Retired in Style
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Retired in Style

I started a silly tradition last year, where every time my climbing shoes get worn out, I retire them only after I send a project. I’ve been wearing holey Nagos for months now and they’re almost beyond the point of functionality, so this past Saturday I was determined to send them off in style! And I had just the project in mind to do it; Pretty in Pink, a 5.12a that gave me some trouble earlier this year. I’d been on it a handful of times already and kept getting stumped by a confusing section mid way up.  Since I generally send routes of this grade after two or three attempts, I was getting frustrated that it was taking me so long and I was determined to send this time!

When my friends and I got to the crag, I warmed up on a long 5.1od/5.11a and then immediately moved over to my project, knowing I would need to be pretty fresh to send it.  On my first attempt, I again found myself stuck mid way up the climb, searching for holds and trying to figure out a sequence that felt secure. After taking a few times and spending several minutes fumbling around, I did figure out some beta that worked, but it was dicey at best and didn’t leave me feeling very confident. In the end, I ungracefully muscled through it and finished the route.

I came down and rested for a few minutes, and then, despite feeling less than confident, I put on my trusty Nagos and went for it!  I didn’t make it very far.  I climbed through the first few bolts, then stopped just below the crux.  I didn’t take; I just hung there, clinging to the wall with my fingertips, so worried about falling and ruining my send, that I just couldn’t move at all.  For several minutes I stayed there, looking around, trying to find a better sequence, all the while getting more and more tired, making the send much less likely.

I began to feel very frustrated with myself and with the route, and I came really close to just giving up. Thankfully, there was a neat little no-hands rest just below this section. I climbed down to it, forcing myself to stop for a moment and just breathe. I realized that I needed to stop worrying about falling and just enjoy the climb.  If I didn’t send the route that day, I would next time, or the time after that, or maybe I never would…but what would it matter if I wasn’t even enjoying myself? So I took a breath, cleared my head, and gave it one last attempt, trying to focus only on being in the moment; the rock beneath my hands, the warm sun on my skin, the feel of my body flowing upwards.  And somehow, almost before I knew it, I had passed smoothly through the crux and reached my next bolt, and then the bolt after that, and finally the anchors! I was so excited, and very happily reminded about how important it is to appreciate every moment, rather than focusing solely on the end results.

After that, I finished up the day by climbing one more route; Geezer, another 5.12a.  I ended up sending this route as well!  And with that, I would say my trusty little Nagos have definitely earned their retirement!

Cool little no-hands-knee-bar rest on Pretty in Pink, 5.12a.
Cool little no-hands-knee-bar rest on Pretty in Pink, 5.12a.
I think these Nagos have definitely earned a retirement!
I think these Nagos have definitely earned a retirement!
At the crux of Pretty in Pink, 5.12a.
At the crux of Pretty in Pink, 5.12a.
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