Monday, April 09, 2007


I got on a route last week that I think I'll invest in. Projects were a major part of my life for most of the 90s. This decade, however, I've been involved in too many other sports to get that focused on climbing. Plus, projects have a way of getting in the way of everything else.

I did my hardest route in 1995. It was a first ascent, meaning I'd found the route, bolted it, and then climbed it prior to anyone else. When I bolted this particular route I couldn't imagine ever climbing it. After about a year I could do all the moves but it wasn't until three years later that I actually did the route in one go. As you might imagine, there were a lot of valleys along the road to that peak.

Projects aren't too bad until you realize that you can do the route. When you can't do a single move or link major sections of a climb, a successful ascent isn't in your realistic mindframe. But as soon as it's sorted out--and you know you'll do it if you keep throwing yourself at it (barring injury)--then they tend to become obsessive pursuits. If you don't get it quickly, it can manifest into something manic.

The problem is that when something is right at your limit it only takes the smallest mistake for you to fall off. And it's pretty rare to climb anything without making any mistake whatsoever. As wired as you get it, when lactic acid begins to build your mental capacity falls off and you get tunnel vision to the point where your holds seem to disappear; it's difficult to keep it together. Dale Goddard was talking about keeping your mindset during hard projects in an old training film when he said, "...maybe you don't climb anything (of note) for an entire season..." exemplifying the type of massocistic sport that climbing can be.

Prior to that ascent in 95, I called my friend Scot Cosgrove, who'd put up many routes, including the first 5.14 in California, because I was having some mental problems linking it all together.

"Projects are the worst," he told me. "The number of ways they can fuck with you is beyond measure. Every time I have one I say to myself 'never again'. Then, as soon as I do it, for some unknown reason, I began thinking of the next one."

So I've been avoiding them and, instead, climbing just for fun with little angenda.

Then, last weekend, I ripped a flapper that rendered one of my fingers useless for the day. Without the ability to try 100%, I decided to get on something beyond my current realm of fitness, just to see what it would look like. In the end, I ended up not just doing all of the moves, but linking sections of a route called Hobytla (or something like that), at the Wailing Wall in Southwestern Nevada. It's a beautiful line on one of the most impressive walls in the western US. It would be a nice "return" to the sport.

Above is a picture of Misty at the crux. A local, she and her husband are responsible for many first acents in the area. Even with this advantage, she has her own epic story on Hobytla. On her last attempt one season, the day before she had to leave the area, she failed on this move and had to think about the route for the entire off-season before getting another chance. I hope that doesn't happen to me. Then again, that's the fun part. We'll see.

Now, so that I don't forget the sequence, here's what I do at the business end of the route.

50' of 5.11 lead to a jug, where the business begins.

R hand up to sidepull.

L to good sidepull, right foot to jug, left on tiny crosly hold below the roof (important).


Right to bad sidepull, step left through to high bit of jug, right foot to ticked sloper, left foot up to edge.

Left hand up to bad pinch, turn body opposite direction, stand and hit tiny ticked sloper w/ left foot.

R hand goes long to wide pinch - 1st crux

Left foot quickly finds good pocket (part of pinch).

Left hand to small, but deep, sidepull pocket. Stand up, switch feet and stab left foot out to ticked sloper.


R hand moves to small undercling (pic). Left foot smears on nothing, body turns to right. Right foot up on ticked hold over the lip. Re-adjust right hand so thumb is in play on undercling.

L hand up and left to tiny pinch - 2nd crux.

Right foot steps through to large hold above left. Left foot move to big hold, adjust body position, move left foot again to small fin.

R hand, huge move (dyno) to positive pinch. - crux crux.

Immediately, since it's slightly off, stab large hold again with right foot to stop swing.

Skip this clip.

L hand moves to small sidepull. Quickly take two small steps in whatever order works, in order to get left foot on to large edge.

Stand and move L hand out left to small pinch, then immediately go again to large pinch. Switch feet on good edge.

R hand up to sidepull. Left foot up on to big stuff. Stand up to great rest.

40' of easier climbing to anchors.

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