Update: Road to V6

Well, friends, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on here, and an even longer time since I’ve posted in the Road to V-whatever series, which is now the Road to V6 ever since I sent Zelda Rails Right V5 way back when, a problem that is somehow V5 on both Mountain Project AND Sendage despite being significantly easier than many V4’s (in my opinion) Why haven’t I been writing? you ask. Or maybe you don’t ask. But let’s say you DO ask, in which case I’ll tell you: I haven’t been writing because I haven’t really felt like it. It’s that simple. But this morning I kind of DO feel like it, and it turns out I’ve been climbing quite a bit lately, so I thought a “Road to…” post might be appropriate.

Basically, here’s the deal: I recently took a month off from climbing to travel to Mexico and South America, and that month did me a lot of good, not only in terms of letting my body recuperate but also in terms of getting rid of some mental baggage that had been building up for me with climbing. For lack of a better term, I was sort of in a rut. I wasn’t listening to my body. I THOUGHT I was eating well but looking back I think I was basically just starving myself. And as far as climbing goes I was getting into all kinds of mental ruts involving progression and grades and WHY I was climbing and all that stuff. It sort of wasn’t even that fun for me anymore. I mean, yes, it was fun, but I didn’t feel that free. I felt like I had to climb a “certain way” and that “certain way” was the only way to get better. I thought I had to focus on my footwork, that I had to focus on keeping my hips close to the wall, that I had to get better at climbing static, etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinitum.

And here’s the thing: All those things are true. I DO need to get better at climbing static, at keeping my hips into the wall, and all that crap. But obsessing over that stuff and getting down on myself for it was not only holding me back — it was also keeping me from having fun and developing the things I’m really good at, i.e. dynamic climbing and intuitive movement. Now, when it comes to dynamic climbing, that’s pretty straightforward, because I like dynamic movement and come from an athletic background. But the intuitive movement part is a bit more nuanced. Intuitive movement is a strength of mine IN GENERAL, but it’s not necessarily a strength of mine in climbing. The movement that will help you get past someone in soccer or scramble up a talus field or quickly load the dishwasher is a good kind of thing to be able to do intuitively, but the problem is sometimes in climbing the best movement is NOT intuitive. Or, as I was discussing with my friend Matt the other day, sometimes ONE non-intuitive movement will then lead to a much easier sequence down the road. For example, it might felt really natural to go for the crimp with your left hand, but if you could just figure out how to grab it with your RIGHT hand then all the subsequent moves would be much easier. And so, knowing that this was true, I was becoming TOO cerebral with my climbing, as opposed to just getting on the wall and seeing what would happen. You have to find the middle path, not only in movement but with all things. So when I came back from South America I was just climbing, not overthinking it, and the result was I was having tons of fun and actually climbing pretty well. And now as time goes on I’m trying to incorporate thinking, but also not thinking too much. Thinking is especially good for when you’re tired, and also for sussing out a climb. Most of the time you can look at a climb and decide whether it’s possible for you or not. Other times you need to just turn off your brain and pull on.

All that said, let’s talk about the session in Leavenworth last weekend, in which I sent a new V3, got shut down by the top out of a new V4….

(to be continued next post)