Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Full Atonement

Occasionally it's good to get in over our heads.  Worst case we fail.  More often, we walk away stronger for the effort.  And maybe, just maybe, in reaching for the improbable we begin to see what's really possible.

This morning I read a great post from the RV Project about the various challenges posed by the rocks we climb.  What stuck with me the most throughout the day was this:
Sometimes the "crux" isn't a particular move: it's conditions, or fear, or pain, or endurance, or focus.  We may choose to focus on any number of cruxes.  What we ultimately seek is to master our bodies and minds by pitting ourselves and overcoming them.  And bouldering offers infinite challenges.
The challenge I've most recently been obsessed with is one that I never envisioned as a fall project in the first place.  A month ago after a strong day of repeating favorite problems at Bushwhack, I stopped on the way out for a quick climb of Atonement along the fire road.  As I sat down, I realized that although the two start holds were the lowest we could hold on to when we originally did the problem, another year of strength and experience had made starting from even lower holds a possibility.  After three sessions, I finally found a foot position that allowed me to pull off the ground.  Another three sessions of experimentation with foot placement and sequence, and tonight I finally stuck the first move.  That attempt ended with a blown topout and scrapes on my back to show for it, but after a good rest I managed to squeeze my way to the top.  Not pretty, but it went.

People have asked how hard I think this problem is, and without anything to really compare it to, I've had no idea what to tell them.  Maybe it's V2, and I just lacked the skills necessary to climb it at first.  Maybe it's the world's first V17.  More likely it's somewhere in the middle, but what matters to me is that it made me work hard, and in working I learned subtle skills that will undoubtedly serve me as I approach future climbs.

Looking forward to the next challenge, and wishing everyone a strong and safe fall season!

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