Monday, May 18, 2015

Ice Ice Baby


Woah.  I needed that one. 

Climbing has been teaching me a lot about humility and self-examination in the light and context of failure lately.  For about two months now I have been absolutely failing-in great fashion I might add-but still failing to complete any of my climbing based objectives.  I’m not one of those emotional freaks whose happiness is connected to his climbing performance; well maybe a little, but it is daunting to pour so much of myself (time, money, effort) into an activity and not see a return on my investment, and yet therein lies the fallacy of climbing.  The fallacy in which people (or maybe just me) only view or have been viewing success in climbing as clipping chains or topping out.  When really the return on my investment is the slow progress, the learning, the fitness, that all comes on the road to clipping those chains or topping that boulder out.  The development of that never-die, always stay positive, I’m not going to quit attitude that really has no other choice but to evolve during the process of becoming a more confident, physically fit, technically sound climber.  And yet, it seems to be predicated on the universal truth of balance, where you need success in your life to realize your potential to keep building that momentum needed for the ‘next step’ which can never come into full existence without the process of failure.  They hold hands in the fact that they are both fueled by motivation and incentive.  It’s really just a simple positive feedback loop where constant failure eventually leads to success which leads to more and more failure and greater and greater success.  It’s quite beautiful really.   I’m just beginning to see this beauty in climbing and now when I clip the chains on a project (which hasn’t been happening very often lately) I am euphoric and also looking ahead.  Looking to that next step, that next challenge, and realizing that this is never going to be finished.  I will never be finished with climbing. 

So this past weekend I finally sent a project, Vanilla Ice at Little si.  It’s a stepping stone but an important one and a route that I battled on for three weekends.  I started off with absolutely terrible beta and this made the bottom crux miserable.  I received a piece of beta from my friend Nick who had just completed Black Ice and had projected Vanilla last summer and at first I thought he was crazy and I knew it wouldn’t work but I tried it anyway and haven’t fallen on that crux since.  Climbing is fucking brilliantly, frustratingly, enigmatically beautiful and complex in a sense so subtle as to be unnoticeable by the people not in its inner circle.  Moving my hand literally six inches down from where I was placing it turned this awkward and strenuous crux into a sequence I now rather enjoy and look forward to doing.  So that piece of the puzzle unexpectedly fell into place but then there was the matter of the middle and upper crux.  I wasn’t worried about the upper crux (which I would later come to find out was a huge mistake) so instead I worked on the middle crux, dialing in the foot work and rehearsing the sequence until I was comfortable with my beta.  On links I would start falling going to the elf ear, and then as soon as I latched the elf ear I started falling at the top.  Another big mistake I made was assuming my beta was fine and that it was a fitness issue and the more I tried it the easier it would get.  Well, this approach was neither correct nor efficient and I was starting to fall at the top, a lot, getting one move closer each time.  Until finally I had had ENOUGH!  I fell going to the last hold yesterday and I said, I’m doing this top part five times in a row and figuring out what’s going on.  I had kevin lower me and I did the move five times, starting a little lower each go.  This worked brilliantly.  I started paying attention to the little things, hand movements, foot placements, and noticed that on the last move where I was falling, a small drop knee into the wall made the move feel worlds easier.  I did it a few more times and then lowered and knew I was going to send next go.  Waiting around for that next burn went from awesome over-confidence and hubris to nervous expectation and clumsy excitement.  I started up the route one more time, not feeling great but trying to really focus in on my objective and keep my mind blank except for what it was I had to do.  I climbed through the crux involving a wet side pull, snagged the elf ear and clipped wiping my wet hand on my pants, and then breathing through the next sequence until I was matching the sloper rail.  I got my foot up like I rehearsed, turned the knee into the wall, and crushed it. 

What a relief. 

