Friday, January 18, 2013

Jumping into the deep end

In the past few weeks I've experienced an oddly shifting balance of success and failure, progress and setbacks, but all in all I'm having a fantastic time.  Most of my climbing has been centered around Northwest Branch, and I find that most of my memories revolve more around the people I was with than the rock we climbed.  With friends experiencing NWB for the first time, revisiting it after months or years away, or making final attempts at sending projects before transitioning to life in other states and countries, it's shaping up to be a really memorable winter.

Jeff Coen on Doom, Northwest Branch
As for the actual climbing, as I've repeated old favorites or sent others for the first time, I've found that what comes easily one day feels impossible the next, or vice-versa.  River Dyno in particular seems to defy logic, serving as a warmup for some sessions, and completely shutting me down during others.  Likewise, I managed to send Genetic thanks to some trick beta from Smitty that made it feel several grades earlier, only to be unable to repeat that same sequence on my next two visits.

I was also unable to start Tuesday Trivia when I stopped by Eden Brook recently, while Crimps at NWB gets easier every time I try it, and I now find myself hitting the crux move almost every time.

It felt especially easy today after I had just failed miserably at Slingsby's Arete, a problem I was sure I'd send within a few tries.

I wish I was able to figure out what the difference was from one day to the next.  Could be weight, energy level, motivation, humidity, or any number of other factors, but overall I believe I'm progressing and walk away from each session with something to feel happy about.

With conditions arguably at their best, I've found myself focusing on projecting more than usual, and have set my sights a little higher than anticipated.  Having knocked off most of my intended winter projects rather quickly, I decided it was time to throw myself in the deep end, projecting problems that are well outside what I can reasonably achieve in a few sessions.  If I end up sending them this winter, awesome.  If not, I'll still be stronger from the effort.

The main ones I've been working on are Curtain Call and Prelude to Crimps at Northwest Branch, and   Buckets of Blood at Carderock.  I've only worked on the latter once so far, but have been enthralled by it ever since doing the arete version a couple weeks ago as part of Jeff's farewell tour.  Tall and committing, with good holds the whole way.  Not sure how it's taken me this long to check it out, but I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone!  Can't wait to play on the face some more...

Getting ready to head off to Ohio this weekend, so local climbing isn't in the cards for me, but get out there and enjoy this great weather!

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