Over the last couple weeks while hanging out here in Nederland, I have been trying a bunch of different boulder problems. The theme of the adventure this year has been conquering the old battles of the past, and taking on even more daunting ones from the present. I have referred to problems which seem impossible to me in the past as Nemesis Projects, and over the years, they have been increasingly interesting to me, and increasingly satisfying to accomplish. Things which have challenged me for years are drawing me in, and I have felt an enormous progression in my climbing from these onslaughts. Recently, I climbed a boulder called White Noise in Wild Basin. Now, I never spent a ton of time at CATS, but that sure would have helped. Its very shoulder, very traversy, and very resistant; I couldn't chalk anywhere, it wasn't sandstone, and it made me feel weak. This rig was anti-style for me and was a massive effort, which took me 9 days and overlapped some really shitty temps. Victory was sweet, I felt burly when I sent it, and that I had subtly improved again as a climber throughout the experience. It launched me further down the dark mysterious path, where all my Nemesis Projects await. Similar to a Legend of Zelda game, this extra spooky path looks really cool, especially at night, and has all kinds of sick boulders and routes hidden along it. My journey down this seldom traveled road coincides with Halloween. Which is makes it even cooler.
The Nemesis Projects - David Graham
Now, I know Its scary, but failure is imminent. I will never climb all of these cursed Nemesis Rigs this season, but if I can at least entangle myself with a few, the rewards could be mind blowing: Fame, eventual Presidency of the USA, and that elusive Red Bull Sponsorship so I can climb in space could all be mine. I am willing to take the risks, of which I will only describe a few. A couple of them being that; No one will want to come with me and spot me. I know this well. Its boring to watch someone fail day in and day out, so I will need to acquire more crash pads, and get used to climbing alone. Its dangerous here in Colorado as well, so I will have to risk Mountain Lion Attacks. This is something I am prepared for as well. Many of these Nemesis Projects I keep secret. I don't like people to know how difficult they feel for me, because they will tell me i'm weak, make fun of me, all Colorado style, and give me lots of shit. "Its an easy 8b dude, I don't know what your problem is" or "Maybe you should train more in the gym, I think you need to bulk up" I'm sensitive to that talk. Colorado can suck. It would be just like the kids used to do at that Jewish Day Camp my Dad sent me too. I was the only kid who wasn't Jewish. So they gave me shit. Which wasn't cool. I want to avoid that. Some Nemesis projects, from the vaults:
Flux for life: This one needs to get wrapped up. I came extremely close to climbing this problem some spring or something ago, but fell in the boulders and hurt my shoulder, hiking. Get that.
Jade: Well, I found this in 2000, and still have not climbed it. Very touchy subject. I just did it from a move in three days ago, but it also just snowed 1 foot or who knows up in Chaos. I am getting snow pants, and snow shoes. This game has gone on to long.
Hypnotized Minds: Feels like the hardest boulder on Earth for me. Daniel opened something very special with this one, and climbing it would feel like an ultimate accomplishment in my anti style. I have to get all robot, and I want to keep trying to do that. The only way to climb this boulder is to use Daniel Wood's personal advice "give it 100% every time you try it" Its my only hope. Too bad it just got covered in snow. Shovels help with that one during this season.
Cage Free Assis: Well I don't want to talk about this one. I just want to climb it. JODER TIO!!! I just can't seem to do that jump right!
Mirror Reality: Well I almost did the FA, but didn't satch that up, I left for China, then the Red River Gorge, and have yet to stick that cursed jump from the start. But mark my words. I will. Then I will probably fall off the top. Gotta go brush all the snow off that one too though. BOO!
Now you all know a few things which trouble me out here in Colorado, and thats cool, I'm not embarrassed. Now I am going to recount a little story from the other day, revolving around Nemesis project thought.
One of the lines which I took interest in after climbing White Noise (along with Mind to Motion, which I have been failing to do) was a sick lil' rig established by Michael O'Rourke last month. I brushed the line in the spring, but never got around to putting much time into it, and all that I could remember initially was the thing felt super hard. Hopefully that had changed. Mike put it up and suggested 8b. He had found a reasonable point to begin the boulder from, about one move farther in from where I was trying it originally, and I got super syked when I saw the vid of him doing it.
"A new 8b in the Basin" I thought! THIS RULZ!! I wanted to go back and check thing out, its great when you have new things to try, and I was hoping I could just bang it out.
