How Not to Look Like A Newbie, Volume One

Perception is everything. No matter what you were told by your first grade teacher, books are always judged by their cover. Sure, that initial judgement is subject to change when more information is gathered, but a first impression is still a very powerful thing.

With that in mind, here is the first installment of an ongoing series designed to help you not look like a total dweeb at the gym or crag.

Exhibit A: the chalk bag

There is a reason all chalk bags have a belt loop, and that reason is not so you can clip it off to the side on a random gear loop. The chalk bag should be worn around the waist, secured by some sort of belt device (accessory cord, shoe string, nylon belt, etc.) and positioned at the small of your back, providing an equal opportunity for each hand to reach it. And for crying out loud, make sure the dang thing is open!

 

Exhibit B: the bare feet

This should be a no-brainer, for several reasons. Number one, no one else wants to see your nasty climber feet. Gross. The floors are dirty enough as is, pal, so put those things away. Number two, you don’t want your own feet co-existing  with the unidentifiable communal funk that inhabits the surface of every floor. Number three, you need to stand on your toes to climb well, so why increase the risk of bashing your feet on a rock or dropping a quickdraw on your freshly pedicured phalanges? Think of shoes as stylish foot helmets that have the added benefit of protecting future significant others from the sight of your gnarly tootsies.

 

Exhibit C: the bling

Rings, watches, droopy necklaces and hoopy earrings…take ’em off! The only thing a watch can do while you are climbing is break and any other fashionable accoutrements can only get stuck/pinned/caught/pinched/crushed and cause grievous bodily harm and/or disfigurement.

Exhibit D: the harness

First of all, a harness should never be worn while bouldering. Never ever. This is cardinal sin. Second of all, the harness is not where you keep all your climbing crap; that is what a pack is for. A harness should only carry the tools necessary for the task at hand. So if you are in a gym, there should be NOTHING on your harness. Not a nut tool, not a roll of tape, definitely not a chalkbag clipped to a gear loop (see Exhibit A), not a daisy chain girth hitched to your belay loop, not three prussiks and half a rack of quickdraws…NOTHING.

