Walter’s Crack

The day I started bouldering, a little over a year ago now, I squared off against this problem. It’s a slightly overhanging crack that is wide and flaring near the bottom, then narrows at shoulder height so there are only a few key spots my fingers will fit in. That first day I couldn’t get both feet off the ground.

Many times since I’ve watched my friends glide or grunt up it, only to be soundly defeated again when it was my turn. I took to working on it alone, cramming my fingers into the crack’s maw until they were bloody, blistered, and raw. Progress was made in inches. One by one I found the combination of moves that would allow me to go for the next hold. I reached a point where I knew how exactly how I would climb it, but I didn’t have the strength to do it yet. I played the moves over in my mind. I didn’t want to make any compromises — I would stick in the crack all the way up.

Today I executed those moves calmly, in balance, deliciously. I reached the top of Walter’s Crack for the first time. I don’t envy anyone who had an easier time with it. The hours of pain and frustration have now delivered me into perfect bliss.

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