“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” – Unknown
Today I climbed in Squamish.
I warmed up with some scapula pullups and did a couple where I engaged my core, did a little stretching (child pose, cat cows), but most of the warm-up came via climbing or simply touching the rock. For example: I high-stepped my foot onto the starting shelf of one of the problems and just leaned in and stretched. I got close to the wall. It was like doing a high lunge in yoga. I did it with the other foot, too. I also pulled on some of the holds, but standing on the ground, not to put too much weight on them.
This kind of slow, thoughtful warm-up, where I actually got into the positions a bit first but in a low stakes, low impact, non-climbing situation, was huge. I plan to do it again.
When it actually came to climb, I was decisive. I launched myself onto the start shelf of the V0+ I’d stretched on so I could reach a good hold. Then I kind of stood there and experimented with some hand holds, looked for feet, and then came back down. Flashing is going to be a rare occurrence for me in the future, as it is anathema to the kind of thoughtful, intelligent, meditative way I want to approach boulders. If you approach each boulder as having something to teach you, you’ll often find it will. But if you just try to brute force flash something and then move on, you might miss the wisdom, and this climbing wisdom is something I desperately yearn for.
So I climbed the V0+ a couple times, trying to find better feet, trying to do it more efficiently, and most importantly, trying to keep straight relaxed arms and not be locked off and gripped the entire time. This boulder reiterated to me that my default state has been to be locked off and gripped. Even when you’re just slightly locked off and over-gripping, you use a lot more energy (and it’s harder on your elbows) than if you’re straight-armed and relaxed.
The V0+ was a highball, according to the guide. My second (I think) Squamish highball. It wasn’t that high, though.
Next was a V1 called Catamite’s Delight. This problem was cool in that the starting hold was a unique, horizontal, perfectly uniform ledge pinch, and also cool in that the guidebook just said to start on that hold and said nothing else. On this boulder I learned something about flagging versus feet switching, and also implemented Paul Robinson’s tactic where he never tries to flash a boulder unless it looks insanely easy. Catamite looked a bit tricky, so I broke it into sections. When I finally sent it, it was so satisfying. And when I finally sent it using good beta, it was even more satisfying.
After Catamite I was quite happy and there was a quiet voice whispering through the trees that the baller move would just be to end the session right then. Part of me wanted to end the session then, having learned so much and not having pushed my body into injury territory, but another part (one influenced by society) was saying, “You’re gonna drive all the way out to Squamish and climb for a half hour? What about that V2 you wanted to try? What about doing some moves on that V5???” Amazingly enough, however, I decided to heed the first voice, and I’m so glad I did. My body actually feels good right now! I don’t feel like I pushed my shoulder or my elbow too hard!
Seriously, I learned something about flagging versus foot switching versus barn dooring. I learned something about keeping straighter arms, being more relaxed, which is in the same vein as finding mini rests in a climb, or just ways to make a position more restful. I learned more about projecting, and I’m so glad I didn’t try to flash the V1, even though I might’ve been able to. Instead I broked it into a couple pieces and basically figured everything out except for the first move, and that had me so much more confident when I finally sat down to do the first move. The whole experience was a pleasure.
Today’s session makes me realize that if I were to go out to Squamish and climb 50 V1’s and dedicate them all this same attention, I would truly master that grade. And then I could do the same with V2’s, and V3’s, etc. I could get to the point where I am now, still never having sent a V6, but feel like such a competent climber. I could achieve mastery, even if on a scale completely divorced from what the pros and so many other people are doing. So that’s the plan, for now. To become a better climber. To learn how to move on rock. Everything else will come in due time.