Although a large part of what makes crag days special involves the amazing people I’m with and the spectacular setting we’re in, another big part of it for me is the personal satisfaction that comes from working towards and achieving goals that I’ve set for myself. Sometimes those goals revolve around specific routes, grades, and/or areas, and other times they are more vague (ie, getting better at _______ technique). Other times they are things that are personally applicable to me in my current life phase. For example, during my pregnancy I challenged myself to see how many weeks into my pregnancy I could still “toprope send” 5.11, but during the first few months of Cragbaby’s life, my goal was simply to get outdoors and climb. But regardless the goal, it always feels really good crossing it off the list. Last March was the first time I’d ever been organized enough to come up with an actual list for the year that I wrote (typed) out, and it worked out so well that I decided to turn it into a yearly tradition. Having 10 objectives to focus on throughout the year provided a motivating combination of accountability as well as encouragement along the way. I tried to keep the goals specific enough to be able to track my progress, but general enough that they can be reached at a wide variety of areas. After all, the real point of climbing is to get outside and have fun, and I don’t want my fun-o-meter to be dictated by a rigid list I subjected myself (and my climbing partners…) to week after week. Besides, anyone that’s ever climbed with us knows its impossible to take climbing too seriously with Cragbaby around!
So here it is – 10 new goals to cross off, and 12 upcoming months to do it…
10. Get My Train On - I’ve always been of the mindset that the best way to improve your climbing is to climb. And while I still feel that way, I’m starting to notice specific weaknesses that consistently shut me down during stopper cruxes – ie, hard lock-offs on reachy moves with bad feet, dynos of any sort, and overhanging slopers. With Cragbaby at the gym with us, I don’t have a ton of time at my disposal, but this year I’m determined to make efficient use of the time I do have. Hangboard and 4×4′s, here I come!
9. The Whining (5.11d/12a, Hidden Wall, NC) - This summer I toproped all the moves, whipped a million times at the crux dyno, and certainly did my fair share of whining at how hard this climb is for short folk without a +3 ape index. This a burly route (as is most of the lines at Hidden Wall), a far cry from my usual high-steppin’ tech fest. Sending this will only happen after Goal #10 is well on its way.
8. Return to Old Stomping Grounds - Although Cragbaby has certainly done his fair share of crag-hopping, there are still a few pre-Cragbaby favorites that we haven’t introduced him to yet, for one reason or another. Most notably, Linville Gorge and Moore’s Wall. This year I’d like to expose C to some of our old haunts, so that we can enjoy as an expanded family the natural wonders of these areas.
7. Cragbaby on a Rope - Speaking of Cragbaby, judging by how he’s taken to his new Christmas climbing kicks, I don’t think it’ll be too long before he’ll be brainstorming up a Hit List of his own. I’m not gonna be one of those parents who tries to live vicariously through their kids, and I’m certainly not gonna push – but at some point this year I think it’ll be worth putting the option out there for him, and if he’s into it, GREAT! If he’s not ready yet, no biggie.
6. Break into V5 - Last year was all about getting lots of mileage at V3/4, along with working a stray V5 here and there. This year I’d like to continue to push myself on V4′s that don’t play to my strengths, as well as start to project V5′s, especially when it comes to local areas I can hit numerous times per season. Mainly I’m hoping that the added strength gains from working hard bouldering moves will help me with Goal #5 on a rope.
5. Twelve 5.12′s by the end of 2012 - This past year I was able to bring my onsight level up into the 5.11b/c range on routes that favored my strengths. I was also able to tick two 5.11d’s, and finally broke through the 5.12 barrier at the tail end of 2011. So this year I’d like to focus on consistency, and on getting more consolidated in the 5.11+/12- range on routes of a wider variety of styles .
4. Freaky Stylee (5.12a, New River Gorge) – So far my experience on this route involves one toprope lap that went surprisingly well, as well as catching a friend’s 30 footer during the runout at the anchors (so I’ve seen firsthand that the fall is safe…). It’s heady, sequency, and fairly long, so it will be a good test of brains as well as brawn.
3. Pockets of Resistance (5.12a, New River Gorge) - This was my nemesis this past summer. Figured out solid crux beta my first time on it at the end of a trip in July, but came up short 5 times in a row a few weeks later in August. The solution? Come back stronger so I’m not pumped out of my mind heading into the crux. Maybe then my movement will be controlled enough to hit that heinous foothold as perfectly precise as I need to. I never got a chance to get back there last year, so it certainly deserves a revisit in 2012.
2. Shrink the Gap – To be honest, I’m a little bit embarrassed at the large abyss that exists between my hardest sport redpoint (5.12a) and my hardest trad redpoint (5.10b). It’s really quite ridiculous, and while a large part of it has to do with the convenience of sport crags versus traditional crags with a little one in tow, that’s not really a valid excuse since many areas (ie the New) have classic, easily accessible gear lines situated within an arm’s throw of their bolted counterparts.
1. Finish Guidebook - I’ve got good working drafts of Pilot and Moore’s complete at this point, and I’m about halfway done with first drafts on Stone and Crowder’s. I still have a lot more pictures left to take, as well as a host of “extra” I’m hoping to include, and I’ve got til July. The race is on…
So that’s what I’ll be up to this year. What about everyone else? Feel free to post your Hit/Project/Tick/Goal List for 2012 up here for the world (or a small corner of it anyway) to see! Trust me, once it goes public, there’s a lot more incentive to follow through with it…