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Whips and Grips Results

First Name Last Name Team Total Place Falls
Adult Female          
Jodie Dawson *None/Not listed 6075.00 1 0
Jeana  Maynard *None/Not listed 5525.00 2 0
Katharine McKnight *None/Not listed 4975.00 3 3
Candice Hull *None/Not listed 4650.00 4 0
Junior Female        
Kristiana Fox Team BRC 5900.00 1 0
Megan McCutcheon Team Pure 5225.00 2 0
Female Youth A        
Maggie Boyer Team BRC 6100.00 1 0
Leah Bell-Johnson Team BRC 6100.00 2 2
Rachel Cohen Rock’n & Jam’n 5975.00 3 0
Sasha Rubenfeld Team BRC 5950.00 4 0
Casey Alee-Jumbo Pure Bouldering 5900.00 5 0
Lisa Kilmer Team BRC 5875.00 6 0
Maren Stubenvoll EarthTreks Golden 5825.00 7 0
Kate Stern Team Sik Bird 5700.00 8 0
Anna Pasnau Team BRC 5550.00 9 0
Camille Garcia Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 10 1
Katherine Austin Rock Lounge 5350.00 11 0
Female Youth B        
Madeline D’Amato Team BRC 6100.00 1 0
Joni Stuart Team Mojo 6100.00 2 2
Gina Kelble Denver Bouldering Club 5975.00 3 0
Kate Soulliere Lakewood 5925.00 4 4
Dara Procell Team Mojo 5850.00 5 0
Abby Wilson Team BRC 5825.00 6 0
Janna Walls Team BRC 5775.00 7 0
Kamawela Leka Team BRC 5725.00 8 0
Alena Holbert Rock’n & Jam’n 5575.00 9 0
Mia Greene Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 10 0
Sara Denhoffer Rock’n & Jam’n 5450.00 11 0
Mackenzie Whitehead-Bust Rock’n & Jam’n 5350.00 12 4
Madeline Sturm Team Durango 5250.00 13 0
Lexie Rice Lakewood 5225.00 14 2
Sara Seagren Sport Climbing Center 5175.00 15 0
Tatum Schmidt Durango 5000.00 16 1
Zoe Hopkins Rock’n & Jam’n 4675.00 17 0
Allison Riley Rock’n & Jam’n 4675.00 18 0
Samantha Krell Rock’n & Jam’n 4650.00 19 0
alexis hull Sport Climbing Center 4575.00 20 0
Moriah Craddock *None/Not listed 4050.00 21 0
Sierra DesPlanques Rock Lounge 3950.00 22 0
Female Youth C        
Brooke Raboutou Team ABC 6325.00 1 1
Stella Noble Team ABC 6175.00 2 5
Mia Manson Team ABC 5975.00 3 0
Corinne Otterness Team ABC 5900.00 4 0
Bella Weksler Team ABC 5800.00 5 0
Izabela Nowak Rock’n & Jam’n 5650.00 6 0
Tali Maximon Team BRC 5550.00 7 1
Ligaia Meyer Santa Fe Climbing Center 5500.00 8 0
Amanda MacDonald Rock’n & Jam’n 5500.00 9 0
Jasmine Mosberger Team ABC 5475.00 10 0
Sienna Kopf Team ABC 5375.00 11 1
Grace Ryan EarthTreks Golden 5250.00 12 0
Caroline Bechtel Team BRC 5225.00 13 0
Zoe Bray Team BRC 5225.00 13 0
Ali Poe Santa Fe Climbing Center 5225.00 13 0
Georgia Witchel Rock Lounge 5225.00 13 0
Soma Smith Team Durango 5200.00 17 1
Madi Cyr Rock’n & Jam’n 5150.00 18 1
Chloe Kim Rock’n & Jam’n 5050.00 19 0
Ella Perington Team BRC 4950.00 20 0
Taylor Berry Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4800.00 21 0
anna vertun Team BRC 4650.00 22 0
Margarite Ford Team BRC 4625.00 23 0
Jayden MacDonald Rock’n & Jam’n 4625.00 24 0
Cassidy Nicks Rock’n & Jam’n 4525.00 25 0
Nina  Kemp Rock’n & Jam’n 4050.00 26 0
Phoebe Dolan Team ABC 3400.00 27 0
Rachel Junge Rock’n & Jam’n 2250.00 28 0
Olivia Day Team BRC 1725.00 29 0
Mya Ormsbee Team BRC 1450.00 30 0
Ariana O’Brien Team ABC 700.00 31 0
Female Youth D        
Campbell Sarinopoulos Team ABC 5950.00 1 0
Kaelyn Harris Team ABC 5700.00 2 1
Ella Von Dungen Team ABC 5625.00 3 1
Katie Kelble Denver Bouldering Club 5600.00 4 0
Anna Von Dungen Team ABC 5575.00 5 0
Cadance Hurt Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 5525.00 6 0
Layla Esrey Team BRC 5375.00 7 1
Sarah Smith Team ABC 5275.00 8 1
ceci davies Earth Treks 5175.00 9 0
Margaux D’Amato Team ABC 5175.00 9 1
Olivia Kosanovich Team ABC 5150.00 11 0
Guilia Luebben Rock’n & Jam’n 5075.00 12 0
Kiera Johnson Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4975.00 13 0
Ona Melvin Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4975.00 13 1
Mackenzie Bay EarthTreks Golden 4950.00 15 0
Kalia O’Brien Team Sik Bird 4900.00 16 0
Eliza Riordan Team Summit  4750.00 17 0
Eva Pacheco DBC 4550.00 18 0
Eleanor Malcolm Team ABC 4525.00 19 0
Eve Weksler Team ABC 4525.00 19 0
Emma Saunders Team ABC 4475.00 21 0
Caroline Blum Team ABC 4325.00 22 1
