14 Jul Retired in Style

I have this silly tradition that I started last year, where every time my climbing shoes get worn out, I retire them only after I send a project. I’ve been wearing holey Nagos for months now and they’re almost beyond the point of functionality, so this past Saturday I was determined to send them off in style! And I had just the project in mind to do it, Pretty in Pink, a 5.12a that gave me some trouble earlier this year.  I generally send routes of this grade after two or three attempts, but this climb really had me vexed. I’d been on it a handful of times and kept getting stumped by a confusing sequence about mid way up and a dynamic crux just below the anchors that even Mountain Project describes as a “heart breaker.”

When my friends and I got to the crag, I warmed up on a long 5.1od/5.11a and then immediately moved over to my project, knowing I would need to be pretty fresh to send it.  On my first attempt I found myself stuck mid way up the climb, searching for holds and trying to figure out a sequence that felt good.  After about a dozen attempts though, I was forced to accept that this particular part of the route was always going to feel dicey for me.  I ungracefully muscled my way past it and finished the route, unlocking some new beta at the top that was very helpful. Instead of climbing the crux in the usual heart breaking way (big, dynamic throw from an insecure stance) I realized that I could simply get my feet out right and do a left hand cross, which was much easier for me.  This move really reduced the route to only that middle crux, making me super excited to try again as I was pretty sure I could get the send.

I came down and rested while some friends climbed the route, then put on my trusty Nagos and went for it!  I didn’t make it very far…again, I found myself stuck mid way up the climb.  I was so worried about falling and ruining my send, that instead of just moving through the crux, I  climbed up and down that section over and over again, determined to find a solid sequence that would guarantee I didn’t fall.  But in focusing so much on my desired outcome, I was only tiring myself out and making that outcome much less likely!

I began to feel very frustrated with myself and with the route and I came really close to just giving up. Thankfully there was a good rest just below this tricky section. I climbed down to it and forced myself to stop for a moment and just breathe. I realized that I needed to stop worrying about falling and just enjoy the climb.  If I didn’t send the route that day, I would next time, or the time after that, or maybe I never would…but what would it matter if I wasn’t even enjoying myself? So I took a breath, cleared my head, and gave it one last attempt, trying to focus only on being in the moment; the rock beneath my hands, the warm sun on my skin, the feel of my body flowing upwards.  And somehow, almost before I knew it, I had passed smoothly through the crux and reached my next bolt, and then the bolt after that, and finally the anchors! I was very excited, and very happily reminded about how important it is to appreciate every moment, rather than focusing solely on the end results.

And even though my Nagos had already seen their fair share of amazing moments, they weren’t done just yet.  I finished up the day by climbing one more route, Geezer, another 5.12a.  I ended up getting the send of this route as well!  And with that, I would say my trusty little Nagos have definitely earned their retirement!

The crux of Pretty in Pink 5.12a.

Good old Nagos!

Pretty cool no-hands rest!