Climbing with boys is really fun. While everyone knows ‘girls just want to have fun,’ the climber boys want fun too… but they want it now, by any means. Let me explain, from my experience, especially given the testosterone fog that sweeps in and settles over climbing destinations, boys have the hardest time when it comes to the delicacies of climbing. And when I say delicacies, I’m talking strategy, I’m talking the patience to sit and map out positions, the sleight of hand and the turn of a hip. And the boys? They see the rock and I can only imagine their thoughts, “I want it. I want it now.”
Generally, I see a lot of guys thugging their way through moves. Too much power and not enough grace. It’s detrimental, grace is a strength often overlooked. Let’s be honest, in a world full of ‘ATZZZZ’s!’, ‘Roar’s!’ and ‘ZATT’s! ‘, Where’s the grace? Like a Queen in chess, sometimes grace is the powerful player in the game of Climbing. A technical climber is a stronger climber; they may struggle with powering their way through moves, but in the end, form is better. Those with good form, and a little grace are ultimately on the path of becoming a stronger climber. Take for example, my friend, the other night we working on a very difficult move. I watched as he tried it, observing body position and muscles, engaged, and not engaged. I noticed right away that he mostly just threw himself at the problem, but for this particular problem it was not a move you just throw to if you want to stick it. I tried to explain he needed to look at the hold he was reaching for; it will help you twist into it. As you twist into the arm and pull with your heal you’ll be able to stay into the wall. He tries, he fails, and he looks at me confused. My response to his attempt: “climb like a girl.” Less power sometimes means more power, and when done well it translates into grace and finesse, a fluid and delicate movement. It’s the kind of style that makes impossible moves look easy, weightless, we’ve all seen it but only a few can do it. The key is to “look” weightless, while trying really hard. Every single muscle must be active, engaged, and concentrated. Think of how connected your mind and body become when you’re that physically aware.
He laughs. I point my finger at him, “Like a GIRL! Ladylike damn it.” Even with all the falling and flailing, we all still laugh and keep trying. All of us hitting the pad, girl, boy, girl, boys, grace, thug, grace, and a lot of ‘ooph’s’. After all, climbing is about trial and error. Trying, falling and trying hard again. Luckily, this endless pursuit in trying hard is inherit in climbers, and no more or less in gals or guys. Still, figuring out how to try something different when it’s not working, as uncomfortable as it is, is the mental aspect of climbing. Dealing with failure, dealing with falling, dealing with the… fear. Everyone has it, that damn pre-frontal cortex of reason; the rational side us climbers prefer to defy like disobedient children to our own inherit adult minds. Adapting to our surroundings, movements, rock, weather and lets not forget our skin; these are the sense that when we’re in tune with make for those epic sends. Keeping the formula just right, dissipating the fear, boosting the confidence, muscle awareness, and when to roar and when to cue the inner grace… and for God’s sake don’t’ forget to climb like a girl!