Roya Behbakht Rock’n & Jam’n 4250.00 23 1
anna auer Santa Fe Climbing Center 4100.00 24 0
Emma Barwich Team ABC 4000.00 25 0
Ceri Evans Earth Treks 4000.00 25 0
Lydia Dolan Team ABC 3425.00 27 1
Male Adult          
Michael Hauck *None/Not listed 6575.00 1 0
Jeffrey Stroud *None/Not listed 6400.00 2 0
Alexander Raab *None/Not listed 6250.00 3 4
Dustin Scow *None/Not listed 6225.00 4 0
Dave Dangle *None/Not listed 5950.00 5 0
Brian Moore *None/Not listed 5925.00 6 0
Brent Fitzwalter *None/Not listed 5900.00 7 4
Manuel Valdez *None/Not listed 5800.00 8 0
Justin Miller *None/Not listed 5800.00 8 0
Chris Downs *None/Not listed 5450.00 10 0
Kian Behbakht *None/Not listed 5175.00 11 0
John Dine *None/Not listed 4775.00 12 0
Male Junior          
Stefan Lavender Team ABC 6550.00 1 0
Jonah Weil *None/Not listed 6350.00 2 2
Remi Arata Team ABC 6250.00 3 0
Greg Ledingham Team BRC 5875.00 4 0
Silas Carter Team Pure 5750.00 5 0
Kai Meyer Durango 5525.00 6 0
Male Youth A        
Ben Hanna Santa Fe Climbing Center 6675.00 1 0
Ben Lindfors Team BRC 6650.00 2 0
Shawn Raboutou Team ABC 6500.00 3 0
Jess Walker Rock’n & Jam’n 6275.00 4 0
Quinton Center Rock’n & Jam’n 6000.00 5 0
Brendan Boyd Rock’n & Jam’n 5925.00 6 0
Taren Hunter Pure Bouldering 5900.00 7 0
Ben Strine Pure Bouldering 5900.00 7 0
Tristen Mohn Santa Fe Climbing Center 5850.00 9 0
Charlie Malone Team Durango 5775.00 10 0
Malcolm Oliver Team ABC 5650.00 11 0
Parker Meer Team Sik Bird 5550.00 12 0
Rollin Poe Rock’n & Jam’n 5525.00 13 1
Quincy Conway Santa Fe Climbing Center 5500.00 14 0
Jacob Kibbee Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 15 0
Wesley While Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 15 0
Jake Granado Lifetime Fitness  5300.00 17 0
Brett Maytubby Team BRC 5025.00 18 0
Jasper Pont Team BRC 5025.00 18 0
Male Youth B          
Skylar Smith Team Durango 6475.00 1 1
Will Sharp Team Texas 6175.00 2 0
Skyler Bol *None/Not listed 6050.00 3 0
Kaden weston Rock’n & Jam’n 6000.00 4 0
Ian Center Rock’n & Jam’n 5975.00 5 0
Jack Mason Team BRC 5900.00 6 0
Cole Myers Team BRC 5875.00 7 0
Cyrus Sprow Team BRC 5875.00 8 1
Mike Lowe Rock’n & Jam’n 5825.00 9 0
Zach Bain Earth Treks 5725.00 10 0
Aspen Sivey Rock’n & Jam’n 5700.00 11 0
Ray McVicker Team ABC 5475.00 12 0
Vinnie Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 5250.00 13 0
Bryce Roper Rock’n & Jam’n 4850.00 14 0
Evan Williams Rock’n & Jam’n 4175.00 15 0
Brenden Jennings Rock’n & Jam’n 3575.00 16 0
Timmy Dolan Team ABC 2550.00 17 0
Male Youth C          
Joe Goodacre Team ABC 6325.00 1 0
Callum Caulson Team BRC 5575.00 2 1
Tommy Pasnau Team BRC 5450.00 3 0
Jordan Fishman Rock’n & Jam’n 5325.00 4 0
jack Esrey Team BRC 5275.00 5 0
Noah Morton Team BRC 5275.00 5 0
Jackson Wetherill Santa Fe Climbing Center 5225.00 7 2
Zach Arenberg Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 5100.00 8 0
Ian Greene Team BRC 5000.00 9 0
Jonathan Malavasi Rock’n & Jam’n 4950.00 10 0
Mason Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 4350.00 11 1
bilal hannon Rock’n & Jam’n 4250.00 12 0
Marcus Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 2100.00 13 0
Devin Wong Team Sik Bird 1000.00 14 0
Male Youth D          
Colin Duffy Team ABC 6175.00 1 1
Cody Stevenson Team ABC 6000.00 2 3
Tanner Bauer Team BRC 5725.00 3 0
Chris Dento Team BRC 5700.00 4 0
Benji Dantas Vail Athletic Club 5675.00 5 0
Brody Nielsen Vail Athletic Club 5675.00 6 2
Lukas Bergsten Vail Athletic Club 5475.00 7 0
Kaitek Johnston Team BRC 5400.00 8 0
Calvin Boasberg Team ABC 5350.00 9 1
rand noah Team BRC 5300.00 10 0
Tyg Guggenheim Team ABC 5200.00 11 0
lowe lukey Rock’n & Jam’n 5175.00 12 1
Shafer Helms Rock’n & Jam’n 5100.00 13 0
Samuel Kuepper Team ABC 5100.00 13 0
Solomon Fitzgerald Sport Climbing Center 5075.00 15 0
St. John Tsuno-Wayne Team BRC 5050.00 16 0
Alex Williams Team ABC 4975.00 17 0
Boone Schafer Santa Fe Climbing Center 4950.00 18 0
Sergio Delgato Rock’n & Jam’n 4775.00 19 1
Jackson Turner *None/Not listed 4550.00 20 0
Evan Kuepper Team ABC 4250.00 21 0