I was super happy, elated, euphoric!  Finally completing a new line at little si, and one that will open up several routes.  I tried not to celebrate too much but that post send bliss had me smilin’ ear to ear like a goof ball.  Victory beer, cookie, and banana and an hour later I was booting up for Black Ice.  At this point I was just running on pure stoke and unbridled happiness and satisfaction and I really had no expectation whatsoever.  I didn’t even really believe I would get through the bottom crux of propaganda.  I pulled on and started climbing and just completely had no idea what I was doing but somehow everything just clicked and even though I’m sure I looked terrible on the route I managed to repeat it and climb into the extension.  I was surprised when I actually felt somewhat recovered at the mega-jug and launched into the crux sequence.  As soon as I started to bring my feet up for the last hard stab I chicken winged harshly and came off, the wet sidepull didn’t help but I was also pretty pumped.  But also extremely psyched!  I jugged back up and with little rest I fired the crux and sent it one hang style!  Holy shit I thought, this might go pretty quickly.  I lowered back down and despite feeling very satisfied I also felt worked but thought if I rested for an hour or so I could have another window of opportunity.  I got to the same point where I had fallen previously and I had felt significantly more tired so even though I knew I didn’t have a chance it’s a very promising sign to have climbed that high on the route while feeling fatigued.  I’m so stoked right now its hard to keep a lid on my excitement.  Vanilla and Black Ice were two of the routes at the top of my list for this season so to have one of them in the bag and the other one on its way is super motivating for me. 

I’ve been training really hard lately in 3day chunks in the middle of the week.  Before this last week I had been feeling progressively wrecked each week.  I had this strange soreness in my forearms for two weeks where I would wake up in the morning and bend my fingers back on my hand and feel this intense soreness and pain in my forearm muscles.  I finally decided to take a week and dedicate it to resting.  I took three days off from climbing which is the most I’ve taken in 5 months.  I trained one day and had a good hangboard session then had another rest day with a killer one hour massage.  On my return to climbing this past Saturday I did not feel like I was in amazing shape but I also felt physically the best I have felt in a long time.  As the day wore on the fitness started to return and I was psyched that I had decided to rest, it seemed like it was paying dividends already just in the way I felt overall. When Sunday-Senday rolled around I got out of bed and felt GREAT.  High energy, high psych, and driving out to Little si I just felt good and in really good spirits as well.  I had kind of given myself over to the process and thought if it doesn’t go today I’ve got all the time in the world.  I warmed up really well flying up Techno and feeling good and full of energy.  I rested briefly and then got on the project.  Although I felt a bit shaky there I was again staring at the last move, I was so nervous I reached for the finishing pocket and flew off the wall burying my face in my hands.  This is when I made a conscious decision to change what I was doing.  And it worked.  Commit to change, be open minded, and resolve to give yourself over to the process. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ledgelife


Little si Update:

This past weekend was another great cragging weekend with some good sends.  Saturday was a tad warm, but as the afternoon moved along the wall actually got some nice shade and cooler temps prevailed.  Jesse Warren, local crusher turned honorary Canadian and now back in the PNW polished off Enigma (5.13d) first try of the day after previously being on it a mere three times.  After receiving some stellar beta from my friend Nick I made amazing progress on my project Vanilla Ice (5.13a) going from completely stumped to one hanging it, but it wasn't meant to be and the closest I got was two moves from the top.  Nick came close on Black Ice falling at the very top, and Jimmy made great progress on Vanilla Ice as well.  Newcomer Jon sent Technorigine in very good form and with the quickness. 

There is now new hardware on Enigma, and a once previously forgotten route Sweet Tooth(5.12b) is now equipped with hardware as well and is seeing some serious traffic.  Some random perma-draws have shown up on Psychowussy and Rainy Day and have been the cause of some consternation.  I understand the draws on Rainy Day, even though there are only two, they are both located at the two cruxes of the route.  The ones on Psychowussy are a little more confusing seeing as how there is really no need to equip Pyschowussy with permadraws.  But in any even they are up and someone spent the money and thought it was worth it. 

Sunday was a bit cooler but not by much, however the wall remained nice and chilled again as the afternoon grew on and we found ourselves donning puffy jackets and head gear.  Some major ascents went down on Sunday with Nick polishing off Black Ice(5.13b), super proud!  And another casual ascent by Jon, who redpointed Californicator(5.12d) but just kept on going for the link up Californication(5.13a) and made it look downright easy.  Congrats to both Jon and Nick for taking down two of Little Si’s finest 5.13’s.  I was unable to join the sending spree but made even more minute progress on Vanilla Ice falling on (literally) the last hard move.  Oh well, sometimes that’s just how the game goes.  I’m excited to get back on it with my new beta and the knowledge that I can definitely climb this rig.  Kevin sent Bust the Move on his beta burn of Vanilla Ice, doing all the moves quickly and looking rather solid. 

The wall continues to be dry with just very small spots of seepage on particular routes.  Whore of Babylon for instance has a wet undercling, the incut crimp sidepull on blackice is seeping a bit with little to no consequence, and other than that I haven’t heard of any other wet or seeping holds.    

