Find­ing Suc­cess in Fail­ure

Lessons from the rock

Gripped - - NOTES FROM THE TOP - Story by con­tin­ued on page 60

The game is rigged. The house al­ways wins. Ever y once in a while you get a taste of that sweet pay­out, but the feel­ing only lasts un­til your knot is un­tied. When you look back at the line of clipped draws and shift your gaze to the left and won­der, “What’s that route? ”

We are ad­dicted to the game and the chase that comes with it. A big part of the game is fail­ure. Whether or not you have come to gr ips with your ad­dic­tion is an­other mat­ter. There’s no sugar coat­ing such a neg­a­tive word. Fail­ure is fail­ure; it means not hav­ing suc­cess. We like to be suc­cess­ful, it’s in the fabr ic of our be­ings, so why do we go back for more? Be­cause, what some of us like more than suc­cess is chal lenge and lear ning. With­out fail­ure, you would never change or im­prove. Fail­ure is how we learn. It’s how we over­came our fear of fal ling, it’s how we lear n bet­ter tech­nique and is how we gain mus­cle me­mor y. It is the chal lenge that keeps us com­ing back for more. Th­ese things make us bet­ter in our sport and of­ten the fail­ure is the fun par t; pick ing apar t climbs de­tail by de­tai l un­til we get it r ight.

There are dif fer­ent ways to fail in climb­ing: a failed at­tempt at one move, fal ling be­fore or af­ter the cr ux, not mak­ing the link you hoped for and, worst of al l, hav­ing to walk away.

That’s the hard­est fail­ure to cope with for me. When, af­ter a long-ter m in­vest­ment into a route, I have to walk away. It’s hard not to al low fail­ure to eat you up. Many of us have ex­per ienced this t ype of fai lure, it’s never easy and it’s ver y hard to see the les­son. The de­feated feel­ing can be hard to shake. Most climbers can come up with end­less rea­sons to jus­tif y the fail­ure such as, the con­di­tions were bad, I was dis­tracted, the other guy didn’t br ush the holds, I slipped and I didn’t tr ust my be­layer and my lips were chapped. Ob­vi­ously, th­ese are al l valid rea­sons for not send­ing your route. Re­gard­less of the ex­cuse you pick and con­vince your­self to be­lieve, it doesn’t make it any eas­ier to walk away from an emo­tion­ally charged sit­u­a­tion with no clo­sure.

I speak from ex­pe­ri­ence. Last De­cem­ber, Re­gan Kennedy and I were in Las Ve­gas. I had been work­ing the stand var ia­tion to Mead­owlark Lemon V13. I sent it with only a few days left in our tr ip and thought I’d go for the sit var ia­tion. I star ted work­ing the sit and felt ver y close. It was time to go home, Re­gan had to go to school. As we pul led into to grab a cof fee for the long jour ney home, Re­gan said jok­ingly, “Hey you don’t have school, you could stay.” Boom, my head ex­ploded. To make it even sweeter, Re­gan had a West-Jet credit. It was a sign, I was for sure go­ing to stay and send. It’s never a sim­ple thing to book on­line with a credit, so we found our­selves on the phone, in the ghetto of Las Ve­gas, tr ying to book Re­gan’s f light. Yes, it was worth hun­dreds of dol­lars to send, yes it was worth dr iv­ing the whole 24- hour dr ive home alone to send and yes it was worth do­ing three tr ips back and for th with crash pads alone to send (with­out a spotter). I only needed one more day and I was to­tally go­ing to send. How could I not? Later that night, I put Re­gan on a plane home. I sat in the van alone al l night think­ing to my­self how rad it was go­ing to be to send the prob­lem. I had worked so hard on it and had learned al l I could, there was only send­ing left to do.

Right: Josh Muller work­ing the moves on Clock­work Or­ange V12, Red Rocks, Nev.

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