Hard Boiled, done

I redpointed Hard Boiled (5.13b) yesterday. Rad. Rad that I never have to get on her again. Actually, I had a good time this season. Probably that’s because I was prepared. Last season I spent 18 days trying to redpoint. This season I sent after eight attempts over 3 days. Yesterday’s redpoint happened first go of the day, by far my strongest go on Hard Boiled ever. Success was imminent, each consecutive day way better than the previous, which makes repointing relatively non-stressful.
Details of the final go are kinda fuzzy. I remember hitting the pinch after the crux fairly confidently, knowing this was significant, feeling good but more tired than usual since this was my first time through the crux from the ground (this season anyway), sort of confidently moving through the next few moves until the last, where I almost pitched off backwards reaching to the clipping jug, hitting a wall mid-pull on the final move. Dramatic. I had moved not quickly but efficiently, confidently up to the crux, better than ever before, and rested longer than usual at the second undercling, again at the next 3-finger, at the 2-finger after the crux, and finally at the left-hand sidepull before the right-hand crimp before the clipping jug. Good pace and good resting plan, I felt.
This was not chance. This was the result of good preparation for Hard Boiled. I had lots of time to think about her. Despite the grade, I feel she is uniquely difficult to redpoint – just ask Chris or Bob. Yeah, she’s a bitch.
Today is about 8 months since I got out of the hospital. While I was laid up in those rad reclining beds I thought there would be no way I could climb even near my previous level within the year, that ambitiously 12 months would go by before I even looked at my nemesis of a route again. If ever. And believe me, I thought about Hard Boiled specifically. It was hard not to with Phil and crew bringing her up all the time. So, this was better than I expected, which doesn’t happen often, and rarely is something I’ll feel good about. Congratulating oneself is not good, I feel. Climbing for me, and maybe living in general, is motivated more by an aversion to failure than an ambition to succeed. But I’m concentrating on the positive this time: sending Hard Boiled at all, and especially in such short time, has me looking back at the training I did right, instead of wondering what went wrong.
In other news, I got on Hans’ Bodyguard from Beijing (5.14a) on Saturday. H-O-L-Y S-H-I-T. That thing is way hard. And by ‘way hard’ I mean friggin’ hyper-hard. It’d probably be good for me to get on Bodyguard some more but Phil has me convinced I should start going to Owl Tor again, to spend the rest of the season putting up a new route there. He’s right, I think. It’ll be good to get back to her.

Hard Boiled might not be so bad

There. I said it. Hard Boiled is not the worst route in the world. But don’t get me wrong; it’s no ‘walk in the park’ to redpoint. More than anything, this new perspective of mine is probably a symptom of my revised redpoint mentality in general. Redpointing is more fun for me this season. I’ve slid in to a groove of sorts that has made pushing myself on routes more bearable. I’ve justified the increased intensity this way: Think about whatever you need to think about to keep moving. If you execute everything right; move fast, stay tight in the cruxes, loose in the easy sections, milk rests if you can, and if you can find that sweet spot in rest time where your breathing comes down but your arms don’t tire too much; accurately hit every hold, hands and feet; and basically do everything you visualize in that mental video where you send the thing… then you might have a chance. Everything comes together in a redpoint. You rehearse it, visualize it, get nervous, and send it. To get on hard sport routes, to push your own limit in this genre of climbing, is kinda stressful. Same as any performance, I suppose. There’s tons to remember and I suspect the folks I look up to, the elite sport climbers of my generation, are especially skilled at finding that perfect mental space that allows them to execute near their physical limit, unencumbered by the psychological impedances most of us struggle to break through.
Anywayz, I got on Hard Boiled four times on Saturday. Ideally, I would have redpointed the damn thing but a productive day nevertheless. The redpoint is imminent. I’m almost having a touch of fun with it.
da numbers:

