I’ve been climbing since the summer of 2010. I absolutely love the sport. It’s hard to explain exactly why, but it’s extremely empowering. I like how creative it feels. I like the feeling of being able to accomplish something the untrained eye looks at and thinks can’t be climbed. I love the feeling of figuring out a sequence and suddenly going from falling off time after time to gracefully gliding over stone without falling. Climbing also really helps me get out of my head. I have an ‘active’ mind that rarely shuts down, thus I really enjoy brainless activities that help me zone out or focus completely. Climbing, especially climbing at my onsight level, or soloing completely seize my attention and get in my face like nothing else can. They fell intense and peaceful all at once. You can’t imagine how it feels until you experience it. Sometimes that feels peaceful and graceful, other times it feels as if I’m fighting for my life.
Climbing brings on the most amazing sense of focus – something that compares to nothing else I’ve ever done. I’ve become addicted to that sense of focus after a fashion. If getting to that point of focus wasn’t so difficult, scary, painful, and potentially dangerous then it’d probably never be able to ever stop climbing. Not that climbing is always fun, easy, or that it always provides focus. Many times it’s a complete chore.
Sadly, however, while I’ve been climbing for near five years now the vast majority of that time I climbed very little due to a lack of time, transportation, money, ect. Because of this, I was never any good. At best I was a very moderate trad climber. I always wanted to do stuff at the outer edge of my abilities, but due to a lack of strength and more skilled technique I frequently failed – often in spectacular fashion. Contrary to popular belief, failure is one hell of a teacher. I’m actually sort of happy I learned in that fashion. All that failing and close scrapes taught me far, far more than success would have. Hence, when I moved to the general Las Vegas area in April of 2013 I figured this was my big chance to climb more and finally progress as a climber.
In those 21 months I’ve climbed far more than ever before. It’s been fun, and incredibly challenging. I’ve learned that climbing once or twice a week outside did relatively little for my climbing ability, but combining that with two or three days in the gym or hang board workouts produced measurable leaps in ability. Progress comes slow to someone with little talent, but it’s still worth fighting for.
Honestly, I’ve always been a terrible gym climber. I believe I get more frustrated and shut down there than I do outside. It is however, the ideal place to get pumped in a hurry. I find it ironic that the path to becoming a better trad climber lies through the gym. I’ve always known it to be true, I just never wanted to deal with all that time in the gym. Now that I’ve done it, it’s isn’t quite as bad as I imagined. I’ve made some friends and enjoyed it.
Progress is still far to slow for my liking, but at least it is there – I haven’t always been convinced that was possible. There are still so many routes that I haven’t done, despite try after try. Still, every once in awhile I surprise myself and get a glimmer of what is possible – and for a moment anything is doable. I live for those moments and hope there are a lot of them in my future.