Thursday, March 31, 2016

On dying happy

sticking the crux move on Estado

Last week in Siurana, I sent my hardest route yet, Estado critico, my first 9a. I still can not quite believe it, but apparently I got from bottom to top without falling, so that's it I guess. It was a special time in a place very dear to me. Unlike other trips, this time I didn't mind only working on one route. With Seb Bouin who's working La Rambla, it felt like we're on a mission. Go to crag late, warm up route, two or three tries in the project, finish the day. Have lots of rest to avoid fatigue and preserve the skin. Endless battle in my head, going through the moves in my head a hundred times a day, visualizing myself doing it. Constantly going between optimistic 'imagine I do this one day!' and pessimistic 'I am nowhere close, give up', but always psyched because it felt so intense. It was putting all the eggs in one basket and hoping I'm any good at watching it.

Indeed the hardest thing about this climb was believing it would go... just like on any hard redpoint that takes time and involvment as you are intimidated by the prospect of sending something really hard. But definitely on this one, the swings between the 'it'll go one day' and 'I am nowhere close' were the biggest ever. It was easier and more fun to do it with some good company in El Pati like Seb working on the Rambla, Kelvin being my coach and all the rest of the strong crew there.

I think reflecting about your climbing is as important to performance as training. We do it all the time and we develop our view of what works for each in climbing. The theories are often misjudged and unhelpful. We need an objective and pragmatic perspective, but it's hard to achieve since we're too involved emotionally. People end up training too much, resting too little and turning into obsessive climbing robots getting stronger in their already strong point, but unfamiliar with different forms of climbing.

Myself a few years ago, coming from a background of youth competitions and obsessive training, I was hung up about my performance and had a number of uncertainties and doubts. I would never believe I would one day climb something like this because I was too weak or it simply seemed so abstract. Slowly over the years I made away with the misconceptions about my climbing by stopping pushing for it and going with the natural flow of things, climbing a lot, becoming stronger and finding climbing more fun as more and more things became possible.

So in this sense doing Estado is a realization. Really, in the end, climbing is a game and there’s no mistery to it. Everyone develops their style of climbing. A lack of one strength you can compensate with another. I could go on trying to climb harder and harder stuff if I wanted to commit to it. While limits definitely exist for me and the extraterrestrians like Ondra have gone a long way ahead by now and we will never catch up, there’s no saying where limits lie. It’s becoming aware of this that is the real achievement for me. Despite I have often thought 'if I could ever do 9a, I could quit climbing and can die happy', it's only a matter of time before I get involved in another project. So it goes.

At the same time I would like to stay conscious of how lucky and privileged I am in this case... it took me a week to send Estado which is fast (it is surely a soft 9a, but no-one has downgraded it yet though, and mr. Ondra confirmed it too), and it took me a lot less discipline and focused, planned effort as some people are investing to climb their hardest. I didn't even quit my beer diet (although I kept feeling bad about it). My privilege is 15 years in climbing, 6 years of intense sessions with one of the best coaches, being able to take time off to go on trips, the genetics that have kept me pretty much injury-free all this time. My climbing now is the distillate of some years of hard effort and I am so psyched about it because it allows me to travel and change styles and climb whatever but still feel comfortable on all and it remains fun and it keeps getting more fun every year, like I guess it should :)

Enjoy the few photos (the photos of the route were taken by my friend Guillame Lion) and stay psyched, hasta la victoria!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! I wish I could have been there to see it. Now it's Seb's turn. Ps.. Thanks for all of the belays. - Dan