Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Question For You

So last night we went up to the lake again. It was nice and cool and we all had a grand time. After a quick punt by RV he quickly dispatched the center line on the Dog Walk/Stache Boulder for it's second ascent. Nice work. We went over to Alpine Club and tried that a few times too.

I was feeling pretty good on it, and RV was too, and then something good happened. No I didn't stick the move...I did move my hand just a bit to the right on the sloper. Maybe a millimeter or so, not much. It felt good at first but then on my second to last go I went up and it felt amazing. I stuck the gaston for just a second, felt my left leg barndoor out and for a millisecond I paused at the apex of the swing and thought I was gonna pull it back in. Then something popped off and I was back on the crashpads.

I am so psyched about it. That one little moment brought the light at the end of the tunnel just a bit closer.

I really can't believe that it's doable. 24 days of work boiled down to that one lonely pause and I haven't been this excited in a long time. Progress on a boulder that hasn't ever shown me any signs of hope. Im really excited right now.

On the ferry ride back RV asked us kind of an interesting question though:

What boulder problem FELT the hardest for you?

I don't want to know what your hardest send was. I don't want to know your biggest number. I could care less about that. What I do want to know is when you've had to really pull out the try hard? When have you had to just bear the fuck down and finish something?

We all know the feeling of getting something so dialed in that it feels piss easy. Beautiful Soup felt like that last year. It felt simple when I did it. Kinda like an afterthought almost. The send was already in the bag before I stepped off the pad. Yet when I did Jenga a few weeks earlier it felt really fucking hard! The crux move on that problem always feels brutal for me. Not sure why, but it just does.

Jenga ranks right up there with Moj for me. I had to try really fucking hard to finish up Moj. It was an all or nothing effort and it felt absolutely brutal. The last slap felt so desperate after the iron cross. I was pumped, greasing and in the back of my mind I knew that I'd fallen off of that move from the start 4-5 times already that day. It was a fight and one of my proudest moments.

So what is it? I'm really curious. When you start thinking about it things become really interesting. For RV it was a tie between Anchorpoint and Slope of Dadaism. For Katie it was the crux move on the Eliminator.

I'm really really curious.


  1. For me it was that pink problem put up on the 45 in the gym last summer by Hefty. That thing was hard as nails.

    Climbing outside is ghey. If you want to do something outdoors go play frisbee or something (yeah, I am looking at you Remo).

  2. Steve,

    Rad question. I have two answers. One, the hardest mentally was for sure The Checkerboard. Because I've been so far away from Bishop for the first 3 sessions on it (living in Minneapolis, 25 hrs), and then 8 hours (now living in SF) for the last 3 sessions, and since everytime I would get on it I knew that I would be crimping on these little tip splitters and taking the ride onto my own 2 pads without spotters, that I had to overcome my fear of falling and bear down to just do it. In fact, when I did do it, on my second go, my first go literally felt like one of the worst attempts I'd ever had on it.

    Physically-mentally combined, the hardest climbing I've ever done is while sport climbing. There's been a handful of routes b/w 5.11-5.13a that have been gotten me so physically pumped and wrecked that I've had to kick and scream to the top on, basically wrecking my day for the single send. That's a different kind of fight, the in-the-moment fight without the mental buildup psyche-up-or-psyche-out that you've been describing with your attempts on A.C. My proudest fight in this category, would include Mississippi Burning (at Red Wing) on the first time I sent it.


  3. In my first year of climbing, my friend and mentor Noah and I would cruise up to Taylors Falls to go bouldering and kayak the falls. The B2 Bomber was the project and that thing took us like 3 or 4 trips up there to send(at the time I was bouldering V2). I remember the day well, we were so psyched to crack that problem because it was so hard for us. Then that day we said f@$# it this thing is going down, and we both sent! After that our climbing changed, we were motivated, and a couple summers later we sent our first 5.13!
    Long story short, that sticks out in my mind as a try hard moment. Another one might be my FA of the Raptor cause it took me 2 months to stick that damn crux throw(that is V-piss for tall people) and it seemed impossible at the time. That was another try hard moment.
    Good question Steve, I had to think about that one for a while.

