Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reaching Past the Last Hold

Me on Fight Club, coming oh so close to the send.  This was the burn that unlocked the ending for me and would initially seal the victory.  I would send just five days later.  Photo by the ubiquitous Tex Richman.
 
I started breathing, loudly.  Suddenly everything melted away, success, failure, ego, and I was left with just focusing on my breathing.  The movements came easily, each muscle contraction was met with reward, latching a sharp crimp here, locking off, stepping up, falling into a jagged side pull, leaning heavily into a gaston rail, pulling the rope up, and relaxing.  But always breathing.  All of the other tries had not felt like this.  I was filled with a sense of calm and confidence, a feeling I had not had any other time on the route.  The myriad of weekends spent driving, hiking, falling, commiserating failure, re-tooling my approach, my training, taking time away, trying to let go, only to come back and want it so much more, these memories were distilled immediately through each solitary breath.  And then I just knew.  It hit me right in the brain - the realization that THIS was the go, I was going to send and there was nothing that could stop me.  It filled me with a sense of giddy-like joy, almost as if I was toying with the route before I finally put it out of its misery.  I shook out at the last rest with a smile on my face and then proceeded to execute the last boulder feeling as if I had just pulled on from a hang.  Everything went perfectly, just like I had rehearsed dozens of times before.  Instead of feeling weaker after each crux move I felt stronger, like I was channeling the very life force of the rock itself.  I slam dunked the last flat jug and had to stifle a shout of joy.  I knew it was done but didn’t want to celebrate before I had clipped the chains which came shortly after as well as a very stout victory scream.
 
This woman never ceases to AMAZE!  Here she is just one burn before sending her hardest route to date and first 5.12b Kobra Kai.  So proud of her and will never stop being proud of her.  Ruth is not only my partner in life but also one of the best climbing partners I could ask for giving me countless belays, talking me off mental cliff edges, supporting me and motivating me to try harder and enjoy the process.  So happy she is in my life and I am thrilled that we get to spend the rest of the season exploring new crags and knocking out more projects together. Photo by the ever intuitive queen of ISO Billis McGee.
 
Lowering back down to earth after the close of any long chapter in project climbing is surreal to say the least.  Time and time again you program your brain to deal with failure, to fall at the same place, to obsess over grabbing a hold wrong or not feeling comfortable trusting a foot hold, and then for one small flutter of a butterflies wings you snatch victory from the jaws of the dragon and plunge your chalky fist through its rocky armor claiming its golden still-beating heart as your own.  Relief washed over me as if I had just sat down in an oncoming tidal wave.  For the next ten minutes or so I felt invincible, humbled, brave, confident, euphoric.  You almost feel as if maybe something went wrong, like this wasn’t supposed to happen, was never supposed to happen.  You keep waiting for everyone to say “Nice job but you stepped on that bolt.” 
Speckled light on a vacant 4th of July afternoon.  Mike gleaning some beta on Kobra Kai.  I've grown so fond of making the trek out to Equinox almost every weekend.  While I'm relieved to send my project I'm also kind of sad to step out of the routine and miss out on the seemingly always perfect conditions at this crag, the chill vibes in the shade, perfect sequences up shattered rock, the deep blue skies above, the frisky dive-bombing humming birds, the judgmental frogs on the log, and the overall comfort of this unique small crag.


This feels like it was the most mentally challenging battle I have ever had with a route, maybe ever?  But in reality, I’ve been through this multiple times, whether breaking into a new grade, struggling to complete a low percentage move, or just trying to convince myself that it could be done. 

A rift in the time space continuum showing us Morgan Heater transcends all laws of biophysics and exists on  a perfect plain of interdimesionality. 


The key ingredient was letting go, telling myself that I would give it a long break.  With that thought securely embedded in my mind the pressure to succeed dried up and a new well of intent was dug.  I always like to start the season with a good send and each year I feel like I have climbed harder and harder and hopefully learned something from my progress.  Going in to this season and starting the process of completing this route I fully believed each session that it would be now, I would send soon, it wasn’t that far away, and at the end of each session my motivation dwindled and dwindled and the pressure to succeed now grew out of control until I was left with nothing to admit except defeat.  The mistake I made was one of hubris, and I’ve said it time and time again that if you don’t respect the climb you can expect to learn a lesson in humility at no cost to the rock. 

This is what you get when you send Fight Club.  Kind of bummed, I was hoping it was gong to be a Nike contract :(
 

 

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