I figure this now-familiar area is a good place to see if I can lead something a little harder. After a few nice easier routes in warm, pleasant afternoon weather, I pick out Solitary Refinement 5.10a. It’s a shady, gently overhanging, blocky sport climb. Ann and I are both nervous, and I fight to stay calm as I start. The first two clips go well, then suddenly the climbing seems incredibly hard. I fight to reach for a terrible hold and fall off. It’s an easy fall, which helps. After dangling I figure out that I need to follow the big holds (HELLO), and manage to finish the nice mix of rounded blocks, a bulgy arete, and some final thin face moves. Whew! I enjoy the small victory and the physical workout, but still feel a little shaken and unsure how much I want to pursue harder grades. So our endless rocky romance with climbing goes on…
This little canyon is a sweet place to escape for an afternoon. The creek is still running, and lately we’ve been seeing a lot of frogs.
5 responses to “Return to Jailhouse Rock”
Of course, I’m going to give out advice here that I can’t follow myself… but here goes anyway. 🙂
In the last few months, I’ve had the following basic truism flung in my face from a million different directions: **You can’t climb harder if you aren’t comfortable falling.**
All of the people who I have met who climb beautiful, hard routes are happy to fly through the air over and over again as they work through their projects. Plus, it’s usually safer to fall on harder, vertical routes than the easier ones. You just have to wrap your brain around the fact that you can fall, and it is ok.
I know this is hard for both the leader and the belayer sometimes. Maybe, if you wanted some help, you could invest in a grigri and find some place safe to practice taking lead falls. Start small and work up to more realistic falls. Falling safely (and safely belaying a lead fall) is an important skill that should get as much practice as anything else. 🙂
And yes, I know, this little speech should sound really ironic coming out of my mouth. 🙂
PS – If you disagree with my thesis that falling is an important skill, you should read “9 out of 10 Climbers Make The Same Mistakes.” Heck, you might want to read it regardless… it is enlightening.
I was going to write up a review of it… sometime this spring….
I don’t mind! I’m not against falling in reasonable situations (especially on someone else’s rope ;), but I do ask myself whether I enjoy working on a hard route as much as I do just sending easier ones. I know that “projecting” is not what I want to do. That’s much of the struggle for me.
(Not to say I don’t get sketched out about falling – that’s definitely part of it too!)
Oh, I totally understand. Easy routes can be plenty of fun. Mark used to say (years and years ago) that he didn’t need to climb 5.10, because it was just 5.9 with smaller holds. And then, a couple years back, it was that he didn’t want to climb 5.11, because that was just 5.10 with smaller holds.
I think the reality comes down to standing at the base of a beautiful, solid stone wall sweeping over head, and thinking “I want to climb that!” and needing to be able to handle whatever grade that might require. 🙂