The Spot on the Wall

It is a little known fact and something I do not broadcast publicly, but I have minor precognitive abilities that let me read your mind; if I tune in on the correct brain wave oscillatory frequency your thoughts become clear as a crisp autumn day. So, to answer your not-yet-posed question: yes, spotting in the gym is really important and you should never be afraid to ask for a spot or provide a spot to a fellow climber when asked.

How do I spot and why is it so important, you will ask in the very-near future. Allow me to elaborate:

Spotting is to bouldering what belaying is to route climbing and as such it is critical that, as a spotter, you are attentive and prepared to execute your duties and keep your buddy from breaking their neck. What is proper technique? How do I know when to spot? Fortunately for you the RJ1 varsity youth team has the skills to pay the bills when it comes to spotting and is here to show you the ropes (mixed metaphor, I know…) as it were.

Exhibit A

photo 5


On drastically overhanging terrain the focus is on the climber’s hips. On the steeps your body is more inclined to swing out when you fall, and a good spot at the hips makes it easier to redirect the falling climber than the typical shoulder spot. Notice Mike has his hands up with enough distance to allow Brenden to swing and his eyes focused on Brenden’s center of mass, not the cute girl at the drinking fountain or another climber elsewhere in the gym. Also notice that with the confidence of Mike’s good spot, Brenden is gunning for the send in proper style.

Exhibit B

photo 4On less steep terrain the focus shifts up to the climber’s armpits. Again you will notice Max’s attention is on Kaden and not anyone or anything else. He is giving Kaden enough room to sag out from the wall without dabbing but is ready to support his torso and give him enough time to disengage his heel hook. Max is not trying to catch Kaden; he is merely trying to give Kaden enough time to get his feet under him in case of an unexpected fall.

Exhibit C

photo (1)Here Izabela and Amanda employ the power spotting technique. The power spot is used either to help the climber learn a move or allow a climber to skip past some moves in order to try others. Izabela is actually pushing Amanda into the wall, providing support at her waist so that Amanda can get a feel for the body positions of the crux sequence. Experienced boulderers apply the power spot often on hard projects, and it is not uncommon for  climber and spotter to have a detailed system down. For instance, Amanda can say “give me five pounds,” meaning Izabela will push Amanda into the wall with roughly five pounds of force. When working a specific move with a power spot it is good to reduce the amount of weight taken on each attempt.

 

As with any form of climbing, how safe you are is largely up to you. It is your duty as a climber to request a spot if you feel sketched on a particular move or problem. Conversely, it is your prerogative to provide a spot when one is asked of you. As with belaying, communication between spotter(s) and climber is critical. Let your spotters know if you want a spot for a specific move or for the entire climb. Do not be intimidated to ask for a power spot; no one will judge you*. As a spotter, make sure the landing zone is clear and that others in the area are aware that your homie might be coming in hot. Like Captain Planet said: the power is yours!

 

 

 

* Okay, maybe some crusty old Traddie will judge you. Tell them to go climb a tower and carry on with your session.

To Wobble or Not to Wobble?

Throw a wobbler (phrase):

To get really angry. Have a tantrum. See also screaming fit, berserk, rage.

Perhaps my favorite bit of slang I’ve picked up via the climbing community is the phrase “toss a wobbler.” I can’t remember the first time I heard it used, but I do remember the first time I witnessed a climber in the midst of wobbling. I was clawing my way up one of the few sub-5.12 climbs in Rifle Mountain Park when I heard a hoarse, primitive howl reverberate through the narrow canyon. At first I thought someone had sent their project, but the string of eloquent curse words that followed seemed to indicate otherwise. “That will never be me,” I thought.

Like baseball, skateboarding, and panning for gold, climbing involves a lot of failure and a healthy portion of pain and frustration; most of the time the bear eats you.

