failure with a capital F

kinky reggae‘, at the new river wall in clear creek canyon. For those of you that have climbed with me over the last year and a half (ish), you know the full-on war I have waged on this route. I have never spent this much time on a route. Ever. I cannot comprehend the actual number of times I have been on this route. Working out moves, linking sections, dialing in the best warm-up combination and routine, etc. It’s a miracle I’m still psyched on this thing. Astounding, really.

I do remember the very first time I got on it. I couldn’t do a single move in the crux. Not one. But for some reason I was drawn to this climb. The style of climbing suited me: steep/overhung power climbing with big moves between okay holds. I wanted to invest the time because it was really fun. I decided to commit.

So, I kept going back. Again and again and again. After a while, I was able to do more and more moves until I eventually did all the individual crux moves. They all felt really hard. The combination of strengths required was mind boggling to me…shoulders, core, and fingers had to be at their peak to execute these moves. I just kept telling myself that if I can do the individual moves it was simply a matter of time before I could link the whole thing. Perhaps a long time, but still just a matter of time.

I went down there so much and tried this route so many times that my climbing ability overall suffered significantly. I have talked about this before, so I’ll save you the bitter details (if you’re really wanting to read about it, here ya go.) Suffice it to say, my shoulders and fingers ached most of the time, I couldn’t send other routes that were rated much easier, I just wasn’t psyched to climb. I gave up for a while resigned to the notion that I probably wasn’t capable of sending this route.

Once my desire to climb finally came back (thanks again dan, keith and dusty!) newer bolted routes in the canyon kept me busy. But the thought of getting back on ‘kinky reggae’ was always clawing at the back of my mind. I tried it out a few times in the spring, just to remeber moves. It felt good. Moves were still hard, but I felt healthy. It was invigorating.

Once fall rolled around, it was time to start giving it hell again. I had to re-learn how to efficiently link sections. I had to figure out the best warm-up routine. I had to learn how to build and ride my momentum by finding progress in the smallest gains and minute insignificant details. But it was working and soon I was back to my previous high point.

A few weekends ago, literally the day before the cold winter weather moved in, I went down to the new river wall with my buddy dusty. After warming up, spirits were high and we were mildly optimistic. Dusty was working on ‘public enemy’ (13c), and on his first burn fell exiting the crux. His execution of the moves was solid. He was inching closer. On to my first burn…I linked through to the jug just before the crux. I did my best to turn off my mind and just focus on the moves. Off I went, executing. Left hand into sidepull pocket. Feet up and full extension rose move to the really shitty right hand pocket. Zero out on the right hand, feet up, and move left hand to the little sidepull crimp. Feet up again and pull with all you have to bump left hand higher to the good crimp. HOLY SHIT I STUCK IT!!!!! Right foot into the first pocket, dropknee, cross right hand into good pocket, and exit the crux. Before I knew it I was stemmed out in the dihedral rest staring at the final boulder problem that this route shares with the classic 13a ‘sonic youth’. I have done ‘sonic youth’ so many times that I somehow turned it into a warm-up. I have the route dialed. The final boulder problem isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I KNEW the moves. Once I had rested enough, I launched into it. Gaston crimp, thin pinch, bump to good pinch…bobble, readjust, fall. FUCK!!!!! I had it. I had it! It was good though, helluva new high point! I had actually linked through the true crux! This thing was in my sights.

After resting for a good long while, dusty got back on ‘public enemy’. Flawless execution, and he took it to the top for his hardest redpoint to date. It was rad to watch, nice send homie! Plus, he skipped 13b and went straight to 13c!

well, that left me trying to ride the send train and the momentum that he had just amped up. With more effort, I thankfully fired the crux again and found myself at the final rest. I pulled as hard as I could, fighting with all I had. I hit the good pinch and stuck it this time, got the dropknee and the gaston pocket, moved my left foot up, and went for the bump to the first left hand sidepull. I hit it, tried to close on it but was too pumped. I couldn’t hang on and took the whip.

I didn’t throw a wobbler, I wasn’t mad, wasn’t angry. I was just bummed, borderline sad. I just hung there, swinging back and forth completely defeated. I lowered off and just sat there with my thoughts.

I missed sending my first 14a by 3 moves. 3 moves! I gave it all I had and came up just a little short. There was just nothing left in the tank. I was too tired to try it again. The new river wall season was potentially over for me. The sun never gets down there so it stays frozen until the spring. And sure enough, arctic temps and some snow moved in the very next day.

I now have an entire winter to sit bitterly on the memory of my failure. But I have to spin it in a positive light in order to keep my psych up through the cold months. I have to stay healthy and strong. I have to get stronger and work on my weaknesses, of which there are many. I have to be ready…come spring this war ends.

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