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What it Takes (for me) to Climb 5.13.

My climbing buddy Fred Gomez once asked me, “Who’s the best climber at the crag?”  I had not heard the expression so I looked around and said, “Well, you I think.”   “NOoooooooooooo!” he exclaimed, “The climber who is having the most fun!”

I thought about that and really I don’t think that’s true.  The best climber at the crag is generally that person that is one foot-slip away from a full fledged roid rage.  You know – the one who seems angry all the time and has his/her draws on that really hard route at the crag…and is blaring really bad euro-trash techno.


One of my friends once told me, “It’s pathetic that you need to train to climb 5.13.”  I guess that could be true in a sense, but it’s what it takes for me to climb hard.  My “don’t really care” baseline these days is easy 5.12, but I really need to push myself to keep in the upper 5.12 and 13- range.

The biggest thing I have going on in my life is rock climbing and I train very hard for climbing.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about my training lately.  What are my goals?  What is my motivation?  In the “Training Manual” which is the street name for “The Rock Climber’s Training Manual,” the Andersons prescribe to choose a goal route and then train for that route specifically.  But I have trouble really just focusing on one route.  I will typically make a broad decision – the Red River Gorge, or the New River Gorge (or 50/50) and my focus toward one or the other (more power or more power enduro.)  I just can’t focus on one hard route.  Why not? 

The Darkside at the Red River Gorge.  Me sending “Tuskan Raider 12d”

I’ve come to realize that I train for the sake of training.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a better climber, but I really just like the beat down!  My typical strength phase is a very demanding and grueling part of my life.  I wake up between 400 and 430.  I run between 5-10 km (30 minutes to an hour.)  I then go to work for 10+ hours.  If it’s a training day I will do a 2-hour hangboard workout including warm up, then come home, play some Mario Kart and go to sleep.

While running, I’m not dreaming about the crimpers on my 5.14 life goal route.  I’m thinking about it time to time of course, but most of the time I’m just thinking about normal life things.  My dog.  My girlfriend.  Whether or not I can afford a new engine for my boat.  Whether someone is going to run me over with their car.  It’s 4 in the morning and I haven’t eaten yet, so I’m thinking about donuts (just kidding.)  The run is very demanding of me, but the motivation of the run is just pushing myself.  If I just tried to think about climbing the whole time, I’d just hit the snooze and go back to bed!

I made my list of routes that I want to do this Fall season. I feel a little awkward sharing it though.  There aren’t any big numbers or anything.  I do have in my mind a couple “big numbers for me” that I want to try though – things that I have trouble even writing down in my climbing journal.  Here is my short list of routes for the season:

Ryan Smith – The Pod 13a/b
Erika Thompson on Apollo Reed, her first 13a.  She climbed “Slash and Burn” 12d, though which is considerably harder last season!
New River Gorge:
  • ·      Sweetest Taboo 13b
  • ·      Travisty 13a
  • ·      Dial 911 13a
  • ·      Diamond Life 13a
  • ·      Nude Brute 13a
  • ·      Logotherapy 13a
  • ·      Original Crankster 13a
  • ·      The Pod 13a
  • ·      B52 13a
  • ·      Krag Kommander 13a

Mercy Seat 13a.  Not on my project list, but on my “Do it so I never have to do it again list”
Red River Gorge:
  • ·      Darth Mall 13b
  • ·      Golden Boy 13b
  • ·      Paradise Lost 13a
  • ·      Convicted 13a
  • ·      40 oz of Justice 13a
  • ·      Calm Like a Bomb 13a
  • ·      Dog Fights and Fist Fights 13a
  • ·      American Dream 12b (seriously this one is hard)
And of course, my dream routes (don’t tell any of my friends though):
  • ·      Kaleidoscope 13c
  • ·      Mango Tango 13d
  • ·      The Project 13c
  • ·      BOHICA 13b
  • ·      Proper Soul 14a

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