The forecast looks a little grizzly for this week with the majority of precipitation occurring on Tuesday (calling for a half inch of rain) and Wednesday (calling for a third of an inch), but after that a chance of precipitation lingers on both Thursday and Friday but it doesn’t look like it will cause too much of a concern.  Saturday and Sunday both look cloudy with hints of sun here and there but the good news, barring the chance that the oncoming rain will dampen some routes, is the fact that the temps will drop back down into the sixties and thus open another good friction window.  We will just have to wait and see.









Friday, May 8, 2015

Magnanimous




 In the wake of the realization ensued from an inferno of fuming capacious and rigorous thought, it is not I that stakes his life on the success of others.  I’m here, present.  I was trained for what in my life, I do not know.  I followed organically a calling that was not spiritual, or traditional.  It grew inside of me and do not know why.  Distracted, yes.  But this is me.  I can try to do better.  And I feel that I have, but what is it that keeps me slipping back into that primordial ooze?  Genetic infrastructure; the scaffolding of DNA strands hardwired to induce some kind of transitive state.  I’m here, now I’m gone.  On writing well.  It is hard to write truthfully with someone in the backseat.  I want to be a good writer.  So I sold my car. 

                                    
This is in memory of…   





 Today marks my one year anniversary of when I returned to the PNW.
                                   

It’s bizarre to me that it has already been one year. In fact, it feels like it has been several years since the day I departed Bishop.  So much has happened.  I went from being broke, unemployed, and virtually homeless; and now I’m gainfully employed, saving money, and living in an old yet charming house in Seattle surrounded by things I love.  On top of all of that it has been yet another great year of climbing, this time with major breakthroughs in the realm of sport climbing.  I really have nothing to complain about as I sit here at my desk occasionally gazing out the windows that overlook the seemingly endless expanse of the marina.  An enormous processing vessel is moored outside at this moment, stationary, receiving constant visitors and attention throughout the day.  If I try really hard I can see the corner of Stone Gardens between the massive ships stern and the corner of some marine office building.


Yes, it’s true; I don’t live the fast paced, hazy, dirty, colloquially beautiful, seasonally employed lifestyle of the dirt bag.  Guiding is a very selfless job, it soaks up a lot of your free time, and I really like my free time. 
                                    





Looking back on the past year, I guess I’m kind of amazed, or in awe rather of how things have worked out.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not addressing this in order to gloat, I mean really, there isn’t anything (comparatively speaking) to gloat about.  I was able to accomplish what most adults in their early thirties with a college degree should accomplish: mildly interesting employment that allows (at least a single person such as myself without biological attachments) a chance to pay rent, bills, food, gas, and misc costs and still save a decent amount of money.  I guess what I’m in awe about is the fact that it all fell into place so perfectly.  I wanted a job in Seattle that was easy to commute to and also close to where I would climb, and live.  Done.  I was able to find a place to live close to work and where I climb in a house with roommates that are tolerable and mildly responsible in a nice neighborhood close to restaurants, shops, and parks.  Done.  One by one these things just presented themselves and as long as I was present and ready to commit to them they all worked themselves nicely into the contour lines of my life, or at least the kind of life I wanted.  It’s comfortable, easy, and fun.  I have a lot of time to focus on training for climbing, actual climbing, and other pursuits like gardening, yoga, running, family, etc. 



And while my life, for the most part, has become as predictable as the Republican party, I feel no tender malaise for the days of adventures past.  I’ve done enough reflecting.  There are new ways to look at the repetitive and seemingly precluded scenarios in your life that you miss due to boredom or passing nonchalance.  New ideas in old patterns, new places in the heavily trafficked ones, and new processes emergent in the decay of the fading light of a yawning day. 



"Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity."
-W. Shakespeare



Friday, May 1, 2015

And The Winner Is...



 

Examining the past can be a useful, if not frustrating, tool.  I often examine the past, I seldom learn from it.  So how can I change this?  It’s obvious to me that if I am to change anything a simple observation of past failures or successes is not enough.  It never is.  Real change comes from a desire deep inside that speaks to genuine motivation. 


