Posted in Sport Climbing by Oct 28, 2011
I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately. I’ve been climbing without any real objective all fall. Just aimlessly trying random projects and getting on things way over my head. The motivation is there, but my psyche is mysteriously absent. In its place, years of inertia keep me moving forward. This period has really forced me to re-evaluate what I truly enjoy about rock climbing. For so many years I’ve loved the grind of the endless stream of projects. Even tho I’ve clipped the chains on most of them, all I can think about is the grind. This is not to say I haven’t been trying. I’ve just been shying away from long term uber projects. In fact several of my sampling efforts have yielded some great sends. This past weekend culminated in two big sends for me.
The people at Smith are almost as great as the routes.
The Aggro Gulley at Smith has been a special place for me. I spent the majority of my 20s grinding out every route on the wall. I still treat it with the same respect & awe I had the first day I arrived. The routes are big, involved, and heinous. There’s something strange about this wall. It’s that just about every significant FA has been done by some French bastard. Badman, Shock & Awe (sic. CA), Shoot Em Up, Scene of the Crime, to name a few. In the late 90s, Joe Brooks developed a heinous mono-to-mono-mono-to-mono monster just left of Badman. The original intention was for the route to continue straight up after briefly meeting the rest on Aggro monkey. Fortunately for Team America, Pierre Bollinger took pity on us and took the line into Agrro Monkey, which has a much easier finish. He called it Shoot Em Up 5.14b. I worked and sent that line last spring. On Saturday, I took the line to its proper finish. That finish is much more sustained, tackling several more 5.13 sections with little opportunity for a shake. Im calling it Sure Shot, 5.14b (hard).
The following day I rested much of the day, waiting for the cool temps of the evening. My objective was the infamous Jam Master J 5.13d, established by the great Jerry Moffat (UK). Jam Master is a direct start to the off balance crimping nightmare Oxygen 5.13b. The boulder problem weights in around v9+/v10 and goes straight into the crux of Oxygen. After misfiring on my first burn, I nailed the opening sequence, and funked my way through the remainder of the route. My nerves were on fire and my legs literally shook the entire way. Even I was surprised to find myself at the anchor.
Jam Mast J opening sequence. Photo Justin Brown
My finger hurts just thinking about this move. Photo Justin Brown
Oxygen feels great after that boulder problem.
Nerve rattling leg shake.
Im happy with what I’ve accomplished, but I worry Im turning into that guy at the crag who has nothing to do and no vision. The last thing I want is to be that guy who does nothing but link ups of routes he’s already done. There’s still a bit left for me a Smith. So hopefully those days are still years away. Till then I think I’ll spend some money on bolts.
12 year old Drew Ruana working the legendary To Bolt or Not to Be.