Feeling Like Rich Gumbies

Frozen water pipes and stolen climbing gear. What do these two things have in common?

After graduating college and securing my first full-time job, my wife and I bought a house in Rexburg, ID. We signed the papers for the house on one of the coldest months of the year, January. Within that month, our 90-year-old water pipes froze and burst. To make a long story short, our insurance company wrote us a $2,000 check to fix the damages.

During our homeless-climbing tour this last fall, our climbing gear was stolen while we were enjoying the granite cracks at Joshua Tree National Park in California. Over $3,500 worth of climbing gear was taken. The gear was both new and old, from 2 weeks brand new to 5 years warn-out. No matter the age, that gear was sentimental. A certain cam that held strong on a hard fall wore a kink in its wire as a sign of its loyalty, while a certain pair of shoes showed a rounded toe because of its hard work in helping break the 5.12 barrier.

Piecing together a beautiful rack that met our everyday climbing needs, took some time. Like the siblings of a large family, each piece of gear was of a different age, had it’s own scars, and told it’s own story. They came one by one and not all together. Looking at the “family portraits” (aka racked gear) one would see a shiny new addition every so often amongst the tattered and used pieces. This means that mommy and daddy got lucky…or a bonus.

But luck isn’t always the factor. One month after the incident, our insurance company sent us a check for almost $3,000 to replace the stolen property. Boy did we have fun pressing the checkout button on the REI website.

I don’t really care to know what frozen water pipes and stolen climbing gear have in common. All I know now is that it feels good to have a complete rack of gear again, even if it makes me feel like a rich gumbie that is cutting the tags off of his gear at the base of the crag.