For me, my motivation inside of climbing and towards climbing has mostly been from a competitive, egocentric angle.  I usually want to be ‘better’ than someone else; usually that someone else is a friend.  This sheds a curious light on relationships and the role they play in personal progression.  However, this past year has been transformative for me.  The combative approach I usually take when deciding what to climb and how hard to climb is starting to get old.  I’m tired of feeling nervous on hard routes, racing to get a route done before someone else does, or feeling jealous or envious of my friends when they succeed or elated and confirmed when they fail.  I think my mind state has changed this past year after being exposed to so many different kinds of climbers, climbing philosophies, crags, experiences, failures, and breakthroughs.  Working on this mind state is very difficult.  I’m not sure when or where or even how (although I could swing a pretty good guess at all of those) this attitude evolved in my life but I’ve always wanted attention.  I’m not alone in this either, David Foster Wallace put's it nicely:

"We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness, because it's so socially repulsive, but it's pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default-setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: There is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real -- you get the idea."



It feels good to get positive attention and praise.  To feel everyone’s adoring eyes on you, lifting you up above the mortal accomplishments of others, you feel just that, like a god.  We all want to feel special, to ‘rule the world’ so to speak and have our Sharma/Ondra moments extend into eternity.  The social constructs of the immediate relationships in our lives are built on a very delicate foundation, the lynch pin of which is a balancing act between humility and selfishness.  I want to be humble in the presence of other’s successes and praise them and encourage them to progress out of a genuine desire to see the people I love in my life succeed and ultimately be happy; on the flipside I can’t do this all the time if I’m constantly failing at the goals in my own life.  Success is the conch shell of our dystopian adolescent island.  But, success can look like so many different things to so many different people; not just beauty then, but success also lies in the eye of the beholder. 

"Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things -- if they are where you tap real meaning in life -- then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already -- it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power -- you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart -- you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on." - David Foster Wallace

For me, lately, success comes in the form of catching myself when I start to compare my shortcomings against others accomplishments.  It’s not only refreshing to transmogrify my outlook but freeing as well.  A reminder that I do want my friends to succeed even when I’m not, takes shape in the form of recognizing when I start to feel awful, depressed, anxious, and alone.  I’m not any of those things in reality, so why project them on to others?  Instead I look at what they have done and say, ‘I can do that too, and will.’  Not from a competitive aspect, which can lead to a spurious and stale way of thinking about motivation and progression; but instead in a way that fosters both intelligent confidence and encouragement between and amongst my peers.   


Yesterday was yet another glorious day.  Another reminder that we exist in a microcosm of microcosms; enigmas and ubiquitous experience that unfold for everyone and no one.  When time yields to the fluctuating energy of the wind, and the darkness, to breathe, to the dilating cosmos, rock, and water. 
I could only see the fading shadow, the outline of a friend reaching the apex of eight years of contemplation, frustration, condemnation, and finally elation.  Erich Sachs sent Porn Star yesterday, a feat that can be objectified, but hardly captured by numbers or even words.   

 





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Destroying Words with Wayward Thought


 

Me and ‘dem boyz’ (consisting of Kevin ‘Tex Richman’ Erickson, Justin ‘Waterfalls’ Lockhart, and Forest 'Foresto Digitation' Collins) have been humping it out to Smith for the last four weekends in a row.  The first weekend we were all like, ‘Fuck yeah!  Smith rules!  We’re coming back every weekend!!’, this attitude continued into the third weekend, and then by the fourth weekend we were all still super psyched but also in desperate need of a weekend in which we weren’t compelled to get up, drive five hours, and then try really hard on our projects.  



There is a thin line between flacid and erect psyche.  We were in luck because the weather surrounding our beloved home crag cleared out like a hot yoga studio after a chipotle burrito fart.  Blue bird, slight breeze, PERFECTION.  MWAHAHAHAHAHAA!


 I love travelling because it takes you to new places, exposes you to different people, cultures, food, rock, blah blah blah...but what I really enjoy about being away from home, is that first day back at home when everything kind of settles into place and you realize this is where you want to be and where you truly belong.  I had that light hearted feeling this past weekend and I’m still kind of buzzing on it. 








The parking lot resembled that of a cattle ranch feeding trough, it was a shit show as usual.  However, as soon as I pulled into the satellite parking lot a car left and ‘ta-daa’ we had a spot!  The hike was miserable after the morning’s run and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might climb like an invalid sea monster on sleeping pills. 




It’s always awesome to show up to your home crag and see friends.  Andrew Hou had been there all morning and was really close on his project Technorigine.  I showed up, he strapped his shoes on, and before I could start my warm up he was clipping the chains.  NICE!  Good energy right out of the gate.  To my surprise the warm up was insanely easy, the friction was good, the rock was cold but not too cold, and more importantly dry.  I floated, literally, I felt light, dialed, and my footwork felt stable and effortless.  These are the kinds of moments I live for as a climber (or a kayaker, or runner, or snowboarder, or mountaineer, or ice climber, or artist, or writer or etc. etc.).  I was psyched but also still doubting my strength.  I felt so tired still, but in retrospect I think feeling tired is what gave me that relaxed confidence.  It’s kind of hard to explain. 

