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Question for Arno
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Apr 13, 2006, 3:30 AM
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Registered: Sep 12, 2004
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Question for Arno
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After reading your book several times over, there's something I've been thinking about. I live in SC and have climbed at many of the areas you talk about in your books, and am well aware of the reputation of whitesides in particular. You talk a lot about the role of ego in your own life in your book, and I'm curious about what role you think it played in some of your first ascents. Do you think that your FAs on the Whitesides Headwall, in particular, were spurred by ego? Do you think that bold trad ascents owe most of their allure to ego? I'm not trying to trap you into saying anything negative or positive about trad climbing as opposed to sport climbing, bouldering, etc, I'm just curious about your feelings about your personal ascents. Do you think that you would have been motivated to do some of these dangerous ascents if you had done more personal thought about ego and it's role in your climbing before you attempted them. If you saw another opportunity to do an ascent on a cliff like whitesides, with long runouts and sparse protection, would you still want to do it now? I hope these questions are not too personal, I'm just very interested in what positive role ego might play in such decisions.



Apr 13, 2006, 1:00 PM
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Registered: Aug 7, 2003
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Re: Question for Arno [In reply to]
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Hello naw,

No, not too personal. Writing the book kinda laid out a lot of personal stuff. Ego has been a part of my climbing the whole 33 years I've been at it. In the beginning it had a bigger influence than it does now. Anymore it has very little influence. The main thing that fueled me to put up routes was the love of new ground, untouched by others. There is a sense of adventure in FAs that you don't get when repeating routes. I love long free routes that have exposure so Whitesides was perfect for me. You might say I was actually in my comfort zone, so to speak, climbing there. Whitesides lent itself to my personality and climbing style.

Ego did pay a role though. We all strive to make our mark and the ego can drive this if we aren't aware enough. Ego can drive us to do routes that we actually hate so it can get that recognition. Ego had a greater hold on me in my early days [1973-late 80s]. In Fremont Canyon, Wyoming ego played a bigger role. Once a climber put up a route called "Modern Problem" and I quickly put up a route next to it that was runout and called it "Modern Solutions." A little ego there. Apologies to Pat who is no longer with us. For Whitesides, though, it seemed that ego had more role after an ascent. I was labeled a bold climber for doing these routes so I tended to worry about looking "not bold" when climbing in front of others. Now I don't care so much.

Anyway, perhaps that explains your question.

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