Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don’t Make Excuses, Make Progress

by Aubrey Wingo

It is obvious to say that there is no average climber. We come in all shapes and sizes, age and weight. Thus with these different body styles, there comes advantages and disadvantages. I, myself, am 5’3” (on a good day) and I don’t have an extraordinary arm span. And out of my mouth, I can guarantee when I’m having an off day, you hear nothing but, “I can’t reach it, the move is too tall for me.”
I thought about this, because the things the human body is capable of is not what is preventing me from reaching farther, jumping farther. Sure, there might be moves I can’t static, but I have the potential of making that bump, making the dyno that will set me one step closer to sending the problem. What I’m getting at is there are sacrifices every climber must make to adjust their technique in accordance to their body. So maybe instead of bitching about tall moves I should work on strengthening my fingers, work on my lock offs, perfect my dynamic movement.
You hear in every sport coaches getting in your face about saying “I can’t.” The beauty about climbing is a lot of times, you are your own personal motivator so it is self-discipline that throws that phrase in the dirt, instead of leaving the gym or the rock with it stuck in your back pocket for another time. Personal experience time. A friend of mine set a route in my local gym whose moves were what I call “scrunchy” meaning they were very low to the ground with close, knees-in-your-chest, movements. That was her intention. And she got so much criticism from everyone close-minded and over six foot, and usually of the male persuasion. Guys, go do some yoga, work on your flexibility.
I find myself complaining quite a bit about the styles of multiple indoor gyms, or even different outdoor boulder routes. And maybe this is a stupid thing to complain about. To hone your skills as a climber, one should be able to climb technical and dynamic. I should suck it up and learn how to do squeeze problems and set the crimps on the back burner. Maybe I should give Millipede a second glance…
I think about Cicada Jenerik. At 7 years old, she was climbing v5s and then at 11 years old, to match her age she sent the Kind Traverse, a V11 in Rocky Mountain National Park (she also holds 8 world records). Though pushed by her father and Zero Gravity Climbing, what excuses can she make? A little girl sending things that I can’t currently imagine.
I think about Pete Davis and Ronnie Dickson. Back in the 2007 Summer, I had the honor to belay for the Extremity Games, where the United States, and probably even the world brings on climbers and other extreme sports fanatics who should have all the excuse in the world. Pete and Ronnie are both amputees. And I watched these men send routes that I couldn’t imagine with such technique. Because of their situations, they have learned to adapt to their bodies to become better and stronger climbers.
So I learn that there is no excuse, there is no “I can’t.” There is only the contemplation of what I need to do to adjust. There is only adjustment, not failure.

Aubrey Wingo is Camp Coordinator and Asst. Manager here at Aiguille.

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  1. i completely agree...being a climber (and especially a COMPLETE climber) means you can adapt to any situation/climb that you are in by using the skills you have learned. and the only way to get better is to push yourself on the climbs/techniques you are worst at by climbing more, and complaining less...


  2. well written. making excuses in climbing only fools yourself. excellent post, Aubs.

  3. Right on, Aubrey! When my son started climbing he was little -- rock jocks used to say the only reason he was sending stuff they couldn't touch was because he didn't have to pull so much weight and because he could bend like a pretzel -- he became a dyno monkey in his first couple of years because he couldn't reach anything. Ten years later he's 6'3" and still winning comps -- his style is way static now, but he has to fight the scrunchy stuff -- and of course the excuse-people still point out that he only climbs that well because he's got reach...ahhh, if they only knew the amount of work that goes into being successful...
    Jerry in Tallahassee