I made a couple trips up to the boulder for some attempts, and I was shocked at how heinous the crux move felt. A dodgy move to a super sharp crimp, a Midnight Express-Esque sequence if you will, with the difficulty revolving around utilizing a horrible right hand under-clingy wide pinch. The thing was definitely 8b, It felt way harder then that too me, and It took me three days in the end just to do the crux move once on its own. I still had to link it all together, including the annoying first move and tricky foot transition to get set up. Croikee.
Day four I failed miserably to send, but I did it from a move in. On my fifth day, slightly frustrated at how epic the rig was proving to be, I cruised up there alone for some more war. After an hour of futile attempts, something clicked, it was like POOF, and it all just went down. I had to try really hard, but I wound up on top. End of line, experience complete. Check mark. I was extra syked.
While standing in the woods alone near the problem, after turning off my camera, I reflect:
….Why was it so hard? Nemesis move in the end! Was it just hard because its hard for me? Aw man how to tell? Always the dilemma. What do I say to the world? Can I log this on 8a? I will give it a "personal grade" (HAHAHA). Do I tell everyone its hard 8b? My friends will ask, they probably all think its easy. CABRONS. I gotta say something. What does hard 8b even mean these days? Does that mean easy 8b+? Mike is very strong. Wow. Good effort on his part. That felt hard as shit. This happens from time to time. It took me more work then The Grey. By like three days. Thats holding it down at 8b+. THE IRONY!
That thing is proving to be tough for the crew, the game goes both ways. Is this problem and all the other 8b's in the park the same level? I did some of those 8b's like ten years ago. Does that even count? How do I compare that. I'm satisfied. I love climbing WOW. I am so glad I don't have to do that move again. Nemesis Project is complete. To hell with the left exit, I'd have to repeat the start. To hell with the low start, I'd have to repeat the start. MY GOD. Its just that one move…it reminds me of The Quintessential… but there is no dyno…thats more like Cage Free Assis, in fact. Jade. Nothing to do with this. Not so many trends here. Maybe I am uncoordinated. How do I improve that. Video Games. Ping Pong. Chopsticks.
I move under the problem, put my jackets back on, and stare out into the forest. My critter friends are all around, squirrels, birds, chipmunks, and we make eye contact. Everything is cool. I finally catch my breath since my ascent, and its like a realization. I wait for the imminent sensation of getting "cold" and stare off into the distance and think.
…Sometimes 8b's can be really hard, and people don't talk about that much. Its all about doing them quick, cuz it makes you feel strong. When all goes well you say they are easy, it doesn't take a lot of work. You make a mark in the guidebook, if it exists and your done with that. You put that shit on 8a, which takes too much time, and your done with that. Success is great, but how long does that usually last. Memory is all you get. When you try longer, memories become more compact. But that takes more work. And who wants to really work? It's is 2012. We have eliminated a lot of the work. We have IPhones and no one writes letters. Books are losing popularity because they are so long. We don't walk very far anymore. Hiking is out of style. The Fortress does NOT blow up. We have all these climbing gyms. People stash those pads. People stash those ropes. Who wants to carry all that shit. Is it about the easy tick. Do I want that? Who doesn't want to win that lottery. People in France love resistance routes. No crux moves. That shit gets chipped out. Too hard on the link, ruins the flow.
…Its probably an advent of society. Maybe trying hard isn't cool anymore in general? Do I try hard? Or am I trying to fit in?
I stand there, and space out. Its just all so pretty and these thoughts are taxing. Whats going on here? Being alone is interesting. I sent the project, so lets think of something funny, or go look for new rocks, staring at the trees is emo, why do go down like that? I try to think hard and delve into my mind. It feels challenging, thought takes effort, the delving makes me more tired, and the animals friends are actually staring. I lose focus and begin to ponder an easier question "do I want to invest that time and energy right now to even think anything? What would Buddhists say? Should I just walk to the car? Or walk up the hill? Will one of the big cats come and attack? I elude physical activity. I need some food, but I left it in the car. In the end I just think.
…Who is gonna win the election? Please not Mitt. Is the world gonna end in December? That would suck.
Packing up my bags, and folding my many pads, I know the walk out will be boring. Headlamp is out, Im not leaving my video camera or my keys, I set myself up with a more focused idea, and ask myself an honest question.
"Do you still like trying hard?"
…a quick answer comes to mind: DUH.
…mundane question. Easy to answer. I wouldn't have accomplished half the random Nemesis boulders of my time if I wasn't obsessed with spending my time epic-ing out in the freezing cold, trying to do something which only provides a radical challenge for myself. Does this mean I am crazy? Apparently I want to makes things difficult for myself....But is that true?
