Taking time off from the sport you love can be difficult but can pay huge dividends in the long run if timed correctly. Not only is forced time off part of a healthy physical training cycle, but also a necessity in order to stay psyched and willing to push your body to the limits. It always amazes me how good my body feels after a recovery period. Finger tendons tighten up in a positive way, nagging minor soreness goes away, skin repairs, and the ever important mind recovers and is ready to begin the process all over again. I find that mentally I am always able to dig a bit deeper after some time off. I have found climbing most of the year at Smith Rock and traveling during the summers that about 2-3 full weeks off in the winter and the same amount of time at the end of summer is just about perfect. Prior to understanding this cycle I would climb all year long but eventually would have diminishing returns or I would end up injured. Either way the sport insists on time off. You just have to decide if it will be on it’s terms or your own.
After a 3 week winter hiatus I was able to put together the stellar Michael Orr route Mr. Yuck (prep by Kent Benesch). Mr. Yuck is one of Smith’s lesser known 14s but is top notch in quality. It climbs the technical Slit Your Wrist (13b) arête to a brilliant, slightly overhanging, headwall that requires just the right blend of finesse and power.
This past weekend also marked the return of a great friend to the cliff who had an unfortunate accident 2 months ago. Luckily, because of a strong mind and some thick skin a fall from 25 feet probably hurt the ground more than it did him. Nonetheless it was nice to have him on the other end of the rope once again.