Okay, the warm up is one thing, but let’s get to the real fitness check.  I tied in for Chronic and again floated the bottom half, but got nervous in the crux and over-gripped a bit nearly coming off at the redpoint crux.  I kept it together but was way too pumped to nail the ending moves and I gave up and fell just short of the jug.  Okay, I thought, that wasn’t bad, but I can climb it better and I was feeling less fatigued.  I rested a bit and then fired it my next go feeling even stronger and lighter than the previous attempt.  That’s the way I like to climb.  I was psyched and knowing that Chronic had felt that good I decided to get on Flatliner and go for the redpoint burn.  I climbed well into the ledge, rested as much as I could and then climbed into the last rest before the crux sequence.  I made it to the crimp/pinch rail with little effort and moved up snagging the gaston, unfortunately I sagged pretty hard here and while I was trying to get a better grip just came off the wall.  I still feel as if I have a lot of work to do in order to send this last sequence on link, and yet if things fall perfectly into place on any given day, it will go, and hopefully feel easy. 




It’s hard to cope with the fact that perfect days like this one are fleeting and will never be the norm, and really as much as we lament this fact it also is the reason behind why these days are so good.  It was getting darker and I had the energy for a few more but knew I only had time for one.  So I chose my favorite route lately, Californication.  I love this route.  Its long, it has several cruxes that are all completely different, it has amazing movement, cool holds, and great rests.  It’s just a sweet journey up the center of the wall and you get a chance to really work on breathing, resting, and punching it when you have to.  As a warm down it felt amazing.  It was just the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae of a perfect Saturday.  Actually the cherry on top was being able to dip my deluxe bacon cheeseburger in a pool of ranch before every bite.  That was perfect. 



Sunday was just as beautiful as Saturday and even a bit warmer.  I took my sweet ass time in the morning making sure I would have energy to burn for a nice long Sunday afternoon session.  I was re-energized after all the successful fitness checks from the day before and I knew it was time to start getting on the projects.  I feel as if I have done so much at little si, but I still have SO many things to do.  The project I’m most excited about right now is black ice (or vanilla ice, depending on how you climb into it).  I’m currently trying Vanilla Ice in order to get the extension wired for attempts on Black Ice.  This is one of the better extensions at World Wall and you get everything and the kitchen sink thrown at you.  There is a heinous technical dihedral section with pinches and crimps, then some monkey climbing on incuts to a huge incut jug, then more power tech climbing on sweet textured holds for the left and slopey untextured holds for the right hand.  You are kind of climbing between two different worlds, a black streak and a tan streak glide their way up the wall and you’re stuck fighting your way between them, it’s AWESOME!!  The last boulder problem guarding the chains is a cool slopey rail that you have to arm wrestle with to get to some victory jugs.  Anyway, that was the goal for the day but the wall was harboring some mank from the mornings sun bath so it made the first crux very hard.  I tried it once and fell and decided to take a rest.  All the homies showed up and I snapped some photos of everyone crushing.


I tried Vanilla Ice a couple more times and came close to a one hang but there was a small sidepull that ypou have to yard on pretty hard that had some seepage and I came off pulling on it up to the last rest.  It was a great day again, and again it was getting dark and the not only the day but my weekend was coming to a slow close.  And of course, I decided to do Californication for the warm down, but this time I chugged a pint of Montucky’s best and playfully made my way up the route with Waterfalls and Tex heckling me the entire way.  I almost fell off from laughter pulling over onto the slab before the Abo chains, it was great.  We hiked out with headlamps and high hopes of returning next weekend.  It doesn’t look good in terms of dry weather, but Little si has its secrets. 

 



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bills' Philosophy

"When people eventually succeed after trying something for an extended period of time, something that involves repeated disappointments, then, no matter how objectively hard it is, they have accomplished something beyond an athletic achievement. They have made a statement about what they are made of—about a type of strength that has nothing to do with forearms. Watching my friends achieve that success on their own projects was encouraging and motivating. Of course, at the same time, it threw into sharp relief my own continued lack of success." - B. Ramsey

From evening sends.

