Baby Steps

Every once in a while I like to freshen things up and have a guest share their thoughts on my site. I think it’s important to have an outside perspective from people to keep our heads in check. Look for more guest writers in the future. For today, I’m happy to announce we have Cory Richards joining us. Cory is a talented figure in more than one aspect of life, look into his site and check out his work. Unfortunately what isn’t on display is his unrivaled sense of humor. His attitude and ability to laugh at it all is what makes him a pleasure to climb and travel with. I asked him if he’d jot down his thoughts regarding this trip. He did with this excellent mini essay called “Baby Steps” and I hope you enjoy his perspective, BTW – it’s the little bitches BIRTHDAY (May 18th), Happy 27th Birthday Dick Richards. Send him wishes people, and if you’re young and female send him phone numbers! He does after all have half a front tooth now. Cheers

WARNING: Projecting a considerably easier line alongside one of the worlds finest may lead to sudden and debilitating flares of CLRCS (Chronic Locker-Room Comparing Syndrome).

I once watched Dean Potter walk across a 400 ft long slack line. No Shit! 400 ft! Naturally, I pictured myself hopping on the line and getting at least halfway, if not all the way across. Timidly, I stepped out onto thick rope, took three steps, squealed like a 10 yr old girl, and fell off. But I'll get back to that

Back on topichere is the schedule: I have three weeks (two now), to get fit, rediscover my passion for rock climbing, project and lead by far the hardest route I've ever donethis after not climbing for eight months. Delusions of grandeur such as this make me want to put my left hand into a wood chipper. What am I thinking?????

Rhapsody shares the its opening headwall crack with a climb known as Requiem. The climbs split at the top of the featureRhapsody goes left, and Requiem goes right. Upon its first ascent, the astonishing climb clocked in at one of the worlds hardest naturally protected lines getting the grade of E8 6b (5.13b/c). That was in '83and things have changed.

The first day out, I could barely do all the moves on the lower crackI didn't even try the upper headwall. The jams felt insecure, painful, and greasy. I slid out, tore skin, dripped sweat and swore. My fore arms were flamed after half of my first burn. I lowered and quietly questioned my intentions for the trip. However, and with considerable surprise, I recognized that I was having fun climbingit was the first time in ages.

Each successive day, I've made little refinements, slight adjustments, and tried a wee bit harder. The fourth day out, the improvements seemed monumental. The jams began to feel secure, the movements smooth, and the breaths long and controlled. And I guess that brings me back to Dean's 400 ft. slack line. The second time I got on the line, I focused not on walking all the way across, but learning from however far I made it. My goal was to go one step further. That said, if I fell off after only two steps, I was determined to figure out why. If I made it four or five steps, then I'd give myself a well-deserved pat on the back. Dean didn't get on and walk across 400 ft of line the first time, just as Sonnie didn't fire Cobra Crack or The Path in a single day. It's about incremental progressthe lesson that all big steps are only the product of many baby steps. It seems simple, I know. But how often do we actually allow ourselves to think that way? As climbers (especially when your projecting alongside one of the world's best), it's easy to lose sight of what it means to push yourself. But the baby steps I'm taking today lead to larger accomplishments in the future.

Tomorrow will be our fifth climbing day. It might be great; it might be crapI don't know. Likewise, I might go home without doing Requiem. It doesn't really matter thoughafter all, this climb complete or not, is a baby step in and of itself.


  • bluebrad

    Firstly congratulations on getting Requiem in the bag and secondly for producing such a great blog – quality writing that really sums up what climbing should be about.

    Cory’s writing is fantastic as well and it has a really nice way of putting progress into perspective – hopefully I will remember this when I am gibbering on some small piece of gritstone next week and push that little bit harder.

  • Stray Cat

    I concur. You got to start somewhere. The name of the game is to improve. Ah, sweet progress! Thanks for the perspective. Safe travels.

  • Charlie

    It’s so cool to get cool perspectives on climbing, from some full time climbing professionals, that is inspiring but still grounded. There is just so much spray and belittling out there that it is hard to keep positive sometimes.

    Thanks 🙂

  • tim m

    Well put! Akin to buddhisms beginners mind and embracing the moment as a part of the bigger picture.

    good luck on your project!

  • Thanks for all the feedback…good to hear that my banter isn’t lost to all. I appreciate it. Day 5 & 6 yielded more progress…slight and monumental at the same time. Keep crushing.