06 October 2015

A Rested Mind

Time has a funny way of changing the view of the future. Back then, in my old view of the future, I had guessed my body would get more tired and climbing boulders would take the toll expected from a hard on the body type activity. Bouldering is one of the highest impact sports possible, and year after year it should add up. I had viewed a future of a tired body. That view was based on facts. As I turned 32 and started into the black hole of graduate school I felt tired. My strongest efforts felt years behind and though I climbed at a higher level than ever hoped for in the more distant past, I felt the downward arc of strength. Old projects felt harder and new projects were completed with more effort. The end of my graduate program and I was weaker than ever before, but hope flickered and my view started to change. The facts started to change.
Fast forward to a year after graduate school, the present, and something significant is different. Work is ever present, time is less available, and I'm older than when I felt the "decline" begin. Those things are changes of little significance. Something completely unexpected has changed. It has adjusted my view of the future because it has changed the view of the present. It is my mind. Somehow it has rested. Despite the battery of using my brain as a powerful problem solving tool, despite the relentless thinking and solving of problems, it found a way to refocus on bouldering. My mind has rested and as it turns out is the one thing I had not considered in bouldering. It did not happen quickly. It really took at least three months after my graduate work subsided to even feel or describe a change. The portions of the brain that solve complex problems, in my case geology related problems, also serve the boulderer. Bouldering as we all already know is complex problem solving! It taxes the mind.
The seeds of this change were likely planted a year ago when very difficult boulders were getting climbed at Neverland by Jimmy Webb. In the final month of my thesis work, Jimmy visited and I spent the two weeks bouldering when writing and deep thoughts of science should have been all consuming. Those two weeks provided a brief refocusing of my mind from one complex problem (geology) to another (bouldering). I finished old projects quickly and felt mentally focused beyond what the past years had provided. My body was not ready, but my mind was. Finishing graduate work was exhausting beyond words, but the seeds survived drought.
Midwinter started to warm and ancient projects moved into the forefront of my mind. Things cleaned and tried so many years ago at Needle Peak started to gain hold of my focus. Most of the time I was alone, it is something I have grown more fond of, bouldering alone on old projects, but they were now getting done. Many years after I had guessed the glory days were over, projects of old were getting finished, often quickly.
It has carried over from spring to summer to fall. New and old projects getting finished with sharp focus and a certainty that they will get climbed. My mind feels at rest and bouldering has never felt so good. It is unexpected to have a rested mind.

A progression in pictures is below. The progression and focus started at Needle Peak, the old proving ground, and progressed into the most recent of new boulders. The future looks like even more good projects getting finished!

One of the first old projects to get climbed at Needle Peak, Patience and Haste V8. Bryan Vansickle climbing the first repeat of this neoclassic. The FA was climbed in early February of this year.
FA of Love Strong V8, in February of this year. An old project completed in a few tries this time around.
The newer boulders are mostly in new areas. They tend to be larger single lines, the type that my old tired mind would struggle with. They are preferred now and help keep my mind at rest.

FA of Quick Pull Trigger V9/10, Snowy Range. This one was cleaned and climbed in a single day. 
FA of The Willwood V10. It was climbed exactly one year after I found it on a solo hike. It is the best line I've put up in a good while. 
And the final project to be completed as of this writing is back at Needle Peak. It is a project though not easy, was defined by the intimidation of the landing and the mental focus needed to complete it. Several of us have looked at a beautiful steep prow seemingly jutting into the space around Needle Peak. The Valley spills out below, and the climber will too if coming off on several moves. It was a good test of my new mind and is now Journey to Ixtlan V?
Photo from Jamie of the FA of Journey to Ixtlan. The left side is a small ledge and a terrible drop. 

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