I feel like some of the purity from my “early” bouldering days has been lost. I’m not sure why this is. I feel like the golden days of my bouldering were a couple months ago when I was making rapid progression, gaining muscle and finger strength, bolstering my head game outside, and making little trips to Gold Bar and Leavenworth whenever I could that were all the more special because I couldn’t do them that often.
Fast forward to now, when I could literally boulder every day if my body permitted it (which is of course exactly what happened the week before last). I’ve hit a sort of plateau at about V2 despite still constantly watching bouldering videos on YouTube, constantly thinking about bouldering, and still climbing quite a bit. Honestly, the best thing I could probably do for myself would be do take two weeks off. And I’ll do something similar to that soon if my right hand doesn’t figure itself out. If I continue to have finger problems on a my right hand over the next couple weeks, I’ll get out of dodge, maybe sail up to the San Juans, maybe fly down to Mexico, and take some time off. After all, bouldering is supposed to be like piano for me. Pure, only for myself. When I start stressing about grades or whether or not I’m making progress, when I start getting injured and trying to push through those injuries, some of that purity is sacrificed.
But I also think of it this way: This was bound to happen. I couldn’t continue my meteoric progression. At the rate I was going, easily from V0 to V1 to V2 and then getting a couple V3’s and starting to project V4’s it looked like bouldering V7 by the end of the summer was entirely possible, if not reasonable. But this isn’t how it works. Especially when you’re almost 37 and you’ve been bouldering for last than a year. You’re going to push it too hard. You’re going to get injured. And if you do it from an egoic place in which the only thing that matters is proving something or doing a certain grade, you’re fucked. I need to go back to Fountainblues V0 in Leavenworth and just do it over and over, savoring the slopers. I need to get back to the micro side of bouldering, the way a hold feels when you grab it. Giving each hold the love and attention it deserves, not just focusing on sends or progression. And I also have to think of it this way. I was going to have to deal with setbacks eventually, better to do it now and figure out what I’m made of. Figure out how badly I want this. Figure out if I’m capable of continuing “pure” bouldering, bouldering just for myself, for no one else, and not because it means anything, but rather expressly because it doesn’t. Realize that the Road to V7 is not actually a road, and the destination is not actually V7. The road is actually an entire universe of valleys and forests and rivers and lakes, meadows, pitfalls, rain, sunshine, clouds. And the destination is not actually V7 but rather the feeling of my fingers touching granite, the feeling of moving perfectly from one hold to the next, the feeling of, just for an instant, my brain turning off. I haven’t forgotten what the purity is, even if I’ve momentarily lost touch with it.