Sunday, January 16, 2011

Climbing Resolutions for 2011

It's hard to believe we're already halfway through January.  The year has just begun and already I feel the opportunities slipping away.  It is high time I made a list of my climbing resolutions for the year.  So without further ado, here you go:

1.  Keep getting more fit.  In early December I published a lengthy post describing my plan to get in better shape and improve my climbing.  I talked about some simple things I could do to get myself in better shape and lose weight, and steps I intended to take to bring some discipline to my gym climbing.  And while I haven't quite implemented all of the steps I listed back in December, I have made great progress in a few areas. 

I started riding my bike regularly again in December.  Although the weather has been terrible for cycling, I've been plugging away at it indoors on my rollers.  In the past I've found this kind of riding to be a major drag, but for some reason I'm into it now.  I can't say why, but who cares?  It's working.  I'm riding all the time and I feel motivated to keep it up.  My endurance has improved a lot in just six weeks; I'm even entertaining thoughts that I might race my bicycle again in the Spring. 

I've also changed my diet.  I eat breakfast at home, and I bring my lunch to work every day, usually a salad with tofu or some roasted chicken breast.  It shouldn't be a big surprise that increased exercise plus better eating will lead to weight loss, but nevertheless I'm still kind of in shock at how quickly I'm losing so much weight.  Since early December I've dropped 15 pounds.  15 pounds!  I'm swimming in my clothes.  I think I can easily lose another 5 or 10 before my weight will be ideal, and I think it's best if I lose the next few pounds a little more slowly than I dropped the first 15.  I'm almost alarmed at how well it's going. 

As for my climbing, I have not yet started shifting my gym climbing towards more disciplined aerobic or anaerobic endurance sessions.  I still just go and boulder whatever's new or whatever looks good to me, or climb the toprope problems if I have a partner.  But I have started to approach my bouldering sessions with a completely different attitude.  In December I told you that I spent most of my time on V3 problems because I could usually do them, and that I intended to start focusing on harder problems and eliminate the invisible ceiling in my own mind that was stopping me from moving up into more difficult routes.  Shortly after I wrote those words I started to focus on the V4s at the gym, and I found out to my surprise that I can do almost all of them.  Sometimes right away, sometimes after some focused effort, but almost always I can do them eventually.  This has come as such a shock that the implications are still sinking in to my brain; it was only a few days ago that I suddenly realized I should really be working on V5s, since the V4s aren't just projects for me as I expected, but rather seem to be at my level.  And wouldn't you know it?  I picked out a couple V5s the other day and with a little work sent them both. 

I'm sure my better conditioning and weight loss have both played a role in my new success at harder routes, but I think a large part of it is also mental.  Without knowing it, I was holding myself back.  I resolve to keep up the good work and to keep getting more fit.  And I resolve to believe that when it comes to my climbing, anything is possible.

2.  Climb more ice.  I really enjoyed ice climbing on New Year's Day and I'd love to do more of it.  I'm heading out to the Catskills again tomorrow with V, and I hope to get a few more days in this winter with A, my partner from two weeks ago.  What I need to do at some point is acquire the gear, so I can stop wasting time stopping at Rock and Snow to rent the necessary tools.  So although my wife doesn't yet know this, I resolve to drop about a grand on ice climbing gear in the near future!  And then maybe it'd be nice to set some goals for next season, like the Black Dike on Cannon Cliff or something.

3.  Plan, plan, plan!  I want to do more climbing outside the Gunks.  I'm dying to get back to Eldorado Canyon.  I have to visit Yosemite before I get old.  Closer to home, I'd really like to do some climbing in the Adirondacks, and in New Hampshire at Cathedral & Whitehorse Ledges, not to mention the Red River Gorge in Tennessee and the New River Gorge in West Virginia.  These are but a few of the world-class climbing areas I need to visit.  I know I can make one or two of these areas a part of my life if I plan ahead to make sure any climbing trip I take fits in with other obligations.  I already have one trip planned in April, with A to Red Rocks in April.  I need to pick something ambitious for the autumn and start arranging it soon.

4.  Attack the Gunks with a vengeance.  If I keep working hard this could be my year.  I'm back, and this time it's personal.  I plan to go after the 5.9s in the Gunks in 2011 and maybe even some 5.10s.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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