I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m the worst about this; I’m really writing this one to myself.  Or another way to take this one is to: “Do as I say, not as I do!”
I spent a lot of time as a 5.10 and 5.11 top rope tough guy.  Maybe the first 4-5 years of my climbing career.  I remember the first time reading through the guidebook of my childhood climbing area, McConnells Mill.  I saw the hardest route there was a 12d.  I was currently projecting (on top rope) the route: Sunshine 5.9+.   12d.  Wow.  That’s impossible!  I’ll never be able to climb that.
Matt Patterson on Mini Ovest 5.11d at McConnells Mill
 I’ve now climbing a lot of 5.12s and a handful of 5.13s in my life.  Still, though.  I will walk up to a route, see that the route is rated 5.12c or 5.12d and think….nope, its impossible.  I’ll never do this route.  Its just so hard for me, mentally, to get over that.  The only way is forward; I talk to my inner self (it puts the lotion on the skin), tell myself I can do the route…I’ll rationalize it to myself and say some of the following:
1.      You can do this route Dan, how hard can it be right?
2.     I bet I can find some sneaky technical beta.
3.     I’ve trained hard and it will pay off.
4.     I can always just stick clip past the crux, or bail (bail-biner.)
5.     If it IS impossible, I can sand bag my friends!
For me, tying in is the hardest part.  Once I get on the route and start breaking it down, then I realize that I can do the route…and then I typically do.  Breaking the route down is the best way to get it done.
Me climbing Five Fingers Arête – 5.8 at McConnells Mill
Lauren Brayack climbing Ross Boulder at McConnells Mill.
Last Friday, we had decent day at the New River Gorge.  I seem to be telling you all a lot that this is rare for this time of year.  It really is!  I think maybe God just loves me a little more than most people; I’ve sure been lucky lately.
Bob Value climbing on Ross Boulder at McConnells Mill
Barb Miller climbing “Laid Back” 5.10b at McConnells Mill
My friend Matt Fanning and I did the epic hike out to the First and Second Buttress at the Meadow.  Conditions weren’t dreamy, but a nice 65 degrees and 50% humidity and a cooling breeze is pretty good.  We did a couple easier routes to warm up, then set our sites on a route put up by Doug Reed in 1996, Red Bull.
Matt Fanning on Red Bull 5.12d at the Meadow, NRG.
Matt looked at me, I looked at Matt.  I go…so you wanna go first?… No….  I don’t want to go first….  Hmm…  Well…  I guess….  Well…..  OK I can always stick clip or bail.
I got on the route and fell at the first bolt, then climbed the route from bolt-to-bolt.  It turns out getting past the opening moves is the crux, with some easier moves leading to an almost full recovery, then one more boulder problem – hard-to-hold small, but positive crimp move and a long pull.  The second half of the second crux is pretty scary, a desperate pull over the roof to some small but positive holds.  This section of the route is pretty run-out, but I put an extended trad draw + a normal quick draw linked so I could clip in the middle of it.  Then its butter.
The route went down for me pretty easily the second go.  Boom! 

Though the next time I walk up to a 12d, I’ll have trouble convincing myself that I can do it.