A Lot to Learn
I have always looked down on bouldering. I never quite understood why people pursued it as an end in of itself, until yesterday.
I climb trad. My usually haunt is the Gunks. I would be cordial to those climbers who struggled with the Gill test-pieces along the Carriage Road, but inside, I always saw them as lesser climbers. They didn't have to deal with run-outs and route finding, these being things I love. I enjoy the challenge of finding the way up the cliff. I love the desperation of placing gear from a bad stance, or no stance at all. But bouldering is not what climbing is about.
The sit-start was cramped. The “jugs” for my hands were a joke. There was something strange about the whole experience for me. I strained to pull myself up straight.
Trad climbers love their gear. Many will talk for hours about this nut, or that belay device. It's an easy trap to fall into. I was caught in it for a long time. Some are so immersed in the gear part of trad climbing, the reason to be out there is lost in the opinions about the new cams on the market, or that really light carabiner. But I have come to realize it's not about the gear.
The next move, a side pull, required full body tension to stick. I felt the blood rushing through my head. I was on a sinking ship, this wouldn't last long. After a hand-foot match, I was able to get more weight on my feet but this “stance” was still awkward as hell.
Less is more, I have been trying to lead more stuff all passive. It can be done, it takes a leap of faith, after becoming so depended on the “plug and chug” nature of cams. I enjoy it, but I still feel encumbered. It still feels like too much. Whenever I find myself taking too long to re-organize the rack after a climb, I tell myself: “less is more, it's not about the gear.”
I find a pinch, the overhanging nature of the problem being that I will be pulling directly out on it. I look quickly for my next hand, because I know I won't last long on this. I lock off on the pinch, and with full body tension between my left leg and right hand, I latch on the “thank god” bucket. I lose body tension. My feet pop and I swing out from the wall.
I haven't been able to push the grade for a while now. I have reached a plateau of sorts. I have gotten to the point where the climbing isn't easy anymore. I can't keep my mind quiet and concentrate on the moves. My head screams and I can't do anything. I need to get better, physically. But how?
I get both hands on the jug, and swing my feet back to the jibs they were on. I reach across with my left hand, quickly adjust my feet. The next moment is a blur and I am on top. For the last 15 seconds, my whole existence had narrowed down to 6 moves on a rock that my trad heroes had passed over. I guess I have a lot to learn.
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|It really makes you think about the 'other' types of climbing. After all, we're all just climbers in the end.|
Like my taste for music, my taste for climbing is very broad. I am a trad climber, but I still boulder, and fall off of sport climbs. In my "old age" I have even began to realize I will need to learn to like aid climbing if I want to realize my dreams.
I have witnessed first hand the elitist attitude of climbers of every discipline. And I have also met climbers like myself who aren't bound by any particular style. Like Bruce Lee's style of Kung Foo: Jeet Kun Do my climbing is not bound by any fixed positions. If nothing else, it keeps things from getting stale