Bashing through sticks and trees with all my pads and bags strapped to me, its dark. My lamp keeps getting stuck in trees, making it hard to stay focused, as the lamp falls of with my hat, and that all needs to get put back on my head to see. I finally bust free from the forest onto the track. I get into the zone. This is that dark and spooky path. This is where all my nemesis problems lie…and a more entertaining question comes to mind.
"Would I have rather flashed the thing, and have had it feel easy, or work it for five days and have it feel heinous?"
…Working it for five days cost more in gas. I have always wanted to flash 8b. I had to walk a lot more, that sucks its happening right now. My peers may accept me more if I do climbs faster. HAHA, yeah right. Carrying three pads anywhere really sucks, but through the forest, getting tangled that sucks. I could look way cooler doing things easily, rather then flailing on and making them look heinous. My bros would not have gotten so bored hanging out at the problem with me, and I wouldn't have had to go climbing on it alone all the time, that was a drag.
…things stack up as the years go on. My stance is that they all need to get cleaned up and ascended, at whatever expense. Everything needs to be climbed, and if you have tried it, and cannot do it, you are cursed to return to it to make peace in the future. Some Nemesis Rigs feel downright impossible.The Game in Boulder Canyon for example? Its like 20 minutes from my house. Why don't I work that one out? Its heinous for me. But if I went and worked that one out? All out victory, I would buy myself a new car, and take a vacation to the Bahamas.
…Most likely I could do ten other 8c boulders before The Game. It would take some traveling, but that still sounds easier then reacting up against that beast. Its not even my favorite climb, and it has a stupid finger lock. I know beta to avoid the finger lock too. It kicks my ass. The feet are too high. Plus its next to the road, and that is wack. Or is it. Less walking rulz.
I am at my car now, its dark outside, Its time to be conclusive. The drivers side window won't roll up and that is going to suck on the drive home, its also starting to rain. Power windows take an ironic twist.
…I think typically we all want to succeed. Its nice when nothing is epic, and everyone is having fun, clipping chains, topping out rocks. No one wants it to get to that point where people get pissed, no one wants to see people throwing shoes. Bouldering starts becoming stupid. Route climbing starts becoming a major chore. When that all goes down. People get PISSED. Climbers freak out…It's such a treat to just climb something and move on. Failure is tormenting.
…But we inherently want that as climbers. Its nice to have a project. How long should projects last? Will you still have climber partners if you project things for too long? Something I find interesting about all this is: If you have climbed enough of one level, you always imagine you should have it on lock. However this is rarely the case. There always curve ball problems, routes, moves etc. You never now when they are gonna pop up, but they do. Nemisis things happen.
...When you do find them, they are hard to except. I can usually find excuses for while I am falling for a while, before I admit its in the Nemesis category. I say things like: My fingers are really sweaty, the conditions suck, its way too sunny, or its way too dark. But then it hits that point. You realize the game has changed. Maybe you just fell off a 13a onsight, and you have that inkling you may fall on it again, which would be radical because you NEVER fall on 13a onsight. You realize have to try harder. Its like forgetting your keys somewhere, and knowing you are about to break a sweat, because everyone is waiting. You have to invest more, and not for the purpose of climbing a certain difficulty, thats all been warped, but for the purpose of climbing the rock, because its challenging, and you are up for that challenge, 100%.
….When difficulty does not equate, I almost feel like you start having more fun. Whatever you are trying has been proven by yourself to be HARD, and not a gimme. Its everything and all we ever looked for when we set out to rock climb…And it remains unpopular to try your Nemesis project and try extra hard. Or does it?
Car is packed, ignition falters, car beeps four times: headlight is out, needs oil, window-washing fluid, and gas. Bummer. O'Rielly Auto Parts here I come again. As I drive out the dirt road in the dark, scoping for mountain lions and moose, I drift off deep into thought not pondering its difficulty, I remember I am a thinker, I like things to be tricky, or thoughts would be boring. Always when I drive by myself…I ponder the world…apparently when I hike too. All the tangental thoughts lead somewhere, Nemesis rigs and life, relevance dismantles, back to that good ol Enter the Void third-person-feeling…wheres the iPod. Cruising time, watch out for moose…and maybe if you drive fast enough you will come up on an unsuspecting mountain lion…
I hope you all enjoy the video of Sea of Green, you can watch it here http://island.io/8cpUJIG8 Cam made it, its really nice, except for my footage, which is real ghetto, its too bad I couldn't actually focus my camera for the send burn after all these years, of using it.
Live and learn.
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