In order to succeed on a personal limit climb one must invest oneself in said climb. You gotta psych yourself up for those gnarly crimps, yo. You must put your pain in a box, lock the box and throw away the key. One does not simply earn victory by showing up. There are no half measures. Do or do not, there is no try. You get the idea.

The point is, I used to see someone toss a wobbler and think “get a grip, man.” Climbing is fun and I couldn’t understand how anyone could get so upset doing something so enjoyable. But as the years passed and I focused on climbing as hard as I could, I found that it is not always so fun, not always so enjoyable. Sometimes you rip a flapper, sometimes you pump out at the chains, sometimes you miss the pads, and failure is never fun.

So about investing oneself in a climb… Success at the highest level of your ability takes complete commitment to the end result; you gotta *go for it.* When you’re going for it and you fail, it is natural to be frustrated and, speaking for myself, the only way to commit entirely to another attempt at the rig is to vent that frustration. Enter the wobbler.

My go to is the chalk bag toss (though I’m always careful to close the bag first…leave no trace and whatnot) usually accompanied by a quiet-but-severe expletive or two. Ten seconds or so of venting and I’m good to go. By nature I am not an angry person, and I definitely understand the necessity of respecting other people’s space and enjoyment of nature. This is just my way of letting off steam so that I can pour myself back into the task at hand.

While I find Adam Ondra’s outbursts excessive to say the least, I now understand where those outbursts come from and can appreciate how hard he tries and how much of himself he puts into climbing at the absolute highest level.

Naturally, you are entitled to your own opinion on the matter. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and we can work it out.

Dr. Dre’s Cure for Elbow Tendonitis

Back in the days when I was a teenager (before I had status and before I had a pager), there was an entirely different approach to my climbing. As is common with the youthful sect, patience, planning, and strategy were not arrows in my quiver. I wanted to be on top of the boulder and I did not give a hoot in hell about conserving energy, utilizing prime conditions, or injury prevention; I just went for it.

That was a long time ago. Dre put it best when he said “things just ain’t the same for gangstas, times is changin’, young (gentlemen) is aging, becoming old G’s in the game and changin’ to make way for these new names and faces…” Not sure if the Doctor was referring to climbing, but it’s all the same to me. My body is older and slower to recover. Climbing hurts more than it used to. Working has taken over a larger portion of my time and rising gas prices coupled with a growing sense of financial responsibility have made tri-weekly trips to Chaos Canyon and beyond things of the past. So it goes.

I strive to maintain a high standard in my climbing, and I understand that to remain at the level I am accustomed to adjustments to my training routines, climbing schedule, and overall strategy need to be made.

Problem: When I climb too much my elbows, fingers, and skin hurt, among other body parts.

Solution: I climb less now than at any point in my career. However, when I do climb it is focused on specific goals. By decreasing the volume of climbing while increasing the intensity I am able to get stronger while limiting exposure to overuse injuries. Five hour gym sessions are no more, in their place are two hour training blocks that work a particular facet of climbing, be it power, core strength, finger strength, endurance, technique, or general fitness.

Problem: I can’t spare the time to climb outside as much as I used to.

Solution: Make it count! I used to go to my project whenever I could, regardless of conditions or freshness. Now I am more selective, only attempting projects on days when the weather will cooperate and I feel well rested. You have to give yourself the highest probability of success that you can; good temps and fresh muscles help a good deal in that area.

Problem: It takes my body longer to repair itself after a rough day of climbing than it used to.

Solution: Again, make it count! Proper stretching, a protein drink and decent meal after climbing go a long way towards not feeling like death the next morning. More importantly, and this is especially hard for me, make fewer attempts on the project and rest longer in between burns. Once you have dialed in the movement, there is no reason to try a climb if you do not feel with a high degree of certainty that you can send. If I still feel a little pumped or my skin still stings a bit, I sit back down and wait until I feel completely ready. Take the time to clean any part of your shoe that will touch stone. Is there a tick mark on the hidden topout jug? Better take a minute and put one on there. While there is something to be said about the power of sheer will and determination, in my experience this has gotten me up a boulder far less often than proper rest and preparation. Leave nothing to chance…

None of this is to say I am old or anything. Far from it. However, with every passing year I am more aware of the aging process and how it effects physical performance, and with that awareness comes an ability to adapt and progress. I eagerly anticipate the next ten years of climbing to be better than the first.

