“MyClimb – ‘Winter Solstice Challenge’ – 2018
When I wrote about the origin for the idea for the MyClimb Challenges, I told the story of when myself and seven other alpinist’s spent a winter in Scotland. We had met up right after Thanksgiving, and for six months we lived in tents and climbed together. Our goal was simply to improve, and to gain some insights into methods that might one day lead us to some major goals.
There’s and old alpine saying:
‘If you want to climb the big alpine routes, you need to climb in the dark months. December and January.’
Attempting ice and mixed routes in Scotland is ‘Adventurous’ the say the least, but climbing through the dark months in the land of storms, pretty much put us all seven of us through the ringer. The team had climbed six days a week for two straight months, and had met to talk over any improvements every Monday evening.
I will never forget that last Monday in January. All seven of us sat down outside of the old Farmhouse. The Sun had gone down, it was snowing lightly, and none of had said anything for quite some time. On top of a table where we normally set maps, gear improvements notes, and broken ice tools, sat two single-burner stoves. Atop one stoves sat a pot of black coffee, sitting on my stove sat a batch of camomile tea and honey.
As we sat there, I noticed that we all were rubbing sore elbows, shoulders, or applying save to our split fingers. We all looked battle-worn and spent. If I had thought of taking a photo of that moment, the photo would have told the story of seven men in search of the holy grail.
Finally I broke the silence and asked the group how their week went.
I had failed on a solo attempt of Point Five Gully, had taken a bad fall leading Smith’s Route. My Gortex jacket had been blown from my grip and was somewhere jammed into a chimney on the Italian Route. The good news for my week was that I managed to trade my rock shoes for a wool sweater.
My six friends week hadn’t faired much better. Lance had broken the hammer off of his ice tool. Michael had torn the seat of his pants and had been benighted twice! Two others had been hit by rock fall, and Rick had been covered head to toe in spindrift while escaping from Zero Gully.
None of us would admit that we needed some time off. No one wanted to cut the cord of motivation that had already grown worn and thin.
Finally, Lance spoke up and suggested that we take two days off to mend clothing and to weld his ice hammer.
We ended up taking the entire week off.
We met every night outside the Farmhouse, mended our clothing, sharpened ice picks, drank Coffee, and watered-down herbal tea.
The time off benefited all of us. We healed, rested, and even gained a few pounds. During the day, I took long walks up the Glenn and in my notebook, I started to put together a list of my failures and accomplishments. I told the team about my notes, and by Friday we all gathered to talk about the many things that were holding us back from making further gains.
That week off turned into a real blessing. It gave us some time to step away from our climbs, and to begin to see a path forward.
With the Fall Challenge coming to an end this week, I would like to suggest we all take a break from challenges. I would like us all to go back and take a solid look at what we have accomplished over the past four challenges – 14 months.
I’m not advising any of us to stop climbing, I’m just suggesting we take some time, and create some space, so we can end 2018 strong.
I would like to start the ‘Solstice Challenge’ on November 5th, and end on December 24th, seven weeks.
The plan is to begin on November 5th, although MyClimb Facebook sign-ups will start early October.
For October posts, I would like the core team to look back at the past 14 months, and note any accomplishments, training improvements, personal injury prevention tips, or failures that may have brought you closer to your main goals.
Let me know what you think,
That was what Lou wrote yesterday to end the MyClimb Fall Challenge 2018 (the month of September). I think it is a wise and solid plan of action, myself. I need to look back and see what I have tried, what worked, what did not, and what I need to try again or try for the first time or not try again. I have to admit that I may have a hard time without the feedback of the rest of the Challenge Team for a whole month, but they will be available for emergent troubles and suggestions, I am sure. I do not need anyone external to motivate my climbing, but I do need more experienced climbers than myself to bounce ideas off of from time to time before I try something and get myself in a mess of some sort. The way September went for me, maybe a month away from the formal challenge will be good. It will definitely afford me an opportunity to analyze the last 14 months of trial and error and figure out what is what! That is a lot of analysis to do!