has been rewarded with inner growth, wonderful new friends, beautiful and different scenery, and exciting opportunities.

 

 


Upon arriving in Nashville, I immediately wondered who the adventurers were, what they were doing and where were they doing it. Nashville is known for a lot of things but not as a mecca for high outdoor adventure. Everyone I asked talked about Chattanooga, Asheville, and Red River Gorge as the closest places to find high adventure. But, with a full time job and limited free time, I then asked the question, what can we do right here? The common answer is typically, “not much.” Then I think and skeptically ask “why not?” I realize that there aren’t mountains and roaring rivers like Colorado, or picturesque slot canyons like Utah and Arizona, but we must have the opportunity for adventure. We have to be more creative in how we seek our outdoor thrills because we don’t have huge expanses of open land. In a city of foodies, up and coming musicians, dive and hip new bars, the adventurer has to look at the world in a different way to find their outlets. It could be anything from trail running, slack lining in your backyard, rappelling some local cliffs, or attempting to boulder a large rock you find while hiking. The adventures are here, but we have to search through the urban expanse to spot them.

 


This past week I found my first adventure in the Nashville area. People had told me about some cliffs by the Cumberland River where you can rappel and even do a little bit of climbing. I was a little skeptical, but always open to exploring new areas. Since it has been months since I’ve been rappelling, I, of course, had to make sure that all my climbing gear was set and organized (in case my new acquaintances were right). Remember, plan ahead and prepare so that you are ready for anything. For that matter, be careful to assess your own abilities and don’t even attempt an effort like this until you get proper training and the right safety equipment.

 

Every travelogue mentions how it’s about the journey and not the destination, but can’t it be both? I came to this place to rappel and ended up finding an environment that looked more like Ireland than one you’d find within a 30 minute drive of Nashville. Just look at these beautiful unspoiled clumps of soft green moss in the middle of winter!

 

Here I’m preparing for descent down the cliff. If you look closely you can see the remnants of a fire showing others have ventured here before me and have possibly experienced how wonderful food tastes out in the open. Chacos on, water knots tied, and an equalized anchor, I was almost ready for my adventure to begin.

 

Just out of sight of this picture is one more ledge to stand on. It’s actually the perfect transition into rappelling. Fortunately for me, it was necessary so that I could safely check to make sure that my rope hit the ground. Luckily I had about 15 feet to spare, making this a 135’ rappel. Always make sure your rope hits the ground before you start your descent.

 

This rappel is going to be a little different during the summer. Can you guess why? Not sure if this is kudzu, but it’s going to be a bit more problematic getting through this leafed out growth during the summer. The main beta (technical tips) for this rappel is to kick out just before getting to the ivy and rappel really quickly until you are past it.

 

Just as we were calling it a day and getting ready to head home, we were rewarded with the site of this huge and silent barge that happened to be passing by. It was a true reminder of the power of nature. The Cumberland River carved the cliffs that we just rappelled and continues to provide an effective means of commercial transport to this day.

 

Technical Gear

Bluewater II 7/16” Static Rope 150’

Bluewater 1” Tubular Webbing 50’

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond ATC-XP Belay/Rappel Device

Black Diamond RockLock Carabiner

Black Diamond Super 8 Belay/Rappel Device 2014

Patagonia Down Sweater

Chaco Z/2 Unaweep Sandal

 

Until the next find,

 

Phil Fair

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