Congress is on recess for the whole month, leaving staffers to take a breather for the first time in many months.
My brother, Andrew, is itching to get out of sticky, humid DC and back to his beloved home - the Golden State - where sunshine meets crashing waves and mountains scrape the sky.
I'd been wanting to take my brother rock climbing for years, but somehow it never happened. We lived in different cities and barely got to catch up over holidays.
We'd both grown up hiking and visiting national and state parks, but I independently developed a love for climbing in college, which blossomed when I met my now husband who also dug the vertical life.
It seemed that this Congressional recess was the perfect time to get my brother on some rock for the first time.
Step 1: Acquire some shoes
We had an extra harness that would fit him, but no shoes that would work. So I called around...
Local climbing gyms?
Nope, can't take our shoes out of the building.
Local outdoor gear shops?
Nope, we don't rent shoes.
Hmmm... I really don't think my brother will want to throw down ~$100 on a pair of climbing shoes when he's never done it before.
Without any other options, we stopped off at REI on the way to Donner Pass and bought him the cheapest pair that fit - for $90. Ouch.
Step 2: Teach my brother to climb
We arrived at School Rock and led the 5.0 climbs at the base and set up some anchors. We showed Andrew how to put on the harness, reviewed the figure eight follow through knot and belay commands. After a few pointers, like focusing on using your feet for power and your arms for balance, he was off the ground.
I was thrilled to see him try something new and push through his fears. It was special to share my passion with him after all those years of sharing photos and stories without him having a point of reference.
Step 3: Hope my brother falls in love with climbing
I urged Andrew to make use of those spendy shoes by joining a climbing gym in DC. He did and he's loving climbing!
While the purchase of shoes ended up working out in the end, I kept thinking about how silly it was that I couldn't find shoes to rent in my area.
After poking around and pitching the idea to some climbing rep friends, I decided to take the plunge and bought some inventory.
1.5 years later, I found a partner shop (Last Minute Gear) to rent my climbing gear. LMG shares my values and vision for quality gear, service and sustainability. They also enable me to run this business while working full time at my day job. Hallelujah!
So that's the story.
Thanks, big bro. Climb on!