  4. Yeah, i had to think about it for a while too! So many times things feel hard until you do it and then they feel so easy! It's fun to think about the times that you actually had to really try, no matter the grade. Thanks for the responses guys!

  5. B2 Bomber, nice. That problem is a mega-classic mental problem with the tree and the tough moves up high.

    A response question, why did you try so hard? And why is it that we don't try that hard on every problem? Do you think you can consciously control your effort?


  6. I think part of it depends on the problem. So much of this little game is figuring out moves. case in point. once i did the moves on beautiful soup, they seemed easy. never mind the 10-15 days i spent on them before that when they seemed impossible. it was just a matter of getting the muscle memory/body position. On moj i had the moves figured out and then it took me three hours the get it together enough to link it. I had to try real hard. yet they're the same general difficulty.

    Beautiful soup took me 10-15 days to do and it felt rather easy when i did it.

    moj took me 3 days to do and it felt real real hard.


    with alpine club its not about trying hard, its about figuring that move out. its not as much a strength thing but a technique and subtlety thing.

    this is super interesting to me by the way. im curious for everyones thoughts.

  7. This is a perfect question.

    The hardest problem I have ever climbed could be the cave traverse? or probably the Raven. The only reason the Raven would not be would be that I did the move only 7 or so days into trying it.

    The Raven was the most intense mental battle I have ever had. It has nothing to do with the "grade" it had to do with the fact I came so close so many times and up until that point I had been good at "closing" on problems. I could not close on TR, I KEPT FUCKING UP!
    if you watch the video I really wanted to be done.. I was over it... I hated every moment of failure and just wanted to be done (looking back I wish I still had a project i was syked on)..

    That day I had fallen of the hard move 12 or 20 times and Jim decided to go try Tengo, as we were leaving Jim said something profoundly obvious,

    "You have not done it, it is not over"

    After many of my attempts coming so close I was treating it as if I had done it.

    We walked back over toward the 30 and I kept telling myself,

    "its not over, end it".

    I ended it and it is still on of the best day of my life.

  8. Alright Steve, I started typing a response to this a few days ago, and I realized that I spend much more time worrying and obscessing about rope routes than bouldering. Not universally true, but 3 sport routes came immediately to mind and I couldn't think of a boulder problem that really fit the question. I think now I got it. Of course there are others but I think this one is best.


    Strong Men Also Cry.


    Sweaty and I spent about a total of 2 hours there in March of 2009. I went through a full gamut of emotions in those 2 hours. Initially quite disappointed by the appearance and impression upon walking up to it. Poor-ish landing and uber tall. Then excitement to start working and linking moves. Then fear after watching Sweaty send (watching him on the topout was pretty frightening-- a fall would result in some type of fracture and a quick end to your season). Then despair after losing my pscych seeing him topout. Then anger for losing my psych. Then when I finally linked the moves to the top of the business, fear again for the topout moves. And PUMP!!!! Man, when I hit the jug I swear (and I think I said this to Sweaty at the time) I was at least as pumped if not more than clipping the chains of secret agent man. My heart was going like 200 beats a minute and I was literally gasping for air (probably had held my breath for the entire problem as usual). Then elation to mantle the top. Then disappointment to have sent and not have it to look forward to another day.

    Yeah, palms getting sweating just thinking about it. What a memorable experience. Thanks for letting me re-live it.


  9. Awesome stories Nic and eggnuts. Awesome. I was really curious what the two of yours would be. I love that some of these are the hardest problems out there and that some are V3's. its awesome.

    I forgot about when I did Huston's Arete too for the second. I had to try f'ing hard on that thing. Good memory.

  10. I have another one.

    Mike's Left, I climbed v10 and most of the hard problems at T-falls before I did Mike's left. I could not do the move and it really pissed me off.

    I could not do the 1st move for 2+ years and then I found a knee bar method and sent in the same day... twas a hard one.
    Funny story, I have still not done the 1st move without the use of my knee bar, I find it imposable.


  11. Cannot wait for PUNT OF THE MONTH!