He who binds himself to a Joy,
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.
– William Blake
What makes someone a “strong” climber? Is someone who on-sights 5.14a (8b+) regularly a stronger climber than someone who can only on-sight 6b+? (5.11a). Certainly in other sports, this is generally how it works; Usain Bolt is the fastest person to ever run the 100 or 200m dash. This year, Germany was the world’s best soccer team. Climbing, however, is a bit more nuanced than running the 100m dash or playing in the World Cup. Hazel Findlay said in Reel Rock 8 that to her a stronger climber is someone who can can climb whatever rock face he/she wants to, in whatever way the features demand. To meet this criteria a strong climber must then be well versed in all of the techniques and logistics involved in the various forms of rock-climbing one can engage in. I can’t help but agree with her; if I can only clip bolts I cannot really consider myself to be much more than a mediocre sport climber, no matter if I’m climbing 5.9 or 5.13. Rock-climbing is a multi-faceted, complex sport and I want to unearth and delve into as many of its layers of it as possible (except ice-climbing, screw that). Whereas Usain Bolt is always running on astro turf, climbers feel, touch and engage with various types of rock in various places, from overhanging limestone tufas in Spain to the slabbiest of all granite in places like Yosemite. I do not want to limit myself to just a handful of styles because I will then be directly limiting the diversity of experiences at my disposal. This spring, I decided that I wanted to become stronger, but this time I was going to make a new type of training program. For my summer training, I left my stop-watch at home, stopped doing pull ups and dead-hangs and totally indulged in chocolate. This summer’s training would be centered on one thing and one thing only – getting outside to do as much traditional climbing as possible (see the next paragraph for a quick run-down on the difference between trad and sport climbing) All this training asks of me is a good attitude, a good head and a desire to get completely thrown out of my comfort zone. Oh, and, as I would soon find out on my quest to build a trad-climbing rack- a little bit of cash ;).