I’ve been delaying posting an update for awhile since I had hoped to be able to deliver good news. Unfortunately I haven’t redpointed ‘Necessary Evil’ yet but I’m still trying, learning and psyched on it. I don’t think I’ve become too upset about it. The reality is every time I link the bottom two boulder problems I am pretty happy. I told myself I’d fall at the upper crux more than 20 times and I only hit 20 yesterday so…
I’m sure most of you have seen this by now but earlier this year world class pro-climber, film-maker extraordinaire and all around nice guy Joe Kinder took the time to film the route, interview me and put together a short clip about the process and steps I have made towards working ‘Necessary Evil’. It captures the effort required to project above your ability, especially at a place as condition dependent as the VRG. I really like the outcome, thanks Joe!
I was actually prompted to write this update for a couple reasons; one being a slideshow Jonathan Siegrist gave to the Las Vegas climbing community last week and another being a post from a friend I read this week.
Jonathan’s slideshow was about failure, success and goals and it struck a chord with me. I don’t actually think I process failure the same way anymore but I definitely remember getting really upset when I thought I was going to do a route and didn’t or I thought I should do well in a competition and I didn’t. Nowadays climbing ‘success’ isn’t quite as important to me but I am still trying to push myself physically. What I really liked about Jonathan’s slideshow was that he was willing to share his failures and his goals for the summer. It’s hard to make your goals public and I wish Jonathan the best of luck. It’s not up to me to share his goals but I’m sure he will eventually on his website.
The blog I read this week was from Justin Roth and he wrote a little note on what he called ‘The Zone of Unbearable Frustration‘. It’s something that anyone who has tried routes at or above their ability can relate to and honestly that’s where I am on ‘Necessary Evil’. My plan with NE was to get on it in November, figure out a sequence, train when it was too cold in December/January and then get back on it and send in February or March. Unfortunately the weather was so good in December that I just kept getting on it and making progress. In fact on New Year’s Eve I linked to the ‘Route of All Evil’ crux twice. Through January I kept getting back up there but eventually I started getting burned out. When in full redpoint mode you don’t train as hard, trying to save your energy for the redpoint days, and eventually you get weaker. Work got busy in February and I don’t remember if I even linked up to the last hard move. Fortunately the last few times I’ve been out there I’ve felt strong and have made it back up there. It’s not quite unbearable frustration because I knew all along that ‘failure’ was a possibility but it is definitely getting close.
So what I have learned this season:
- NOAA point forecast is amazing. I’ve used this tool before but I haven’t see the hourly forecast. In the bottom right, click on the ‘Hourly Weather Graph’. It shows forecasts for temperatures, humidity, wind (direction and gusts). Awesome. Conditions at the VRG involve the humidity, wind and temperature. Humidity under 30%, temperatures between 55-65 and wind > 5mph is what you want. Even with all the information you still don’t know until you get to the crag.
- Crimping is painful. I hate crimping. No wait. I love crimping. Crimps are the BEST!
- Broadband in Mesquite is pretty much non-existent. Reliance Connect sucks!!!
- It would really help if I was a lot stronger.
- Be a nice guy and make lots of friends since you are going to run out of belayers eventually. So far this year I have used at least 10 different belayers. I’d name them all but don’t want to leave anyone out. Let me think about it.
- Dan Mirsky is a super talented climber and a strong mofo. I’ve known he was good for awhile but watching him waltz through the crux of ‘Route of All Evil’ was both humbling and inspiring. Congrats on your send Dan!
- Going for a run in the morning helps make early morning climbing a teency-tiny bit more enjoyable.
- Crazy glue and tape are your friend when conditions are warm and you start losing skin.
- I can’t redpoint with crazy glue and tape on my fingers
- Last but not least I have learned that I can do this route. I haven’t done it yet but I know it’s possible.
You’ll only want to read the following if you are really bored. At the end of climbing seasons I’ll usually write out my internal thoughts I use when visualizing the route. I actually sent this to myself as an email so I can go back to it next fall when preparing to get back on it. IF I don’t send in the next few weeks . When I’m away from the climb I focus on seeing the whole climb from the first person perspective so the climb feels more familiar when I get back on it. This is what’s going through my mind when visualizing NE, starting on the ground.
