Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Everybody deals with stress in their own way. Believe it or not, I have to deal with it too, I know everybody thinks I have the perfect job and all, but hey, there is a reason I get paid to do it, and it’s not because I’m just that cool. Stressed out, and overworked, I tend to lose my focus. I start trying to Multi-task, and I’m no good at multi-tasking. So what can I do that will force me to focus? I tried going bouldering, but there wasn’t nearly enough in the realm of consequences to push me into that focused attentive state. I’m looking for something that could almost be called meditation, when all external thoughts are flushed out, and the task at hand is all consuming.

I’ve always turned to adventure to get me through those scattered moments. Snowboarding a hidden couloir far into the mountains and hiking into the woods with no trail to guide me have always been friendly to me, but today I needed something new. I’ve been climbing a lot lately, and though I climbed a lot when I was younger, I took a 4 year break and have only started pulling down on rock again recently.

Today, to find my focus, I soloed Cob Rock. Cob Rock is a two hundred foot tall granite monolith attached on only one side to the mountain, and it’s fairly easy. Only rated at 5.8 plus or minus depending on the route that you take. I decided to try to rope solo the route, and began around 1:00. The trick with Rope soloing is that if you fall, you will be caught by the rope, but you are alone, and there is nobody there to share your fear with.
It’s exponentially more exciting. Soloing has it’s downfalls too. After you make it to the top of each pitch, you have to rappel back down and take all the pieces of protection that you used back out of the rock, and climb back up again, only this time with the rope above you.

I managed to do the route in three pitches, but time was running short and the shadows crept up the valley faster than I had expected. So I decided to free solo the middle pitch which is only 5.6 yet starts 100 feet off the ground. No Ropes, no protection, just my hands and feet. It’s times like these that the mind really has to focus. Even though the amount of work is far less than if I were placing Cams into the rock, or trying to communicate with a lazy belayer, the consequences are drastically higher, and when you’re really in the moment, you feel less like a climber and more like you are weaving in and out of the rock. This was the focus I came for. And for some reason now that I’m home again, safe, I can breathe so much deeper.

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