Here are some send highlights from the year for both Robyn and I. While I had a solid year, Robyn really shined. She sent her hardest climb and also pushed into some amazing multi-pitch adventures. Here is a recap:
Notable Sends: Ten Sleep, Wyoming – Left El Shinto (5.12c, 2nd go), Tricks For You (5.12a, Flash), Floyd Direct (5.12a, Redpoint). Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado – Convicted Felon (5.12b, Redpoint).
Other Proud Sends: El Potrero Chico, Mexico – Yankee Clipper (5.12a, 15 pitches), Gringo Disco (5.11b, Flash). Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado – Schwing Salute (5.11c, Redpoint). Ten Sleep, Wyoming – I Just Do Eyes (5.11b, Onsight), Atheist Childhood (5.11b, Flash). Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado – Brain Freeze (5.10d, Onsight).
Notable Sends: Ten Sleep, Wyoming – The Name of the Game (5.13a, Redpoint). Clear Creek Canyon – Anarchitect (5.12d, Redpoint), Notorious (5.12d, Redpoint). Shelf Road, Colorado – The Eagle Has Landed (5.12d, Redpoint).
Other Proud Sends: El Potrero Chico, Mexico – Time Wave Zero (5.12a, 23 pitches, Onsight), Yankee Clipper (5.12a, 15 pitches, Onsight), Aspire (5.12a, 2 pitches, Onsight). Clear Creek Canyon – The Great Escape (5.12c, Onsight). Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado – Haircase (5.11b R, 2 pitches, gear).
Thoughts on Training
The first year Robyn and I really tried to train for climbing was heading into the 2013 season in Idaho. We followed the Building a Better Climber program (loosely) since all we had at our disposal was a tiny traverse wall and regular weight gym. Adding to that we ran, climbed outside a lot and inevitably saw some great gains. Wanting to continue this progress we hit 2014 running. New crags, new gym, new psych. Overall it was a great year and Robyn’s best! She adapted her workouts well to her new schedule and really excelled when she got her chance to return to Ten Sleep. On the other hand I felt a bit overwhelmed. Maybe it was an overemphasis on grade-based goals, all the extra hustle and bustle of amazing nearby cragging, the new job schedule, gym or a combo of it all.
As our training schedule peaked we were psyched to translate it to sends in Clear Creek. Unfortunately we came to realize that summer in eastern Colorado is plagued with thunderstorms – every afternoon like clockwork. On top of that we froze our gym memberships thinking we would be too busy outside. Instead we found ourselves rained out and greasing on slopers. By fall, we had fallen a bit out of the routine and our focus shifted in a big way to skiing. It was the first time since Valdez that our collective stoke was greatest for something aside from climbing. It was a weird but good feeling. We devoured new ski flicks and dove into ski gear for the first time in years. We bought passes to a local hill and have just started to learn jumps on our skis and board. The break, and subtle shift in psych highlighted something important however. Why did it feel so good to ski lately? Why do we love feeling strong on rock? What was the real base motivation for it all anyway? Grades? Runs? Tricks? Nope. It’s progression. Progression and learning. That is it! New experiences, new strength, new skills, new hills, new crags… That’s what it’s all about.
So as we set goals for this new year of climbing I feel like we have a whole new perspective to view it in. It’s not about achieving the hardest climb, it’s about feeling light. Feeling strong and confident. And that’s not a feeling that stops at the crag. A training regimen seems to be directly focused on jumping grades, but the side effects happen to be a healthy diet, lots of exercise and confidence boosting strength and fitness. Oops… So there you are thinking you are so happy because you sent a new project but in reality it’s because your free time is spent hiking into beautiful crags, camping, challenging yourself mentally and physically and knowing you have prepared for the battle. Executing, no matter the grade, is the reward.
Well that’s all fine and good you say but how do you set a goal to be “happy” you flippin’ hippy!? I’m not suggesting grades, tricks, runs etc. don’t matter. I am simply coming to the realization that the goal isn’t the grade. The goal is continually challenging yourself. And if that means 5.11 gear or 5.10 slab or intermediate runs on skis then so be it. It’s overcoming challenges through hard work.
SO. That all said the structure of our preparation for challenging ourselves on rock this year will be the Rock Climber’s Training Manual. Rather than rehash the praise and details of the program I will just link you to it here. I first heard about this program through Ben, and then all of my other major climbing partners started jumping on board leaving us little choice… So here we are. Punched our ticket and hopping on for the ride. Immersing ourselves in yet another challenge with other like minded folks doing the same. And man does that make a difference. Having great friends along for the ride may be the best reward of all. So whatever it is you challenge yourself with this New Year I wish you all luck, healthy side effects, and a heaping scoop of friendly support.