Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Don't Run Away

For the last two years, we've climbed, in early summer, at a little crag in northeastern Oregon called Spring Mountain. This andesite crag is about 0.75 km long and 30 metres high and features a hundred or more climbing routes with a pretty even mix of sport and traditional climbs. The climbing is generally steep and smooth. There are some bomber incut holds but more often you'll find yourself on little crimpers, slopers or flat holds. Compared to granite, friction is much less, and you get none of the big jugs and handles that patinaed granite and sandstone features. Compared to other areas I"ve climbed - which now covers most of the Western US and Canada - the grades are on the hard side, but, they are relatively consistent. A 5.8 at Spring will feel like a 5.9 elsewhere, generally.

The thing I find about climbing at Spring is, that the routes require all kinds of different techniques and moves, and, at least for me (and I know for others who have climbed there) you can get kinda worked over. After three consecutive days of climbing there, I was so tired that the 5.7's were starting to feel hard, and 5.10's had become darn near impossible. So, if you are a grade chaser you might be humbled.

But, what you shouldn't do is run away. I've known folks leave Spring Mountain after only a day of climbing to go somewhere else where the climbing is easier. Which, in a way is kind of perverse, because most people will tell you they climb because it challenges them, yet, when they actually get challenged they retreat.

You might take a few falls, you might get really tired, you might even find yourself demoralized (I speak from personal experience), but, if you can stick it out, the experience will be better for your climbing in the long run. We learn the most when we are challenged the most. Endlessly climbing easy routes or running laps on routes you have memorized move by move doesn't propel your climbing forward. Learning new ways to tackle problems, trying different body positions, climbing routes that do not favor your strengths, these are the things that lead to concrete improvements. Remember, the old adage: that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Working away on a 10a/b

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