So, we have been in Colorado for two and a half weeks and it had been a mixed bag. We have had good weather, bad weather, sending days, failing days, frustration, elation and of course friends and fun.

I have been thinking a lot these past weeks and I have come to the conclusion that climbing is a very odd, complex sport. It baffles me sometimes. As climbers we want to have our cake and eat it; we want to train hard with no substantial rest period in our calender, we want to go on climbing trips and climb our best every day. We put our bodies through the mill and just expect them to perform day after day. In what other sport would an athlete attempt a PB every session? We do it, not only outside but in training too.

In theory, the last month has been one of my best; I have climbed my hardest ever sport route (Mecca) and have bouldered my hardest ever problem (Tetris). However, as we prepare to leave Colorado to head to Joe’s Valley I am left with a slightly sour taste, a feeling of slight emptiness and unfulfilment. “Really?!” I hear you say. I know, it sounds awfully ungrateful and pessimistic but that is not the whole picture. It is not often that I put all my eggs in one basket but that is what I did to achieve those two aformentioned goals and, don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it. What I am getting at is that sometimes it takes a certain mindset to climb your hardest, one that I am still adjusting to. It means sacrifice; not always climbing other things on your mental ticklist, not topping out very often. I love those trips, those days, when I climb multiple problems. They don’t have to be at my limit but I still get that feeling of acheiving something, of overcoming a challenge. I guess it comes down to positive reinforcement; something I have realised that I need quite a bit of! Being told doesn’t do it, telling myself doesn’t either – I need rock solid (excuse the pun) evidence in the form of a summit! Those two ascents, of course, gave me poisitive reinforcement but it is the frequency of achievment that is lacking. I know that two substantial ascents in a month is good frequency but taken in the context of climbing most days it feels scarce. I guess it depends also on personality. My climbing confidence will probably always have a slight frailty to it, just because that is how I am wired. Good days and bad days like everyone, always seemingly regardless of how yesterday went.

Realising these things has been quite liberating, it has given me a more rational perspective from which to consider and manage myself. I am extremely lucky to be doing what I am doing and I am eternally grateful for my daily experiences but there are always times of frustration, just as there is always a place for analysis of those emotions. As it stands, although I am immensely pleased with my recent acheivements, I am aware that I need a period of time now in which I can lower my grade; lower the general effort level required on individual climbs and increase the frequency of positive reinforcement. In simpler terms, I am ready to do some mileage.

This is where Joe’s Valley comes in! Short walk ins, short drives and tons of amazing looking problems in the V7-V10 range. I’m ready for some brim-filled climbing days and some topping out!

In terms of inspiration, David has been climbing fantastically. He is on some kind of sending spree and it is a real joy to be a part of. Nothing beats seeing a cheshire cat grin on the face of someone you care about as they top out. Those moments have been highlights and I hope to see more of them.

Here is the video of my success on Tetris:

 

And one of David’s successes:

 

And some pictures:

 

Autumn aspens, Photo David Mason

Warming up on the portable fingerboard, Photo David Mason

My hands after climbing Tetris, Photo David Mason

Sunset at Lower Chaos, Photo David Mason

Golden Aspens, Photo David Mason

The Fuzz (aka Royal), Photo David Mason

Marys Lake, Estes Park, Photo David Mason