Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Challenges.

This past weekend I went to Bishop, CA in the Eastern Sierras with a large crew of Cal Poly students and good friends.  I was fortunate enough to take my good friend Megan LaPlante for her first time!  Well, I guess I should say Drew LaPlante (my bestie and Megan’s brother) and I brought her.  It was an exciting experience getting to show her around all the problems we constantly talk about, The Mandala, The Buttermilker, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Ambrosia, Checkerboard, etc.  It rekindled that childlike desire and curiosity for new things that I used to feel when I came to Bishop.  I have been coming to Bishop for years now and it has become a second home.  The snowcapped mountains and dry desert landscape that defines The Buttermilks bring a smile to my face every time I step foot out of the car.  However, I have been growing more and more aware of my changing attitude towards the climbing “scene” in Bishop.  Before I was able to start testing myself on some of the harder climbs, Bishop was just a beautiful place to go climbing and learn about beauty.  Now, after being more enveloped by the climbing community, I have realized that Bishop has turned into (and maybe always has been) a hotspot for large crews to come gather and crush.  While I used to be able to go to The Buttermilks on a Saturday and enjoy the boulders with a couple buddies and do our own thing, I can no longer walk 100 yards without running into a few dozen people all trying the area classics (a lot of whom I know).  I am not a fan of crowds and this past trip really showed me how crowds impact my climbing ability.  
Haroun and the Sea of Stories (V11) Photo by: Itai Axelrad
My main objective for this trip was to complete the highball classic Haroun and the Sea of Stories (V11) in The Buttermilks.  This power-endurance problem climbs a steep 30 foot overhanging face on sculpted features and incut crimps.  This is one of the most beautiful boulder problems I have ever seen and tried.  The movement is so precise and effectively complements finesse with power.  Going into this trip, I knew all I needed to send was one good attempt with decent skin and some energy.  Day 1, I had the skin and I had the energy.  After a warm-up go I took a rest and got ready to try it again.  Right then, a whole crew of people came up to the boulder and dropped pads and began trying it (all very respectfully I might add).  For some reason, this penetrated my psyche and my focus.  Before, it was just myself and a few close friends and they were all cheering me on.  I do not know why exactly, but this surge in people really got to me and my progress on Haroun began to decline.  After a few more sloppy attempts I packed up and walked away feeling defeated and overwhelmed.  I let myself down.  This boulder problem was all I thought about for months and I was finally able to get back on it with good conditions and a decent amount of fitness.  Why couldn’t I piece it together and send?  
I took the rest of the day to spot friends and enjoy good company.  The following day I felt worn down and unmotivated.  I have never experienced this on a climbing trip.  I’ve always been able to keep the psyche high and push through almost anything.  This setback was unusual and somewhat frightening.  After some talks with Drew and Megan and some time alone wandering through the boulders, I decided to head over to Haroun with no expectations and just pull off the ground.  I walked over to the boulder with one pad and some headphones.  I found a few people standing around and asked to borrow their pads for one go.  Graciously, they all agreed. After figuring out some new foot beta for the crux sequence, I put on my new Five Ten shoes and sent.  It was such a crazy combination of confidence and serenity.  There was no pressure, no crowds, no cameras.  Just me and the boulder.  The few people that were there were all so helpful and I thank you all for the psyche!  Climbing this boulder means a lot to me and I am so happy to have gone through everything I did in order to send.  It’s crazy to think of all the different lessons we can learn from something as trivial as climbing rocks.  We all have battles and we all deal with them in different ways.  My battle is a mental one and I’m slowly learning I have a lot of work to do in order to progress to new places in my climbing.  As always, I am thankful for this life I live and for all the amazing people I have met thus far.  Continue to thrive everybody!
Here is a video I put together documenting the send of Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  I think this video marks a new level in my skills as a videographer and I hope you all enjoy.  

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