Fall is quickly approaching here in the southeast and while it’s still quite warm, there have been a couple of cool days that I've been able to take advantage of. After a long summer of climbing, setting, and coaching at Atlanta's Stone Summit, restlessness and anticipation for the fall/winter season have begun to set in. After a pretty slow and unproductive last year I've straightened out my priorities and am making every effort I can to get out more this season. After finishing my final year of college last December I neglected outdoor climbing out of desire to just relax for a bit. It felt nice to just hang out and not feel pressure to really do anything, whether it was a school paper or making a long journey to go climbing. My motivation definitely was in taking it easy rather than making it out to go climb. I think that the lack of climbing outside for the past year or so is what's causing this restlessness and a high level of anticipation for the coming season. Basically, I'm PSYCHED to get back out and climb as much as possible! There are too many things on my to do list and not nearly enough time.
A few weeks ago I was able to get out of Atlanta for a day and make back up to the Red. I've been watching the weather in all the climbing spots within a 10 hour drive of Atlanta and the weather at the Red that weekend was awesome! High of 66?! Yes please.
My girlfriend Sarah and I only had Sunday off but we were too psyched to sit in the gym on one of the first cool days of the season. We left Atlanta on Saturday around 6 p.m. and made the 6 our journey to Slade, KY, arriving at the campground and quickly going to sleep. The next day we did the breakfast routine at the Rockhouse, warmed up at the lode, and quickly headed to the neighboring Chocolate Factory. I tried a route this past spring at the Chocolate Factory called the Golden Ticket and have been obsessed with it since. After two weekend trips this past spring I was getting close but the warm weather moved in before I was able to make it back up to try to finish it off. The route has a little bit of everything and isn’t as steep as the other lines at the Red. This makes it a little more technical and a bit more bouldering/power endurance oriented compared to the other more endurance oriented routes there.
Given the small amount of time on this trip I knew I was only able to try the route a couple of times before we had to leave back to Atlanta. On my first go I managed my way back up into the final boulder problem and fell on the same move that I’d fallen on repeatedly last spring. I was a little frustrated but managed to tweak some beta and come up with a slightly better method. The sun had creeped onto the wall at this point and I was forced to rest for the next 4 hours while I waited for the shade to return. As soon as the shade made its way onto the wall I set off for my next attempt. I managed my way back up to the final boulder problem yet again but ended up falling on the same move. AHHH! So frustrating!
Somebody passing through the area asked how long I’d been trying the route and I responded with, “Too long.” They replied back, “Like a couple of years?” I thought about it for a second and realized that I had only spent 4 days on the route over the past 6 months. Realizing this made me have a change in attitude. While it feels like I’ve been trying this route for an eternity (probably due to the fact that I’ve been obsessing over it for the past 6 months and have only been able to try it a handful of times), four days is NOTHING. I think it’s important to enjoy the challenge a route presents to you in the moment instead of in retrospect. Getting frustrated is part of the process and without it a send isn’t as sweet. It’s important to realize this and to not get too caught up with just doing the route. It’s easy to be negative when we aren’t sending but without these frustrations climbing would be very boring and not nearly as rewarding. Lesson learned.
A couple weekends ago I competed in my first World Cup here in Atlanta. I don’t have a lot of competition experience and I am psyched that I had the opportunity to attend the event. While I was most definitely nervous/intimidated, I was excited to be able to compete against some of the best climbers in the world. While I didn’t do a terrific job, I was the top placing American with a 15th place finish and am very happy with the way things went.
With temperatures falling quickly the focus is beginning to shift to getting outside whenever possible. I’m starting to go stir-crazy being inside while knowing the weather is prime in numerous outdoor spots. First stop on the list is the RED! I’m in New Jersey at the moment at a USA routesetting clinic but when I return to the south the priority is climbing. I have a couple days in the coming weeks that I’ll be taking advantage of so hopefully I can make something happen!