Pulling Plastic for Life

After a few weeks of climbing primarily in the gym, I finally had the chance to head outdoors this weekend for an evening bouldering session with the Shank. We projected a couple of high ball V3’s including Heavy Traffic where I chickened out on the top out – but seriously, when the guide-book says “difficult climbing to a mantle crux top out” at 20 feet, I am sure you would be thinking the same thing. We had a blast and the session reinforced why I love to climb outdoors.

I have been able to climb in the gym between 2-3 session per week for the past month or so. This has helped to dramatically increase my endurance and strength; however, after climbing at Painted Cave this weekend, I realized that all the time spent in the gym would not give me enough wall time to solve the problems on my various projects. Such as a mantle crux on a 20 foot boulder. All that training on a 10 foot wall, would not compare to the reality of taking a 15 foot plunge onto the pads below if I should fail.

Until recently, climbing indoors was a sort of last resort to climbing outside. The conditions, texture and majesty of a route cannot be reproduced by even the most gifted of setters. The masterpiece of a climbers humble fight against the giant forces of nature dwarfs the vision of anything that could be created by an individual who is limited by their experience and perspective when setting routes.

One of the characteristics that defines a good climbing gym is that routes are changed frequently to provide for versatility. While this sounds great, this leaves gym rats with overblown egos – I mean unproven ratings – rather than time-tested routes that have been climbed by some of the strongest climbers in the area. A classic scenario is when I talk to people at the gym who can power through the colorful holds on a V6 boulder but have never brought the rope up through their legs to clip in with the potential of taking a 15 foot whipper.

The gym serves it’s purpose as a good training environment. I am always impressed by what some people are able to climb once they have made the jump the plastic and  start cranking on stone. The true test of ones climbing abilities are not in the gym, it is on the open face of the rocks in the hills surrounding your locale. I am excited about the prospect of getting a gym here in Santa Barbara. However, this will not replace my desire to treat my backyard as the proving ground it really is.

Pictures of the total gym rat coming soon.


One Response to “Pulling Plastic for Life”
  1. Shank says:

    common rat, lets go to IW or Kryptor soon.

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