Letting Go

In the Rock Warrior’s Way, Arno Ilgner talks about how the fear of falling usual breaks down into one of two things: those who are afraid of getting hurt, and those who are afraid of letting go (losing control). I fall into the latter, and often have to take a few practice falls at the start of a day of sport climbing to get my head in a good place and remember oh yeah, this is no big deal. He recommends a big exhale as you let go, to help your body relax as you sail through the air. (Sometimes I scream, which I guess counts). He also talks a lot about how expectations can sabotage performance, and how we need to let go of them, along with our egos, in order to truly enjoy the experience of climbing for what it is. Only when we take each moment as it comes, and let go of our fear, can we achieve our true potential.

Last year I was fortunate to spend an incredible amount of time climbing on real rock (especially for someone who works a full time job), and went into the winter training season strong. I trained hard, and was no doubt as strong as I’d ever been, when I tweaked a finger in late February, right before the temps got good and it was time to climb outside again. I had to let go of my expectations of crushing my projects from the previous season, and focus on rehabing the finger.

Then, on the trip that was to be “my glorious comeback,” I stopped a boulder from crushing several high school students, but tweaked my back in the process. (Breathe, and let go). That took until July to heal. Things got cranking after that, but a few weeks ago I was bouldering in the gym and while I can’t say why or when it happened, the next session one of my fingers was super sore in an odd place. There wasn’t any sign of it the day I climbed, no pops, no indication that anything was wrong. I was finally feeling fit, and had built up some plans (expectations?) in my head for the last few weeks of fall. And then BAM, back to the uncertainty and rehab. (Breathe, and let go).

I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at this rehab thing, and I rarely have to take much, if any, time off for a finger injury anymore, instead figuring out ways to keep climbing and training through it. A growing body of research shows this is the best for proper scar tissue formation, and I’d have to agree. And so the finger rehab was in full swing, and I had plans (expectations?) to go finish bolting some new routes, which is always a good way to get outside with a small injury like this. And then I got sick. Noooooooo!

Watching the perfect October days roll by from the couch was a little rough, but it just reiterated what this year has been about for me. Sometimes we just have to let go of things. I know all these setbacks will pass, and I’ll be back at it soon enough, but when one thing after the other hits you, it’s hard to feel in control. And maybe that’s the whole point. Sometimes you just have to breathe and let go, and remember not to worry, because the rope will catch you, and then you can get back on the wall and try again.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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