As I sat down to write out my climbing goals for 2020, I realized that despite a lot of personal reflection on my 2019 accomplishments, I never really summed things up on the blog, particularly when it came to projects from this past fall. Even though I stopped writing here long about the time the weather got good, I actually got out a lot this fall, so there’s lots to catch up on!
One of my main goals for this year was to establish a firmer grip in the 12+ arena, particularly at the New. Aside from the stray 13 that very much catered to my preferred style, my previous NRG sends up until this year had a definitive ceiling at the 12b mark. This year I was able to break that barrier at the New, with two 12c sends and one 12d. I also came pretty close on another 12d before weather and holidays forced a retreat until spring. While maybe not completely consolidated at NRG 12+ just yet, I definitely feel like I have a little momentum in the right direction, and I’m psyched to bring some newfound confidence into some of the harder NRG classics in 2020.
A more general goal of mine for 2019 was to shop around for some harder projects – ie something that might take more than a few days worth of investment. I enjoy picking one route and sticking to it for a day or two, but then I tend to assume it’s out of my pay grade and move on if I still can’t do all the moves after a weekend’s worth of work. After looking back over the course of 2019, once again I’m not sure I can say I crushed this goal by any means, but I certainly put myself in positions where I could BE crushed way more than I’m accustomed to! The result of that was that I have a small handful of projects that very well could be in the long term hopper for next year, the most likely candidates being those on local rock – Black and Blue Velvet (Pilot Mountain) and Pigs in Zen (The Dump), both 13a.
Something cool that just sort of happened without being a pre-meditated goal was that I placed more gear this fall than I had in a good long while. This is entirely due to my 9 year old turning into a legit climber seemingly overnight. Many times the best routes grade-wise for him that were also near our projects also happened to be gear lines. While I’m not ready to set any specific trad goals for 2020, I wouldn’t mind seeing this back-into-trad trend continue!
As far as number specific goals, I didn’t really have many specifics in mind for this year, although midway through the fall I realized I was close to an “Around the Horn 5.12 Trifecta.” Despite a lot of concentrated effort in November, I ended up being just ONE route short of sending 3 of each, 12a through 12d, over the course of the year. Here’s how that broke down.
Starry 12a (The Meadow)
Captain Fuk 12a (Hidden Valley)
Team Machine 12a (New River Gorge)
Blackbeard 12b (Hidden Valley)
Arrowhead Arete 12b (Hidden Valley)
Here Comes the Rain 12b (The Dump)
Green Envy 12c (New River Gorge)
Wall Drug 12c (New River Gorge)
Not Too Keen 12c/d (The Dump)
Bosnian Vacation 12d (New River Gorge)
Tweakend 12d (Hawksbill Mt.)
If I just look on paper at the 8a scores, this past year was at best par with the last several years, at worst, 200 points lower than other years. Because we focused on staying in project mode most of the year, we tended towards areas we new well, which decreased my onsight opportunities dramatically. Also there are no 13’s, despite ticking 2 back at the tail end of 2017.
But when I looked back at my climbing log, I saw that my overall sends from 2019 were actually a good bit higher than in 2018 – 70 versus 55! So despite the fact that this year was dubbed more of a “quality OVER quantity” sort of year, I’m also psyched about the “QUANTITY of quality” projects I was able to put down! While I would like to give training hard in the gym all the credit, I think just as much of it boiled down to putting consistent time in at the same crags, and not being afraid to get on something hard and stick with it.
Now that I’ve thoroughly dissected 2019 for me, I’d love to hear from you – don’t be afraid to spray! What did you accomplish – climbing or otherwise – during 2019? Be on the lookout for a 2020 vision post next week!