Last year I had a finger injury that lasted way too long to heal, but served as a blessing. Prior to that, I was a bonified grade chaser, even though I thought I wasn’t, I really valued myself with what grade I was climbing. The injury forced me to climb those 5.fun birthday climbs and seriously project anything up to a 5.8. At first, I was always feeling so unaccomplished. And one time I went to Inner Peaks with a few friends and one of my friends said, “We just want to see you climb a 5.10 again”. It was then I realized I did not care to show off my climbing and that all that time I had spent doing a bad job chasing grades, I forgot why I fell in love with climbing. I decided I needed to (1) fall in love with climbing again no matter what grade, (2) learn how to appreciate the aesthetics of a climb, and (3) take everything back to basics and take my friend Jeremy’s advice, breakdown my technique, toe work, and work on improving my climbing, cause while I thought I was hot, I was not as good as I thought I was (hahahaha!).
After I started to heal, I made it a goal to be able to go anywhere around the world and climb anything from 5.10a to 5.11a. It didn’t mean that is all I climbed, but it meant I would hover a good amount of time in this range to establish some consistency, to improve my climbing and get mileage in to get stronger. I even made it a goal to get on 5.8s and 5.9s in between 5.10s and found so many absolutely stunning climbs in this grade as well.
When I started my journey, I noted that I did not onsight very much, yet another weakness discovered! Now, I pretty much will warm up most climbs in this range, and start having issues in the 11s. Except a few months ago a crack 5.10c handed me my ass in Colorado, just saying, still need work. And most of all, in my style, I just linked a 12a/b called My Flesh for Lulu at Rumney (pure classic!). I got on this only because it was so beautiful and I could tell that I could at least do up to the first 5 bolts safely. So got my bail beaner together, got on it and got spit off at the crux up high for a good while and somehow little by little, thanks to a patient belayer I got to the top and clipped the anchors. I am not rushing to red point that climb yet because I got spit off due to my lacking finger strength and 5.12 training to be able to make it up smoothly. I need more work in the 5.11s for sure. However, my technique was good enough to work it out with rests. As I get stronger, someday I will red point that pretty climb. Even more important, get more 10s and 11s in over the next year.
What now? I am still trying to hover a lot of climbing my favorite range because in this journey…
- I discovered 5.10a to 5.11a is an absolutely beautiful grade that can be maintained with only climbing a couple days a week and minimal cross training. Done, SOLD! 😉
- I discovered I have way more weaknesses in my climbing than I cared to admit or identify. Every time I walk up to a wall, I go to one end and climb everything I can to the other end, whether it is “my style” or not. Some times I am delightfully cruising, and others I am cursing (ahem, in particular cracks, lay backs, corner/stemmy shit). Nevertheless, the diversity of climbing I have exposed myself to is reason enough to continue this effort.
- I realized by doing this I am doing myself a favor. I travel everywhere to climb and being able to just walk up to any style and not bail any climb means I haven’t wasted a trip somewhere. I need to get a bang for my buck on climbing because I am traveling to get there. And…well, it just opens up many more options.
- I discovered my personal and climbing inner and outer growth that has occurred by just stepping out of my comfort zone.
- My eyes were open to enjoy the outdoors and aesthetics of climbing.
- Last…I love climbing everything and I value the fact that I can work through a climb and get to the top, no matter the grade. I find my inspiration from a climb’s clever or brilliant moves, or aesthetic look, or brutal look (telling me I need to get on it to get better kind of brutal look). In fact my most favorite climb of all times is a 5.8+ at Rumney, NH called Metamorphosis. Every moment to the top is brilliant! Transformation of my attitude and ego is the best part of this journey!
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~CS Lewis