I tried really hard to send my project, Fisheye, at Oliana during the month that I spent in Spain, but I just couldn’t pull it off. The 50 meter route defeated me, leaving me mentally exhausted and a bit disappointed that I had spent the entire month working just one route. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had finally gained enough endurance to climb such a monster pitch, but my climbing during that last week of my trip just didn’t feel “on”. As always, I had put too much pressure on myself. I desperately wanted to succeed, to feel that sweet sense of relief and sheer ecstatic joy that only comes when you clip the chains on a hard route – it had seemed like an eternity since I’d felt it last.
Warming up at Oliana (photo by Joe Kinder)
When I try difficult routes that are at my limit, I find that I must learn and relearn every section of beta, dial in how to take each individual hold and understand the nuances of the hardest movements. I fail alot; become frustrated and angry with myself and my lack of strength and/or ability to identify what I’m doing wrong. There’s a level of intimacy and understanding I acquire with the route that makes it special to me, a sort of relationship.
Me on Fisheye (photo by Colette McInerney)
One day at the cliff Chris, Joe and I decided that starting a new project is analogous to starting a new relationship. It’s so exciting and interesting at the beginning. You discover the character of the route, decide whether or not it suits you, if you think it will be fun to keep trying, or if you will maybe lose interest. Some of us are incredibly dedicated to one route, to learning the moves and giving it our time and energy – we have motivation for only this route and nothing else. While others need to devote energy to different projects of varying styles “because each one offers something different!!” was Chris’ input. The process (while hopefully enjoyable for the most part) can become an emotional rollercoaster of sorts and turn into a mental clusterfuck of obsession and frustration that leaves many of us saying “I just want to get it over with.” or “This should have been finished like a month ago.” We take breaks, go back and try again, either to fail yet again or succeed if we’re lucky. The termination of a relationship with a route is where the analogy becomes a bit muddled and none of us could agree on what “sending” actually equated to. Nonetheless, we all concluded that as rockclimbers, projecting is an incredibly meaningful and challenging process, one that we devote the majority of our time and energy to, and we all have a slightly different approach to the whole thing.
Chris on La Dura Dura
Joe on Los Humildes pa Casa
I’m not sure what relationship phase I was in with Fisheye when I left, but in my mind it’s not over yet. I still really want to go back to it, even though Joe warned me that the route “is really popular with chicks.” Ha. He’s right, I think something like 12 women have climbed that route so far – again, the analogy falters a bit here as far as what that would mean….but I’m going back to Spain in April and maybe I can finish what I started then. If not, it will always be there. Unlike humans, routes have no choice but to stay put until we decide to give them our attention again.