I am in the midst of feverishly editing video–when I am not out climbing–but I wanted to share a little bit of what I am doing locally as I am climbing in the San Diego area. Rather than simply climb at a moderate level for a long period of time, I am trying to climb more challenging routes and boulder problems. You might remember that I had an epiphany while we were out in Red Rock (Las Vegas) about the need to really push (or more literally: PULL) harder. Since adopting this initiative, I have been more psyched and I have been climbing better and harder.

It has been a little challenging trying to apply this principle in the San Diego area since the nature of the climbing is “different” than other places. All “hard” climbing is not by any means created equal. The hard routes in Mission Gorge are very delicate and have tiny holds that you couldn’t even balance a dime edge-wise on. You don’t necessarily have to be super strong to climb these routes–but they can be SUPER frustrating since your strength is useless and only delicate deliberate technique and footwork will allow you passage.

Other areas are not so, with more overhanging routes that allow you to use power to your advantage on usually larger holds with better friction. Nevertheless, my goal is to be well rounded, so pulling hard on an overhanging is no more preferable to sending a 5.11 glassy slick slab route–which is exactly what happened yesterday at Mission Gorge!

The issue of grades is not something that I pay too much attention too, because they are somewhat relative. I had previously struggled with this pictured 5.11 as much as I did with the 5.12 in Red Rock. Two very different routes with different ratings, but they both were near my limit and so it was a real boost to finally send this one clean, no falls, slips or hesitation. This has been the hardest route I have sent “clean” so far since I have not yet cleanly led my project out in Red Rock. Ideally I will be taking another whack at that in a few weeks, at which time I will undoubtedly send.

Meanwhile, I need another project here in San Diego so here is my next “white whale”…a boulder problem which is reported to check in at about 5.13. While it is short enough to be climbed without a rope, it is without question harder than anything I have ever tried and a full grade harder than the climbing I was working in Vegas.

It’s all good fun–and frustrating in the process. It’s not the most aesthetic line–by which I mean it’s butt ugly, really. But it was one of those things I just said “eh, what the heck, I’ll jump on it and see what happens” and after doing so, I made just enough progress to think that it could be possible for me, and so now it’s under my skin and I want to finish it.

Climbing is as much a mental exercise as it is physical–and I have been pushing my limits mentally. I don’t think that I have grown a lot stronger physically ( I may have lost a few pounds, but thats about it) but I am starting to get in the headspace where I am realizing the strength that I have and when I climb I am more focused on the climbing itself than the types of utensils that would be employed in collecting my remains should I actually peel off…and that has been a big part of my motivation in climbing for 365 days.

Most people think of climbing as being an activity where you are constantly at or above your ceiling of comfort, constantly red-lining. Sure there are those moments, but the goal for me is to raise my the “floor” of my comfort zone than push the “ceiling”…if that makes any sense. Normalizing the challenge is the battle!