Thin Skin

Despite my return to 'relative baseline climbing fitness', as my mind wishes to label it, the invincibility to which I recall being accustomed is nowhere to be found.

Day after day of rock climbing and suddenly I feel worn and unfocused. One good performance promotes expectations sure to garner complacency. Ego-driven goal-making falls short of the reality of the corporal form.

So on Friday I cashed in the cheques from the past week: I completed a short-term project (Fight Club) and swiftly completed another route before it had the chance to become a project (Baby On Board). I did endurance laps and felt myself quite the climber that afternoon, a feeling that should have been received with due suspicion. The planned weekend at Squamish was sure to bear fruit after such an...auspicious...beginning.

But such simplistic logic was to be my undoing. A rest day activity of climbing the moderate and enjoyable Angel's Crest became toil as we quickly overtook the lingering parties from earlier in the day; our 3pm start seemed well planned until we reached the traffic jam at the top of the route, unable to pass the 'key log' (of which there seemed to be several). A few hours of steady sun wore at us as we waited; a couple of apt choices in routefinding quickened the pace but I still topped out frustrated at the glacial pace of other climbers. Dispute over my obsession with moving quickly added further complication. Despite the added annoyance of having to descend with a climbing shoe on one foot due to an errant pack zipper, the day still carried some sense of enjoyment that the promise of a stronger showing on Sunday could surely only augment.

Of course, Sunday was hotter still. At Murrin Park, where our indecision eventually led us, shade was at a premium. Climbing felt strangely difficult to my still depleted muscles. Thin, vertical sport climbing gave no quarter to sore fingers and my already paper-thin fingertips. An attempt on a slightly more difficult climb was abbreviated by the tearing through of granite into the pad of my fingertip. Faced with this new oppression, I (again) sensed the tyranny of repetition required to learn certain lessons. Bouncing cheques and thin skin, with the vainglorious stupor to match.


Every year a phenomenon occurs whereby the weather begins to improve enough to allow a couple of climbing days at Index. In this short transitional period, the temperatures are cool, friction is good and morale runs high. As with yesterday, my first trip to Index in a month or more, these are usually the 'warmup' days, whereby dust from the preceding months of sport climbing (and not climbing) is shaken off: gear is placed somewhat more fearfully than it should be, hands and feet feel ineffective in cracks and trust in one's technical abilities is somewhat overshadowed by doubt. I have a couple of these days every 'early' season where climbs I am accustomed to enjoying become tooth-and-nail challenges until I eventually get a grip on my abilities and focus them once again.

After a couple of these days out, the weather usually turns good: too good. To wit, this week's temperatures are forecast to approach (and possibly to exceed) 90 degrees after this Monday's modest mid-50's to low-60's temps. While I recall suffering profoundly midway up the Lower Town Wall in 90 degree heat in the past, I like to think that those bootless forays into heat exhaustion no longer lend themselves to my growth as a climber. That said, temptation abounds: Monday's routes, though mostly customary, rekindled that great joy that I find in climbing, nearly enough to get me out there again in the heat of the week. Index has always been a wellspring for that peculiar love wrought only by numerous humbling episodes of failure interspersed with the occasional brief glimpse of redemption; another trial by fire on the south facing oven-like walls of granite almost seems appropriate at this point--and not nearly as bad as some of the alternatives...


Mangosteen is the Antihangover

Amazing what advanced Oxygen Free Radical Reductive Superfruit Mesosystem Coordination can do for your Metahepatosplenomatic Dehydropontificator.

By that I mean: after nary a week without drudgery, pettiness, buffoonery, circular logic, invidiousness, punctiliousness, obsecratory platitudinarianism secondary to the spiflication of verdurous legerdemain, replete with the apposite lack of vicissitudinal extemporaneousnesses that tends ineluctably to obnubilate any viable assiduity, I am imparadised by the disentombing, circumfulgent aurora of creativity occasioned by the veritably thaumaturgical transmutation of the preceding latent interfulgent noctlucuousity.

Thank you, Mangosteen.