Most people focus on the end result of situations rather than the process or journey they take to reach that end result. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve focused solely on the end result for many many things, but most recently on trying to send 5.14.
I was training for many months for the IFSC Lead World Cup that was held in Boulder, CO on October 8 & 9. I had a goal to finish top 12, which I’m happy to say I accomplished. The other side of my training though was geared toward my trip to Rodellar, Spain immediately following the World Cup. My goal there was to complete a 5.14, something that I had not tried outdoors.
My first couple days in Rodellar were very difficult for me mentally. Really, it was only difficult because I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I knew I only had 2 weeks to accomplish my goal and part of me felt a lot of doubt about my ability to finish such a hard route in such a short amount of time. The time only got shorter too, because I found myself procrastinating and somewhat avoiding getting on the infamous grade of 5.14. As a young girl, I’d always take note of the time when it was 5:14pm or when it was May 14th because 5.14 was something very few people had accomplished at the time. It was/is legitimately hard. So perhaps my hesitation to get on this grade stemmed from my childhood thoughts of “Woah, 5.14 is AMAZING.”
Regardless, I found the courage to finally just try. I decided to get on Ixeia, an 8b+ in the Las Ventanas (The Windows) area in Rodellar. It was an inspiring line to me because a) the location of Las Ventanas is unbeatable, b) the tufas in the lower section were of all sizes, c) the blocky, red colored holds in the middle looked interesting and d) what looked like a crimpy, chelsea-esque section at the top. There were no draws on it, so I decided that I would go bolt-to-bolt to place the draws and assess the moves. Without realizing it at the moment, I began to embrace the journey of accomplishing my goal because I was not concerned about the end result, but instead was focused on unlocking sequences.
Unfortunately as I approached the top of the route, I realized that I brought 2 few draws so I was unable to see what the top section was really all about. I lowered thinking that the top section wouldn’t be too bad, but I was fooled…
Not long after my first attempt on the route, I decided to give it a second go. My goal for this attempt was to make some linkage through the lower sections. To my surprise I was able to make it through the two bouldery sections down low before I fell. I continued to the top section that I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately this section wasn’t quite the crimp section I thought it was going to be. Instead it was slopey and had a weird move to a 3 finger, 1 pad undercling. This, I thought, would probably be the business because I’d be pumped and it would be difficult to keep the mind composed.
I rested for quite a while after my second attempt and tried to relax and keep my mind down on earth. I felt myself getting butterflies and thinking that I might possibly “send this route and then I’d accomplish my goal, and then…and then….!!!” This is great example of not focusing on the journey, but instead prematurely focusing on the end result. I knew I had to shake that out of my mind before I got on Ixeia again because that kind of thinking is often detrimental to success.
I sat and looked at the scenery, I paid attention to the birds flying in the sky, how the sun somehow always managed to make everything in Spain look orange, all the rock that surrounded me, and I also listened to all of the other people in the area climbing a’muerte. I realized that at that moment I couldn’t be in a better location or position. I literally had nothing to lose on this route and even if I did send it, I knew that the world would continue on as normal. Because really, climbing is odd and the majority of the population do not know what 5.14 is or means. It’s funny how a couple numbers and a line up a cliff can mean so much to us a climbers…
On my third attempt I felt tired. Moves seemed harder than they had on my previous attempt, but somehow I was able to stick them and keep fighting. I kept by passing all the mini cruxes until finally I found myself at the final rest before the slopey, weird undercling section right below the anchors. My heart and mind were racing, thoughts were again entering my mind about success so before I decided to continue I lowered my heart rate, composed my mind and whispered to myself “a’muerte.” I was willing to fight to the top, and that I did. I clipped the chains on my first 5.14a all within a couple hours of work and a lot of mental power. It is a day I will never forget.
That was a great introduction to focusing on the journey rather than the end result for me. I say ‘introduction’ because I only had to give energy on this route for a couple hours. Some people have projects like this for days, weeks, months or even years, where they have to stay focused in the moment for a long period of time.
My last week at Rodellar was spent on a route that would prove to be much harder for me. I worked on it every day and finally made a break through where I could get to the last draw on every attempt. This route is called Geminis and is thought to be 5.14a/b. The weather was not looking promising in the upcoming days, so I refused to take any rest days, which in hindsight would have been more beneficial to me. My skin was awful: my tips were bruised, I was bleeding everywhere and it hurt to simply tie my Testarossas. But I kept pushing because a) this route was really intriguing to me and b) I wanted to send this route so badly because it is the ‘king line’ in the Gran Boveda area. My progress at the top felt like millimeters at a time, but I was happy with progress. On my final day of climbing, I got to the final hard move on the route 4 different times. Finally, I had to stop because of a huge flapper on a crucial area on my right index finger. I probably screamed in frustration after falling from the top a hand full (or two) of times. But when it was time to go, I was OK. There were no tears or ‘what if’ thoughts. This route in and of itself taught me more about focusing on the journey than Ixeia. In addition, this route will draw me back to Rodellar sooner rather than later, which I like a lot.
My trip to Rodellar was successful in my eyes. I accomplished my goal of sending 5.14a and I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I really enjoy the process of working on hard routes and I am very excited to do so here at home (until my next trip …).