Mental Toughness and a Full Moon in Jtree.

16 09 2008

Life continues to be busy and hectic but I was able to get a bit of climbing in this weekend. Conflicting schedules and a careful decision not to over train meant only one day at the climbing gym this past week. I got in a few nice bike rides to work and started running again. I even was able to push my 5k time down to 20:05. I am not a 5 minute mile runner or a marathoner but I love my 5k. Three miles seems to be a good distance and I can try to go fast the whole way. I am hoping to improve my cardio vascular fitness and finally run a sub 19 minute 5k. Having goals outside of climbing helps keep me motivated to train hard in the gym.

Stein and Leah below Control Freak. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

With a good week of rest and cross-training I was excited to go to the Riverside Quarry on Saturday. Stein and I were climbing by eight and I was happy to try a few new routes as warmups. Leah and her husband Andre were on Original Sin so we started on Exfoliator and worked our way to another 11c near by afterwards. I think it is called Afterburner and since it is a newer route it could use some more traffic to clean off the dirt and loose rock.  After warming up it was Stein’s turn to try hard and he put the draws up on Tattoo. It was his fifth day on the project and he was getting close. A few foot slips and some exciting falls later he made it to the top of the headwall. Confident that recovery would help give him back some power I got a turn.

Leah had just put draws on the first half of Control Freak and I was anxious to see how my fitness was. I hadn’t been to the quarry in a few weeks but I had been doing a bit of bouldering to help with my power. I fell in to mental weakness and grabbed the draw instead of committing to a foot switch. I just was not comfortable with the the move and it got into my head. I did the move a few times and moved on. I stuck the crux deadpoint first time and did the rest of the moves and lowered off. Leah got on the route again and Stein and I spent a bunch of time resting. After Leah took a long fall (see comment after post), the one I was afraid of, she figured out that we could use a double length draw and the clip before doing the first crux.

Luke on the final moves of Control Freak. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

With all the draws in place I set off for a redpoint. I had to reach pretty far to make the pre-crux clip but with the added confidence I committed to the foot switch. I made the cross over and was done with the mental part of the route. I did a few quick shakes and climbed up to the power crux. Clip, shake commit! I stuck the move with a yell. This was my longest link thus far and I needed to keep moving. Shake, crimp, hand foot match and balance up to a good hold. I had made it to the no hands rest! I was so excited but I needed to concentrate on my breathing and relax in order to get back a bit of energy.

Recharged, I climbed smoothly through the steep finale. Making the last jump and yelling again with joy as my feet cut. I mantled over the bulge and clipped the anchors! My first 13 was complete! I was so happy to have made it through and been able to focus and climb the route. Clipping early on the first crux eliminated my fear and I climbed deliberately through the hard moves. The September weather was perfect and everything had come together. Three days of climbing, 10 tries and I had done my hardest route yet!

Luke post-send! Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Inspired by my performance, Stein got back on Tattoo. He made the opening moves look easy and climbed very strong and executed the boulder problem perfectly!! He rested for a while and embarked on the headwall, the second crux. It seemed he must have spent too much time resting and his climbing lacked the flow and focus from lower on the route. He staidly made his way up to the final hard moves but came off. The feet on this section are precarious and you need mental toughness and solid crimp strength. He came down and I gave the route a go on TR.

I struggled just getting to the 3rd bolt with the odd underclings and bad feet. I made my way through boulder problem and onto the headwall. I was too spent for such technical climbing on small holds and gave up. We both tried a few more times and did not make much progress. Tired and happy we headed back to San Diego.

Taylor has come to love the smells of the Quarry and is at home scrambling around the base of the routes. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Stein and I had met in Escondido and I had arranged to meet a friend, when I returned, to carpool out to Joshua Tree. We were going to the desert to celebrate the full moon and my friend Hartley’s birthday. Lacey, one of Hartley’s friends who I had met many years before at Smith Rocks, lived in Pacific Beach and needed a ride. We quickly made our way to J-Tree with a dinner stop at Crossroads Cafe. It had been months since I had been to Jtree and it was funny to going back with out any trad gear. I was told only to bring my bouldering pad and shoes.

That night after a bit of slacklining (which we found out is illegal in the  park) we wandered the desert by moonlight. It was fun to be scrambling around in the “dark” without needing a headlamp. The weather was cool but not cold and we had a good time. Joshua Tree looked beautful in the white glow of the moon and it was stress free to be there without any plans. No projects or obligations, no climbs that needed to be sent and no agenda for the next day.

In the morning we did a bit of bouldering with a stop at White Rastafarian. We had tried the problem the night before in the dark in sneakers with no success. With only one pad it didn’t seem reasonable to give serious effort to this tall problem. Hartley and I both got to the top of the initial flake without a problem. I was able to get my foot high and could visualize the reach to the top rail. Unfortunately it seemed like a dynamic move and the back breaking rock 10 feet below did not inspire me. We left and drove to Gunsmoke for something a bit closer to the ground. It had gotten quite warm and we were starting to suffer in the heat. I taped my fingers and did a lap on the route. It was quite tricky since I couldn’t feel the crimps and struggled to stuff my fingers in various slots. After Hartley worked various sections we bailed. He had done the route before and neither of us or Lacey were having fun.

Hartley treated us to lunch at crossroads and we headed home. We left Joshua Tree around 3:15 to head back to San Diego. We had left at the same time to come out the previous day so we had a mere 24 hours in the park. It was a blast and hopefully I can steal a bit of Hartley’s time from snowboarding this winter to come out to Jtree with Lizzy and I.

The weekend was a great success and I had even managed a good amount of sleep. To cap things off I went for a run when I got home. Trying to go fast was a bit of mistake since the glorious Grilled Coyote was still in my stomach (A grilled chicken burger with jack cheese, a portobello mushroom and bacon!). It was my last of three weekend away from Lizzy. I can wait to see her on Friday and we are going to an REI scratch and dent sale on Saturday morning.

I may update when I get some photos from Hartley, which would be a nice change from my wordy posts!

Update: Got some sweet photos from Andre! For more of his work check out his site

– Luke




7 responses

17 09 2008
Louie Anderson

Was sent a link to this and just read your post.

Congrats on the redpoint and a new grade for you!

What’s next?

– Louie

17 09 2008

Tattoo, Seduction and Kingpin are on the list.

18 09 2008

Just an ‘FYI’ that the long fall at the first crux resulted in a swollen ankle! For safety reasons, I would recommend hanging a long draw if a shorter one is out of reach before attempting the crux moves. The fall is somewhat nasty due to a ledge beneath.


18 09 2008

Good job Luke!! And thanks Andre for the great photos.

Seeing you send Control Freak gave me a boost of motivation.
I’m now confident that Leah and I will soon be sending our projects too.


22 09 2008

Taylor is such a cutie!

3 10 2008

Geez! A thirteen!
Nice job there Luke!

16 12 2008
Facing forward while looking back. « Dream in Vertical

[…] a long term investment. I wonder if projecting Equinox was the way to fill a hole after I sent Control Freak back in September.  Will our trip to the Virgin River Gorge fill the hole that Equinox will […]

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