“I’m sick to my stomach,” K was telling me. Mine wasn’t doing too well either.

It was Thursday, July 9, a day before my departure date for a 9 day climbing trip and I was just getting the news that our trad rack of gear was possibly donated to a local charity who would have then sold it at their local thrift store.


Yes, that’s what I’d be saying right now if I were you, dear reader.  Well, we had known our rack was “missing” for a few days but naively thought it would show up as stuff sometimes did within our small but crowded place or within our circle of climbing friends. I had not been planning on bringing the rack on my trip as I had already arranged to use friends’ gear and leave the rack at home for K. We hadn’t used the trad rack in a while due to K’s knee surgery & the business of getting married & going on a honeymoon. However we had just done a big purge of the garage which included boxes of stuff for donation that we had formerly kept in the apartment.

K had called the charity’s headquarters and someone there said the manager of the thrift store had recalled seeing the blue bag of gear (we kept the trad rack in a blue freebie nylon bag). If that was so then the rack had been gone for about a month.

I went down to the local thrift store. I’d never been there before and the amount of people shopping mid-day on a weekday made my stomach sink even farther. If the rack had been put out to sell it would surely be gone by now. I talked to the manager who was a very nice guy but he didn’t remember seeing a blue bag. He told me that they put things out for sale the very next day after getting them.  I could see the “back room” and the very efficient sorting going on there, this really did not bode well. I spent the next few hours searching the store, checking the sports equipment area (things were very efficiently bagged and tagged), the electronics area, the toys, the knick knacks and clothing… basically everything, even a basket of belts. I checked the entire store twice, and was very methodical about it. I was hoping I might see just one cam though it was explained to me that they would have clear plastic bagged the whole set and sold it as one unit.

I eventually called K, hoping that since the manager I talked to did not recall seeing the blue bag that there was some kind of mistake. K called the headquarters again and was told the female manager was the one who remembered it. She came in on the weekends. The male manager told me he wished we had called sooner as they sometimes were able to locate things up to a week after getting them but generally things sold very fast.

I thought that even if a person didn’t know what a trad rack was they might buy it just because it looked neat. I didn’t let myself think of what it might have sold for but small working TV’s were going for $25.

I still needed to prepare for my trip and after talking to K and him saying he’d check with the weekend manager while I was gone I left to distractedly go food shopping.

This was terrible news. K was talking about giving up trad climbing (partly due to his knee though but that’s another story). I didn’t want to give up trad climbing but…  well, the first rack was partially built with pro deals and we didn’t have that option anymore.

What a way to start a trip.  We should’ve called the charity right away. We should have double checked the donation boxes, but we didn’t. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

July 20th, 2009 – My trip did get better from then so please continue reading for a more uplifting tale, but I am back from my trip & our rack is still missing. If you know anyone who bought a rack from a Ventura, California Thrift store, please have them contact me. We’ll pay them whatever they paid for it, plus a reward and our humble gratitude.