It’s funny how much belief can affect everything that you do. EVERYTHING. And it’s odd how hard it can be to find true belief in yourself sometimes. I mean, we are supposed to be our own best friend, right? We shouldn’t doubt ourselves, because we don’t doubt our best friends. We are supportive of our best friends, we encourage them through hard times, we keep our fingers crossed that they make it through an obstacle, and regardless of the outcome we are there holding out a hand to them because we believe in and are proud of them. But when it comes to ourselves, it’s harder. Well, at least for me sometimes.
Belief can make or break you. Especially in climbing. In fact, climbing is really only 30-40% physical…contrary to popular belief of those who don’t climb. But seriously, you can be physically the strongest climber in the world, but if you doubt yourself, you will not perform like the ‘strongest.’
My belief in myself is much stronger for sport climbing because that’s my forte. I can endure, and I know that. This isn’t to say that I don’t doubt myself sometimes…especially once the grade gets harder and harder. For instance, I know I am capable of sending 5.14b. But I haven’t really tried one because the thought makes me nervous. But right now, I’m feeling believing…so maybe that will happen this year.
But my belief with bouldering is less stable. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know my strengths. Maybe it’s because I have overall less experience bouldering hard. It could be due to a lot of different factors. Regardless of the reasons, it’s something I’d like to improve upon. I believe I am strong, but sometimes I look at bouldering moves and I think “wow, that’s really hard looking…those holds are shit and it’s a really big move to get to it.” And then I get on the boulder and to my surprise, I do those moves that looked extremely hard. Once I stick the move, I am all gibberish in my head because I am surprised, and then I fall. So then must start from the beginning, this time with more belief that I am capable of doing those moves. And then soon after, I send. All because I believed I could. It’s a process of filling my ‘piggy bank’ of belief in bouldering.
I just went to Joe’s Valley last week to ‘relax and recover’ from my training the past few months. I wasn’t training for bouldering at all, so I would like to say that I went without any expectations. But the truth is, I did. I had expectations, to a point, because I care. After more or less getting shut down on the first day…even on a V7…I decided I needed to let go of those expectations. Why? Because I was there to relax and have fun. Not necessarily to send big and perform. And I was getting upset…what Jimmie Redo coined as ‘poopie face.’ I was getting upset with myself for not performing, but then I realized that I wouldn’t get upset at my other friends for not performing well. So I dropped it.
Once I dropped it, it was all good! I was there to have fun, practice being in the moment, and enjoy my time away from Boulder. Jon and I climbed a lot in Joe’s, but it still didn’t seem like enough. One day after climbing, I told him I had a personal best bouldering day that day. I had sent “Feels like Grit,” a slabby V8 next to the famous “Angler,” a beautiful V2 that I highly recommend. I also onsighted “Wills of Fire,” the most beautiful and enjoyable V7 I think I’ve ever done. And in addition, I sent “Worse Case Scenario,” V9 on my 3rd try. It was a great day day for me – the sun was shining, wind was blowing (which really isn’t that pleasant, but it keeps things a little cooler), puma (my doggie side kick) was psyched to be outside chewing on sticks, and Jon was excited to be back in Joe’s. In addition that day, Jon sent “Black Out,” a V13 with heinously small holds.
I was sincerely content with everything. We still had a couple days left though and I wanted to try some harder boulders. I went and scoped out “Finger Hut,” a surprisingly little powerful V10 with small, but positive holds. I had doubts because the first move is really quite long and the feet are really quite shitty (at least for me). And difficult first moves are hard for me because it is soooooo hard for me to turn on that grrrrrr right off the ground. One day of working it, I could do it from the second move to the top. But the first move was very low percentage…I’d stick it once every ten tries or so…which wasn’t very nice for my skin. I had some doubts about that first move because it was such low percentage, but I wanted to give it my all and try to send it on our last day. Which I did finish on my third try that day…it was an amazing feeling since it was only my second V10 ever. But perhaps topping out wasn’t what I would define as success. My success was defined by believing I could do all the moves, including the first one, with a higher percentage. My success was defined by letting go of reaching the top, and really climbing in the moment, move by move. It was somewhat of a breakthrough for me.
After sending Finger Hut, I wanted to go try my hand at this boulder called “Death Scream,” another V10 that I saw on 8a. I came very close to onsighting this one that same day, but I stuck a particular shitty hold, and surprised myself, and my mind got all crazy and I fell. That, regardless of not making it to the top, was not success because I let surprise get the best of me. So after a few more attempts, I finally sent without making one single dab on the boulder behind it. I recommend this boulder, because it is beautiful and it would be 3 starts if there wasn’t a boulder located right behind it. I guess some people have problems not dabbing on it…
That was my personal best bouldering day ever. It went from sending V9, V8, and V7 all in a day to sending two V10’s in a day. And I think it’s because I began believing that I could do such a thing. 🙂
That same day, Jon sent his long time nemesis “Black Lung,” a V13 first done by Ben Moon a long time ago. Many have done this boulder, but the more direct way which involves doing a larger leap to a better hold near the top. But Jon did it the old school method…the Moon Method…using reeeeaaaaally bad holds off to the left of the jump hold. He was so excited because that was his goal…he used to watch the movie of Ben Moon doing this boulder when he was growing up, so I can only imagine how accomplished he felt topping out such a historic boulder!
I guess it’s all about believing. No matter how hard it is to do sometimes, it’s important to remember we are our own best friends. And we wouldn’t doubt our friends…so don’t doubt yourself. We are all capable of what we put our minds to.