Rock climbing has a uniquely potent capacity to probe, inflate and also crush egos. Everyone, regardless of ability level or investment, has experienced frustration at one point or another-even the world's best. Personally, I've noticed my periods of frustration and low psych have only intensified as I've grown and progressed as a rock climber. The more skilled I've become, the more I've come to expect of myself and the more I notice even the slightest fluctuations in my own specific abilities.
I think many would agree that the very reasons why climbing can cause frustration and anxiety are the same reasons why we love the hell out of this pursuit. The blissful rewards of hard work and dedication give meaning and purpose to our frustration. The hard part is seeing the whole picture when you fall off your project for the umpteenth time- it's difficult to have perspective in those moments (if not simply perspective on climbing, even life itself!). In reality, pushing your own limits as a climber (and in most other life cases) will be heavily saturated with failure- instances of success will be few and far between. Learning to positively deal with and reflect on failure and unmet expectations is much more a part of growth than learning how to spray about a hard send. If you allow yourself to deeply fear failure, you will never truly progress and you'll probably never send your proj.
I had one primary goal for last weeks trip to the Virgin River Gorge- the all-American classic, 'Necessary Evil' 14c. After warming up on our first day, I immediately jumped on this test-piece, and right away I was both shocked by its difficulty and stoked on my progress, doing essentially all but one move on my first attempt. Unfortunately, that one move would plague the rest of my trip and despite a few moments of inspiration (and even lowered expectations/goals), I would eventually leave empty handed. After spending essentially the entire previous month dreaming about this climb and my first trip to the V.R.G., I was for sure bummed when we left. On our final day, when whining to local hard-man and wicked photog Jorge Visser, he promptly replied with, 'Well.. go home, train, and come back'. True. And that's my plan, I'll save my second round of effort for the cold winter months, and I plan to return fully prepared. I'm stoked already!
are there any 5.10b here or what!?
The V.R.G. is hard, but quality exists at nearly every grade (well, really above 11+). The conditions can be a bit brutal given the wind and hot/cold that exists in the desert landscape, not to mention the nearby interstate. However, I think it's worth mentioning that although the road noise, exhaust and general discomfort of I-15 is like, right there, Paige and I both thought that said annoyances were a bit over-hyped.. it's not that bad.. especially considering how focused you will be on bullet rock grabbing and heart pounding run-outs.
the VRG.. be afraid!
In between frustrating burns I did sample some of the slightly easier, ULTRA high quality routes that the V.R.G. has to offer. I onsighted 'Joe's Six Pack' 13a, which is a hell of a ride- half a dozen 5.12 cruxes separated by decent rests carries you endlessly up the Planet Earth wall. This is potentially the best 13a I've ever done (did it 2 more times cause it's that good). I also onsighted all but the bottom (shares a start) of the incredible 'Don't Call me Dude' 13c - a resistance masterpiece with only one rest in 100 feet. The same day I onsighted the hyper classic 'Fall of Man' 13b - a wickedly long, bullet 'slab' which induces a calve pump that will have you limping around the crag for days, and squeezes a terrified whimper from even the boldest of sport climbers- think RUN OUT.
not a bad place to wake up
In addition to some fun, albeit ass kicking, days at the V.R.G. we also got to visit with awesome friends, check out Zion National Park (a world class destination, if only for the views), poach a solid day of tanning poolside at a casino in Mesquite and cruise the strip in St. George for hours (great way to raise confidence!).
When our asses (read: egos) hurt bad enough we took off for a couple days into one of my favorite areas, Utah's San Rafael Swell. This vast area holds some of the most incredible natural formations I've experienced in the world and should be a destination for anyone who is at all fascinated with the desert. We hiked a couple super cool slot canyons and spent some time exploring Goblins Valley, which I've told many people is perhaps the single most unique landscape of natural formations I've ever seen- totally mind blowing. Can't help but be happy when exploring the Goblins, baking in the Utah desert sun.
Little Wild Horse Canyon
Goblin Valley- go there
Now, I'm back in Boulder and I've got a whole new wave of motivation. The weather is clearing up and I'm VERY psyched to rap down some potential new routes I scoped out last year to bolt, get up some old routes left on my to-do list and waste away lengthening daylight hours outside grabbing stone. I'll be headed out to Utah in a couple weeks, as well as up to Wyoming and in less than I month I'm on the road- that's motivation. Cheers!