Breakin’ the Law!

About a week ago…
I had one goal in mind for our time in St George: A short and bouldery climb at the Black and Tan cliff called Breakin’ the Law. I don’t know what exactly drew me to this climb in particular, but it was all that was on my mind when we discussed our time in southern Utah.
I had tried this climb last year and had been unable to link the first crux sequence, hadn’t done a single move in the second crux, and was struggling to consistently link the ‘easy’ slab crux near the top.
My old beta in the first crux. Photo credit: Yannick Neufeld-Cumming
Exploding off of the first crux. Photo credit: Yannick Neufeld-Cumming
This year, with the help of Jared’s excellent beta, I started to consistently do the first crux. Shortly after that, I figured out a sequence that worked for me for the second crux and slowly began to get that part consistently as well. The slab crux wasn’t proving to be a problem either.
New crux sequence using toe hook beta that Jared found
Perfect, I thought, this should go quickly! This has not been the case. The difficulty for me revolves around getting perched on a glassy smear with my body in just the right spot to take enough weight off my left hand to move it to a good crimp – what I feel is the last hard move in the second crux. In my mind, if I stick this, I should send.
Trying really really really hard on the smear
However, each attempt seems to go as follows:
Climb through the first crux, grab the two holds at the start of the second crux, tell myself ‘I know I can do this’, grab a small undercling, get my right foot on the glassy smear, rock over the foot….and be unable to find the perfect body position. Thrutch for the crimp, miss, fall, rage. Pull back on at the start of the second crux and climb all the way to the top. Rinse; repeat.
Grabbing that last hold in the second crux
I have done this over a dozen times now…one move away from completing the final crux. Each time I feel like I learn something, which is definitely positive. Still, it is hard to stay psyched as I ask myself how much more I need to learn before I can make the move feel like it does in isolation.

Almost every day we have been in St George (about 4 weeks) at least one of my friends has sent a project of theirs. In that same time, I have completed a grand total of 5 new climbs; all of them were used as warm ups. When we got here, I had decided that I wanted to climb this one route, which would be my hardest ever, instead of doing more climbs of lesser difficulty. Completing this climb, of course, would be a huge step forward in my climbing and would complete my goal I had for this year: climb five 5.14s, one of which is 5.14b. 

What I didn’t expect was the frustration and sadness (for lack of better word) that I would feel seeing everyone else successfully redpointing their projects and having done none of my own. Instead of thriving off the psych of everyone else’s successes, I am constantly asking myself ‘why can’t I send as well?’ I find myself wanting to walk away from Breakin’ the Law and climb something else just so I can have that feeling of success. Is that the right decision? Or is that just the selfish thought of me wanting to show my friends ‘hey I can send something too!’?

Would those little successes of climbing something well below my limit equate to the same feeling as sending my hardest climb ever? Unlikely. I need to remember that the relationship I have been forming with this climb is like any other relationship – it takes work. I need to keep focused and devoted during those low times in order to have the high times. I know I can climb this and I know I am getting close. It will just be a matter of time…
April 13 update…
Three days after pouring my thoughts onto this page I had my best go on Breakin’ the Law. I snagged the final hold of the crux, the decent left hand crimp, only to have my right foot pop off the smear resulting in yet another fall. I hit my knee hard on the lip of the roof on the fall and tore off a massive scab I had healing there, resulting in a bloody mess and some anxiety about repeating the same thing over again.
Another three days after that attempt I successfully redpointed Breakin’ the Law (5.14b), my hardest climb to date.
Sending! Pulling the first crux
Sending! Pulling the first crux
The head wall slab


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