Journey vs. Destination and Whatnot

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to summit Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. I have spent somewhere near 150 days bouldering in the Park and had never more than glimpsed the famed peak from the confines of the talus fields I enjoy so much. So under the cruel tutelage of my co-workers/besties, I hauled myself up the Cables and enjoyed a hot espresso at the summit. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday.

At any rate, the highlight of the day was watching a party attempting the Casual Route up the legendary Diamond. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind has lurked the notion of ascending that clean triangle of alpine granite, and seeing its pristine face close up rekindled that desire. I have done approximately zero multipitch alpine trad routes, so I have a lot to learn before attempting any route on the Diamond, but the goal is set.

While it was a good feeling to stand on top of Longs with a great group of close friends, what was most interesting was how much I would have preferred to take a more difficult route to the summit. Or, rather, the Diamond is so much cooler in my mind, probably because it is more difficult and definitely because it looks more badass.

That thought got my mind churning over my motivation for climbing and why I have dedicated my life to it for nine years. I enjoy the social aspect of climbing, bouldering in particular, and I definitely enjoy getting out into the quiet hills and seeing marmots and stuff but, ultimately, I am motivated by difficulty and the necessity of pushing myself to grasp at success on difficult lines. Which isn’t to say I want a big number attached to a climb, though that is always a bonus. Rather, I do not feel fulfilled unless there is some amount of suffering, pain, anger, failure, blind rage, and/or frustration involved in the overall process. To me it is not about being on top of a climb, it is about getting on top of a climb (that’s what she said?). If it was always easy what would be the point?

Judging by the amount of folks on Longs in shorts and sandals and the wide array of body types visible under those shorts and sandals, it is safe to say nearly anyone is capable of hiking to the top. The route we took was not difficult, nor was it easy; frigid, soaking wet alpine 5.4 is absolutely no joke. But I didn’t have to learn anything, didn’t have to make any adjustments to my technique or approach, didn’t have to go to that primitive place in my psyche where the body takes over and the mind is only an observer. Those are the moments that keep me motivated, keep me working towards the overall goal which is…I dunno, to get to the top, or something.

Longs story short (ha), next summer I am going to try the Casual Route. Someone is going to have to teach me about building belays and placing cams and hauling haul bags and things of that sort, and I’m going to have to confront the abject terror I feel towards non-bouldering methods of climbing, but that is the point. Even if I have to rappel (fortunately I do know how to do this…) off the first pitch and never make the summit, the whole process is one that will challenge me and put me outside my comfort zone and, hopefully, progress my overall climbing ability.

Unrelated note: someone please teach me how to trad climb…

Risk Assessment, Death, and Bees

Corey ‘C-Dog’ Carver here. I hate bees. I hate them more than tailgaters, corn, and a pen with ink that does not write all combined together. Let us be clear that “bees” includes all manner of stinging, flying insects. Bees have forced me to bail off climbs and cry like a three old year whose bed underneath is occupied by The Fangman. I find routes that climb near bees to be risky business, and risk assessment is one of the main priorities for rock climbers.

I was primed for a fantastic summer: Clear Creek Canyon, Ten Sleep Canyon, Devil’s Tower, and possibly bouldering in RMNP. I was climbing well, hard, and smartly. Then I crushed my ankle. “I’ve done this climb before, I’ll just boulder up and preclip the first draw for you, bro.” Not only did I miss the draw on the first attempt, my right foot blew and after a 10’ drop to uneven rock, I had a grade 2 sprained ankle and some “crunched” bones (according to the doc). I made a poor assessment of the risk. As a consequence, I took almost four weeks off and three more to return to form.

We do a dangerous sport. Hiking through forests that may contain bees, traversing a ridgeline with a thousand foot drop to one, or both sides. Skipping clips to find that perfect jug to get a rest on. Thinking two pads will be enough for a 20’ ground fall. Or, God forbid, trusting a ridiculously small hook on an even more ridiculous edge (aid climbing). Even putting on a harness or lacing up your shoes is an exercise in whether you trust your life and health to your gear, partners, or yourself.

As a coach, I work with my team helping them realize their goals and understanding the danger inherent to the sport of rock climbing. They all understand the risk, but do not understand they can get hurt and hurt for good. It is as if only other people get hurt. This attitude is why I got hurt. Having never been seriously hurt, the danger was very distant to me and I became complacent. It is human nature to become complacent when we live, eat, and breathe climbing. Then I realized something:

Rock climbing in itself is not inherently dangerous. Human nature is.