Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hueco dreaming...

I know I'm supposed to be studying for my physics final but I can't help but dreeeeeeam.. dream dream dreeeam.. dreeeeeeam. about Hueco Tanks.
I made a last minute whirlwind trip a few weekends ago with my friend Kim Haase. We played hooky from school and drove 8.5 hours for three days of hot hueco temps, bitch'in rock climbs, and stylish company. I climbed like cuss but I had fun, ain't that whats its about...
Now, I've set my sights on training the right holds, the right angles, the right... oh who cares. I'm just so psyched that all I want to do is rock climb. I made a list of possible projects, half of which I've only seen once, some of which have good names, and some I've been lusting after for years. I am determined to have a different season than last year. My M.O last year was, "I fall off the last move of boulder problems." This year, my pre-emptive M.O. is "I crush these boulder problems." Can it be as easy as changing your mental approach? Maybe I should consult Thomasina Pigeon or Jill Church. They seem to have no problem crushing these boulders.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Unmotivate your fear: Flying and Climbing

Lately (as in the last 6 months) I've been delving deep into my head and exposing my weaknesses. When I turned 25, something very odd started happening to me, I began to fear. I grew up traveling with my parents. Car trips from our home in Louisville, KY down to Florida, Colorado, Canada, even Mexico. When I was 10, my father accepted a job and we all moved to Hong Kong and the travels we did from there, well, they were exotic. So, who'd a thunk I would start to fear flying in an airplane??? But it happened. Followed by a fear of heights and the ocean. WHAT!!! I started surrendering my will to my fears and instead of them just quietly backing down into the narrows of my mind, they ruled it. When we flew from LA to NZ last spring my fear of flying was at an all-time high. Every bump sent me into a near heart attack/ panic attack (and it was a very bumpy flight). My fear was starting to exhaust me. When we landed in New Zealand, I spent 3 blissful months until the prospect of getting back on the airplane entered my head when we were still two months from returning home, enter my anxiety once again.

Fear builds on itself.

When it comes to high ball bouldering, you have to trust yourself and before you try a climb look at it, know your ability and assume you can and will do it before you get on it. So I started small, got a little bigger, then a little bigger. My first high balls were probably really scary to watch as I lost all sense of technique at the top of climbs and my fear would send my feet skating and my hands clambering for the top (GASP). But the more I did the more I could relax when I got high off the ground. This sense of relaxation when the fear started to set in was a technique I started using in more than just climbing.

photo by Derek Thatcher

Replace fear with a positive feeling.

A few days before we set off back across the ocean on our 12 hour flight, I started meditating on the idea that flying was fun. I imagined myself tucked in an economy chair with clouds floating out the window. I didn't imagine a bumpy flight or Ava misbehaving. I meditated on the idea of a perfect, bump-less, relaxed flight. And boy do you get what you put out there. The flight home was about as nice and relaxing as a flight can get.
When we returned home I didn't have much time to think about my fears, with friends visiting, family to catch up with and summer in full swing. It wasn't until Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in SLC that I got to address my fears again. I hadn't taken a lead fall in, hmm, 3 1/2 years or so. I met up with some friends Jonathan Seigrist and Andy Mann and we decided we weren't going to let the intense heat keep us off the rock. But I didn't have a harness. Outdoor Retailer always comes through. I got a brand new Arcteryx R-280. Now I have to interject here. Have you seen these harnesses? Have you tried them? They are so barely there its like you aren't even wearing one. And the technology is serious. I do not worry about my harness. Part of my fear of heights is increased exponetially when I climb routes. It's not that I'm scared of the climbing, I'm scared that my gear is going to fail. I look at the rope as I clip it into the quickdraw and as it bends my fear says, "The rope is going to break!" Or as I'm staring at the anchors while I'm cleaning my fear says, "The anchors are going to blow." It's my unfamiliarity with my gear and the fact that I have to trust something other than myself and my spotters that motivates my fear. But that day out with Andy and Jonathan I asked them not to tell me grades and I lead everything I got on. My fear was in check. I took my first whippers in years and with these two as climbing partners I felt safe and motivated by something more... flirting.

Photo by Andy Mann

Fear can be secondary to fun.

This experience catapulted me into a new phase of my climbing: Rout'in!! I now have a feeling to replace my fear when I climb high balls or routes. I flirt with the rock and I have fun with it.
Fear builds on itself. Replace fear with a positive feeling. And say to yourself, "Have fun." That's what its about anyway right.