  1. Shores of Hell (5.11b) – redpoint
  2. White Lotus (5.11d) – lots of falls, this route super sucks
  3. Hard Boiled (5.13b) – lowered after an unexpected foot slip reaching to the first undercling
  4. Hard Boiled – fell throwing out to the right-hand crux crimp
  5. Hard Boiled – fell throwing to the crux pinch
  6. Hard Boiled – fell throwing to the crux pinch, got back on under the 1st undercling to fall again throwing to the pinch, got back on at the 3-finger before the crux to finish at the chains
  7. Sea of Love (5.12b) – bolt-to-bolt, my first time on this
  8. Sea of Love – fell in the crux, way tired

hello, old friend

Back on Hard Boiled. That’s right, after 10 months, 1 attempt on my life, 3 pairs of climbing shoes and several dozen training days I am back projecting the most miserable piece of rock I have ever known. Once again, I am bidding for chains on Phil’s Santa Maria abomination, for whose creator I’m sure a special spot in Hell is reserved. Redpoint burns on Hard Boiled are so painful I have to trick myself to keep throwing at holds. Sometimes I imagine I’m on another route. Whatever, I threw myself at it on Saturday to walk away surprisingly not disappointed.

da numbers:

  1. Shores of Hell (5.11b) – redpoint
  2. Crocodile Hunter (5.12d) – just bolt-to-bolted up to the first break
  3. Hard Boiled (5.13b) – bolt-to-bolted
  4. Hard Boiled – 1 fall, throwing to the crux crimp
  5. Hard Boiled – 1 take, at the second clip (big right-hand side pull before underclings), then to the top
  6. Better Than Chips (5.12d) – 1 fall, mysteriously, at the throw
  7. Better Than Chips – redpoint
  8. Anchor Punch – redpoint

so close, and yet so far away

I got up to Santa Maria last Wednesday and Saturday, days 14 and 15 of my season epic on Hard Boiled. Wednesday was a disaster: 3 falls throwing for the crux crimp, not even a high point. And then there was Saturday. First, Chris redpoints it on his first go of the day. What an asshole. On my second go I caught the crimp, then the pinch, made the last clip, made a bid for the chains, and fell on the last move. It gets better. Weather forecast for the week: rain, every day. Pretty inspiring, I know.

my back is stupid

Last Saturday didn’t count. I went to Mr. Lee’s but a cramp in my back was so painful I couldn’t climb. I tried to warm up on Shores of Hell but it just got worse. Then it got bad. It got bad and stupid. Super aggravating. Oh well, at least I got to lay on the ground all day and watch everyone else climb. Fuck.

day 13

So, I finally hit the crux pinch on Hard Boiled. And for about 1/1000 of a second, it felt like redpoint time. Never in my life have I hit a hold that bad. My fucking fingers were, like, fucking folded under themselves or something. I can’t really remember, except to say that it was bad. I though for a moment I could make something out of it, then I was outta there. I thought I might have had enough of the pinch to bump on to it, but no. The pinch spit me off. But it was close.

day 11 & 12

I didn’t write last week about the prior weekend’s events on Hard Boiled. Because I fell. Again. 3 times. And each time I fell at the same spot – throwing to that right hand crimp at the crux. However, last weekend I hit the crimp twice. And then fell. Twice. Whatever, it’s progress. I still suck, but it’s progress. Clearly, the road out of suckiness is long and hard.

Owl Tor is rad

Rain shut us down at Mr. Lee’s, so we cranked it out at Owl Tor instead. Which reminds me, the Tor is rad. I got on Galla Galla Happy (13d), Better Than Life (13c), The Old Pro Skill (12d), and Chips Ahoy (12d). To my future self: before you get impressed with this list of routes you got on last weekend, let me remind you how bad you got killed on all of them. No redpoints. Although I did feel pretty strong and had a bunch of fun. I was particularly psyched that I got through the bottom of Galla Galla Happy and Better Than Life to the undercling.

day 10

Well, I fell three more times at the Hard Boiled crux.
But elijah, aren’t you tired of falling at the same spot every week?
Yes.

There’s a small lip in the back of the left-hand pocket, way in there. Setting that two-finger pocket better could be key. I tried after falling on my third burn Saturday to milk that left hand, which made the next throw out right easier.