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"Climbing is life: Having the right mentality for success"

It’s a two-hand crimp start to a right hand crimpy undercling. I move my left foot up to a semi-decent foot jib. I stand up as I reach with my left hand to a crimp screwed onto a volume. Pressing my right foot up on to the next foot jib, I drop my knee just slightly as I move my left foot up from the jib to the crimpy start holds. Extending my hips, I bring my right hand from the undercling to another crimp screwed beside the crimp my left fingers are holding on to. At this point, I slowly shift my weight on to my left foot, stand up and reach with my left hand to another crimp just within my grasp. I bump my left hand to another semi-decent crimp and now I’m fully extended with my left foot just barely keeping tension on the start holds. As I tip toe my right foot across my body in such a weird outstretched position, I slowly press down on another foot jib that was somehow even more sketchy than the previous ones. I lose tension on my left foot, now dangling aimlessly in the air, as I struggle to keep tension on my right foot. My feet cut and all that’s left that’s keeping me on the wall are my little sausage fingers on two crimps about 20mm in depth. I try to bring my right foot back onto the foot jib to get tension, but then I drop.

I had been working on this route for a couple of sessions and I kept getting stuck at the same place. Honestly, this is pretty much climbing in a nutshell. You get stuck, you try again, you make a little bit more progress and then you get stuck again. And then if you are stuck on it for too long after trying so many times, you move on. You work on other problems, build your confidence a little bit, and then you come back to the route you are stuck on and see if you can make progress again. You either make progress or you don’t and then you give it a reason. “I feel really light today”, “Oh it’s because I didn’t eat anything heavy”, “I didn’t eat enough so I don’t feel strong”, or “I need to rest a bit longer between tries”. I’ve been climbing for more than 3 years and I’ve heard, said, and came up with so many more excuses or reasons (more than I can list here haha) as to why I’ve gotten better or gotten worse in my climbing abilities over the course of my climbing career. You know what’s my favorite excuse? “I shouldn’t have had ramen before coming to climb because now I feel bloated and heavy.”

The thing I’ve realized however is that mentality plays a much more important role in whether or not I’m going to have a great climbing session versus a crappy one. And the same can be said of how I’ve viewed my life recently over these past 3 years. Climbing to me, has become a microcosm of how I have shaped my view on life. It has made me realized qualities ands traits of myself that I need to strengthen or improve on, akin to strengthening my fingers or improving my body positioning while climbing. But I think the biggest thing I’ve realized from climbing that I’ve brought into my own life is the mentality.

I am going to fall. I am going to fail. I am going to get stuck. I am going to give up. But if I am truly dedicated to sending this route, I will come back to it. I am going to make progress. Even if a little. And I am going to send it. That is the mentality I want. That is the mentality I have. That is the mentality I have in life.

I cross my right foot over my body and slowly press down on the foot jib. I slip a little bit, dangling my legs again, holding on to these semi-decent crimps. I regain control, place my right foot back on the foot jib and contract every little fiber of the muscles in my abs to position myself back closer to the wall. I flag my left foot as I slowly and carefully bring my right hand from the crimp on the volume to a higher crimp right below my left hand. This is as far as I’ve gotten. I am looking around trying to figure out where to put my left foot. I find a foot hold form my left foot and then move my left hand to another higher crimp. My fingers are starting to hurt. I am starting to strain a little bit more. I reposition my body, my left foot is dangling, my right foot now on the crimp of the volume. I am starting to lose grip on my right hand. With one last push, I step up on my right foot and reach high for the finish hold with my right hand. “It’s not a jug. Crap.” I tighten everything possible in my body, as I grunt and exhale all the air inside. I keep that tension and bring my left hand to match the finish hold, as I shouted with invigoration.

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