re-learning how to climb

to say that it’s been awhile is a bit of an understatement. probably close to a year and a half. in fact, i don’t think i posted a single thing in 2013. ‘so why now?’, you may ask. well, before i answer that, a bit of an explanation on the hiatus.


plain and simple, i got sucked into a long term project in clear creek canyon last year. this one rock climb consumed all my climbing focus. i can’t recall exactly how many times i walked down toward the creek, put my pack down and looked up at all those draws hanging off the wall. i wanted to send this route more than any other route i had ever been on before. in my head, it represented a huge milestone; it somehow meant that i had accomplished something.


anyway, after working the moves over a few sessions, i eventually had all the beta completely sussed out, one might say dialed in. keep in mind, that the first time i got on this route, i couldn’t even do some of the moves. thoughts of sending this route were a bit of a pipedream, but we have to have goals, right? so armed with a bit of confidence, i started giving it redpoint burns. with each attempt, i was making upward progress. i was getting high point after high point. on my best attempt, i got to the last move of the true crux, pulled as hard as i could, bobbled the next hold, then fell. as i swung in the air above the creek, i dropped a lot of f-bombs. i don’t know if it was a true wobbler, but if it wasn’t, it was pretty close.


i continued to try the route, but never got back to that high point. soon after, it felt like i was merely rehearsing moves. i wasn’t really climbing, but just going through robotic motions. because of this, my overall climbing really suffered. it felt like i had lost my ability to figure out moves on new climbs i tried. i was only good at the moves on one climb, and that was it. i was falling on climbs that were at least a full number grade easier, and this started the downward spiral. a complete lack of success on any climbs at a grade you believe you should have success on becomes intensely frustrating. it made me dislike climbing, and the inevitable, impending failures.


so i just sort of stopped climbing outside. it always seemed like too much work. one of the hardest parts was the fact i still had to set routes at the gym. when you’re not psyched on climbing, hauling up and down a rope or running up and down a ladder to put up climbs for other people doesn’t help your mindset. this lasted a good 6 or 7 months.


about a month and a half ago, i went outside with my friends keith and dan. they took me to a new climb in clear creek put up by our friend kevin. i was told it was my style, that it suited me. fine. i’ll try it out. turns out, they weren’t lying, it perfectly fit my style of climbing. i was able to send it rather quickly (for me), and the excitement started building. after that, i went back to a climb that i had tried the previous year, while in the midst of my climbing ‘funk’. there were moves on this particular climb that i could not figure out. it had me stumped and frustrated. at the time, i blamed it on my height. this time around, though, after a few tries, i figured out the moves. i was stoked! the mojo was building! soon after this breakthrough, i sent a route i had tried a few times over the last few years. this got me thinking, ‘maybe i could go back to the old project, see if enough time has passed’.


which brings us to the reason for the post. i went down to the new river wall today, and gave it a go. clearly didn’t send it, but i was able to do all the moves first try. it felt reasonable this time around. the moves just sort of happened, they were buried deep in the brain sauce somewhere. i think i have re-learned how to climb. i believe that i somehow became a better climber, by not really climbing for a while. strange phenomenon. i just hope this is the start to a good summer season here in the front range, and i think my lofty goals are back on the table…


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