In the Fall of 2016, I went on one of my first trips to the Red River Gorge. I packed some clothes, some food, a hammock, and an intense fear of heights. My vertical neuroses paired interestingly with a fierce determination to become a good climber. This combination of fears and desires eventually left me hanging in terror on the seventh bolt of A Brief History of Climbing. I sat with my head against the wall crying because I was so uncomfortable with the heights. If you would have told that girl that in three years she would send 5.12, she would have laughed. If you told her she’d do it while deep water soloing in Spain, she might have slapped you. But here we are. I’ve done all of those things. It’s been a hell of a year.
For those who may have missed it, at the beginning of 2019, I set the goal of red-pointing twelve 5.12s in at least four different climbing areas. Though I didn’t meet my objective, I was certainly made better for trying.
So with lots of training, focus, cursing, joy, and many aggressive weekend road trips, here is what I did piece together in my attempt at twelve 5.12s in 2019.
- Groovin’ 5.11d in Birdsboro, PA
- Starry 5.12a in The New River Gorge, WV
- Butch Pocket and the Sundance Pump 5.12a in Wild Iris, WY
- Beattyville Pipeline, 5.12a in The Red River Gorge, KY
- Orangahang 5.12a/b in Rumney, NH
- Flesh For Lulu 5.12 a/b in Rumney, NH
- Bisexual 7a/5.11d (Deep Water Solo) in Mallorca, Spain
- Metrosexual 7a+/5.12a (Deep Water Solo) in Mallorca, Spain
Additionally, though I went bouldering only two or three times this year, I flashed my first V4 and sent my first V5 outside, which was a neat little bonus on top of my sport climbing objectives. With that, here is the little bit of wisdom, that I have personally collected over the past year.
Persistence or Bust
I love climbing, but getting better at it is not easy. Usually, if you are proud to accomplish something, it means you had work hard and make sacrifices to get it.
There were many times where I felt tired, or my day job was really stressful, or I wanted to press snooze on the alarm clock and skip my morning training session. Sometimes I did. But most of the time, I showed up with a plan and got shit done. Not every session felt great – most felt either lackluster or completely terrible. But I showed up.
Personally, I have seen that being consistent and finding excitement in incremental improvements is critical to continuous improvement in as a climber.
Consistency is something that has been a key to pushing through with this blog as well. When I first started writing, I didn’t really know where it would take me, or have any idea what I was doing. Then after four or five months of having no more than twenty people readers, I thought that maybe I ought to quit. It felt a like I was performing a monologue for an auditorium of deaf kittens. Lots of work with no one listening.
I want to sincerely thank those of you who emailed me, messaged me and told me that something I had written had helped you or inspired you in the year since I started this blog. Knowing that someone had benefitted from something I had written kept me from quitting. It helped me to stay excited to write even when it seemed like this blog served no purpose besides sucking time from my loved ones, my climbing, and my apartment that needs to be tidied every now and again. So thank you, sincerely. I love writing and climbing and I do not have plans to stop doing either any time soon.
Here’s to a New Year
With that, I wish you all the happiness, health, and sends in the coming year. May you set big, hairy, audacious goals. Even if you fail, may you learn a lot in the process.
With that, I will leave you with the words of the late Warren Miller.
“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
You are never too old to crush at something. Have a happy New Year.