Start breathing deep and really focus on that first hard move. Once your breathing is rhythmic step towards the wall. Check your knot, check your belayer. Grab the left hand starting hold. Start with the middle two fingers, get them right then drop the pinky down and bring the index finger in, thumb pinches. Place right foot high on the outside of the ledge. Make the first move up with the right hand to the sidepull. Get two fingers pulling slightly up and two fingers straight sideways. Match feet, right foot goes out to a sloping edge left foot to the top left of the ramp. Reach up to the finger slot with left hand, drop pinky in first and settle bottom three fingers in the lower part, index finger sits alone but doesn’t do much yet. Spin on right foot and place left foot super accurately on a tiny chip. Right foot comes up to a bad glassy foot. Reach up right to the spike, index finger and thumb wrap the spike while pinky and ring finger find some texture to rest on. Adjust left hand, pulling more with index finger now. Move left foot up to a glassy foot and right foot out to a hidden chip. Tighten up against the wall and pull with the right foot to reach the right hand up to the pinch. Concentrate on pinky finger and thumb, once placed squeeze all. Bump right foot up 4 inches then left foot hooked around the sharp foot. Pull hard with left foot and reach up to the glass pinch. Aim with the pinky finger to the little spike and try to force the other fingers down on to it. Once finger are placed get the thumb on top part of pinch and turn the fingers to half crimp and SQUEEZE. Move right foot up to center of foothold, drop the heel and rotate hard to a kneedrop, make sure the foot is placed well and can take a lot of weight. Move left foot up to sideways foot. Drop down, try to pull down with left hand and move right hand to the sharp crimp. Aim with the ring finger to bottom of indent, middle finger beside it, pinky on top of ring finger and thumb on the side. Crimp HARD. Drop left foot back to sharp foot hold and pull in tight to wall to move left hand quickly to the sloping crimp. Aim with index finger. If your right foot comes off, don’t worry about it, you can just campus left foot up. Bring left foot up to the slot and stand tight to the wall, pull up and sight the next big hold. Try to only move the left hand but shoot it out to the hold. No matter how you get it step through with your right foot to the small chip and bump right hand in to intermediate. Adjust left hand, left foot up then right foot to the small nubbin. Clip. Bend left arm and reach up to four finger crimp, concentrate on index finger. It’s a slick hold so stay tight to the wall. Left foot up to some texture then right foot onto the intermediate. Left hand up, adjust body and fire left hand up to the resting hold. Left foot up, clip and relax tight against the wall. Piano fingers to match and focus on leaning left and breathing. Match hands but only worry about index and middle finger of left hand. Shake a few times and focus on next crux. Move left hand to far left of hold, adjust right hand so pinky finger sits at the bottom of the angle. Grab left intermediate, move left foot to left facing vertical foot and bump right foot up to a smear. Focus on edge and pull hard, trying to stay tight to the wall. Make sure to crimp it and try to wrap the thumb up. Right foot up to good foot, right hand bird-beak the pocket with index and ring. Mock crimp with middle finger on top, Left foot in to small foot (under roof, make sure foot is at the back) and stand tall to bring right foot up to heel. Bump right hand to sloping crimp, pull up, adjust left foot to the left and pull down more. Sight up the sloping pinch and fire right hand. Get the pinch and immediately reach out left to the good crimp. Slide heel to toe and place left foot accurately. Clip, chalk and breathe. Adjust hands back and forth and breathe. Quick shake when leaving. Bring left foot in to intermediate, right foot up to tiny chip and place it accurate. Right hand up to gaston crimp, index finger in little notch. Left foot out to big sloping foothold and lean to the right as you move the left hand up to the pinch. Right hand out to intermediate, right foot up to sloping edge and left foot in to vertical foothold. Reach right to undercling and get it with back three fingers only. Tight to wall, right foot out and place it precisely on small foot. Adjust right hand to slide index finger in, left foot up to good foot and clip then shake hand quick and immediately grab the glassy crimp. Crimp hard, focus on index finger and roll out to the right to sloping, but textured edge. Aim with the pinky finger and lock it in. Immediately left foot up and reach with left hand. Aim with then index finger ‘just’ to the left side of the spike, squeeze fingers to the right (onto index), roll thumb up and pinky finger over ring finger. Crimp HARD! Right foot out to chip foothold, left foot up high and in to tiny nipple. Left foot has to be accurate. Extend right leg high and out to sloping foothold, look up and in one motion push with left foot, pull with left arm and hold tight to the wall to reach up with right hand. (This next move is my high point and the crux of ‘Route of all Evil’). Aim to get pinky finger above the