Sometimes I just can’t get my head straight. Usually I’ll go to bed with something bigger in mind, like when I decided to onsight solo The Mechanics route on Tahquitz. The night before I was just super antsy and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The night before I solo’d Fingertrip I had a similar process, and the same for Left Ski Trick direct finish.
I do a good amount of soloing, especially by average climbing standards. I solo close to 100 pitches a week. Although the majority of my soloing is done in a single pitch setting, I approach it the exact same way as I do when I make my way up to Tahquitz–precision, patience, and persistence. Soloing is probably the only thing that I do in life that I don’t lose focus in the middle of.
One thing that I never entertain when it comes to soloing is pushing my limit. There have been two occasions where I had to stop and reset on a solo, and neither was enjoyable. There was a guy that viewed the video included in this post and he started spraying on a public forum about how it was only a 5.6, and that the crux was low, as if to demerit that I was climbing fifth class hundreds of feet above the deck. I couldn’t really defend it, because I had never been made fun of for soloing a route that was too soft. When it comes to soloing there is no such thing as too easy.
I’ve been doing a lot more rope climbing lately, and I’ve noticed there is a mental block for people when the rope is removed, or when protection is sparse–like climbing is contingent on protection. I disagree. I believe that your first form of climbing protection is your ability. The rope does not do anything magical, nor do the cams unless you’re aid climbing. I can’t tell you how many people I watch blow a crux because they sit there trying to place gear in a shit stance, or they place in the critical handhold. But I digress…
Ultimately, my progression into soloing has been a process, and it has never had to do with proving anything, or climbing hard. So this is what happened: I had a few routes dialed at Mission Gorge, and I had done some pretty seriously run out trad leads in Yosemite, some of which were more run out than the walls in Mission Gorge are high. I was struggling one day and decided to just take some rock shoes and a chalk bag out and run around in the gorge and that was where it started. I realized that climbing is not some uncontrolled dynamic movement, it can be, but it can also be static and controlled. Those first few circuits I only did about eight to twelve climbs, because that was within my margin of comfort, and then I’d go home. Over time, I’ve built a circuit that involves about twenty-six 30-50 ft. climbs that I do in about two hours car to car.
As far as this post I’ll just stick with that point. I can cover massive amounts of ground in very short periods of time. On the day I shot this video I also shot the Jensens Jaunt video, and climbed four other five-seven pitch climbs. That’s like two days of climbing for quick parties. This was my last climb of the day, it took me about three hours to climb all thirty pitches and do multiple descents down the friction route, but the guys that I pass at the third pitch belay were starting this four pitch climb when I first arrived at the base that morning.
Enjoy! I sure did!