What makes a climb perfect? It would be my guess that the definition would be vastly different for each and every climber you asked. Each climber has a different idea of what holds, moves, and positions are the most fun. Each climber has a different degree to which they care about rock quality. In fact, I think each climber has a different definition of what makes a good rock quality. Maybe you want it smooth and soft. Maybe you only feel like you’re really climbing if it is sharp and gritty. The definitions vary from loving climbs because they flow well, loving climbs because they have a fun aspect like dynos, drop knees, compression, knee bars, heel hooks, etc, or loving climbs because they are on the most beautiful rock imaginable.
For the most part, I’m endlessly content when climbing. I generally enjoy pushing my limits, being in picturesque settings, and being around other climbers I really like. I like seeing all the dogs, taking in the unique nature sightings, and trying out different climbs. I like seeing what is possible and trying out new locations. Climbing in itself is almost always an enjoyable experience. Of course, there are those moments of frustration. Frustration when you’ve been so close for ever but just haven’t moved forward at all. Those moments of frustration when you are climbing something more because it’s there than because it really speaks to you. Those moments of frustration where you feel so weak regardless of whether you really are or not.
Luckily, those moments seem fewer than average. They are powerful enough to feel like they occur more often than they do, but for the most part, climbers seem more generally happy. If you weren’t, why would you keep doing it after all? However, despite feeling an overall sense of enjoying the sport most of the time, I’m struck by how rare it feels when I really love a climb. Don’t get me wrong, on most days I feel like I’m having a great time and like the climbs I do. I’m talking about really loving a climb though. I mean getting on a climb and feeling in completely admiration and serene bliss about it. It’s getting on a climb where you think for a moment or longer that you’d be happy to climb this one route forever.
Most climbs I send and think “that was cool.” I feel delighted to have made progress, happy to be outside, excited to be climbing, and all that. Every now and then, however, there is a climb that just feels different. Like reading an amazing book, you are both happy to have completed it and sad it’s over. It leaves you with this sense of love, but also a moment of confusion, like how can I move on? You think for a moment, you just want to do it all again instead of trying a new one. It is that bittersweet passion. It just feels different from other climbs, and it can be hard to put your finger on why.
It might be that it suits your style so perfectly. It could be filled with all your dream movements and positions. It could be that you’ve struggled for so long on it that completing it is an ecstatic breakthrough. It could be that it gets you to do something you’ve never done before. It could be that your movement just flowed so smoothly. It could be a million things, but for some reason it just happens and it rarely happens. However, its power is strong. After a climb like that, you feel completely revived in your psych for climbing. You start feeling like you just want to climb endlessly to find more moments like that.
This weekend, I found such a climb. Of course, these climbs are deeply personally and one’s love is not always shared. Oddly, it seems like it is more often not shared. However, sometimes it spreads to all who are working out a project together. We are all unique and the climbs that thrill us the most are often just as unique. We share something special with it.
For me it was this V3 at Bald Rock Basin. There was just something about the climb. As soon as my eyes lay upon the boulder, I wanted to try something on it. There was this unique and interesting blocky look to it that just drew me in. It looked mesmerizing for a reason I could never explain. At first I was messing around trying to find the climb, then my partner helped me by searching for the online guide. I tried the first couple of moves successfully and was hooked. You start with your left hand on an excellent crimp pinch. It is a little block on a 2 inch overhanging piece. Your right hand is on a crimp gaston. You bring both your feet up and left on a little side pull ledge. Your body is falling out right but the gaston holds it well. Then you pull up and as the guide terms it “fire up” to an incut. It is a great hold. It feels so cool to do that movement. I am not the best at sit starts and really imagined I would struggle with that move but it just flows so perfectly. I felt like I could do it flawlessly each time. This is part of why I love the climb. A move I didn’t think I could do, felt so natural and perfect.
Then you move your right foot to another good ledge foot and pull your left hip closer to the wall and reach up your left hand to a side pull. Once you get the side pull you start to straighten your body up and reach your right hand to an excellent crimp. Then you get high and decent feet and reach up dynamically to a fantastic lip. I went right hand and each time thought for sure I didn’t have it only to find I had stuck it well. At that point you use good feet to mantle press over the lip. Getting down is easy over the back.
There was something in this climb that greatly pleased me. It was my personal hardest outdoor climb to date, but it was much more than that. I loved that movement. It felt so smooth and natural. It felt like my body was just moving along as it would fall or glide naturally. It did not feel at all forced or unnatural. The holds were good enough; Not super easy but not ridiculously hard. It just made me love it. I wanted to keep coming back.
There have been a few other climbs like this in my day. Recently, I’ve really been enjoying a slopery traverse at Great Barrington as well. This climb felt special though. Since it was my first climb at Bald Rock Basin, I am very compelled to keep trying the other boulders there. The other one I tried that day didn’t really capture my interest that much, but I’m still psyched to keep exploring that area and others.
What climbs have you fallen in love with and why?