As I try to lead an inspired life, I try to do new things or change my perception of old things. Yesterday I did both – I tried mixed climbing.
Cue up the Beastie Boys…
Mixed climbing is essentially the act (or art) of ascending a route where the climber encounters both rock and ice. Using the technique of drytooling, the climber works his/her way up a rock face with crampons and ice tools. In climbing seasons past I had never wanted to give it a try; it looked scary and I thought it was beyond my capabilities. I was always focused on the ice, my technique, and getting to the top of the climb. Yesterday I got about half-way up the route before I merged onto the pillar with a climber from another group. He was leading his route and I decided to give him the right-of-way on the narrow pillar. As I was lowered back down, I noticed marks on the rock face to the left of the ice. “Maybe I’ll try this mixed thing” I said to Chris. His eyes lit up and he started rapping, to no particular song, “Mixed master, mixed master….” After a few desperate attempts and some pumped forearms, I was back on the ground. I had managed to make some upward progress, but nothing to write home about. What I did gain was some unexpected confidence.
I have just finished a book entitled Forces of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, of course, Surfing. It is a how-to book by Laird Hamilton on his approach to life and living. Towards the beginning of the text Laird talks about the “the joy of being a beginner”. “Trying something for the first time, you may think that you’ve just been fumbling around for a few hours. But in truth, you’ve worked your brain, your nervous system-your entire body-more than you know.”
I never did make it to the top of the route on any of my laps. And for once, it didn’t matter. I tried something new and opened my mind to the possibility that my climbing, as well as other things in my life, have a lot of potential.
Trying new things,
thanks to my good friend Chris for the picture of me mixing it up