Friday, February 1, 2008

Climbing Community and the Roots of Motivation

What is it about climbing that is just so inviting? What part of this crazy lifestyle drives us to keep on training? Why do we want to be outside pulling on rocks?

One of the things that I really love about climbing is the community. People all over the world take part in rock climbing. While there are many different crag, types of rock and styles of climbing we all share a certain drive.

Within the climbing community I especially enjoy the common topic of climbing routes and problems. It is very fun to share tales of a route with other people who have also done the same climb Climbing offers such crazy and different experiences but we can some how manage to relate to each other. People are many different heights and have a variety of climbing strengths yet overcome the same climbing challenges. A given problem may be sent with many different sequences inspirited by the past experience of the climber but each climber must eventually reach the summit.

Traveling different places and climbing the classic routes motivates me to climb harder and learn better technique. I don’t want to be specialist, on one rock type or in a single area, I want to be able to relate to lots of different types of climbers and climb a variety of routes. I want to see climbing areas and think of the problems that I have done there. A great part of climbing for me is reliving the memories of climbs and thinking of all the beautiful places climbing has brought me.

A recent post by Jamie Emerson about Horse Pens 40 inspired this nostalgia. I really enjoy climbing at HP40 and it got me thinking about all of the great problems there. I made various trips to HP40 while I was in college. It was worth the 10 hour drive and I sent my first V5, V6 and V7 on the wonderful southern sandstone. It was the first real outdoor bouldering destination that I had ever been to. Until college I had been a route climber, far to week to do any real outdoor bouldering.

College also led me to the Red River Gorge where I quickly fell in love with overhanging sport climbing. The strength gained from bouldering at our gym in college led to my first 11’s and 12’s at the Red. My junior year I took a semester and traveled to Australia to study Computer Science and work on my trad climbing. There I redpointed my first 22 trad route (11b) and struggled with ethics when pinkpointing two other 11b routes. My desire to push my physical limits hit up against the idea of getting hurt by being too bold. My fear was that a fall on improperly placed gear would result in a ground fall. My only solution to leading these hard, yet beautiful, routes was to pre-protect them so that they could be lead more safely.

My trip down under also included some sport climbing with my first flash of a 23/24 (11c) and on a trip to New Zealand my first 24 redpoint (11d). These routes stick in my mind and I can still remember some of the holds and moves from these routes three years later. Motivation and belief as well as fitness led to my success on these routes. I was pushing my limits and keeping my mind open.

As always I have been thinking about how to climb at my limit and this article about Kevin Jorgenson is pretty interesting. While in Hueco he did the first ascent of a V8 and a V10 highball. Besides just being tall these problems both had bad landings where falling was pretty much out of the question. The Duel, V10, was climbed headpoint style so that Kevin could suss out the high crux without bad fall potential. This style of climbing allows for an exchange of ground-up ethics for safety. On his send he climbed very calmly and really crushed the problem. It seemed that he was in full control even though he was climbing a hard problem. This type of control in hard climbing is what I would like to find.

With rain and no really climbing last weekend I am really psyched for this weekend! If the weather holds we will be doing a bit of muilt-pitch sport on Saturday and some crack training at Mt Woodson on Sunday.


- Luke

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