mattbell: (Default)
At the local indoor rock climbing gym, all the routes are given names.  Usually the routes in a given area all have names along a similar theme -- eg whiskies, Shakespeare plays etc. 

One section of the gym has routes named after sweeteners. 

"Sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, xylitol, Jessica, fructose, glucose"

Jessica?  I'm sure there's a story.  Maybe it's one of the route setters' girlfriends.  In any case, despite her sweet demeanor, the run by her name is one hell of a challenge.  However, it's a very interesting run, with lots of lateral moves and unusual holds.  I found myself drawn to Jessica, but repeatedly rebuffed by her (5.11a) tricky route.  I tried to get to the top several times over the last month, usually falling 4-5 times along the way if I made it to the top at all.  I had much of the route memorized.  Obsession brewed.  I worried that the route would be taken down before I had a chance to make a clean ascent.

Yesterday, we all decided to film each other at the gym to study our technique, so I happened to get onto film my first successful clean attempt at topping, err.. mounting... uh... summiting, conquering, climbing... oh I give up... Jessica. 

If anyone wants to give climbing a try (if you can climb a ladder, you can do a beginner route!), let me know.  This Friday is bring-a-guest-free day.
mattbell: (Default)
Yesterday I managed to climb my first 5.11 b/c.  Prior to this, the hardest route I had completed was a 5.11a.  Granted the grading systems are somewhat uneven and arbitrary, but I'm still drawn to curated semi-official achievement validation.  :-)

I did have an exciting first couple of months where I went from 5.8 and 5.9 to 5.10d in the span of just a few visits.  I remember remarking on how great and smooth the challenge ramp was.  However, I soon hit a metaphorical wall, and it took another ~2 months of almost no progress before I had a successful 5.11a run.  At this point I still can only do some of the 5.11a runs cleanly and the majority of the 5.10d runs cleanly. 

I can think of several reasons for this:
- The gradings are designed to allow for rapid progress at the beginning
- In the beginning, I was climbing with people who were substantially better than I was.  Now my climbing partners are about of equivalent skill to me.  Perhaps I need to find more advanced climbers to mentor me.
- I've been spending more time bouldering lately, which is a different skill as it emphasizes strength over power endurance.  I have been making progress in bouldering -- I did my first V3 around a month ago, and now I can do most of the V3s on the wall. 
mattbell: (Default)
I suppose a fall from 2000 feet is no more lethal than a fall from 100 feet, but the idea of someone doing a solo high-speed ascent of El Capitan with only occasional use of safety equipment is mind-blowing.

It's amazing what people can pull off when their bodies and minds are highly adapted to a particular task. 


mattbell: (Default)

February 2011

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