little notch but get all four fingers on the side. Immediately adjust to index finger on spike, thumb on tiny edge and push down with left hand. As soon as right hand is in position squeeze hard and step left foot through to ledge, look up, hold body tight to wall and bring left hand tight to body to reach up and grab multi-layer edge. Try to get thumb on lower thumbcatch. Step right foot back through and match hands with right hand in the slot. Concentrate on index finger sitting down low and twist the finger lock. Left foot out to little foothold and sink low. Relax, clip and breathe. Adjust hands as much as possible but it’s not a good rest to prep for the next hard moves. Crimp left hand hard, bring right foot in and twist up while reaching up with right hand. Drop back three fingers in pocket and keep leaning left. Bring left foot in, right foot high to sloping foot and pull hard up and across body to chip crimp in roof. Adjust right hand, bring left foot to top of nubbin and shoot left hand to bottom of hole. Right foot up, left foot down. Clip and relax. Finally a rest. (From here to the top is over half the climb but low 5.13 climbing). Match by getting a finger lock with the right hand and hang straight down. When putting the left hand back in to rest get the little spike between the pinky and ring finger. Shake back and forth, concentrate on next section. When leaving the rest turn the left hand to a sidepull to help reach out right. Get an undercling sidepull way out right and walk your feet through on textured footholds. Move left hand to a back-three finger undercling, spin on right foot and reach at full extension, high to a very textured and sharp, crosley right hand side pull. Bring left foot in to the bottom of the slot and stand sideways, right foot goes out to a nubbin. Reach up to a good, flat crimp, step your right foot high and bump right hand to a tufa sidepull. Left foot in to a small nubbin, left hand up to a gaston undercling and stand tall to a right hand pinch. Keep weight on left foot and bring right foot up to a nubbin over the roof, left foot high to a good, flat foot hold and clip. Left hand to a sharp crimp, right foot to a bad, sloping foothold, bump right hand up to a sidepull, left foot in to a smear and make a big move up to a sloper with the left hand. Right foot high and reach up to a gaston crimp above a good sidefull. Rock up high, bring the left foot up and then bring the left hand in to that sidepull. Shake quick and relax. Grab a sharp chip with right hand bring left foot in, right foot up and cross up to a flat three finger hold with the right hand. Stay tight against the wall and roll over your left foot to a good three finger sloper and then reach up to a right hand crimp. Right foot to the top of the big sidepull and left hand reaches up to a good, textured sloper. Clip, shake and relax. Play around on these different holds to shake out. When getting ready to leave them bump left hand to crimp, bring left foot up and to the right so right foot and go out to a heel hook. Rock up on heel and grab next hold as a three finger sloping crimp with the pinky finger on texture. Roll up, flag the left leg hard under the heel and pop to a sloping crimp with a good thumb catch. Roll over on heel to a good right hand hold and then reach up to the split finger gaston. Left foot up to a chip, right foot up to a little spike and lean left to bring the right hand up to a three finger sidepull. Reach straight left to a sloping sidepull. Bring the right hand in, step the right foot super high, left foot out to ramp and reach up with left hand to a good sidepull. Clip. Roll out right to a flat crimp/pinch with thumb underneath. Bring the left foot in and stay tight on it to bring the left hand in to a crosley crimp. Right straight right to a textured sidepull, walk the feet to the right and bump the right hand up to another sidepull. Bring the right foot up to a textured smear and reach high left to a good four finger hold. Keep the feet low and clip. Match above that hold with a back-three finger right hand crimp. Reach straight left to a sharp crimp, walk the feet to the left and reach high with the left hand to a good sidepull. Hand foot match and reach high to a right hand gaston. Keep the feet low, match and reach just to teh right to a split finger crosley crimp to rest. When getting ready to leave get the feet high, cross over to a right hand gaston and roll over onto the left foot. Grab a sidepull just pass the overlap then bump the right hand in. Move the feet up and grab the left hand undercling right by your chest. Reach up to a horizontal pinch and bring the feet up. Good incut crimp right beside it. Clip. Reach up and right to the pocket undercling, walk the feet to the right and cross over to an underclick left-hand gaston. Roll on the right foot and grab the top of the tufa as a sloper. Bring your left foot high and reach up to a good left hand edge/pinch. Roll on the left foot and reach up to a textured gaston. Right foot goes to the top of the tufa and reach left to a textured sidepull. Put your left foot on a nubbin, right foot high on some texture and reach up to another right hand textured sloper. Roll to the left to a side pull then reach up to an incut crimp. Match and clip the anchors.