Four Years In


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After four years of Climbing and Whitewater Paddling, I hope I’ve learnt a few things.

Maybe learning a new sport is what I love more than anything. And they all bleed back into one another. The way I snowboard influences the way I paddle, whether i’m on the river or in the surf. Whitewater Paddling and snowboarding even helps my climbing.

Climbing shouldn’t be about rules. It should be about breaking them.  Paddling and Snowboarding might be having issues with rules encroaching, but climbing is unfortunately firmly there. Sport climbing is basically all about following rules and guidelines. Whether it’s the training or the send. If the experience is too regimented you get less out of it.

Rules are the difference between Mountaineering and Alpinism. 

Anarchy isn’t the way either. You have to respect how others will use a limited resource.

Bukowksi was right when he talked about style. He said;

Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art

I try to keep that in mind whatever it is I am doing.

Style and Ethics are two different things. A lot of people put the cart before the horse. Basically style only affects you, where ethics affects others.

Some people think that because an 11 year old girl can climb grade 30, adult males who struggle, winge and spray about a 26 for two years need perspective. I disagree. It’s all about the individual challenge. The endless struggle. I’d rather see someone battle at their extreme limit as close to the edge of what is possible for them and clip the chains on a 26 than watch someone cruise a 32 any day.

You can never know exactly what else is going on in someone’s life at any point when they climb a route, but like a piece of art every new route should be, and is an indelible expression of who they are and where they were in their lives, right then. Climbing new routes is important. So is documenting them. The climber who has done a thousand new routes in private is like a painter with a closet full of finished unseen paintings.

I think what’s possible for everyone is less about crimp strength and more about mental strength. Strength isn’t even the right word. Balance is better. Mental balance.

Sometimes the answer is to stop training. Sit at home and rest. A lot of the time you get beaten in the mountains not because you don’t have the balls to train, but because you don’t have the balls to rest. Most of the time the answer is more training though.

Reflection is important. If I didn’t think so I wouldn’t write this. If you’re not learning  anything about life, your life, why are you climbing? Don’t reflect on how far you are from other peoples success. Reflect on how far you have come, and where you want to go next.

I’ll leave you with a quote.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

-Roosevelt.

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