The Curse Against Climbing Outside and Climbs I Find “Hard”

charlottehill

I have yet to climb outside this summer. Alas, there seems to be a curse against me climbing outside lately because all the plans I’ve had to do so this summer have fallen through. Most recently, I was planning to climb at Little Si, also known as Exit 32, a couple of weekends ago. Little Si is located in North Bend, Wash., which is conveniently close to Seattle (45 min- 1 hr or so drive I think). I’ve only been there once but I’ve really wanted to go there more because there’s a lot of hard climbs I’ve wanted to try there. Unfortunately, the day before I was planning on going there, my climbing partner called me and told me he thought the chance of rain was too high. In the end, I’m not even sure if it ended up raining that day when we would have been there. When I checked the weather report at 10:30 a.m. it was cloudy but dry, but I suppose it could have started raining later. I’m sure I’ll get to climb outside eventually though. I only climbed outside once last summer, which was way less than I’d prefer, so I’m determined to at least climb outside more than that this summer!!

That said, although I have yet to get outside I’ve spent lots of time climbing inside–which I still find fun and a lot better than not climbing at all! During Father’s Day, besides spending time with my father and family, I climbed with my friend Kayla at Vertical World (VW) Seattle. I was excited to get to climb some new routes that had just been set because I figured the holds would be less greasy than some of the older routes. And anyway it’s just fun to do new routes. I managed to get up a new 5.12b but not without taking. It had some weird but fun movement and made me pretty tired. I screwed up the sequence a little so I think I will do better the next time I try this climb–now that I know what not to do.  I also really enjoy just climbing with Kayla. It was nice to see her since I don’t get to climb with her that often because she lives in Bellingham (a stout 2.5+ hour drive from Seattle.)

In fact, I’ve climbed many times since my last post, so I can’t talk about every time I’ve climbed or it would get pretty boring.  I climbed with my dad today and there were yet more new routes set. I tried some more new 5.12s but didn’t have as much success as I wanted. Lately, I’ve gotten frustrated climbing a bit at VW because I’m in that awkward place that is never fun to be in–everything seems too easy or too hard.  I’ve said this before but the climbing grades at VW  have been really hard lately–for me anyway.  I was hoping the new routes I’d try today would feel a bit easier but I actually found them quite difficult. I think it’s mainly hard because I’m used to being able to do a lot of 5.12s at this gym and right now I’m not really able to climb that many at all without taking or falling.

This sometimes makes me feel like I’ve gotten worse at climbing, but when I really think about that I doubt that’s true. I actually feel pretty strong–I think I’m just trying routes that are sincerely difficult for me.  I believe the best way for me to get over this moment of self doubt is to just keep climbing and to keep working on the climbs that are giving me trouble. If I keep working hard, I think there’s a good chance I’ll eventually make some progress. Moreover, I’m sure doing harder climbs will result in me getting stronger, if that hasn’t already happened. In the end,  I think it’s better to work on climbs that are truly challenging and push yourself than do that climbs that may have high ratings but really don’t feel that hard for you. I constantly have to remind myself that climbing grades have their limitations. What a climb is rated depends on the opinion of whatever person, or small group of select people happened to rate the route. Everyone has different opinions on how difficult a route should be and so it is not uncommon for there be inconsistency in terms of grades between different gyms, different areas outside and even within one climbing gym depending on who set the route (i.e., a climb of about the same difficulty may be rated 5.9 at one gym but 5.1o at another gym).   Also, I’ve noticed if I get too caught up in grades I just don’t find climbing as fun. So I guess the best thing I could do is focus less on the “5.12” part of the climbs I’m working on, and focus more on the climb itself: what part I like about it, what parts I am doing good on and what I could do better (currently a lot!). Unfortunately, it’s easier to give yourself advice than to actually take it!

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Climbing Dictionary (for non-climbers/people new to climbing):

set (verb)–When climbing inside, the routes on the wall are not always the same.   To prevent people from getting bored, staff at climbing gyms make sure to periodically “set” new routes. Setting new routes involves taking down climbing holds presently on the wall and replacing them with a new arrangement of climbing holds.

Greasy (noun)–What it sounds like. When people climb their hands often get sweaty and this in turn causes climbing holds overtime to get progressively more slippery or “greasy” and harder to hold on to.

Sequence (noun or verb)–The sequence is the most energy efficient way in which to do a given climbing route. In other words, the sequence is the series of moves that will get you to the top of the wall without expending too much energy.  The sequence for a climb is never “fixed” since people, to use a cliché, come in all shapes and sizes and have different strengths. For instance, a person who is short may have to climb a given route in a different way than a taller person.

Take (verb)–When I person is climbing they sometimes call out the climbing command “take” to their belayer and this means they want the belayer to take up all the slack in the rope until the rope is completely taunt or tight. Once all the slack is taken up the climber can sit back and rest. So in other words, if someone says “take” they are usually implying that they are tired and want to rest.