If you haven't read the article yet I highly suggest it.  I met Bill briefly back in 2012 in Bishop, Ca.  He had just flashed Bubba Escapes the Ward and was working on the link up Bubba Labotomy.  He failed to do the link up, but his calm demeanor and openness towards the climb was so refreshing.  A true master.  As he cracked the top on a Sierra Nevada Torpedo I knew I was in good company and we chatted about climbing and life and friends.  He cheered me on as I struggled up some contrived V.7 and then watched as I flailed on Toxic Avenger.  I don't have any deep anecdotes from our meeting but he definitely sticks out in my mind as one of the greats from a bygone era.  You can see it reflected in his tone in the article yet he also has a profound admiration for the future and the now and how it can have a transformative effect on the once seemingly impossible.  Cheers Bill.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fairweather Friends

"fear of falling, fear of failure, tunnel vision, attachment to a specific outcome, impatience, lack of focus or awareness, poor breathing or eye control, poor technique, being unable to shift your climbing “gears,” “thinking down,” and climbing for the wrong reasons"

Above is a quote from Andrew Bisharats' blog evening sends the piece this is from was written by Chris Barlows.  This quote stuck out to me for a couple of reasons but namely because I never really focus in on what my problems are.  I always try to emulate an image of togetherness and confidence which feels so key in being successful as a climber, especially a climber who wants to try progressively harder and harder climbs.  The downfall of this strategy is rejecting what you’re truly feeling at the moment in order to maintain this image, and trying to push through all of the ‘problems’ stated above; instead of sitting with them and trying to understand them. 

I became completely engulfed in my problems and at one point it was as if I was encircled by them stumbling blindly from one problem to the next receiving a knee to the groin, a slap in the face, a kick to the ribs, etc.  I was crippled by fear (of falling and failure) which lead to tunnel vision (blocking all other routes out and throwing myself at this one route), which in turn lead to me developing this crazy attachment to a specific outcome (I HAVE to send this route…or?) which then made me impatient (I need to get there now, I’m ready to climb now, I have to send this NOW), this impatience made me extremely unfocused which only got worse as I waited around at the base of the climb running through the sequence trying to convince myself that if I just try harder when I get to the crux it will go, which then made me unaware of other possible avenues of beta and instead I pit bulled down on the way I was doing it.  This tunnel vision left me focusing too much on failure and expectation instead of breathing and climbing naturally, and in an attempt to be as calm as possible I was unable to shift climbing gears when I reached the crux, instead becoming so tense each try that I literally gripped my way off the climb.  In the end, each time I fell off I became more and more obsessed with climbing this specific grade that I wasn’t climbing the route anymore, I was climbing to prove to everyone else that I was this number, I was this status symbol, I was someone who I thought would impress and amaze other climbers.  The last go I’m not even sure I knew why I was climbing the route anymore.  It turned into this weird masochistic ritual; I became the punch line of a joke that really wasn’t that funny. 

All of this is just a part of my personality which I’m still trying to refine and expand.  I have a really, REALLY hard time letting things go.  Whether it’s failure on a route, a negative comment from a friend or co-worker, a relationship gone sour, feeling like I was wronged or embarrassed in some way or even just feeling like I let someone down.  Have I gotten ‘emo’ enough for everyone?? 

What it really boils down to is the fact that I compare myself ruthlessly to everyone and anyone.  It’s all about whose better, whose stronger, whose more likeable, whose more successful, whose better looking, whose richer, who’s more intelligent, etc. etc.  I don’t do this all the time, at least consciously, but the noise levels are different for different people at different times in their lives and for me the noise is always cranked way up on this channel if I’m wallowing in failure and self-pity. 
“Maybe your source of stress isn’t a fall, but something that it symbolizes–failure, injury, getting fired, being late. How much of your stress is true? And how much of it can you bypass by changing your circumstance or mindset?
Imagine that you could remove stress from your challenge. Imagine that you can remove consequences, that you are free to practice, to play and create, to explore and discover new possibilities while you do your work. What does that look like?”  This is a quote from my friend Erich Sach’s blog. 

What does that look like?  It looks like Ondra onsighting 5.14c.  It looks like someone who is locked in yet free, focused yet playful, efficient yet creative.  It looks like meditation; a mind state that allows you to drop all of the judgment, the stress, the points, the fame, and the fear; and just float. 

In the end, it comes down to how much you want it, how determined you are to making it happen, and what you are willing to sacrifice to become a more evolved/enlightened human being. 

"Yes, climbing is hard. Enumerating why it’s harder for you is wasted effort. If you want to climb it, figure out how to make it happen." - C. Barlows