Pushing Limits by Projecting

18 08 2008

In the past I have been hesitant to project routes because I would not have the time to return and complete them. However in order to start sending harder routes I believe that I need to try things that are above my current sends. Currently I have been plateauing around 12b. While i have yet to onsight the grade I have send a few 12b’s 2nd go and have onsighted 12a. To make matters worse I haven’t even tried very many routes harder that 12b. I think that I have lead less than 5 routes 12c or harder.

Over our long weekend at Mount Charleston I was trying to allow my fingers time to recover while gaining stamina. A hardcore regiment of bouldering had proved detrimental to my tendons and my fingers had been hurting for two weeks. 11c is a good difficulty for me and one of my favorite grades. While I did my first 11c way back in March of 2005 I am still entertained by the climbing. It is not quite 5.12 so there can be good holds and a 11c in my style can be a good onsight.

Lizzy wanted to go to Robbers Roost and I was happy to do a bit of hard climbing on The Burgler. At 12c I had jumped on it last time because I knew it was good for me since I would need to try hard. But back in June I did not think that I could send it even though it was within my phyical limit. Talking to Felix, one of my friends at the gym, about his send of the route raised my pyche and helped me see that the route was possible. The blocky start had totally shut me down on my previous trip and I got scared on lead and didn’t even finish the route.  This time was different and I was able to find a powerful sequence through the opening holds. Body tension and underclings allowed me to gain the crimpy mid section and finally the upper underclings. More tenuous smears lead to the anchors and I had fallen my way to the top.

A few more trys and I linked through the bottom crux and was at the no hands rest. Keeping my motivation high i worked my way up to my second crux. A tricky right hand gaston led to a full exenstion left hand stab into an undercling. With a grunt I was still going but my arms were turing into putty. Motivation sapped I lost my steam and gave up only two bolts before the anchor. Even without the send I was happy. I had pushed hard through the bottom crux and had made it higher than I ever expected. The end moves are still physical and I need to add some endurance before I try again.

While Lizzy was getting cooked up in the Squamish heat this past weekend I had a nice morning at the Riverside Quarry. While it was supposed to hit 92 in Riverside a 6am start and shade until 1pm allowed for a lot of climbing. It was a bit muggy in the morning but with a nice breeze friction was great by noon.

I met up with Stein and Leah at Vertical Hold and we made our way to the quarry. We were climbing around 8am on the classic warm up, Original Sin. It felt much less pumpy this time and after everyone lead it we put a rope on the first part of Sky Pliot to the right. It was my first time on this route so I watched for beta. It was fun and despite mis-sequencing and falling it was a good time. Leah and I then top roped Sins of the Flesh 12d/13a to warm up our fingers for crimps. It was very fun and I climed it clean until the crux. A long lockoff from a good edge followed by some super small holds and then a powerful sequence on opposing side pulls to a jug. Stein skipped this one mentally preparing for his project, Control Freak 13a/b.

On his first try, this visit, Stein came close to sticking the crux deadpoint and then came down to conserve energy. The movement on the route was pretty straightforward but finding all the holds was tricky. A few easy moves lead off the ground to a tricky left traverse at the third bolt. After gaining the first ledge I got a good shake and then crimped up to a hidden left hand hold. This allowed passage to the fifth bolt and the best rest on two large jugs with good feet. Proper recovery was key because the technical first crux was next!

After manteling these two jugs you got a small right hand crimp and slapped out left to a poor sloper. Slapping up again gained a better sloper and allowed a crucial foot switch. Now well above the last bolt a high left foot allowed a cross off the sloper to a good crimp. It was easy to barn door off this move which would send you flying on lead. From the crimp you reached high to a good hold and the next clip. On this high left hand you recover best possible to get ready for the main crux. Directional crimps lead to the next clip and the crux deadpoint. From a good left crimp and a poor right sidepull you lunge for a diagonal edge just above the bolt. I was able to stick this move a few times but need to get it more dialed for the redpoint.

Once you stick the move you have to bring your feet up high on a bad right hand hold and do a dynamic left hand bump to a good edge before the next bolt. This leads to much easier climbing including a fun jump to a jug above the last bolt. A few quick moves on jugs and you are at the anchor.

We top roped this route a bunch of times and I lead it once with a bunch of falls. I was able to do all moves on lead and need to work on relaxing enough to link from the ground into the crux deadpoint. It was super exciting to be working on a hard route that was more in my style. Both Seduction and Sins of the Flesh had very small holds and I struggled to do many of the moves. With some more work I feel that Control Freak could be quite doable and hopefully I can try it again this weekend.

Even with falls it was very motivating to lead my first 13. The focus necessary for the first crux allowed me to move past my fear of being above the bolt. I was completely in the moment and had my cleanest link of the first crux on lead. I have been trying to get past my fears of falling and Stein has been very supportive. It was also helpful to watch him fall from the first and second cruxes without consequence.  Mentally this weekend was a big step and even though I don’t feel any stronger and didn’t send anything. As Stein has told me many times the key is to be relaxed. I agree and by letting go of my fear and just climbing I was able to perform much better.

– Luke




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