In our lives we get to face a series of challenges that the world throws at us. How we work through them ends up defining who we are as individuals. As a boulderer, I often throw myself at challenges willfully. Sometimes I can bite off more than I can chew and find myself stopped at an obstacle that I can't get past. Last year, I was in Hueco Tanks, Texas for 2 months. That particular trip I spent about 75% of my climbing days working on the famous problem Shaken Not Stirred. It is a 23 move power endurance roof out of the Martini Cave. This problem has a reputation for shutting down most climbers who attempt to send it quickly. Boulderers often take on creative tactics to dissect and mentally work their way through this pumpy monster. It sounds as though it takes most about 3 -11 seasons to do this one just right. I thought I was pretty close last year since I did the problem in 2 parts several times and had the pieces wired. I left without the send.
I just got back from a 2 week trip to Hueco Tanks. I was on a personal mission to finally climb the roof. The plan was simple. I spent about 2 months training in the gym. My preparation consisted of making a simulator of the big crux move to the slopey hueco and get that dialed. Also, lots of power endurance laps to get stamina, resistance muscle training to avoid injury, and doing high volume climbing in Bishop on some of the tablelands finest and longest roof climbs. My first day at the problem I tried from the bottom and immediately got all the way to my high point from the previous season. I fell at the typical spot bumping to the slopey hueco off the pinch. This particular move is really big for a climber of my size. The reach is far and the footholds are a little far away for me to get any leverage. I tried the beta that Ashima did but could not move off the heinous left hand pinch/foothold on Esperanza. I spent a day or 2 dialing out the sections of this long climb. Then I relentlessly began to march there almost every single climbing day. Most tries were from the bottom. Lots of send goes. After getting so close to the slopey hueco first try I felt like I was ready for the send. I spent nine days this trip trying mostly link attempts. The tally was about 28 tries that I fell at the same stopper move. Two weeks there and dedicated like a mofo and I had to leave without the prize. I tried that thing up until the moment we had to run to catch a ride to airport and fly back to Lake Tahoe. Part of me was a bit down and regretful that I had failed to accomplish my goal.However, it was soon followed by this surge of gratitude. These projects sometimes feel like a living breathing thing. A friend, an enemy, a nemesis, a theory on how to make the impossible possible. . The project simply becomes a worthy opponent. . I did fail in sending but it was quite a pleasure to test myself on one of the best and hardest roofs in the world. The summary is basically a 2 week trip to Hueco Tanks, no sends, and driving out with a big smile and my heart feeling full. I can't wait to go back and try this again next season. But for now, I'm home for a few and then headed to Utah. It will be cool to climb on some old projects but also bounce around to areas and problems I've never seen before and get on some new climbs. Psyched as usual.