Mood, Motivation, and Todd Bouldering Hard at Byron Glacier

Last Friday I went out to Byron again – against my better judgement. Once more I withdrew into the shadow of the mountain to try a project that has been consuming my thoughts since I found it earlier this summer, but the world conspired against me.

The Enemy

I carried three pads by myself  (two of mine and one that I was still hoarding from Todd) and they exhausted my already tired body. The mosquitos and flies were the worst they had ever been, landing on my nose and in my eyes while I tried to climb. Water was dripping off the wall onto my pads requiring me to dry and chalk my feet before each attempt, and worst of all it was seeping onto the start holds.

This was the fourth day I had devoted to the project and I was struggling to repeat the crux move I had done the first day; each try was filled with increasingly negative energy as I failed. I wanted to be in the sun, drinking beer with friends. I wanted to at least walk away for a few minutes to regroup my thoughts and escape the mosquitos, but the seeping water required that I dry the start holds every three minutes. I wanted to be done and rid of it, but for a few hours I continued the process of drying, chalking holds, and failing repeatedly to the point that my psyche was stretched between a state of forced calm and uncontrollable rage. I loathed the existence of this piece of rock. I cursed at it, then apologized; screamed and then meditated; but no amount of emotional bargaining, focus, or faux zen was getting me closer to sticking the second crux at the top.  After a dozen “last” tries and a few more mental breakdowns I finally gave up and went home. I  didn’t send a single problem that day.

Chris V working Genjutsu-v6/7 next to Ningenuity

Developing has been consuming all of my spare energy this summer and after such a terrible day I was ready for a long break, maybe focus on the race I’m doing this weekend (Lost Lake Trail Run). But as chance would have it, two different friends (both named Chris) were in town for the week and the Chris’s wanted to go out to Byron. As the weather broke into a beautiful day, I realized I could not turn them down. Myself, Chris V, and his other visiting friends met with Todd and Chris B out at the Ninja Boulders and we tried to warm up on Ningenuity V5 while Todd worked a much harder looking problem beside us. The opening moves for the new problem were cool, but unfortunately it traversed over to a top out instead of going straight over the lip.

We moved over to the Tourist Boulder and tried an excellent problem called Bleed Them Dry-V5 that I had done last year on a short steep face. While we took our time working this, Todd looked at a direct line straight up the face from a miniature jug. After a few attempts where he easily stuck the first deadpoint move to a minimal rail, he decided to commit to the dyno at the finish. Even with plenty of pads and people beneath him, a fall from the top of the problem would have been huge, with his body swinging almost 90 degrees from the wall, feet spiraling above the hands of his spotters, but he held the top as his legs completed the full air walk and swung back in, adding another new line to Byron – Falling Up-v9.

Falling Up V9

Falling Up V9

As dramatic and hard as the moves were, Todd made them look ridiculously easy because they were clearly too easy for him. On the backside of the boulder he did the samething again, flashing a new line beneath an overhanging bulge of rock that I described last year as the front half of a VW beetle hanging out from the wall. I had tried the problem, but really could not fathom how to link the moves together. Todd simply overpowered the rock, muscling through the moves while experimenting with foot beta as he climbed. He called it Frog People-V9 (maybe harder). Then he did the left exit of the bulge in the same fashion, adding Toad People -v7/8. As I watched this happen, I could not help but think that Todd needs stronger friends, and they need to go find harder things to climb.

Meanwhile the rest of us ogled the rocks and the beauty of our surroundings. The setting sun on the glaciers created an ethereal glow. Byron Glacier put on a show for the visitors and shook loose a massive chunk of snow, that burst as it cascaded down the rocks, filling the valley with the sound of thunder and mesmerizing all of us.

Byron Glacier in the Evening Sun – The Tourist Boulder can be seen on the lower right of the photo


As we shook ourselves awake, we all  had fun on a couple of other excellent problems on the Tourist Boulder called Princess Cruise-v5 and Hemantle-v6. The Chris’s and I all sent the v5, while Ian tried valiantly to send his first outside V5 on Bleed Them Dry, coming super close to sticking the final jug before running out of gas. Chris gashed his finger on the razor crimp on Hemantle and everyone was done.  It was time pack up and slowly head back. I think everyone enjoyed the day, including myself.

Chris finger as we headed out

Thinking about the contrast of moods between my last two days of climbing I have realized three things:

  1. I need more rest if I am going to work on my projects.
  2. I need to climb with other people because it is more fun.
  3. I need to take short break from developing because I have no more energy.

This last part is difficult for me because I need to keep climbing. Already the subtle change of seasons is beginning. Think of the opening monologue in the Lord of the Rings, “I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air.” Trees shot with yellow leaves and the odor of decaying cows parsnip recalls a time when I used to be a runner in high school and the nostalgia reminds me of autumn. Our climbing season only lasts at most another two months, maybe a week or two more with worsening conditions (meaning below freezing temps and cleaning snow off the holds). If it still above 90 degrees where ever you are reading this then you need not comprehend this absurd fact. My point is that I cannot afford to have a lull in motivation right now. So after a break to enjoy some other activities (maybe rope climbing?) I hope I can recharge the batteries and keep getting after it. Cheers.


Autumn Devils Club

Autumn Devils Club