Not hard enough!

Yesterday, I managed a couple of short but satisfying hours at the cliff.  After sensational fingerlocks and 5.12 warm ups, I got on what I’ve dubbed the ‘mini proj’, a brilliant 14 move direct start into an area classic. You gotta see this thing, it’s a beautiful, burly, overhanging arete.  I was so excited.  I got on, climbed into position and squeezed like Scrooge, but fell off.  I tried again, fell.  Again, nothing. I grinned through my teeth, but backed it up with a smile.  This thing was going to be VERY hard.

For me, this is what I LOVE,  knowing I can do a move, but haven’t done it yet.  Some people hate falling on hard moves, they say “what the hell is the point if you’re just going to go up there and fall off at the same spot every time?”  But I think climbing above (and beyond) my limit is where things gets really interesting.  If I climb below it, I get bored, if you know can do something, wheres the challenge?  Where’s the progression?

In the past, climbers would seek out the path of least resistance just to get to the top, but these days, I think many climbers are looking for the path of MOST resistance.  I’m looking for the line I think I can barely do, but only with a severe amount of hard work, and I don’t mean like glue up jobs, I mean hard sequencial effort.   In fact, I think that’s how Sharma gets better every year, he finds something above his current limit and tries it hundreds of times, effectively gaining power, endurance and stamina every day, every week, every year until on-sighting 5.14a is just not that big of a deal.  He’s fitter than ever.

So in the end (by mistake) I grabbed a different part of the rock and realized the hold has a thumb catch, although nearly impossible to see without looking for it, the tiny bump made all the difference.  From “maybe next season” to “maybe next week”.  One minute I was thrutching and hucking, and the next minute I did the move twice completely static.  A sweet feeling yes, the line is outstanding, three stars, 5.13d runout, maybe r/x if you’re gear placement sucks.  But it’s not as hard as I was hoping for it to be.  I guess that’s the break you accept when discovering natural first ascents.  The best part is, the new move is much better, so not only is the climb easier, but more enjoyable too.   That’s rad, every crag needs a few moderates I guess,  joke,  I just hope to link this climb soon, I still haven’t climbed into the move yet,  so maybe it will put up a good fight afterall.  We shall see!

On a side note, summer is HERE and I ordered some new Patagonia Clothes for the big walls and patios.  Check out my new FAVORITE t-shirt.  How can you not love this?   Seriously,  I mean C’mon!

  • Steve

    Haha, I love your Sharma fan-boi-ness sonnie. Nice and re-assuring that even hard-pullers like yorself still look up to someone else that makes them think “Holy crap! How is he doing that? How can he actually be THAT strong?”.
    Amazing, keep up the great work on the blog mate, great reading.

    UK climber, Steve

  • This actually made me laugh out loud… at work!
    “That’s rad, every crag needs a few moderates I guess, joke”

    Thanks for that – and its good to hear how important trying – really trying is to accomplish improvement. Your posts are always so freakin’ motivatingggggggg! cheers!

  • Sonnie

    Allison, glad I could make you smile. I’m pretty good at failure, so for me trying really hard is the only way.

    Steve, I admire so many different people for so any different reasons, guys like Tommy Caldwell for his work ethic and determination, Alex Honnold for his courage and strength of mind, Lynn Hill for her tenacity, grace and lifetime commitment, and of course to Chris for his unbelievable (perhaps unequal) raw natural power. Oh and how could I forget John Long, for stretching out so many true stories and turning tall men into legendary giants.


  • Nancy

    Got the shirt, Sonnie! Will it help my climbing? 😉

  • Sonnie


  • Fraser

    Keep fighting the fight Sonnie – a great read as usual.

    PS the Patagonia site doesn’t seem to offer that T in the colour you show. Special print run for ‘special’ patrons? 😉

  • Sonnie

    Fraser, you’re right, sorry dude, this picture was of the kids version, not the adult, but like you, I wish it was available, even if just for special patrons. ha ha. Maybe next season. Fingers crossed.

    Nancy, how’s it working out for you? Stronger yet?