The early morning sun catches the northeast face of Dihedral Rock. A prominent left facing corner flirts with the December sun until mid morning. The belay though, is securely anchored in the shade, tucked between a scrawny pine and large boulder. The temporary nature of the sunlight on this cold December morning made me decide to use this as my warm up. I trudge straight to the base seemingly oblivious of the sunlight mere meters away. Anna calls attention to my folly and I wander back and rack up in the sun.
“You doing the direct start?” she asks, flaking the rope at the base.
“Naw, I’ll go up left” I reply gesturing to a pedestal. I tie in and find the move easily protected by an orange TCU and well positioned double length sling. I stem out into the corner and look for the next piece.
There are times when I am climbing when I make moves that are dubious and doubtful. I like these types of moves when I am well protected. I place my foot on a smear of dubious quality with a hand hold of the same. Sometimes things stick and I make the move, other times, not so much, and I am off, falling; either way their is much hesitancy. The next ten feet to the bomber fingerlock is a succession of those times. I glance down, my face a constant study. My legs bridge the sides of the dihedral, my Red Chili clad feet smear off nearly imperceptible nuances in the rock. Encouraging words from my belayer counter my self-doubt and my steady streams of “OK watch me here.” Little Stoppers offer protection, while palming, smearing, and a less than tips crack offer a slow propulsion upward.
I climb rocks because I like this line. A line, that like the firn zone on a glacier is indefinite and constantly moving. The line can depend on the day, the season, or the route. It is highly variable. It is when success is as uncertain as failure, the outcome is not preordained and I am pushing myself to a place where I have not done a move like the one I am trying, these are the times that help shape why I climb. Do I have the fortitude to continue? Will my feet stick to the smears as I move using this pinky tips crack? If the uncertainty doesn’t end with one move, but continues with holds and smears of suspect quality, that is when I need mental control. For me, that is breathing, focusing and relaxing; I try to think about form. I know that for me to push that line I need to be focused and have a calm head.
Sometimes success is not the outcome. Sometimes my feet don’t stick or my hand doesn’t hold. That is frustrating, but at those times I need to remember that I am toeing the line, learning kinesthetically and hopefully getting stronger. Stepping up to the plate in order to try is one of my biggest challenges. Pushing myself to try things that I may or may not succeed on is something that I have continually struggled with throughout my years of climbing. Sometimes, tying in is half my battle. After that it is just rock climbing.
Twenty feet and five minutes later I have clipped a fixed pin, shaken out on a dicey hands free rest, and am gearing up for the lieback. From below I hear Anna yelling up “you got it Jared, keep driving.” It spurs me on. I pull into a secure lieback, knowing that I need my feet up and right on a positive edge. I lieback, smear and jam, then reach high with my right toe securing purchase on the edge. A mantle, then I am standing and clipping a fixed cam. “Fuck yeah” I mutter to myself. It is in the bag. Soon I am lowering off, happy for sending and stepping up to the plate, but mostly just happy to be in a beautiful place with a wonderful person, and for me, that is the biggest reason for climbing.