As long as I can remember I’ve found great peace, and comfort in the outdoors. Whether it was hunting in the Catskills with my father as a young boy. Hiking the Adirondack mountains. Or climbing and skiing the Whites of New Hampshire. Adventure and exploration was always the quest. What I didn’t realize at that time was these experiences would shape who I am today.
After high school I decided to join the military. One of my proudest moments (if not the proudest) was earning the title United States Marine. I took all the skills my parents instilled in me and applied it to my time in the Marine Corps. It paid off immediately. I graduated top of my recruit class, earning the title of “Honor Man”. My military occupation specialty (MOS) was 0311. I was a grunt and damn proud of it. But then came the next crucible…
A group of 8 marines loaded up the trucks at zero dark hundred hours, and headed to our morning PT. I remember the sunrise was a blood red that morning, and you know what sailors say about “red at morn”… I was warned, but gave no quarter to its threat.
Tim Tuomey – Reconnaissance Man
Our destination was to take an indoctrination. A test that would once again redefine my relationship with the wilderness. I was taking the marine reconnaissance indoctrination to find out if I had what it took to become an elite marine. After taking the indoctrination TWICE, I was finally given the approval to join the battalion (2d Reconnaissance Battalion). I was assigned to the next recon indoctrination platoon (RIP). I trained with highly qualified and “motivated” NCO’s in the field craft of amphibious reconnaissance. Upon graduation from Amphibious Reconnaissance School (ARS) I finally earned the highly coveted MOS of 0321 – reconnaissance man (no kidding, that was it says on my service record book – r e c o n n a i s s a n c e m a n).
I was now entering a very intense experience in the outdoors. As recon marines we trained to live in the outdoors for days and weeks on end will little to no resupply. We operated in small teams in very dangerous places. We had to thrive in conditions most would shun. In the heat, cold, wet and the worst… Wet and cold! We had to adapt, adjust and overcome to execute the mission. ADAPT, ADJUST & OVERCOME. Those 3 words have become my American Express card in the wild.
Tim Tuomey – Beyond Active Duty
After my end of active service from the Marine Corps I wanted to live somewhere that had adventure written into its way of life. As a child I was always enamored by the west. California! I moved to California for one singular purpose… Adventure in the Sierra Nevada Mountains! That and the job market were pretty damn good in northern California. When I first visited the Sierra Nevada I went right to its temple. Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is considered to be the Mecca of the climbing world. There is not a climber on the planet that can argue with this sentiment. If they do, then they’ve never been to the granite kingdom. During my time in Yosemite I had the opportunity to climb it all, El Cap, Half Dome, The Cathedrals, Sentinel etc. I even worked on the YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) teams for a few years. During my time in the “valley” I got involved with putting up first ascents (FA). Another accelerator for my wilderness resume. Initially I put up many of my FA’s in Yosemite (proper) Valley. But to me Yosemite has become over crowded to the point where the wilderness seemed… Absent.. I needed to find a place remote and away from the mass’s, car horns, motorcycles etc…
In 2001 I moved my climbing camp(s) to an area called Hetch Hetchy. Hetch Hetchy is located in Yosemite National Park and was considered the true temple of the Sierra Nevada by John Muir. Not many climbers go back into this area due to the difficulty of logistics, and remoteness. Me, I had no problem with humping loads for a few weeks before setting off for my vertical expedition. And what an adventure some of these climbs turned out to be. Because this was a back-country area, it was difficult at times to recruit partners. I had no choice but to put up my climbs as a soloist. Now I had solo’d big walls in the valley (Yosemite proper); but this was different. In the valley you have access to services and help if need. In Hetch Hetchy I was 3 miles in the back-country, and alone. But with solitude comes a certain level of confidence and comfort or you will never adapt to the situation(s). While staging gear and even on the climbs I began to find a new strength in this solitude and separation from the world. This strength was not a tough guy mindset. Instead it was a type of simpatico of sorts with my environment. No matter how tough things got – heat, cold, rain, snow – I stood confident that all was going to be OK, and I would get through it to complete this mission. I was big wall soloing and excelling at it.
Was there anything I couldn’t do…