Summer climbing conditions are about to descend upon the Southeast. And whether you want to think about it or not, days of 90-degrees and 90% humidity are right around the corner. Once this happens, everything becomes more of a challenge; jugs become worthless and the chalk caking them takes on the consistency of tooth past, days may end quickly after a thunderstorm decides to dump 2 inches of rain in an hour...and then not stop for three more days. Even your normally peaceful, casual approach to the crag takes on a whole new character – flies, mosquitoes, ticks, copperheads, poison ivy, poison oak, giant spiders, rattle snakes, thorn bushes, chiggers – you name it, it’s out to get you….each one lying in wait to inflict their own unique form of natural punishment. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mother Nature and I know that these are just some of her “wonderful” creations doing what they do naturally, and in some cases defending THEIR home….but c’mon – all I’m trying to do is get to the rocks and enjoy myself!
These next few months really do test the mental strength of any rock climber in this part of the country. Some folks head West to hit the high and dry country in places like RMNP or Yosemite. Some folks resort to hiding in the air-conditioned gym to avoid the sweltering conditions. Some people simply stop climbing all together for a while. Me? Call me crazy or a masochist, but I LOVE IT! Does it suck being attacked by multiple creatures already mentioned above? YES! Does it suck being completely pumped after 5 moves because you are constantly sliding off of the biggest jugs you can imagine? YES! Does battling through all of this madness make you a stronger climber both mentally and physically once the good temps come back in the Fall? DEFINITELY!!!!!! To me, training through these adverse conditions gives you the chance to become a much better, much stronger climber. This is the time of year that I simply put my head down, try as hard as I possibly can, and just deal w/it. Who remembers Rocky IV? When Sly has to go to Russia to fight ol' Ivan, does he avoid training in the adverse, harsh conditions outside? NO!! He dives in head first, and fights not only his personal restrictions but the weather as well, and comes out a stronger fighter….and ultimately victorious!
Anyway, my point is – here in the South we are pretty spoiled w/ basically 8-9 months of great climbing conditions. The remaining summer months can suck. But, instead of complaining about it or giving in, this is the time to truly try hard. If you are brave enough to do battle w/ the harsh conditions and not give in to Mother Nature, you will find yourself atop many a hard route/problem once it cools off again. Maybe something that you deemed impossible for yourself last season….and that’s what it’s all about….that makes it all worth while!
Hope to see you out there!