Week 9: Day 69 (Other Posts in This Series)

In my last post I was planning on writing a counterpart post depicting the deeper, darker, grittier parts of a dirtbag lifestyle. However, I’ve decided to ride the vibes. That is, while the stoke is high, I’m going to let it be there and not drag it down. There will be a time again for darkness, reflection, and introspection; but I’m choosing to save it for a rainy day – in the future.

That said, lets review where the week has taken me so far:


The beginning of the year is ripe for picking goals and starting anew. So, I started by working on integrated strength. Even though I have a history in combat sports and weight lifting, it’s good to check myself and see where I’m at. I’ve got about one week left on the particular training protocol that I’m doing, though I may stretch it longer depending on if the weather cooperates and my sending stays on track with my training pyramids.

Goal Setting:

In my last post I talked about going towards your fears. For me, that is roofs on gear since I took a huge, life threatening, whipper almost one year ago. In one of the recent Board Meetings on the Power Company Climbing podcast I heard Kris Hampton talk about treating trad redpoints link sport climbs. Interestingly enough, I had gifted the Anderson brothers’ Rock Climber’s Training Manual to a friend and was reading the section on goal setting – since this was around the new year.

Rather than establishing a seasonal or even anual goal, I took the longview. Which, for me, happens to be trad climbing. Bouldering is fun, and it is my go-to; but I love trad climbing. So, therein my goal lay. Rather than saying “I want to climb (grade 5.whatever / V-whatever) in (however many) years.” I said, “Here is a remarkable climb, or a climb that right now I imagine to be ‘impossible’.” What do I need to do to make it possible even if it takes however long it takes!

That lead me towards selecting a myriad of routes that were either legendary here in The South or that intimidated me (e.g. 5.10a roofs on gear). My tentative solution was to rehearse the shit out of those climbs. Abandon shame of the toprope and aid climbing. I want to string a toprope and rehearse a few select climbs to the point where there is nothing left for my body to fear and the only thing left to conquer is my mind.

With all that power, I chunked down what – for now – is a year-and-a-half “short term” plan of 5.12a; and a 5 or 6 year “long term” plan (of free climbing Heaven in Yosemite).

Finding My Head:

With all of the above practices employed I was thrilled to have a competent belayer – friend, mountaineer, and guide – on hand. A facet that is actually pretty rare these days. Day 1 featured running laps on a toprope until I felt like I knew the gear and moves inside and out.
Unfortunately, the pitch I’ll be talking about isn’t the one pictured above.

Day two featured some moderate to moderately hard bouldering in the morning and then trad climbing in the afternoon – a compromise totally worth it! I warmed up by toproping the route in question (5.10a), and then set forth on the lead. I realize that 10a isn’t anything exceptional, but for me it brought back a lot of confidence. I hadn’t climbed hard (relatively speaking) on gear in almost a year, let alone on a pitch that featured a steep finish on small – though acceptable – gear mid crux.

To say the least, this was a mental victory. The moves felt fairly easy actually, but it was – as it often is – putting it all together that counts. So, after many, many, months of layoff this year’s first lead matched my last year’s redpoint.

This was much more than a case of “The old man’s still got it.” But rather it materialized some of my goals. Of course, I’m not going to run out and jump on my year long goal of 12a immediately, but it does make a seasonal goal of 10c much more tangible.

Savagezen's Blog

A minimalist guide to my many projects.